Do you need some inspiration to follow your real dreams?

Scroll down and meet a variety of folks who are living their passions: They are artists, doctors, lobbyists, coaches, gardeners, writers, teachers and musicians and they have found ways to do what they love and still be emotionally, spiritually and financially supported..

They share some of their motivations for doing what they do, as well as the obstacles they have encountered on their paths. And they offer some deep, true advice and inspiration for us to explore our own paths.

Maybe seeing someone else doing and living what they love will spark you to begin living your own amazing life from your heart.

This Month’s Passionate Person is

Maya Stein 

Maya Stein is a poet, writing facilitator and creative adventurer. I met Maya online in 2010 when she was raising funds for an incredible traveling community writing project called Type-Rider. She and her partner Amy Tingle are embarking on Type-Rider II – the Tandem Poetry Tour on July 1.

Maya and I met in person last October at Patti Digh’s Camp. She is really tall and lean and she moves her hands in gentle arcs when she speaks. Her words and spirit spark my own writing and desire to collaborate with other creative people. I look forward to her 10 line Tuesday poems every week and her answers here are just as poetic. The inspirations she shares at the end of the interview are gold. 

What is your life’s passion and purpose?

To live from the center of who I am – creatively, spiritually, relationally. To inspire others to appreciate their unique forms of expression. To facilitate experiences that connect people to deep joy, satisfaction, and self-acceptance. To write good poems. To make good crepes. To stay humble but dream big. To take healthy risks. To be open and curious and willing to make positive change within myself and in the world around me.

How did you discover this?

I think as an introvert growing up, I stayed very close to the bones of myself, exploring things at my own pace, with my own language to understand what I saw and felt and experienced. I think there’s something about the intense shyness I used to have that forced me to keep my gaze focused on the things close to me. And so I got very familiar with my feelings and instincts and belief systems. I was unshakeable when it came to knowing exactly who I was inside. The harder part came with finding a context outside.

I was never someone who moved in big social circles. I had one or two very close friends and that was plenty. But I have also always been pretty physically active, and I think this was an enormous influence on me in terms of being comfortable in my own body and appreciating the nuances of connecting with others, especially through sports. But writing was also a way for me to stay grounded.

I began writing poetry when I was about 9, and I discovered that I really loved inhabiting the world of words. There was a comfort there, a facility. I found I had tremendous powers of concentration when it came to writing. So I think something about that combination of body and spirit has always served me well in terms of knowing how to stay true to who I am.

Where were you in your life before you found this path?

It’s hard to remember, except that I know I was frequently looking to my older sister for answers, for way-finding. Or others around me. It wasn’t really about wanting to know how to be but how to act. I think it’s natural to look externally for guidance, for some kind of direction or context to place yourself, especially from peers. It’s hard to know that it’s okay to break out on your own, but my parents really led by example on this one.

They were not like other parents I knew, who sort of plugged into and tuned out at the same time. My parents were always doing something in the community to enrich their lives and the lives of those around them. They started a musical theater group in the town in New Hampshire we moved to when I was 11. It was a pretty radical act for a town that had essentially remained unchanged for generations, but I saw the impact it had – how transformational it was for the community and for the people who were involved in the productions my parents put on.

It’s like they tapped into some secret caramel center of joy and creativity that people didn’t even know existed within themselves.

It’s one of the first times I remember really seeing the work my parents were doing, recognizing the meaning and motivation behind it. So I was very lucky to have had some pretty good modeling growing up.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I don’t lose my way. I do. Many, many times. We don’t always have a clear understanding about what to do, or when, or why.

But I have come to recognize this as part and parcel of what it means to be human. What it means to be alive.

What was the impetus for doing what you do?

I think connection is always at the heart of what I do. Finding the connection between my inner and outer worlds. Making connections with others. Encouraging others to connect to their essential selves. Facilitating experiences that bridge gaps and create meaningful interactions between people. And behind all of it is the belief that joy is intrinsically important to our well-being. That aliveness that comes from getting in touch with what makes us happy. It doesn’t mean there is no pain, or loss, or any number of heartaches along the way. But to me, the ultimate nourishment is joy. When we are in touch with this, we are way more receptive to other people, and much more generous in sharing ourselves with them.

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desires into work that sustains you?

I think financial sustainability is a major theme here. The deep belief that “do what you love and the money will follow” colliding with the reality of how to actually make that happen. But I have discovered that working for myself means I have to get more creative about income. So instead of having one single job, I have made several for myself.

I’ve been a freelance writer and editor for 12 years and have worked in a lot of different capacities for clients, doing everything from writing video scripts to naming products. I ran a catering business for 5 years. And I began facilitating writing workshops a little over two years ago, both live and online. So little by little, I’ve accumulated additional experiences that allow me to make a bigger offer. And I like this flexibility. It feels more appropriate to my spirit and way of thinking than doing the same work, day in and day out.

At the same time, another enormous obstacle that I have to keep befriending is my own confidence. Learning to trust myself more. This is a continuously unfolding practice and process. But the more I leap, the more I land.

How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

See above. Creativity and flexibility. But the first order of business is this: Answering the question, “What am I curious about?” That’s the foundation for all of it. When I operate out of a space of curiosity, I naturally begin manifesting my passions. One thing simply leads to the other.

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?

When I am living from my heart, from my joy, from my bigness, I never worry about losing excitement or enthusiasm. There’s simply no room for that kind of fear.

How do you measure your successes?

In feelings, not products or web hits or dollars. If I’m feeling good about what I do, and I am helping others feel good through this work, that’s the ticket for me. If someone is affected by a piece of writing I’ve put out there – if something in them has been touched or broken open or healed in some way – that is profoundly gratifying to me. That doesn’t mean I’m not motivated by the other successes, but I’m not locked to that outcome. It doesn’t define what is “good.”

I keep my focus on the work itself and my relationship to that. To me, success means waking up in the morning and being invested – consistently and deeply – in the work I’m doing. How that translates into products or web hits or dollars is a different beast altogether. I care about this, too – it’s part of my livelihood after all – but I don’t let it measure how successful I am. I refuse to tie my self-worth to that.

What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

1. Don’t worry what other people are doing, or mark your pace or progress against anyone else.

Stick to the rhythm you create, stay focused on what’s intuitively you, and don’t be tempted into a competition that’s going to waylay your process.

2. Stay curious, open, experimental, and flexible. Don’t be afraid to have outcomes in mind -– hopes, wishes, dreams, best-case scenarios – but don’t be married to them.

Allow the path to appear before you, for the journey to articulate itself.

And take time with this. Too often we force a direction that comes out of pressure instead of purpose, and that’s where we lose our way.

3. Make fun a non-negotiable requirement, and use this as a barometer for how you are doing. If stress, fear, discontent, or unease are the primary feelings you have about your work or the path you’ve taken, that’s definitely a sign to shift gears. At the same time, give yourself the space to be emotional. Manifesting our passions involves getting in touch with the deepest aspects of our identities, and therefore more immune to ups and downs.

But the more we put ourselves out there and are willing to overcome obstacles in service of our most important work, the greater the rewards can be – a deep feeling of satisfaction, a peak sense of pride and meaningfulness, and a profound connection to the world. Being in touch with our emotions is the key to navigating the challenge of manifesting what we care about most.

4. Don’t go it alone. Find allies. Get help. There are so many sources of inspiration, knowledge, and guidance that can help our work thrive and stay sustainable. There’s no need to attempt a hero’s journey through the desert without a thermos of water to our name. It’s vital to find like-minded spirits that nourish and delight us. We cannot isolate ourselves but instead must get vulnerable and more transparent with our passionate pursuits by engaging with others.

This is one of those key permission slips that opens the channels, enriches our work, and that provides such stability as we explore unchartered territory. And the best reason to find others to help you manifest your passions into a life lived with purpose? Being able to share the feeling accomplishment with them, and in turn, being celebrated for your work. That kind of acknowledgement is invaluable.


Maya Stein is a poet, writing facilitator and creative adventurer. She has published two collections of personal essays, “The Overture of an Apple” and “Spinning the Bottle,” as well as “Enough Water,” a collection of poetry and photographs, and has kept a weekly 10-line poetry practice (“10-line Tuesday”) since 2005. In 2010, Maya completed “Tour de Word,” a two-month, 30-state traveling poetry project that brought no-cost writing workshops to more than 200 people.

This past summer, she embarked on a second traveling project, “Type Rider,” a 40-day, 1,300-mile bicycling and typewriting journey from Amherst, MA to Milwaukee, WI. Maya dabbles in hair cutting, ran a small catering business for six years, took part in a Ringling Bros’ and Barnum & Bailey Circus act for one afternoon, and has been writing poetry since she was nine. Learn about these adventures and more at



Sybil Smith


When I first met Sybil, she was a quiet, shy woman who seemed uncomfortable in her own body. Over the past five years I have witnessed her incredible growth and shift and transformation and it is inspiring! I asked Sybil to share her journey.

Love. Hope. Presence.

My purpose is to connect with my hope from the inside and let it spill out to others. My job is to learn to love myself, just as I am, knowing that a better ME makes a better community. This philosophy is only possible when I am present within myself.

My purpose hasn’t always been so clear to me. I remember being a tiny small child, around the age of 4, praying in bed every night for God to make my children a huge influence on society. I had this knowing in my heart that there was work to be done, people to love, and that it was bigger than anything I could ever accomplish myself.


I continued that prayer and intention well into my 20’s, unfortunately. The struggle was that I did not believe that I, little ‘ol Sybil, could make an impact. It simply didn’t cross my mind that MY mission was to do the work, love people, and be the hope I so desperately wanted to see.

This lack of belief in myself manifested itself in my life in many ways. I entered into a marriage that was not right for me (or my husband), I became nearly 100lbs over weight, I worked myself to death at 3 jobs – and hated every one of them – and I became very depressed. Those years were very dark; I didn’t see a way out.

I’m here now, so what shifted for me? Honestly, I still cannot put my finger on it. It wasn’t a light switch that clicked, no light bulb came on, it wasn’t a life altering ah-ha moment, or any of those other story-book magical moments we all want.

I remember lying in bed, in a very dark place emotionally, looking at my sweet dog (her name is Faith – funny, huh?) and finding the resolve to get up to feed her. It took everything in me to do that. I decided in that moment, since I couldn’t get rid of the things I didn’t want, I would add to my life instead of taking it away or taking things away. So, the next time I got out of bed, I fed Faith AND got a drink of water. It was the most simple thing I have ever done, and the hardest.

887062_4578787955947_1819914405_oThis idea of adding to life, instead of taking away from life, is the diesel that fuels my engine now. In the act of deciding the most simple things to add to my life in a slow, predictable and consistent way (drinking more water, move my body, make a friend, eat green foods), the things that did not serve me fell away (the unhealthy marriage, 90lbs of excess weight, the jobs that didn’t fit me, the beliefs that held me down). There is simply not enough room in your soul for both the things that fulfill you and the things that do not feed your purpose. You get to choose.

People ask me all the time, “Wow! You’ve lost 90 lbs and you’re out racing bicycles and have a successful business and you seem so happy! How long did it take you?” I just laugh and ask them if they really want me to tell them the truth.

200976_10151133652988585_1966062106_oThe truth is that this is a lifetime in the making, and I’m not finished yet! For those who want a concrete number to cling to, this September will be my 6 year freedom anniversary. I celebrate the moment I made my first real step into owning my own life. It was complicated, messy, and I did it poorly – but I did it. It’s not about HOW I did it, it is all about THAT I did it and have remained committed to myself every day since then. Celebration is a cornerstone to momentum.

There have been many bumps along my road. The important lesson to me was that every bump is part of the road, not just something to get over. I don’t like them, but I understand that they are a necessary part of moving forward. My current bump is the knowing that I’m a diesel engine, not a gas engine.

177784_10151106458848474_1984014309_oLet me explain. I race bikes and I like to go fast. It allows me to meet new people (loving people), encourage them (hope beyond hope) and requires intense presence if I intend to stay upright and moving forward. My coach recently said to me, “Sybil, you’re not a sprinter. It’s just not there. You’re a diesel. A powerful diesel.” I didn’t want to hear that, because sprinters win races, and I want to win.

As I thought about what it means to be a diesel, it occurred to me that I am a diesel in every part of my life. Slow to start, and dang near unstoppable once I get momentum, which simply takes time. That is all. I need time to get going, and once I do, I am a powerful force at work, in my family, in my community, in my own body. Powerful people win at life. That’s what I truly want, and I want others to see how possible it is for them, too. I am still working on deeply accepting this truth and finding how it works to keep me connected to my passion, purpose and mission.

6936_10151296238804581_1682616589_nThere are bad days – yesterday was an uber bad one – and there are good days – today is one of those! Remaining committed to my passion and purpose is what gets me through both kinds of days. My encouragement to others is to do one small thing for yourself today that will take you one step further down the road of peace, whatever peace means for you. The small steps add up; I’m living proof of that. There is no way I would be able to climb the highest mountain East of the Mississippi without first taking that small step to drink more water 6 years ago. I had no idea I would end up here, and I am so glad I did.

To find out more about Sybil, visit her website at


Another Passionate Person

Angela Ludwig


Angela Ludwig has always loved working with animals. After following the traditional path of veterinary medicine, Angela found a way to combine her love of animals with her desire to be an animal advocate. She and her partner own Good Dog Training in Michigan, providing obedience classes, pet sitting and behavioral advice.

What is your life’s passion and purpose?

I’m not sure that I really have “a title” or one specific title.  In my current path I wear a few different hats.  I see myself as a dog trainer, dog handler and competitor, advocate for animals and sometimes human therapist.  I currently teach dog obedience classes, do dog walking for clients, pet sitting, dog behavioral advice and I train and show my own three dogs in many different dog sport venues.  Sometimes this provides me with a challenge and sometimes I think “wow!  I actually get paid to do this!?”  It’s a purpose with many different aspects.

379602_575387655815303_1101018360_nHow did you discover this?

I think that I have always, as long as I can remember, had a strong passion for animals.  I remember being a young girl and always being that “one” that brought home stray animals, wildlife babies I found, dreaming of making my closet a “home for the pony I just knew I would get for my 5th birthday”.  When we installed the pool in my backyard when in grade school, I was just sure my parents would let me get an otter to swim with!  My poor parents!

I think my first thoughts on what I wanted to be was a veterinarian.  I wanted to help sick animals and keep them healthy and safe. I kept this plan all through high school and two years of college.  I worked for a small/large animal veterinarian my senior year in high school and learned quite a bit. I fell in love with horses even more than I thought I was, and I learned that veterinary medicine is not always happy.  Even though you do your best to help and save lives, there are still some that are lost. This made me kind of re-evaluate things.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to be the one that ultimately was responsible for that dog or cat’s (or other creature) life.  Making sure I diagnosed them correctly, gave the best anesthetic and hope there was no reaction, giving owners a poor prognosis; I think I was too “soft hearted” for that.  So, I instead went the path of veterinary technician.  Close, but not all the responsibility of the veterinarian.

With this path, I was able to work more one on one with clients and I found that I really got interested in listening to people ask about common problems they had with their dogs.  Housebreaking issues, how to not have their dogs pull them all over on a walk, how to stop them from barking, etc.  Most veterinarians are not schooled in behavior issues.  It gets slightly touched on in school, but not very much in relation to the medical topics.

IMG_1223I was working for a veterinarian that saw that I had a bit of a spark in this area, and was 100% supportive of helping me learn as much as I could.  He even paid for me to got to a few training classes with my new puppy I had gotten.  This is what got me totally hooked on dog training!  I loved learning what made my dog “tick”.  I loved having the challenge of having a terrier who was pretty self sufficient in what he wanted to do.  I was learning with my own puppy all these cool things and then I was able to pass this on to our clients.  I read as many books about dog behavior and training as I could get my hands on.  I volunteered with the woman who was teaching the training classes I took and later on taught classes for her.  I loved this.  I didn’t know, realize or even imagine at that point that this could be something I could make a career or life path with.  I just loved it.

Where were you in your life before you found this path? 

I worked for a few years more in the veterinary field and found it very hard for myself to make it financially.  Unlike what most people think, there is not much money in veterinary medicine.  I decided to go back to school and find a career that would be a little more financially sound.  I went into a whole 180 degree turn–dental hygiene.  How crazy is that?!?!

I loved hygiene school.  Always have loved school.  I graduated after about 3 years at the top of my class, found a job right away and went to work.  I did like it, I loved having the relationships with my patients, I loved being able to help keep people healthy.

After doing this for 7 years, I unfortunately developed carpal tunnel in my right hand, it was pretty severe.  It took 2 surgeries just to get normal used of my hand and sadly, I lost a lot of my grip strength.  I could no longer perform the function of my job safely.

I still had this feeling inside that even though I was financially in a better position, I was missing my real love.  I missed the interactions with the animals.

375046_575739369113465_607567508_nOnce I recovered as much as I could from my hand surgery, I had to go back into the search for a job.  Luckily, I found a job at a local veterinary clinic as a technician pretty quickly.  Once again, I was doing what I felt was my calling.  While working here, I met my current partner.  She is a well respected dog trainer in the area and she was teaching classes at the veterinary hospital I was currently working at.

One thing led to another and my personal relationship with her grew and then after a year and a half, I decided to go to work with her full time in doing dog training, pet sitting, dog walking and home consultations.  The really cool thing about having my life partner and business partner being the same is that we can bounce ideas off of each other, we a lot of time have the same clients at different times, and we work well together.  I think, too, we balance each other out.  We both have different strengths and weaknesses and it works both for home and business.  And besides, we both share the same hobby:  dogs!

This has grown into a very strong passion for myself in training my own dogs for many different trials and competitions.  I am now able to pass this passion on to my dog training students and hopefully spark a passion in them to get out and do many things with their dogs and find joy with that in their lives.

photo3What was the impetus for doing what you do?

I think just the joy and satisfaction I find in sharing my love of dog training and competing. I love the atmosphere of being around other competitors at dog sporting events and I love seeing the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in my clients when their dogs learn to perform and work in conjunction with them.  This is something I never tire of feeling or seeing.  I don’t think I ever will tire of this.

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desires into work that sustains you? 

I think the obstacles for me in choosing to follow my heart’s desires and keep my career in the dog training field is mostly financial obstacles.  I still find stress quite a bit in my life with this.  Again, it’s not a very lucrative career for the most part.  I feel some guilt or embarrassment that I am in my 40’s and don’t have any savings and live pretty much paycheck to paycheck still.  But, I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum.

photo2I’ve had a job that was a “safer option” and I had the retirement plan from my employer, very decent salary, medical insurance and a lot of other benefits.  Yet I wasn’t very happy when it came right down to it. I had several mornings that I just didn’t want to get up and go to work.

I think that life is too short to feel like that more than 50% of the time.  Ultimately, I decided to follow my heart, my passion, my joy and dive into the world of dogs.  I very rarely have a day where I just can’t be happy about going to work.  I guess, for me, the happiness I feel about my career outweighs the financial stress worry.  I like that work feels more like play and I can still help animals and owners.
I’m not really sure that I intended my path to go in this direction, rather I think it was the only thing I ever really saw or felt myself doing.  As I said earlier, at times, it definitely can be worrisome on the financial end of things, and I honestly feel that at any time in the future if we expanded and added other trainers or dog walkers to our business and maybe even our own training building (right now we rent space at a doggy day care) we could probably get something bigger built up.  Right now that is only a far off possibility.  I think as far as supporting me emotionally and giving me satisfaction though, it is definitely the right path that I took.  In writing this, I told Ruth via an email conversation, that I wasn’t really that aware at the time of what I was doing or really even intended to do, I just kind of “did it” and went for it.  I’ve kind of always been an impulse type person and luckily, most of the time, it works. It’s been fun exploring the memories and feelings and actually looking back with hindsight what I have done, where I started and where I am now.How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?

I think I maintain my enthusiasm for the choices I make by the rewards I get in return.  It makes me so happy to have a class where in the first week dogs are out of control, owners look either shell shocked or exhausted, and by week 6 they are smiling, dogs are behaving and the owners just have a sense of accomplishment and pride.  Same thing when I was in the veterinary field.  It was just a great feeling to be able to discharge a pet that was hospitalized for illness or surgery and hand them back to their owners.


Animals have always been a source of happiness for me.  As early as I can remember. I bought my first horse just out of high school and in training him and showing him, this taught me so much about self confidence and how to take on a challenge and stick with it.  I also learned how to be thankful for what I had, even when showing and being surrounded by quite a few very wealthy friends who had hundred thousand dollar show horses, private trainers, and instructors.  I was still out there with my $1500.00 horse, self trained and for the most part self taught in how to show.  This was probably one of the best experiences in my life so far.  Each time I was able to earn a placing ribbon I felt like I had just found a gold treasure.  I think I smiled for days.  I still have all of the ribbons I earned packed away in a box.  Those brightly colored pieces of nylon are worth a lot to me.

How do you measure your successes?

I measure my successes by the people and dogs that I am able to help.  I feel so much joy and relief from hearing from my clients how much better their relationship is with their dog.  Behavioral issues are one of the top reasons that dogs either get surrendered to shelters, rescues, or get euthanized.  So, by being able to help that relationship grow into something that works for the owners and dogs, I feel I am able to save the lives of some dogs.  It’s not always easy, and it’s not something that necessarily has a “quick fix”, so that can be pretty challenging at times.  I find myself feeling unsuccessful at times, and that is very disheartening to me, but when I do hear the success story, it makes my heart feel so full.  To be honest, this is not a business that success is measured in dollars or wealth—far from it!  It is more the knowing that I have built up a rapport with people that share the same passion I have–pets!

photo1What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

I say just go for it.  Don’t let fear hold you back.  You never know what you can make for yourself unless you try.  Sometimes you may fail, sometimes you may have a minor setback or two.  If it means that much to you though, don’t take no for an answer and go for it.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help, don’t be afraid to say no when you can’t possibly do what is being asked of you or when a situation is not good for you.  If something feels right and you know that in your gut, then strive towards that.  Life is just too short to feel miserable, or feel taken advantage of.  I guarantee that if you do at least one thing in your life everyday that makes you happy or joyful, your life will be a much better one and one lived on purpose.

For more information about Angela and her services, visit her Good Dog Training website at

Another Passionate Person

Kimberly Graham

Kimberly Graham is President & Founder of HighRoadDivorce.Com where she provides calm, experienced support and guidance on the divorce journey. She is passionate about helping people through divorce because she has lived it.  She is also Principal Attorney and Mediator at Graham Law Collaborative in Des Moines, Iowa where she practices family and juvenile law and mediation.

I asked Kimberly to share how she chose this special work.

What is your life’s passion and purpose?

It’s twofold:

1.  To teach meditation and mindfulness so people can be happier, healthier and more peaceful.

2.  to help people mindfully navigate divorce and co-parenting so kids and parents don’t needlessly suffer.   For that, I use my divorce mediator and lawyer experience, my personal experiences as a mother and as a child of divorce, and my meditation and mindfulness background.

How did you discover this?

I’ve always advocated for fairness and justice.  I remember when I was a little girl, how unfair and wrong I felt racism was.  I remember when the Equal Rights Amendment was a major deal and how unfair I thought discrimination based on gender was, too.   Advocating for kids in a divorce comes naturally to me.  I was the child in a divorce and I’ve been divorced.  And I think the way we treat our most vulnerable is incredibly important.

My father did not know how to handle his strong emotions.  Because of that, after my parents were divorced, he was mostly absent.  That had a profound effect on my perception of my worth in the world for a long time.  I did not believe I was worth staying for.  Kids deserve parents who have learned to manage their strong emotions.  Mentally and emotionally healthy parents create happy kids, even during and after divorce.

Where were you in your life before you found this path?

As a child and young adult, I never wanted to be a lawyer or mediator.  It just wasn’t in my world at all.  I was an international flight attendant (usually flying to Stockholm, Sweden because I speak Swedish) for 12 years while getting my bachelor’s degree.  I pieced together work and school until I finally finished.  Except for one aunt, I was the first person in my family to complete college.  I moved to Iowa after receiving my B.A. in Humanities, from UC Irvine, looked around Des Moines and thought “What sorts of schools are here?  What education and training will allow me options for decently-paid work while serving people?”  There was a law school, so I applied and was accepted.

I was 9 months pregnant the day I took the bar exam.  (When I see classmates, some of them joke about that to this day!)  A week after the exam, I had a new son and a month or so later, a new career.  I wanted to work part-time for the first years of my son’s life, and a great part-time opportunity was offered me in my small town.  I was interested in family law, juvenile law and in mediation.  I wanted to help cultivate more peace in the world.  The more I worked in divorce and juvenile law, the more I saw the impact I was having in those areas.

What was the impetus for doing what you do?

I don’t see one moment in my life as defining in terms of what I’m doing now.  I just went about looking for a flexible career that paid decently, and where I could make an impact toward a more peaceful planet.  I found that in family law, juvenile law and mediation.  Everything starts at home so there’s little as important as feeling happy in your family.  Whether the family lives in the same home or not, it’s all still family.

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desires into work that sustains you?

The main obstacles were learning to run a profitable business with no training at all.  Law school doesn’t ever teach you how to run a law firm, it teaches you how to analyze cases, mostly.  It’s a very steep learning curve to running a solo practice law and mediation firm when I’d never been self-employed before founding Graham Law Collaborative and High Road

How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

I just always knew I wanted to help people suffer less and to represent people who otherwise have no voice (as I do in juvenile court when I represent abused or neglected kids).  As I’ve grown into more fully expressing myself and using my mindfulness and meditation tools in my law and mediation practices, I’ve attracted more clients who want what I offer.  I’m not a typical attorney or mediator because of the tools I use and the messages I deliver.  And I love that.

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?

That’s pretty easy.  It feels better than not living from my heart.  Love always wins.  Love is all there is, when you get right down to it.

How do you measure your successes?

I consider a combination of how much I’m putting out positive tools and messages into the world, how much I’m helping change things for the better, how much love I give through my work and my personal relationships, and how well I’m able to support my son and my goals for my life and for his.
It’s a great day when a client tells me something I’ve said helped them think differently, helped them be happier, or positively affected their kids — and it’s a perfect day when I also get to spend focused time with my son or partner – and be really present with them.

What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

What matters to you?  What makes you happy?  When do you feel you’re living with a lot of love shining out into the world?  How can you create work that feeds your bank account and your heart, too?  Keep thinking about that and moving toward it.

At the same time you’re figuring out your future, be present.  Focus on now.  It’s a balancing act but it’s possible.  Sit down with your partner and really see them.  Take a walk with your kid and really listen.  Look into the person’s eyes at Starbuck’s and really see.  Say hi.  We have so many chances to give and receive love and kindness every day, so wake up and don’t miss them!


Another Passionate Person

Kathie Kelling

Kathie Kelling is a Transformational Life Coach, entrepreneur, world traveler, mother and grandmother. I asked her to share her journey of her richly passionate life.

Are you living the life you’ve always dreamed?

No, I’m living the life I NEVER dreamed of.

I never imagined that my life could take the path that it has. Imagining was left behind when I was a little girl, when I let go of my imaginary friends. I believed that I would grow up, get married and have children…and I did.

Then, 30 years ago, as a divorced single mother of four, I decided to take some college courses and my perspective began to change. I began to imagine again.

What did you discover?

My life’s passion is to recognize the Divine spark in each person I meet. My purpose is to evoke or invite their passion within, to come out.

How did you discover this?

I first had to discover it in myself. As I look back, it was magical – teachers, workshops, trainings all came into my awareness at the perfect time. As I opened to myself through this work, I knew I wanted to share what I was learning.

My move toward doing what I love and loving what I do began with a class called Positive Body Image. A teacher I met at Phoenix College saw something in me that I didn’t know was there. She asked me to teach this class, which was all about self-esteem and it incorporated movement, music and drawing for self expression. I accepted the possibility that she knew more than I did and that started it all.

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desires into the work that sustains you?

I was a single parent and needed a regular income to support myself and my daughters. I longed to give up “the day job” and fully focus on doing what I loved. At one point, I thought it was time, (it wasn’t) and I tried making it on my own. I made a financial flop that sent me back looking for a job, any job.

It was many years before I had the courage to go out on my own again.

How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

Looking back, it’s easy to see how everything unfolded perfectly. I got a job, continued to do “my work” evenings, weekends, whenever I could. I kept clarifying my passion. Eventually, jobs were offered to me based on my experience working with people and were more fulfilling in their own right. I was able to express my passion through my job too. There was still a strong desire to work only for myself and for a time that caused me pain when I saw my job as holding me back.

My freedom came when I finally got that, in a spiritual sense, I needed to love and appreciate my job in order to let it go.

I began to see my job in a new light – as a launching pad supporting me and helping me get ready to lift off and fly. Within 6 months of adopting that new perspective, I left working for others behind and became, as Barbara Winter says, Joyfully Jobless. That was 16 years ago.

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?I listen to Abraham ( all the time when driving. Their teachings have inspired me for many years. I know that if I am feeling down or discouraged, I’m looking at what I lack rather than appreciating all that I have. I am also a voracious reader and get excited about great book titles. Just recently I read The School of Essential Ingredients. It is a novel but has given me the idea for a class. Ideas are everywhere and new ideas keep me enthusiastic. And travel – just thinking about travel gets me excited.

How do you measure your successes?

When I feel good and see the beauty in each day, I know I am successful. When I do a presentation or a class and I see eyes light up with a new awareness or understanding, I feel successful. When my daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gather round the table at Thanksgiving, each sharing thanks in their own voice, my cup of success runs over.

What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

Take a risk. Figure out what you love and begin to give it some attention. My motto is successful people do things before they know how. It’s worked for me.

Kathie Kelling is a Transformational Life Coach, PSYCH-K ® Facilitator and Entrepreneur. Kathie conducts workshops and retreats in Arizona and internationally. Whether consulting with individuals or groups, she evokes possibilities for those wanting to find their passion and follow their bliss. Kathie offers tools for replacing limiting beliefs with a powerful new perspective of yourself and your life.

To get in touch with Kathie, email her at

Another Passionate Person

Cindy from Canada



I recently met a woman in the mobile home park office who was here for a week. She was from Canada, traveling with her three cats in a 28 foot RV with two slide-outs. And she was towing a small, four-door white Hyundai Accent.

I thought, how damn brave, to be driving all those thousands of miles alone, in a bigger rig than me, AND towing a car!

Marika and I were always too chicken to tow a car behind us, because it would have made the vehicle that much longer and that much slower, and that much more challenging to maneuver, especially when driving through the LA freeways.

In a quick moment, I flipped into a litany of shoulds in my head, that I have an RV, I should be traveling around the country. I should be towing my car. I should be brave and just do it. And then, as quickly as the monologue began, I realized that’s not my dream, and I let it go.

But I was intrigued by this woman’s story, and so I left a note on her picnic table, asking her if she’d like to join me for lunch or dinner and she said yes.

Cindy is in her late 50’s, early 60’s, retired, though I didn’t ask from what. She is a few inches taller than me, thick bodied and wide. The door on her RV is narrow and she enters with her body turned slightly sideways. She has a square face and her gray hair is straight, not quite collar length, with the ends curled under and tucked behind her ears. A row of neatly trimmed bangs match her modern gray glasses.

When I picked her up for our dinner she was wearing jeans and a printed t-shirt with a gray scarf draped across her shoulders, 2” silver hoop earrings and a sparkly ring on her right pinky.

I suggested my favorite place for fish tacos and she told me she doesn’t eat seafood, even though her father is a fisherman and crabber. I offered a few other options but she was happy to try their famous carnitas platter with roasted, crispy pork, rice and beans, guacamole and a huge salad.

I shared the nutshell of my story over chips and salsa, how I wanted to live at the beach and Marika wasn’t ready to move. That living full-time in the RV was not the original plan, but that I’m loving the simpleness and freedom of it every day.

She, too, wanted something different than her husband. She had traveled all over Europe and the US by herself because he hated to leave home. They divorced last summer and sold their house. He now has an apartment and she has her life on the road.

Cindy is from Toronto and she’s been on the road since last September. She made her way across her country first, and now she is exploring ours. She doesn’t have a set itinerary, only a vague plan that includes Arizona, Texas and Florida, then a sprint back up the east coast to Ontario for a few weeks to visit family before she heads back out again.

She does a lot of dry-camping – parking overnight in a Walmart or Safeway parking lot en route to her next destination. And she only drives about 100 miles a day, stopping often to shop, see a touristy site and taste the local foods. Her phone and wifi plan are too expensive to use in the states so she relies on local coffee shops and libraries for internet access and skyping with her family.

She has a stack of AAA tour books and she researches the area she’s approaching to see what she might want to see while she’s driving through. If there’s enough that interests her, she’ll find a campground or RV park and stay for a few days or a week, do laundry, dump the RV tanks and explore the area.

I loved hearing about Cindy’s travels, how open-ended her journey is, how flexible she is with her time. It gave me a new way to envision the book/workshop/retreat tour that I’m planning for next year.

She said one of her favorite things about her new lifestyle is being able to sleep in late and have her breakfast in bed, watching TV with her cats. She loves not having a schedule or anyone else to answer to. The day we had dinner she had spent the afternoon sitting on the beach, knitting a hat for her mum.

Her next stop was Disneyland, then south and east to experience the Arizona desert. She asked me if I had any suggestions for places to stay and things to see in Arizona. I mentioned the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale and the Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix. When she asked about the Grand Canyon, she was surprised to hear that they have winter weather there, that Arizona isn’t all desert. But then, that leg of her journey was days away and she hadn’t gotten to that part in her tour book yet.

Cindy didn’t want her photo taken. And I never did get her last name. I wish her many safe miles and lots of wonderful adventures on her journey!

Another Passionate Person

Dr. Anna Garrett


Dr. Anna Garrett helps women maximize their mojo through menopause and beyond.

What is your life’s passion and purpose?

My life’s passion and purpose is to help women in midlife navigate all the life and health transitions they experience. My experience is that a large percentage of women accept the negatives about changes at this time (hot flashes, etc) without knowing that suffering is OPTIONAL! My mission is to change that for them through education and re-balancing of their hormones.

How did you discover this?

I’ve been caring for and educating a wide variety of patients in my career as a pharmacist. I’ve worked in a variety of practice settings, but in the back of my mind I knew I wanted to have my own business someday. Dr. Anna Garrett is actually the 3rd iteration of my business!

I discovered what I ultimately wanted to do after I gave myself a HUGE gift of 6 months just to BE this past summer. I came out of that time with an incredible amount of clarity around wanting to end unnecessary suffering for women in midlife.

Where were you in your life before you found this path?

I had always practiced pharmacy in a health care system…eventually working my way up to being the manager of three departments. A good job…but boring. I started doing coach training while in my previous job and knew that whatever I eventually did would need to have a coaching component to it.

December a year ago, I left my full-time job and started a coaching company for women. But it still didn’t feel quite right. I took some time to learn about hormone balancing and when I did that, it felt like I had discovered the Holy Grail!

What was the impetus for doing what you do?

There is so much satisfaction that comes from helping women feel better and seeing them reclaim their mojo once their hormones get straightened out!

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desires into work that sustains you?

I am my biggest obstacle. And this stems from the fact that I am often hesitant to put myself “out there” as an expert. Once I was able to move around this, things started to fall into place.

How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

I was able to create what I wanted by taking one conscious step at a time…even when I didn’t feel like it!  It’s been a very slow process, but it feels authentic and solid.

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?

I spent plenty of years not living from my heart. I was living according to what others expected. Now that I know what it feels like to live in alignment with who I am, there’s no going back. It just takes too much energy to do it any other way!

How do you measure your successes?

Success means something different to everyone. And I find that my definition has changed a lot over the years. I measure success in several ways. First, part of my success is measured by the number of women I help. Then, I think about how I feel and whether or not that lines up with how I WANT to feel. Am I operating in the world the way I want to? Am I showing up every day as the person I really want to be?

What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

I think if I had one piece of advice to give, it would be to be patient. It’s taken me years to feel like I am living on purpose and there are days now when I still wonder…but those days are few and far between now. Stay open to possibilities…your purpose may present itself in a way you don’t expect!


For more about Dr. Anna Garrett and to sign up for a subscription to her free Mojo Magic Tricks (weekly tips and tricks to help you fire up your fabulousness) visit

Another Passionate Person

Stacey Beth Shulman


Stacey Beth Shulman calls herself the Wake Up Fairy for people’s souls. Through art, yoga and storytelling, she helps her clients connect with their own rhythms and dreams.

What is your life’s passion and purpose?

I am the Wake Up Fairy for people’s souls. I help people uncover their internal rhythms, energetic patterns and sensory awareness in order to cultivate self-acceptance, connect to the world around them and create a more satisfying and meaningful life.

I do this is by leading body-centered yoga classes, workshops and retreats and offering Positional Release yoga therapy and yoga-based coaching to people of all shapes, sizes and abilities.

To me, the act of living is a deeply spiritual and fiercely creative endeavor – exploring the intersection of spirituality and creativity is my life’s passion.

How did you discover this?

Through a lot of trial and error! I have always been fascinated by creativity, which, for me, expresses itself through art and movement. I went to art school and then got my Master’s degree in Recreation Therapy because I wanted to do something more than be an art teacher. I worked as a Recreation Therapist in a variety of clinical settings before realizing I wanted to apply my skills in a different fashion.

I began shifting my primary identity from my job to my passions. During that time my family gifted me with a kiln and I rented a studio, making hand built tableware that I painted with whimsical images of flowers, fruit and fish in bright colors with lots of polka dots. Small galleries took my work and I had a few shows, which was really fun and incredibly gratifying. I sold my pottery at holiday sales and festivals, thinking this was the way I would eventually make my living.

I started going to yoga classes and participating in any kind of spiritual growth opportunity I could find while I was still making and selling pottery. Work became really secondary – a means to make the money so I could do what I wanted to do. There was this incredible pull to keep exploring, to keep learning and making those connections, so I kept going. And I became increasingly resentful of my day job because it felt so confining – but it was also a source of security. I knew there would be a paycheck every two weeks with the same amount of money each time.

Then the economy went from bad to worse, galleries and festivals closed and my art sales dried up. I was still making things, but my enthusiasm was waning since I based the majority of my success on how much was sold.

I enrolled in yoga teacher training for my 40th birthday because I wanted to do something epic for myself. We met for 9 weekends over a 6 month period. It felt like running a marathon. During the second weekend of training we were doing a standing forward fold. As I was coming out of the posture, it felt like a dam broke. I just started crying. I am pretty sure I cried for the next 24 hours. And every weekend of teacher training after that. That was when I really knew I was onto something; that there was something bigger out there for me to do. And whatever it was, it was going to involve a lot of healing for me and other people.

Where were you in your life before you found this path?

In a nutshell, I was incredibly unhappy on the inside and trying hard not to show it on the outside. I felt stuck in a rut that I could see no way out of. I was completely disconnected from my body and I hated how I looked. I could never get enough sleep. I never felt completely well or satisfied. I did a lot of things just because I thought it would make people love me. I ate a lot. I shopped a lot. I surfed the net. A lot.

Now when these old thought patterns and behaviors pop up, I see them for what they are – a sign that I am out of balance in some aspect of my life. I don’t always know what the root cause is, but today I have a lot of tools to help me center myself and find acceptance in the moment.

What was the impetus for doing what you do?

In my late 20’s and early 30’s a lot of tragedy struck my family. My dad was killed in an accident. My last grandparent and his second wife died within 24 hours of each other. My mom woke up one morning completely blind for no apparent reason and, to this day, has never recovered her sight. It suddenly became really apparent to me that life was short. I desperately wanted to start living my dreams, but I was too afraid to quit my job. I felt like I was swimming underwater, only coming up for air every once in a while when I had a break from the grief and stress. That pattern went on for years.

The Universe took care of all of that when I was laid off from my job on my 41stbirthday. I like to think it was the best decision I could have never made for myself. I finally had the time and space to let my energy grow in all the ways it needed to. Education is a strong value for me, and I began to pursue all of the opportunities I could to learn about the therapeutic applications of yoga. What I discovered was that the more I became connected to myself and my spirituality, the more I could offer others. 

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desires into work that sustains you?


Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of judgment. You name it, I’ve probably been afraid of it.

For me, the antidote to fear is faith. I am learning to lean back on the Universe rather than try to do it all myself. Some days I’m better at it than others. What has helped me a lot is to set up little signs that let me know I’m on the right track – for instance, music from a particular band on the radio. When I hear one of their songs, it let’s me know I’m doing the right thing. And I always make sure to take a moment to connect to the Universe, to say thanks for that little reminder.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about my perception of my body as an obstacle, because for me, sometimes it still is. I am a curvy girl with a generous figure. I struggle with compulsive eating and the guilt and shame associated with it.

Left unchecked, those feelings serve to disconnect me from myself and, as a result, I become disconnected from the rest of the world. What that looks like for me is depression coupled with an uneasy restlessness.

What gets me past that hurdle is my yoga practice. Postures are excellent metaphors for what I am feeling. Pranayam, or yogic breathwork, helps me move energy through my body. Meditation is calming and focusing. Yoga philosophy teaches me how to reframe my view of myself and create greater self-acceptance. Going to my mat is how I gently begin to reconnect to the Universe inside and out in order to restore myself to a balanced state.

How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

Things happen for me at the speed of yoga, which can be lightning fast or really slow. Sometimes it’s hard for me to wait for things to unfold and I get anxious or too many things start happening all at once and I get overwhelmed. My mantra is Patience, Persistence and Time because for me, that’s what it takes. 

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?

My hobbies have become my main source of income, so I have had to find more. I am active in the reality storytelling scene, which has been a great way to publicize my work and develop wonderful friendships. I am getting back into art again, mainly painting little watercolors right now. I go to 5 Rhythms dance events as often as I can to sweat my prayers and release stuck energy.

I also make sure to receive as much bodywork as I can. It really helps me to stay connected to my body and keep on loving it, no matter what size or shape it happens to be. Plus, it feels really good! I love experiencing different kinds – so far I’ve tried lots of massage, reiki, Watsu, reflexology, Positional Release, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, polarity therapy, Ayurvedic bodywork and all manners of energy healing. I have learned something new about myself from all of them.

How do you measure your successes?

I measure success by the feedback I get from people who come to my classes or see me for individual work. It’s not something I solicit, and I am always humbled when I hear it.

Recently a woman came to one of my evening classes and just as we were getting ready to start, she announced that she was leaving the next morning for a long drive to visit her family for the holidays and hadn’t packed yet. I asked why she wasn’t at home, getting ready and her response to me was “Are you kidding? There is no way I could get through this trip without going to your class first!”

The next time I saw her she demonstrated how she used a yogic breathing technique she learned in my class to maintain her energy during the trip. If that’s not success, then I don’t know what is.

That’s not to say that money doesn’t play a part in how I measure my success, because, after all, this is my livelihood. But if I only looked at it from that angle, I would be seriously shortchanging myself.

What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

Be really gentle with yourself.

Stay curious.

Look for signs.

Make adjustments.

Practice gratitude.

Listen to your body.

Listen to your heart.

Compare and despair will get you nowhere. Remember that you have choices and this is one of them.

Follow the path of least resistance. If it’s not effortless, it’s probably not the right thing to do.

Ask for what you want, then be patient. Really patient.

Trust the process.

Invest in yourself.

Nourish your soul.

Do what feels natural.

Rest when you need to.

Take time to have fun.

Let go of what doesn’t serve you.

It’s alright to be scared. It’s alright to be deliriously happy, too.







And above all…keep going, my sweet. Keep going.


For more information about Stacey and her body of work, visit

Another Passionate Person

Janice McDonald



Janice McDonald is living an artful, art-filled life. She’s had a graphic design practice in Colorado for many years and began to seriously explore her interest in collage about ten years ago. Her work has been included in an International Collage Exhibition at Kansas State University, a solo show, “Re-Purposed,” at Denver’s Edge Gallery in 2009, and in juried exhibitions around the US and throughout the world.

I asked Janice to share her story and how she creates the time and balance to pursue both of these passions while also keeping up with her friends and wildly creative and inspiring family.

What is your life passion and purpose?

My passion is living an artful, art-filled life and to encourage others to see the potential for creativity to enhance their lives as well.

How did you discover this?

I was very fortunate to have a great deal of encouragement. Since early childhood, I’d had an affinity for art- and design-related pursuits. I was the kid who was always drawing, making things out of little bits of nothing, and creating maps of unknown territories. Despite a rather itinerant upbringing, my parents sought out art lessons and other creative opportunities for me whenever they could. By the time I was 5 or so, my uncle, a professional artist, bestowed upon me the title of “artist.” I was thrilled. It truly never occurred to me to question the designation or to be anything else!

In college I pursued a fine art degree with a concentration in graphic design, which seemed practical. While I developed a career as a designer, and later as I became increasing preoccupied with marriage and a family, I pretty much neglected my fine art interests. As the computer became more integral to the design business, I began to lose the hands-on aspects of that work. Eventually, I realized that I needed to balance the design work with art work — I had a strong desire to touch things, express myself, and work freely with my hands again.

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desires into the work that sustains you?

The primary obstacle was time. I still needed the income from design and I truly loved that work, but I had to begin to set boundaries and make the most of spare moments. I knew I wanted to pursue the collage medium and needed to explore and experiment with techniques that would give the kind of results I envisioned while being somewhat archival. I had to prove to myself that collage work was marketable and could eventually provide an income stream, perhaps even a second career.

All this took time, patience, and energy. I don’t have much “spare” time and have had to be pretty disciplined to keep two endeavors afloat. Evenings and weekends often find me still at “work,” although it doesn’t usually feel as serious as all that — I enjoy what I’m doing tremendously.

I started to make this change in 1999 and feel that I am still in the process. Over time I’ve become more and more committed to it.

How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

Each year I set goals for what I hope to accomplish in terms of art during the following year. Then throughout the year, I jot down encouraging developments and accomplishments. Even though I don’t always complete those goals in quite the way, or at the time, I’ve envisioned, I can see that I am making progress. I take myself out to lunch nearly every week and brainstorm how to enhance what I’m doing, usually jotting down ideas in a sketchbook I carry. (Still, I get my best ideas in the shower!)

In the beginning, I looked at art and design as two very different careers but these days they are much more integrated. Over time, I’ve created a fluid and flexible balance between the two and have come to realize that each nurtures the other, and me.

I have had to give up some design income to pursue the art interests. I see that as an investment in my future. Interestingly, many of my design clients are intrigued with my collage endeavors and have become collectors. Likewise, some of my art friends have become design clients.

During these years, my family responsibilities have changed from huge to minimal. Last fall we became empty-nesters and that gave me a bigger impetus to move forward than I’d imagined. I am able to pour myself into my work with more concentration and energy than ever before.

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?

I love my work. I refer to my studio as a “col-laboratory,” referencing collage, collaboration, and laboratory—in the sense of creative exploration and experimentation— and try to spend as much time in that world as possible. I am very curious and seek out art shows, workshops, lectures, books, online resources, etc. to keep learning new things. I enjoy getting groups of people together to go with me to art-related events so we can discuss what we see.

I strive to live artfully and find joy in attempting to make the everyday special, whether it’s in “curating” some small portion of our home decor, writing a letter to someone special, or getting out in nature. Walking always seems to help everything. I’m still slowed down a bit while recovering from a broken leg and have a renewed appreciation for how important an outlet walking has been for me in recent years.

Thankfully, I have great friends and an understanding and supportive family. My husband (architect), daughter (ballet dancer), and two stepchildren (artist and art teacher/architect and designer) are all engaged in full time creative pursuits so we are able to compare notes, learn from, and encourage each other.

How do you measure your successes?

Mostly by feel: I feel like I’m on the right track. I’m encouraged by what I’ve accomplished so far. I’m having fun and enjoying life. Friends tell me they have a new appreciation for the importance of art and creativity as a result of seeing my story unfold — an unexpected delight.

I rarely have second thoughts about all the time I’ve invested. It may sound trite, but I’m enjoying the journey. And, there is still so much more I want to do, which keeps me motivated.

What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

Allow yourself time, whatever it takes, be patient, adjust your plans as life evolves, and keep plugging away. I’ve lived by this quote from Julia Cameron:

“The myth that we must have “time” — more time — in order to create, is a myth that keeps us from using the time we do have.

If we are forever yearning for “more,” we are forever discounting what is offered.”

For more information and to see more of Janice’s amazing collage art, visit her website or email her….

Another Passionate Person

Jennifer Uteda


Jennifer Uteda makes her living creating videos. In addition to producing and editing movie trailers and television campaigns, she teaches entrepreneurs how to use video to reach their ideal clients. I asked Jen to share how she turned her passion for telling stores with video into a thriving business.

What is your life’s passion and purpose?

I enjoy being creative. I love creating stories with video that people can relate to and enjoy. It’s like painting a picture I think, using all the nuances of video and then adding music to create that emotion people can feel. I know I’ve done something right when I break down crying as I’m editing something for a client. Something that I know will matter to them.

I wonder if that’s how an artist feels when they’ve painted something that resonates with them, or perhaps a photographer when they’ve captured that feeling in a picture. I think so, and it’s just as powerful for me.

How did you discover this?

I was in college and wasn’t feeling excited by my major, which was Business Administration at the time. I noticed the campus radio station needed DJs and I thought that sounded like fun. Once I was involved with the radio station, I discovered the television department…needless to say I was completely hooked!

Where were you in your life before you found this path?

I knew I had a lot to give the world but had no idea how to go about it. I remember almost feeling like I was going to burst knowing this about myself. When I found the outlet of video, I was so happy and became obsessed with it. I got involved in everything I could and I sought out people who could help me learn. I still feel this even today. I know all the latest technology and experiment with new editing techniques and visual effects daily.

What was the impetus for doing what you do?

I have found something I love to do every day. I love creating things with video so I continue to find projects to work on. I am driven to create things with video, like an artist is compelled to paint.

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desires into work that sustains you?

I had a college professor who told me I had no future in video production. I remember being crushed. I’m happy to say I followed my heart and have been a happy, creative and successful business owner in Hollywood for about 20 years.

I have never given up. There are times when being a business owner can be tough… but I have never come to work being unhappy with what I do. I love it as much as the first day I discovered it. I keep striving to get better, I never believe I “know it all”.How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

If you keep taking action towards your passion, it will all work out. You just can’t give up.

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?

I come to work each day and make the decision to be here consciously. If there is a day where I feel mentally drained, I get up and take a break…sometimes I take the entire day off. I find if I’m not happy with what I’m doing, I get nothing accomplished creatively.

How do you measure your successes?

If I’m happy with how a project turns out and feel it’s got a great vibe, I know my client will like it also. I love working on a project that creates emotion in me, knowing that it feels right. That’s success to me, more than any monetary success.

What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

Choose something you’re passionate about. Something you look forward to doing everyday. Something you want to continue learning and growing from. That’s been the key for me. If I hadn’t found this outlet for creativity, I’m not sure how my life would be now. You can’t stop until you find it.

Learn more about Jen’s video businesses at and

Another Passionate Person

Julie Hampton


Julie Hampton loves Italy. So much, in fact, that she wanted to buy a house there. I asked Julie to share how she has manifested this dream, how she found a creative way to raise the money for her vision.


What is your life’s passion and purpose?

To stay connected to a creative consciousness.

As owner of Casa di Julie, a rental property in Tuscany, I think that means connecting guests to an historic way of living. Guests experience, if they are open to it, the pride that comes from building a fire to heat a room, the possibility of washing one’s clothes in a huge 400 year old ceramic pot with a spigot built into the wall, or hanging one’s clothes on a line to dry—all while being surrounded by a luxurious landscape.

I also think the way I bought Casa di Julie is also my life’s passion and purpose: to find creative ways to raise the money for my vision, to not be hypnotized by the scarcity messages on the news or from the banks and find a way to bring what I’ve found to the people who are willing to invest in it.

How did you discover this?

Raising vegetables and going to farmer’s markets as a kid planted the seed. I grew up in Wisconsin and my siblings and I helped my mom and grandmother plant seeds, weed, pickand sell our veggies at various farmer’s markets around the state, and it was so apparent how much consumers wanted to meet and have a relationship with us, the people, the producers, who grew what they were eating.

Buyers wanted to support us, the people in the field growing the food they were putting on their table, to the point where now, they are willing to give farmers money upfront for a CSA membership to protect that exchange. No middle man. No one mediating that experience.

Ten years ago, when I found out about the house in Italy, I thought, why can’t that model work with other experiences or products?  Why wouldn’t renters be willing to put money upfront to secure the opportunity to go to Italy and stay in an amazing house and village they might never go to otherwise, and have a relationship with the owner?

I just didn’t understand the concept of going to a bank to secure money from strangers who knew nothing about me or my business.  So, I found the people who wanted what I wanted and, with their investments, I bought Casa di Julie and they had the experience of staying in this hidden gem in Tuscany.

Where were you in your life before you found this passionate path?

A dreamer, an observer, a follower, an apprentice.  And I’m grateful for that time.  I think everything I’ve experienced has led me to this path.

What was the impetus for doing what you do?

Fear and opportunity.  When I went to Italy for the first time to see the house, I was terrified. I kept thinking: I’m wasting the owners’ time, I’m in over my head, I don’t know what I’m doing.

But when I drove up to the village with the owners, a hush came over the car as we moved up the switchback road enveloped by chestnut trees, and I knew I had trusted something bigger than myself and my fears.

I was trusting and nourishing the seed in me that already knew the fullness of the tree it would become and the fruit it would bear for myself and others to enjoy.

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desires into the work that sustains you?

Learning to be my own “yay-sayer”! And finding the other yay-sayers out there. (Ruth Davis is a big yay-sayer!) When I was buying Casa di Julie, I subconsciously sought people I knew were going to be nay-sayers (often family and friends) because I wanted to validate the discouraging voice in my own head that feared I couldn’t do it. I needed them, the nay-sayers, to rise up against, just to prove them wrong.

Being a yay-sayer for my own truth is a daily practice. Only I can be the visionary for my passion and purpose; I’m trying not to use the nay-sayers to motivate me anymore, but rather find the motivation, the yay! within and the resources to help me get where I want to go.

How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

I think it’s been easier to manifest the spiritual part of my passion; it’s not hard to be spiritual in the hills of Italy surrounded by trees and mountains and the brilliant craftsmanship of a people who care about art, and family, and fellowship.

The financial and emotional parts have been the most challenging, but also the most rewarding to overcome. In times of doubt I fall back on the “job” for a sense of security, for the steady paycheck, even though I know if I weren’t trying to balance five jobs, I might actually be able to manifest my vision much sooner. I’ve always had a hard time leaving jobs, because I’m worried my boss or colleagues will be disappointed in me, or I’m afraid to give up the identity the job gives me—“teacher”, “director”–or I fear I’ll go broke.

But my friend Carol Panaro-Smith came up with a saying—“allow me to disappoint you.” We screen-printed it on shirts to remind ourselves that we have to be okay with disappointing other people, even our dearest friends.

Living our passion is bound to disappoint someone, but it doesn’t mean we have to stop living it. Disappointment, a need for an identity, even money, are crutches I need to throw in the proverbial fire if I’m going to have the financial, spiritual, and emotional freedom I’m after.

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?

Having conversations with positive, up-beat people. Dancing. Reading. Buying any kind of ticket that transports me to another place: a plane ticket, a train ticket, an entrance ticket to a museum. Making things. Meditating.  Having a balance between action and reflection, a model of service I learned at the University YMCA in Minneapolis, which offered a place for students to get involved in social justice, community service and ethical leadership.

While it was obvious that action was an important part of service (tutoring, being a big buddy, interning at a bank or corporation), equally important was reflection—exploring internally and with our community, the social and ethical issues that create the need for our action.

How do you measure your successes?

By how well I’m grounded and living in my truth.

What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

Keep picturing the tree that the seed inside of you is meant to grow into. Remind yourself it’s not selfish to nourish and water that seed, because that seed becomes the tree that bears the fruit of knowledge or shade or sustenance those around you need.



Casa di Julie offers for Spark the Heart readers:

If you’re interested in becoming a rental subscriber at Casa di Julie, a 3BR / 2BA house, here’s your opportunity:

email Julie at

Be sure to tell Julie you read about her here!



Another Passionate Person

Tammy Vitale


Tammy Vitale is an artist who works in clay, jewelry, paint and more. Her art is represented by a growing number of shops and galleries in the continental United States and is collected by national and international clients.

As a coach, her passion is creating a safe place for artists and other entrepreneurs to learn to think bigger and take risks because it helps her do the same thing.

I asked Tammy to share her story, her fears, and some ideas for all of us to live our bigger lives, even if we aren’t artists.

What is your life’s passion and purpose?

My driving passion is to be true to myself. Sometimes being true to myself can be confusing because it does not manifest as one thing unless and until I start tracking back to roots.

For instance, I love community-based organizing:  working with people around issues they identify to make their community better.  Community-based organizing is another way of saying professional trouble-maker.  I have been doing this all my life.

I also love making art.  This shows up as painting, lampworking beads, making jewelry from those lampworked beads and beading focals, and hand- and slab-building in clay (as opposed to working with clay on a wheel).  I have been drawing and painting my whole life.

Two seemingly disparate passions, and yet they really do come from the same energy:  take an abstract idea and make it concrete.  Said a different way:  take energy that wants form and create a space for it to enter the world.

In both instances, as I work in community, I work mostly with women.  In both instances, I find these avenues a way to honor the divine feminine in each and every one of us (women and men).  Finally, in both instances, I find my purpose in making a space where others can identify and try out their own power – as community change agents or as artists who by their very acts of creation change the world.

How did you discover this?

I experienced that whenever I took on something because I “should” or “needed to” or because “it looks right” (not feels, looks), I wound up having regular, extended, major arguments with myself to stay on track.  When I am not true to myself, it takes so much energy to talk myself into remaining on the “path” that I have no energy left for anything else.  I notice that when *I* make my own rules, and follow them, I am focused, able to see farther and think bigger, have less internal arguments, and run into syncronicities everywhere.

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desires into the work that sustains you?

Fear.  And more fear. But fear always manifested as something else which occurred as internal dialogue along the lines of:  If you do that, no one will love you, you will end up a bag lady, and/or you will fail, because who do you think you are that YOU can do this (whatever “this” is at the moment) when so many others haven’t?

How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

One story line at a time.  We all tell ourselves stories.  I’m telling you a story right now.  I have condensed my story to you and to myself and some things necessarily get left out.  We consciously or unconsciously choose what to keep in and what to leave out.  Here’s the trick: become conscious of the storylines that you are building your life around.

  • Pick one storyline (there are many; one at a time is best because you will find it twined with others).
  • Figure out whether it is a story based on your own experience, or whether you inherited it from family, friends, schoolmates, church, community, society, your own particular culture.
  • Decode whether or not it still works for you.
  • If yes, continue the process.
  • If not, then find the strands of the story that you have been ignoring because they don’t fit the version you’ve been telling (and believing) for a while (probably years).

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?

Not hard – if I deviate I get physically sick to my stomach – because I am tuned in, now, intuitively to what is best for me.  Best guidance system I’ve ever found!  It is hard sometimes?  Yep!  Do I look longingly at easier paths?  Of course.  Do I follow anything but my heart?  Only if I want a stomach ache!

How do you measure your successes?

I count success as knowing that I’m being true to my heart, and working toward being the best I can be.  This shows up in who’s hanging around me – other entrepreneurial types who are focused on moving forward?  Or a number of negative nellies.  Am I meeting new people and having new experiences?  Or am I repeating things I’ve already done and hoping for different outcomes? (That is the definition for crazy, by the way).  Am I stretching into unknown territory mentally, physically and professionally?  Or am I resting in my comfort zone?

I always seem to find success just outside my comfort zone.

So the answer to the question is:  I measure my success by how uncomfortable I am at any given moment, and how often I am uncomfortable.

What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

First know what you want.  Everything flows from that.  And it keeps moving.  As soon as you get yourself centered and comfortable, the edges shift (pieces of your life grow unevenly).  And you will be off center.

To know what you want, you have to  journal.  If you don’t get it out of your head and onto paper, you’ll never make it real.  Onto paper can be in the form of writing, making a dream board (also called vision board), making spirit cards (also called soul cards), or collecting pictures of you dressed the way you want to see yourself.

Be creative – whatever works to make it real to your conscious mind and to get the attention of your unconscious mind.  The process of getting an abstract idea into some concrete form helps you find what it is you reallywant.

Review regularly.

For more information about Tammy, her artist coaching programs and her art, visit

Another Passionate Person

Martha German


When Martha German retired from her executive position with a high tech technology company, she wanted to find a way to combine her skills with her passion for protecting animals from cruelty. She found the perfect synergy as director and lobbyist for Humane Voters of Arizona.

What is your life’s passion and purpose?

Protecting animals from cruelty- all animals- companions, wildlife, livestock, and animals in research and entertainment.

Where were you in your life before you found this passionate path?

Just “retiring” from an almost 25 year career in technology. I always wanted to help animals “someday when I had more time.” I didn’t think I’d be very good on the front lines, working at a shelter, with a rescue group, etc.

As an executive with a high tech company I was involved in working with lobbyists, legislators and other officials on political issues related to education technology. I was new to this exciting environment. When I retired, I wanted to try to apply my newly acquired experience and skills to impact something I cared about even more.

I realized that protecting animals via legislation was a very important piece of the puzzle.

I do not consider myself an animal “rights” person.  For me, it’s not about rights; it’s about protection from cruelty.

How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

I became a director and the lobbyist for Humane Voters of Arizona. HVA is an all-volunteer, non-partisan political committee.  It is not a charitable organization, so we can do things those organizations cannot do.

We keep a “scorecard” on the votes cast by our state legislators on proposed legislation that affects animals. And we collect questionnaires from candidates to profile their positions on the same. We endorse candidates based on these, and support some with volunteers, etc.

When the legislature is in session we meet with legislators to educate, and to seek their sponsorships and votes on pending bills. We register our support or opposition to specific bills and sometimes testify. It’s politics—so we constantly strive to create new and nurture existing relationships.

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desires into work that sustains you?

When I first got involved in the animal protection community I was disappointed to see how fractured the various organizations were. All were well meaning but the messages and efforts were too plentiful, overlapping and confusing for those who needed to hear them.  Great progress has been made in the last few years to coordinate, prioritize and pick our battles!

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?

Politics can be frustrating and often demoralizing. Too often what seems to be so obviously right does not prevail because favors are owed and agendas are protected. I never give up. All I have to do is think of a single animal being the victim of cruelty and I can continue.

How do you measure your successes?

Progress is s-l-o-w, so I measure “success” in very tiny steps! It’s not often a WIN. It’s usually a new relationship, a new supporter, maybe just conceiving a unique strategy or even learning something valuable from a defeat!

What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

Focus on those who will benefit from your work. Let them be your inspiration. It’s pretty easy when it’s animals!

This is an election year. If protecting animals intrigues you, there are organizations similar to HVA in many states.

Just Google “humane voters”- these organizations go by a variety of names in different states. Take a look at their websites and review their endorsements and check out the records of your local legislators.  If nothing else, you will be a more informed voter.

But if you want to do more…

Because most of these organizations will be political and not charitable, they can help candidates with their campaigns with donations, providing manpower, etc. Quite often they will be looking for constituents from specific districts that are willing to meet with legislators. If you have never done this—it is easy and rewarding.

These organizations will prep and coach you and probably accompany you.  If those meetings don’t appeal to you, these groups need volunteers to stuff envelopes, walk neighborhoods, make phone calls during elections, etc., etc., etc. They will welcome your help!

Think about your skills and passions and they will likely be able to put you to work.

Electing candidates who care about animals is the first step in protecting them with the law.

Another Passionate Person

Tracy Dove


Tracy Dove is bohemian folk artist, a poet, a woman who has recovered from two brain surgeries and continues to bring joy and peace and love to the world through her artwork.

all artwork ©Tracy Dove


My life’s passion is making art, specifically painting. My first love was pen and ink, but when I began painting with acrylic paints, it  expanded my universe. There is a sacred place where I go during the process of painting, where time and space dissolve. It is the closest feeling that I have come to flying, other than in my dreams.

Accessing my creative energy and harnessing it into a painting to create something that wasn’t there before is such a thrill. There is nothing more exciting and inviting than a blank canvas before me, a brush in hand and a large supply of paints in an array of colors. My purpose is to shine by example and hopefully, inspire other people to access their own source of creativity, overcome their blocks and obstacles and allow that energy to flow.


I discovered painting by years of trying every medium that I could get my hands on. I have gone from watercolors to pen and ink to fabric batik, tie dyes, etc to painting. I decided to make a small series of 15 paintings that I would shop to the Scottsdale galleries. So, I used my mantra, “Do The Work” ~ the rest always follows.

I painted  a series of 15 paintings that I called “Women at Rest”. I put them in a large, chicken wing box that was laying around and took them to Scottsdale. By the way, that is TOTALLY NOT the way to approach a gallery properly! The second gallery I went to loved them and decided to represent me. Most of my life I have done things my own way, so it was not a surprise that I was able to step around the professional manner of business operations of a high end gallery market.


I have always made and sold some kind of art to make money. In high school, I made blue jean purses from children’s jeans that I purchased at thrift shops for 50 cents a pair, at that time. I made fliers and posters, had a how to tie dye mail order business, made jewelry at home, designed t-shirts for various companies. I must have had over a hundred different small art jobs and would take any freelance graphic design job that I could get my hands on.

From the moment that I had a driver’s license and a car, at the age of 16, I was constantly taking myself on artful journeys and to amazing, inspiring places. Wanderlust is in my blood and as I grew older and became more settled, I learned how to travel through my paintings. I create the world as I want to experience it or the way that I feel things to be. My paintings have taken me farther through my imagination than I could ever go by modern transportation.



What drives me to create and paint is the desire that drives me to breathe. It happens naturally, without much thought.  After years of creating art for friends and family, I wanted to make my art visible by a lot of people. Art that I created just for the sake of creating, not focussed on whether or not it would bring in money or pay the bills.

The more art I made, the bigger the demand became for more of it. People began to collect my art, so I just kept creating it. It sort of took on a life of it’s own and gathered momentum as I continued to make a daily practice of painting. It was what I love to do and the reasons to go further with it grew.



I am certain that there there have been many obstacles during the shift, but the biggest obstacle came later, in 2006, in the form of a health crisis. I had a brain bleed from a cavernous malformation on my cerebellum, which is a little like an aneurysm. I had to undergo two surgeries within a week of each other. One to remove the CVM~ the bleeding part of my brain~ and another to stop more bleeding and clean up a severe staph infection that had developed around my brain.

After months of recovery, even learning how to walk again, I knew in my heart that the only way back to myself was through my art. It has been the pathway to healing many difficult situations throughout my life. Working with a therapist who encouraged me to return to painting and knew that I would not be satisfied or complete until I had regained my ability to paint again, was the medicine that I really needed. It helped to have someone cheer me on and in my corner to help gently, guide me back to a creative life again.


The surgeries left me with a condition called, “nystagmus”, also known as “dancing eyes”. This added another layer of difficulties to anything visual, including painting, of course. I have many mantras that carry me through difficulties and one of them that I use when I encounter difficulties of any kind is, “You are forcing me to be FABULOUS”!” That one works wonderfully and gives me a shot of strength whenever I need it!



We have all heard the expression, “Do what you love and the rest will follow.” I believe that is true. I set my heart on what I love to do (dream the dream~ visualize), then action follows ( do the work), and everything beyond that truly fell into place. I believe that the same Source that puts the seed of desire in our heart is the same Source that will help us to manifest it into reality. Personally, I don’t sweat the details anymore, I have learned to sit back and relax and let the flow of the river of life carry me to where I need to be.

I trust that I am always exactly where I need to be at any given moment in all areas of my life. I am a perpetual dreamer, I have dreamt uncountable dreams of things that I want to do, places I want to go to, things I want to make, ways I want to live, ways I want to contribute, but those things that I follow through with action always seem to feed me in return. Spiritually, there are many ways to reach enlightenment and feed our spirits, creative energy is the most direct link to my higher self and my highest power. Emotionally, art is an outstanding outlet to express emotions. I view emotions like clouds…they come and go and gently pass through us, some with more vigor than others and some that reach level 5 hurricane activity, nonetheless, all with an ending. Spirituality is more intriguing to me because of the growth and learning and continuing journey that it holds. My paintings and drawings are my prayers and meditations, in a sense.



I never really thought about this too much before. It is just something that I have to do. I was marinated in the arts since I was a baby, born the fifth child in a family of artists. So, it has always been a way of life. I was taught that if I listened to my heart song and followed my desires, I would never be unhappy.

There is no such thing as failure when you live from your heart. Actually, I don’t believe in failure at all, it is a manmade concept. Just doing what makes me feel good, supports and maintains my excitement and enthusiasm for living from my heart. Also, seeing so many creative people, with the exposure that the internet has allowed us to share, inspires me to continue creating and sharing. We are a world full of some amazing artists, poets and dreamers. It is exciting!


Monetary gain, group art shows and solo exhibitions, gallery representation, and recognition are all fine measures of success. My idea of success is the amount of happiness and joy that I experience during each project. Being able to balance a creative career with family, friends and “me” time is what I consider success.

Living a lifestyle that is tightly woven into what I do on a daily basis is the key to my personal success. I have chosen a life style and art style that embraces my free spirited, free thinking, old hippie lifestyle ~ with one foot firmly planted in a traditional lifestyle, ie; mother, wife, homemaker, etc. ~ All the while dancing through my life under the same influence that I grew up under of the 60’s and 70’s.


Depending on where you are in your journey I always advice that in the beginning, start with committing to sitting with your art for, at least ten to fifteen minutes a day. Make micro movements towards it, if nothing else. Spend the time contemplating and daydreaming about it, at first, if that is all you can do. No movement is too small. Once you begin rolling, you need do nothing but to keep creating. If necessary, take classes and whatever you need to further yourself and move closer to the place where you dream of being.

I always feed my head and take myself on dates to places in nature that inspire me, places where I can empty my mind and fill it up with inspiration and a new perspective. Struggling does no good, so relax and enjoy your journey of self discovery and self expression through your heart’s unique song, whatever that may be. All of the rewards are downstream, so just float along and one day you will be able to look back and and admire all of the magical treasures that you have collected and spread along the way.

For more information about Tracy and to purchase her artwork, visit

Another Passionate Person

Joy Resor



Joy Resor always dreamed of living her name, bringing joy to others, but it wasn’t until she was forced to move through deep darkness and self-doubt that she found a way to truly live her life’s dream. I asked Joy to share her journey that has manifested in the creation of her company, Joy On Your Shoulders™.

What is your life’s passion and purpose?

My life’s passion and purpose is to inspire peace and joy through my presence and evolving work through Joy on Your Shoulders ™ (J.O.Y.S.) a start-up company that creates beautiful and inspirational scarves.

How did you discover this?

While studying to become a spiritual director in 2010, I felt healed enough into my given name of Joy that I could birth an idea that had come to me years before. The Want Ads in our local paper led me to a seamstress also named Joy (wow) who helped create the first radiant creations from my vision.  When I picked them up, my breath caught as reality transcended the long-time idea; I was awed by their beauty and essence.

Joy had captured beauty, love, peace, and joy in each one.

Wearing that first creation into the world led to this journey of inspiring peace and joy, which now feels so completely right and aligned with my soul’s purpose.

That first scarf could speak before I found my voice, which continues to open and connect to my heart’s wisdom. I understand now that I was meant to heal into my name, and to spread joy in all the ways I can.

When I was seven, I deeply felt the beginning stanza of that anthem we all sang, Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me, singing with every fiber in my being.  Then I was given a repeating childhood dream. I would write something that would add peace in the world. As a grown woman, I’d recall that dream every now and then, wondering when I’d fulfill that longing of my soul.

Now that I’m living into that dream, I’m filled with gratitude and humility, along with this sense of purpose to inspire peace and joy.

Where were you in your life before you found this passionate path?

Unfocused.  Reacting.  Grasping.  Guessing.  Distracted.

Life had given me a big bag of unhealed shame, family dysfunction, and limiting beliefs that gave me lots of material to work on.

I attended John Fox poetry therapy workshops, had sessions with a spiritual director, and studied the Course in Miracles along the winding path to heal layers of perfectionism, critical inner voices, low self-esteem….Doing the best I could, I used time in ways that appeared not to have much of a purpose behind them. I’d also hear a knocking on my soul from the idea seeking light, yet I couldn’t give it life until something else inside me evolved or healed.

While journaling, I so often included a request that God create in me the Joy I was intended to be. Now I see that the meaning of those years was unknown to me, like a dormant seed waiting for the right conditions to grow.

What was the impetus for doing what you do? 

My husband and I moved from northeast Ohio to the mountains of western North Carolina in 2007, and the following year, he brought up deep issues that signaled the end of our 27-year marriage. As he said the words, I heard a voice say, Take in this darkness. You need it.  You’re going to transmute it.


I crashed and burned, finding I couldn’t come down the mountain for days.

Later, I was filled with gratitude to receive earthly and heavenly support on the way to heal, forgive, and live into the mystery of my future years.

Six months later, I started in a spiritual direction training program, a beautiful fit for who I was and who I was to become, for it was in the middle of that program, that I was able to birth the radiant creations.

It’s as if the divorce fueled my healing journey to become more wholly myself, creating in me deep gratitude for that painful time, and an understanding of the gifts we receive through trauma and chaos.

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desire into the work that sustains you?

I encountered lots of noise from my inner critics, including jabber about the financial decision, doubts it made sense to do the work I felt called to do, and distracting ideas that kept me off the path towards my purpose. New layers of perfectionism raised a hand to be healed, too, so I had a journey learning to complete tasks without that old habit slipping in.

Imperfect action, a mantra I learned through Christine Kane’s powerful programs, is a key for me now.

How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

After my marriage ended, I received a dream to give my spiritual nature more space, and it’s been essential for me to allow stillness and being time, which inform this path to honor my soul’s passion. I followed intuition to explore different types of bodywork, which has healed rigid spots inside, opening me to new ways of being freer emotionally.

I’m not yet supported financially by this passion, yet I know that’s normal for start-ups, and I’m on my way.

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?

My excitement and enthusiasm feel effortless most days, since I feel so aligned with my call to inspire peace and joy.  Even before I healed into my integrated wholeness, I was a joyful person in lots of ways. If I feel separated from my enthusiasm, which is rare, I may give myself over to having some inward, lower energy time, maybe take a nap or bath. Otherwise, I pull myself into a higher vibration with an exercise:  I hula hoop and read a special poem as a reminder of my privilege to spread joy. 

The poem was created by Jessica Chilton of SPARK Creative Wellness Studio from questions she asked as we met to close the gap between how I was spending time and who I felt called to be in the world. Because I’ve healed into grounding while embracing my spiritual nature, I do a much better job of consulting my heart, and I honor times that call me to retreat from the world.

How do you measure your successes?

I measure success by happy customers sending testimonials out of the blue about how much a friend loved their Percolate laughter radiant creation; how much the Circle of Joy journaling prompts helped a student expand her joy, or how much more ease exists in a client’s family since we worked together. And I measure success by the joy I receive creating materials on this path, facilitating Circles of Joy, and holding sacred space for my clients.

What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

May you find a way to engage more and more with your passion, so it can transform into your purpose.

May you find your way to live into your soul’s purpose to enliven all of us.

You’ll be so glad you did!

For more information about Joy and her radiant Joy On Your Shoulders ™ scarves, visit and

Another Passionate Person

Jennifer Louden


Jennifer Louden calls herself a writer, speaker, coach and teacher. For the past year she has been exploring the idea that “self love plus world love will make you whole.” This experiment that she calls Serve and Savor, has taught her all kinds of things about who she is and how she shows up in the world.

Click on our picture to watch and listen to our very fun, very inspired interview.

For more information about Jennifer and her work, visit

Another Passionate Person

Anna Guest-Jelley



Anna Guest-Jelley wanted to learn yoga from someone who had a bigger body. But she couldn’t find anyone. So she created Curvy Yoga, incorporating writing, teaching and coaching into a practice that promotes body positivity through yoga. I asked Anna to share her journey.

What is your life’s passion and purpose?

Ohh…I love starting with a juicy question like this! My passion and purpose is to share concrete yogic tools with women so that we can find, connect with and live from our root truth — all while leaning into the process and practice of loving our bodies. I’m also on a mission to grow community for curvy yogis and their allies around the world.

How did you discover this?

Through a lot of therapy! I kid (but only a little). Truly, this work has risen up from my personal experience but has grown so much beyond that.

I’ve spent much of my life in the grips of compulsive eating and dieting. The undercurrent of all of that was deep shame about my body and serious questions about my self-worth. As I entered into healing, yoga was one of my major lifelines.

But for some time, it also contributed to the shame I felt about my body. I thought I wouldn’t really be a true “yogi” until my body looked like X or I could do Y pose.

While I entered into a conversation with myself about my body, my experiences and my dreams, though, I saw that it didn’t have to be that way. Yoga could totally work for me – that moment – if I just had some ideas on how to find the pose options that worked best for my body, curves and all.

As I looked for information, I found very little. And that’s when my passion (body positivity and yoga) started to meet my skills (teaching and women’s empowerment) to develop into a purpose – what I’ve created with Curvy Yoga.

Where were you in your life before you found this passionate path?

I was doing related work, and while I found a considerable amount of fulfillment out if it, it never felt like just the right fit. What I’d been doing before Curvy Yoga (and also concurrently for a while) was two things: (1) teaching English at various community colleges and (2) working with survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault.

I taught first for several years, then I worked with survivors for several years. Even as I was doing that, though, teaching was very much a part of my work because my job was to do the education component for the organizations where I worked. In the background of all of this, I was also doing a considerable amount of community organizing around women’s issues.

So as my personal interest grew in body positivity and yoga, I started to get the (very tentative, very reluctant at first) idea that maybe (just maybe!) I could put all this together. And so I picked it up, thread by thread, got my yoga teaching certification, spent a little more time hemming and hawing and then finally got the original incarnation of my site up and running.

What was the impetus for doing what you do?

My work with Curvy Yoga is writing, teaching and coaching. I really see the three as inextricable, and that’s an important part of why I got started. For years, I’d really wanted to read and learn from someone who practiced yoga with a bigger body, who’d had similar issues to me – struggling with an eating disorder and trying to find her way through. But I just never found it.

And slowly, that’s how I realized that maybe I couldn’t find it because I was meant to do it. I think that’s such a beautiful way to find your passion – to see something that you can uniquely offer the world and then to follow it, letting it unfold.

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desires into the work that sustains you?

Honestly, the biggest obstacle was self-doubt. I questioned myself constantly, especially when I was first starting: “Why would anyone listen to me?” “If I can’t find this info anywhere else, isn’t it because no one is interested?” And on and on (and on).

Time and money and having to learn quite a bit along the way were challenges, but I didn’t perceive them as obstacles. I could always find a workaround when I needed to. The main obstacle for me was giving myself enough space to try (with enough confidence that I could). Once I was able to do that, things began flowing.

How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

In all of my past jobs, I’ve had a very clear list of things I want to accomplish – accompanied by charts, graphs and color-coding. And I did meet those goals. But I rarely gave anything a chance to breathe – much less myself.

That’s been the biggest shift for me with Curvy Yoga. Do I still have goals and projects I’d like to see happen? Of course! But I’m also allowing for things to evolve a bit more organically. Staying connected with my students and readers allows me to meet them right where they are and offer what they’re asking for. Beautifully, this also allows me to meet myself right where I am – nourishing myself in the process. Although I sometimes get back into that over-striving brain and talk myself into the opposite, what I’ve found is that the times when a class, blog post, podcast or coaching session most resonates with people is when I’m giving myself more: more time to write, more time to be off the computer, more time for my own yoga practice.

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?

By staying connected to it. I know that sounds a little ridiculous, though, so I’ll explain.

After spending much of my life on one diet or another (or 65, in my case), I got really good at being out of my body, very much disconnected from my heart. Like, really good.

So as you might imagine, my journey to even know what my body felt like in any particular moment, much less listen to or connect with it, has been long and hard (and is still ongoing). It’s a journey I wouldn’t trade, though, because it has awakened me to my life, deepened my relationships and brought me to my life’s work.

When I’m feeling disconnected or a little burnt out, I take that as a sign to recharge. So I hop off the computer, take some time to journal or soak in a hot bath. I now see those nagging desires to check out of my life as the red flags that they are. I take the time to see what they’re really wanting (usually a break) and then I give my body what it’s asking for. I find that works so much better than my old strategy (which really wasn’t much of a strategy) – pushing through and shutting down more.

How do you measure your successes?

By connection – to myself and others. Success to me looks like emails from people, telling me how something I wrote touched them. It’s folks commenting on blog posts, getting excited about projects going on and sharing the word with their friends. It’s the incredible shifts people make in moving towards loving their bodies more when we work together one on one.

Perhaps just as importantly, though, it’s how I’m feeling about what I’m doing. As my blog’s presence continues to grow, I get invited to do a number of different projects. Some I think I “should” do and some I’m genuinely excited about. When the “shoulds” start outweighing the excitement, I know I have a problem on my hands. Because when I’m not tapped into what is really working for me, I don’t put out my best work. And that doesn’t serve anyone.

What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

I know the temptation to think you need to know more to follow your passion well. I felt the same way: I won’t be able to do this until I take this course on how to write blog posts, that additional yoga teacher training, this teleseminar on mailing lists, etc.

And maybe there are a few things that you need to learn. But the inspiration I’d like to offer is to start where you are. People crave connection, and they want to connect with you. This can be hard to believe because we get so many messages that we’re not worthy enough, or that we’re too messed up for anyone to care about our story.

But that’s the real secret: the more you share from what is deeply true for you, the more your work will grow – whatever it is. Some people won’t connect with it, but that’s okay (even though it can be hard to remember in the moment!). The truth is that those are not your people. You will be most energized and nourished by your work when you find and share from your truth – and, delightfully, so will others.


Anna Guest-Jelley is the Founder of Curvy Yoga, where she writes and teaches about yoga and embodiment as the foundations of a live well-lived (and body well-loved). She is also the co-teacher of 30 Days of Curvy Yoga. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Another Passionate Person

Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo


Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo is a contemporary American textile artist and carrier of a sacred Tibetan artistic tradition. Her work has been exhibited internationally, blessed by the Dalai Lama, and is featured in the documentary film, Creating Buddhas: the Making and Meaning of Fabric Thangkas. After living many years abroad in India and Italy, she’s currently re-nesting in her native California.

asked Leslie to share her thoughts about her work, her process, how she has created a life filled with passion and purpose.

What is your life’s passion and purpose?

To examine my own attitudes and relationship with the world. To grow, to live a life I create rather than fitting myself into a pre-designed slot, to make beautiful things with a positive, transformative message, to touch other people in meaningful ways with my creations.

To live ever more in accord with how things are rather than with how I wish they were or how I’m afraid they are. And to smile. Smiling is always useful and probably what I’m best at.

How did you discover these passions?

I always liked making things pretty. And I think I was born with an attitude of not accepting circumstances as they’re handed to me and of choosing roads a bit less traveled.

Though plagued by fears, I’ve always been an adventurer and an idealist. And I’ve always liked hanging out with people who think a bit differently. I was in theater in high school, went to a college where questioning the status quo was paramount and beauty was everywhere. Later, I left the job my degrees had prepared me for to travel and somehow never could go back.

How did you discover that you loved specifically creating beautiful things with a positive, transformative message?

I traveled to India and lived with the Tibetans exiled there. At first I was volunteering in development projects, but it soon became clear that I loved everything about my life there except the “job.”

When I first saw sacred Buddhist images being made from pieces of silk, I felt a surge of energy, interest, and right-ness. A fit. I love fabric, texture, colors… and my life is about transformation and growth. This art unified these two threads in a way I’d never imagined possible.

I was not a vajrayana practitioner at the time (and barely am now), but I intuited the power of the practice, its real and potential benefit to people. While I didn’t feel confident I could become a buddha, I did know I could stitch. It was my way of participating in a profound spiritual practice, and my way of expressing the beauty of that practice to others.

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desires into the work that sustains you?

I have always been very fortunate. I don’t think I encountered any obstacles early on. I followed what felt natural to me. I was willing (deeply content, actually) to live simply in India and to learn and make this art.

I had already left the job for which my degrees had prepared me, to pursue an adventure of traveling afar and living in different contexts. I simply (and perhaps foolishly) followed what felt good and right to me. I say foolishly because, as my good fortune continued, I managed to keep following my path even if it wasn’t economically viable — or perhaps I should say without finding ways to make it economically viable. Now, years later, I’m working on becoming as masterful with the economic sustainability of my work as I am with the making of it.

What has been your biggest obstacle?

Probably my own mind wondering whether it’s really “okay” to be doing what I’m doing. I have few role models.

How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

That’s evolving. And shifting with context. I have realized that, though I love autonomy and hours of solitary work, I also crave human interaction. I thrive in connection with others. I’m motivated by seeing the inspirational quality of my work reflected in viewers’ eyes or by seeing a student’s satisfaction at creating beauty of their own. And I love laughing with people.

In India, my work day was naturally interspersed with abundant social contact. People dropped by for tea. I was greeted enthusiastically from doors that lined the path on my way to market.

Life in the west is different. I’ve needed to intentionally seek out and create opportunities for interaction. For a while, I didn’t realize that deliberate action was required, and that led to some dissatisfying periods of isolation and less joy in creating my artwork, since a large part of my joy in the work comes from sharing it with people.

A few years ago, I began teaching as a way to address this personal need for a human connection, and to offer what I could to others. With the help of the internet and telephone, I teach a handful of fiber-loving spiritually inclined women scattered around the globe to stitch in the Tibetan way. It’s enormously gratifying. I’m continually touched by the deep resonance my students feel for this work and that, in turn, deepens my own relationship with the work.

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?

I don’t maintain it; it maintains me. It’s the only way I know how to live. If I try to live otherwise, I’m miserable, and I know that can’t be right.

I also continually look for ways to make my work my own while honoring the sacred tradition from which it comes. Sometimes that feels like a balancing act, but usually it’s very natural.

I treasure the Tibetan tradition that gave me the techniques and imagery I work with. At the same time, I’m not a Tibetan. I live in the western world and in contemporary times. So my technique and imagery evolves, and new teaching methods need to be invented. My students are all over the world — in Europe, the US, Asia, and the South Pacific. We can’t all sit around a table together to stitch. I’m pressed to explore what’s available in our contemporary world and to invent new ways of transmitting an ancient tradition that was imparted to me in more traditional ways.

How do you measure your successes?

By joy. If I’m happy, I’m successful. And if I open some new possibility or vision for someone else, even just a small glimpse, then I’ve done what I’m here for.

What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

Well, many may say that they can’t do what I do because their circumstances are more limiting, and that may be true. But our circumstances are rarely (never?) what we think they are and will usually find a way to adapt to our choices.

Step out onto new ground and it will give a little to receive your step.

In Buddhism, we are encouraged to reflect on the great value of our precious human life. I’ll venture to say that everyone reading this is more fortunate than they realize and has more possibilities available to them than they have let themselves imagine. Look. Imagine.

To learn more about Leslie and Tibetan fabric art, visit


Another Passionate Person

Fabeku Fatunmise


Fabeku (pronounced Fa-BAY-ku) Fatunmise calls himself a business awesomizer, suck exorcist and sonic alchemist. His clients rave that he is equal parts insightful business guru, creative genius and wise & caring mentor. Lynne Gillis says, “He’s like the perfect combination of your big brother, Yoda, and Walt Disney all rolled into one.” I asked Fabeku to share his perspectives on life, passion and what gives him his magic mojo.

What is your life’s passion and purpose?

I don’t know what my life purpose is.

I used to think there was some Great Big Something out there.

Something I had to find or be or do or have. Something different than whatever I was being or doing or having at the time.

Now I think life is the purpose.

To dig deep into the juiciness + messiness + aliveness of living.

To feel that electric deargawd-I’m-alive mojo rattling around in our hearts + bones + guts + life.

To see the magic of being right here, right now reflected back to us in every interaction we have. (Or getting as close to that as we can in any given moment.)

Somehow that feels like the Great Big Something.

But the passion part?

That’s easy.

It’s sound + music.

Listening to it. Making it. Sharing it. Splish splashing around in the delicious magic of it.

Sound is how I relate to the world.

It’s how understand my life + my relationships + my work + the world.

It’s where I lose myself + where I find myself.

Sound has changed my life. Sound has saved my life.

How did you discover this?

I’ve always totally loved music.

I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t spinning some tunes. And every significant something has its own song or soundtrack.

Then, when I was a teenager, I was reading some anthropology book on shamanism.

What totally struck me was how every indigenous culture around the world has some kind of relationship with sound.

Drumming. Rattling. Singing. Chanting.

Sound is always there. And not just in the background somewhere. It’s an essential piece of the puzzle.

The shaman bangs a drum for healing or insight or protection. Hunters sing while they hunt. The village comes together to make music.

Sound is everywhere in these cultures. I figured there had to be something to it.

So I bought an el cheapo drum and started playing.

I played every single day. And, honestly, I kind of expected nothing to happen.

But something did happen.

Changing how I drummed changed how I felt. It changed what was going on inside me and what was going on around me.

Drumming had a totally tangible effect on my world.

But still I spent a long time being skeptical. Because the idea sounds crazycakes, right?

But when you see it happen again and again – day after day, year after year – you realize there really is something to this.

Something huge + amazing + wow.

Where were you in your life before you found this passionate path?

Stuck in corporate gig that I hated.

The pay was decent-ish. I was good at my job. But I was a mess.

I was angry + frustrated + exhausted + just hard to be around.

I was miserable.

And it was pretty obvious to everybody around me.

What was the impetus for doing what you do?

During my senior year in high school, my dad dropped a metaphorical bomb on my brain.

He told me that he’d always wanted to be an artist.

But his parents basically told him to get real + make more realistic plans for his life. Which meant a career in management at a big corporation.

I never knew Dad was into art. Ever.

I never saw him pick up a brush or pencil or pastel. I never heard him talk about art. Or even show a shred of interest in it.

So his revelation totally blew me away.

And then, not long after dropping the metaphorical bomb, he was dead.

He’d had cancer. But we thought he was getting better.

So his death was totally unexpected.

I was totally shattered from losing my dad.

But I also felt shattered because he spent his entire life stuck in a job he hated. He never got to be an artist. He never got to do what he loved.

I swore I’d never let that happen.

Until I did.

So one day I just walked in and quit.

No notice. No planning. No nothing.

I was gonzo.

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desires into the work that sustains you?

Fear. Terror. Panic. Doubt.

Questioning my decision. Questioning my ability. Questioning my sanity.

I’d love to say I never second guessed myself. But I did. A lot.

And I freaked out about money. I freaked out about not having a plan. I freaked out about making a plan.

If there was something to freak out about, I freaked out about it.

But underneath all of that there was this other something.

Something real.

Something soft + alive.

Something I cared about in a way I’d never experienced before.

Something that acted like an anchor during all the ack.

How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

You know that game you played as a kid where somebody would hide something and you’d try to find it? And they’d say hotter or colder depending on how close you got?

It was a lot like that for awhile.

Hotterhotterhotter. Coldercoldercolder. Oooh! Hotter! Really, really hot!

A long, twisty road.

And the twisty bits were mostly because I missed the one thing that was always there – the sound!

I missed it because it was always there.

It just blended into the background since it was such a constant part of the landscape. It was always part of what I was doing.

And I was looking for something else. Something bigger. Something that looked more like the Thing – whatever that meant.

But when I grokked that the sound really was the Thing, everything started to come together.

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?

I immerse myself in sound.

Every single day.

No matter how busy I am. No matter what else I have to do.

I start and end every day with some sound-ey something.

So every time I grab a drum or a singing bowl or a gong, I remember why I love this stuff so much.

And every time I spin the Ramones or Cyndi Lauper or Krishna Das, I remember how amazing it is to be alive.

Not that life’s all chocolate + ninjas. It’s not.

But life is an amazing + precious thing.

I try to remember that.

Even when I’m tired. Even when I’m scared. Even when things suck.

How do you measure your successes?

Money is great. I feel really fortunate that I can make a living doing this.

But I could make money doing a thousand other things.

So that can’t be the only way – or even the main way – I measure success.

I measure success by how free I feel to be me.

By how much good I can do for someone else.

By the kind of relationships I have in my life.

By how I treat people and how people feel when they’re around me.

By how I feel about myself when I’m by myself.

What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

Do it now.

Like, right now.

Don’t wait for the perfect time.

There will never be one.

Don’t wait until you have it all figured out.

You never will.

Don’t wait until you’re feeling fearless.

Fearlessness is overrated.

And please, whatever you do, don’t wait for someday.

Because there might never be one.

You have this delicious something inside of you – a mojo, a magic, a medicine.

You need it. The world needs it.

Not tomorrow. Or next week. Or next year.

But right now.

Right this second.

You know it. I know it.


Tick. Tock.

Now’s the time.

Stop pressing snooze.


For more about Fabeku, check out his deets:

business awesomizer | suck exorcist | sonic alchemist


Another Passionate Person

Amy McCracken


Amy McCracken loves animals. And people. And storytelling. She has found a way to incorporate these passions in her position as the Executive Director of the Richmond Animal League.

What is your life’s passion and purpose? 

I am a helper.  I have always wanted to be a teacher.

After earning a degree in secondary education, I ended up being a stay at home mom for years.  When my son was older, I went back to work, and did so briefly at an alternative high school. Then I got my first job in non-profit.  Whew.

Finally, I knew where I wanted to be.

I love helping people harness their energy, get focused, and make a positive difference in their lives—and the lives of others.  I also like teaching through story.  I think that’s my gift, and my purpose here.  I incorporate those things into my work.  I’m lucky enough to be the Executive Director of Richmond Animal League.

How did you discover this?

Being a mother brought this out in me.  Positive feedback helps in discovering that I am doing what I was meant to do.  When people thank ME for work that THEY have done—and tell me that they appreciate the guidance, and cheering, and motivation, well, you can’t beat that!  I discover more and more every day about my passions, and my purpose.

Where were you in your life before you found this passionate path?

I think the path was always there.  It has taken a long time for me to realize that I have something of value to share with the world.  Once I started to appreciate what I can do—that I can tell stories, create interest in good causes, and help organizations and individuals tell their stories, and reach their goals—then I really started pounding the path.

My work at Richmond Animal League has enabled me to be a voice for the homeless animals that need us.  Telling stories for those with no voice is especially wonderful. 

What was the impetus for doing what you do?

I began working in non-profit after a short stint as a teacher in a school for violent offenders.  It broke my heart to leave there, but leave I did, and I felt like I had to do some pretty good work to make up for the leaving.

Since then, I have worked in non-profit development.  Every day, at Richmond Animal League, I am given more motivation to continue.  We have more than 300 active volunteers who come in morning and night to help take care of our animals.  Many days, they work circles around me.  I have to AT LEAST do work as good as theirs.

Seeing animals leave our shelter, sometimes after long illnesses or stays, is always an impetus to do all I can for every other animal that is yet to come.

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desires into the work that sustains you?

I don’t really feel like there is a divide between my heart’s desires and work that sustains me.  I am so lucky to be able to write, build relationships with our supporters, pet fluffy kittens, and chat with old dogs—all in a day’s work.

How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

I sit around and fantasize about what I would do if I didn’t have to work.  Does everyone do that?  I do.  I come up with a list of things I am passionate about, but don’t do as often as I would like.                    1) Write stories.  2)  Go to the gym.  3)  Cook good food.  4)  Make new friends.  5)  Sleep.

But you know what?  I can, and do, do all of those things while I am supporting myself financially, spiritually, and emotionally.

Working your passions into your work is key.  Even if you think you don’t have a perfect job, you can make it better by using your real talents—those things you care about—to make you successful at work.  No matter where you work. 

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?

I’m not a perfect “live from the heart” person.  I’m flawed.  I lose my way.  I get overwhelmed.  I get discouraged.  But on what worthwhile journey doesn’t everyone ask, at some point, “What am I doing?”  Luckily, I get reminded a lot that I am on the right track.  And then I get excited about it again.

How do you measure your successes?

I love a good pat on the back, but I feel best, and most successful, when I am happy with something that I have made possible.

What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

I know it sounds cheesy and clichéd, but we all really do have a little voice.  Follow it.  Don’t dismiss it as silly, or crazy, or wistful, or even stupid.

No one knows better than you what is right for you.  It does not matter if your passion is something that may not sustain you financially.  Do it anyway.

If my sister is reading this, I hope she goes out with her camera and takes pictures today.  Seeing them makes me feel better—even though it is just a hobby for her.  My brother is publishing beautiful, handcrafted books, but has to work on the side.  These are purposeful things.

Don’t get stuck on having to make a living doing what you love.  You can make a life doing what you love—and that’ll do. 

Another Passionate Person

Patti Digh


photo by Jeremy Madea

I met Patti Digh on Facebook where she shares great stories of the simple things we tend to miss in our lives. About dogs. The neighbors. The colors growing in her garden.

But even more wonderful than her brilliant writing, Patti shares herself. And through her own living, she teaches us how to find our own selves and live like there is no tomorrow.

I asked Patti to share some of the between the lines of her writing, the whys of what she does and how she lives.

What is your life’s passion and purpose?

I am passionate about social justice, kindness, and generosity. I am passionate about living like you’re dying. Because you are. I’m passionate about inspiring people to realize that they are always, always, in choice… that they might not choose their circumstance, but they have infinite choices about how to be in that circumstance.

My purpose, as I have come to realize in the past few years, is to open space for people to see their stories, to realize they are creating their own story, to help people pay attention and find meaning in the small things. My purpose is to open space for people to reconnect with their inmost sense of kindness and generosity toward themselves and others.

How did you discover this?

After a very successful career in the business world, I wrote my first book – about global leaders. It was a Fortune magazine “best business book” for the year 2000, and when the box of books came from the publisher, I opened them and felt absolutely nothing. It was as if I was standing outside myself looking at them, unconnected to them, really.

I wrote another business book in 2003 and felt even less connected to it. It was as if I was wearing a power suit and writing business books and moving my mouth, but someone else’s words were coming out.

In that same year—2003—my stepfather was diagnosed with lung cancer and died just 37 days later. That time frame woke me up, and I started asking one question every morning: “What would I be doing today if I only had 37 days to live?”

From that moment, I started writing in my own voice, finding my way into it by just sitting down and writing.

Because I knew there were two answers to that question for me: 1) I wanted to reach Day 1 of my last 37 days, whenever that is, and be able to say “this is exactly the life I wanted to live”; and 2) I wanted to leave behind my stories for my two daughters. Not the prettified version of my stories, not the resume version, but the real version, the one full of what I love and fear, what I’ve screwed up on and what I’ve gotten right—everything

And in writing those stories, I found myself.

Where were you in your life before you found this passionate path?

I was an executive helping create international divisions for trade associations and I was a consultant helping to create diversity strategies for nonprofits. I was disembodied from my work. I was marking time. I was creating what other people expected me to create.

What was the impetus for doing what you do?

One of the major pushes for moving into my real work was a class I took at Penland School of Crafts here in the mountains of North Carolina. It was a letterpress printing class, and in the opening lecture, the teacher talked about the history of letterpress printing. He described a breakthrough in letterpress printing: a sheet of metal placed over a page of set type to create an impression of the surface of that type into the sheet of metal in order to print faster (without having to set that page over and over again). That was called a “stereotype.”

I had one of those “fall backward a few steps” kind of moments. I remember going outside to get air. I realized in an instant that I could do my work around racism and social justice (and all “isms”) in a vastly different way. That a human stereotype was exactly what he had described, and that I could hang up my power suit and corporate boardroom talk and explore isms in a completely different way, in an artful way. I could make art of them. I could write novels about them.

I knew in that instant that I had confused content with form. I had thought the only form my work could take was the form it was in—and I now knew it could take many forms.

My first book after these revelations—“Life is a Verb”—contains my life’s work in a different form, but the content remains the same at its core. It was liberating to realize we can free ourselves up from form. What’s important in that equation is to get to the raw content of our life’s work—too often we discuss it in terms of a form. We tell people what our job title is, not what the work is.

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desires into the work that sustains you?

I think we are too connected to the opinions of other people. Our comparisons with other people are huge blocks to our own creativity and mission. When I left my V.P. job at a huge nonprofit, many people said I was crazy. Crazy I am, then. I’ve long known that life is short—my father died when I was a teenager—and the lesson of those 37 days of my stepfather was this: Have no regrets. Fling yourself in. Say yes.

How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

I just started writing, with a great sense of urgency. I was completely unconnected to outcome. I had one single intention: leave behind these stories for my two girls. That was it.

I wasn’t writing to get a book deal. I wasn’t writing to win blog awards. I wasn’t writing as a platform for a speaking business. None of that. I was just writing these stories as passionately and transparently and honestly as I could. And the power of that single intention has come back to me, over and over again. People came to my blog in huge numbers, even though according to the “experts,” I was doing it all wrong. A publisher came to me and wanted to publish a book.

My business partner, David Robinson, is a theater director. When he teaches young actors, one of the first things he teaches them is that you can’t play two intentions on stage at the same time. So if you’re in “Hamlet,” you can either warn Hamlet or get the audience to love you, but you can’t do both of those things at the same time and do either one of them honestly.

Warn Hamlet. Do the work.

Where I get lost is in stepping out of my own heart and paying too much attention to the audience. It’s easy to do, and it is deadly. My job is to separate, to write what I most long to say, and offer that to the world, then move on. My job is to leave my voice behind.

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?

I just don’t know any other way to be.

How do you measure your successes?

I got an email last night from a 12-year-old girl:

Hi…I’m in 7th grade, and i am 12 years old. I am a very…dark person…I’m different. You’ve changed how i look at things. I guess, i love you as a person. You deserve that. 

That is success, right there. Not awards, not money, not reviews, but that. When I die, I want to be remembered as a kind and generous person, someone whose words somehow changed things for people. That’s success.

That doesn’t mean that following your heart isn’t without fear and stress. I could be much more comfortable financially if I went back into my corporate life. But I would die.

And I hear a lot of talk about “monetizing my mission.” My job isn’t to monetize it (a word I dearly hate) but to share it. If money comes to me as a result, great. But if I focus too much on the money part of that equation, and too little on the sharing part, then I’ve split my intention.

What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

Tomorrow is too late. Truthfully. We’re all in a plane and it’s going down. We need to grab that vomit bag and start scribbling love notes to life on it with an eyeliner because that’s the only thing we can find to write with. We need to start living like our lives depend on it. We’re dying. The time is short. Ask yourself this question every morning and it will change your life: “What would I be doing today if I only had 37 days to live?”

For more about Patti, visit her website at

Read the wonderful 3x3x3 daily blog that she writes with two other amazing women:

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Another Passionate Person

Delos Nokleby


Delos Nokleby carves and shapes animals, flowers, drums and rattles out of gourds.

I asked him how he discovered this unusual art form and how he has turned this into a financially and spiritually sustaining way of life.

What is your life’s passion and purpose?

I transform gourds into art for people’s enjoyment.  I create unique animals, flowers, rattles and udu drums, utilizing the whole gourd or small pieces that I shape into parts of animals or flowers. Creating conversations, reminding us of our connections to the earth and nature, evoking memories or just bringing a smile to someone’s face, is why I do what I do.

I love to inspire and support others to explore and express their own creativity in the classes I teach.

How did you discover this?

After taking a four-hour gourd class in 2005, I thought, “I can do this!” In July of 2007, I quit my day job and started Positively Gourd-geous, one of a kind gourd art.

Where were you in your life before you found this passionate path?

We moved to Arizona in 2004, and I was still searching for my purpose or direction. I started to follow my true interests and what was giving me energy. The same week I started my new gourd business, I was also starting a 200 hour Polarity program. That September, I enrolled in a 9 month Desert Landscape Design School.

I began to notice I was channeling the energy of Polarity, my new found love for desert plants and the creatures I saw in nature into my designs. It was as if nature and art were pulling on me, guiding me toward my true self.

What was the impetus for doing what you do?

I’ve always had a deep connection to nature and I’ve dabbled in wood working, wood carving, and flower garden design.

Gourds have been a true gift and have drawn me into the process of creativity and given me direction in my life. It gives expression to my passion for plants, nature, healing, and spirituality.

I am thrilled to have discovered a focus for what I call my ‘inner engineer’ and for my attention to detail.

The creatures that show up for me to create, have come as a timely and wonderful reminder for what I need in my own life – a bigger knowing and/or connection to the natural world.  These animals and birds are Power or Totem animals that are here to guide us. I read through my totem meaning resources  and they provide insight, options and possibilities.

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desires into the work that sustains you?

Learning “how” to run a business has been a challenge, but stepping up and owning all that it entails, has been very rewarding. I have learned so many new skills and it has also taught me to ask for help in areas where I don’t have expertise. Having Janice Plado Dalager as my business coach/manager has also been invaluable!!

Initially my spouse, Frannie, helped me with my bookkeeping and display set-up. Now she does an admirable job at Quality Assurance, as well as the staging of my displays.

How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

Spiritually, I am right where I need to be. Together, Frannie and I have made some lifestyle changes and learned the importance of what we want.  Living a simpler, more authentic life has been a wonderful time of growth and discovery. 

The sales of my art fluctuate, but are increasing. Last Fall, I started hosting classes and discovered that I love to teach and share what I do! I also love to have people in my studio. The studio has an amazing energy, but having others there creating, makes it almost glow.

I have an internal feeling, a knowing if you will, that since I am following my heart (art), the financial piece will fall into place.

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?

I can’t wait to walk into my studio and start a new project or finish one of the many that I have in process. Once I start working, I don’t want to stop or leave!

Hearing comments or seeing people’s reactions and then hearing what they see or like about the animal, flower or what other art they like, also puts a smile on my face.

I love the challenge of it all and wonder where it’s going to take me next!

How do you measure your successes?

Working with gourds has invited me to keep growing into a better artist, as well as a better person. I have to step back and remind myself of all I’ve learned how to do: taking my own photos, bookkeeping, creating and maintaining my own website, networking, increasing my computer skills by 300%, marketing and much more.

I love that people enjoy my art and I love, love, love what I’m doing!  I think that counts for quite a bit!

I think if people can see my art, then I’m being felt, heard and seen. That too, is a form of success.

What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

If you have something you want to do – try it. Take a class or workshop, or jump in like I did!  Having a spouse who is there for you emotionally as well as financially is a real gift too!



For more information about Delos and his Positively Gourd-geous Gourds, visit his website


Another Passionate Person:

Esther Vandecar


Esther Vandecar fell in love with the art of Taiko drumming in 1986 and has been on a mission to learn and teach and share the Japanese art form ever since. I asked Esther to share her story.

What is your life’s passion and purpose?

My life’s passions and purposes are numerous but at the top of the list is my heart’s desire to share and perform Taiko, the Japanese art form of drumming, with many people around the world.

How did you discover this?

It is a long, interesting story for another time but the short version is:  While teaching ESOL in Japan I was treated to a performance by a world famous group and that was the beginning of a life long love affair with the art form, and with these amazing artists.

Where were you in your life before you found this passionate path?

My children had just graduated from High School, and I from University when I was offered a job teaching English in Japan.  My wonderful years of raising my children to become autonomous, responsible, loving adults was accomplished, according to them, and I should let them see if they had learned well – their words.  They have since commented that they were a little shocked when I left, not only home, but also my country, to have an adventure.  From their perspective it was usually the kids who left home!  But they wished me well and off I went to have what I considered a paid vacation before starting a job in International Business.  I went for a year and stayed seven.

What was the impetus for doing what you do?

In 1986 I saw a performance by a world class Japanese taiko team (although I did not know they were famous at the time) and was absolutely riveted by what I saw and felt.  When you experience taiko for the first time you will understand what I mean by felt – literally. Your body vibrates.

What obstacles did you encounter as you shifted your heart’s desires into the work that sustains you?

The evening in 1986 when I first saw taiko I knew I wanted to learn how to do play those drums, so I rushed to my Japanese choir member colleagues, who had treated me to this show, to tell them.  Their faces fell as they realized they had to tell me that I could not study this art form because I was a foreigner, a woman, and although they didn’t say it, I was too old (46 at the time).  I was crushed, but in the interest of not being an Ugly American, I gave it up….. until I saw my next group playing in front of a big department store.  I was entranced once more and realized that I needed to pursue this at all costs.  It just filled my heart with joy and awe.

I was lucky that someone found me a group that would teach me if I would just sign a contract of commitment (meant giving up the disco a couple nights a week) and pay $350 for equipment that I did not know if I’d ever need or not.   This group had had too many foreigners who just came and went for amusement.  I wrote the check and dug in for the long haul.

My second big obstacle was my father’s disappointment.  He had paid for my education, that he never got, and I was throwing it away, in his eyes.  Our infinite love and respect for each other was tested but never flagged. He saw the joy on my face when I performed that was so contagious to the audience.  He eventually became my biggest fan.

How did you manifest your passions into a life that supports you financially, spiritually and emotionally?

This was the most challenging part for me.  I studied very hard but was very handicapped by my limited facility with the Japanese language, and my lack of natural talent.  Because of my obvious, sincere desire to learn several members took me under their wing.

Before my decision to return to the U.S. I had studied with some of the best teachers, played with many groups in Japan and was a founding member of ‘KOTARO’, from Matsuyama, Japan.

I performed locally and toured professionally there with them until my departure in 1992.  Perhaps the most challenging, and most coveted job for me was teaching Japanese people to play taiko!  I was terrified and they were excited so I decided to relax and enjoy it. I still see them when in Matsuyama.

When I returned to the U. S. I had no idea whether people in my own country would be interested in learning this art form.  I made a decision that I needed to proceed as if I was confident that they would.  It took a long time to create the community I am now so proud of, and feel ready to leave, but the years flew by.  I went to Japan with a brand new B.S. degree in International Marketing and after discovering taiko I did a 180-degree turn in my life.  I have Never looked back, or doubted myself.  I’m not sure why but I’m glad I trusted myself.

Manifesting my passion for taiko into school and community groups has been relatively easy.  The financial part has always been a challenge.  I used to have to load and unload 10-15 50 lb. drums for each class, and then pile them in my living room so they would not melt in the heat of AZ.  When I built a studio behind my home in 1998/9 I was in a financial noose.  If I couldn’t bring in students to teach on a regular basis I would have lost my home.  But the students just kept coming, always enough to keep me solvent.  I learned long ago to cultivate a high prosperity consciousness, but not too high to sabotage my success. It worked and eventually I was able to quit my ESOL position at Rio Salado College and do taiko full time!!!

How do you maintain your excitement and enthusiasm for living from your heart?

This is the easiest part. I am happiest when I am playing taiko, especially if I am able to infect others with my passion for the art form.  The financial part is always the most challenging because the reality is that the bills must be paid by someone or it all goes down the tubes.  So, I started with my Dutch ability to be a workaholic and taught as many classes as I could manage in a week.

Next I adopted a higher prosperity consciousness (it really works) and just kept my nose to the grindstone.  Last, I surrounded myself with good people, which sometimes meant weeding out those that I found were not on the same page as me and the other members of Fushicho Daiko.  Soon we were making enough money that I could pay myself and even quit my regular job – also one I loved but took up too much of my time and energy.

Within a few years of my return from Japan I had bought a house, built a studio, and had enough students and professional paid performances to call myself a working artist.  And I never forget that I could not have done this alone. 

It started with my teachers in Japan who did not see talent but the passion that made them happy to teach me.  They come to the U. S. on occasion and are really surprised at how well I have done because I was just an average player. My love of the art form, the culture, and the wonderful friends who shared unselfishly with me were all the wind under my wings I needed.  I honor the gift they each gave me by being the best I can be, and remembering to say thank you each and every time I perform.

How do you measure your successes?

Well, there are many ways to do that:  $$ in the bank, owning beautiful musical instruments, people remembering your name, having more work than you know what to do with – all good things.

Or you can feel the joy your students experience when they have finally mastered a difficult tune, or when they accept a compliment you gave them, or the look of absolute delight on a child’s face, or a whole room full of children who are lucky enough to have a school that embraces the arts, and the pride children feel after doing a culminating event for peers, parents, and school staff.  I’ve experienced all of those situations and, although I am glad to have the $$ in the bank and all of the other surface pluses, the one that will stick with me till I drop is the JOY – it is priceless!

What inspirations can you offer people who are seeking to manifest their passions into a life lived on purpose?

Maybe the most important issue to start with is realism.  You need to be prepared for the long, difficult path that most artists seem to experience.  If you are willing to always live on the edge, eat cup of ramen for days on end, seldom have time to go to the movies with friends, or buy beautiful new clothes then maybe you will not have to.  But you need to be willing to make some sacrifices because they are possible.

Teaching was the answer for me because I found that I loved doing it.  I loved the look on people’s faces and the joy they experienced when got it.  But teaching is not fulfilling for everyone. Most of all you have to be honest, with yourself, and with others, believe in yourself, keep putting one foot in front of the other, sleep well each night, and cultivate a few good friends.  The friends don’t even have to do, or care about, what you do.  They need to be the kind of people who try to find their own joy in life, recognize where yours comes from, and to be not only willing to support you, but to revel with you in your success.  And you need the wisdom to know who those people are, including your best friend – yourself.   Now, just go out and do it!


for more information about Esther and to watch videos of Taiko drumming, visit her websites:

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