Coaching Storytellers

One of my biggest passions is teaching people the art of public speaking.  Public speaking is storytelling.  Great speakers tell great stories.

As I mentioned in my dreidel post last week, I had the honor of attending the holiday celebration for Texas Familias Council.

Two summers ago I spent a Saturday afternoon mentoring in the art of public speaking an incredible group of Latina leaders working with Texas Familias Council.  My objective was to help each of the ladies craft and tell their own story about being Latina in our community.

During the holiday celebration, the Latinas were asked to share their experiences with the guests.  They spoke with eloquence, clarity and conviction.  They had blossomed into storytellers.

I couldn’t help but feel just a little proud when I leaned over and whispered to my husband:  “I coached those ladies!”


Have you ever had the opportunity to see the results of your mentorship months or years later? Share your story in the comments.

If you would like to book me to teach the art of storytelling to your organization, email

More from Gratitude Geek

Lesson in Shading | Caturday

Last month my daughter turned 16.

Most girls her age want cars, or the latest iPhone, for their 16th birthday.

Not my daughter.

The only thing my daughter wanted for her 16th birthday was a fluffy kitty. She was rather specific. Not only did the kitty need to be fluffy, the kitty must also be black.

My husband, Shane, and I were a bit concerned about adding a new kitty to the household.  You see we already have two geriatric pets.  A Siamese named Cashmere who is eighteen.  Yes, the cat is older than the kid.  We also have an Aussie/terrier mix named Muffy who is about 9 years old.  How would either of them react to a kitten?

We decided to take the risk and check out kitties at the local shelter.

My daughter is very thoughtful.  It takes her a long time to make a decision.  However, when she does, it is usually a good one.

We spent hours at the shelter.  We pet a lot of kitties.  Finally, we settled on a fluffy black 6 month old male the shelter had named Khadgar.  Khadgar just didn’t work for us, so we decided to change his name.

Again, my daughter takes a long time to make a decision.

About a week after we brought him home, the fluffy kitty was named Shade.

Lesson in Shading

Shade is a great cat.  Playful.  Friendly.  Even the dog likes him.  Cashmere, not so much, but I think she is warming up to him.  I may just need to devote an entire series of posts to his antics.  Caturday has a nice ring to it.

Here’s a video of Shane teaching Shade how to draw.  Or is it the other way?

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Fun Friday Photo | Hang Out With Groovy People

I am typing this on Thursday night. I love being able to “schedule” my blog posts in advance.  Friday mornings I like to hang out with groovy people.  More on that in a bit.

I recently installed WordPress Editorial Plugin to ALL THREE of my blogs because it makes scheduling posts so easy.  Since I am currently doing a 31 day blogging challenge, scheduling is a necessity.  Today is day 9.  So far, so good!

Curious about what else I do?  I do still own and operate a successful custom furniture business, and last month I launched Handmade in Texas, a directory of artists and artisans.  Really, Handmade in Texas is just another platform that allows me to hang out with groovy people.

Fun Friday Photo

My daughter just walked into my office to ask me a question with half of her hair flat-ironed. She looks like Cruella Deville only more beautiful.


Yes, she KNOWS I posted this photo.  🙂  She’s a good sport.  Aren’t flat-irons great?

Relationship Marketing Tip of the Day

Friday mornings I host Cards and Coffee at Conroe Coffee. A group of us, and the group is different each week, get together and brainstorm relationship marketing ideas. We bring our laptops and create and send greeting cards.

Today’s tip is to find a group of people you enjoy being around and hang out with them!  I’m serious, your business will grow if you hang out with groovy people.

Surround yourself with talented, motivated, positive, groovy people.

If you don’t know any talented, motivated, positive, groovy people, join a club where these types of people congregate – like Toastmasters, or Lions, or Rotary.

I joined Toastmasters in 2006 because I wanted to hang out with groovy people.  My life is much different than it was before Toastmasters.  Groovy people change everything.

Surround yourself with talented, motivated, positive, groovy people. #blogboost Click To Tweet

More from Gratitude Geek

Two Meditations for Breast Cancer Patients Who Don’t Meditate | Battling Bertha

During our podcast on natural cancer therapies, Ann Fonfa mentions meditation as a breast cancer therapy, and then admits she does not meditate, as it is hard for her to slow down.

I have the same issue with meditation.  I want to do it.  I know I need to do it.  My brain just doesn’t want to turn off.

My friend Melissa Moog is the owner of Itsabelly Baby Planners in Portland, Oregon.  She suffered a stroke around the same time I was diagnosed with breast cancer and says that meditation is really helping her.  I can only wish.

If you want to be inspired, you should follow Melissa on Twitter.

While I never sit in silent meditation, I did learn two mantras over a decade ago from Lisa, my first yoga instructor, that I will often repeat while breathing slowly.  This was especially helpful during radiation therapy.

2 meditations for breast #cancer patients who don't #meditate. #healthy #blogboost Click To Tweet

The first, my favorite, is an ancient Tibetan blessing:

May I be filled with loving kindness.May (1)

May I be filled with loving kindness.
May I be well.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
May I be happy.

Change the “I” to “you”to bless others. Consider using this blessing on people who piss you off. It is rather cathartic to release anger in such a peaceful way.

The second meditation for breast cancer patients is a poem from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Being Peace (affiliate link).

Breathing in, I calm my body.Breathing

Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment
I know this is a wonderful moment.

Accept and allow that right now is right now and it is wonderful.

If you are like me, and find it difficult to sit in silence, I hope these two meditations for breast cancer will inspire you to breathe in calm, breathe out fear, and live in the present moment.

All is well!

More from Gratitude Geek


This article is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.

Better Blog Graphic made with Canva.

Natural Cancer Therapies with Ann Fonfa | Battling Bertha | Podcast Episode 26

Ann Fonfa is a 22 year breast-cancer survivor who opted-out of most conventional western medicine during treatment.  Ann is the President of the Annie Appleseed Project, providing education, advocacy and awareness on complementary, alternative, natural cancer therapies.

In today’s podcast, Ann shares her personal breast cancer story and how it inspired her to become a natural cancer therapies advocate.  Click the play button in the black bar below the title to listen to the podcast.


Take 3 Steps 4 Health

Take 3 Steps 4 Health

The Annie Appleseed Project advocates taking three simple steps each day to improve overall health:

  • Eat 1 more fruit and 1 more vegetable
  • Take a walk
  • Breathe deeply 7 times before going to bed
3 Simple Steps to improve overall health. @AnnieAppleseed #healthy #blogboost Click To Tweet
Complementary & Alternative Cancer Therapies conference

Complementary & Alternative Cancer Therapies conference

Next month, February 26 – 28, 2015, the Annie Appleseed Project is hosting the 9th Evidence-based Complementary & Alternative Cancer Therapies Conference held  in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Kelly Turner, PhD, author of Radical Remission is one of fourteen scheduled speakers.  For more information, and to register, visit CAM for Cancer.

Also Mentioned:

Connect with the Annie Appleseed Project

Sex After Breast Cancer: Melissa’s Story | Battling Bertha

“Is there any sort of intimacy after breast cancer?”

It is a question that I have read too many times in my online support group.  It is heartbreaking to read just how many women had given up on intimacy.  During breast cancer treatment it is so important to keep as much normalcy as possible, for both the patient and the caregiver. Being intimate is normal.

I decided that I needed to find a way to offer hope to recently diagnosed women, and even the women who have given up on sex.  So, I posted this to the group:

“Sex After Breast Cancer” is my next blog post. Anyone want to offer a quote or advice, anonymously or otherwise?

The replies came quickly and in plenitude.  My heart sunk when the first few were from women who said they had none.  But then the light at the end of the tunnel started to shine and stories of hope appeared.

Melissa’s Story

Melissa preferred to remain anonymous and so I changed her name for this story, the words are her own.

Hello Kandas, I hope you post a link to your blog once you gather enough information.

I was diagnosed Jan 27, mastectomy 2/19, then chemo treatments and I just got next phase of my reconstruction on 9/19. My husband and I have maybe been intimate about 4 times total during the last 9 months. It’s heart breaking. But Neupogen injections added so much bone pain on top of chemo, now tamoxifen takes away any natural moisture. Plus night sweats, hot flashes, my body having numerous scars and fresh incisions, I feel like he is afraid to touch me.

I was 41 when diagnosed, 42 now, too young for all of this, but grateful to be alive. Hoping to find the groove again one day! Excited to hear what other sister fighter/survivors have done to get through this. Thanks for writing about it.

Yes, Melissa, You Can Have Sex After Breast Cancer

It takes time, patience and acceptance that things will be different, and that is okay!  The key is to keep trying.   This may seem like a silly analogy but Babe Ruth’s batting average was 3.42.  That means he struck out nearly 7 out of 10 times.  It’s the same with intimacy.  So what if it doesn’t work out once, or even seven times, the eighth time might be the best sex of your life.  You won’t know unless you keep trying.

42 is too young to give up on intimacy. #sexaftercancer #blogboost Click To Tweet

The women and men in my support group offered great advice and information on useful products.

Julia suggested:  Not sure if this is blog related but I have a BC friend who wrote an amazing book called Intimacy After Breast Cancer (affiliate link) – It is a great book for anyone having to deal with these issues.

Kandas:  Returning to normal is a huge part of recovery.

Julia:  Yes, it certainly is, I am a 2 x BC survivor.  It’s been over 8 years for me… returning to normal takes time.. it is a process that requires time and determination and patience… One day you realize that you are there.

I have so much more to sort through and share.  Look for another post in this series, soon.

More from Gratitude Geek


This article is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.

Get Rich Quick in 2015

Back in May of 2014, Seth Godin created a profound, albeit short, list that puts richness into perspective.  He posted 10 lines that laid out the path to get rich quick, including these three that resonate the most with me:

  • Enrich your world by creating value for others.
  • Enrich your relationships by saying what needs to be said.
  • Enrich your skills by learning something new, something scary.

And then wrapped it all up these thought provoking words:

“The connection economy pays dividends in ways that the industrial one rarely did.” – Seth Godin

There are two important lessons in this list.

First, blog posts can be short.  Really short.  10 lines.  Seriously, who knew?

Secondly, enriching others is the true path to wealth.

What are you doing in 2015 to get rich quick? @sethgodin #blogboost #notwhatyouthink Click To Tweet

Relationship Marketing Tip of the Day

Yea, here’s the deal.  This entire post if your relationship marketing tip of the day. Read it, do it, live it.  Enrich others.

Leave a comment and let the world know what you are doing in 2015 to get rich quick!

Teenagers and Technology | Guest Post

The Nerds Syndicate
by Devin Stafford

In the world there are things that are just destined to be together, peanut butter and jelly, gum and the bottom of your shoe, cheese and pizza, apples and cheese (if you don’t believe me just try it) and of course, teenagers and technology.  Now many parents groan when they hear technology and teenagers in the same sentence, and who would blame them? When we teenagers have our technology it’s like the world disappears, and instead of listening to our parents tell us to do chores or listening to our parents yell at you for doing something that we weren’t supposed to do, we give our undivided attention to the little piece of technology in our hands, enjoying a universe filled with angry birds, texting, and Facebook.

Teens Love Technology

Teens Love Technology

When I had a phone (yes, it’s past tense, I sadly lost my phone when I was on a plane to New York, I have yet to get another one) I would never let it out of my sight. In the morning before I went to school I always made sure that I had my phone with me, I didn’t check if I had my homework or my lunch.  My phone was my top priority. When my mom talked about grounding me, she could threaten to have me under house arrest or that I wouldn’t get my allowance for the weeks. I would shrug not caring what kind of groundation she would give me, but the moment she mentioned taking my phone away I straightened up quick.   My phone was my life line to the outside world without it how could I talk to my friends?  How could I update my status on Facebook?  How could I blog on Tumblr?  It took me a good month or so after I lost my phone to realize that I could do all of those things without a phone, I would have to go out of my way to do them, but I would still be able to. I still remember all the conversations I had with people about me not having a phone. When people would ask to text me I would say that I didn’t have a phone, their first reaction were a kind of facial expression that said ” is she insane what so you mean you don’t have a phone? What is wrong with you?” They then proceeded to ask me if I was grounded or If I was having a new one shipped in and I even got asked if was against my religion.

So in short, technology was made for teenagers and I think that we wouldn’t have it any other way.

...before I went to school I always made sure that I had my phone with me, I didn't check if I had my homework… Click To Tweet

About the Author

Devin Stafford is a teenager who loves technology.