A Witch's Aura

Medical Issues Lead to a Writing Career – Devon Volkel

A young mother experiences a difficult birth and illness of her first child and then a difficult choice when her own illness affects her next pregnancy. Learn how writing became a saving grace and sense of hope during this difficult time.

A Witch's AuraDevon Volkel is now a 30 year old stay at home mom to a wonderful little boy named Gauge. After a very hard start into this world, Gauge reminds her daily of what strength really is. When her son was only three, she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and has been in treatment ever since. Thankfully the cancer is in remission. But unfortunately just when they thought things were looking up, Gauge was diagnosed with Type One diabetes. After yet another terrifying stay in the hospital, their little family fights on.

Through it all, writing was Devon’s solace. Writing is her passion. It continues to be her bliss and light whenever she experiences the darkest corners imaginable. The world she created on the page is the light in her dark. Devon hopes in sharing her stories she can bring light to many, many more.

Devon’s first book, A Witch’s Aura, can be found on Goodreads, Amazon, and Penrose Publishing.

Listen in as author, writer, and cancer survivor Devon Volkel talks about hope, determination, and recovery.

 

Not Dead Yet Movie

Over 40 But Not Dead Yet – A film by and about women

My guest on The Empowerment Show in June was Danielle Girdano.  One of her many accomplishments is that the Dallas Business Journal named her in the 40 Under 40 Business Professionals for 2013.  I am very happy for her and she deserves the distinction.  When I heard she was recognized I thought, “Wow, I would love that designation.”  But then I remembered I would not be eligible.  I am over 40.  For a split second I felt sad that this was not an accomplishment I could earn.  Then I got over it.  Unfortunately so many others don’t.

not dead yet movieJust last week I was speaking to a client who was comparing himself to others in his field.  He felt he had not accomplished what others had at the same age or younger and he felt like a failure because of it.  I have heard this story many times from many different clients.   In their minds they have created a number by which they need to accomplish A, B or C.  Then when that age comes and goes, they throw in the towel.  They think their life is over.  At 40, 50 or 60 they are done living.  This is when I tell them the story of Louise Hay author of You Can Heal Your Life and founder of Hay House Publishing.  On Louise’s 80th birthday speaking to a crowd of hundreds, she proclaimed this would be her best decade ever.  It is a phrase I like to use myself now. As fate would have it, next week’s Empowerment Show is focused on overcoming the perception of age.  In talking about Not Dead Yet, Susan Hess Logeais the writer and producer of the film said, “We may be over 40, but we’re not dead yet. We may be changing, but we embrace that change as opposed to mourning it and withdrawing.”  I asked the cast and director to be on the show not only because the content of their movie is relatable and uplifting to women of a certain age, but because the movie was inspired by their own experiences of being held back because of their age. Not Dead Yet was inspired by the real-life frustrations of Susan and her two costars, Betty Moyer and Sherilyn Lawson.  All three women have experienced not only dwindling meaty roles for women of their age, but then also had to watch actresses decades younger being cast in them.  After years of frustration, Susan decided to stop attending casting calls she was not chosen for and instead decided to write a script for herself.  In collaboration the three women crafted a movie as Betty said, “[to] allow us to do everything we’ve always wanted to do, but never got to.”  They created their own second chance. What number is holding you back?  You are not dead yet.  Are you ready to make this your best decade ever?

 

Opening Our Eyes movie

I Will Not Refuse – Gail Mooney & Erin Kelly producers of Opening Our Eyes

I watched a wonderful film the other day, Opening Our Eyes: Global Stores about the Power of One.  The movie shows individuals all across the world and close to home who are making a difference.  Whether they are opening orphanages and schools in Nepal, providing clean water in Peru, or helping the teen homeless population in Australia these average people are having a major impact in the lives of others.  Although their stories are amazing I often find them to be so far away from what I feel I am called or able to do.  Could I take my life’s savings and invest it in a community on the other side of the world?  Could I stand up to politicians to help those without a voice?  Could I have the courage to take on an enormous project?  The answer is truthfully no.  But there is something I can do. Opening Our Eyes

This movie starts out with a quote from Helen Keller I had never heard before, “I am only one, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”  I cannot do everything so I will not refuse to do what I can.  What a powerful statement.  How often do we see the major issues of the world and feel powerless?  How often do we say, “I am just one person what affect can I have?”  We cannot do everything, but there is something we can and should do.  Look around you.  Look in your own backyard.  Look at your own family, friends, and community.  What is there that you can affect?  What is there that you can control?  What is it that you can do to make the world just a little bit better?  It does not have to be grandiose.  One of the other points the Opening Our Eyes movie makes is that it only takes one degree for hot water to turn to boiling.  What is that one degree for you?  Perhaps it can be helping out a family member or friend in need.  Perhaps it is volunteering in your local community.  Perhaps it is smiling at the cashier when you are buying groceries.  All of this has an impact on our world and how we experience it. Here are two ways you can make a difference:

  1. Find ways to volunteer in your local community.  Check out HandsOn Suburban Chicago if you are in the Chicagoland area.  Hands On is a hub for volunteer activities linking local non-profits with those who want to give back.  What I love is that they offer a myriad of ways to give back.  If the idea of working a soup kitchen doesn’t interest you, maybe you want to help out by creating a local community garden.  Perhaps there is a skill you have like website design or accounting that could be a huge benefit to a non-profit; you can volunteer your time and expertise.
  2. Host a screening of Opening Our Eyes to inspire those around you.  The filmmakers Gail Mooney and Erin Kelly are also looking to film more stories for an additional movie or potentially a television series.  If you have connections which could assist them or if you would like to help through a donation, contact these wonderful women.

Share below the ways you are currently or in the future making a difference.  What is that thing you will not refuse to do?

Babes with Blades Theatre

Make the Most of Who You Are – Babes with Blades Theatre Company

This spring I had the opportunity to see Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, twice.  Once was at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier.  They had an enormous cast of twenty-eight with grand sets and heart-stopping special effects.  It was powerful and moving.  The second time I saw the production it was performed by Babes with Blade Theatre Company at the Raven Theatre.  The set was sparse and the cast was a meager eleven women, barely enough for some of the scenes.  Going into the second show I had low expectations for my experience after having just witness such an amazing spectacle, but I was surprised.  The level of acting was equal.  I cried at the same scenes.  I was shaken just as much by the portrayal of hate and violence.  The emotion and my experience were equal.  There was no way the small theatre troupe could afford all that the larger company could, but they made the most of what they had.  They were the best at who they are and it was just as effective. Babes with Blades

So often we compare ourselves to others.  We judge our ability and success based on what those around us are doing.  We look to the people at the top of their game and we think that if we are not equal to them that we have failed.  The other day I was speaking to an actor friend who was putting himself down because he was focusing on the roles his friends were getting.  What he was not looking at, were all of the shows he had been in the past.  He felt he was falling short because his career did not mirror those around him.  What he was not seeing were all of his own personal accomplishments. Other times we judge ourselves by those who we determine have it “right.”  Perhaps it is a stay-at-home mom who sees herself as a failure because she is not a CEO.  Or perhaps it is a successful businessman who feels he has failed because he can not run a marathon.  Again, we are comparing ourselves to others.  To find peace and to become the best person we are meant to be, it is important to focus on our specific unique path and purpose, not someone else’s. Comparison leads to pain.  We are not someone else.  We do not have their ability.  We have not had their experiences.  We are not on their path.  We are not meant to achieve what they are.  When we look at others to judge our success, we will often come short.  We think we have failed.  But the truth is we have only failed to accept our own truth. Take a good look at yourself and your life.  What are you drawn to do?  What do you excel at?  What do you enjoy doing?  What does your life revolve around?  These are the areas for you to work and excel at.  Be the best YOU you can be.  We do not all have the same destiny.  No path or purpose is more important than another.  If you aren’t meant to be a highway then just be a trail.  Make the most of who you are.

Listen to the amazing episode below with the Kathrynne Wolf and Leigh Barrett from the Babes with Blades Theatre Company as we discuss the roles, opportunities, and portrayal of women on the stage.

 

 

 

 

The Empowerment Show

Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things – documentary filmmakers Sarah Moshman and Dana Michelle Cook on The Empowerment Show

A few weeks ago I was invited to the Women’s Exchange in Winnetka to hear a talk by two documentary filmmakers. When I arrived I was surprised to find two young women, Sarah Moshman and Dana Michelle Cook, with a purpose. The goal of “The Empowerment Project” is to create positive content for women by shining a light on inspirational, powerful, and strong women in many career fields across the US.  That evening there was terrific discussion about what made a woman extraordinary. One theme that came up again and again was not to highlight the big names, the top women, but to show the women who are competing in traditional male fields and succeeding, but succeeding by following their own rules. Growing up in the 80’s many of the successful women I saw were the ones who dropped their femininity and truth, so they could play the game of being a business”man.” Again and again at this event, there was a desire to see women who embraced who they were and still found the success they desired. Extraordinary Women

What I loved was that Dana and Sarah are also walking the talk with the production of their documentary. There will be an all-female film crew participating in the one month cross-country trek. The filmmakers commented about how often women crewmembers are overlooked and wanted to ensure they were also empowering their team.  The documentary will tell the stories of ten strong women and shine light on what it’s like to be a woman in their professional position, what it took to get there, what it’s like to balance a personal life with work, as well as any advice or stories they can share. They plan to interview 10 women in a wide variety of career fields across the US to inspire women nationwide to go after their ambitions. The goal is to create a webisode for each story, ultimately making a 10 part docu-series as the end result.  Moshman explained, “We feel as though there isn’t enough positive content available in the media for women these days and we want to be a part of that shift towards a better balance.”

Sarah and Dana both come from reality TV backgrounds producing on shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and they have also produced two other short documentaries about female empowerment under their production company Heartfelt Productions. Their first webisode for the series briefly featured in their Kickstarter video includes 2013 Sundance Best Director Winner Jill Soloway (Six Feet Under, United States of Tara) as she discusses how women should follow their inner impulse when it comes to directing. Jane Lynch is featured in the full webisode speaking to Jill’s directing expertise as her longtime friend and collaborator.  To travel across the country for a month with 4 women is not cheap. Sarah and Dana need the money for equipment rentals (camera, audio, lighting, etc), accommodations, transportation from city to city, food, permits, insurance, hard drives, memory cards, and the list goes on and on. Upon writing this post, they are halfway to their Kickstarted goal. You can learn more or help them reach their goal here. This project will only be funded if at least $25,000 is pledged by Monday May 27, 12:31pm EDT.  Update:  Thrilled that the team reached above and beyond their goal!  Thank you all for your support.

The Empowerment Project film now available for download on IndieFlix.