Essence of Laurel

Essence of Laurel - inspirational art and writings by Laurel D. Rund

Mother’s Day-the Vortex

Some holidays, which are celebrated by most with joy and happiness, are triggers of sadness for others.   The one holiday that has always been a challenge for me (to say the least) is Mother’s Day.   Below is a collage and then a piece of art I created yesterday called ‘Laurel’s Vortex’ with a narrative which explains the pictures and my feelings.

The swirl which surrounds me on the bottom right is made up entirely of the pictures in the top left corner- it is the vortex within my heart.

My Essence is always pushed forward by faith and hope. Perhaps this will touch someone else’s heart who struggles with the day as I do.   For me, it’s happy day after Mother’s Day.  Laurel

How Mother’s Day challenges those who have never had or lost their mother.







Why handwrite a note of thanks or gratitude?

Why would you take the time to handwrite a note of thanks and gratitude in today’s busy world? 

People want to be appreciated. When you take the time to choose a special Art from the Heart card, handwrite a note of thanks and gratitude, and then place the ‘elusive’ stamp on the envelope, address and mail it … that gesture will make a lasting impression on the recipient.

How to write the perfect thank you note

Today, a note penned by hand is making a resurgence. It is one of the things considered to be tangible, beautiful and valued.  When you give the gift of handwritten words that say thank you and/or I am grateful to another human being, it is an act of grace – a touch point.

Many treasured pieces of Pony Express mail have become family heirlooms, or are on display in museums as reminders of a time gone by … they are keepsakes!  Can you imagine what it felt like in the 1800’s when men riding horses carrying saddlebags of mail across a 2000-mile trail delivered letters or notes to family, friends and business acquaintances?

In the cyberspace world of today, we connect with each other through email, text or through social media … Facebook, Linked-In, Pinterest, Twitter, et al.  The messages between us flash by in a nano-second and disappear just as quickly.  Do you want your message of thanks or appreciation to end up in an electronic trash or junk file?   Wasn’t your intent to leave a “lasting” impression with your words?

It is rare to receive or send out something that has been handwritten.  Your Art from the Heart notecard will get attention from the moment the recipient sees the envelope, interspersed among the pile of bills and junk mail they receive, until the time they open it.  And, if you’ve chosen carefully and found something which has a beautiful image,  it more than likely will be placed on display on a shelf, refrigerator door or tabletop.

Just think about this …   isn’t there something about a handwritten card that stops time for a moment and  makes you want to hang on to it?  Hand-penned cards have become a valued gift and are making a comeback!

That’s why you should take the time to handwrite a note of thanks or gratitude to family, friends, loved ones, clients or potential clients.  It will be the gift that keeps on giving.  Just do it!

fountain pen

To purchase Laurel’s ‘Art from the Heart’ notecards, click here!

Art from the Heart - unique art for home and heart

Art from the Heart - unique art for home and heart

To purchase my Fine ‘Art from the Heart’ notecards, click here

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Change the Dance!

Over six years ago, the rebel in me emerged after leaving a  30-plus year career in the corporate world.  I vowed to never again set goals or make resolutions on New Year’s Eve.   I moved away from being a structured, goal-driven businesswoman to a creative, freedom-driven and unique spiritual being.

The transformation I experienced in my personal life after the death of my husband changed me and the world as I knew it.  My belief system shifted from worrying about the future and fretting about the past ~ to one of being grateful for the day that I am in.  I appreciate my unique and creative energy, and have become a woman who chooses to laugh and smile from the inside out. 

I have learned that the only life story I can live is my own, and have let go of trying to control or figure out someone else’s life path or choices.  I’m not perfect about any of this, sometimes it is very hard not to be judgmental, or to put on my old managerial hat and tell another human being what to do, but I’ve learned to check my words at the door before they leave my mouth.   I am grateful for the journey that I am on.

Today, on January 8th, 2015, I am a writer and an artist who treasures her freedom to be authentic…a woman who is a purpose-filled spiritual being and a creative entrepreneur.  Did I say entrepreneur?   Yes, I did ~ even though I believed I would never be able to work outside of the corporate world.  And surprise, surprise; I love the freedom being an entrepreneur offers me!

This year I have put into writing my purpose, intentions and goals. The word faith (which is my chosen word for 2015)  is about hopetrust, and belief.  In order to continue moving forward, I choose to put aside my fears and doubts. And, as an empowered entrepreneurial woman,  I am planning with audacity and executing with vigor!

By creating a vision and having faith – I am embracing success, am optimistic and am courageous.  I have learned “never to say never!”   My new mantra is “why not?”  YESI have changed the dance!

Happy 2015 everyone.   May your dreams come true!   ♥♥♥ Laurel D. Rund 

Quote art by Laurel D. Rund called “Change the Dance!"

“And let us believe in a long year that is given to us — new, untouched, full of things that have never been.” Rainer Maria Rike

Labor Of Love by Ann Goldstein

Labor Of Love

Contributed by Ann Goldstein of Crann Coaching

It’s November 2011 and I am standing at the island in my kitchen overlooking New York City as I tell my husband, with tears in my eyes, that we are pregnant! Just days prior, I took a voluntary severance package to leave my executive position at a large pharmaceutical company to follow my passion in health and wellness. And, now,  I was being paid to have a baby!

The journey of becoming a mom and an entrepreneur where my husband and I worked from home to create time with our children started as a dream in July 2010, became a reality a year later, and has continued to the present.  I have been blessed to raise my son, Gabriel, from home and to also create my business, CRANN Coaching along the way.

It was not without personal challenges because my ego was holding onto the “Madison Avenue, fame, and fortune” of New York City corporate sales along with the societal and family programming of “go to college, get a good job, climb the corporate ladder, and save for retirement.”  However, that life did not fill me up or make my heart sing. It just fed my ego’s drive to earn more, accomplish more, and ultimately tire me out.

When I found out I was pregnant it was a time to let go of ego’s grip, lead with my heart and surrender to love. I went with the flow of life and listened to what my soul was calling me to do.  Prior to giving birth, I took a prenatal/postnatal yoga certification, I rested, and I got to know myself in a whole new way.

Mother’s HeartAfter an amazing 9 months and 21 hours of labor, our son Gabriel was born on July 20th, 2012. Labor led to the most beautiful miracle and my life was transformed. I was back in my pre-pregnancy clothes within six weeks after birth. People stopped me on the street to ask how I did it. My ObGyn praised me. It was great that I accomplished something most women yearned for. The thing was, I just transformed the outside of my body. My inner body, mind, and spirit were not healed and not balanced six weeks after giving birth. For me, that time wasn’t enough to heal my inner body, my mind and spirit – or bring them back into alignment.

I watched many other women head back to work six weeks post-partum and wondered if there was something wrong with me. I questio
ned everything about myself as I watched the sunrise over the Hudson River and New York City at 5 am day in and day out. As I breast-fed Gabriel in the same white rocking chair, I’m thinking, “but I’m Ann, the coach that teaches people how to balance their mind, body, and spirit, and I’m supposed to have it all together, especially in the happiest moments of my life, and I’m crying every time I think about going back to work.”

I was out of balance and wasn’t living from a whole heart,  so I couldn’t teach or love others until I took actions to balance my own mind, body, and spirit.

Once I went to work on myself, I realized that I was comparing myself to the masses of other women that were doing it the way my ego wanted me to do it. My ego wanted me to go back to the “Madison Avenue, fame, and fortune” of New York City corporate sales along with societal and family programming of “go to college, get a good job, climb the corporate ladder, and save for retirement.”  I was wondering why I felt out of sync and different. But different was what I wanted in order to balance the time of being with my family and creating a coaching business.

Now three years later, I have found a way to have it all. I call this the ‘labor of love’ because motherhood and entrepreneurship are about constantly birthing new ideas. In every phase of Gabriel’s life, I go through ‘the labor of love’ to find my new balance. Currently, Gabriel is starting a two-day a week pre-school program and once again I am transitioning. I’m finding a new balance of mind, body, and spirit so that Gabriel, my husband, and I can all have what each one of us needs and wants to create.

Life is about cycles and how we surrender to them. I’m here to help women find the balance in motherhood and business so that they can express themselves exactly as they want to be. When we balance our mind, body, and spirit and live from our heart’s calling we can give and receive love. We move out of our heads and move into our hearts and everything transforms. Life is about living our heart’s calling…not the calling of society.

The choice to leave corporate America and then finding out I was pregnant with Gabriel was the start of following my heart’s calling in a whole way – my metamorphosis.  It started with surrender and a belief that there is a higher force and power guiding my path.

It was the best gift I gave to myself and my family.

Metamorphosis Your Stories

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Ann Goldstein Bio – Ann Goldstein

Ann Goldstein is the Founder of CRANN Coaching and a leader in the medical community with a mission to transform our healthcare system from one of a “sickcare” system to one of a “wellcare” system.  She is committed to transforming people’s mind, body, and spirit so the three are aligned allowing people to live from a whole heart.

Ann brings her 12 years of pharmaceutical sales and management experience to her current mind, body, and spirit coaching business where she creates customizable programs and workshops to individuals, groups, and organizations.  Go to for more details on Ann, CRANN Coaching programs, CRANN Coaching’s blog, and much more.



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Laurel’s Kitchen by Laurel D. Rund

Laurel’s Kitchen

by Laurel D. Rund

Sometimes it’s fun and intriguing to bring back an oldie but goodie.   The  poem and artwork “Laurel’s Kitchen”  is in my book Emerging Voices-Living On.

It surfaced and peeked its head out today and said – “remember me”?   The words and art are as important to me now as they were when created.   Please enjoy this older and proven recipe which comes from Laurel’s Kitchen!

Laurel’s Kitchen from the book Emerging Voices-Living On by Laurel D Rund

Buy Emerging Voices-Living On!

The $50,000 Question by Jane Barr

The $50,000 Question

Contributed by Jane Barr, CPC, ELI-MP


Metamorphosis-Your StoriesIt’s November, 2011. I’ve had health problems for months and now that I am not traveling for work I have the time to see a Dr.  OK, let’s admit the truth. I’ve been putting off going to the Dr., afraid to hear any bad news. And now the Dr. has said it… “Jane, you have a pre-cancerous condition.”

Pre-cancerous? What is that? Is that like being a little bit pregnant? And you want me to have a $50,000 dollar operation with no guarantees? And if I don’t then I’m probably dead in 4-5 years?

And what causes this condition? The Dr. says that no one really knows.

And does it ever just disappear on its own? And the Dr. says, sometimes but we don’t know why. Riiiggghhhttt! And I walk out the door.

That is the beginning of my journey. At first it’s a journey of just holding on to my sanity. First stop is the hypnotist. The purpose of hypnosis is to help relax my mind so that I don’t stay in fight or flight syndrome and can heal faster.

One big problem with cancer is that when a person is told they have the dreaded big C they generally go into fight or flight syndrome. Our bodies don’t know the difference between being chased by a lion in a jungle and being frightened by a Dr.’s diagnosis. Our brain instantly starts dumping 33 hormones into our bodies. The purpose of the hormones is to give us the strength to fight or flee.  Unfortunately in our modern society most of us aren’t physically running anywhere so those hormones don’t get used up and they literally tear down our bodies making us even sicker.

Next stop is a holistic Dr. who has me fill out a 48 page form. His determination is that the first Dr. diagnosed the external symptoms correctly but missed the cause. I  most likely have Celiac. I have my choice. I can have a biopsy to verify this new diagnosis or I can just see what happens if I eliminate all gluten from my diet. If I have the biopsy and it is positive then I still will have to change my diet. I choose to make the radical change in diet now. No meat, no fat, no sugar, no dairy, no processed foods and of course no gluten which means no wheat, no rye, no barley.  My husband (bless him) goes on the diet with me. We eat beans and greens and a little fruit 7 days a week. Plus I can’t count how many vitamins.

Final stop is an acupuncturist and a massage therapist who work to clear my system of the toxins.  Weekly treatments start to take hold and within about 6 months I’m starting to see a big improvement. A year later the problem which was diagnosed as cancer is almost gone. Yes, gone.

Here is the thing about being Celiac. It’s like being allergic to peanuts or addicted to alcohol. I can’t have even a tiny bit or my body starts to break down again. Nothing means nothing.  I have to make a life decision, a full out commitment to change my life. Or perhaps I should say a commitment to live.

I’m telling you this not because I want you to feel sorry for me. I’m telling you this story in order to share how this experience has become my metaphor for life in general.  When something isn’t working in my life I check-in with the questions that I discovered in working my way back to health and happiness.

Art from the Heart by Laurel D Rund

  1. Is there something that I am avoiding dealing with in my life? Building a barrier against a problem, walking away from it or trying to avoid it works for a while. But in the end if we don’t deal directly with the problem it will get worse. We have to face our concerns, see the doctor, or talk out the problem in order for it to start to improve.
  2. What am I pushing against? When we hear bad news most people react from a place of fear, or frustration. It’s normal and natural to react negatively. But all that does is make the problem bigger. It’s like pushing against swinging door and then not moving out of the way and getting hit with it. We have to learn to go with life and work with life in order for life to work with us.
  3. How can I make a good decision? The key to making a good decision is to stay calm and allow our intuition to guide us. A pastor suggested that when we are not able to make a decision that we should say “Spirit speak to me” and then turn on the radio and the answer will be in the first words we hear. Recently I was trying to make a decision between two important options and I tried her suggestion. When I turned on my car so I could hear the radio, the dashboard lit up with “Hybrid System Indicator” LOL – guess I got my answer.
  4. How committed am I to my decision? When we make a decision we have to commit to sticking with it long enough so that we can see the results coming to fruition. Prosperity coach Marilyn Jennet says that if we say we are committed one day but back away the next day it is like giving two different directions to a cab driver and expecting him to know where to take us. Commitment is the courage to make radical changes in our lives, to go against the norm and be OK with not being the same as everyone else, to be willing to ask for what we need.
  5. Do I believe it is possible? Psychologist Linda Wells once said to me, it’s not enough to know something intellectually. We have to “know, know” in our heart and mind that it is possible in order for it to come into our lives. If we believe or “know” that what we want is possible and we are patient and committed to whatever it is we want to show up in our lives then it will happen for us. We can think about it like this. If we want to build a chair we first have to get the picture of the chair in our mind. Once we are really clear and believe it can be built then all we have to do is pull together the materials, any support we might need from other people, and then build the chair. But first we have to be able to see the chair and believe that it’s possible to build it.
  6. What is getting in my way? What is going on for us on the outside is only an indicator of what is going on for us on the inside. As Paul and Layne Cutright taught me, we are never upset for the reason we think we are.  In order to cure the outside we first have to get to the underlying cause and cure it. If we are upset, overwhelmed, frustrated, etc. it is common to think that it is because of what is happening around us or to us. The truth however, is that it’s not what is happening to us but how we are responding to or thinking about the situation or person. Our underlying thoughts are what we have to shift or cure in order for our situation to get better.
  7. Have I said yes to life? Finally the metaphor means to me that we have to say yes to life, saying yes to health and yes to happiness. It means to be joyful in the morning, to be at peace at night, to live each moment as though we want to live. It means to be alive with enthusiasm, energy confidence, authenticity, and to love life so much that we will do whatever it takes to stay alive.


Bio ~ Jane Barr, CPC, ELI-MP        Jane Barr, CPC, ELI-MP

Jane Barr is CEO of Kinnexion and a certified Energy Leadership Coach.

Jane has worked for 30 years as a consultant to national retailers such as CVS, GAP and Vera Bradley   with oversight responsibility for system re-engineering projects.  Jane knows what it takes to deliver a project on time and on budget, to build strong teams and to generate add-on business worth millions of dollars.

She also know what it means to have a successful career and then, at mid-career, to find yourself exhausted and wondering; “Is this all there is to life?” or “How can I get off this treadmill?” or simply “Now what?”

As a coach, Jane specializes in helping smart, savvy business-women to reengineer and reenergize their careers so they can stop feeling like they are pushing boulders up mountains and start moving their careers forward in a way that is fun, fulfilling and financially rewarding.

Jane’s coaching certifications include: iPEC Energy Leadership, High Power Presentations, Relationship Savvy, Dale Carnegie Leadership and Communications, and Perfect Customers.

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Email: [email protected]

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Soul-Filled Gathering by Laurel D Rund

exerpt from DailyOM …

“Our bodies are living, breathing expressions of our consciousness.

We are dual beings by nature, soul-filled spirits bound to earth by physical bodies. In our lifetimes, we are charged with the duty of nurturing and tending both with equal devotion and love. 

If the soul is the inward manifestation of our consciousness, the body is the living, breathing expression of that consciousness. The physical self provides the home in which the spiritual self takes root and flourishes. Just as we must tend to the seed of the soul to ensure that it grows strong, so, too, must we care for the protective shell that is the body to make certain it is capable of playing its role in our development.  Both facets of the human experience play a vital role in our well-being.

The body and the soul are the yin and yang of our current reality. They are, at this point of human evolution, irreparably bound together, and many spiritual teachers agree that the body is one of the greatest vehicles through which to access the soul. In fact, many believe that our spirit has chosen to be embodied as an essential part of our spiritual development. Consequently, it is the responsibility of each person to forge a marriage between the two, so that these disparate aspects bring out the best in each other, creating a vibrant, dynamic, and workable whole.”

In my words – we are all a work in progress.  Namaste,  Laurel

Let’s go fly a kite! Up to the Highest Height!

“Imagination is the highest kite one can fly,”  Lauren Bacall

So….Let’s go fly a kite! 

Art from the Heart - unique art for home and heart

I see children as kites.  You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground. You run with them until you’re both breathless. They crash . . . you add a longer tail . . . you patch and comfort, adjust and teach.  You watch them lifted by the wind and assure them that someday they’ll fly.” Author: Erma Bombeck

Let’s Go Fly a Kite”

 (from Mary Poppins)

With tuppence for paper and strings,
you can have your own set of wings.
With your feet on the ground,
you’re a bird in flight!
With your fist holding tight,
to the string of your kite!

Let’s go fly a kite
Up to the highest height
Let’s go fly a kite
And send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let’s go fly a kite!

When you send it flying up there,
all at once your lighter than air!
You can dance on the breeze,
over ‘ouses and trees!
With your fist ‘olding tight,
to the string your kite!

Let’s go fly a kite
Up to the highest height
Let’s go fly a kite
And send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let’s go fly a kite!”

Written by Robert B. Sherman

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Coming Full Circle

In honor of this coming Mother’s Day – I am sharing one of the most meaningful pieces (for me) that I have written.

♥ ♥ ♥

Many of us carry within us words that define our life stories.  I have several words, and for a long time the predominant one was “loss.”  I spent many years feeling deprived of the love of my mother, her presence and her story.

Ina, my mother, died 13 months after I was born.  For most of my life, I felt like a “motherless child.”  She became a ghost-like fantasy to me, which is probably why I liked fairytales so much as a kid. Maybe I was wishing for a happy ending.

My father remarried when I was four (not a fairytale ending by any means) and the stories and pictures of my mother were buried in the vault of the past.  Because Ina did not have an extended family, she got lost in the ether.  It felt to me that the only evidence of her being here on this earth was the existence of my two older brothers and myself.  I wondered about this woman who gave birth to me, and questioned whether I would have turned out differently if she had lived.  Loss became the prevailing theme in telling my life story.

Ina Fleisig


After experiencing the loss of my husband in 2009, and gaining a new perspective on death, I have come to understand that I did get to be with and know my mother during that nine-month gestation period in her womb.  Ina left her loving imprint on me, providing the fertile ground that has nurtured my spirit and helped grow me into the person I am today.

The vision I have always “seen” of my mother’s hands gently protecting and guiding me throughout my life, and this ephiphany, has shifted me.  I have come “full circle” to a place of belief and love for what time we had together.  Laurel


COMING FULL CIRCLE .. a letter from a daughter to her mother


Coming Full Circle by Laurel D. Rund

When I picked you from afar, I knew that you would gift me with life. With intention and purpose, I floated into your womb… absorbing your molecules and making them mine.

While tethered to you, I was cared for and fearless as you willingly provided nourishment, safety and unconditional love.  I was enveloped by the sounds in the depths of your belly, and your heart and mine beat together in a life-forming synchronistic rhythm.  Within the sanctuary of your womb, I grew from a seedling into a tiny being … swimming, kicking and moving about unabashedly.

The nine months I spent inside your belly strengthened and prepared me for what was to come in the “outside world.”  As the time of gestation was  coming to an end, I tried to hold on, to resist the next part of my journey ~ I must have  a known that our time together on earth would be cut short. 

Nonetheless, you pushed me forward. Your body urged me to move into the world, like an ocean wave crashing towards the shore.   As I gulped in my first breathe of air and cried out, you breathed a sigh of relief, knowing with certainty that I would survive.

And then, as a sign of your enternal love,  you bestowed upon me the unique and beautiful name to which I answer.  I am and always will be your Laurel Diane.

Not until the afternoon of my life have I come to appreciate and be grateful for the the bonds that were built during those first nine months we spent together.   Although you had only one precious year left on earth to be with me,  your loving imprint is permanently affixed to my heart.

  Laurel Diane Rund- 9/2013

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Mother’s Song by Kathy Zavada

Just Be

Today is a celebration.  On May 5th 2010,  four years ago,  I met the man who has gently and unconditionally taught me how to love again.   Here, in honor of our 4th anniversary, is the story of Philip and Laurel.

JUST BE!   by Laurel D. Rund

It’s funny about how you meet that special someone in your life at the most unexpected time.   I was getting my hair cut and colored one day without any thought other than, I really, really need to have my roots colored.   Picture this, a woman sitting in the hair salon chair with her hair sticking up as if she had stuck her finger in an electrical socket.  Now come on, this is supposed to be a place where you can look your worst so that you can look your best ~ right?

The woman who does my hair was also working with a gentlemen sitting to the left of me (he was preoccupied with his iPhone.)   I paid him little mind, why would I – this was my personal space to relax and be pampered.  Out of the blue, my “hair dresser” introduced me to the man sitting to the left of me, her next customer. After squirming with internal protest (I was thinking … HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME,)  I put on a smile and politely said hello.    Then I quickly turned my head to back to her and said “ARE YOU CRAZY!”

Well, the rest is history, as they say. This man and I began to talk. He liked my name, Laurel, and asked what color flower it was (clever pick-up line if I say so myself).  I carefreely said, “if you really want to know who I am, go to, my website”… knowing that it truly represented the woman I am today, including a picture of me without my hair standing up at all angles.   (Thank goodness I also wasn’t having my eyebrows colored, because then I would have looked like a combination of the Marx brothers being electrocuted.)

It took a few seconds for this guy to go to my website (thank you iPhone.)  I watched in amazement, once he found the site, as to how he reacted to my art and poetry.  It seemed to startle him in a good way, and it was then that we actually began to talk.   We could have been at a coffee shop or having a glass of wine together, the imagery of where we were quickly faded away. It was what we were “seeing” in each that piqued our mutual interest.

The long and the short of it is that we did meet for dinner, then a movie, and then on and on and on.   What I was experiencing and feeling started to make me nervous because I wasn’t, repeat wasn’t looking for someone and there didn’t seem to be any any red flags which said danger ahead.  Having spent the last year plus getting back on my feet after losing my husband, and building a new life for myself, I didn’t want to “lose my freedom.”  You know ~ I am Woman Hear Me Roar!

What did this mean to me?  I was re-emerging and discovering the woman I am today, and didn’t want to go into a relationship that would sidetrack me on this journey. I had made new friends, discovered my creative spirit and spirituality, and was bringing joy back into my life.

When I told the story of my fears about this newfound relationship to someone very important in my life, she said to me “Laurel, if you are afraid of losing your freedom, you are not truly free. SoJust Be.”    Yikes, those words said it all – and I got it!  

 I thought I would be invisible after my husband’s death. What I didn’t realize is that I just needed to look into the mirror of life and really “see” me. The rest has been falling into place – one day, one hour, one minute at a time.

Can we will we? by Laurel D. Rund and Philip W. LeberSo, I released my fears and decided to let our partnership form itself as it was meant to be.   This man, whom I care very deeply about, has been united with me in a wondrous way because he understands my need to keep true to my “Essence” ~ the woman who emerged after the storm of loss and grief. And I, too, understand that he needs to do the same for himself.

Somehow through a mysterious force, we found one another.  Slowly, tentatively, but with intention, we each told the story of our life’s journey. Sharing what lies beneath our outer facades, revealing long-felt feelings, fears, hopes and dreams. Whether by fate or by plan, a synchronistic encounter offered each of us a beautiful and healing balm ~ the gift of renewal and love.

Romance in my 60’s has come with many unexpected gifts.   Time compresses, wisdom is stored within and called upon, and I have finally learned to “Just Be.”


For All Intents and Purpose – A Life Redefined! Angela Long

For All Intents and Purpose – A Life Redefined!

Contributed by Angela Long

For All Intents and Purpose – A Life Redefined!

In early 2004, I was a busy mom of two active children. My healthy, happy bundles of joy (ages two and five) were destined for greatness, I was sure of it. Why? Because I was fortunate to be home with them, having the privilege of spending 24/7 helping to shape my children into excellence;  teaching them all the things things I had learned in my lifetime.

At that time in my life, that was my intent and purpose. Good days were good, and bad days were…. well, not so good. My happiness hinged on how well my children behaved and performed, because that was a representation of how I was doing as a mother and a person. But, my biggest struggle was that they had minds of their own and preferred doing what they wanted to do when they wanted to do it!  All of my wisdom and knowledge seemed to fall on deaf ears, especially for my five-year-old. My hope was that one day I would figure out that magic formula to help him see the light and follow this path to great success that I had laid out for him and his sister.

Then in February of that year, at the age of 35, a twist of fate happened.  I heard these three little words that would forever change my view on life … You have cancer.”

It was an aggressive breast cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes and was considered to be late stage II.  I was suddenly thrown into a world where my health and my needs had to come first. My children’s future depended on it!

My biggest worry was if I didn’t survive this, there would be no one to shape my children into the excellent human beings they could become. I carefully followed the doctor’s recommendations of treatment, a total of six surgeries, eight rounds of chemotherapy, and a year of targeted medicine specific to my type of cancer.

During that time, I was forced to rely on others to help care for my children and me. As someone used to doing it all, this was very difficult.  It made me feel weak; more so than the chemotherapy poison that was being injected into my body. Fortunately, the love and support from my wonderful husband, family and friends helped to ease my pain, fear, and sense of overwhelming vulnerability.

Throughout my treatment, I couldn’t wait for it to be over so that I could get back to my normal life. However, when my treatment was complete, I didn’t see things quite the same way as I had before my diagnosis. My view on life had been redefined for me without my permission. I was left to figure out a whole “new normal.”  Who was I?  What I was doing? Where I was going?  And, the consuming thought ~ the fear of my cancer returning.

I felt much like a caterpillar in its cocoon. I was going through the motions of life, but had pulled away from it, too. At a time when I should have been embracing my every breath, I was finding it hard to breathe.

A gradual transformation happened, and realizations came to me one-by-one over the next several years. I learned to cope with the fear of my cancer returning by focusing on creating visions of a healthy future. Through study and experience, I discovered that my thoughts could either feed my fear or, alternatively, help me to heal…I chose the latter! 

I knew that my needs had to remain a priority and as the kids got older, this got easier to manage. It was then that I decided to become a life-long student of health of my body, mind and spirit through fitness, nutrition, meditation and mindfulness.

I realized that my life’s intent and purpose was out there waiting to be revealed to me ~ in addition to my treasured role as a mother.  I embrace my everyday and the joy of that day, especially when it helps others.  My happiness and delight is found through experiencing life, taking chances, using my gifts, and expanding myself through learning, loving and living.

Facing cancer opened me to many life lessons. Ironically, many were taught to me by my smart, independent and capable children.  I’ve transitioned from being their director and teacher to more of their observer, encourager and guide.  Though I still see my most important and treasured role as their mother,  I have come to understand the only change and greatness I am responsible for is that within me.



Bio for Angela Long

Angela LongSince her breast cancer diagnosis in 2004, Angela Long has been drawn to helping others through what she has learned along the way and enjoys discovering others who share that passion.

Angela is the founder of Breast Investigators, an online comprehensive breast cancer resource networks to help others find the information, care, and support resources they are in search of. She is also the host of Girl Talk on Health, a monthly meet up in Sarasota, Fl where she invites expert guest speakers to freely share their knowledge to help women improve their health. Angela strongly believes that by sharing information, it helps empower to have better conversations with their doctors about their own best care and make informed decisions with regard to their best health.

breast investigators Angela is a tireless fundraiser for non-profits and educating family, friends and acquaintances on the importance of breast cancer screening and early detection. She also helped many other breast cancer survivors during their journey through treatment.

But even with all of this, Angela felt the need to do something more and decided to take her advocacy work online. Through her volunteer and advocacy work in her community, she began seeking out and studying national organizations and foundations that offer information, support and programs that serve those affected by breast cancer in addition to those that promote the prevention and cure of cancer.

It is Angela’s intention on to create a platform where women and men can gain from the knowledge of experienced and authoritative members of the network, learn of local events and resources available to them, and connect with others. She believes that, together, we can take the mystery out of breast cancer.

Contact page for the Essence of Laurel websiteDo you have a story to share?

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A budding writer – my granddaughter Katie!

A budding writer has emerged…

On January 26th, my 11-year old granddaughter Katie called and asked if we could Facetime.   She seemed to be very excited about  something … so I hung up the phone and we connected iPad to iPad.  The techie world offers many of us in long-distance family relationships face-to-face time and often they contain special moments.  This rates as was one of my top ten!

Katie flopped down on her bed, held up the iPad to her face, and proceeded to tell me that she had written a story for a school project about her Grandpa.  She said  that when she read the story to her teacher, both the teacher and Katie had tears in their eyes.  You see, Katie’s Grandpa Marty (my husband) passed away in 2009.  She is a sensitive and creative child, and she misses him.

Katie also told me that when she was writing the story, she felt as if Marty was standing beside her the whole time. It gave her the goosebumps.   I believe Marty’s  spirit watches over the family, and that he was indeed there with Katie.  I also know that he had a great big proud grin* (*his trademark) while watching Katie write her story because it was about him and golf balls.

The kicker here is that Katie made that call to me on Marty’s birthday.  I felt as if he was being celebrated and remembered – so it was also a gift to me.

I am sharing Katie’s story to let her know how proud I am of her – my budding writer.  Katie’s enthusiasm, creativity and sensitivity are evident in her story.   Katie Megan Rund is now a contributor to the Essence of Laurel website, and I am a proud grandma!

Note: The tree Katie refers to in her piece is a memorial tree planted in Marty’s name in my backyard. It faces my office window and a pond is directly behind it.

I love you oodles and oodles Katie.  Grandma Laurel

The Golf Balls

by Katie Megan Rund

It was a sunny day and no clouds were in the sky. I stepped outside and breathed in the fresh, cool, summer air. It was time to collect the golf balls. Golf was my grandpas favorite sport and picking the golf balls up, reminded me of him. I couldn’t even wait one more second. I was jumping up and down. It was our first time collecting them and I was so excited. I could hear the wind calling my name.

Now, we walked around the lake to find some golf balls for my grandpa’s tree, It was really hot out and we were all sweating like we were just working out in a gym. Phil [My grandma’s boyfriend] checked his phone and saw that the temperature was 108 degrees. It was bizzare!

We suddenly heard a Splish! Splash! I finally found a golf ball! ” It was just a fish.”, I said in a depressed way.

 “Maybe a whole school!” my sister said. The fish were wide-eyed  and I knew they wanted to be caught. We all tried to catch the fish with our bare hands. Phil, wearing a Tommy Bahama t-shirt suggested we find out what kind of fish it was, but we couldn’t figure it out. My sister stomped her foot on the ground.

 Phil said, “ I found a golf ball pretty ladies!”

“Me too!”, my sister said.

“Me three!” I said. We all found golf balls!  I reached down to pick up the golf ball and I felt a chill in my spine. In my head I was thinking “I miss you, I miss you, I miss you!” I dipped my hand in the fresh, cold, lake water and scooped up the golf ball. For a moment I felt relief.

We all rushed over to the tree and put the wet golf balls under. The tree was just like my grandpa. He was tall and so was the tree. The tree was safe and so was my grandpa in heaven. I picked up a white and black plaque that had so much meaning to me and I cried for a second. I put it down and went inside. I felt like my grandpa was right by my side the whole time.

Katie and her Grandpa Marty




My Journey to Eckhart Tolle by Michele Penn

 My Journey to Eckhart Tolle by Michele Penn

How did I get two New York Times best-selling authors to agree to collaborate on a book with me?

I want to inspire and encourage each of you to live the magnificently happy and fulfilling life that you deserve. My book with Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie, Peace in the Present Moment (Hampton Roads Publishing, October 2010) was the result of a journey to presence and to finding my life’s passion and purpose. This story is intended to teach “what you believe, you can achieve.”

It began with a marriage filled with verbal torment.  For years my ex-husband verbally abused me and one day, in an emotionally violent rage, he threatened to kill me.  That pivotal moment is when I  finally found the courage to leave the marriage.   Today, I have learned to forgive my ex-husband because that experience became the catalyst which changed my life.  Instead of losing my life ~ I found it!

Peace in the Present MomentWhen I read Eckhart Tolle’s book, “A New Earth,”  it taught me the importance of being present and awake. And when I read the “The Flowering of Human Consciousness,” I felt as if Eckhart was in my head.  Words had never before touched me in this way; I was opening up to the a new way of experiencing life.

As I began my metamorphosis, for some unknown reason, the sight of flowers enthralled me. I felt the soul of each flower and was transfixed by its unique inner beauty. Where had they been my whole life? Why had I not seen them before?

Eckhart says that “seeing beauty in a flower could awaken humans, however briefly, to the beauty that is an essential part of their own inner most being, their true nature.”  When he wrote that he was “increasingly drawn to and fascinated by flowers,” I understood exactly how he felt.  I felt conscious without thought when I was photographing flowers!

Something Oprah Winfrey said came to mind:  “believe your thought and act upon it!”   I knew my photographs of flowers were unique and spirit-filled.  Then came an epiphany, a vision … I saw my photographs paired with Eckhart’s quotes and I instinctively KNEW that he would connect with my flowers as profoundly as I connected with his words.

Acting on that thought, I designed a mock-up book of my photos paired with quotes from “A New Earth.”  I then visualized and felt what it would be like to have this book on the shelves of Barnes and Noble.  I wasn’t wishing for this ~ I had a knowing deep within me that the book already existed!

Synchronistic events began to occur in my life.  At a conference, I  ordered a candle to be shipped to my home, and when it arrived it was the wrong color.  I called the woman who sold it to me at the conference and left her a message. When she called me back, she said “things always happen for a reason.” I believe that as well,  but couldn’t imagine what the reason was for this error.  As we continued our conversation, we talked about our lives, spiritual paths, and my dream to have the book of photos and quotes come to life.

It was then that the “reason” for the call revealed itself.  The woman told me that she had written a book and, believe it or not, her publisher had just done a children’s book with Eckhart Tolle.  My connection to Eckhart Tolle manifested itself because of this telephone conversation.  So yes folks, “thoughts become things!”

This wonderful woman then offered to contact her publisher to see if he would be open to hearing about the book.  A few days later, she confirmed with me that I could indeed email some photos and my idea to the publisher, Bob Friedman. Because he was doing this as a favor, she asked me to keep my message short and sweet as he was very busy with “manuscripts from floor to ceiling to review.”

I sent Bob Friedman an email describing my vision.  Although he loved what I had to say and said it was a great idea …  he also said that we could never get Eckhart Tolle to agree but would be happy to put me in touch with other spiritual authors. However, my inspiration, vision, dream and passion was the connection to Eckhart Tolle.   I told Bob Friedman that if we could just get Eckhart Tolle to look at my work, I KNEW that he would feel the same inspiration and passion that I did.

Instead of mailing the mock-up, I asked if I could fly up and meet with Bob so I could present my “vision” in person (wanting to see his face when he opened the book.)  He agreed and we decided on a time when the CEO would be there as well. After my meeting with Bob,  he called in the CEO and the marketing director, and they all loved the mock-up.  Again, they reiterated that it was a LONG SHOT to get Eckhart Tolle to even look at my book, but since I was so inspired and determined, they agreed to send it to Eckhart’s publisher, Namaste.

Weeks and months went by.  Because I was manifesting that it was already DONE, I didn’t once question whether Eckhart would get to see the mock-up, or whether he would like it.  And then the phone call came in from Bob Friedman.  He said, “I am in shock, but because of your genuine spirit, passion and belief, we are on second base. Namaste loves it and has agreed to show it to Eckhart Tolle.”  I never for one minute doubted that this would happen! 

After some time, I received a phone call that Eckhart loved the idea too!!  He wanted to do the book with me!!   I was very excited but,  because I had been vibrating in the knowing that it was DONE,  the news didn’t surprise me! My friends and family, on the other hand, were shocked and impressed. They couldn’t believe that I could manifest something like this.  I was living my purpose and on my way!

Eckhart said he wanted to include Byron Katie in the book as well, which was another wonderful happening.  I eagerly signed the contract and was told that the book was due out later that year. But, four months later,  I got a phone call from the CEO of Hampton Roads telling me that they had decided not to print the book.  He said that they were canceling the contract because of the economy ~ that it wasn’t financially feasible to do a four-color book.

When I got off the phone, I was disappointed but didn’t get upset. I knew this was just part of the journey because the book was already DONE.  With my belief in tow, I called the CEO back a few days later and had an incredibly positive conversation. I talked about how the world needed to be inspired by this great combination of quotes and flowers. I talked from my heart and soul. And then… he agreed!  We were back on track and the contract was renegotiated.   ‘Peace in the Present Moment‘ was published in October 2010….

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”  Wayne Dyer

Peace in the Present Moment

I never met Eckhart Tolle during this whole process.  In June 2012,  I attended his retreat at The Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. Eckhart spoke for days, and I loved every minute of it. He was enlightening, funny, motivating and inspirational. The first night I tried to talk to someone who could get me to see Eckhart, to no avail.   I finally spoke to Eckhart’s manager, who told me that he doesn’t see or speak to anyone personally at conferences. They keep him very protected, he rarely does book signing and I was told that press interviews are virtually impossible to schedule.

My persistance paid off when Eckhart’s manager finally agreed to ask him if he would meet with me privately. I gave a copy of Peace in the Present Moment to his manager so that Eckhart would know who I was. The next morning, he told me that Eckhart had been too tired to discuss a meeting, but said he would try again that evening.

The following day I heard someone call my name.  I looked around and saw Eckhart’s manager over a sea of 500 people. I waved to him. He came up to me and said Eckhart would love to meet me at the end of the conference. Of course!   I knew it would be an incredible experience.

At noon on a Wednesday ~ a day I will never forget ~ I was escorted into Eckhart Tolle’s room. Eckhart wanted to hear my story from start to finish, wondering how I was able to miraculously get to him. It was an incredible 40 minutes. Eckhart thanked me for creating our book! How amazing. He hugged me for what felt like five minutes. It was a dream come true.  We signed one another’s books and took some pictures and then he asked me to sign a book for Oprah, because he was going to be seeing her soon and wanted her to have a copy. That was another dream come true!  We all know how much Oprah loves Eckhart Tolle!

Peace in the Present Moment sold out in the Omega bookstore. Those who bought copies asked me to sign them and tell them my story. Hopefully, I  inspired many people to use Eckhart’s teachings and manifest just like I did. Being able to uplift and encourage others was an incredibly satisfying experience.

Today, I continue to manifest amazing things into my life. I attracted the man of my dreams by using the law of attraction and the power of the present moment. And, I am living the life I always imagined … knowing full well that all of us can be “awakened to our life’s passion and purpose.”   I have found mine – have you found yours?


Michele Penn Bio ~ Michele Penn

Michele Penn is an author, inspirational speaker, award winning photographer. Creator of the book Peace in the Present Moment with New York Times best-selling authors Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie. She lives in Sarasota, Florida, with David, the man of her dreams, where she finds great inspiration from a community rich in art-appreciation. In Peace in the Present Moment, Michele Penn’s breathtaking floral photographs add peace and a deep stillness to the wisdom of Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie. Her close-up photos, which Michele likes to call floral “soul shots” are a symbol of enlightenment. Her attention to detail and  ability to capture the soul of the flower sets Michele apart and makes her work truly inspirational.

With her second book, Dance in the Garden, Michele combines her “soul shots” with quotes from some of the most influential people of Dance in the Gardenour time. She intends to motivate the reader and bring them into a space of stillness to quiet the mind.

Michele is also one of 32 authors in Faces Behind the Pages that Inspire, a collaborative effort of some of the most amazing and inspirational Pages on Facebook.

Michele was raised in Short Hills, New Jersey, attended Millburn High School and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University. Her three beautiful children, Freddy, Nicole and Melanie, fill her life with inspiration. As an award-winning photographer, inspirational speaker and business owner, her intent is to enrich other people’s lives.
To purchase Michele’s DVD’s and CD’s
Sign-up – Michele’s website
Michele’s “I Am” app

Click here to learn how to submit your narrative

Kate A Woman With a Relentless Spirit

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

Kate A Woman With a Relentless Spirit
Contributed by Sidney Andrews

As author of “A Fall to New Heights” and “Journey into Thought” I am compelled to share some of the inspiration gleaned from my awesome forty year partnership with Kate, a woman of faith, trust and courage, the likes of which I’ve never seen. I’m presently working on her autobiography titled “Kate, a Woman With a Relentless Spirit.”

Kate is the youngest of nine children. At age seven she contracted polio and was hospitalized for two years, after which followed three summers in a rehabilitation facility for muscle transplants in her hand to allow for the functioning of her fingers, allowing for the only upper mobility she’d have. Unlike many who suffered the loss of use of their legs, living out their lives in a wheelchair, or with cumbersome steel braces, Kate was left with no shoulder and upper back muscles, no use of her left arm and only partial use of her right arm from elbow to finger tips.

The sky is the limitAs Kate has told me, “If it weren’t for both my mother and father who didn’t coddle, but rather encouraged me to be all that I could be, my life would have been one of bitter survival and feeling sorry for myself.” She was told there wasn’t anything she couldn’t accomplish!  Kate grew up believing the sky was the limit and pushed those limits for all she was worth. She discovered, as encouraged and lovingly inspired by her parents, that believing in herself and the power of her inner spirit would guide and teach her the ways of living a productive and joyful life of meaning and purpose.

Kate recalls as teenager how she was made fun of and the boys wouldn’t date her. Tearfully, at age thirteen she talked with her Dad about her deepest feelings; his reply was, “Honey, polio is never going away. If I could, I would take it from you, but I can’t. You have a choice Kate; you can either whine and cry through life or smile and find joy in each step you take!”

So, Kate – a woman with a relentless spirit – did just that! She went on to marry and has a beautiful daughter. Unable to lift her daughter, her husband would place the baby on a blanket on the living room floor, before leaving for his twelve hour a day shift, and there Kate would feed, dress and change her diapers using her teeth and toes to fasten the pins.

Kate had been married for eighteen years before we met at a prayer meeting in the summer of 1973. She and I have shared a spiritual partnership ever since.  At age thirty-eight, wanting to be an equal partner and help me, Kate went back to school to obtain her high school diploma. From there, after searching for a job and being turned down for two years, Kate was finally hired at the Massachusetts University Medical Center, where she ultimately introduced and developed a program for hiring, training, and accommodating disabled persons in the work place.

For twenty-one years Kate tirelessly gave of herself; inspiring, challenging and changing many a disabled person’s life for the better. Ultimately she traveled the USA teaching and training employers in the art of creating an environment where disabled persons could flourish and contribute to society.

The program she created and established was the first of its kind in the country and became the foundation that other employers built upon. Because of its success Kate was awarded the Governor’s Award, and was invited to Washington where she received the Presidents Award for Excellence in creating opportunities for employers and the disabled to meet with success.

Was Kate’s life of service without obstacles, problems, or skepticism? Absolutely not! Still, she was never once deterred from her vision and passion to make a difference in the lives of others, and to teach that what we see is but a fraction of who we are.

Kate and I retired and moved to Florida in the spring of 2003, where she began volunteering as a receptionist for the newly opened Port St. Lucie Civic Center. Her professional position may have come to a closure, but not Kate’s desire to continue inspiring others and giving back to the community. Kate has truly been a bright light for those whose lives she’s touched, and at the tender age of seventy-six, continues her amazing journey to live her best life. I’ve been honored and proud to share her amazing and inspiring journey.

More about Kate and I can be read in “A Fall to New Heights.” The lessons to living one’s authentic truth and best life can be found in “Journey into Thought” Awakening to Spirit.

Who, and wherever you may be on your journey to living your authentic truth and best life, never give in and never give up the essence of who you are.


Sidney Andrews Bio ~ Sidney Andrews

Sidney Andrews is an author, public speaker, freelance writer, retired nurse and the mother of three grown children. She resides in Florida with her partner, Kate, of forty years.

Her latest book “Journey into Thought” Awakening to Spirit, was one of twelve top books selected by the Cyrus Web Conversations Book Club, for 2013.  “A Fall to New Heights” received honorable mention in the Hollywood Book Fair in 2011.

Author web site and blog at:

Journey into Thought A Fall to New Heights

Emerging Voices … A bridge to LIVING ON!


the newly released eBook edition 


“Emerging Voices

Living On: A Journey Through Loss to Renewal” 


*TWO DAYS ONLY!   November 4-5, 2013


Emerging Voices by Laurel D. Rund

When you experience a loss of any kind,  there are rivers and canyons of grief which cannot be crossed without a bridge.  On that journey one needs a way through sorrow’s rough terrain to the other side of grief, to a place of renewal and healing.  That is what my book Emerging Voices is … a bridge to Living On!

Emerging Voices … Living On: A Journey Through Loss to Renewal  is meant to serve as a healing catalyst.  The art and poetry within is testimony to what can happen when we accept loss and grief in all its forms, allowing for the discovery of a new perspective … a bridge to Living On!


*****Read the 5-star reviews*****

Emotional disclosure, a pathway to healing. Laurel’s words and images allow a deep exploration of a personal gracefilled healing and reflection. Powerful pondering…beautiful words and incredible art.”  

Find your favorite spot to rest for awhile, turn off all the background noise, sit back and open Laurel’s book for an exquisite voyage over some of life’s more emotive seas. Laurel captures the pain, the joy, the highs and the lows of it all. She draws the reader into her world, gives us a taste of it, and sends us on our way to find our own blessed path through transition and loss. This is a book about life’s “endings and beginnings” that gives us a chance to look over the shoulder of someone who has journeyed through heartbreak to a place of hope and renewal. It is a profound read and a visual feast, one that you’ll want to experience over and over.”

read more reviews on Amazon:


Remember – it’s FREE for only two days – November 4th and 5th, 2013.  Click on the link below to receive this gift from the heart and remember to share the book with friends and family!