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Edited by Amanda Lewis

JOURNEYS OF DISCOVERY Copyright Š 2019 Candace Gish

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher.

Published by BHC Press under the Zander imprint Library of Congress Control Number: 2018954147 ISBN: 978-1-948540-20-9 (Softcover) ISBN: 978-1-948540-21-6 (Ebook) Visit the publisher:

TABLE OF CONTENTS 9 Foreword by Diane Najm

13 Introduction by Candace Gish

19 The Power of the Pivot by Dr. Erin Oksol

26 My Inspiration by Lavesha Draper

29 Passions Have Seasons by Cindy Brilz

34 Things I’ve Learned Along the Way by Candice Smiley

42 Invest in Yourself by Kebie Whitehead

46 Ignite Your Inner Fire and Relaunch at Midlife by Dr. Sirena Pellarolo

53 Join the Journey to End Emotional Eating by Joan Ridsdel

59 Did You Ever Wish Oprah Would Call? by Laura Fenamore

62 Drive and Passion by Eryka Parker

66 Journey to Unmasking My Beauty by Adedoyin Omotara

74 Mother of Perseverance by Amanda Bucklaschuk

81 The Choices I Have Made by Serena Shah

86 Wellness Warrior by Lidia Sicilia

96 Alive on Purpose by Dr. JaTaya Wiley

103 Finding My Version of Peace by Anna Cortes-Mittal

109 I Am Truly Destined


by Dawn Lloyd

115 To Be or Not to Be an Entrepreneur… That Was the Question by Teresa Syms

120 Should I Stay or Should I Go? by Eileen Head

126 Ask and You Shall Receive by Kristine Gravelle-Rystenbil

134 Life Lessons One Decade at a Time by Maria Allyn

137 Connect With the Contributors 149 Submit Your Story

This book is dedicated as always and forever to my four amazing diva daughters that were my inspirations to start it all. To the amazing women of the Divas That Care Network, I thank you for all that you are doing to help with our #DivasThatCare movement. Also, to the women of the past, present, and future that inspire us every day.

FOREWORD by Diane Najm When Candace asked me to do the foreword, I was excited and thrilled to do it, and I honor Candace for being the leader, the link, an inspiration, and more for women. Through her leadership, she has championed me through her podcast, giving me the opportunity to share my vision, my dream, with the world. I am an author in her first book Business Divas That Care: Grow Your Leadership. I wrote about my journey from social worker to launching my own company, PhotoPad for Business, as well as taking risks, making changes, and moving out of comfort zones into a leadership position. My core values have always included helping women. We are stronger together and change will happen. As you read the chapters in this book, you will learn about amazing and inspiring women! You will be inspired to go after your dreams, take risks, and champion women as you continue to reach success. My family reminds me all the time, that no matter what I do, “I make things happen.� Even now as I turn fifty-eight, while others are winding down, I am gearing up to make things happen. I am amazed at how far I have come. I encourage women to move to the left and stand in the spotlight, to be present, sit at the head of the table, and sit alongside whoever is next to you. Step boldly into your leadership! Women are leading the way. Candace Gish continues to remind me that women are stronger together and do not get far without the power circle.

INTRODUCTION by Candace Gish Divas That Care anthologies are full of hope, courage, and inspiration. The women share their journeys of discovering who they are and give us a glimpse into who they are becoming. All of us have stories that are unique, and when we are willing to share with others amazing things happen. Not only for the writer who shares but for the reader who opens their heart to listen. Like our other anthology, the vision is to bring together a community of committed women. Women who have ideas and strategies on how we can work together to make our world a better place, not just for ourselves but also for future generations into a movement of Divas That Care!

IT TAKES COURAGE by Author Unknown

It takes strength to be firm, It takes courage to be gentle. It takes strength to conquer, It takes courage to surrender. It takes strength to be certain, It takes courage to have doubt. It takes strength to fit in, It takes courage to stand out. It takes strength to feel a friend’s pain, It takes courage to feel your own pain. It takes strength to endure abuse, It takes courage to stop it. It takes strength to stand alone, It takes courage to lean on another. It takes strength to love, It takes courage to be loved. It takes strength to survive, It takes courage to live.

Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping-stone to greatness. ~ Oprah Winfrey ~


I knew

since I was a young girl that I wanted to be a therapist. How can that be, you might ask? I have no idea. No explanation. But I count it as a gift to not have to wonder and wander, trying to discover my calling, purpose, or career path. I also knew that I wanted to grow up and be perfect. Yep. Perfect. Who wouldn’t want to be perfect? I was on a mission. I excelled in everything I attempted. I had a 4.0 GPA all throughout high school and my undergraduate career. I was premed in college, took the entrance exam, and was slated to apply to medical school. I was told growing up that a doctor was the highest degree, the highest profession, and the most noble, so that’s what I headed toward. I thought psychiatrists were psychologists and didn’t realize the difference between the two. Then along came my first meaningful pivot. One of my last college courses was biochemistry, and it and I did not mix. I failed my first exam. I remember calling my parents, sobbing, with my first true-failure experience, in shock that I failed. But I was in more shock when my father exclaimed, with a sordid satisfaction, “Congratulations!” “Excuse me? Did you hear me correctly, Dad?” I asked. 19



After restating the terrible news that I had failed, he lovingly replied, “It’s about time you failed at something.” He told me it was all going to be okay and this failure experience was an important part of life. My perfectionism was having a field day! I was mad, frustrated, and ashamed. It was my first encounter with the concept of failing forward. And my first pivot led me to the next pivot. That biochemistry class helped me discover that medical school was going to be full of similar courses. “When will I learn how to do therapy and really help people?” I asked my college academic advisor. The second pivot happened then. I realized I wanted to be a psychologist, not a psychiatrist! I then redirected my educational path and applied to graduate school and was accepted into my top choice. I sailed through the next seven years of higher education with more perfect grades and high accolades. My perfectionism and I were glued at the hip, happily intertwined, and I loved learning about the career I knew I always wanted to be a part of! I loved performing and proving my worth in academics, as it easily puffed up my sense of belonging, worthiness, and self-esteem. After earning my doctorate, I spent the next several years specializing in treating children and adolescents. While I loved it and had a special way of connecting with young children and teenagers, I wanted to start my own family. And my husband and I did. The first of our three children was born and life as a working mother was both exciting, complicated, and overwhelming to me. Child psychologists often must see their clients after school hours and in the evenings. I was helping other children and families get well, and meanwhile, my own mental health was deteriorating, and I was rarely spending time with my own family or on any self-care.





Since perfectionism really is a coping skill for feeling out of control, becoming a mother triggered intense anxiety in me. For the first time in my life I felt extremely out of control. A low-grade depression ensued and over the course of the next year turned into a full-grade clinical depression. My perfectionism was in full force. It dictated everything in my life. I rarely took risks as a young entrepreneur, I became socially anxious, and tried to fill the “hole in my soul” with outside things like clothes, fancy cars, a nice house, and approval from others. I call this my third pivot. The one where I went from being the happy, successful, top-of-herclass superstar, to a clinically depressed, hopeless, despondent, and anxious woman. I refer to this third pivot as my “emotional rock bottom.” I became extremely ashamed of my mental state, as I could not explain why I was feeling the way I was. I had an extremely supportive and loving husband, two gorgeous children, and on the outside, a perfect, beautiful life. Healers often cannot heal themselves, and being unaware of how severe my own depression was, I concluded I was ungrateful and unworthy and began to turn on myself even more. The fourth pivot happened. We were surprised to learn we were pregnant with our third child. While we were elated, my husband and I were terrified. We knew something had to give. We sat down one evening and decided to change our lives. I would work less and start to take care of myself more. I cleaned up my diet, went to the gym, dove headfirst into personal development, and started to rise up from the ashes, beating my depression and anxiety, and killing off my perfectionism. I got real with people for the first time. I showed them the “underbelly,” so to speak, of my heart, sharing vulnerably what I really thought, wanted, feared, and hoped for. It was intox-



icating. Being my real, authentic self was impossible while being perfect, so one of them had to go. I broke up with my perfectionism. And I fell in love with fumbling forward, stepping outside of my comfort zone, and trying new things. My quiet, anxious, and reserved self-morphed into an exuberant, happy, bubbly person who loved connecting— truly connecting—with people. I started to collect friends like seashells. I looked for the best of the best. I collected the brightest, shiniest, happiest, most loving, honest, and kind people I could find. In turn, I became attractive to others. They wanted to be around my light, my energy, and my joy. Through learning how to stop trying to please everyone, I actually became pleasing to many and started forming deep, meaningful relationships. Because I was developing a growth mindset and was falling in love with stretching and developing myself, I started my own business. For five years I was in a network marketing company that I was deeply committed to. I learned much about leadership, personal development, and how to be a savvy business woman. At first, I was thriving. I was asked to train on the big stage and realized I loved speaking and leading! I loved sharing my expertise in psychology and applying it to business, helping women become successful and free! But the fifth pivot was starting. For some unknown reason, I could not successfully enroll others into my business. My leaders could not explain it and told me things like: “Don’t be so professional”; “Maybe you’re dressed too nice, and it’s not approachable”; “You’re not duplicatable”; and “The only way to fail is to quit.” I felt confused, stuck, and the shame and self-doubt started sinking in again. I did what they told me to do and hired a business coach. I added in a mind-set coach. Which led me to the fifth pivot— learning about the world of coaching! I had no idea it existed, 22




and I loved it! I fell in love with the coaching industry and started voraciously studying it. Watching and learning from those who were paving the way, I realized they had what I wanted. Time freedom. Successful clients. Higher pay. Autonomy. And a greater impact. A dream was birthed in me. A small seed that has now grown into the largest of oak trees. I wanted to be a coach! I wanted to be a speaker! The sixth pivot happened at a local public swimming pool. Lying in the sun on the Fourth of July weekend, I started a conversation with the woman next to me. Watching our children play in the pool, we got to know one another. She was a marketing genius. I honored the nudge to tell her, a perfect stranger, my dream of being a coach and speaker. I told her that with my background in psychology, I believed I could help people create meaningful change in their lives and businesses and that I could serve so many more than I could seeing clients on an individual basis in my therapy office. I followed her lead and created my website, brand, and marketing plan. I became successful on social media and my visibility grew, one step at a time. My network marketing company became intrusive and overbearing and asked me to choose between their company or growing my own. The seventh pivot had to happen. I chose to pursue my dream. With no guarantee of success. I was shunned by most of the women in that company whom I believed would be my lifelong friends. I grieved the loss like a death. I felt like I was out on the skinny branches of the tree, dangling in uncertainty. But I went for it. All in. I told my marketing guru I wanted to be a professional speaker. I told her I had no idea how one does that, to which she replied, “I think you speak!� We chuckled and filled my calendar with speaking engagements. I spoke in front of my ideal clients. As much and as



often as they would listen. I spoke thirty-nine times in the first year. I enrolled individual coaching clients and they started to see real change…and fast. They started to sing my praises, and my coaching business was born. I now am a professional speaker, coach, best-selling author, high-performance corporate trainer, and have my own podcast and online business. I lead my own one-day workshops where I host hundreds of people who come to change their lives! My clients come to grow their belief in themselves and chase their dreams. I help them make their visions a reality, all with fun, humor, and grace. I am growing a tribe of women who have each other’s backs. Women who take a stand against perfectionism and people pleasing. Women who honor each other’s bravery and who applaud each other’s vulnerability. The power of the pivot. Honoring the nudge. Listening to that voice within you that knows what you want and then taking the steps to go after it. Taking fear along the ride with you. It’s where the magic happens. It’s where life gets really good. I want this for you. I want this for all of us. So, the next time life takes you down a path you had not expected, perhaps it is the pivot that will direct you to your right and perfect path. And while my path has not been perfect, it’s been mine. I own the scrapes and bruises and wrong turns. I also own the victories and celebrations and successes. In the process, I have broken the cycle of addiction to perfection. My children and I ask each other the same three questions every night, as they are now my measure of a truly successful life. 1.How was I brave today? 2.How did I fumble forward today? 3.How was I kind? 24


Train your brain for true success. Remind it to take risks and be courageous. And never forget the power of the pivot.  



MY INSPIRATION by Lavesha Draper

When I

look back over my life and think about how and what influenced me to become the inspiration I am today, the first thing that comes to my mind is my mother. She was my inspiration. She was such an unselfish person with a big heart that would give you her last! She would open her home to those who needed a safe haven or just a place of refuge. My mother had such a down-to-earth disposition that everyone she met felt comfortable and at peace. So much so that complete strangers would open up to her and share their most intimate thoughts, and my mother never judged anyone. When I became an adult, my mind-set was as such: to be an ear to those in need and to open up enough to be transparent and allow people to see that my life was no different from theirs! I could feel the pain of others and would show compassion and empathy to those who were hurting. I came to the realization early in life that people needed and wanted someone to listen to them. God gave me the gift to be able to mentor and coach them back into a place of assurance and empowerment. Speaking into the lives of others is effortless for me. My desire is for other people to be whole and functional in society with a stable mind-set. I have always 26




had the desire to speak into the lives of adolescent girls and women because I know how I felt as child, and I didn’t want anyone else to feel uncomfortable or have any doubt about their confidence or self-esteem. When a person loses sight of who they are and no longer feels inspired, that is when they require support the most. It is my intention to provide support to those in need by helping them to see their best attributes and their God-given gifts and talents while focusing on their passions. I really believe that my purpose in life is to help others manifest and cultivate their purpose and destiny for their life. I have been through ridicule, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and judgement, and I can feel and understand their pain and thoughts of rejection and denial. I can remember going through an anxiety attack at work and coming home on my lunch break and kneeling by my bedside and praying to God about my purpose and how I could best utilize my gifts and talents. In that moment, it became abundantly clear to me to write the vision and make it plain. At that time, I had no formal business training; however, I began to pray and instantly God began to teach me and guide me every step of the way! He started to line up the right people in my path to assist me along the way. Throughout my life I kept journals and would write down my feelings and thoughts in the form of poetry. One day I was encouraged to compose my poetry into book format and fulfilled my ultimate dream of becoming a published author. When I started out on my journey of becoming a model, it was a continued leap of faith, from asking designers to be in their shows, to doing research and choosing the right shows that would not only fit my brand but would also catapult me into my destiny. When you take a leap a faith and step outside



of your comfort zone, your life will progress further. It’s like riding a bike; once you learn how to ride, you desire to keep riding. I kept riding the wave of faith. As I continued along my journey, I went from modeling, to being cast in a major play, to becoming a published author, to having a T-shirt line, to becoming the CEO of my own business where I created my brand that promotes self-esteem and confidence. Having my own business has afforded me the opportunity to do the things that I truly love, like volunteering at neighborhood schools speaking about confidence, creating empowerment workshops to help others on their journey to reach their full potential, and sharing my story of hope and faith on a national and international level. Pressing my way into my destiny by faith is what has helped me to fulfill my purpose in life. What motivates me to inspire others is the desire for them to be free from self-doubt and embrace self-love to fulfill their destiny and purpose in life.



I hate

sleeping alone. But there I was for another night with my husband working out of town and my paranoia hearing every weird sound the house was making. I was sleeping more with his shirt than with him, and by day fifteen there wasn’t much “eau d’hubby” left on the garment to help me manage missing him. Yes, he was making a good income, and when he came home it was amazing! But the fact of the matter was that while he was home and had six days of freedom, I still had clients to attend to. I thought owning my own business meant time freedom but, being a personal trainer, I was a slave to the schedule. I had to trade hours for dollars, and I had people counting on me to be at a certain place at a certain time instead of hanging out with him. But shouldn’t I be happy? I had wanted to be a personal trainer since I was thirteen! I don’t know exactly where the idea came from, but I remember always asking my mom to buy me fitness magazines at the grocery store and actually looking forward to the gym class days where we would do fitness tests. I totally realize how nerdy this is to admit, but if you looked at my bookshelf as a kid you would have seen a huge range of self-help titles from How to Do Your Homework without Throwing Up to How to Whistle. I realize now that I was 29



drawn to exercise because it was a tool for self-improvement that I knew I could make a career out of. However, I didn’t think about how I would manage that career when we wanted to have a family. When we got pregnant I didn’t have a maternity leave plan, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to work like I was, so it gave me the push to start creating an online wellness business. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted it to be, but I just began taking steps forward hoping it would come together into some kind of program that would help me earn some residual income when the baby came. I’ve always found that even when you don’t know what you are doing, if you just start taking action, things begin to take shape and magic happens! Often times it doesn’t happen like you think. You can’t micromanage the universe, and trust me, that’s a good thing. Not long after creating my website, I ended up reading a blog from a guy I knew about how he and his wife were able to pay off their mortgage in their twenties because of their network marketing business. And I was like, “Whoa!” At the time I was a customer of a nutrition line that I was loving, and I knew there was some kind of business behind it, but I really didn’t understand the model. I thought it was just a little home-based hobby thing, which is great for some people, but I needed a way to make real income. After reading that, of course the thought crossed my mind: What if this could be a better solution to my problem? I would have the support of a community and company behind me and a system to follow. With my other business, I didn’t even know how I would make money yet! So, my husband and I decided to go to a business training to see what it was all about. I was captivated by the high priority that was put on personal development because of my love of self-improvement. That, coupled with nutrition 30




info I craved and the energy of the people, made me realize this was going to be something good for me. That evening we were the only ones at the rooftop pool and the organizer ended up there chatting with us about how beautiful it all was and how we could have all of it. And I thought, yeah, why not? But I wasn’t thinking about having fancy condos and rooftop pools; I just wanted my husband home. I always felt like we would find a way to get out of that situation, but I didn’t know how until that moment. I thought: What if I could not only bring in enough income to allow myself to have time with our baby, but also allow him to be home and have that time? I suddenly had a huge why. A reason to get over myself, and I just started sharing with more intention about something I loved and that I knew could help people. And I needed that push because it wasn’t always easy since being an entrepreneur, you deal with rejection. Although I was better equipped to deal with it because I had actually ignored the product for many years due to miseducation, it still can be draining at times. So, as an entrepreneur of any kind, be proud of yourself. This isn’t an easy path, but I think we all would agree that the alternative is a lot harder. Three months after that rooftop chat my husband was able to accept a 50 percent pay cut where he could be home every night just before our first daughter was born. I think I’m still in shock that it happened, but never underestimate the power of intention. I wasn’t making huge money then, but we trusted that it would come because of the system for success to follow. Through following that system, two years after that point, with a lot of hard work, highs, lows, travel, and fun, I reached the top level of our company which replaced my old full-time income and came with health benefits plus a regular Christmas bonus.



I briefly went back to working at the gym just a few hours a week because I thought I wanted to, but somewhere along the line I found that I was no longer feeling fulfilled. I noticed myself hitting unsubscribe to the fitness emails to leave more time for business and personal development, and the exercise physiology textbooks I used to read for fun were gathering dust on the shelf. I was starting to feel like an imposter because every time I would go train someone, I had this knot in my stomach. I knew I was good at what I did, and I liked helping people, but something didn’t feel quite right anymore. Passions have seasons. This statement allowed me to be at peace with my decision to stop training. My decision to draw a line in the sand that my career path had changed and that all the money and time that was poured into my education was no longer serving me. It didn’t fit how I wanted to show up for my family and my life. And that it was OK, because the only opinion I needed to care about was my own. We all have the choice to say no the knot in our stomachs if we are doing something we don’t want to do. I love working hard, but now I get to choose when I work and for how long. And yes, that means when my husband has days off I can choose to take time off! I get to hang out with my kids when I want, and I can also choose how many hours a week they spend in day home. Sometimes I have moments where I think it would be easier if I was a stay-at-home mom instead of a work-fromhome mom. And maybe it would be easier, but I don’t think that means better. This business has given me an extra identity, purpose, adventure, huge personal growth, and a social life to make me a better mom. But with our second child this last year, I have struggled. I think it was because I already kind of had two kids with my business being my second! Also, our second daughter has a vivacious personality that challenges us 32


as parents. This last year, I’ve been hard on myself for not living up to the goals and expectations of the old me. I’m learning to lean on others for help and support while loving on myself for the things I do accomplish, and more importantly, for the things I don’t. At the end of the day, I need to remember that my number one priority is my family, and I chose this business so that I could spend more time with them. As an entrepreneur it’s so easy to work all the time because we love it, but what are we working for if we don’t take the time to enjoy and be grateful for what we already have that we’ve worked so hard for? I for one am going to go to sleep tonight beside my husband and remember that it wasn’t that long ago that I was praying for the things I have now.



SUBMIT YOUR STORY Divas That Care is calling for submissions for upcoming books in the Divas That Care series. We’re looking for stories of proactive, passionate women that make us feel connected, empowered, and hopeful for the future Please don’t take our silence personally. We may be considering your story for a later title. It can take many months or even a few years for a Divas That Care book to be completed. Please be patient as the selection of stories and poems is a time-consuming process. Please do not contact us to ask for an update about your story unless you need to know whether we are considering it because another publisher is interested in it too. If we choose your story or poem for a future edition of a Divas That Care publication, we will notify you by email and request your permission to print it. We never publish anything without written permission from the author, and we get your approval for the inspirational quote that we put at the top of each story, and also for any edits we make. If your e-mail address changes after you submit your story, be sure to let our editor know by emailing: Submit at:

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Journeys of Discovery - A Divas That Care Book by Candace Gish  

JOURNEYS OF DISCOVERY is a compilation of short stories from women entrepreneurs, who have overcome obstacles to achieve their dreams. Read...

Journeys of Discovery - A Divas That Care Book by Candace Gish  

JOURNEYS OF DISCOVERY is a compilation of short stories from women entrepreneurs, who have overcome obstacles to achieve their dreams. Read...

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