Love, It Starts with Self

No matter how hard you try and the higher you climb the hill to success, the more people are going to try and knock you down.  Deep inside all of us is the capacity to love ourselves unconditionally.  People will envy you and dislike you because they are too afraid to go out on a limb and do exactly what you are doing.  They may never know the obstacles you overcame to get to where you are or they may glamourize your situation to their liking not fully understanding what your journey entailed.  If someone throws an arrow, let it slide off your back, for this is not your battle but theirs.  You are destined for greatness and so are they, if they do the WORK to get there.     ( I envision myself wearing an invisible raincoat and negativity cannot penetrate my shield)

Many of us did not come from functional homes as children so learning to love ourselves may be difficult to achieve. One needs to acknowledge their achievements, their talents, abilities and qualities, choose to embrace them.  Self love does not require one to compromise their principles and morals nor does it mean we allow others to treat us poorly.   Affirm all that is good and true within your being, you are after all a child of God and are unique, there is not another person quite like you.  The greatest pay off for loving ourselves is the love we receive from others.  You will find that people that love themselves like you do, will begin to gravitate towards you, as light attracts light.

From Ordinary to Xtraordinary: Sheroes series : Deborah M. Cofer

For several months I have been corresponding with a wonderful woman by the name of Deborah Cofer via Facebook who has been a beacon of light and strength to me and many others.  Her achievements are nothing less than xtraordinary.  I hope you will enjoy our interview as much as Deborah loves life.  Deborah has written 5 books and has several groups she has created on-line to support all of our SISTAHS.

Interview With Deborah M. Cofer

Angi:  What are your passions?

Answer:  My passion is people.  There are so many people who have been abused in so many vile ways.  My desire is to bring hope, encouragement and inspiration to all those who need the caliber of spiritual nourishment that’s required to take control of their lives and transform them in miraculous ways.  My grandchildren Tia, Tiara, Triston and Taylor are also my passion!  I am a devout grandmother and family person who has developed the depths of the God-sense that’s required to know that our first ministry is our families.  This is where we get the chance to prove that we are worthy and more powerful than we ever imagined possible.  As most people already know, families can be really challenging and often overwhelming.  If we are willing to work with our families and help them to overcome the challenges they encounter and grow strong, then we are truly ready to help others, in the larger world around us, to navigate through the highways and byways of life.  I also have a passion for life!  I want to see the world, meet as many interesting people as I can, partake of the spas in Greece…I hear they are Xquisite, taste the fine wines of Southern California and Italy and visit the motherland (Africa) before I depart this world.

Angi:  Who do you admire? 

Answer:  I truly admire people who overcome oppression of any type.  As someone who was once a victim of childhood sexual abuse and family dysfunction, I know how hard this is and anyone who finds the courage and strength to take back their lives and transform them into healthier and happier Xperiences is to be both admired and commended.  These are the people who are worth knowing, being around and serving as role models for others.  My heroes are the ones who encourage me to be the best woman I can be, have loved me unconditionally and continue to take the time to understand and support the evolution of the woman I have become and will continue to grow into for the duration of my life.

Angi:  How do you deal with adversity/stress?

Answer:  I get away from the stressor and into an environment that fosters peace and serenity.  I pray…which simply means I talk to God and meditate…which simply means I take the time to listen for God’s words of encouragement and guidance.  Most people don’t understand that God resides within us, so He is always available to work with us, for us and through us for our good as well as the greater good of the human family and all life, in general.  All we have to do is to go inward into our inner-temples to find the answers we need and all that is required to magnify, multiply and maximize the quality of our lives.  Unfortunately, most people rely too much on their human Xperiences, beliefs and conditioning for the answers they need.  All life is a byproduct of a divine process.  Therefore, going to the Source (God) for the answers we need makes a whole lot more sense than seeking answers from the byproducts (people) of the Source.  When it comes to adversity, I employ the same process because spontaneous and illogical responses only produce illusionary results that are both temporary and incomplete.  Whatever circumstances we encounter, during our journey through what we call “life,” require logical and rational thinking in order to achieve the best results possible.  For the most part, men Xercise this process far more than women.  Women tend to be way too emotional when it comes to decision-making and therefore encounter far more unnecessary drama and trauma than is necessary.  Accessing the decision-making powers of our Higher Power (God) manifests divine solutions that produce heavenly outcomes.  There are certain occasions when we can be spontaneous, but there are situations that require more in-depth thought and the application of logical and rational thinking.  Knowing when to apply spontaneity and when to Xercise logical and rational thinking is one of the most powerful lessons we can and MUST learn!

Angi:  What sparked your desire to write the five books you have written to-date?

Answer:  The need to get in touch with my feelings and logically look at the things I’ve been through and how those Xperiences impacted on my life sparked the writing of my first book “NO PROCESS…NO PROMISE:”  A Modern Day Testament to the Goodness and Glory of God.  This book chronicled my first 47 years of life and helped me to shed some of the dead-weight and emotional pain I had been carrying around for way too long.  It was the beginning of what I call my letting go process.  The next two books “High Yellow”…But A Black Woman Forever More and White Fish Pate, Smoked Salmon and A Loaf of Raisin Nut Bread (spiritual cuisine for the healing and nourishment of the soul) helped to strengthen my connection to God and the divinity of life and accelerated the internal cleansing process.  During the writing of these books, new doors for understanding the difference between living and Xisting opened and I gained access to new realms of conscious-awareness and connection to life as it was designed to be lived.  My next two books If He’s “Hooked On P__ __ __ __” Buy Him A Cat…The Spiritual Rules For Dating, Relating and Mating and SISTAH POWER began my journey to sharing the wisdom I gained as a result of the spiritual awakening process I went through while writing my first three books.

Angi:  What are you doing for work now?:

Answer:  Due to health reasons, I am officially retired from “work” as most people perceive it.  In the earlier part of my spiritual journey, I had two breakdowns and the years of playing “superwoman” has taken quite a toll on my body.  I have bi-lateral carpel tunnel, sciatica and chronic arthritis.  Some days I’m in so much pain I can hardly move.  But nonetheless, I refuse to become a prisoner of the pain and prefer to work through it in whatever way I can rather than succumb to it.  I keep myself busy.  I’ve created a website, which is designed to serve as an on-line community where people, who choose to live a God-centered life, are able to share their Xperiences, writings and wisdom with one another.  On this site I write a daily column entitled:  Deborah’s L.O.V.E. Lessons (which stands for Life Of Victory & Excellence).  It’s designed to allow me to share the messages I receive from God with all those who are interested in gaining a better understanding of how to live, love, and let go of all the nonsense that negatively impacts on the quality of life.  I have also designed a line of barefoot sandals, toe rings with matching anklets.  And I am a live-in grandmother helping my daughter and her husband to raise their four children.  My son-in-law has two other children…who live with their mom, so altogether I have six grandchildren.  They all keep me busy.  I don’t have time to focus on whatever physical pain I may be Xperiencing on any given day.  I deal with it and keep it moving.  I am also working on several new books.  In addition, I mentor many women around the country and serve as a consultant to several women’s groups.

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is that the human body isn’t designed to endure all the crazy things we do to it.  Sleeping with multiple men in an attempt to find “Mr. Right” isn’t healthy for the body.  Working long hours at fast-paced and demanding jobs…isn’t healthy for one’s mental and physical well-being.  Trying to save the world, singlehandedly, isn’t healthy for the body.  Taking on the problems of people who do not want to deal with their own lives and are in search of someone who is willing to play “savior” to their “sheep” mentality…isn’t healthy for the body.  Going through prolonged periods of abuse, of any type (mental, sexual, physical, etc.), causes the mind to malfunction and the body to go haywire.  Thus, the body’s natural functioning is knocked out of alignment with the process of its’ divinity because the body’s central control center (the mind) has become too damaged to do what it is designed to do…keep the body in good working order.  With this knowledge, I have made the decision to live the remainder of my life in peace so that I can give the best of what I have left to give and receive the best life has to offer.  This works for me…as well as supports, sustains and maximizes my sense of fulfillment and happiness.

I both realize and accept that my trials and tribulations aren’t over, because my life is not over.  As long as we live in this crazy, but beautiful world, there will always be the need to deal with one thing or another.  But I ‘ve developed a new attitude about living and loving that now supports better outcomes and I no longer hesitate to let go of anyone and anything that does not support the totality of my well-being.  Life is great for me right now and I only anticipate it getting better!

Thank you for taking the time to allow me to interview you Deborah and sharing your wisdom with us.  I greatly admire your determination and courage, it takes a strong woman to divulge such intimate details of their life in an interview.  I can relate to many of the things you mentioned such as “playing saviour to the sheep, working long hours, and trying to save the world singlehandedly,'” got me to where I was just over a year ago.

(c) Deborah M.Cofer & Angela Penn July 9th 2012.

In the next few weeks I will be interviewing women that have turned adversity into life changing experiences.

I find many sheroes around me and I wanted to honour them in a series that will provide hope, faith and determination to all of us, no matter what stage we may be at in our loves.  Whether we are dealing with chronic medical conditions, loss, death, menopause, cancer, burn out, depression. Some of these ladies are religious while others may be spiritual or non religious.  All I ask of you, the reader, is to be compassionate and non judgemental of these women and take what you like and you can use from these women’s stories and find PEACE, LOVE & SUCCESS in your life.

I would like to quote someone I admired and never met but whose words comforted me many times when loved ones passed on.  It is important to remember that there will always be adversity of some sort in our lives and not everyone will support our ideas or dreams.  Seek the ones that will support and uplift you in this journey and let the ones that criticize or drag you down GO.

If you have a clear consience and are doing your work with love, others will spit on you and try to make your life miserable.  Elisabeth Kubler Ross M.D. (c) 2008.

From Ordinary to Xtraordinary: Sheroes series Introduction

Help Others: Heal Yourself

Officially this week marked my first week of school in the Herbalist/Wholistic Therapy programs eventhough I was to start sooner, the late arrival of my textbooks did hinder my start date.  It has been a time filled with a variety of emotions: anxiety, joy and peace.  It seems that every ten years or so I am attending school, taking something.  I guess true to my sign in the horoscope, which is Pisces I tend to have a thirst for learning.  Now this may be true but some of those doubts start to rear their heads and test me with ” do you think you can remember all of this stuff?” or “hey remember me, exam anxiety!”  One thing I have learned is that if you are passionate about something you will succeed because the drive & the perseverance will carry you through any obstacle that could hold you back.  Once again I am pursuing a career that will allow me to be of service to others as well as myself and my loved ones.

The desire to help others began many years ago when my need to put the pieces together from my own childhood and my upbringing emerged.  I wanted to understand how people became this way? Why everything was a drama?  Like many of us I did not have a very functional upbringing and found myself stumbling through life in situations that were foreign to me.  Many of these things I choose to not mention as I wish to move forward in my life to greener pastures.  One of the things my childhood taught me was not to turn away from people that reach out to me.   This did not always meet with the most favourable results at times but then again people have to want to help themselves to some degree also.  I spent many years working with many challenging people with physical or/and learning disabilities. Now, some of them were more disabled than others and those were the ones that simply gave up on life, they were always looking at the worst situation.  A negative attitude is the worst disability a person can have, when hope is gone these people die inside a little more everyday and they also drive people away that truly want to help them.

Would I know what compassion is if I grew up another way?  Likely not.  Would I know how to help others if I had not suffered myself?  Again, I say likely not, because in order to help we need to understand.  As much as I do not want to deal with these conditions I feel very blessed to have them for they have taught me much about myself and completely changed the course of my life.  I am not merely satisfied with helping people when it is too late as I have done in the past, preferring to help them before things get worse and before things can develop into bigger problems.

The idea to become a herbalist/wholistic therapist came to me in a dream.  Some may say it was God or a Higher Power or simply a dream meant to provide me with some clarity.  The dream contained a large white rock that was emitting a strong, white light, much like a lighthouse.  The energy of this rock drew me to it.  I felt so peaceful and happy when I woke up the first few times I fell back asleep much preferring to stay in that warm and comfortable place opposed to the real world.  I returned three times to that same dream and when I finally awoke I wrote it down in my dream journal by my bed.  How did I get from there to the herbalist/wholistic therapy program?  This is is how it all came together:  I thought about this glowing, white rock for a few days and I thought this must be a healing energy of some sort.  I asked a few people what they thought of this dream and many agreed it was healing energy as well as strength within myself.  Up until this point my life had been a little unsettled ( work and health related) and I had been looking for a career that would be less labour intensive and with a more regular work schedule.  I had my psych degree and journalism degrees already and a business that was not really meeting my expectations so what was I going to do with these now?    The dream led me to look at other options that would allow me to utilize my education and life experience.  A firm believer in the mind body connection and health I wanted to do something that would incorporate these two into one.  The rock reminded me to be true to myself and never mind the money or the time to attend school, do what your intended to do.  This dream gave me the clarity I needed to find my true calling, it was my spiritual GPS in a way.  Go with the heart not necessarily what looks good on paper.  Every degree I had pursued before looked great on paper but in reality they were nowhere near what I thought when it came time to find a job.  In particular the last few positions, where the shifts varied from 7am -3pm to 3- 11 pm to ll pm to 7 and I was often on call after hours for no additional pay.  I had to admit to myself that I was burnt out from those demanding positions in which I was looking after others better then myself.  But again, the rock dream made me focus on myself – what I wanted to do.  ah yes, the healer of sorts!  This is not new for me but a new way of being a healer of  mind, body & spirit that meets my personal standard regarding morals and ethics.  I have to do something that does not abuse, manipulate or harm others, that is crucial to me.

So the journey begins…  this is real…  the vision is to heal….

By attaining these degrees I will be better able to handle my conditions and assist others with theirs.  If you were to ask me which one offers the greatest reward, hands down it would be to end the chronic pain and suffering many endure.  You just can’t beat the feeling of helping someone else heal & in return you heal yourself.

Some Approaches to Healing the Mind Body Connection

Life is not perfect and we all have those days that have torn a heart or two. Days where some tears are shed and those are a part of life. The old expression ” you always have your health.”, may not apply to you as well but there are many blessings yet to come.

Chronic pain and fatigue plagues many of the new friends I have met, all of which are dealing with some condition(s) that is/are deemed chronic or degenerative in nature. There are many options in the treatment of these conditions that do not require the use of medications or painful procedures.

We are living in blessed times, the possibilities are endless but attitude is one area we can change. With any illness, one’s mental outlook on life must remain positive and upbeat. Reading inspirational books or using a daily reader, such as my soon to be published ” Little Bursts Of Inspiration” for person’s with chronic conditions that include pain and fatigue such as Fibromyalgia, IBS, and person’s dealing with cancer can allow us to view things differently..

Listening to relaxing music can be very therapeutic in helping most of us relax and calm our bodies and minds.

Physical exercise that is appropriate for you, such as: yoga or walking helps keep the body limber and releases endorphins that tend to raise one’s spirit.  Simple stretching exercises for people that are confined to a wheelchair or not able to walk can be beneficial in alleviating tension in our bodies.

A wide variety of treatments are available for healing such as: herbal preparations, reiki, reflexology,  massage therapy, & psychotherapy to deal with life changes and situational factors many of us now face.  Don’t do it alone, try a few things and find ones that work for you.  We are all different so keep an open mind and give them a try.

Prayer can be a powerful resource, by asking God to give us the strength to cope with the pain or for his healing.  I say “God is healing me”, several times a day.  Even if you are not a religious person or a spiritual person, you can still verbally announce that : “I am healing everyday, my condition is getting better, I am no longer in pain.”  Positive affirmations combined with relaxiation music can be a good way to start and end your day.

One can never underestimate stress as a factor in exacerbating pain or fatigue. What the mind thinks can greatly influence one’s level of pain and fatigue. I recall having a day in which the pain in my knee was brutal and laughing at something my dog Molly did and how that release made the pain subside.  Laughter has been proven to improve our moods and it is hard to be mad or sad when you are smiling.

Emotions can be lethal with any of the aforementioned conditions. When we listen to what our body tells us there is usually a story behind it.  Guilt, shame, anger, fear & loneliness are all feelings many of us have faced.  Many of us are not working or having to work less, putting more strain on our relationships.  Maybe we lack the energy to spend time with our friends and loved ones.  We may find we feel alone with our friends and partners at work all day.  Whatever is eating you up, confront it and talk to your family about it.  Fear is worry and worry is not a great place to live either.  Worry will fatigue you and cause you physical pain  and can lead to anything from headaches to body aches, to insomnia.  We may not even be aware of how tense we are until we lay down to sleep at night.  Like my yoga instructor, Sharon tells me “Breathe” and she is so right!  I don’t deep breathe as much as I should as I am  often tense but I am learning just as we all are.

Last, but not least go with the flow, somedays will be worse than others but use these as opportunities to rest and rejuvenate.  Keep a positive outlook because the sun will shine again and you will always have better days.

The following excerpts were taken from “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann (c) 1927

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Be yourself.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy. [1]Max Ehrmann, 1927

Unconditional Love

When we brought Molly (our Poodle- Shih –Tzu cross) into our home at the age of six months she had been somewhat neglected.  She had previously been residing in a home with several other dogs, where the amount of animals and the death of their son had made it hard for the previous owners to keep her.   When Molly came to live with us she was rather shy and haggard looking, badly needing a groom and plenty of attention.   I was only too happy to train her and I was eager to have her feel comfortable and a part of our family that also included 2 cats.   There were a few trials and tribulations as Molly required some time to adjust to her forever home.  I had never had a dog before so I was quite lost in the beginning, asking anyone that had a dog for advice or suggestions.  I read books on dog training and watched many videos to try to get the hang of it.  I look back now and laugh at how worried I was and reflect on the days where I felt like I had failed her miserably.

I worried about leaving Molly alone at home, fearful that the cats might gouge out her eyes or gang up on her out of jealousy.  I remember thinking this is what Mother’s go through worrying all the time about their kids, never being a Mom before, this was certainly a new development.  This bond between Molly & I became stronger every day and to be honest within 5 minutes of her arrival in our home I was in love with her.

Fast forward to today:

Molly has been a blessing in our home and in our lives.  She loves us no matter what: if your hair is sticking out or you’re feeling sad or just not having a great day, she always wants to be near you.  She listens, she understands what you say and she is always willing to sit on your lap or lie across your body on the couch.

Molly cuddles with our cats Willow ( my female tabby) & Sylvester her big brother.  Willow has taken it upon herself that she is Molly’s pseudo Mom and is often seen nuzzling Molly’s head as if to say I am here little one if you need me.  All of my pets remind me that unconditional love exists and that peace can be found in a house with a dog and two cats.

Watching the three of them lying together as I write this, reaffirms my belief that we have much to learn about peace and love as humans.  Greed and material possessions do not exist in their world so there is no benefit to any of them to not love unconditionally.

These are my angels and this is my story.  May you always live among them, they will bring you great joy and much love~

BTW Molly has her own blog at



The Christmas Eve Angel

The Christmas Eve Angel

He walked with a limp that slowed down his pace

He was unshaven and appeared out of place

He was allowed on earth for just one night

and he hoped the task would make things right

He had been called to visit a little boy who some thought soon would die

To deliver a gift that he had never seen

and travel to a place he had never been,

The wind roared as he walked into the cold winter air

tugging at his parka he grabbed at his hood and tucked in his hair

The only guides he was given to find the address was a star above an old abandoned shack.

a Christmas globe that sat in a window sill and the name of the child, being Jack,

They told him it wasn’t too far just past a dead end sign

He managed to find the house just fine

Looked at his watch and saw it was about nine

When he arrived at the front door he saw people praying in a circle their heads hung low

He knocked on the door watching a young woman approaching quite slow,

“Come in, “ she said “We’ve been waiting for you to arrive.”

“You must go upstairs and sit with our son as he is barely alive.”

He walked upstairs and knelt by Jack’s bed

Jack smiled and the angel put his hand on the boy’s head

Jack came bounding out of his room, the colour had returned to his cheeks,

Something they had not seen in many months and several weeks,

Someone said our prayers were answered and he was the one.

They heard the angel whisper “ I have sacrificed myself to save your son.”



Angela H. Penn © November 2011.