Tough Lessons

“It was the year that was. A divorce and within months, a diagnosis of stage 4 breast cancer that was rapidly spreading. Everything had to change. Thankfully I had a community of support. My neighbors mowed my lawn, others drove me to my appointments and chemo treatments. Friends brought food. My landlord reduced my rent in half, so I didn’t have to move.  Friends shared my health challenge with others and expanded the support even further. A stray cat even decided to move in and offer support.  None of this was easy, but the love and support from everyone, even strangers, filled me with so much hope and gratitude. I believe that experiencing that gratitude on a daily basis during a difficult time helped get me to where I am today: cancer-free and now able to support others.”

-Kathy Austin


“I was let go from a job and in the moment it felt like a big blow. Once I sat with it I was able to see the gift that it was: the job really wasn’t in alignment with my values and was not moving me in the direction I wanted with my career. I now realize that losing that job supported me in moving into my dream career of coaching. I’m doing what I love with great clients, and I now have so much gratitude for that experience!”

-Geoff Helzer


“In fall of 2019, my mom stopped breathing. My son and I performed CPR with the help of the 911 operator. She stopped breathing two more times that night. The next several days in the ICU things were very touch and go. I recall having a very challenging conversation with my nephews (her grandsons) when we realized she would not want to be on a ventilator for very long, the hard part was we did not know how long.  Thankfully she was only on that machine for 36 hours.  This event was like a lightning rod that opened a door to more intimacy, honesty and love for our entire family.  I would never have chosen that set of circumstances, but I will be forever grateful for what that event opened up for my family.”

-Veronica Satalich


“I grew up around the ocean and have always been comfortable in the water. When I was about 14 years old I was body surfing with my friends in heavy surf, badly misjudged the timing on one ride, and got slammed down hard by a wave in shallow water. Like ‘got-my-bell-rung, could-have-broken-my-neck’ hard. It was painful and embarrassing, but it gave me a lesson in the power of nature (and the laws of physics) that I have never forgotten. The memory of that day has had me turn back from mountain summits in dangerous conditions, help friends be more safety-conscious in the outdoors, and overall develop a much deeper respect for the awesome and terrible beauty of nature.”

-Liam Mullaney


“I was in the middle of a very challenging time in my life; going through a difficult time in a relationship, raising a son solo and working full time. I was in major survival mode and losing myself.  My well-being was suffering. My friend asked me to join their team in a paddling race. I wasn’t happy about this request. I felt there was no way I had the time to prepare for it, and couldn’t imagine being emotionally or physically ready for a race that was over 7 hours long, jumping in and out of the canoe, and contributing to the team.  My friend insisted it would be helpful for me to participate and knew I would be ready.  It took me some time to see it, but I realized how much it meant for my friend to believe in me when I was too emotionally drained to believe in myself.  I am so grateful for that race.  It reminded me that I was part of a community and re-engaged me with things that I love – paddling, the Ohana that goes with the sport, and being in nature. As an extra bonus we received 3rd place in the international race as a crew!”

-Lori Jorgenson