Category Archives: Being BRAVE

The BRAVE Interview #17 December 2017: Amy B. Wells RN

This month’s interview is with Amy B. Wells, RN!

I am an author and nurse anesthetist.

I’ve had many phases in my life. I was an accountant for a long time (hated it with a passion). I stayed at home with my children for about five years, then went to nursing school when I was in my late thirties. After that, I worked in the ICU for three years before going to anesthesia school. I’ve been a nurse anesthetist for a little over six years. I am married with two teenagers and a grumpy old tom cat and currently live in the suburbs of Houston.

My latest endeavor is writing. I’ve self-published four novels and I have started blogging on my website

WHAT is your One Brave Thing?  Many people might think the bravest thing I’ve done is attending nursing school or working in the ICU and or going to anesthesia school all at an older age while raising two young children, but the bravest thing I’ve done is to publish these novels.

It took me a long time to work up the nerve to publish them. I’ve always been rather introverted. Publishing and writing a blog has meant exposing myself to others. I might as well be naked! Most things I’ve done have been planned and controlled rather than creative or artistic.

WHEN did you do it? I wrote my novels over a period of about five years, but never was brave enough to put them out there.

When my fiftieth birthday approached, I decided it was now or never.

Time is marching on, I told myself!

I self-published my first book on my fiftieth birthday (this year)! Eeek! I can’t believe I’m fifty! How is that possible?

Then I wondered why the heck I waited so long! Not long after, I published the other three. I’ve gotten nothing but support and enthusiasm from those around me.

I’ve met numerous new friends both on social media and in writer’s associations I’ve joined. A whole new world has been opened to me. I had no idea how many nurses and other great people are writing just like I am!

Now, I’m in the process of rewriting them, coming up with new covers and a relaunch next year, hopefully to sell my books to a wider audience, and I am writing a fifth novel and have plans for more. It’s so much fun!

WHERE did it occur? The great thing about self-publishing is you can do it from anywhere you have an internet connection. I wrote and published from my arm-chair.

HOW did you make it happen? Lots and lots of screen time with hands on keyboard. I was obsessed with my books and I still am. I love thinking up new books; coming up with ideas is never a problem. Execution, on the other hand, is more difficult. I credit the discipline of anesthesia school and nursing school for teaching me how to be dedicated to a goal.

For me the first stage in writing a novel is to develop my main characters, which so far have been nurses because I think nurses make perfect protagonists. They are strong-willed, funny, caring and dedicated with lots of interesting quirks thrown in. And the situations they get involved in make for great stories.

After coming up with my protagonist and an alpha hero (I’m a sucker for romance and love to include it in my books) I then think of the worst possible thing that could happen to the protagonist. This is the “dark moment.” This is when the reader thinks the protagonist can’t possibly be saved and the reader wonders how it will all end. And then, the protagonist finds a way to save herself. In my books, I want the heroine to be responsible for solving the problem and saving herself even though I have a strong hero, too.

I then think of an inciting incident, the event that starts the story and several tension-building incidents until I hit that dark moment. From there I build the rest of my tale. Sometimes I get stuck and go around in circles, but that’s part of the process.

I’m still learning about the craft of writing and marketing fiction. It’s a never-ending learning process, but I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it.

WHY did you do it? I’ve always been an avid reader of fiction and dabbled in writing over the years although I also love sciences and nursing. Giving anesthesia is a technical job, although there is an art to it, but I find writing provides a creative outlet that I don’t get in the operating room.

When you create fiction, you are responsible for the interactions of your characters and what happens to them.

I love being immersed in a book and even more so being immersed in creating one. I find I grow quite attached to my characters and miss them when I finish a novel. Sometimes I want to write a sequel just so I can see them again.

You can click on the image to find them on Amazon. You can also go to my website to click through to Nook, Apple and other distributors.

Read the other BRAVE interviews here:

If YOU would like to be interviewed for this series about something brave you have done in your own life, email me at!


The BRAVE Interview #16 November 2017: Debra Lockwood Spencer

This month’s interview is with Debra Lockwood Spencer.

My name is Debra Lockwood Spencer (pictured above, left).  

My brave thing happened when I was 17 years old, while spending nine weeks in South America as an exchange student.  

It was the summer before my senior year in high school, and I was fortunate to be living with a wonderful family in a prosperous suburb of Lima, Peru.  During that time, I got to know a number of American exchange students, along with members of their host families.  We went on cultural and social outings together and met at dinners and parties.  Other than Marisol and Ceci Raffo, my “host sisters”, my two best friends were Maya Puyo and Paula Hawkins.  Maya had attended my high school as an exchange student during the previous year, and Paula was the American student the Puyo family was hosting.

Although Maya and Paula attended school in the Lima area, the Puyo family owned a ranch in the Andes near a town called Huancayo.  A long train ride on one of the highest railroads in the world brought several of us to their ranch for a holiday.  

I remember suffering from altitude sickness, experiencing nausea and headaches as the switchback rail car climbed higher and higher.  

We arrived after nightfall and despite my illness, I was overwhelmed by the midnight splendor of the thick carpet of stars.  The thin atmosphere and lack of light pollution allowed me to appreciate the heavens with new awe and wonder.  During that week, Paula and I became particularly close, as we rode horses, watched condors, and even experienced a slight earthquake there near the top of the world.

Several weeks later, almost 100 of us flew from Lima to Cuzco, the capital of the Inca empire.

 Another short train ride took us to Machu Picchu, the famous “lost city of the Incas”. 

Back in 1970, this World Heritage site was still off the beaten track.  We climbed the terraces and explored the ruins of the city, marveling at the engineering and astrological knowledge that had transformed huge stone structures into a sacred calendar to chart the movement of the sun across the sky.

When our large group arrived at the airport for the return trip to Lima, we were dismayed to discover that the flight had been oversold.  Some of us were actually expected to stand in the aisle, and there was no room in the baggage compartment for the large woven rugs and pottery pieces that many of us had bought at the native markets.  One chaperone and several students had a quick discussion, deciding we would stay an extra night and travel more comfortably.  I was among those several students.

I remember the five of us were having coffee at the airport when we watched the small aircraft speed down the runway.  

As it rose into the air, I had time to regret that Maya and Paula had boarded before us, and would not be spending that extra night in Cuzco.  Suddenly, the plane seemed to hesitate, lurch, and then make a sickening drop.  Before our unbelieving eyes, the plane crashed into the side of a mountain and exploded.  Suddenly, the air was filled with a thick acrid smoke, erasing our view and clogging our throats.  One of the girls beside me began to suffer from an asthma attack.  I really have no memory of how we got back to the hotel, or whom I may have talked to using my imperfect high school Spanish.  Dramatic though it seems, I remember standing in a crowded street several hours later, and having a smeared page of newsprint thrust into my hands.

On that sheet was printed the list of passengers believed aboard the aircraft, and my own name was among them.

There were no survivors of that Lanza Airlines flight, my friends Maya and Paula among the mostly adolescent victims.  Almost 100 people died, and it took hours to connect with my Peruvian family back in Lima to advise them that I had not been aboard.  In those days, there were no cell phones or laptops and Peru was participating in the World Cup, which even limited radio news.  Only that situation can explain the fact that back in the United States, my family spend 24 hours believing I had died.  My mother had found my last letter, confirming the dates of our Cuzco trip and describing our travel plans.  As a joke, I had apparently doodled a cartoon plane, spiralling out of the sky.  I can’t explain that, or why Paula had confided to me that before she left New York, she had dreamed of perishing in a plane crash.  She had told me this in Huancayo, while she strummed her guitar and sang the lyrics to “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”

Our little group did indeed fly out of Cuzco the next day.  I saw the wreckage from the window, and realized that I was not afraid to fly, nor would I ever experience those fears.  

Had God wanted me to die in a plane crash, He had His perfect opportunity and He had spared me for reasons of His own.  

I actually believe that He spoke to me and that He wanted me to become a Spanish teacher.  During the days to come, friends and relatives of the victims poured into Lima.  I had been mentioned as an acquaintance in letters sent by certain students, and parents wanted to know, “Where might my daughter have developed her last roll of film?  Was my son happy during the days and weeks before?  Is there any chance my child could still be alive, wounded and wandering among the wreckage?”  I talked to host families and school teachers, acting as a very imperfect translator expressing concepts that had never been covered in a classroom textbook.

Although I had never heard the terms, I do believe I suffered from a type of survivor’s guilt, or PTSD, due to my survival in the face of so many wonderful young lives lost.  When I returned to my home in Parma, Ohio, the joys of my Peru trip were overshadowed by grief and depression.  I communicated for years with many of the affected families, until my mother quietly suggested to the bereaved parents that the burden of being a “substitute daughter” was too heavy for me to bear.  I am not sure whether my story fits the criteria of a “Brave” moment….but it defined my life and certainly the direction of my career (I am a retired World Languages teacher).

However, I know without a doubt that there is still something I am meant to accomplish during this lifetime, because Peru was only the first of the five occasions on which I almost died.  

I appreciate the chance to share my story.  Maybe that is my remaining purpose.  Who knows?

Debbie was BRAVE and opened her wonderful Etsy Shop this year!

Visit it here: Altered Art Treasures

Follow Altered Art Treasures on Facebook!

Read the other BRAVE interviews here:

If YOU would like to be interviewed for this series about something brave you have done in your own life, email me at!


Be an overcomer

We all have things happen to us in life. Some are wonderful. Some aren’t. It’s how we respond to adversity that makes all the difference.

 We can succumb…or we can overcome.

Most of what happens in our daily life is probably fairly benign.  It’s when the big things, the unexpected, the often unwanted things happen that test us and help us remember that we can respond or react. The choice is ours. Often, a fair amount of grace is required to help us not succumb, to support us to overcome the adversity and carry on hopefully stronger and even better than before. Even if at first we don’t realize it.

I think Mandisa captures the essence of this magnificently in her song and her video, Overcomer.

Maybe you’ve heard her song before, but if you’ve never watched the video that accompanies it, then you’re missing out. I am posting it right here below.

And here is my challenge to you:

Listen to the song and watch the video. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to do this so you can see what I mean. It’s something you will feel in your body as the music and images play out. Please watch it to the end, and then post your thoughts in the comment section below.

Kary Oberbrunner, Exposed! Behind the scenes at the Igniting Souls Conference 2017

Ever wonder about this Kary Oberbrunner guy?

I first met him online in a chatroom…No–wait! Kidding! I first met him online at one of the free webinars he hosted:

How to Turn a Book into a 6-Figure Business

My expectations were low.  Full disclosure: I watch a lot of free webinars. I am never motivated to buy anything at the end of them.  Anyway, the information that I got was so interesting and so in alignment with what I already knew and was currently doing (or trying to do), that I had to find out more about what this guy was teaching.  Also, I had to find out more about this guy in general.

So I did what women everywhere have been doing since the beginning of time when they needed to find out more about a guy:

I googled him.

Not one bad thing. Not one. On the entire internet.

This led to me becoming part of the Igniting Souls Tribe, which led to me going to the Igniting Souls Conference this year.

This was a much bigger deal for me.

I was taking big risks to go to this conference! 

  • I hadn’t flown alone since 1990 and had never changed planes before to get anywhere. If changing planes was required, it was a deal-breaker.
  • I would be leaving my daughter alone for a few days, and she didn’t want that.
  • Who would feed the chickens while I was away?
  • How would I get to the hotel from the airport?
  • What if I got stranded there? (I did, actually)

Yep; I was feeling the fear (nod to Susan Jeffers)

In the end, though, I did the thing I thought I could not do! (Nod to Eleanor Roosevelt)

I packed up all my fears and I went to Ohio. Alone. On the plane–two planes. No, four, counting the fights home!

In the morning before the first session of the conference started, I heard a song playing over the speakers. I could feel it inside me. This wasn’t just any song.

This was one of my favorite songs in the world:

Con Te Partiro by Andrea Bocelli.

Translation: Time to Say Goodbye. And I realized that I had done exactly that. By making this trip, I said ‘Goodbye’ to my fears and ‘Hello’ to my faith and confidence in myself. When I heard this song playing, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to do.

So, who is this Kary guy? He’s the guy who you can’t find anyone to say anything bad about. And at the Igniting Souls Conference, there were hundreds of people saying only good things. About him. About each other. It was one of the best gatherings that I have ever been part of. Ever.
Thank you, Kary, and thank you to all the amazing members of this tribe, in which I am blessed to be included.

I am leaving you with this, my favorite version of Con Te Partiro, which Andrea Bocelli sings with Sarah Brightman. I hope you feel it, too.

Here is a slideshow of some moments from my trip and #IgnitingSoulsConference17

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The BRAVE Interview #15 October 2017: Allyson Bright

This month, we are meeting Allyson Bright!


  1. WHO are you? I’m 36. An artist, a woman in love, a widow, a crafter, a teacher, and a seeker of joy. I live in Wisconsin with my boyfriend, TJ, and my Beagle, Gracie.
  1. WHAT is your One Brave Thing?  It’s hard to pick just one – honestly, it’s been a journey. I was 32 when my husband died by suicide. After that, I found that I had to face new fears and learn how to create a new life for myself.About nine months after he passed, I went away for a week by myself. I was having trouble trusting my own decisions and I knew I needed to leave my comfort zone in order to move forward. The trip was transformational and ultimately led to my decision to leave my home in Iowa and move to Wisconsin for a fresh start.  Art journaling and crafting were such a vital part of my healing process, and I really wanted to share that with others. My ultimate brave thing was to leave my day job in order to start a business teaching art classes and offering coaching services. 
  1. WHEN did you do it? I started my company, Determined to Shine, about 18 months ago. It’s been a bit of a crazy journey, to be sure. But without a doubt, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
  1. WHERE did it occur? Right here in Madison, Wisconsin.
  1. HOW did you make it happen? One step at a time! Determined to Shine has grown into so much – weekend retreats, several online workshops, and even one-on-one coaching services. Sometimes it can seem like all of that happened at once, but it’s been a gradual process. For those looking to make a career change – don’t let the size of the task overwhelm you! Pick apart each task into small chunks, and just get started.
  1. WHY did you do it? The idea for Determined to Shine had been in my mind for several years. Ultimately, I realized I was just going to have to take a leap and be willing to fail. I didn’t want to wake up in three more years and still be talking about it. Taking that leap was terrifying, and I had to build my plan along the way. But everything that’s worth anything is scary. Determined to Shine has brought so much joy into my life and the lives of others – I can’t imagine what life would be like if I hadn’t done that one brave thing. 

Thank you, Allyson, for sharing your brave story with us!

Allyson is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Scrapbook Projects Illustrated.

You can find Allyson’s FREE online class here: 30 days of Art Journaling. I have taken this class myself and I enjoyed it very much. I highly recommend all of Allyson’s classes. Find them all here:

Check out Allyson’s online book club: Get Artsy Book Club

Click here to find out more (act fast! It’s almost time for this!) about Allyson’s Determined to Shine Fall Retreat!

Read the other BRAVE interviews here:

If YOU would like to be interviewed for this series about something brave you have done in your life, email me at!

BOOK REVIEW: Informed Consent: Critical Truths Essential to Your Health and to the Health of Future Generations by Michele Stanford, M.Ed., CHC

I began to read Michele’s story and as a woman, my heart was filled with compassion and empathy for her and the situation she was in. As an RN, my heart was filled with rage for how this patient was treated by her physician! Michele was not defined by her circumstances, however. Rather, she decided to educate herself and therein lay her power, and now she is offering to share her results with all of us.

One quote resonated with me very early in the book, as the author described her experience with “continual roller coaster ride courtesy of allopathic medicine,” perfectly capturing what can happen if you are not empowered with the information you need to evaluate medical information and make good, informed health care choices for yourself and your loved ones.

Many other sentences speak to my own beliefs. On page 92: “The pharmaceutical industry is not interested in your health.”  Truer words have never been spoken. Also, on page 108: “The corruption at the CDC runs deep and wide and the health of the American public is not the sole priority, or even a priority at all.”

The chapters dealing with the pharmaceutical industry and vaccines will provide you with especially valuable information.

I highly recommend this book. Buy it here: Informed Consent

Spoiler alert: Cheez-its lovers, you are about to have your heart broken. J


Michele Stanford, M.Ed., CHC#InformedConsentTheBook

The BRAVE Interview #14 September 2017: Sylvia Wesley

Here is this month’s BRAVE Interview with Sylvia Wesley! Enjoy!

  1. WHO are you? I’m a 61-year-old white woman—wife, mother, nurse, and pseudo-bon vivant!
  2. WHAT is your One Brave Thing? Sometimes I feel like just living every day is a Brave Thing and it is difficult to choose a single event!  As a nurse, it seems like so many of my ‘brave things’ encompass caring for people—my dad and my brother, who both died of cancer; my mom with multiple surgeries; friends with HIV/AIDS.  As a mom I gave birth to twins who were 10 weeks premature and their first 6 months of life was pretty hectic, to put it mildly.  As a wife, still being married after 38 years could be considered brave—but probably the bravest aspect there is that I married a black man in 1979, only 12 years after the Supreme Court ruled interracial marriage was not illegal, and our early years involved some struggles in a very white New England. So, after all that, I decided to choose a joyous adventure as my One Brave Thing—I went to Burning Man!
  3. WHEN did you do it? 8/28-9/1, 2006
  4. WHERE did it occur? Black Rock Desert, NV
  5. HOW did you make it happen? Mostly my daughter made the initial experience happen.  She had been going to Burning Man for a few years and always marveled at how awesome it was and she was sure I would love it.  So for my 50th birthday, I was given a ticket to TTITD (aka ‘that thing in the desert’).  Which meant I would be sharing camping space with 38,000+ other adventuring nomads for a week in rather hostile environmental conditions, and only knowing one other person.  A little scary having to be self-reliant in an unknown situation, camping with my daughter’s friends who only had her assurances that I was ‘fun, non-judgmental, fully capable of taking care of myself, and would not act like everybody’s mother.’  So I packed my bags and flew to LA.  We readied all our camping equipment, some party outfits, food and water for a week, and did a 12 hour ride/drive-share to the event with a heretofore unknown person.  After 12+ hours, in a very small mini-van, we were all fast friends.  Getting to and from is just as much of an adventure as being there!
  6. WHY did you do it? For the adventure!  It was one of the best experiences of my life—the bigger-than-life art, the music, the people, the sense of oneness—all magnificent.  I came away with a whole new sense of self.  And as my daughter predicted, I would want to go every year after that, and did so for the next 7 years.  ‘Life’ has since interrupted my annual trek, and I have not been for the past 3 years, but look forward to resuming visits to my personal Mecca in the near future.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Sylvia!

If anybody wants to learn more about the culture that is Burning Man, go to

Read the other BRAVE interviews here:

If you would like to be interviewed for this series about something brave you have done in your life, email me at!