Aging Gracefully is an Inside Job


This boomer woman is aging gracefully.

This boomer woman is aging gracefully.

As a boomer woman, I have been pondering what aging gracefully actually means. On the surface, the term has a benevolent tone – a compliment of sorts or perhaps a kind appraisal of an older woman’s physical appearance.  But underneath this idiomatic facade, I see the language of this phrase as one that demeans, negates and undermines the richness and depth of the woman inside. It has become a euphemism for someone who is physically aging, yet it ignores the spirit and substance and breadth and experiences of this woman. It is another example of how the superficiality of a woman’s  physical self trumps the essence of who she really  is.

I would like to create a new paradigm for aging gracefully.  I propose that we look at growing older with grace as an opportunity to comment and honor the wisdom learned from the accumulation of one’s life experiences as opposed to how many wrinkles one has or how many more pounds have been added on over the years.  l suggest that we give voice to a life lived and listen to the lessons learned from the good and maybe not so great choices that were made along the life path.  I ask my fellow boomer women to proudly tell their stories so that all of us – young and old – may gain further insights and understandings about life – all the while getting to know you…….the real you…..the person.

I envision that we look to women from all walks of life, from all economic, class and racial backgrounds and we must not forget women who have been physically,  mentally or emotionally challenged.  I implore upon us to seek out women who have achieved great success – success not measured in dollar signs but in creating meaning and purpose and living their authentic life – whether they ran a large corporation, worked as professionals or in blue collar jobs or were stay at home moms.

To me aging gracefully is about the content – not the container. It is the culmination of a life lived, challenges met, obstacles overcome, and through the lessons learned, mistakes made, chances taken, so we gracefully age.  And, like it has been said, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood,” I say, it’s never too late to begin to age gracefully and to give honor and respect and voice to our sisters who are already there…..Aging gracefully is not about what we look like, but about how we get to be who we are. It’s an inside job.


By Roberta Teller

Breaking the Silence of Shame: Jacqueline Grace Hayward’s Story


My guest this past week on KOWS Wise Woman Storytime was actor, director and drama therapist and teacher of improvisational theater, Jacqueline Grace Hayward.  Jacqueline shared her deeply personal story about shame; its impact on her life, and more importantly, how she has healed herself through creativity and sheer determination..  

Shame is the most primitive of emotions and yet it is rarely spoken aloud. Secrecy, silence and judgement fuel its fires.  Left unspoken, shame can fester over a lifetime creating an inner world of inadequacy, unworthiness, dishonor or regret.  It frequently leads to feelings of being flawed, bad and disconnected from our most essential being.  

But this is not a story about victimhood. Instead it is a woman’s journey about finding herself amidst feeling disconnected from her own truth and power.

Carol Gilligan said, “Bringing the experiences of women to full light, although in one sense perfectly straightforward, becomes a radical endeavor.”

Jacqueline Grace Hayward is speaking the unspeakable and breaking her silence. She speaks for the silenced and those guarding their secrets. Her story is truly a radical endeavor and an act of courage.

The link to the audio of the show is below.  If you would like to contact Jacqueline, you can reach her at

After the show aired I received the following from Jacqueline………She would like to share this with you. 

I had an extraordinary, deep experience after I left you. I went into the longest, deepest shame I have ever been in, and cried for hours. Then woke in the night and went back into it again, aching and sobbing. And I felt like a liar for having just said on the radio that I have almost got this shame thing licked! What was new, though, is that I was crying. I have never experienced shame and tears together before, and I felt as if I was simultaneously experiencing shame and grief. 
The open door for the shame was my answer to your question about how/ who I am now. My response was a negative, in a sense: that I still have work to do because I do not yet know that I can have the life I want. I felt such huge self-abandonment in that answer because what is moving through me now, as of last winter, is radically transformative. I let go of a life-long persona of being brave (which in my vocabulary is associated with being strong in the face of difficulty, lack, settling for, doing it all myself, the image of small fists raised…) and am practicing courage instead. Courage is soft, open, connected, receptive, self-loving and self-caring, the image of wide-spread arms. Courage, for me, as a woman who knows how to be strong and knows how to give, is opening into generously receiving, allowing myself to honor my heart’s desire and to invite in the experience of safety and ease. 


The link to the audio of the show is below.  If you would like to contact Jacqueline, you can reach her at

By Roberta Teller

Listener discretion advised as it includes some sexual content.

Mary Carouba: Each One Teach One

My guest this past week on Wise woman Storytime , Mary Carouba, had some hard beginnings.  A troubled childhood took her on a path of numbing out, acting out and giving up on life. Bottomed out in her early 20’s, life seemed dismal and hopeless.  Mary didn’t know who she was, had no idea what life might have to offer and truly thought that she would not live a long life.

But life didn’t work out that way.  When Mary entered Delancey Street  her life and her outlook on life would forever be changed. It was there that Mary discovered who really she was – and it wasn’t that numbed out drug addict- but instead a woman with tremendous gifts, a loving and caring heart and someone who understood the power of reaching out and helping others, known in the community as “Each one teach one.”

Today, Mary lives by Delancy Street’s credo. She has infused this philosophy into every aspect of her many careers, her life and  world view.  Whether through her profession as a treatment program coordinator, social worker, consultant, stand-up comic or her speaking engagements, writings,  service and work, Mary is dedicated to helping others,  She is committed to helping others see the endless possibilities for their own lives and through her own example offers hope and possibility for all.

Mary Carouba walks the talk.  “Each one teach one”  is at the heart of who she is and how she lives. Listen to her inspiring story.  There are lessons here for all of us.

By Roberta Teller


Two Hearts Four Hands Cooking Together: Sulin Bell’s Story






My guest this week on Wise Woman Storytime is entrepreneur extraordinaire and author Sulin Bell.  Sulin’s newly revised cookbook is called Two Hearts Four Hands Cooking Together, and is as unique and original as she is.

This very specially designed and crafted cookbook is really a metaphor and manifestation of the the most important threads of Sulin’s life. It’s a testament to her convictions about living fully and healthily and offers 25 nutritious and delicious meal menus (with several dishes) for two people to prepare together. This one of a kind cookbook provides separate but interactive instructions for each cook.

Two Hearts Four Hands is quite different from your typical cookbook It’s way more than just putting some ingredients together and serving it to yourself, friends or family.  This cookbook is a recipe for quality time with a loved one, good fun, and a shared creative endeavor. It’s about a lovingly crafted and guided collaborative cooking experience culminating with a delicious and nourishing meal………Meals can be tailored to your individual intentions and moods such as “Feelin’ Homey, “Romantic,” or “A New Relationship.”

And while how you choose to share your food is ultimately up to you, Sulin offers thoughtful suggestions for creating the right ambience whether you are cooking with your lover, spouse, friend, child  or acquaintance. She even offers music to accompany you while you are preparing your meal.

This is a very special book written by an amazing woman.  It’s a wonderful engagement, wedding, anniversary, holiday or special gift for yourself.

To hear Sulin’s story click on the audio link below. 

For more information and a closer look at the cookbook, check out her website at .

If you are a west county local, Two Hearts Four Hands is available at Cultivate Home on Main Street in Sebastopol.

If you have a questions about the book or are looking for a caterer, you can contact Sulin at

And when you are ready to order the book, call Sulin directly at 707-462-5747 and get free shipping.

It’s a wonderful engagement, wedding, anniversary, holiday or special gift for yourself.

By Roberta Teller

The Gift of Song with the Threshold Choir: A Personal Story by Maria Culberson


Maria Culbertson, my guest this week on Wise Woman Storytime is a woman who has worn many hats throughout her life with singing and performing taking center stage. However, while performing in every possible theatrical venue and receiving accolades for her work, Maria began to experience a lack of satisfaction from her work and as she says, “felt like the soul had gone out of my singing experience.”

Around this time, Maria joined The Threshold Choir -a group of a cappella singers whose mission is to sing for and with those at the thresholds of life. Her experience with the choir not only changed Maria’s relationship to music, it changed her life.

The magic and sacredness of her singing was restored. Her passion for music was revitalized  and 15 years later, her vision and purpose for her voice and song continues to deepen and flourish.

Listen to Maria’s  deeply personal story of being immersed in the music and sisterhood of this choir. Learn how being a loving presence with those on the threshold of life and death transformed, healed and opened her heart, forever connecting her to herself and others.

By Roberta Teller


Controversy about Controversy – A Personal Story

We live in a culture that spouts the virtues of independence, autonomy and free thinking on the one hand and yet our systems, whether they be educational , familial, social  or political often discourage and frown upon those who don’t live by the accepted scripts.  There is an undercurrent if not a downright war surrounding those who buck the norms and question the status quo. 

Whether at the dinner table, faculty lunch rooms or in newspapers, magazines, blogs or online chat rooms, battle lines are often drawn about what is appropriate, politically correct, and what should be deleted or excluded from conversations. And what happens all too frequently, personal attacks prevail, and meaningful dialogue is lost. 

Those who choose to ask questions about currently held societal, cultural, political, religious, and medical beliefs are all too often demonized, marginalized, relegated to kook status, and branded as conspiracy theorists, a pejorative  term intended to further undermine and dismiss their points of view and questioning minds.

My guest this week on Wise Woman Stortyime is one such free thinking, nonconforming individual who dares to ask questions that many do not want to hear. Listen to Alex Lacey’s story and learn how her honest quest to find the truth divided a community, became personal and created a controversy about controversy.

By Roberta Teller

Click on the link below……It takes about 20 seconds to boot up…..

Monique Lessan: The Voice of the Voiceless

My guest this past week on KOWS Wise Woman Storytime was Monique Lessan, known in some circles as the female James Bond. Monique is a licensed  private investigator who specializes in the recovery of missing children and adults.

Her path to investigation crystalized for her when she successfully escaped after being kidnapped at the age of 19.  Understanding first hand the dire consequences of the loss of personal power and the subjugation to cruel and abusive incarceration and servitude, Monique dedicates her life to the recovery of missing children and to the education and advocacy of a safer world for children and adults alike.

Monique Lessan not only searches for those who are missing, Monique is a fierce advocate and activist speaking out about crimes of humanity- informing and educating; exposing those responsible and empowering the disempowered. She is the voice of the voiceless……..

This is her story and the story of too many children and adults around the world……….

For more information you can contact Monique at

By Roberta Teller

Debby Meagher: Living With Joy


Attaining happiness and the search for joy in our lives has become something of a cultural obsession or at least a dominant attitude requirement in certain circles.  Retreats, religious and spiritual practices, choosing country vs. city living, yoga and the quest for a guru are some avenues for seekers.

Step into any bookstore and you will be bombarded with every conceivable kind of book about bringing happiness and joy into your life. Amazon lists 22,368 titles on joy  and 18,465 book options for happiness.

Today you can listen to or read personal stories, scientific studies, newspaper and magazine articles all espousing ways to find nirvana.  There are books with daily affirmations, and TED Talks offering tools and avenues out of the misery into the light.  Neuroscience teaches us how we can re-wire our brains to cultivate positive emotions, inner peace and lasting happiness, 

Books have been written by scientists, researchers, journalists, Harvard professors,  psychologists and spiritual teachers. Even the Dalai Lama has a book on the topic.

And while it seems quite apparent that many people are searching for this eternal bliss, how often do you actually meet someone who finds it?   Are YOU that person? Are you a seeker?

You’ve probably figured out by now the focus of today’s show is about joy and happiness. My guest, as far as I know is not someone who has a book out  there on the subject nor has she written an article or done a TED talk…… yet she is an expert on this topic because she embodies joy in every aspect of her being………her words, attitudes and actions…….her generosity of spirit – her big heartedness, contentment, peace and love.

Want to really learn about joy?  Skip the bookstores, magazine articles, TED Talks and instead hang out with Debby Meagher for 5 minutes and you can experience first hand what joy looks, sounds and feels like.  When you look into her eyes, listen to her words and watch her, there can be no question that this woman’s inner light shines……and  showers  those around her with unconditional love………. and joy………

I invite you to listen to KOWS Wise Woman Storytime and meet Debby Meagher, probably the most authentically joyful person I have ever known……..

By Roberta Teller


Lynn Kwitt: Faith, Determination, Perseverance – Ingredients to Healing


This week on KOWS Wise Woman Storytime, my guest was Lynn Kwitt.  Let me tell you a little about the story she told.

Imagine yourself a young child and think what would it look like and feel like to grow up unable to participate in childhood games and activities because the right side of your body just didn’t move the same way your left side did.

What would it be like for you,  bright and smart as you were, to not be able to clearly express yourself because it took you longer to articulate your thoughts and say your words?  And what would it be like to be called a “Retard” and to be constantly bullied as  your differences became the target of abusive and cruel behaviors and taunts?

And what would it be like to have this physical deficit and have absolutely no idea why you were so different and what caused it?

When my guest today, Lynn Kwitt was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck 3 times, no one at the time had any idea of what this young baby had already suffered in utero.  It wasn’t until Lynn was 8 months old that a  rigidity set into her body ultimately limiting movement and sensation on her entire right side.  No one had answers or solutions. Her mother overprotected her; Lynn self-isolated and stayed to herself and as you can imagine this young child became extremely self conscious.

For many people an early beginning like this could lead to a complete shutdown and withdrawal from the world.  But not Lynn.   Instead of giving up, Lynn eventually sought answers  and ways to give new life to her body and spirit as she began a lifelong quest to understand her condition and to find healing and peace.  Along the way, she became her own healer and now offers hope and healing to others through the many healing modalities that changed her life.

I invite you to listen to Lynn’s story. 

And, if you would like to learn more about Lynn, make an appointment  or contact her, here is her information.

Business name: Wholistic Approaches

e-mail   website:

e-mail  website:


 Telephone; Bus. Line 707-570-0751

Cell phone 707-280-5449


By Roberta Teller


Bonnie Bruinsslot: Parenting-It’s All About Love


Parents make hundreds of decisions every day. While most are quickly forgotten, some remain indelibly pressed into our minds and some live on in our hearts forever more. 

This week on KOWS Wise Woman Storytime, Bonnie Bruinsslot shares a personal story from her child rearing days and offers us all an important lesson on trusting your parental instincts, valuing your relationship with your child and the importance of making the choices in our lives that most reflect and resonate with our values.

By Roberta Teller

Diane Masura: Trust Life, Trust Yourself

2016-01-21 11.53.54

Growing up there are cultural conventions, behaviors, even attitudes that are expected of us, often times in direct conflict with how we see ourselves and who we are.

What happens when, your authentic self is in direct conflict with others and society’s pressures to conform?  Try as you might, you think differently and want different things and your round peg just doesn’t fit into that square hole?

And then what happens when you think you’ve found the match for your round peg, and you find yourself bumping up against a workforce that undermines, demeans and refuses to take you seriously simply because they deem you to be the wrong gender?  What happens when the quality of your work is jeopardized  with  sexist attitudes, prejudices and work place discrimination and your job performance is compromised by behaviors and attitudes that thwart your success in your chosen career?

Diane Masura, my  guest today on KOWS Wise Woman Storytime faced these challenges in her early and young adult years. But rather than succumb  to feelings  of alienation and victimization, instead went on to create a fulfilling, rich, creative and inspiring life- one that brought her to Sonoma County over 50 years ago  where she has thrived personally, worked professionally and has been a quiet force and non-stop contributing member to our community.

Listen to her story and hear the wise woman lessons that we can all learn from.

By Roberta Teller