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


Death with Dignity: An End of Life Option


If you were terminally ill, living with unbearable pain and suffering greatly, would you want the peace of mind of knowing that you could obtain a prescription to take your own life and die at the time and place of your own choosing?  

It seems that most Californians would……A recent bipartisan poll showed that 69% of California voters, including 70% of Latinos and 60 % of Catholics support Death with Dignity, California’s End of Life Options  Act/SB 128. Currently this bill is stalled in our state’s Assembly allowing the Health Committee members more time for consideration and review.

Currently Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and one county in New Mexico allow terminally ill patients to request medication from their physician to end their lives humanely. The drugs are prescribed by a doctor and administered voluntarily by the patient when and IF they choose to.  Interestingly, over half of the patients who request the drugs, never use them.  The peace of mind inherent in just having the medical aid in dying, gives the patient the comfort to get through one more day and is actually a deterrent to ending one’s life. 

Death with Dignity, is the topic of conversation on Wise Woman Storytime this week.  David Ross tells his personal story of living with a stage 4 diagnosis of throat cancer. Should  the disease return he has been told that there are no more curative options available to him. Also joining the conversation is Carole van Alestyn, a hospice nurse, the former California Director for End of Life Consultations and currently a Compassion and Choices volunteer and speaker, who advocates for the civil rights of patients to choose death with dignity.

This show helps to unravel what Death with Dignity is and is not; and gives important information about the requirements, guidelines and mandated regulations that are built into these laws.

Death and dying are a part of life not often talked about, but needs to be discussed, thought about and planned for. So whether you’re young or old, healthy or ill, listen to this important show.  It may very well change the way you think, make decisions, and plan for your life and death.

 For more information about California’s End of Life Options Act/SB 128 or general end of life issues, contact Compassion and Choices.

By Roberta Teller



Music From Wise Woman Storytime


The big question was; Other than simply cancel my radio show, Wise Woman Storytime, what should I do when my guest cancels and there is not enough time to find a replacement? 

Well, fortunately for me, when this happened in June, I had been giving some thought to a different kind of show and now was my golden opportunity to bring this idea into reality.

But first, let me give you a little background……

In the very beginning –  when I first started producing Wise Woman Storytime, I didn’t give much thought to the music that I played during the segways and breaks. But after a while, it dawned on me that each show would be much more interesting if the music reflected the story being told. So I started researching songs and all kinds of music that mirrored the story that my guest was telling.  What I began to unearth was a treasure trove of history about music and I was introduced to new artists and genres that I had not experienced before.

And I really liked the continuity that this brought to Wise Woman Storytime.

I’d been thinking for awhile that I’d like to dedicate a show to  the music I’ve played and when my guest became ill , I said, “OKAY……’s the time for Music from Wise Woman Storytime.”

So today, you’re going to hear some of the music I’ve played snippets of these past 10 months. It’s an eclectic sampling ranging from classical, to old standards, to contemporary and maybe even some rap. I hope you enjoy the variety and some of the background info I’ve discovered.


By Roberta Teller


Charlene Stern and One Ordinary Near Normal Man

unnamedBen and Charlene Stern

I created Wise Woman Storytime  on KOWS 107.3FM as a platform to showcase older women who through their passions, life experiences, lessons learned, attitudes and actions, make the world just that much better for themselves and for the rest of us.

My goal has been to shine the spotlight on these elderwomen for all to see; to offer their stories as a testimony to what is possible when one has a dream or passion, when one has overcome challenges and when one’s beliefs are so strongly held, that life must be lived accordingly.

I offer these stories to be sources of inspiration and introspection; to open up connections between the generations; and to restore the rightful place of reverence and respect to our elder mothers. Through these stories, I strive to inform, share history  and build a better tomorrow.

The child of Holocaust survivors, Charlene Stern grew up and continues to be a student of her parents’ lives. Throughout her life, she has searched for answers to the often unspoken stories of her mother and father’s earlier years.

Ben Stern, her father, survived the Molgenicia and Warsaw Ghettos, 2 death marches, and 9 concentration camps, In the 1970‘s in his adopted city of Skokie, Illinois, 30 years after his liberation, Ben took a stand against a planned Nazi march in his hometown. When no one would back him up – not the ACLU, nor the city of Skokie or his Jewish community, Ben refused to back down.

Charlene is producing and directing a documentary film called One Ordinary Near Normal Man. Ben Stern, an ordinary, near normal man is the centerpiece. Rather than focus on the horrors and evils of the Holocaust and the betrayal and victimization of those who suffered, Charlene instead is making a film about how courage, compassion kindness, goodness and faith can be forces for creating a more humane and just world.

This is a story about the resiliency of the human spirit. There is a Ben Stern in all of us. What a better world this would be if we could all learn to love, be kind, live with integrity, and to stand up for what we believe in – even when we have to do it alone.

One Ordinary Near Normal Man is a  tribute to her father’s tenacity, chutzpah unimaginable will, and commitment to stand up for what is right and good,  Targeting (but not limited to) an 18 – 24 year old audience, the film  intersects the life of this 93 year old man with the younger generation, offering the lessons of those before to be understood, internalized, and translated into advocacy for peace, harmony and sanity for the future.

One Ordinary, Near Normal Man is a work in progress. If you would like to learn more about this project or make a contribution to ensure its completion, visit the website

By Roberta Teller



Somewhere Towards the End: A Book Review

Somewhere Towards the End is an honest, realistic, thoughtful and beautifully written memoir that speaks to what it’s like to be old from the perspective of the then octogenarian (close to 90 years old) author Diana Athill.  Sometimes philosophical, often personal, this unsentimental, raw, candid and unapologetic,  free thinking and unconventional author recounts her experiences and views about children (and not having them), sex (even after 60), relationships, death, luck, authors whom she admires, and religion. 

While Somewhere Towards the End speaks to the diminishments of old age, it really is a testament to the potential gifts of these years and the opportunities and possibilities that one can experience as we grow older.

One cannot read this memoir without deep gratitude and appreciation to this feisty, cut to the chase, witty woman. Don’t expect any proselytizing or soap box wisdom. What you get is straight talk, a gutsy look at elder life and a chance to get a glimpse into the life of this remarkable, thoughtful and free thinking spirit. 

I loved this book and plan to read parts of it again and share it with women of all ages. My only regret is that I more than likely won’t get to meet this now 97 year old English woman in this lifetime. And while she may not believe in reincarnation, hey, you never know…….And just in case, she does have a few other memoirs out there. 

By Roberta Teller

Check out my Facebook Wise Woman Wisdom page.



When is Enough Enough…….A Conversation with Maxine Lachman



Most of my blog posts about wise Woman Storytime  have detailed my challenging journey as the “new kid on the block” programmer and show host for Wise Woman Storytime. Over the past 7 months, I’ve shared with you the trials, tribulations and successes of my new adventure. And while my path to (no such thing as) perfection is never ending, with much more learning (translation screw ups) to be had, I think it’s time for me to share a little bit about this gem of a station I’m now a part of. 

KOWS 107.3FM is a LOCAL community radio station serving the heart of west Sonoma County (CA).  We are funded by our individual members and local sponsors. who keep us on the air. We broadcast  24/7 from the serene and bucolic town of Occidental and can be streamed online all over the world.  There are over 70 dedicated local hosts who volunteer their time  and give so much of themselves to bring you a show they really, really care about. So what might you find on KOWS?  You will find a rich mixture of all kinds of music…, retro, jazz, rock, contemporary, soul, blues, Renaissance and Baroque…….to name a few.  You will be privy to great conversations with local politicians, musicians and people in the healing arts. You will get to listen to thoughtful and provocative discussions about growing old, indigenous people, and environmental and political issues. You will have the option to hear stories, learn about astrology and laugh, relax and feel good.

If you’d like to be a part of the herd and help us moove towards our goal of raising $30,000 for a new antennae I  invite you to become one of our sponsors or members…….just click on the link……It’s that simple.

Now about today’s show……….

What happens when you’re a 59 year old woman, who has been in the same job for 12 years and suddenly you’re told that you no longer have the relevant skills for the job you thought you were really good at?  Add to that, the recent death of your mother, your personal concerns and financial worries about your father’s worsening dementia and a series of unexpected life circumstances that puts you out of your home and literally shakes you to your core.

In Maxine Lachman’s case, all these circumstance led to a deep inquiry into her early childhood scripts about money, an investigation into finance and retirement planning  an exploration of what is REALLY important and a search for an understanding of what is enough.  How do we know if we have enough and when is enough enough?

Max has some very important answers……..Enjoy!

By Roberta Teller


Wise Woman Storytime: Frieda Ferrick Storyteller and Poet


It’s November 20, 2014 and I am jazzed about my 5th show, Wise Woman Storytime on KOWS 107.3FM.  Finally, I feel like I have mastered – okay – maybe mastered is a bit hyperbolic – but I really feel confident about working the boards, fading the music in and out, and getting the show recorded right from the beginning. (If you are unfamiliar with my previous radio adventures, orchestrating the myriad of electronic levers necessary for each show resulted in my not getting a couple of my shows recorded from the beginning). Today I  feel confident that I can manage it all – even the phone system so I can take live calls while on the air.

And so here I am…….feeling confident, prepared and ready to have the best show ever.  I have a great guest with a meaningful and important story. I am excited with my musical selections. I researched music that complemented today’s story and I included a brief overview of the historical significance of the people, the orchestra and what makes this music so special.

But, alas, sometimes there are glitches… know, mechanical failures that just happen. Cars don’t start, computers get viruses and household appliances stop working. Things break down, errors occur that all the planning in the world just can’t stop from happening. And wouldn’t you know, 36 minutes into the show an error sign appeared in the window of the recording device.  The CD player stopped recording. Had I been more skilled, I would have immediately removed the CD and put in a new one instead of pressing the play button, which never did restart the recording   Had I been more experienced, I would have backed up the show with one of those online sites that records shows……But I didn’t do this……I just didn’t know.

So it is with a very sad heart that I must tell you that the last 18 minutes of the show was not recorded. And while I cannot recreate the conversation, emotional tenor, poetry and music that aired, I am going to do my very best to fill in the gaps and give you some of the flavor of the story and the woman telling it.

My guest this week is Frieda Ferrick. Through poetry and prose, Frieda tells her story of coming to America and growing up as the youngest daughter of Holocaust survivors.  Children of Holocaust survivors live in a world with a contradictory reality.  There are unspoken messages and expectations that get passed down; questions needing answers yet knowing instinctively not to ask; horrific secrets to be uncovered, yet not wanting to upset one’s parents; and overprotective children who never want to create more stress and upset to their family.

Frieda describes herself and her sister Chana as “junior detectives piecing together our parents’ history one segment at a time.”

Max and Sophie Lazar suffered the indignities and abuses of the Nazi occupiers. They were rounded up and forced to live with other Jews in the cordoned off and overcrowded  quarters in Lodz, Poland  for years before being shipped off to concentration camps. Both Max and Sophie lost parents, siblings, cousins and in Max’s case, his first  wife and children. They met in Europe after the war and immigrated to the United States in the early 1950’s with their two young children, Frieda and Chana.

Frieda grew up in a close knit group of Polish Jewish Holocaust survivors who became the Lazar’s extended family. Although surrounded by love, the absence of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins left Frieda with a feeling that something was missing from her life. Books and make believe games were a source of sustenance throughout her early years.

At age 16, in the 11th grade, Frieda was encouraged to share her writings and she has been writing ever since. Her book, Stories My Family Could Not Tell is coming out this December. It is a compilation of Holocaust and family of origin poems, philosophical musings and prayers for peace,

Frieda’s story is an important one. It is a story of historical magnitude…..a story of survival amidst one of the world’s most darkest hours. It is a story of courage and resilience and perseverance to go on and to create out of the ashes of destruction and despair. It is a story about people – ordinary people who live extraordinary lives.

To Max and Sophie Lazar who lost so much and created more…….who started new lives in a foreign country learning the language and raising a family:

To Sophie  shy and reticent to talk about her past, who stood up and spoke out (check out her interview) when Holocaust deniers were making outrageous claims that the Holocaust never happened:

To Bronislaw Huberman who helped 1,000 Jewish musicians escape from Nazi occupied Europe and brought them to Palestine to perform in his newly created Palestine Symphony Orchestra, now The Israeli Philharmonic..

To Frieda Ferrick, for sharing her deeply personal story of growing up the child of Holocaust survivors, her philosophical musings, her poems for peace and her deep love for her husband, sons and grandsons.

And to all of you who live your lives doing what is right and just…….

I say thank you………

By Roberta Teller






Wise Woman Storytime: Debby Meagher Tells Her Story


I have just completed my fourth radio show on KOWS 107.3FM, THE community radio station for west Sonoma County. I will admit that  I am getting better and better with the technology and even more importantly, I’m learning to orchestrate the myriad tasks that need to come together harmoniously for a polished show.

And there is good news to celebrate and some bad news to learn from.

Let me start on the down side. The bad news is that I forgot to push the play button right at the beginning of this show so I didn’t record my introduction.  The good news is that I did remember to press play just before my guest started her story. So, trying to save face, I have come up with a couple of solutions to the missing segment.  For those so inclined, I have written out the introduction below and you can read it……OR, you can listen to the recorded intro at the END of the show…….OR, you can do both……Your choice.

My guest today is Debby Meagher an extraordinary woman who has made a choice to live her life from her heart and to embrace the world with a joyful, positive approach to living. Debby sees problems not as dead ends but as opportunities for change. She believes fears can be overcome by pushing through and not avoiding them and she has learned not to believe everything she thinks, but rather to listen to the wisdom of her heart as her guide and best friend.

Debby Meagher is one of the most authentic people I have ever met. What she says, she lives. Her actions and lifestyle are mirrors to her words. She says what she believes and lives in accordance with her principles. Debby is an amazing business woman. Twenty-two years ago she opened  Coffee Catz, Sebastopol’s local community based coffee house that has regular music, regular inspirational talks, all kinds of festivities, local events, great food (mostly organic) and its’ own roasted coffee. She recently created the Center for More JOY in Klamath Falls,  Oregon and coming soon is CONSCIOUS AGING: GLAM CAMMPING.

Did I say that Debby is creative, innovative and makes her dreams a reality?

I hope you enjoy the show and that perhaps some of Debby’s life lessons will either remind you of ones you may have forgotten and/or be of inspiration for you to explore.


Debby was born February 2nd in 1950 in Monterey Park, CA. She grew up in Palos Verdes   CA and went to Rolling Hills High School.  When she became pregnant in her last year of high school, she dropped out of school and married Marty Meagher.  They had two beautiful girls.

Debby attended night school and by the time she was 20 years old she had her high school diploma.

Debby had reached the place in her life of living “the American dream” – the beautiful home where she had always wanted to live, a great husband, two fabulous kids – but she wasn’t happy and couldn’t figure out why.  She was divorced by the time she was 27 years old.

And that’s where her journey of self discovery began.  The path has been one of many trials and tribulations.  It has been a journey of exploration and confrontation; of honesty, introspection and pushing out of her comfort zones including acknowledging at 40 years of age that she had had a drinking problem since she was 18 years old and deciding that this wasn’t how she wanted to continue to live her life.  And doing something about it…….

Debby Meagher is the owner of Coffee Catz.  She has been in this business for 22 years in Sebastopol, CA.  She is the creator of The Center for More JOY in Klamath Falls, Oregon. And coming soon to this area is CONSCIOUS ADVENTURE: GLAM CAMPING.

I’ve known Debby now for about 2 years. She is truly one of the most amazing, thoughtful, and happiest people I have ever met.  It is with great pleasure that I introduce Debby Meagher to you to share her personal journey of how she overcame addiction, confronted her unhappiness and created a life of joy for herself and others.

By Roberta Teller

Wise Woman Storytime: The Radio Show Presents Sophia Legend


I am so happy and proud to present my very first radio show.  As you may remember, I had this idea to take my Wise Woman Storytime events one step further.  My vision was to create a greater platform for older women to tell their stories to a larger audience. I found my venue at KOWS 107.3FM a local west Sonoma County community radio station.  It took some training – there were 3 sessions- and I still have a lot to learn. There were some glitches like a phone beeping off the hook and maybe some dead air time – so be patient and don’t forget to smile……….But for someone whose only prior experience with radio was pressing the on button and selecting the stations, you could say, “I’ve come a long way, Baby.” 

You see, on KOWS, each host is also her own engineer.  The host is not only responsible for the content of the show, the host is also, as my mother used to say, the chief, cook and bottle washer or I guess more professionally, you’re called the engineer.  You burn your own CD if you want to record your show.  You answer the phones, and you phase your personally selected music in and out as you move from segment to segment.  Basically, you are multi-tasking – which can become second nature when you KNOW what your’e doing, but can be a bit daunting when you’re just starting out.  

So I did it…….I got through my first show with a little help from a member of the herd (yes, there is all this KOW humor), AND I got to host a great story and conversation with my first guest, Sophia Legend.  


SOPHIA LEGEND is an amazing woman.  Through this story and the subsequent conversation, you will hear how this soon to be 70 year old woman is learning to let go of the childhood and societal conditioning that has defined her for most of her life and  how she is now on her journey to embracing her deepest and truest authentic being.  Listen to how the power of letting go of beliefs and assumptions and expectations and attachments about who she was and how she was supposed to be, led to Sophia’s inner true voice emerging as a guide to her own self-discovery and path to freedom.

 By Roberta Teller


Wise Woman Storytime: The Radio Show


I am so proud and happy to announce that I will be hosting Wise Woman Storytime: The Radio Show for the first time on Thursday, September 18, 2014 from 12-1pm on  KOWS 107.3 FM. The show was created as an antidote to a common theme I keep hearing as I talk to older women: Many aging women feel invisible and unheard. Ours is not only a youth oriented culture that does not honor, respect and revere elders, we are a society that is losing the history and stories from those who came before us.  We are a culture that undermines and diminishes the value of our elders and we fail to tap into, to encourage, listen and to promote our elders legacies, insights, and gifts. This is especially true for women.

On the third, fourth and fifth Thursdays of each month a cadre of local women will be spotlighted and given a public voice to share a personal story from their lives. Each guest will be given uninterrupted time to tell her story.  Afterwards, I will facilitate a discussion and the listening audience is invited and encouraged to call in and participate.

The show can be streamed live at

Please tune in and support our sisters. If you are a 55+ woman with a story to tell or you know someone who might be interested, please contact me  

Remember, we can change the world one story at a time.

 By Roberta Teller