Category: My Gutsy Story

My new life: What it’s like to live in Lesotho?

Sonia,Patricia,Heather water filters

With my new PCV friends getting our water filters

My new life: What it’s like to live in Lesotho?

My life is so different here in Lesotho as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I have so much to share with you; I don’t know where to start.

Instead of writing a super-long blog post, I’ve decided to share the basics about my new life as a Peace Corps volunteer in training. I’m sure you want to see photos of where I live, my new host family, and my rural surroundings. I’m now living with donkeys, dogs (a ton of them,) roosters, chickens, sheep, and numerous cats, especially kittens.

Whenever I have access to an Internet connection, and electricity, I shall post my daily life in more detail. (Not sure exactly when, but I hope you’re interested.)

I can’t believe that this time two weekends ago, I sat in a fancy restaurant in San Clemente, California, enjoying Cioppino, with shrimp, fish, muscles and scallops in a delicious tomato broth, with warm sourdough bread and butter and a glass of Chardonnay.

Now I’m eating papa, (a maize powder cooked in boiling water) with morojo (chopped greens cooked in oil) with stewed pumpkin and carrot slaw. I eat a ton of carbs, and very little protein, compared to what I ate in California.

I’ve been adopted by my host mother or (‘m’e) Mathuso, and she is very caring and sweet. She shows me how to hand wash my clothes outside in a bucket of cold water which was transported up the hill by donkey.

PCV, Michelle, showing us how to take a bath

PCV, Michelle, showing us how to take a bath

Bath and buckets

view of countryside

view of countryside

Doing laundry

‘M’e gets upset when I don’t arrange my multipurpose bedroom/kitchen/bathroom (basically my pee bucket, and plastic bath tub,) the way women do it in Lesotho. I find it strange that my host “mother” is four years younger than me, and she makes me feel like a child who has no clue what she’s doing, despite having been a mother/cook/cleaning lady myself for 37 years.

My new house

I now have a nine-year old sister, Ausi (sister) Boitumelo, a brother, Abuti (brother) Tebeho. They help me pronounce new vocabulary words in Sesotho; another challenge as I have three months to learn this foreign African language, before I get shipped off to my future village, where I shall teach English in a primary school for two years.

My new brother and sister. Ausi Boitumelo,Abuti Teboho

My new brother and sister.


I’m learning to adapt as fast as I can, but it is stressful to have Sesotho language classes every day, and to be bombarded with friendly Basotho people from the village stopping you on the dirt road to ask you questions about your Sesotho name, (mine is ‘m’e Palusa which means flower) where you’re you’re from etc. They speak so fast, and I’m finding the pressure is on to learn the language quickly.

We also have Peace Corps classes from 7:30 a.m., until 5p.m., daily, and then homework and studying in the dark room with no electricity. Taking a bucket bath, and daily chores take forever, so I feel more stressed now than I did in Orange County.

I have a paraffin lamp to study when it gets dark around 6:30 p.m., and thankfully my headlamp so I can find my pee bucket at night. We are not allowed outside to use the latrine, due to the guard dogs who get into vicious fights almost every night.

dancing 'mes

More to come later.

By the way, if you’d like to connect with me, apart from e-mails, please sign up for what’s app. This is a FREE APP, and we can chat and send messages. I shall e-mail you my Lesotho phone # if you’d like to communicate with me on What’s app. E-mail me at:

Sala hantle, (stay well.)



Expat Life, Inspirational, My Gutsy Story, People  |  

Check Out My New “Gutsy” Website For the Peace Corps


My “Au Revoir” party and see you when I return from the Peace Corps.


Hello Friends,

How do you like the new header and video on my blog?


The round hut is called a rondavel, from the Afrikaans word rondawel. It’s the westernized version of an African-style hut.

I love the one I selected as it has a turquoise door. I might live in a rondavel in Lesotho, while I serve as a primary education teacher in Southern Africa. In case you didn’t know, I‘m heading off to the Peace Corps.

I want my new “look” to fit the changes in my life, and my casual video, and natural curly hair, are part of that change, and the new me.

Did you watch my video?

Here’s what’s happening over the next two weeks, and how the Peace Corps is  sending us off to Lesotho, Africa.

  • On October 4th, I fly from California to Philadelphia.
  • October 5th, I meet the 29 or so, other volunteers, who are serving as primary education teachers, or secondary math teachers, in Lesotho.
  • On October 6th, we leave our hotel at 2 a.m. (Yes! we’re learning to adapt,) and then catch a bus to JFK, airport. Our flight to Johannesburg departs around noon.
  • The flight lasts 15.5 hours
  • We board a bus from Johannesburg to Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, which takes about 6 hours.
  • After our first night in a hotel in Lesotho, we start PST (pre-service training.)
  • We have morning classes, then meet our Basotho host families where we shall live for the first three months.
  • Classes start at 7:30 a.m., and end at 5 p.m. Learning Sesotho, the language of Lesotho, is an important partof our PST. We also cover safety and the culture of Lesotho.
  • Our host family teaches us how to bathe in a bucket, cook local foods, wash our clothes, as help us practice Sesotho.

Water is scarce and here’s what a Peace Corps volunteer wrote about his experience on the PC website.  (Read more on daily water usage in Lesotho.) —Peter Yurich, Ha Khayensti, Lesotho

“There isn’t much water available because we had a very dry winter and no rain this spring. I usually try to use only one to one and a half liters of water a day. This includes bathing, cooking, and cleaning dishes. Once a week I wash clothes, but try to use as little water as possible.

My day starts by boiling two liters of water. I use less than one liter to bathe; I drink two cups of coffee; and then I save the rest for cooking and cleaning dishes. If the tap is working, I may indulge myself by using a little more for bathing.

My host family uses a little more than I do because there are more people in the family. They use a wheelbarrow to carry two 10-liter buckets of water. Right now they use more water because they are making dung smear for the floor and walls of a new building. The building was constructed from rock and held together with a mud mixture that dried and became hard.”

I realize that I have to get used to changing my lifestyle, but when my family lived in Belize, in 2004-2005, water was also a problem. We had a cistern,and due to the lack of rain, we had to sponge bathe.

If you don’t want to miss my “gutsy updates,” please subscribe underneath the hut on my landing page.



Any questions? Don’t hesitate to ask.

Blogging-Social Media, My Gutsy Story, People, Travel & Adventure, volunteering  |  Tags: ,

Why I’m Celebrating Peace Corps Week


As many of you know, I have a strong desire to serve in the Peace Corps. Things did not go as smoothly as I had hoped, but I am keeping my fingers crossed this time.

My interview finally took pace on February 27th, and lasted almost two hours. I answered all the questions to the best of my ability, and although I had prepared ahead of time, practicing with my RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) friends, I found it quite intense.

I was mentally drained after my two-hour phone interview, and longed for a Yes/No answer. It did end on a positive note and I was told to continue learning more about the country of Lesotho, in South Africa.

Who says Twitter and social media is a waste of time?

After tweeting about #Lesotho, I made a connection with a woman who runs an NGO (Non-governmental organization) for children in Lesotho. She’s from Europe and kindly offered to answer any questions I may have about life in that beautiful “Mountain Kingdom.”

As this is Peace Corps week, I decided to share  information about the organization, and in particular, some of the videos showcasing the influential people who work as counterparts with the Peace Corps volunteers in many parts of the world. Please take a look at the specific countries that may be of interest to you.

I was especially moved by some of the teachers in Morocco, and Thailand, and how they have impacted the lives of their students.


Peace Corps Week 2015: March 1-7

Peace Corps Week 2015: March 1-7

“Peace Corps Week commemorates President Kennedy’s establishment of the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961. During this annual event, the Peace Corps community celebrates all the ways that Peace Corps makes a difference at home and abroad and renews its commitment to service.

This year, Peace Corps invites current and returned Peace Corps Volunteers to get involved in Peace Corps Week 2015 by participating in our Video Challenge and/or participating in Peace Corps Festivals across the United States. These activities, designed to support Peace Corps’ Third Goal of sharing other cultures with Americans, kick off on January 1 and continue through the end of Peace Corps Week on March 7. Follow the links below to learn how you can participate in one or both of these exciting efforts.”


How will YOU celebrate Peace Corps Week?


26+ videos from PC volunteers around the world.


Inspirational, My Gutsy Story, People  |  

“Choosing One’s Battles Wisely”

Donna Friess and her dogs

Donna Friess and her dogs

“Choosing One’s Battles Wisely”

“My Gutsy Story®” Donna L. Friess

“Choosing one’s battles” that’s good advice as it illustrates another way to live a gutsy life. It takes guts to hold back one’s emotions and not jump eagerly into a negative situation.  I want to share a moment around our home which illustrates my point. My husband and I are caring for our grand dog Buddy while our youngest son and his family are skiing. Recently, I let Buddy and our three dogs out one last time before bed.  For a moment all four dogs seemed to disappear into the inky darkness. Suddenly there was a noisy scuffle. I turned on the powerful outdoor light and saw that Buddy had caught a skunk; a very big black and white skunk! Quickly, realizing what he had caught, he released it, and in that instant it turned its huge and fluffy tail toward him and let loose!  Horrified by what he had done and the stickiness of the odorific spray on his face, he rushed into the garage and frantically rubbed himself on his bedding in a vain attempt to rectify his condition. Tessie, his co-conspirator, did the same. Lacey and Zoe stood off to the side watching all the commotion, shaking their heads in wonder.

Shamed by their new smell, Buddy and Tessie lurked in the corners of the garage.  I tended to them as best I could with a concoction of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. But the hour was late and the odor was seeping into my home. I bid them goodnight as they slinked into the shadows of the garage.

The next morning I went to let them out. Buddy shamefacedly hung his head, contrite over his foolishness. I had texted our son to share the late night excitement. His response was, “Buddy tangles with skunks about twice a month, he knows all about them, but never seems to learn!”  So his surprised innocence was no longer working on me as I understood that it was the thrill of the confrontation that Buddy enjoyed.

Out in the big yard the next morning, he and Tessie went looking for more trouble hoping, I am sure, for a rematch with their worthy opponent.  As I sat drinking my coffee, it occurred to me that sometimes humans do the same thing; engage in a conflict with an opponent, perhaps over the smallest thing, for the excitement of the exchange. It is true, the adrenaline flows, the heart pounds, and the muscles constrict and we’re ready for action. Only to find that later, when reason prevails, one feels foolish for the silliness of the altercation. Often the motivation is the thrill of the exchange, not the actually winning of the argument, and to make it worse,  one never knows when they might get “skunked!”

I think it takes guts to take a hard look at one’s own interpersonal motivations and to hold back from the “thrill” of perhaps a dysfunctional argument.  I love Jack Canfield’s formula.  We can apply this to many situations. In fact, it can be empowering. It is EVENT + OUR RESPONSE = OUTCOME.   We have the power to choose our response, which will affect the outcome. For now, the old saying, “One must choose one’s battles wisely” may apply here.  I have to go,  the thrill-seeker named Buddy is casing my yard for more excitement!

Donna L. Friess, Ph.D., author, psychologist and grief counselor has written a debut novel, The Unraveling of Shelby Forrest  available  at:  She is an advocate for children’s rights, currently serving on a U.S. Justice Department Office for Victims of Crime Consortium. Her best selling, award-winning autobiography, Cry the Darkness, has been published in seven languages.


Get your copy of Unraveling here.


Winner of the January 2015 “My Gutsy Story®”

We had FOUR OUTSTANDING “My Gutsy Story®” authors. Thank you for submitting and for voting. These 4 authors are all WINNERS.


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Winner of the January 2015 “My Gutsy Story®”

Connie Fenty

Connie Fenty


1st Place, with 59% of the votes, goes to Connie Fenty with her inspiring “My Gutsy Story®”entitled: “How I Learned to Let Go of Security.”

SONIA MARSH SAYS: I admire the way you were able to use the courage and resilience you received from your your boot camp experience, and apply it to  tragedy in your life.

Kenn - H2014

2nd Place, with 24% of the votes, goes to Kenn Ashcraft with his story entitled, “From Morbid Obesity to Taking Charge of My Life.”

Kenn Ashcraft

Kenn Ashcraft

SONIA MARSH SAYS: I look forward to reading about the next chapter of your life where you ride your bike and hold public seminars at every hospital. This will inspire others who are going through a difficult period and need a boost from someone who overcame his health issues.

Lola De Maci

3rd Place goes to Lola De Maci, “What Mom Taught Me About Life.”

Lola De Maci

Lola De Maci

SONIA MARSH SAYS: Lola, what a beautiful story of love and gratitude for the small things in life that bring us pleasure. Something to remember during this busy holiday season.

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4th Place goes to Suzanne Chun with her story, “You Have to Take a Leap, and Another, and Another, Until You Get it Right.”

 SONIA MARSH SAYS: What a transformation during your summer, and how you became “gutsy” and transformed yourself.


I shall post more about my travel plans, how I managed to get cheap accommodation in Greece, London and Madrid, and my life transitions in the upcoming weeks.


Subscribe to Free Gutsy Newsletter

Our Final Gutsy Move

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“Our Gutsy Final Move”

“My Gutsy Story®” Barbara Hammond

Moving is daunting under any circumstances. I grew up moving, like gypsies, attending fourteen schools in twelve years, four of them in sixth grade.

When I married, my husband’s career involved moving regularly. With a young family it was stressful, but we managed ten moves in the first ten years.

We weren’t particularly savvy with money, but we made smart Real Estate investments over the years. Someone once told me, “Put your money in Real Estate. They’re not making any more land!” It was good advice.

We’ve lived up and down the northeast corridor of the U.S. for forty-six years. Being near the ocean was a priority.

In 1992 we moved to Philadelphia, which has felt like home to me since I first explored it in 1974. I’d never had such an emotional and compelling tug on my heart before. I literally felt I’d lived there in another life.


House in Philadelphia


My first trip to the Jersey Shore was also 1974. Oh, how the ocean grasped my soul and said, “Welcome home.” I think I knew then I would live there one day. My husband always felt it would be out of reach.

The new millennium proved lucky for us. The stars aligned and we found the perfect beach house for our family in Ocean City. I envisioned it being the family compound for the rest of our collective lives. That worked for about ten years.

Our two sons met their mates and set out on their own journeys. They still visited, but as their families grew their time became focused on the children’s needs and activities.

In the meantime we were maintaining two homes. I’m not complaining. I know this is a ‘First World Problem’, but it can be costly.

When it was a friends and family every weekend OC was worth it. With only the two of us, most of the time, it became less so.

At the very tip of New Jersey is the quaint, beautiful, town of Cape May nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware Bay.

We made day trips occasionally, especially in the fall when it’s less crowded and even more beautiful. We stayed in many charming B&B’s over the years and loved it.

In the fall of 2013 we spent a fun day in Cape May, walking down tree lined streets, strolling along the beach, and enjoying lunch at the Ugly Mug, a local restaurant that’s great for people watching.

As we headed out of town I said to my husband, “Why don’t we sell both houses and move to Cape May?”

Within seconds he said, “I like it! Let’s do it!”

And the adventure began!

We loved our home in Philadelphia. It was built in 1760. In a home that age there’s always something to fix. Historic charm doesn’t come cheap. We knew there’d be work ahead of us before we put it on the market.

We closed the shore house for the season and decided to wait until spring to put it up for sale. It needed work, too.

In the meantime we weeded out and donated things daily. We had lived in the city for twelve years, the longest ever in one place. It’s amazing what you accumulate over time.

We discovered wiring issues, and assorted other problems. It took time and money, but we had it ready for market by late April.

Our realtor in Philly was amazing. We sold in three days! Then we began the search for our forever home in Cape May. It was exciting!

We had driven around all areas and knew where we wanted to live. I spent hours on Real Estate websites searching.

We hired a great realtor to work with and as we toured homes I’d seen online we were often amazed. Photographs can be very deceiving. But, we weren’t deterred at all. I knew in my heart this was the right time and place for us, and the perfect house would find us.

We had seen so many homes and nothing seemed right. Finally we felt we’d found the one. We made an offer contingent on selling the OC house. Nothing went smoothly and the deal fell through.

As our closing date in the city neared we were working in earnest on the shore house. It looked so beautiful we wondered why we hadn’t made these improvements years before.

When we closed on the house in Philly we needed two storage spaces in Ocean City until we could sell there and make the final move. It was expensive and it was getting scary. I was concerned but never lost faith. My heart and gut knew the perfect home would appear. And it did!

I was checking my phone before I even got out of bed and saw a message from our Cape May realtor. She sent a photograph with one line…”Look what popped up overnight!”

I squealed, which woke my husband. I showed him the picture and he almost squealed, too! It was a Monet painting with an arbor over the gate and a picket fence all around, with a spectacular garden.


Cape May Cottage


It found us!

We saw it immediately and began negotiating. The inside needed work, but the bones were great. It was a fresh canvas for us to paint our own dream home.+

The OC house sold the same week and we were on our way. We had to delay the closing in Cape May for a week, which meant putting our OC furnishings in storage. This made for the most expensive move we’d ever experienced.

We’ve put lots of work into the house and it is a labor of love. Many tell us how lucky we are, but I will tell you luck had nothing to do with it. We were focused, and never doubting. The entire process felt so right, no matter what obstacles got in our way.

Keep your eye on the prize and stay gutsy. You are the architect of your life!

BARBARA HAMMOND is an artist, author, blogger, who celebrates the journey that has been her life, so far. You can discover her work at:
Her Social Media Links:
Twitter: @hammondartbiz
Her Books:


SONIA MARSH SAYS: So true, Barbara, we are the architects of our lives, and I can tell that you found your piece of treasure in Cape May, a place I have never visited, but now that you’re there, I may have to stop by.



PLEASE VOTE NOW for our January 2015  “My Gutsy Story®” 

You have from now, until February 11th,  to vote on the sidebar, (only one vote per person) and the winner will be announced on February 12th and will select a prize from our generous sponsors. VOTE IN YELLOW BOX ON RIGHT SIDEBAR



Here is an article I wrote that has received many Tweets and Comments

I’m Not a Celebrity, So How Do I Sell My Books? Six Steps to Becoming a Successful Indie Publisher

Finding the Guts to Change


 “Finding the Guts to Change”

“My Gutsy Story®”-Donna Friess

One of the truly gutsiest things I have ever done was become brave enough to give up my college teaching career after 45 years.  Across the years, when I asked my colleagues if there was life outside the hallowed walls of my college, Cypress College, they thought I was kidding and laughed at me, but I wasn’t  kidding.  I knew my life worked.  I adored the students and they adored me, but the 75 mile-a -day commute was getting to seem longer with each passing decade.   One year, far past when I was eligible for retirement,   I got up my courage during our summer vacation at Catalina. I promised myself that for sure in September I would turn in my retirement papers for the next year.  Then one day I was on the swim float in Avalon harbor getting ready to dive when I noticed a little blonde six year-old boy standing next to me.  I saw him gulp a huge breath of air. He was scared to dive in, to swim into shore.  He squared his shoulders, took another  big inhale. I could feel his fear. As I watched him tears sprang to my eyes. Suddenly I could see him ten or so years in the future, gulping air, squaring his shoulders as he plunged in to give his speech in my public speaking class. The tears streamed down my face and my stomach knotted.  In that instant I knew that I could not give up my eager, scared-to-death students.  By the time I got to shore I decided against retirement. Clearly I did not have the guts, I was not ready to leave the students.

More busy happy years passed in the classroom, but the drive got longer, and if I were truthful, I was getting tired.  There were other things I wanted to do; more travel, maybe paint, write.  I had taught so long that retirement pay would be significantly more than I was taking home as I qualified for longevity bonuses and more, still I did not have the guts for it.

Finally in the summer of 2009 my husband said, “I think you are missing the boat here. I think you should pay attention to you writing.” It was a flashpoint for me.  I saw a way to reinvent myself. I felt excited as I thought,  Maybe there is life outside of my classroom.

I was stuck in my good old way of living my life, and it was now time to get brave enough to reinvent myself.  Perhaps an element of empowerment is having the ability to adapt to life, to reinvent oneself.   Joan Rivers was a master at reinventing herself.  Last year’s media coverage surrounding her death illustrated her genius.  Imagine going from stand-up comedy, to late night host, to the Red Carpet , to Fashionista and more. At the time of her death she was working on a new show. Imagine she stayed in the spot light for decades because she kept evolving and changing.

So  how do we get unstuck? The answer must be to live mindfully.  These days I see how we are living our lives as our creative challenge.  When I finally found the courage to change my ways I found a new way to live life, an exciting robust way.  I have been out of the classroom for four years now, however, people have not quit laughing at me!  When I say, “and I was so worried about a different kind of life…” They can’t stop laughing for they know that it is a big huge world filled with unlimited opportunity if we have the guts to grab hold and look at the wonder of it all.

We cannot not change. We age. Life moves forward.  Albert Einstein liked to talk about how important imagination and creativity are.  I like to think of my life as my canvas, and the way I am living it, as my creative endeavor.  The world out there is just waiting for you. What more do you want to do? What more do you want to be? I’d love to hear about it. Right now, though I might be out on the trail with my three Golden Retrievers or at my desk writing my next novel.


Psychologist Donna L. Friess, Ph.D., is a life coaching, grief counselor, and author.  She is an advocate for children’s rights, currently serving on a U.S. Justice Department Office for Victims of Crime Consortium. As a best selling author she has written seven books. With appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and others,  her award winning autobiography Cry the Darkness has been published in seven languages. Donna’s debut novel The Unraveling of Shelby Forrest is now available at

SONIA MARSH SAYS: Donna is the real “Gutsy” woman of today. She is a rocket on a mission, helping everyone she meets along her path. I’ve had the pleasure of participating in her coaching “women in transition,” as I went through my own divorce process. I don’t think I’ve ever met a more energetic and enthusiastic woman who is a role model for all of us. I’m reading her novel (see below,) and recommend it to my fellow writers and readers.


Click on cover to go to Amazon



Get your copy of Unraveling here.








January 2015 Vote For Your Favorite “My Gutsy Story®”


PLEASE VOTE NOW for our January 2015  “My Gutsy Story®” 

You have from now, until February 11th,  to vote on the sidebar, (only one vote per person) and the winner will be announced on February 12th and will select a prize from our generous sponsors.

Our 1st “My Gutsy Story®” is from Kenn Aschcraft., “From Morbid Obesity to Taking Charge of my Life.”

Kenn - H2014

Our 2nd “My Gutsy Story®” is from Suzanne Chun, “How to Take a Leap, and Another and Another, Until You Get it Right.”

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Our 3rd “My Gutsy Story®” is from Lola De Maci, “What Mom Taught me About Life.”

Lola De Maci

Our 4th “My Gutsy Story®” is from Connie Fenty, “How I Learned to Let Go of Security,”

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The “My Gutsy Story®”story submissions have been trickling in, so I am re-evaluating whether to take a break for the time being.

How I Learned to Let Go of Security


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“My Gutsy Story®” Connie Fenty

Even now, 30 years later, I can recall the sharpening of my senses and how I responded to the growing fear of what I was about to do that night.  Standing in the midst of the forest, my feet cushioned by winter softened leaves, I peered at the jungle gym of ropes in the branches of the trees far above me.  This was the famous challenge course of the West Virginia Outward Bound School.  Now it was my turn to climb up to the first of several obstacles requiring courage and agility.  I knew on a rational level that I would be safely attached at each of the challenges to an overhead rope clipped into the harness I wore wrapped around my waist and legs.  Even so, my body began to shake almost uncontrollably, fueled by the release of terror related adrenaline.

Each swinging bridge, cargo net, tight rope, and balance beam began at a firm supportive wooden platform.  From those perches, I could stop trembling long enough to take comfort from my surroundings: newly leafing branches, a sunset forming in the distance, the odor of cool damp earthy forest air, the sounds of birds flying to roost, and the encouraging shout from the instructor below, “Just let go, Connie. L-e-e-t g-o-oh.”  In spite of the empowering knowledge that I had successfully completed another aspect of the course, as I approached each new obstacle, debilitating fear returned. Repeatedly, I forced myself to leave my safe and secure base and step into the unknown.

On the last platform, I sat elated, exhausted, and feeling finished. “Just one more challenge, and I’ve got this,” so I thought.  The spotter seated beside me drew a long sturdy rope toward the two of us and attached me to it, explaining, “Hold the rope, scoot to the edge, and then you’ll drop about 20 feet.”  He promised that the rope would stop short of the ground and I would get to have the swing of my life as a reward.  That’s when I looked down and froze to the platform.

After a while I said to my patient guide, “I’ll close my eyes and you can just push me off.”  “No,” he replied, “it must be your decision to plunge.” Finally as night began to creep through the trees, I edged closer and closer to what felt like nothingness and eventually plummeted quickly down, down, down.  The rush of air as I picked up speed in my free fall was exhilarating.  My elongated scream pierced the darkening forest.  As the slack of the rope wound out, the rope and I moved to and fro in a wide arc. It was the best swinging I had ever experienced.  Slowing, I stepped onto ground level and unbuckled.     I felt a satisfying sense of pride like that of a child when she has accomplished a new feat.  I wanted to shout, “Look at what I did.”  I didn’t understand until later how strongly I had internalized what had happened that night.

My Outward Bound experience was like a boot camp for teaching me to conjure up courage when future happenings threw me off course.  To move forward from minor setbacks, like being transferred to a different teaching assignment than the one I had hoped for, I daringly leaped into the unknown.  When faced with moving from a happy home to live in a different town, my mind told me that change of my choosing should not elicit fear, but still my heart raced as I left. Through continued practice of the lessons I learned on the ropes course, it was easier to let go of the security and safety of the known enabling me to step away from my living “perch” and embrace the choice to dwell elsewhere.

Later on, I would need even fiercer courage during my process of recovery from a major setback. My husband and I back then were just adjusting to our lives with young children and a new house when he was diagnosed with cancer.  His battle was a short one. One month and he was gone. I found myself stuck on an ungrounded metaphorical “challenge course platform” named widowhood.  Below and in front of me there lay an abyss as far as I could imagine.  Calling me back from that ledge the “rope” that I held tightly was the knowledge that I had two young daughters who needed me.  Sometimes, I could swear that the ghost of the voice I heard all those years before in the West Virginia woods was urging me to “let go-o-o-oh” once more.  Instead, fear of what lay ahead kept me anchored to the past wishing someone would give me a push to catapult me forward.

And then, I am drawn into the present by graceful moments.  While running to maintain my sanity, the autumn wind rains bright yellow leaves upon my head.  A double rainbow appears in the sky one day while my daughters and I play together outside. We sniff the earth as we dug holes to plant daffodil bulbs so we can watch them appear in the spring.  I remember to open my senses and take in the world around me.  Consciously, I begin to connect to the calming powers of nature.  Fear dissipates and I scoot to the edge of a new beginning. Trust propels me forward.  After a while, I am welcomed to solid ground.

CONNIE FENTY has a Master’s degree in education and is a retired elementary school teacher living in Bucks County PA. She is the founder of Your Nature Connection Seminars, Common Ground Labyrinths, and co-founder of Sacred Steps Journeys.

Connie’s presentations feature themes of Healthy Living through Meditative Practices as well as Awakening Connection to Nature, Ancestors, and Spirituality.  Whether facilitating a labyrinth walk; teaching yoga; providing a retreat in nature; or leading tours to sacred sites in Europe, her programs are full of experiential activities and inspiring content.  She is in the process of writing a travel memoir. Check out her website:

 SONIA MARSH SAYS: I admire the way you were able to use the courage and resilience you received from your your boot camp experience, and apply it to  tragedy in your life.

2015 “My Gutsy Story®” has started, with the 1st VOTING of Kenn Ashcraft, Suzanne Chun and Lola De Maci, stories, as well as the Monday, January 2015 “My Gutsy Story®” stories. So you will be able to VOTE for your favorite of 7 stories on January 29th-February 11th, 2015, with the WINNER announced on February 12th. 



Get Published in our 3rd

“My Gutsy Story®”Anthology in 2015





Click on cover to go to Amazon

Benjamin Franklin Digital Awards Solver

 2013 Benjamin Franklin Honoree Winner

International Book Awards Finalist 2014

2014 International Book Awards FINALIST

Paris bookfestival


 We just won our 4th Award for the Anthology. 




My Gutsy Story  |  Tags:

“My New Life” Chapter One


I am turning a new chapter in my life prompted by my divorce after a 28-year marriage.

Instead of feeling “sorry” for myself, I’ve opted to view this as an opportunity to explore new avenues and adventures. As I often say to others:

“There are always options in life. View setbacks as opportunities to do something new and don’t be afraid to take a risk.”

Baby boomer women are taking charge of their life and according to: New York Times “Divorce After 50”

“So much for “till death do us part.” For the first time, more Americans 50 and older are divorced than widowed, and the numbers are growing as baby boomers live longer. Sociologists call them gray divorcees.” 

 SONIA’s 2015 Gutsy Adventure:

  •  Cert-TESOL certificate in London in May 2015, a one-month course. This is the “Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages,” course which is respected and recognized globally by language schools. I have always wanted a qualification I can use anywhere in the world, and thanks to  Rebecca Hall, who writes about “Life Beyond Borders” blog, I was guided to this specific course. Watch my interview with Beccy here. Another interview with her on January 24th, 9 a.m.
  • I signed up for the Peace Corps, and have followed numerous PC social gatherings during the past year.

Julia Caipizzi, Orange County Peace Corps Recruiter, Sonia and Theresa Elders (RPCV)


  • PEACE CORPS: I am currently serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Lesotho, a tiny land-locked country in southern Africa.The good news is that the PC wants to recruit more people over 50, so if you’re looking for another adventure, here are some people over 50 serving.
  • MY TIME NOT SOCIAL MEDIA’S TIME: I’m going to do things according to “my time,” not according to social media expectations. So what if I don’t post exactly at the same time each week. Will I get punished by Google, SEO, Twitter, FB, etc.
  • “GUTSY” INTERVIEWS: I shall keep interviewing “Gutsy” people, and my first interview in 2015, is the talented, Rebecca Hall. Click here to join this live awesome interview on Saturday, January 24th, at 9 a.m. PST. Please tune in and listen to my friend who lives in Athens, Greece. We shall discuss:
    • Her new site, “Life Beyond Borders” originally called Leaving Cairo, and why she changed it.
    • What Beccy does, her travel work (especially Rough Guides), why she started a blog, and what she hopes to achieve from her blog in 2015
  • MY GUTSY STORY® ANTHOLOGY: I submitted the “My Gutsy Story®” Anthology for another Award and plan to attend the IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) conference in Austin, TX, April 10-11th, 2015. Hopefully all 46 authors who contributed their story, will win this Award.
  •  WORK ABROAD: I plan to volunteer in Spain again in May-June 2015, with Vaughan Volunteers, speaking English to Spanish business people for one week. Last year I was in Torrecaballeros, (see my post here.) This time I shall be in a 13th Century village called, Pedraza.  I also hope to work either with the Peace Corps, or as a teacher of English, abroad in 2015.
  • PUBLISH 3rd MY GUTSY STORY® ANTHOLOGY IN 2015. Please submit your stories for our next Anthology. It’s FREE on GUTSY LIVING® site, and only $79, to be considered for publication in our 2015 Anthology.



HAPPY NEW YEAR with fresh flowers from Amsterdam market where I was on December 30th, 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR with fresh flowers from Amsterdam market where I was on December 30th, 2014

Submission guidelines here

Every Monday, we shall feature a short story on “Gutsy Living”  about something Gutsy you have done in your life that either:

  • Changed you.
  • Changed the way you think about something.
  • Made your life take a different direction.

You can check out all the details on the Join the “My Gutsy Story” contest page.

Each month, the winner gets to pick one prize.

Here is the link explaining what it’s about and what we do for you.

It’s FREE to have your story published on Gutsy Living® website and if you would like to be published in our 2015 (award-winning Anthology), there is a fee of only $79, to cover professional editing, cover design, and formatting.