Recoop’s Robe with a Story – Ann Cooper – USA

Recoop’s mission and purpose came about through a dream of wanting to make a difference in other people’s’ lives. Following the dream and calling meant leaving my comfort zone and present employer, where I was a College

Health Nurse, and embarking into the somewhat unknown territory of the online marketplace. Looking back, I am so glad I took the leap of faith, because it has been so worth it!

It has always been my desire to help women recoup or recover the things in their life that have been lost to them.

I decided early on that Recoop would only do business with others that hold true to the highest ethical practice when it comes to labor and products, so I knew that when we launched our clothing line it had to be Eco-friendly and ethically made. My company, Recoop, was born on September 11, 2015. I had no idea when I added, “Get business license,” to my weekly goals that the actual day I got it happened to fall on this historic day.

Although I cannot bring back the lives that were lost on that terrible day, I could endeavour to live, and help others live to our fullest God given potential, in their memory. That is what Recoop wants to help others achieve through all of its offerings; Inspiration, information, and sustainable products that will help you to Take Your Life Back and recover that which has been lost!

Recoop’s Organic Clothing Line that I dreamed of launching a few months into the journey did not take off as fast as I originally hoped, but during this delay, my company’s true destiny was being formed into something bigger than what I had originally thought. Our company evolved into a Social Ecommerce Enterprise with the greater purpose of helping women who were coming out of the sex trafficking industry.

Recoop does this by giving a percentage of each sale to a local nonprofit organisation called Hope Refuge, and by bringing awareness to this horrific issue in our modern times. We launched our Signature Product, Recoop’s Recovery Robe, a few months ago knowing that the Robe was going to be so much bigger than a product that people wear.

This is “The Robe with a Story.” Every person who wears it becomes a part of the Story! It is more than just a robe you put on after a shower or for your morning coffee. It is the complete feeling that you have when you put one on,” that all is well with my soul, and that I can embrace this time to recover and get renewed, because I am worthy and I am important. My life and soul need this space in time to be renewed so that I can continue to make a difference and nurture those in my sphere of influence.”

Recoop has also created a beautiful partnership for women and men who purchase one of our 100% Organic Cotton Recovery Robes. Not only do you get to feel this overwhelming sense of healing and recovery when you purchase one for yourself, but when you give it to someone as a gift, a knowing that you are actually giving someone the gift of renewal and recovery.

The other bonus is that you will also be a part in helping women who have had the courage to flee or be rescued from the sex trafficking industry.

Recoop donates a portion of every sale to a local nonprofit organisation that offers retreats and housing to young women ages 12 through 17 years of age, giving them a new hope and direction in life.

Do you see how the vision has expanded to include all those needing space to recover from the stress and trauma that sometimes life can bring? Everyone can have this opportunity of hope and recovery. We, at Recoop, are so honored to be gifting the first ten young women who will be living at Hope Refuge, one of our 100% Organic Cotton Recovery Robes this coming Fall in the US. We invite you to be a part of the Robe’s Story by purchasing for yourself or as a gift to a loved one.

We will be expanding our offering very soon to include Eco-friendly clothing that is comfortable and beautiful to wear so stay tuned. You can go to our website, and go to Shop to purchase now. We are currently only shipping in the United States, but will be expanding internationally very soon. If you wish to get on our waiting list for International Orders, you can do so by email at Just let us know in the subject: Waiting List

You can also connect with us on Facebook : @recooprenewrecover or Instagram: anncooper_recoop where we offer daily tips and inspiration on how you can live a happier and less stressful life. We hope you will join Recoop on this journey!

“Don’t be surprised if your original plans do not line up the way you think they will. Sometimes the dream or vision is bigger and it takes time to align with the bigger purpose.” ~Ann Cooper

About the Author

Ann lives on the Central Coast of California. She has been married to Dean for 29 years and has three children; Hannah, 26 years old, Colin, 22 years old and Andy, 20 years old. Professionally, she has worn many different hats including Business Owner, Registered Nurse, and Women’s and Children’s Ministry Leader working with people of all ages and cultures.

Through life experience, her faith, and time as a Registered Nurse, Ann incorporates all of her gained knowledge into her writings and business model. You can contact Ann by visiting her website or through her social media channels, Facebook: @recooprenewrecover or Instagram: anncooper_recoop

Some Fun Facts About Ann

  • Climbed to the top of the Gaza Pyramid in Egypt at age 15.
  • Loves birds of all kinds, but favourites are doves and peacocks.
  • Has written several songs on the piano and loves to sing.
  • Holds High School Record in track for the 110M Low Hurdles
  • Soon to be published author of a children’s book series.
  • Journals every day.
  • Tends to see things ahead.
  • A Hopeful Optimistic.


The Rise through Special Needs – Motherhood

We all have those moments in life that knock us to our knees, life is full of them. What matters most is that we learn how to rise afterwards and see the gifts we have unlocked in the process.

One of the most pivotal times in life, was the moment I sat across from the team of doctors who delivered devastating news about my youngest daughter Chiara. News that no parent would ever want associated with their beautiful precious child.

Chiara was 5 months old when we were booked in for the brain MRI at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Two days later, our life changed in an instant. Her MRI results were in and doctors revealed she had a severe brain injury. At this stage the cause was a possible stroke she had in utero. Stroke in utero? I didn’t even know that was possible. Chiara would not be able to walk, talk and would require many operations, interventions and need 24/7 care for the rest of her life.

They spoke of a shorter life expectancy and many secondary concerns associated with her diagnosis. Microcephaly, Bilateral Perisylvian Polymicrogyria, Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy and Global Developmental Delay. The odds were well and truly stacked up against her.

Within a flash, my entire motherhood experience flipped on its head. I was in so much shock and it took me a long time to come to terms with Chiara’s diagnosis. It’s so bizarre because she looked like any other healthy baby, but things for her would soon unfold very differently.

Then next few months were a blur, EEG tests for seizures, early intervention programs, post-natal depression and also reviewing medical letters – that would leave me sobbing on the kitchen floor. Life catapulted us into a reality that was so fast-paced and all I could do was try to keep my head above water and love her fiercely, as I did Grace. A mother’s love can move mountains.

Once the shock wore off, we were on a mission to help Chiara reach her full potential. Our quest for healing and miracles sent us off on adventures, both locally and overseas to access the latest neurological therapies. Fast forward to today Chiara is almost 4 years old, doing well and defying the odds in her own unique way. This kid, she blows me away. With all her physical limitations, she still manages to pull of the most incredible smile. Not to mention her big sister Grace who has the most incredible connection with Chiara. Makes me the proudest mum in the world!

So motherhood sure has kept me busy. I had to close down the yoga business given all the care, therapies and hospital appointments we needed to attend. So recently I created a website Miracle Mama offering soulful support for special needs Mama’s.

As a passionate advocate for health and wellness, special needs and self-care, I wanted to create something to help serve the special needs sistahood, who in turn helped me find my own footing in the post-diagnosis life. I wanted to create a community for other mama’s to share their experience – it can be a very isolating experience and even your closest friends may not understand what you are going through.

The stress of raising a medically fragile child isn’t going to go away. What is in our control is how we deal with that stress and we can do that far better when we’re honouring and valuing our own self-care practices.

I can stand tall in saying that my life has been blessed three times over. The first in a soul mate of my husband Mauro, the second with a beautiful spirited daughter Grace and the third with a courageous and angelic daughter Chiara.

It’s funny like that life – sometimes the most amazing blessings are found within your biggest challenges.

About the Author

And for me, my greatest life blessings have been given to me during my motherhood journey. Motherhood in a nutshell: magical, mystical and lovingly miraculous.

Natalie Roberts-Mazzeo is a passionate writer, coach and speaker, and the founder of Miracle Mama. She lives in Melbourne with her husband and two beautiful daughters. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.


Blend Bettyz start a Business Together – Duana & Ellen – Australia

Hi we are the Blend Bettyz, otherwise known as Duana and Ellen. We are both fully qualified makeup artists, best friends, business partners and busy mums, our business is about spreading the message to all women, of empowerment through make up.

Duana: “We met in the school yard, Ellen was a make up party plan consultant and I was trying to get my face painting business started. We hit it off right away…well actually, I thought Ellen was a bit too cool to want to be my friend. With her edgy hairstyle and great fashion sense.”

Ellen: “And I thought Duana was a bit quirky with her colourful hair and the funky leopard prints she wore”

Turns out we were a perfect pairing! We got chatting about a shared desire to do a makeup course. Next thing you know we were commuting together, every Saturday for a year, from regional Victoria to Melbourne’s CBD to study a Diploma of specialised hair and makeup services.

We started off in business individually, then things naturally progressed and it made sense to work as a team. With Ellen’s passion for hair and her focus geared toward synthetic dreadlocks and styling and Duana focussing more on the makeup and face painting portion of the business. The beauty of this arrangement is that our skill sets are quite interchangeable which means we are a multi skilled pair! And have a great contingency plan in place which has benefited us in so many ways. We bounce of one another and hold each other down when things get tough, both personally and professionally. From simple things like our kids getting sick or double bookings to life’s big challenges. And big challenges there have been! With Ellen going through a marriage break up and Duana losing her father unexpectedly, both in the early stages of the business.

And at times the business has completely drained us, both financially and emotionally. We have argued and cried and laughed and happy danced! It has definitely been a huge roller coaster ride so far. But with each bad investment or poor decision, we have chosen not to quit, but rather to take a lesson from it and continue to evolve. Part of that evolution was discovering, through talking with other women and meeting various individuals, that there are so many women who are lacking confidence when it comes to applying make up.

So we have made it our goal, to teach women everywhere, the basic skills required to apply makeup with confidence. Whether it is young girls just discovering make up for the first time or for Mother’s gaining access back into the workforce after having children, for individuals wanting to build their personal self esteem or for anyone just getting out of a makeup “rut” and wanting to update their skills.

We are excited to share our knowledge with every woman and to spread our message, that makeup is for everyone and that all women deserve to feel beautiful and can do so with confidence.

About the Authors:

Ellen and Duana are qualified Hair and Makeup artists, working mobile and from their studio in Kilmore in Victoria Australia.
Duana is mum to Lincoln & Scarlet and her husband Jade restores vintage cars, something he is really passionate about it. As a family they spend a lot of time in the car scene frequenting swap meets.
Ellen is mum to three boys, Zander, Saxon and Cohen and has a lovely partner, James. In her “spare” time Ellen tends to her animals, Gwyneth the goat, Estelle the lamb and Chester the very patient poodle.
All in all Duana and Ellen lead very busy lifestyles in semi rural Victoria. They love growing their own business and helping making women feel great. You can contact them on and their website is coming soon!


You Too can Thrive at Seventy Five! – Lyn Traill – Australia

“I am a late sizzler.” That’s what I wrote in my book “Sizzling at Seventy”. Now I believe that I have proved that not only can you sizzle, you can absolutely thrive at seventy-five. I thought my life was wonderful at seventy and made a smug statement in my book that, as a reformed victim, I felt that I could cope with anything life threw at me. Well, life decided to check me out and threw me the biggest curve ball of all.

Following on from some unwise relationship choices, in my early sixties I met the love of my life and I thought I had found my ‘happy-ever-after’. We had a wonderful, enriching marriage and he was the icing on the cake for someone who had worked hard to crawl out of victimhood and kick some pretty impressive goals. I had no idea what lay ahead.

I became a teacher because I hated every day of my school life and wanted to prove that education can be enjoyable for everyone if individual differences are acknowledged. The school system never suited me and I was excited in my forties, to be given a year on full pay to go to university, which added to my qualifications in special education. This was my opportunity to assist teachers to bring out the best in students who, like me, didn’t fit the system. I’d be lying if I said that everything I tried was a success, but I was able to implement many successful breakthroughs. Always driven by my passion, it was during this time that I wrote a published series called, “Thinking Sideways”, which was inspired by Howard Gardner’s notion of different intelligences. Other published works reflected strategies to help students get the most out of language. I was on a roll, but hadn’t been prepared for the resistance I encountered along the way. If I had only had the confidence afforded to me now, I would not have let others push me down because I now know that I was on the right track. There were some fabulous experiences in education but after a particularly nasty spate of bullying, I retired from education at the age of fifty-five to begin the next important journey.

I took on a business partner and created a Registered Training Organisation, Traill Blaze Communications. I thought that as an educational consultant, I had so much experience in training, but of course, once again there were many challenges. I have no regrets and am so grateful for the steep learning curve. My thirst for learning stood me in good stead and I undertook many courses in my desire to serve clients. Becoming accredited in all Human Synergistics diagnostic tools was a useful ploy and we managed to build up a strong clientele.  I learnt how to ‘fake it till you make it’, but, sometimes I found it difficult. An early contract we had with an engineering company, proved to be challenging. I overheard a rather arrogant man say, “Women are allowed to be smart as long as they are ugly.” Apparently, I wasn’t ugly enough! It just made me more resolute to do my absolute best.

Early on I began to realise that although our clients asked for consultation, most of which entailed common sense answers, it wasn’t sustainable. Instead of being told what to do, I realised they needed coaching to make their own decisions. This lead me to undertake several coaching courses, the most valuable being the Graduate Diploma of Ontological Coaching, which was both personally and professionally life changing. My business partner had long moved away and I went on alone, apart from two years as a director in a training college.

There were some personal traumas, but once again, I am so grateful that I became stronger and at last stepped into my true self. I was no longer a victim and began to believe that I had something to offer the world. This made such a difference because, where previously I had compromised in relationships, I now felt good enough to attract something better. In fact, by this time I didn’t need anybody in my life, I was happy on my own. Then I met my lovely Mick. I talk about the miracle of that in my book. At the end of the book he was very much alive and my life was amazing. Six months later he was taken with a melanoma and brain tumour. I was unprepared, not only for the grief of losing my beloved, who had inspired me to write the book, but I reeled from the behaviour of some who dealt with his death in unexpected ways which impacted mightily on my mental health. I have learned so much from the next terrible eighteen months and see them as valuable.

So much has happened since then. I feel I have much to offer in assisting women in their search for wholeness and I love this work. I love to speak, I love to coach and I love to write. How lucky I am to be able to have the opportunity to do all three. I truly believe, with all my experience, that once you have your vision, you do all you can, and then watch the miracles happen. I had no idea that life could be so fabulous and I know that it is absolutely possible to thrive at seventy-five. It is never too late to find your ‘fabulous’.

About the Author

Alongside a successful career as an educational consultant, author, and training director of a leading vocational college, Lyn has been in demand as a management consultant since 1997, specialising in executive coaching, culture analysis and customised training.  More recently she works one on one with her intuitive coaching practices which include regression therapy and ontological (way of being) strategies. Her book, “Sizzling at Seventy – Victim to Victorious” has proved to be helpful to many and is being republished. It is available on Amazon or on Lyn’s website.

Lyn’s warm and perceptive personality allows her to easily engage and encourage people. Her passion and humour are infectious, allowing others to feel readily at ease. She is available for one on one coaching, group coaching and speaking.

Contact Lyn on 0407 131 474 or email Lyn at or visit her website


Nipples to nowhere! – Kathy Ashton – Australia

One Woman’s journey of health and recovery

As I sit here getting ready to write this I wonder to myself, where on earth do I begin.  My health story, or my health journey, like many other women is complicated, long winded and a little scary at times.

As I write this I do not have nipples, I lost them, how careless of me I hear you say… and my thoughts exactly. In actual fact I have lost both my boobs too… super careless I know.

Back in 2014 I had a double mastectomy due to a diagnosis of Ductal Carcinoma In Situ. I will explain all this further in my story, but for now, all I need to say is I am a Nipple-less woman due to my medical insurance telling me that an operation to put my nippples back was not covered.

You see, I had planned on having a full breast reconstruction, and of course, that includes nipples. Most people are born with nipples, they are an integral part of the breasts. My son tells me however that I don’t need nipples any more, given my children are all in there 20’s! Not needed anymore Mum they say we have truly finished with them … very funny. This journey has been a long one.

It started when I was just 34 years of age, my three children were very small and I was super fit, a stay at home mum, with a zest of life and fun. Then came the challenges:

Completely out of the blue, I woke one morning and I felt a lump on my right breast.  It was so big my husband could see it. We panicked, so I rang my trusted health specialist, who suggested I go see a breast surgeon that afternoon and have it looked at.  

To make a long story short the end result from this was a cyst and that I would have to have regular checkups, mammograms and many biopsies during my life to date.

In November of 2013 my lumps moved to another level, it was so sore I was unable to lie on it or sleep on it and yet again it was another cyst. This one was the biggest though by far. But as usual more ultrasounds, mammograms and biopsies.

The thing that makes this lump stand out, was I thought to myself, I am totally over these breasts. They are totally annoying and I was finished with them. I remember telling my sister-in-law at a family function after this last episode, I was sick of these things, and wished they weren’t there – Oh dear, one thing is for sure, be careful what you wish for.

Tuesday May 2014, it was 4 am in the morning, I woke with a dragging feeling in my left breast. Oh no, not another one, I thought to myself. But this just did not feel the same, I woke my husband and said hey feel this. He thought his Christmases had arrived, but no, I wanted him to feel this lump. It was really nagly.  He said oh no, that doesn’t feel good, you’d better go get it looked at in the morning.

I tried to return to sleep however there was this little voice in my head telling me no matter what you do, make sure you get this looked at tomorrow.  No waiting, you need it seen to in the morning.  As I tried to rest some more, a memory came flooding in from a very long time ago.  

When I was 36, my husband and eldest child went to Hong Kong to visit friends and whilst there we went to Hong Kong Disney. It was a wonderful day riding on all the rides and having fun. Towards to end of the day, we met a Chinese fortune teller, and we decided to have our hands read. I will never forget my reading. He said, “In your 54th year you will suffer a major health crisis, but don’t worry you will be fine and live a long life to late 80s or early 90s … no worries, you will be fine”.

This memory was more than a memory, I could hear this Chinese man in my head really loudly. He was telling me that all would be ok, but I needed to go tomorrow to have things seen to. I was meant to go to work that day, but rang and cancelled. I then rang the breast cancer clinic and told them I had a lump and needed to be seen straight away. They had a cancellation, and said come in straight away. So I hurried to get dressed and went in.

I did not go in thinking it was anything dramatic. I was quite calm, and was convinced it was another cyst of some description. It was in the vicinity of the fibro-adenoma and for all I knew it may have just been this doing something silly.  

I told the 1st Dr that I saw that I did not want to have a mammogram I just wanted an ultrasound. The test result was it was another cyst sitting under the fibro-adenoma pushing that up so that is why it felt so bad. I also had quite a few other cysts that needed to be drained as well. So in came the big guns.  The specialist to drain the cysts. Oh boy was that an experience.  He was livered I didn’t have a mammogram. He started telling me how stupid I was and that really I was being irresponsible and many other things. I felt so traumatized by his berating.  

It was at that time I heard the little Chinese voice again, you have it checked, so I agreed. I think my words were, ok then, I’ll have your bloody mammogram.

So with the cysts drained, it was not as painful. So mammogram done, I then expected the Specialist to call me in and say, ok off you go. All good, next time though have it first. But that was not to be the case, I waited, and waited, and waited. I was the last person there, and it was getting very late. About 4 or 5 by that time.  The Dr called me in and said, not good news.

What …….. What was not good news, what did she mean. She then showed me my scan, and the results were that I needed another biopsy as the little ring of calcifications were a prime indicator of cancer.

I was not allowed to drive home, so my husband who was in the city, came and got me. We were both shell shocked and I needed to wait till the Friday to get the results. The next day I went to work, and one of my Dr’s asked me how it went. I told her what happened, the whole story and how the Specialist had been so mean. Bless her, she then took control and decided I would not go back to him for the results on Friday. She would get the results and she would tell me.

I felt so much better about that, so Friday morning came and I went to the clinic.  My Dr was in her room waiting for me. I went up, closed the door and watched.  She looked terrible, her words were, I’m sorry but it’s cancer. You have early stage breast cancer.  

What the…..

We both had a little cry, and she then said, right, you are now off to see a friend of mine. A breast surgeon to see what she has to say about it all.  I’ve got you an appointment this afternoon and her name is Katrina.  

We sat in the waiting room feeling numb.  What were we doing here.  

It was at that moment, that my Chinese voice came back in my head, it will be OK you just be OK live to 90……

So I trusted.  We went in and the first thing Katrina said to us was, gosh you two have had a rough morning……. come sit and let me explain everything to you, cancer is such a big word…… we felt calm straight away.

She draw me picture and explained that this was very caught very early. The cancer was contained within the cells of the breasts and it would mean that if it was not wide spread she would be able to go in and cut it out and all would be good.

DCIS – ductal carcinoma in stitu.  

I needed to have an MRI to see the extent of it and then we would discuss treatment from there. This was arranged for the following week.

So MRI results not so good.  The right breast was riddled. I did not have big breasts but every duct was filled with DCIS. She recommended that I have a mastectomy with a reconstruction. She also recommended that I go see her husband who just so happened to be a plastic surgeon. She said I could see him that night and we could discuss doing everything at the same time. I loved the thought of this, a husband and wife team of surgeons, I thought is was like Dr McDreamy and Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy, it tickled my fancy.  

We went to see her husband and as we talked about reconstruction and the surgery etc., he throw a curly one our way. As I was telling him a little about my history and about how I actually thought there was a problem in the left breast, he said, if I were you I would consider having a double mastectomy.  He said there was a 40% chance of this same thing happening in my left breast later on. He gave us till the Wednesday night of that week to work out should they take one or take two.

So after much discussion on Friday 16th May, 2014, just 12 days after my little Chinese man woke to tell me go and get things checked, I had a double mastectomy.  

The operation went relatively well and I woke I woke to no boobs, but I woke to part of the right side skin just above the scar had turned black and was dying. I was told this was pretty normal and I was told not to worry, in a couple of weeks, I would go back in and they would do a skin graft and fix it that way.  I asked how long I could have to mend it myself from the inside out, and was told that it was very unlikely that this would happen.

All the time I was in hospital I ate as a no oil vegan. No saturated fat. The hospital was not sure what to feed me, but I told them I only wanted boiled rice and steamed vegetables, salad and a little soup and that is what I got.  

And when I went back for my first check up, the black piece of skin had turned pinked again and my Dr had to take me off his operating list for the next day.  I told him yee of little faith, and he told me, must be the crazy way I eat. I was just thrilled. My recovery was really remarkable, and I was thrilled.

One silly thing I did was took myself off the painkillers long before I should have. That was pretty silly as one week after the operation I felt like I was being stung by 1000 bees all at once. It was incredible so back on the drugs I went, they were great and I coped a lot better weaning myself off them more slowly.  

Four weeks after my operation, I had a small fall in the street. I tripped over and because I was so worried about my new boobs breaking, I held those, and took the fall flat on my face. I broke a tooth grazed the entire front of my face. I looked a mess.

The next day my daughter and I were off on a girl’s trip to Greece. We had been planning it for two years and were so excited. The funniest thing was the way kids looked at me because of my face at the airport I was a mess to look at. But that didn’t bother me, I was happy, I had these funny blow up boobs and was cancer free.

After Greece in 2014 I got my replacement implants and things felt much softer.  So I was much happier. Now just one more operation to go, and that was to have the nipples reconstructed.

The last operation was due to happen in July, however this was not the case.  I was so excited, but the day before the operation, my health insurance company decided that I was not covered for this particular item number surgery. I was covered the previous Easter to do it, because it was a secondary part of the operation that was fixing a fat pad, but since it was now the primary reason for the operation it was no longer covered … sorry.

I mentioned to the very nice man on the phone who worked for our insurance company that it was part of breast reconstruction after breast cancer, and we were told it didn’t matter. I told him I thought breasts came with nipples and that it should all be part of the same thing. He said, it didn’t matter they were not covered. The number as a primary operation was considered cosmetic.  

I cried heaps that day, I was so upset. But after speaking with some lovely friends and family I got over that pretty quickly. I am now nippleless. My son bless his socks, has taken this predicament up with the insurance ombudsman and now I can have the surgery done for $88.

But I am not sure if I want to do that anymore. I have had nipples tattooed onto them and maybe for now it is enough, actually I have only cried three times during the whole experience. I don’t like to be blind sided. It is the only time I have cried when I have not seen compassion coming my way.

Many people have called me brave, and have told me that I have handled this so incredibly well, but I just think it is what everyone would have done. It was no different to fixing a broken leg. I knew it would be fine, my Chinese Man had told me that. “You will suffer a significant health crisis in your 54th year, but you will be fine and live a long life to late 80’s early 90s.” remember!

That has been what has kept me going. I am one of the lucky ones no chemo or radiation therapy for me, it was not needed as the cancer had not invaded any of my lymph nodes, it will never return so I feel blessed.  

I feel certain that my guardian angles have been looking after me this whole time. I am not too sure what the lesson is in all this. Maybe it is one of trust.  Trust in the universe, trust that my Chinese man knew more than me. Trust that I will live a long and happy life till well into my 90’s. Trust that food is medicine. Trust in the power of the placebo. Trust in love.

As a footnote to the story I did get the operation for nipples so I am now the “complete” women again, thanks to my son and his never ending efforts.

About the Author

International award winning business person and author, Kathy Ashton understands that the health of your business is reflected and influenced by your own health. Kathy teaches which foods benefit the mind and body.

As a nutritional medicine practitioner she believes that the gut is nothing short of a miracle, and when it is healthy, your brain and mindset are also healthy. Kathy’s motto:  the miracle gut = a miracle ‘me’ (m = mind, and e = emotions).  

Using whole food, plant based, oil free foods she sees her patients produce amazing results, transforming their energy levels, sleep patterns, they lose weight and become pain free.

Through her programs, My Healing Kitchen events and clinic work, Kathy believes that change in your health, is a journey from fork to mouth and is only one small decision away.  

You can contact Kathy on email or on her website

Kathy Ashton (BHSc Nut Med)(Cert PBN Cornell) Nutritional Medicine Practitioner, LifeCoach, Remedial Therapist, Flourish Nutritional Medicine


A Mother’s journey in Resilience and Gold – Pam Cleverley New Zealand

Not in your wildest dreams could you imagine this journey. You wake up one day and it leads you to 5 months away from home. I am a single Mum of 3, Ruby now 24, Riwa 21 and Charlotte 13.

I worried about having a third child, but Charlotte was a delightful baby. Secure in her routine, happy, healthy and bubbly, bystanders would notice her and see her spirit. She was born in November of 2003, and entering into her 6th month on June 17th 2004, she woke at 3am, with vomiting and high temperature, I rushed to get her the appropriate meds, and she started a high pitch whimpering ( a symptom not then mentioned, as a symptom).

We fell asleep together till morning, but little did I know she was in deep toxic shock. Waking, I let her sleep on, my gut feeling was worried, but I put it down to me being over protective, and with a sitter in place to oversee Charlotte I rushed Ruby and Riwa to school, and went to work for two hours.

Arriving home I was shocked to hear Charlotte was still sleeping and on closer investigation, I was shocked to see her in the same position I left her in, motionless, gazing, eyes half open, and two defined blood spots on her neck. Panic rose up my body, as I recognised the symptoms as Meningitis.

The story continues as written by Perry Bisman (her Dad) on her website.:

Life changed that day, the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness was hard to endure. The emotion like having a jumbo jet fly over you while you lie paralysed on the tarmac face up. We watched helplessly over Charlotte as she went to war with the most deadliest disease known to man. Hospital was our world for the next 3 months. Day/Night – we never knew, it just blended into continual highly stressful seconds, minutes, hours, days and months.

Our journey climaxed to a social media frenzy after a front page Herald paper headlined  the Vaccine for the Meningitis B (which Charlotte was suffering) was about to be thrown out due to the nearing use-by date, along with $250 Million of taxpayers money. We contacted the Herald, Really – You have a Vaccine?

Get it out there that this is what it’s doing to our baby. Charlotte’s photo in the front page of the next morning’s Herald paper, article written by Charlotte’s father Perry. She was pictured happy on a swing. Holding on with hands. Balanced by legs, all now taken by this evil disease. New Zealanders we’re mortified and demanded the vaccine. Which was soon released into all schools. Nurses left our ward to take part. Doctors thanked us.

Charlotte survived, she had nationwide interest in her well being and we were followed around by media. But we had our child, devastated by disease, a quad amputee, only her elbow to work with. We spent two months at a children’s home to heal from skin grafts and debridement, and to adapt to Charlotte as a quadruple amputee.

One doctor, one day mentioned the journey will be a rocky road. Little did I know the journey, little did I know the road was, in fact, many mountains to climb. How much resilience does one need? For a baby to fight a deadly bacteria. For doctors and nurses to be in the operating  theatre and save children’s lives. For parents to endure the grief and guilt of their child’s illness. To endure whatever trauma life gives you.

Now our ‘Normal’:

Battling the accessibility of businesses, inaccessible disabled car parks that have had no thought around their placement, disabled toilets that are locked or used as a storage lobby, public transport that is not accessible, governed limb centers on tight budgets and over loaded with patients exasperated by diabetic casualties, Carer Aids that are underpaid, unfit, and uneducated on a high-needs spectrum on the individuality of ORRS students, a Health and Safety law which confines parents of disabled children and entitles the removal of their mobility and free movement and speech.  – To name some of the hurdles. The strength and endurance it takes. On top of the 24/7 care of a high-needs child.

My job title of now without the university degree : Activist for Human Rights, physio, mobility designer, and gadget designs, prosthetist, skin and scar management, employer, wages clerk, fundraiser, public speaker (TV and articles), assisting with infrastructure for access, researcher, environmentalist, nutritionist, mentor, carer, organiser of equipment repairs, appointments and meetings.

Without these ongoing challenges, I would not be the strong confident person I am today. Charlottes resilience and spirit, has enabled me to endure all challenges in our journey. When you mine for gold, there’s a lot of hard work to find it. Similar to the strength and endurance you need to raise a quad amputee.

When the day flows, when Charlotte first swims, when she takes her first prosthetic leg steps,when she runs in blades, disabled surfing, skydiving, her incredible art, her happiness. That is my gold.

About the Author

Pam has gone through many struggles over the last 10 years. far more than other mums, this story is a way of her connecting with the world about how you can get there if you keep on pushing. You can find out more about charlotte her daughter at

Life Can Change in the Blink of an Eye – Julie Sawchuk – Canada

They say that life can change in the blink of an eye. There is no better example than what happened to me on July 29th 2015. I live in Huron County, on the “west coast” of Ontario, Canada where endurance athletes ski in the wintertime and swim, bike and run in the summer. On this particularly beautiful day while out on a 60 km training ride I was hit from behind by a car traveling at full speed. Thrown into the ditch, I sustained multiple life threatening injuries, including a T4 spinal cord injury that left me with paralysis from the chest down. I was forced from my two wheels on to the four wheels of my wheelchair – for the rest of my life. I spent 10 days in hospital and three months in rehabilitation – away from my friends and family. It was lonely, but necessary, as I had to learn how to live with my new body. In rehab I started to rebuild my strength and endurance and learn how to handle a bladder and bowels that did not function properly.

The local media covered my story because I had close ties to many parts of this small community. I was a secondary school science teacher and Nordic ski coach and had a close group of triathlon training friends. I spoke to the media about road safety and, with the help of my community, we started the Huron County Share the Road campaign. Our bumper stickers can be seen across Huron County and around the province. I also started to write a blog, to give my brain an outlet, a way to stop questions of the future from spinning around in my head. Now I write for lots of reasons.

Sharing my story has become a top priority for me – a way of reaching out to others in similar situations. I found that there was not a lot of guidance available to me, so I wanted others to benefit from the knowledge I had gained so far. As an educator I never like to miss an opportunity and I had learned that many people did not know what it was like to live with paralysis.  I decided that the best thing would be to share it all. And so I do – I have written more than 100 posts that have been read by thousands of people. I write about paralysis, accessibility in our built environment, fitness and sport, relationships, driving, travel, kids, frustrations, chronic pain and depression. It has not been easy. My life, my family and my relationships have all changed.

When I left rehab I was told I had a 12% chance of recovering. So that has been my focus – twelve is not zero – and the only way to know is to try. It will not happen “just like that” it will take a lot of work. So that is what I do. I work on my body trying to make it move again. Physiotherapy four days a week, plus exercises at home, and it’s working. I have abdominal, back and hip flexor muscles that are responding. The hard work is paying off. Not only that, I am also hearing from people who are following my story, people who have been inspired to push through the difficulty that they face in their own lives. Because, let’s face it, everyone has adversity at some time or another, mine is just a bit more obvious when I roll up to greet you. Ernest Hemingway said it best: “Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.”

About the author:

Julie Sawchuk is a wife, mother of two, teacher, athlete and author. As a person with a disability she is working to change people’s ideas about accessibility, road safety and perseverance. She shares her ideas on her blog, as a speaker to schools and through the media. Julie’s blog “Living life with Paralysis” can be read at

I Never Lost Sight of What I Wanted To Do! – Tina Banitska – Australia

It’s the story of how, in the late 1970s, sculptor Tina Banitska drove into Daylesford Victoria, spied the tower of the Holy Cross Conventand and declared to her friend: “One day, that is going to be one of Australia’s best galleries.”

A decade later, with barely any finances but a powerful sense of destiny being fulfilled, she took a massive loan to purchase the empty, crumbling building. In the subsequent two years of renovation and delay, due to money and all manner of issues – Tina sold many of her treasured possessions in order to pay tradesman wages, opening in 1991 on the day the banks vowed to foreclose the project.

Tina went through an enormous personal and professional struggle with not only her bank balance but her reputation at stake as well. She overcame so many obstacles along her way that would have led many people of lesser character and drive to just quit …. and walk away.  

Since opening way back in 1991 the gallery has now doubled in size, it now attracts over 200,000 visitors a year to its art-filled rooms, the cafe, the museum and the gardens – all the while continuing to service bank loans – underscores her true legend.

But the personal story of Tina, her philanthropy and her vision for the future of rural Victorian art, is less known.

Wiping away tears, Tina – who on most days is an intensely private person despite her bubbly personality – recounts the story of what has been her underlying driver at the Convent.

“Success for me is not about money or what you achieve. It’s about how you follow a dream, pursuing things your heart tells you is important,” she says. “I’ve never seen this as a sacrifice. It’s been a huge blessing.”

Her greatest driving force, she says, was her impoverished childhood. The daughter of Greek migrants, her most vivid memories are of her hard-working, generous parents, Steve and Sophia, whom she now looks after. “I remember my mother, I would have been four or five, holding my hand and saying she had a shilling and should she spend it on vegetables or bread,’’ says Tina.

“It wasn’t about money, but choices, the decisions you make. That memory has never gone away. It makes me feel how everything is possible. It’s not about the barriers that stop you but where your heart is. Money is just a vehicle.”

“When I heard it was for sale, all I could imagine was artists working together. I could picture it. I couldn’t sleep for two months, I’d wake with hot and cold sweats, I was very unsettled until I got it,” she says. “I do believe in energies beyond what we understand. I think there was a plan somewhere for this.”

But when she took possession Tina admits she “cried for hours and hours”, such was the derelict state of the building, built in the 1860s. Yet she “never lost sight of what I wanted to do”.

“Even when I had a loan of $1.5 million at 18.5 per cent locked-in interest rates for five years it didn’t deter me.” When the Convent Gallery finally opened on March 31, 1991 – the same day the banks were set to foreclose – there were 5052 customers. “But we didn’t have an entrance fee and we didn’t have anything to sell,’’ she recalls.

In 2001 Tina borrowed more, nearly $3 million, to double the size of the gallery, incorporating a chapel and school, and now function rooms. Never has she applied for a grant.

Looking back she admits those early years “don’t seem real’’, with her average day now spent as an “office girl’’, working up to 14 hours with customers or cleaning toilets. While not religious, she categorises herself as spiritual, believing in the “goodness and kindness of humans’’.

“I’ve been given the privilege of looking after this building, to make it a place for the community. I don’t own anything, I’m the custodian of it,” she says. “It was all in the plan. I was just given the strength, courage, foresight and planning to make it happen.”

Tina’s greatest love is mentoring young people. She estimates she has taken hundreds of budding artists under her wing over the years – dancers, fashion designers, jewellers, painters, not just locals but international exchanges as well.

“This job is about people, it’s one of the reasons I set the Convent up, to share and interact and engage people,” says Tina, who has owned and sold several galleries in rural Victoria.

“Art is the only inspiration we have to keep our hope going. It uplifts the spirit.”

About the author:

Tina studied fine arts at Melbourne University and postgraduate sculpting at RMIT, before she was employed as an art consultant in Ballarat in the late 1970s. But it was while she was operating her Creswick Springmount Pottery, opened in 1981 and which she still operates today, that she had a vision for the historic 19th century mansion.

You can contact Tina on + 61 3 5348 3211 or or visit her site

Anything is Possible – Carmen Harrison and Cassandra Rathgeber- Canada

If someone told my sister and I that 2 years ago we would be young entrepreneurs running our very own food truck, we would have never believed them. We are twins from a farm with big dreams and aspirations, and our passion is food. We absolutely love to bake. It puts us in a relaxed and comfortable zone, a place where you can think, dream and be true to who you really are. Our goal when starting our food truck was to connect to our community through our food. We wanted to create an experience that everyone could enjoy. In the past year, we are so proud to say we have created our passion; Queen Bees Food Truck.

Queen Bees did not happen over night… It felt like it took a lifetime for the vision to arrive in our lives. Following college and without a clear idea of a concrete career path, both Cassandra and I had worked jobs in the hospitality industry. These jobs helped build the work ethic we would need to start Queen Bees. We both married young and decided to stay at home and run a dayhome. This allowed us stay at home and raise our children. After several years had passed we found ourselves in a place of uncertainty. We were internally struggling with a direction to take in our lives. We both new this wasn’t our true path or purpose.

In the evening, we would walk and on these walks the seeds of the Queen Bees idea began to grow. We started to create our vision, discuss ideas, argue details and slowly the dream took shape. We made vision boards to help us manifest our reality.  As time went on we felt we were getting closer to actualising our plan but our 5 children were still really young, between 18 months to 4 years old. That was our major hurdle, trying to balance our children and a full-time job. But honestly, we needed a change in our lives. It wasn’t healthy for our well being and we wanted to show our children how to reach for the stars. We felt we owed it to ourselves to follow our dreams, and to show our children if you believe in yourself, anything is possible.  Many people have faced hard challenges and even impossible ones and still found success. We were also nervous of the one thing all entrepreneurs are scared of…failure. Yet, because of our prior experiences, our bond with each other, and the belief we could succeed, failure was tempered by excitement. We knew this adventure was about our personal growth and about discovering who we really are as people.

This idea kept blossoming. We created the menu in 2 minutes. It was basically all our favourite treats. However, we did teach ourselves to make French Macarons. We loved them, and thought it would be a treat to share with our community. We purchased an old delivery truck online that had no engine. We had no idea how this was going to come to life. Our childhood neighbour came to our rescue and made this entire truck a reality for us. We couldn’t believe our luck. Len Aucoin was able to transform this shell of a truck in to a beautiful full service Food Truck.

After one season in the books and many lessons learned, Queen Bees Food Truck is nearly booked solid for the 2017 season. We service the City of Red Deer as well as Sylvan Lake and surrounding areas. We are so excited to see where Queens Bees takes us. We are still dreaming big and hope to open a store front in the near future. We have endless ideas and it will always be in our nature to reach for the stars.

About the Authors

Carmen Harrison and Cassandra Rathgeber are strong women, mothers, wives, sisters, dreamers and owners of Queen Bees Food Truck. Together we designed and created our dream Food Truck servicing Central Alberta, Canada.

We, Carmen and Cassandra hope to inspire everyday women, mothers, or anyone with a dream or passion. We hope to encourage you to never give up and to understand that if it feels right in your heart then of course anything is possible! Never allow people to shy you away from your true passion and what makes you happy.

Follow Queen Bees Food Truck:

Facebook: Queen Bees Food Truck

Instagram: The Hive QB

For more information about Queen Bees and how to contact Carmen and Cassandra visit: <

Nikki Taylor personally thanks both Carmen and Casandra for sharing her inspiring story today with us on Inspiring Women Today by Nikki Taylor <>.  Should you too wish to share your very own inspirational journey/story please email and our editorial guidelines will be sent to you.


Estella’s Brilliant Bus – Estella Pyfrom – USA

Estella’s Brilliant Bus – Estella Pyfrom – USA

My name is Estella Pyfrom. I am the CEO and Founder of Estella’s Brilliant Bus (not for profit organization). I am the second oldest of six daughters and one son. My father, Roy L. Mims, was a migrant worker, a crew leader and a camp manager for many years. As a kid my family and I traveled for nineteen (19) years, transporting migrant workers from Florida to New York, by driving trucks and buses to the camps. As a village kid, I was inspired to give back to my village (my community)

As an adult, I worked very hard in my community and was a dedicated wife and mother to my children and to many other children in my neighborhood circle.

After raising four children and teaching them how to stay out of trouble, my accomplishment that I am proudest of is the Creation and founding of Estella’s Brilliant Bus. … AWESOME because we are mobile and virtual and can learn anywhere in the world. We’re a learning center without walls… no boundaries. The learning center travels to communities where service is needed. We will make a difference…one child at a time and/or one family at a time.

I believe that by forming alliances with agencies in communities who have similar missions and who have been awarded grants, have grant funds to provide services can form partnerships to serve hard to reach individuals and all will benefit from the union. The learning center travels to communities where service is needed. Estella will continue to seek financial assistance and continue to collaborative community stakeholders provide resources to help improve the quality of life for children and families who are in need of our services. We will make a difference…one child at a time and/or one family at a time.

I am proud to say we have served more than 100,000 underserved children over the past four years and have not charged them any money.

During the first year after we started this Brilliant Bus Movement Business, my husband became of victims of a triage visit at a local hospital which landed him in ICU for two months that required me to be with him (in ICU) for 24 hours in order to help keep him alive. In spite of all of our assistance at the hospital, he survived 4 cases of CODE Blue and 26 pints of blood transfusion. Luckily he survived four times resuscitation. Thank God he is still here… well and alive. In August of 2013 both my husband and I were victims of an automobile accident, when a texting driver t-bowed us as we were driving out of our development. Yes, they ran the red light. As result of that accident, my husband was 98%paralyzes and had to have and emergency spinal surgery. As for me, I got away with only one broken hip, and injured knee and ankle and a battered face to the point that my children could not recognized me. But to God be the Glory, WE ARE BOTH ALIVE TODAY.

When I look back over her past and begin to think of what attributes to my success in life, all I could think of is the “no failure” options that was instilled in me as a child by my father. . My dad made all of us believe that if you could dream, … dream Big, and work hard to make your dreams become realities… Failure was not an option.

During the past four years we have been very celebrated for our hard work: PLEASE NOTE:

FEATURED: NBC News Network… Prime Time with Brian Williams and other associated networks
All Local TV and Radio Stations
Jet Magazine
5000 Points of Light–Ranked – 4998 around the world- Hosted by President and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House
CNN Hero- 2013– Top 10 around the world –Ordinary People doing extraordinary things around the world
Woman of Worth — Top 10 around the world–L’O Real of Paris
Who’s Who Global–Directory – dedication, hard work and for making a difference
ESSENCE Magazine – 2014
MV Magazine
Success Magazine
Her Life Magazine
O-Oprah Magazine -January -2015
O-Oprah Magazine- This I know for Sure —Special Column
Oprah-The Life You Want Tour- Toyota Standing Ovation- Florida VIP
Wells Fargo Community Award
Florida A & M Alumni Association -PBC-
Community Service- From Local to National
Legacy Award — by Dexter Bridgeman–Legacy Palm Beach Magazine
Living Legends Award- Human Symphony – National
Community Service Award – Alpha Kappa Alpha
Community Service Award – Alpha Kappa Alpha
Community Service Award – Alpha Phi Alpha
Community Service – Citizenship Awards – Zeta Phi Beta
Community Partners Award – Delta Lambda Chapter – Alpha Phi Alpha Chapter
Woman of Excellence – Delta Sigma Theta
Spirit Award–Delta Sigma Theta
NBA – Pro player Philanthropy Award
African American Achiever Award
National Education Award
Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award – Palm Beach State College-2014
Microsoft Youth Spark Award – Grant
Microsoft – National-Global – Super Bowl Commercial and Award
Office Depot Adopt-A-Teacher
Comcast-Comcast Community Service Award Grant
Dr. Oz Show
Woman of Excellence – Humanitarian Award
John Maxwell Leadership Award
Diamond Award for Community Service – National Coalition of 100 Black Women
Citizenship Award – Omega Psi Phi Fraternity
FEA -Martin Luther king Jr Award- Outstanding Leadership Award
Professional-Influential Business Professional
Most Powerful 25 Women- In Palm Beach County – Dexter Bridgeman
Dream Forward Award for courage, persistence and sacrifice while making dreams become a reality. Jason Hall
Dream forward Award for making a difference in the lives of many by Dr. Norma C. Pearson
Excellence and Generous Commitment to Student Award- Belle Glade, Elementary School.
The Shero Award by: Anne Harvey Missionary Society –Outstanding Service
The Steve Binko Award for Educational Innovation and Justice …The Scribe’s Institute
Cultured Pearls Award- Presenter by Alpha Kappa Alpha
Rainbow Push Philanthropic Foundation of the Year Award ‘Jessie Jackson
Legends. Trailblazers and Rising Stars Award for Community Service by Payne Chapel
Key to the City… Columbus Georgia. Honorable Teresa Pike Tomlinson, Mayor- Columbus Georgia
Proclamation. Columbus Georgia. Honorable Teresa Pike Tomlinson,
ESTELLA PYFROM declaration –July 16, 2016
RESOLUTIONS: Representative Carolyn Hugley, District 136, Georgia House of Representatives…Outstanding Public Service
National Association for Professional Women
Continental Who’s Who Recipient of the Year -2016
We will continue to collaborate with partnering organization to grow our business around the world, making a difference in the lives of children who need us the most.
I have successfully completed and published my first book, The Legacy of A Humble Black Woman. I am most proud to say that if I can do this at age 80, so can you, soooooo…… what are you waiting on? Let’s get ROLLING.

For more information about Estella a Brilliant Bus Movement and how to donate to our nonprofit organization, you may visit:
Phone: 561-985-1889

A special thank you to all of our supporters who continue to support us for many years such as Microsoft and Office Depot.

Nikki Taylor personally thanks Estella Pyfrom for sharing her inspiring story today with us on Inspiring Women Today by Nikki Taylor.  Should you too wish to share your very own inspirational journey/story please email and our editorial guidelines will be sent to you.