Todd’s Story by Coach Debby

Todd sat across from me late in the afternoon for a french tip and fries after most people had returned to their workplaces.  He was telling me his story about alcoholism.  We’d only known each other for a week, and this was our first date.  I listened intently.

I noticed that he was different than many people I had heard speak about their recovery process.  He was in complete acceptance that alcohol had no place in his present life.  None and done.  He didn’t miss it, relish it, long for it, fantasize about it, complain about it — none of that.  He had broken off his relationship with alcohol and he wanted me to know about it.

Of course, I wanted to write it all down!  I heard a book spewing out of him.

We continued to see each other often, and I encouraged him to share his story every chance he got:  “Tell bits and pieces to anyone you trust.  Watch their face.  Pay attention to their questions.  This will help you own your story.”

“What story?” he asked me.

“The book within you.”

“A book?  Really?” And then he followed up with, “I have always thought there might be a book in me, somewhere.”

Some of us are more excited to share our stories.  Some of us are timid or scared that people in the story will read it and be offended.  For certain, people can take offense even if you look at them wrong let alone feature them in your book.

But it is still important to share your story with those in your life who you deem as safe.  It’s an excellent place to start, and It helps you know your true story even better.  Later on, you can decide what stays in your public story and what you choose to edit out.  When you know the difference between the two, you’ve got the bones of a manuscript!

I was especially moved by Todd’s early memories of alcohol recovery, which we updated and placed in the very beginning of his book.  I remembered him sharing bits of it on our first date, and I must say, he had my complete attention.  Here’s the book version:

I was raised to be a man’s man, a strong farm hand, and basically an ordinary tough guy. My Dad influenced me powerfully. He grew up in a masculine world in middle America where he was a big football fan and raised to be a corn farmer. He coached me in football, baseball, basketball and soccer when I was a just a kid. If I got hurt while playing, I was told, “Shake it off!”… And, “Big boys don’t cry!”  Every injury was met with another chance to be tough as nails.  These messages were hammered into my brain and my body. Consequently, I became completely closed off from my feelings.

This was one of my first agreements in life:  Real men don’t feel.  I didn’t like it, but it was a concept straight from my dad, and it was all he knew.  The boy scouts enforced it even more, and later came the game of hunting wild animals – something I was not keen on – but these messages came from men I looked up to.  They were teaching me how to be a man’s man, as this was all they knew.

I was only 11 when my uncle introduced me to booze and I liked it!  I liked the way it made me feel.  I drank so much I got super intoxicated.  As the days pressed on, I could count on my uncle feeding this magic stuff to me and every time, I had the same reaction; I felt great!  Alcohol gave me the permission to feel superhuman!  This was the stuff, man!

Up until now, the only feelings I ever saw a man express was anger.  I noticed that when men got angry, they got their way.  It worked for me, too.  I could throw a tantrum and get what I wanted.  At age 12, my folks divorced and I spent a lot of time feeling really upset.  The only other option I knew was to numb out and try to feel nothing at all.  So now I had a new agreement:  I could feel angry or I could add a little alcohol and feel good.  Every chance I got, I chose the latter.

Not a bad start!  And it is only the very beginning of his story.  We sat down and crafted this one day to get his book rolling.

And then we wrote more, and talked more, and wrote more.

And at some point, the confusion of what to say became clear, and the feeling of fear turned to utter excitement. There are many phases, decisions, and re-working that needed to take place so that his story could be offered to a public audience with care.

Todd was overjoyed to see his words — his survival story — become a book.  I literally cried tears of joy.   It took time and attention and commitment. But I won’t say it was hard — it required dedication and focus, and there were many times when we laughed.

The process helped me build my business and brand: I help people write their books.  I’d love to help you.

Your true story is always about you, even though there were other important people.  That story you lived through has made you, changed you, shaped you, saved you, delivered you, and allowed you to be in this world, present and available.  Just think what that story could do for others.


Coach Debby is a spiritual mentor and has taught writing and literary editing since 1996. She helps new and seasoned authors create and complete their book.


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The Elixir: The Final Concept in Fiction and Real Life


by Coach Debby

I have finally created time to write!! Unbelievable. It only took 50 years.

And now for the next dilemma; which book shall I write first?  Will I begin with the memoir?  Perhaps a book about the writers journey?  Or best of all, the secrets your teacher never told you!

Since I can’t decide, I find myself moving back-and-forth between a few manuscripts.  Today I was reflecting on a common “how to” question that students often asked in creative writing class:  how do you finish a story without killing off the hero or doctoring the drama so that everyone lives happily ever after?  For this question, I must lead writers back to the heroes journey, back to the moment where the hero brings home the elixir.

If you have studied Joseph Campbell’s, The Hero’s Journey, you know that all heroes (main characters) go flying back into a dramatic ordeal if they cannot embrace their learnings. It is as certain as the law of gravity.  The ordeal awaits to anyone who cannot move forward by the act of selfless sharing.

Consider that in real life there are thieves who go to jail again and again, but at some point they learned their lesson, and they go on to live honest lives and share their wealth. Yet there is also the thief who can’t break the nasty habit, and for a screenwriter, this may lead to an epic mini-series as each ordeal (or robbery) is drawn out.  Westerns are infamous for this pattern.

We’ve seen so many movies go awry because the director simply cannot part with the knee-jerk impulse to offer a cliche and happy ending.  If you want your writing to be more subtle, it is essential that you find a way for the character to slowly embrace his new intelligence with just a few bumps, innocent scratches, and a lot of humor.

He can’t be perfect. He can’t be beautiful.  He can’t be rich.

He must be humble.  He must be accountable.  He must be universal.

In other words, the story ends with him being an ordinary man. Perhaps the middle and the climax demonstrated heroic acts but the ending shows his simple moral coding. I remember Christopher Vogler’s example of King Aurthur where he spoke of the knights sharing the grail, “as otherwise there would be no healing.”

Above all, he must be able to serve those who can benefit from his knowledge without making himself so unbelievably special.

The heroes journey and how it applies to exceptional writing must stay away from the colossal expansion of the human ego.  In fact, it is the writer’s job to show that the character has truly won the race by humbling himself, abandoning all notion of suicide or prestige, and becoming open to the greatest gift of all: selfless love.  He shows  he is grounded yet available to the human experience of every life he touches.

Do that, and you will sell millions.

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Loving Your Spouse to Death by Coach Debby


During my early years at the college, I shared an office with a man older than me who had two grown sons and a wife whom he loved and adored.  Our office was full of pictures of his family vacations, Christmas holidays, and wedding anniversaries.

One day during lunch, he asked if I would listen to him recite a poem that he had written to honor his wife and their upcoming anniversary.  “25 years!” He exclaimed with a broad, genuine smile.  I remember wondering at the time:  How do people do it?  What is the secret to a long and happy marriage?

And for whatever reason, I was moved to ask him, “So, what’s the secret?  How did you get to 25 years of marriage.”

He didn’t miss a beat, “it’s all her–she gets every bit of credit.”

But I knew there was more.  “C’mon, give it up. I’m listening.”

His mood shifted and he crunched his forehead the way he often did while reading bad handwriting. And after a moment, his smile returned.

He was very humble as he spoke, “Deb, I have worried that I would lose her ever since I found out she was carrying our first son. I’ve worried that something would happen to her or that she might get sick of me, and the result is that, every day, I live to know her. I just love her to death.”

I was gushing with tears, of course. To this day, it is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard about love. I remember what he was wearing, the sound of his voice, and the pen in his hand.  Especially, I remember the phrase, “I live to know her,” as it seems to be the epitome of long-term partnership.  I really sensed his deep desire to continuously discover his wife and to share his true self with her.

I heard a reckoning choice, a decision to be vulnerable. It seems to be understood by both of them, and perhaps it has become part of their root system. They know that their partnership needs loving attention each day.

Anytime I have visited their home, I’ve noticed that they have several projects in the works that they are doing together, but they also talk about their individual interests.  They have built a magnificent garden together that has fed them as well as many of their neighbors over the years.  Between the two of them, they must own at least six bicycles and their home is filled with photos spanning a few decades of both coastal and cross-country excursions.

Still, she has time to make all things with yarn and he writes and publishes his poems simply for the fun of it.  Each possess their unique talents.

They both retired early and on the same day in 2014. Why? To be together.  It meant they have to live with a frugal consciousness and yet, every time I see them, I am convinced they are the happiest couple I know.  They’re coming up on 40 years together, loving each other to death.


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Life is what you make of it – a message to millennials by Todd Alan (an excerpt from his book, Life Mastery Keys)


I passionately believe life is what you make of it and it’s been that way for centuries.

There’s nothing new about the idea if you want to enjoy a great life it’s up to you to create it.

Now that you’re an adult – you’re in the driver’s seat of your life. If you wait for someone else to create a wonderful life for you – well, you’ll be waiting and yearning for a very long time, unfortunately.

Here’s “the secret” that was never revealed in the famous 2006 documentary of the same name.

Your thinking and mindset on the inside of you has a direct correlation to what you enjoy and accomplish or don’t accomplish on the outside.

This isn’t just referring to the size of your paycheck, although there’s nothing wrong with making a lot of money as long as you’re happy with how you do it and it enriches the lives of others, too. I’m referring to living an astonishing, epic life that takes your breath away in whatever way lights you up and makes your heart glow.

Your parents probably went to some awesome rock concerts in the seventies and eighties, smoked a few joints and thought they were wild and crazy before they settled down. Then somewhere along the way they got married (or not), had kids, landed a good job whether they liked it or not and set to the serious business of being an adult.

I encourage you and support you in connecting with the idea and fact there are many different ways to be an adult.

They don’t all include buying a house with three bedrooms, two baths, two kids and a dog. If you want that, great. I just want to give you permission to expand your thinking beyond the boundaries of what’s normal.

Be a grownup in a way that makes you excited – it really is possible if you want it.

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What does “Being Present” Mean? by Todd Alan (an excerpt from his book, Life Mastery Keys)


Not living in the present has been described as a person who stands looking to the left at the past with the right eye. At the same time they’re also looking right at the future with their left eye. Ultimately, they end up standing in the present moment, cross-eyed.

When you ponder on the past you live with regrets or concerns about what happened and you’re powerless to do anything about it. When you’re worried about the future you fret and worry over what hasn’t happened and you can’t do anything about that, either.

It’s not where you want to live, trust me.

So, choose to live in the present. Because your ego can’t survive when you live in the present moment. However, if you constantly living in the past or the future, the ego is always present, clouding your judgement with emotions and worry. Being present allows the ego to dissolve and go away. Living in the now is like doing an awake meditation. It comes from practice. You catch yourself and say, “Wow! I’m in the present moment right now.”

In his book “Peace in the Present Moment,” Eckhart Tolle, the guru of living in the now, says, “If you’re at peace you’re living in the present.”

Just before digging into this chapter I was driving. My mind was going in many different directions flashing back and forth to various times of my life from the past. It was so bizarre, as if I was reliving my past. Kiddingly I thought, maybe I’m getting close to death.

My thoughts were literally pinging with instances from my life reminding me of events that aren’t necessarily in alignment with how I live today. The experience was definitely rattling my cage and I could feel my emotions being impacted.

I thought maybe my mind is cleaning house, getting rid of extra junk that’s still hanging around. I hadn’t thought about most of those events in years. Some past experiences were vivid, banging around in my head over and over. They were brought to the surface and then I mentally did my best to toss them out.

Rather than going away, they lingered. I found myself wondering, why am I brooding over this stupid stuff from my past, years ago? In some of those flashes from my past they were of me as a boy, not even 12 years old.

It was strange to me that those events could still effect my emotions and bring me down as they popped up. The truth is I let them do it. I certainly wasn’t living in the present while I was mulling over these experiences, letting myself get caught up in negative feelings.

As I realized what I was doing, I stopped and said to myself “I’m okay right now.” Saying this reminded me to return to the present and to stop thinking about the past or worry about the future.

I did some research on the notion of being present and I discovered something drawn from the Bible called “The Jesus Attitudes.” It suggests we adopt a mindset or attitude of three emotions which have a lot to do with being present:

Nothing to hide.

Nothing to prove.

Nothing to lose.

By practicing these three attitudes you will grow accustomed to living in the present moment.

Why is being present important? It puts you in a mindset that’s open, joyful and keeps your eyes open and aware. Living in the present you’re more likely to have better memory and greater clarity. You comprehend more clearly. Being present is also a way to respect and validate others.

Many people spend little time listening. Instead they try to figure out what they’ll say in response as you talk to them, which removes them from the present moment. That’s the ego stepping in, trying to one up the person they’re supposed to be with in conversation.

Ego replies with, “This is what I think” and passes judgment. Contrast that to when you’re in the present moment. It’s difficult to be critical or disapproving because you’re actually listening. You’re less likely to judge because you’re not thinking about your past experiences or future worries. You’re listening to the other person in the now.

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Create Your Own Success by Todd Alan (an excerpt from his book, Life Mastery Keys)


Abundance isn’t all about material things. It’s about possessing an attitude of:

  • Everything I want I can have.
  • Everything I want I can create.
  • Or, everything I want I can bring to me.

That’s how you create success. When you have that attitude and eliminate lack from
your mindset, abundance flows. It’s not about how much can you get. Instead, it’s a matter of how much good can you handle? It’s also about living in a high vibration state where you’re grateful for everything.

How do you make the flip from being a person who lives in irony or sarcasm and become grateful? It can feel silly at first.

Our current culture puts us out of tune with gratitude. It seems cool to be unhappy, constantly feeling you don’t have enough. Ever seen a picture of a smiling rock or hip-hop star? Even with gold chains, diamond grills and mansions they still look dissatisfied.

The “angry young man” image became popular when James Dean was a teen idol in the 1950’s. Does being happy means you’re uncool? Absolutely not.

You may have grown up thinking receiving kindness means you’re not independent and you’ve had enough with the “entitled generation.” Someone hands you money and self-pride takes over. You say, “That’s okay, I don’t need it.” You can’t do that and be open to abundance. Receive every gift big or small given with a kind heart because it makes the giver feel good, you feel good and the energy builds.

Some people make it up the ladder so quickly their nervous system can’t handle the rushing torrent of abundance because they struggled in low energy vibration in the past.

I’m thinking about professional athletes, Hollywood stars and lottery winners. They burn through millions of dollars or, resort to drugs, alcohol and occasionally death. I’m thinking of singer Amy Winehouse and actor, Heath Ledger.

If you want to adopt a positive attitude and you’re wondering why its challenging, look at who you hang out with. Surround yourself with the nattering nabobs of negativity and it’s hard to be upbeat. If those people are your co-workers or family, find a way to brace yourself when you see them. Don’t let the turkeys get you down until you can surround yourself with positive people. If it’s your family, look for ways to minimize contact.

That doesn’t mean dis-own your family. It means be busy, happy and spend less time together. Negative people impact us and we begin vibrating at their low level.

By the way, if you want to bring more money into your life look at the income of the top five people you hang around with and their income will be about equal to your own. For some readers that could be another reason to look for new friends.

Are you a good friend to yourself?

  • Would friends see you as a bully if you talked to them like you talk to yourself?
  • Do you ever give nice things to yourself as a reward?
  • Do you speak kind, encouraging words to yourself?

You probably wouldn’t have those friends anymore if you said the same hurtful things to them you say to yourself. You might say, “Well it’s the truth” or, “I’m just keepin’ it real.”

When’s the last time you said positive or hopeful words to yourself?

If you look out on the horizon and want wonderful things for yourself, tell yourself you’re willing to believe. Believe this stuff until you prove it to yourself it works.

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Have The Courage to Communicate by Coach Debby


Sometime we find ourselves in situations where we are feeling tongue-tied, scared, or alone.

We know it is important to speak up, but we forget how to do it. We forget that speaking clearly is linked to knowing what we want and sharing that message with another person.

Children are born with a natural ability to communicate. They lift their cup to show mom they want more juice and they snuggle their stuffed animal while smiling and showing pure glee. We know what children are saying, at least most of the time.

Then we grow, experience challenges, and we become more complicated.

At some point, adults must be articulate enough to communicate their needs with the important people: their boss, their spouse, their aging parents.

But the reason we must articulate our needs and communicate openly isn’t linked with our success – anyone can survive by going it alone. Albeit, it is not the easier or most fun path, but it is a path.

Most of us desire relationship. We want to be connected. We want to experience the joy of knowing someone else, working together very well, and making plans together.

So, regardless of our situation, we must have the courage to communicate.

I once worked for a woman who had a little start up company – I thought it would be fun to have a female boss – but I quickly learned that she was not much of a communicator.

She would tell all the members on the team when we performed badly or how we must speed things up, but she was virtually incapable of sharing her vision for the company, her dreams, the goals she was setting for the team.

She was not open with us. She was merely correcting us. Eventually, the company closed its doors.

Without the courage to communicate, our relationships become extinct. They have no life. They have no support. They die.

Someone has to take the first step. Someone must be on the high road and say, “I have a vision, here, and it goes like this….”, or “I am aware that we need to make some changes and I am here to share my ideas and hear yours,” or “It is clear to me that you have some unmet desires and I would love to learn about them. Will you share them with me?”

Remember, courage is not something to try out once everything is going well. We act with courage when we are in a state of fear, busyness, or transition. Taking action while we are scared is the essence of courage. We do one thing – one foot in front of the other. We share openly, thoughtfully, honestly.

No doubt, communicating is a courageous act. Yet communicating is our birthright. It links us to those we love, the jobs we love, the life we love. We cannot let the life we are creating be void of relationships and meaning simply because we failed to speak.

Survival is a quiet, lonely journey. Add a little communication, take a little risk, and the path expands. The fog lifts. The heart opens. Two are joined. Life is possible.

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Seeing Spirit in Others


By Todd Alan – and excerpt from his new book, Life Mastery Keys.


The word “Namaste” spoken in the Hindi language across India and the world by Indian people is a common greeting that means, “The spirit or light within me recognizes and honors the spirit or light in you.” You recognize and acknowledge the light that shines from others and the power of the light that shines from you as well.

Many times I’ve heard the question, “How do you see the good in other people when there’s so much bad in the world?”

My answer is if you love and appreciate Spirit first, then it starts becoming easier to love and appreciate other people. Besides you can’t have the good without the bad. They’re merely bookends on the same shelf.

When you start seeing the good in others it’s also much easier to begin seeing the good, loving, compassionate, kind, funny, creative, intelligent aspects of you. Many people find their ability to accept and appreciate the differences in people grows as they
let Spirit in their lives.

It’s a positive, upward spiral that allows the conditions of your life and your thoughts about your life grow better.

As a constant reminder of their positive and negative thoughts many people will put a rubber band around one wrist in the morning. When they recognize a negative thought popping up they’ll switch the rubber band to the other wrist.

The idea is to gradually keep the rubber band on the same wrist all day long. Make a commitment to your own spiritual and personal growth to better yourself. It will keep you in the groove and over time begin transforming your life.

Whether it’s part of an organized religion or you do your own thing it’ll be easier for you to recognize Spirit in other people and see them for who they are without judgment.

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Discovering Your Life Purpose by Todd Alan


What’s a good way to discover your purpose as a Millennial?

Start by visualizing. Determine what you want to create five years from now. Write a detailed scenario of your life five years from today. Write down your vision in the first person, which means using “I statements.”

Stephen Covey, author of “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” said, “Start with the end in mind.” Write as if you’re the leading actor in the play which is your life. Do it in full sensory detail and describe:

  • What do you see?
  • What do you feel?
  • What do you smell?
  • What do you taste?
  • What do you hear?

Create your vision and give it serious thought. Napoleon Hill, the author of the classic book “Think and Grow Rich” calls the Vision Statement “A Statement of Desire.”

Once you’re happy with your Vision Statement read through it daily with energy and enthusiasm. As you put energy and momentum into it, you bring it closer to you.

Vision boards can be a handy tool. Honing in on what your life looks like is helpful. Create a collage using pictures from magazines or print stock photos from online. Or create a screen shot and use your vision board as a screen saver. Others enjoy doing it offline with scissors and glue. Use words and phrases on your vision board, too. Include as much detail as you can, but don’t obsess over it. Create a clear picture and release it like sending a prayer up to Spirit to work on it and manifest it. It’s powerful stuff.

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Caves of Resentment by Coach Debby



March 15, 2016 – My little brother was cute, endearing, and kind.  He was also a little tattletale.  He’d tell on me for common pre-teen lying, especially when it came to boys who might stop by after school.

This was during the flirting years when I kept my hands to myself and giggled a lot.  Still, the tattling would lead to blaming and screaming matches when dad came home.

I would storm off, pout, and isolate.  My bedroom was my tweenie-bopper cave that kept me safe from thinking about or owning my part.

I mean, why should I own any of it?  I was just a kid!  I was still a toddler when it came to the whole concept of honesty.  I was 12!

Yet I was completely unaware that my behavior was harming others.

I was not only unavailable to my brother’s needs after school, but I was also disrespecting my dad’s house rules.  My path was laced with arrogance and righteous behavior mostly because I saw everything as unfair and stupid.

Today, I do not fault myself for this phase.  Yet this anger I experienced had to be reckoned with as an adult.  I only saw bits of my part, or as they say in 12-steps, “my side of the street” as a kid and it all seemed so inferior to the control parents had.

Part of maturity was facing that I am responsible for my actions and I am not responsible for a fair or unfair world.

It’s no easy feet to grow up and deal with angry feelings. I think all age groups stumble over thoughts of injustice.  We have to recognize that our angry feelings are present for a reason.  They help us speak up and take right action for ourselves.

If we fail to claim right action, we get to stay babies, play small, isolate, and build caves for our resentments.

I came to understand that maturity is actually a choice.  Kids need time to explore their feelings and observe how the world works.  They often need systems of protection.  It’s not that kids are blocked – they are just enduring the emotional growing pains.

Not so true, however, for the adult who clings to anger and righteous thinking by avoiding the choice to sweep up their side of the street.

Today I see my anger as a warning.  I am aware that it surfaces to remind me to be an adult.   It’s like a snarky angel who whispers in my ear and says, “It’s time to communicate your needs or desires.”

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