Why horses are perfect PTSD co-therapists……Join together in advocating for effective trauma therapy
with Michele Fisher

Michelle FisherMichele Fisher is a Univ. of Michigan educated ( early childhood development) and 16-year CASA volunteer advocating in court and in life for traumatized children in our foster care system. Ms. Fisher has made it her mission in life to connect changemakers with effective mental health offerings, to compromised populations. The impact of this groundbreaking work speaks to otherwise unattainable joy and functionality in the lives of traumatized Americans. The unconventional, yet proven effective, use of the horse as an active participant in the therapeutic process make this modality an unusual yet compelling area for exploration.

Read the Interview Transcript

Hugh Ballou: Hi, this is Hugh Ballou and Russell Dennis again for this edition of The Nonprofit Exchange. We have interviews with thought leaders every week. Russell, this is somebody you found today. How are you today, Russell?

Russell Dennis: Greetings, salutations from sunny Aurora, Colorado, not far from Boulder, where our guest is today. My friend Michele Fisher, who runs a nonprofit that supports people through equine therapy. She is unique in that she raises money for herself, and she funds other projects. We’re going to find out a lot about her secrets and how she is able to juggle both hats and wear both hats and what she looks for, and to talk about how equine therapy is helping veterans and children all over Colorado.

Hugh: Let’s jump into this. Michele, welcome to The Nonprofit Exchange. Tell people a little bit about yourself.

Michele Fisher: Thank you, Hugh. Thank you so much, Russ. I am a graduate of the University of Michigan, and my degree is in early childhood development. I am a teacher and have been a teacher and lover of education from the get-go. I decided at a very early age that I wanted to try to help children in a different way, not just through traditional education means by being a teacher. I became a CASA worker. It’s an acronym for Court Appointed Special Advocate. We are volunteers that are trained to work with foster children who have been abused and/or neglected. We help them in life. We actually become life coaches and advocates in court and in their family life for them. This showed me how there were many more opportunities to help not only one child at a time or one classroom at a time, but entire families and entire communities that were compromised or otherwise had survived some sort of trauma.

When I lived in Lake Tahoe, I became certified in what was then called the NAHRA program, the North American Handicapped Riders’ Association. Today, it’s called PATH. It’s a particular version or modality of equine therapy that primarily addresses the needs of humans on the autism spectrum and also people who have cerebral palsy.

As I married my two new loves, my equine therapy and my CASA work and education work with children, I realized that if there was enough money available for veterans that have PTSD and children who have been traumatized, we would be able to have a permanent impact upon the mental health in our society. As I became more and more involved in the mental health arena through my CASA work and also through the equine therapy work, I was struck and dumbfounded by how remarkably effective working with the horses was with people who were frankly quite emotionally ravaged and even physically ravaged in their lives.

This became almost an obsession with me to find out why this connection was so different from other forms of traditional modalities and therapies when we are trying to help victims of trauma of all sorts try to live normal lives. I say “normal” knowing there is nothing normal. Joy-filled lives, trying to live lives with fulfillment and with absence of emotional and mental pain.

I started to volunteer as a horse handler at various equine therapy barns around my area in Boulder, Longmont, Lafayette, Lewisville, Colorado. I learned there is an entire tribe of incredibly skilled, passionate, knowledgeable people who are doing this work, not only here in Colorado, which happens to be a hotbed of equine therapy, I’ve learned, but also all over the country and in eastern Europe as well. I started The Healing Hoof in order to raise money for people who couldn’t afford equine therapy in order to get the benefit of it.

In that, I’ve also learned how to find the vibe of my tribe, which I think is a really important learning for executive directors and other individuals involved in nonprofit work. Whether you are awarding grants, receiving grants, or doing some mix of both, or whether you are not even involved in the grant world, but maybe you are accepting donations or sponsorships, no matter what means you are using to generate energy and create a new life for your nonprofit, I think it’s incredibly important to make sure that you find the right people. That is what I mean by find the vibe of your tribe.

I’ll tell you a short story, an anecdote. I was a director of business development for a nonprofit in Lakewood for a while before I immersed myself fully into my own nonprofit. During that time, one of the very large mega oil producers in Weld County approached us and asked if they could partner with us in order to gain positive PR. Their philosophy was that because many folks in Colorado are opposed to fracking, and they work here and have to work with us—gee, did I just say something about my political opinions?—they have a hard time really getting community buy-in to what they’re doing. What they came to us for was to spend a lot of money in several communities on the I-25 corridor in the heart of Weld County, where the bulk of their operations exist, to build things like rec centers or community places where the community could come, and they would name it after themselves so that the community could see them as a more friendly player. At that company, we thought that was a great idea, and they were willing to pay us a great amount of money to do it.

Fast forward to now marketing this nonprofit. I am speaking to all thought leaders in the nonprofit sector. As a marketer and a business development person, my mind went to, Wow, how many veterans and kids could I help with their checkbook? Maybe I should approach them to become a sponsor. I did my research, and I looked at the websites, and I dug deeper and deeper into their fiscal plans and all of the information I could garner from each of seven or eight of the larger to mid-size operators. What I found was that they are not my tribe. The reason they’re not my tribe is because of who they really are intrinsically and the way that they choose to present themselves to the community. I’m not saying this is true for all of the operators, but these large ones I did research on. What I found was deception. What I found was that they promised to show certain things or reveal certain things they really didn’t. Even though I probably could’ve gone down that path and gotten significant sponsorship dollars for my foundation, I decided not to because in the end, the only real support that we will get for our individual passions and for our work that we’re doing is from the people who are authentically attached to it passionately and in their hearts and souls, not just as a job each day.

I tell that story because I think that as businesspeople and as responsible executive directors and volunteers and different kinds of people that work to make this world better on many different planes, sometimes we get lost in trying to raise money and making that the goal because it is paramount not only to our success but to our survival. Of course, we must keep our eye on that ball. But I ask for us today to open some space to consider being a little bit more selective and taking a long-term view in exchange for a shorter-term relationship that may end up working out for the short run, may get you some bad press or not. In the end, if it’s not really part of your vision and your mission and your heart, then I don’t believe it’s worth pursuing, even if it glitters a lot.

Hugh: Michele, how long have you been doing The Healing Hoof foundation?  

Michele: We started in 2013. We have really just begun to become vibrant and active. Life got in the way a little bit with me between then and now, which prevented me from really going full force into this. Now, I am able to do that. We’re having our first event this summer, August 11 in Longmont. We are going to have a really fun event with a very well-known a capella rock band called Face Vocal Band, which will be our headline entertainment there. We are looking to make a splash into the Denver market with lots of great grant funding and lots of opportunity for veterans and kids and people who need to address issues relative to their trauma.

Hugh: Russell, you’ve been carefully paying attention. I’m sure you have some questions for Michele.

Russell: We met fairly recently, and we have been working together to move things forward. The ability to build relationships that help you raise money and fund projects takes a bit of juggling. What I wanted to ask Michele is what are three things that you look for in collaborative partners, whether you are getting them to write you a check or you are writing them a check?

Michele: The first thing I look for is authenticity. Are they really who they purport to be? Are they really doing the work they say they’re doing? Are they passionate? Are they involved? Are they engaged? That is the most important thing: their dedication from inside to the work that they’re doing.

Then I look for their wherewithal. Are they emotionally balanced? Are they able to carry forward this work? Are they able to do the work they set out to do and accomplish their goals? Are they well balanced and able to be a leader?

The third thing would be for whom are they the sphere of influence? When I start to gather my tribe of those I want to help and those I would like to help me help them, I want to make sure that we have the same spirit of moving money. I’m dedicated to moving the money that I receive so that it can work. Whereas I appreciate people who make a lot of money and have a lot of resources. If they are not willing to move these resources and allow them to be a part of the commerce of healing and making our world better, then they are not a good partner for me. And they need to smile.

Russell: You don’t smile very much.

Michele: Not much.

Russell: With that said, looking for these things in the collaborative partners, there are things that you do that make you successful. What would you say are the three key ingredients to your success, both before and after you started this project and this journey?

Michele: #1, I am willing to say no. That is a difficult thing, especially for those of us in this world who have inherently large hearts and say yes too often around the table and then cry on the way home trying to figure out how to fulfill that promise. I think the ability to draw boundaries when it’s appropriate, to say no to the opportunities that are not good for everyone, and to recognize what is really a win-win for all of the people and animals involved.

For example, one of our strong tenements is to fund barns and equine therapists who take excellent care of their horses, who don’t overuse the land, who try to use organic products and not a lot of chemicals. It’s not just the mental health of the child or the adult that we’re concerned about. We want to make sure that our horses are happy and healthy. They are co-therapists. They are important to us. They are sentient beings who we respect a great deal. That is part of what is very important to us, too. That does set us apart. There are some people who will do some equine therapy. Just come and pet my horse. Get on my horse and ride. There is a certain kind of therapy or equine experience associated with that, but we are pretty picky about who we fund. We fund therapists that are licensed and have experience. Depending on what you come to us with, what your maladies are, whether they’re physical, emotional, mental, or some combination will depend on which barns we might recommend for you or what type of equine therapy we suggest might be the most impactful for your particular issues you’re dealing with or way of life or concerns or experiences. Everything is individual.

Russell: That is one of the hallmarks of effective collaboration when people come to you. Having that network of people and being willing to share the wealth so to speak. I know people who do certain types of therapies for certain types of people. We’re well aware of both strategy and collaboration here at SynerVision.

One of the things that Beth Cantor, who is an expert at nonprofit social media, she wrote a book called The Healthy, Happy Nonprofit. She talks about the importance of taking care of yourself, which you emphasized here. How important is it for nonprofit leaders to take care of themselves in order to be effective at actually serving others? What would you say are the three most important things a nonprofit leader could do to take care of themselves so they are effective at helping other people?

Michele: Russ, it’s not only important, it’s critical. One cannot be effective if they are not well cared for. There is a reason that the flight attendants tell us to put the oxygen masks on ourselves first. If we are not fully present, and our cup isn’t full, then we are not able to give to others fully, authentically, and give everything they truly need.

I believe in two-hour massages. Not one-hour massages. After one hour, I’m just getting relaxed, and the Jello is just setting. Two-hour massages. Yes, it will cost a little more money, but it will go a lot further. Massages.

Happiness. To do what really brings you joy, whether it’s dancing or singing or drinking a cup of coffee at six o’clock in the morning and watching the sun rise or climbing up on my horses at midnight when I can’t sleep or breathing or yoga or taking a walk or a bath or having a good argument or discussion or reading a book or knitting or sports. Whatever it is. Find out, like my good friend Cody Qualls from Face Vocal Band says, “What’s your jam?” Get your jam on. Your jam. I think that’s a really important thing to know about ourselves, and to give us permission to indulge in.

If you have children, if you are involved in your work or extracurricular activities, or taking care of parents, we all need to fill ourselves up. There are some schools of thought that will have us believe that is a selfish act, or that it is not giving to take care of yourself first. We all have to negotiate that particular conversation and value amongst ourselves and the people we engage with. But there is nothing wrong with meeting your own needs. Eating healthy, great food. I have had people say to me, “I can’t afford to eat organic,” and they have the latest version of the newest iPhone. It depends on what you value. If you value your longevity, if you value what you have to give, you will be able to give it for a long time and to give much more quality in terms of your knowledge, wisdom, offering, service, or products if you take care of yourself. That is one thing. Get massages.

Engage with people. Find your own personal tribe. Laugh with people. Cry with people. Engage. For me, this might not be for everyone, engage with animals. That to me is a big part of my own personal well-being. I know it’s not for everybody. But if you are a meow or a bark or a neigh, go do your neigh neigh. Find your neigh neigh. It might not be a horse.

Russell: I can’t be of service to others unless I’m at my best. You are by trade a teacher from the University of Michigan. As a lifelong fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes, I never thought in a thousand years I would meet a Michigan Wolverine I like as much as I like you. We just connected and clicked on so many levels.

You started your career. You have been working very closely for a long time with children. You chose to serve children. As a Court Appointed Special Advocate in three counties, you still are serving children at a high level. Talk a little bit about the therapy work that you’ve done with children and why horses are perfect for helping children through any challenges they have.

Michele: Why children? Because children are our future. Children are our hope. Children represent the continuity of our very being and species. They are so magically delightful that when they honor me by allowing me to pick them up or care for them or laugh with them, it just touches my heart deeply. I find them to be so varied and open. They teach me so much. I learn so much from kids that adults are just kind of a little bit jaded or dead sometimes. It keeps me alive. It keeps me willing to be a little different and think of things in a different way.

It also allows me to see the world literally from a different point of view. When you look at the world from a three-year-old’s view, and you are looking at mostly table legs or humans’ knees, it’s a very different way of looking at the world, and it gives me compassion for needing to work harder to look into people’s eyes and to be able to meet them on a deep level. Children allow me to do that and foster that for me. I think they bring life and honesty and joyfulness to most situations. That is what draws me to children. It makes me feel so great when I am still in touch with an 18-year-old child who I got as a CASA child when she was 18 months old out of a horrific situation, and today she is a pediatrician.

Russell: That sense of possibility is impossible among children. They’re small. Talk a little bit about how being a Court Appointed Special Advocate played into you starting your own foundation. What we are talking about with PTSD is trauma at the highest level.

Michele: So when I first became a CASA member, a lot of people would respond to the news by saying, “Oh my God, how could you do that work? I could never do that work. I love children so much, and I’m so sensitive to them.” I’m here to tell you that I can do the work because I love children so much. It hurts me to see what people do to children. Every single time, it breaks my heart. Even after 18 years—she’s not a pediatrician yet, she’s in school—after 18 years, I still cry. I still feel very deeply, but never in court, never in front of them. It gives me power, it empowers me because if a child can stand up and put one foot in front of the other after what they’ve experienced with so little resources and so little support, then who am I, this privileged white woman, to say that I can’t go out and raise money and help people and do what I know I can do? I find that strength in those cases. I find my wherewithal. I find that I can take on a tougher family. I can take on a gang member. I can work with these people. I’m not afraid anymore.

What they have taught me is how to grit my teeth and get what I want. It was a message that my father taught me that they are reinforcing that has been valuable. Even when it looks like there is nothing, I don’t know if you know who David Pelzer is. A Boy Named It was the book he wrote; he was the spokesperson for CASA, as are Dr. Phil and his wife, Robin. But what they show us is how the human spirit knows no bounds and that if we will just reach out a little bit and give just a finger up, a hand up, an arm up, whatever we can afford to spread around, what blooms is so much greater than the small seed that we once planted. Now many of these children are leading productive, contributatory lives in society. I’m not going to say it; it would not be deserving to say just because of me. But I did play a role in their self-confidence, in bringing them hope, that there is an adult who will listen, and in learning to use resources. That keeps my engine going. There are plenty more children and people who are suffering that I can help through using my education, experience, mind, resources, and wherewithal to bring awareness to what they need. There are people who will help. We just have to ask the right people.

Russell: This work is taking place with small children, with teenagers. Some have been in gangs, but they have experienced all of this trauma. City kids. Connectedness is important as far as reaching children. I’m sure a lot of our nonprofit leaders who watch here work with youth and children. Equine therapy is a unique, out-of-the-box, fairly new way of approaching working with these kids. Horses are very large animals.  

Michele: Most of them.

Russell: The sight of a horse, even for an adult, you look up and see this huge animal, they have experienced all of this trauma, and there is probably some fear going on around that. How do you ease the children and these young people you work with- Same thing could be with veterans that you work with. When people have experienced this trauma, there is a fear factor going on. How do you bridge that and let these folks know you’re safe here so that they can ease into actually building the relationship with the animal?

Michele: Great question. I use the principles of an author by the name of Gavin de Becker. He protects one of the presidents. I don’t know if it’s the current president or Obama. He is also an author. He wrote the book The Gift of Fear. The principle is that fear is useful. Fear exists in us for a reason. It is to be paid attention to, not to be overridden, ignored, or otherwise bulldozed through.

Your question is so wonderful. Why horses? How do we mitigate fear? Horses help us to mitigate fear. Not only by virtue of their size and maybe other people’s experiences or what people have heard about horses, they not only induce fear, but they also help us to bring our fears out and put them on the table. For example, no matter who the herd of horses that I pick, if I bring a client that has a boundaries problem, one of those horses is going to get up into her face and make that client deal with her boundaries. They know. They just know that what you’re feeling inside.

Why fear? We use the fear as a therapeutic form to become aware of, to understand that these are feelings to name what that really is that you’re feeling, and to be able to talk about it and why. Where else in your life do you feel fear? How is this like other fearful situations? How is it different? There is a plethora of conversations that then ensue because we use trained therapists who not only take advantage of these situations, but they foster the discussion. They’re talented and skillful enough to recognize when a person is feeling fearful or trepidation, and move in and relieve it and talk about it, so that processing occurs. Once processing occurs, then healing can start to live there. You can plant a seed of healing.

Horses are remarkable beings. They are extremely intuitive. That old adage: horses know you’re afraid, so pretend you’re not. The first half is true, and the second half just doesn’t work. If you’re afraid, the horse knows you’re afraid, so you might as well just stand there and say, “I’m scared,” or “Hey, it’s okay, buddy.” If you walk in with a lot of bravado and pretend you know what’s going on and go into the horse’s space, he/she will let you know. They won’t hurt you. But they will somehow recognize who you are and find a way to let you know that’s not okay. As we get managed in our behavior by the herd, there are lots of opportunities for us to talk about our own personal herds. Who are our relationships? We let our clients watch the herd interact. There they are in their families. Every single one of them can find their mother, father, boyfriend, little brother, someone to bring up issues that are yet not dealt with and still wreaking havoc with their joy.

Horses do that. They have a very large nervous system. Just being around them will calm you. Some people just want to stand near them. Some people just take chairs and go in the stalls and breathe with them or listen to them eat. It’s very relaxing.

There is a whole gamut of why horses work for certain people. The theme is that they do. Not every horse wants to be a therapy horse by the way. You can’t just pull over by the side of the road, jump into a corral, and make yourself feel better. It may work. But not every horse wants to engage. Not every horse wants to engage with people who are triggered, or triggered easily, or on medication, or going through withdrawal, or having some of the human experiences that we do. Bu the ones that are are all there. Often, they’ve had professional lives being competitive horses, hunters, jumpers, Western, reining horses, English, equitation on the flat. Many of them were very successful. They don’t have anything to prove. Now they’re like we are. They are in the time of their life when they are settled and ready to give back.

Russell: Just looking out, there hasn’t been a lot of data collection on equine therapy and studies on how that helps people. You and I went to see some folks at the United Veterans’ Committee of Colorado. When you introduced yourself, people gravitated to you right away because the first words out of their mouths were, “This works.” Talk about some of what people who are exposed to this and who take on equine therapy, talk about some of the benefits and results you have been able to give people.

Michele: Sure, thank you. One of the things that really stands out in my mind is their ability to cope. They have a toolbox now that they didn’t have before. I’m not saying it’s the only toolbox they have. It is one that they will always have and one that works every time. Because of that, they are more grounded. They are happier. They are easier to get along with. The children represent less behavior problems in school. They get along with their parents, foster parents, stepsiblings, and siblings much better than they used to. They are able to be more proactive in their own lives. They found a way to not just blow up. They have found coping mechanisms. They found the ability to recognize when they are having trouble. The ability to recognize and having a toolbox are two things that can really change people’s lives. Those are the kinds of things that we impart into their world, into their ability, their resources to be able to go to.

Russell: One of the things, going back to our meeting with the veterans here in Colorado at UVC, that they spoke to, was the epidemic of veteran suicides. This has become a national issue. Although there has been a lot of awareness over the last four or five years certainly, the mental health profession has not really been able to make a significant dent in it. As a matter of fact, the first time I started hearing statistics seven or eight years ago, there were 18-20 veterans a day committing suicide. That is up to about 23 a day now. I know a lot of mental health resources have been put into that. A lot of people are doing work toward it. But we haven’t made a dent in it.

With equine therapy being new, people might say, “I’ve tried some other things.” What would you talk to them about as far as: Are you a candidate? Are you someone who would benefit from equine therapy? Who does equine therapy help? Who is predisposed to getting better results? How would you handle that type of conversation? What are some of the things you would say to those folks who may be on the fence about trying it?  

Michele: I would say jump over that fence and come on over. I don’t know if you know this, but I have a personal story with suicide. My husband committed suicide in 1999. My personal experience with it is part of what motivates me to really be involved with the veterans. The fact that I see it escalating and not decreasing is even more motivation to do it quickly and in a large way and to try and get involved from a legislative perspective and try to get equine therapy involved and try to get these men and women into groups that are where they belong and where the rubber meets the road in terms of what they’re dealing with and how we can help them to have less of it. I’m not saying we’re the panacea, but it is the best kind of therapy that I’ve ever been exposed to in terms of impact and the amount of joy that it allows people to feel in their lives for a longer period of time and in a deeper, meaningful, lasting way.

Yes, suicide prevention is something that is very much part of our work. We take it very seriously. We have some people in our network who are specialists. Not only are they veterans, but they are also equine specialists. We feel like we’re a really good resource for the veterans. We really want to make an impact and help to reduce that number down to nothing, or at least single digits, in the next year or two if we can.

Hugh: It’s an alarming number. I’ve seen it escalate. When we started out, I thought maybe she had a green screen image like me, but it kept moving. The horse that is grazing is right in the picture. This is from the ranch.

I’m wondering, you’re really articulate. You’re really focused. You’re passionate about what you’re doing. What do you do for self-care as a leader? It’s not a straight line developing an organization. You’ve been through some life trauma yourself. How do you keep yourself not only on the cutting edge of what you’re doing, but balanced—you’ve set some boundaries as you mentioned—and growing as a leader? How do you care for yourself?

Michele: I like to do workshops. I like to look for leaders who I admire and whom I would like to adopt some of their means of work. I go to different places and do workshops and educate myself. I further myself mentally and spiritually. I take time to expand, not only in terms of mental health and how we can help veterans and children, but also where I need to grow. I do therapy for myself. I invest in relationships and get a lot of feedback from people and take their advice. I actually ask people what areas need to be improved.

As far as leadership, I like to go away with people. I like to go on things that are kind of like retreats or weekends and just focus on, or even have a lunch or spend time with other thought leaders in a relaxing atmosphere to really just share ideas and not pursue the agenda so that we can expand ourselves and be more elastic instead of just doing our work every single day. That is expected of us. How can we get bigger? How can we have new ideas and see things in different ways? I like to be involved with people in all different kinds of ways.

Hugh: That’s a great answer. What do you think, Russell? That is a balanced approach to staying centered as a leader.

Russell: A podcaster James Altucher, whose books I’ve been reading, talks about that. He talks about improving 1% a day. I don’t remember where he got that, but he said improving 1% a day helps him to get better. One of the things he does is write down 10 ideas every day. He says it’s the ideas that move people. Ideas move things forward. He writes down ideas. Not all 10 of them may be good. But getting into the practice of doing that helps you expand, helps you grow and shift into who you are.

We’re big fans here at SynerVision of learning. We’re building toolkits all the time for people to come into the community and take advantage of. Leaders are readers. That might be a green screen, but Hugh reads a lot of books. He’s written some. Soon, we’re going to be talking about some of the books that are out there that we’ve read that some of our guests have written, and talk about some of the lessons we learned from them and some things we can apply to put to work for ourselves.

Along that line, talk to us about some things that you’ve written and read that have been helpful to you on your journey in making a difference in the lives of other people.

Michele: I think my go-to resource is the book by Dr. Charles Whitfield on boundaries. He might not even be with us anymore. He was in his 90s a while ago. It is a go-to place for me because no matter what walk of life you choose, and no matter what kind of people you surround yourself with, it’s important to be able to recognize what their boundaries are in order to maintain respectful relationships and boundaries that go deep and get intimate. It also talks from a psychological point of view why we need to be able to understand what our own personal boundaries are because it gives us room for our own mental health and our space to be able to stay emotionally fluid and healthy and available to be able to function and contribute as a human on the planet instead of taking away. I’m not saying people who are needy are taking away. I’m saying people who impose upon others and strip us of our dignity and our respective selves. That is one of the most important books I really like.

Another great book is by the daughter of either H or R Block. Her name escapes me right now. Prince Charming Isn’t Coming. It’s a lovely book. I see you’re chuckling. It’s true. By the way, Prince Charming isn’t coming. I love that book because it really reinforces that we are responsible for ourselves, and that we can take responsibility no matter what our learnings previously or understandings have been. We can move on at whatever age to know who we are and to take care of our own needs. I love that message in that book.

Another one would be Judith Durek, Circle of Stones. You could read this book in an hour. It’s a book about what your life would have been like if you had been offered all of the support from your tribe that you needed at every step of the way. If you were in the sweat lodge with all of your tribe members, and your elders were teaching you about how it is to be a man or a woman, instead of the kind of life that you led, what would that be like for you? It’s a wonderful springboard into what if. It allows us to fantasize about what we still could be. I really love that. She presents it in an easy-to-read, lightly anecdotal format.

I think those would be the three go-to places.

Another author I must talk about is Andrew Sam Newman. You must listen to his TED Talk. He writes children’s books. They are the best children’s books I’ve ever read. I majored in kiddie lit. I read a lot of children’s books. The reason they’re so good and so meaningful is because of the values that they impart and because of the way they set up reading time and the way they foster intimacy and create joy and love around reading. He writes just the greatest books. Whether you have children or not, you must familiarize yourself with him. He has a delightful soul.

Hugh: You have a little sparkle in your eye when you talk about that. Michele, as we wrap up this good interview, lots of useful information, we like for people to tell their own stories because it’s encouragement for those who are starting out or for those who are stuck. You can make a pathway if you are determined to do it, but if you have a strategy and a team around you and a clear way of talking about your vision and why you should support it. We will give you a chance to share a closing thought, tip, or challenge. We have great leaders, but they need help to get them to where they need to be with it. You get to have the last word. Russell closes us out and says sayonara at the end.

*Sponsor message from Wordsprint*

We close out this interview with you giving the last word to people. What thought do you want to leave people with?

Michele: There are two things I would like to ask. First, I would like to say thank you for all of the work that you’re doing. The two things I’d like to ask are these. Today. I’d like to ask you to do two things today. 1) Ask for something you have previously been afraid to ask for. 2) Spontaneously help someone.

I want to thank you so much for listening today. I want to let you know we appreciate all of the work you’re doing. Hope to see you August 11 in Lafayette. We’re at TheHealingHoof.org.

Russell: Thank you, Michele. This has been a really great interview. It’s a pleasure working with you. I’m looking forward to continuing and making that impact here on the front range with the wonderful program you have. A lot of people out there.




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