Planting Seeds and Watching Dreams Grow

The Garden is an occasional series featuring the steps fellow readers are taking to lovingly grow their dreams… one day at a time.

Photographer and Arts Lover Duane Gamble

I first met Duane Gamble two summers ago at the annual Work at What You Love seminar. That’s when I learned that this mechanical engineer with a passion for freelance photography was steadily working towards completing a book that he hoped to add to his current profit center.

Like many great small business ideas, Duane’s book was born from personal frustration. You see, Duane also runs a business called Creative Photo Products. Just as it sounds, Duane creates and sells a wide range of products featuring photographic images including note cards, tote bags, T-shirts, pillows, gift enclosures, framed prints, clocks, refrigerator magnets, and bookmarks. Finding suppliers, vendors and manufacturers often proved difficult as did figuring out how to buy supplies in large enough quantities to make his finished product profitable.

“I had to become my own detective,” says Duane. “After all those years of finding sources for raw materials and figuring out all of the manufacturing, product development and marketing, I became a knowledgeable expert in finding resources for creative people and self-employed people trying to market and promote their creative products.” Well, a year later Duane published his first book, The Visual Arts Resource Manual and it is chock full of helpful resources designed to save artists time and money. To learn more, go to

Animal Lover Nancy Frank

Talk about planting seeds and watching them grow! I kind of stumbled on Nancy Frank’s site after she posted a comment on a blog. That’s where I learned that in her life Nancy has been the Founding Director of two wildlife rehabilitation centers in southern Wisconsin, operated a dog training school in Milwaukee, and established Dog Days of Wisconsin Summer Camp for Dogs and Their People.

In addition to her current “job” operating Opportunity Llamas farm, Nancy recently another venture called Companion Paws The organization seeks to meet both the needs of independent seniors, who wish to continue to share their lives with animals, and of the animals they care for.

I know first hand how important animals are in an older person’s life. I lost both of my grandmothers in 2005. The grandmother I was closest to took care of my dog Cokie whenever I traveled out of town to speak. He essentially became her sixth grandchild. She and I talked every day by phone. Her first question was always, “How is Cokie?” Her second question was, “How are you?” There is no doubt in my mind that Cokie kept this 93 year old young.

After falling and breaking her hip, my other grandmother spent a little over a year in a nursing home. Cokie loved his frequent visits to the nursing home but not nearly as much as my grandmother and the other residents loved seeing him. This small dog brought such love, companionship, and comfort to both grandmothers. I hope you will consider making a small donation to this worthwhile cause. I know it will go a long way in helping Nancy to continue her heart work of bringing the joy of animal companionship to seniors.

Massage Therapist and Educator Stephanie Manriquez

Perhaps most gratifying is getting to watch a dream grow over the course of nearly a decade. For the last few years the Changing Course home page has featured the story of Stephanie Manriquez. Our first connection came in the form of a handwritten note included with her subscription to the original hardcopy version of this newsletter.

Stephanie was 50 at the time and thinking about quitting her job in Tacoma, Washington to move 300 miles to attend massage therapy school. She wanted to know, “Am I crazy?” I told her that if making a major work and career change is your dream, she’d be crazy not to go for it.

Well, Stephanie did go for it. A year later this single mother of six grown children wrote to say she’d put her belongings into storage and moved to Bend, Oregon – a place she’d left seven years before and “had missed ever since.” There she rented a room from an old family friend, got a part-time job at Starbuck’s because they offer full-time medical benefits to part-time employees, and became a full-time student in a licensed massage therapy program.

It was a huge transition, but Stephanie loved every minute of it. “Every day is wonderful and the feelings that come from being back home are beyond words. I love my new life and am looking forward to graduation this year. The mountains are snow-covered, the trees are so green and the sky is bluer in Bend. I can walk to work, to school and the store. What more could one ask for? It was scary and exciting all at once, but I took a leap of faith and have never regretted the move. Money isn’t everything and life is much too short to squander it.”

She went on offer this advice, “I notice the same theme in all your stories, the fears, the hopes and the relief once the move is made. If I could say one thing to help one person take the plunge, it would be that the benefits far outweigh the rest!”

I had lost track of Stephanie until five years later when she wrote to let me know she had indeed achieved her dream of becoming a licensed massage therapist… and then some. In that time she had earned her Associates degree in Applied Science in Massage Therapy, opened her second office practice, worked with a panel for the National Board of Massage Therapist and Bodywork, was teaching in the massage therapy program at Central Oregon Community College, and was working on a Bachelor’s degree from Eastern Oregon University. “Things have been GREAT for me” she said. Adding, “I made hard decisions and risky choices to start over almost 6 years ago. I have NEVER regretted my decision one moment!”

It was great to know that Stephanie had “made it.” But this very determined dreamer was not done yet. Nearly ten years after that first note to ask if I thought her dream was “crazy” I received still another update.

“Well,” says Stephanie, “life just keeps on getting better! I now own a small massage school Massage Now Learning Institute ( that works with people that need to license in Oregon to practice massage therapy… I have three more massage rooms in Sunriver, Oregon for a total of 6 rooms, and I have 12 Licensed Massage Therapists working with me. I am now close to 60 and life just keeps on getting better! Keep on doing what you do to encourage others to go for it!”

While Stephanie, Duane, and Nancy chose different paths, each of their journeys began the same way… with a single step. What small step can you take today to growing and nurturing your own dream of creating the life you really want?


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