Romance doesn’t always have a storybook ending, even when you are a Princess.

Here at Gutsy Gals Inspire Me, we were recently reflecting on the grace, courtesy and sense of humor shown by three Gusty Princesses who each discovered, to her dismay, that her “Prince Charming” was actually a “Prince Royal Pain”.

Princess Diana of Wales, Sarah Ferguson the Duchess of York, and Princess Stefanie of Monaco were each recipients of one of our first Gutsy Gals products, “Survival Tactics to Unbreak Your Heart” (which included the guide, "One Hundred Places to Meet Your New Prince").

Survival Tactics was meant to put a humorous spin on the challenges of romantic break-up—and offer practical tips for getting your life back on track. We can only imagine how excruciating these times must be for those whose personal lives are smack in the public eye; and we admire the courtesy and grace of these three Princesses who responded with humor and with thanks to our gift.

Survival Tactics as featured in InStyle magazine:



Letter from Sarah Ferguson ("Fergie"), Duchess of York:

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Letter from Princess Stephanie of Monaco:

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WOW!! Women are really starting to help each other in business. I just got back from an incredible conference of women looking to do business with women and they mean it! Talk about a room full of “Gutsy Gals” they were powerful, they were stimulating, they were ready to do business with one another and they were all having fun. Bravo!

Friend Cindy Chase co-chair of the Business Development Conference for Women Entrepreneurs Go for the Greens invited me to attend this conference! Greens standing for Green $, Green Environment and Green Golf! The conference theme was Innovation, Collaboration and Celebration. Perfect – well except for the Golf part. I don’t know how to play golf so I’ll just skip that part.

As a new resident to the Florida area I was anxious to meet other entrepreneurial women. The conference was taking place at the Walt Disney Boardwalk Orlando Florida. Seemed like a work/vacation to me so I signed up.

And then I got a call that struck fear in my heart!! “Hello Deborah Go for the Greens here, we have paired you up for Golf with Romaine Sequin, Teri Griege and Tsan Abrahamson” I didn’t sign up for golf I said “UPS is treating you” she said. Oh, are you sure it’s me I’ve never played golf unless miniature golf counts? “It’s you…. see you at the conference.” Well it’s for charity I said.

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I looked up my Teammates and here is what I found… Romaine is a President of UPS International (Big Brown), Teri had just written a book, Powered by Hope and Tsan, well she is the Founder of Cobalt Law Firm, and identified as a Super Lawyer.

The “gutsy gal” in me started to come unglued. Now I am fearless in certain areas but playing golf for at least 2 hours with these powerful most likely intimidating women… well I might as well be swinging from a trapeze without a net. Did I mention that these ladies are marathon runners, ironman participants and cyclists? Does taking my dog for a walk twice a day count toward my athletic ability? YIKES!! No, Double YIKES!! I was out of my league. What did I have in-common with them? Nothing!! Nothing!! I’ve been asked to play golf before but always turned it down. Thought it was only for men or didn’t have the time or who wants to spend four hours on a golf course anyway I always had work to do. Then my gutsy inner voice came out and asked me “Deborah how can you pass up an opportunity to meet and learn things from these successful accomplished ladies?”

I was going to the conference to meet innovative entrepreneurial women maybe collaborate with some but the golf thing I would need definite preparation. So I let myself panic for a moment then I set a plan.

 Girlfriends recommended local golf instructor, Brad Costa, of When I told him about the team I was playing with and that I’d never played golf before and the conference was a week away he chuckled. He agreed with me that I could just have a bunch of bloody marys and show up or I could take a golf lesson and give it a try. Three lessons later I could hit the ball, I new some golf course etiquette and I was having fun.

I arrived at the conference and it was amazing. I’d never seen so many Presidents, Founders and CEO’s of businesses. They were all looking to do business with each other and if you weren’t a match they would introduce you to someone who might be. This was a WOW conference! These women all wanted to succeed and they were helping each other! The two days of the conference flew by.

Saturday came quickly enough and it was show down time for me. I reminded myself that the Golf game was the charity part of the conference so if I embarrassed myself it would at least be for a good cause Breast Cancer. I put on my golf clothes (PINK) and went to the Disney golf course the happiest place in the world unless you are about to make a fool of yourself. I put on my Gutsy face and met my teammates who were all in incredibly good shape and yep extremely smart. And then magic happened. They didn’t care it was my first time, they didn’t care I didn’t know all the rules they wanted to bond and have fun. They shared their golf frustrations, challenges, and gave me tips and then we spent most of the time laughing.

You really get to know people by playing golf with them. As high-powered and in- shape as these women are I know we established a bond through that golf game. 2-4 hours on a golf course will you tell a lot about someone and these ladies are Gems. I suspect if we were in the same business we might even collaborate on something and I know if I needed help they would take my call. They left me with a good golf experience and I left looking forward to attending next years Go for The Greens conference. 18 holes ladies?

Thank you Romaine, thank you Tsan, thank you Teri and Thank you Go for the Greens conference.



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PS - my prior miniature golf games did come in handy. On the third hole we made a birdie with my putt J



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Mikki Baloy was working in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001. Following the tragic events of that day, she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. "I don't remember laughing for two years" she says. The recent suicide of Robin Williams led Mikki to contemplate, and write about, her own journey into and through depression -- and what has helped her brave these dark waters.

From what I’ve seen all over the internet lately, we’re all going to miss Robin Williams. Aside from the obvious shock and sadness, there are also expressions of dismay at his apparent suicide, and messages of outrage about the stigmatization of addiction and misunderstandings around depression and mental illness. I’ve even seen messages like “He must not have known how much we loved him.”

We can’t know what he was thinking or feeling in his last days, or even exactly what his diagnoses were.  We can surmise all we want in an attempt to make sense of this loss, but when all is said and done, all there is to do is accept it. This is how it is with every loss, with every puzzle of disorder and grief. At some point, we just have to accept that there are pieces missing, and that the picture is too big and complex to see all at once.

From the fall of 2001 until well into 2003, I was depressed. I’m not entirely sure about the nature of clinical versus incident-specific depression, since my training as a shamanic healer makes me see these things differently than mainstream allopathic and psychological perspectives, but I do know that I was diagnosed definitively at that time with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression, and was offered medication (that I didn’t take). Most of this pain was a direct result of being in Lower Manhattan on 9/11.  I don’t remember laughing at all for those two years. Things that I used to live for were suddenly burdensome, and I resented that I couldn’t enjoy them anymore. I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, such that I was incapable of making plans more than a day or two in advance— the future was too uncertain, you see, so why look forward to anything? I had no libido, no real appetite for anything. Life was dry and grey, such that I actually didn’t wear the color grey for years because being around that color was too much like looking in a mirror.  I drank a lot. I ruminated on dark things of every description, and prepared myself for fights and confrontations that I always expected would happen. I felt veiled, muffled, surrounded by dense fog that was exhausting to move through. And no matter how I tried to give myself pep talks, they always fell on deaf ears.

Mikki.jpeg This is the thing about depression: I knew I needed help. I knew I wasn’t feeling the way I wanted to. I worried about myself. I also had some shame about feeling so shitty when I “have everything” and “I’m really so lucky” and “what about having some gratitude and working on manifesting good things, Mik?” But pain isn’t relative: it’s just painful. It didn’t matter how I thought I should feel, or turning the frown upside down or whatever bullshit clichés people use when they have a bad day. Taking care of myself was a Sisyphean task that required huge amounts of energy and wherewithal, even when I tried to tell myself otherwise. And people would tell me they loved me, but I couldn’t ever really feel it. I didn’t think they were lying, but there was numbness where my heart should have been.

When I was prompted by a friend to see a therapist, I was surprised and relieved that she mentioned it.  I got my diagnosis and went home, and then never went back to that office again; I just accepted what seemed like fate ---which meant I wasn’t really ready for healing. A year later, while working for a 9/11 foundation, I met David Grand at a work-related function, and he invited me in for a session. It seemed unprofessional to refuse a colleague’s offer (though there was also some intuitive alignment here), so a week later we sat down in his Manhattan office, and suddenly my life was different. The fog lifted. The feeling started coming back into my heart. I noticed energy and will I’d forgotten I possessed.  That one-hour session began to unravel the cocoon I’d been in for two years.

Had my friend not listened and encouraged me to ask for help, I know for sure that I wouldn’t have had the initiative to see a therapist at all. Had I not been approached and invited by David, I would not have gone in for those sessions. I needed help, and I couldn’t help myself.

I will be forever grateful to David Grand (and later Christine Ranck), and his specialized approach that includes EMDR. He may have saved my life, for even though I wasn’t suicidal at the time, if the depression and anxiety had continued… who knows? I can’t imagine years of feeling the way I did, and my heart goes out to those who are journeying with long-term depression and are still hanging in there: Keep going, Loves! For me and countless others, EMDR is an incisive, quick, patient-led, and extremely effective modality that targets the root causes of PTSD and its attendant symptoms, like depression and panic attacks. I credit my experience and the resiliency I discovered with kick-starting my entire journey, leading me to shamanic training and to embracing my calling as a healer.


There have been smaller, shorter bouts of depression since 2003, but I have a toolbox to work with now. Shamanic healing has been a necessary part of my spiritual evolution as well as a brass-tacks way to navigate hard times. (And if you’re struggling today, please know you can call me for a session. I mean it.) It also focuses on the root causes of imbalance, and has the added function of bringing ceremony, ritual, and a sense of the sacred into the work of healing. Estrangement from Spirit, however you define that – nature, love, sweetness, God, higher self – is part and parcel with depression. Shamanic healing is an access road back to that feeling of connection.

 I also have several good friends who would pick me up physically and carry me to a ceremony if they knew I was depressed again. And that’s what it takes sometimes. If you’ve never experienced it, you may not know that depression can be wholly debilitating and scary, such that it’s hard to even change the channel on the TV, let alone make a healthy decision for yourself. If you saw someone you loved crawling on the floor, wouldn’t you offer them an arm to help them stand?  That’s what it might take to start healing through some of the layers of grief, anger, and trauma that get superimposed onto otherwise vital people. We need to take care of each other. 

Perhaps that’s one of the gifts of depression and other imbalances (for I do believe that every form of suffering contains a teaching): in that horrible, isolating pain, we learn we simply cannot live alone. We are equal in our need for each other, for healing, and for a sense of connection and hope. And each of us has some capacity to pray, to make the phone call, to check in on that friend who’s been struggling lately.

 So please, go do that.

Let’s also send a collective prayer out to Robin, wherever he is now, and to his loved ones. And to all of those who are pushing that boulder up the hill, may they receive the help they need. May there be grace and strength enough for all of us, to help each other and ourselves as we walk the road home.

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Mikki Baloy is a shamanic healer, ceremonialist, yoga teacher, and retreat facilitator with an active practice in Westchester County, NY. She is featured in two books about post-disaster resiliency, and keeps a blog at

-- Christina Holbrook, for Gutsy Gals

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Ever since I heard Brene Brown's TedTalk in 2012 on "The Power of Vulnerability" I have been a huge fan of hers, and of the notion that it is the ability to unstrap the armor, to open our hearts and be vulnerable, that is the sign of true courage as well as a life fully lived. Recently I came across a new talk she gave to a group of creative professionals on why it is not your critics who count. In it she refers to a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt that is also a favorite of mine: 


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, thegreat devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly...."

Brown goes on to comment on this speech by saying to her audience: "It is not about winning, it is not about losing. It is about showing up and being seen. And if you are going to show up and be seen the only guarantee is that you will get your ass kicked. But if courage is a value we hold, this is a consequence." 

The only way to live to our fullest capacity is to dare greatly at doing what matters most to us, despite the fact that sometimes we will fail -- and despite the voices of our critics.

Whose opinions should we really care about? Brown says: "Here's what I came to believe: If you are not in the arena also getting your ass kicked I am not interested in your feedback. If you are in the cheap seats not putting yourself on the line and just talking about how I could do it better – I am in no way interested in your feedback".

Here's to daring greatly.

Brene Brown's 2012 TedTalk "The Power of Vulnerability"

Brene Brown's 2013 99U Talk "Why Your Critics Aren't the Ones Who Count"

-- Christina Holbrook, for Gutsy Gals


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