¡Viva la cebra!

I have been auditing a Spanish class this quarter, not to receive a grade but simply to learn. It has been decades since I have studied the language. We have our final exam on Thursday. It is difficult to believe that the quarter is over.

Yesterday, our final project was to be delivered.  It had both a written and oral component. Orally, we were to deliver it from memory, not read it.

We were to tell a story of “Una Fiesta.” It was to be in third person, in past tense. and between two and four minutes in length, using vocabulary and concepts that we have learned these past 10 weeks.

At the last minute and with my professor’s permission, I decided to do it a little differently than what I might have first considered. I pushed myself to tell a true story. My story. So, I did not write it until Monday night, which made memorization of it more difficult, considering the words I would have to research and speak.

I began by passing out “Zebra Awareness” ribbons that I made the night before. It actually gave me some time to get comfortable. One might say it was a “stalling technique.” (There are some effective strategies that I have learned as a presenter over the years!) At the end of the speech, I passed out information sheets with symptoms, misdiagnoses, and websites for more information on Neuroendocrine Tumors (Carcinoid Cancer).

This was my first “speech” that I have delivered in Spanish. Though it was not long, and it may not have been completely understandable to the other first-year college Spanish students who had to suffer through my stumbles and less-than-perfect pronunciation,  I completed it, and I was able to plant the seed of awareness for eight more people.  That was as important to me as writing and speaking this message in Spanish.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Tres meses antes, la mujer de 56 años escuchó palabras que nadie debería escuchar.

“Lo siento, pero tienes el cáncer carcinoide neuroendocrino de la Etapa 4 en todo su sistema. No hay quimioterapia ni cura.”

El doctor continuó y dijo: “Tienes seis meses o un año.”

Nada la preparaba para esas palabras. Era surrealista. Se sentía afortunada de estar, pero tenía pocas esperanzas de vivir hasta el final del año con este raro cáncer, representado por una cinta de cebra.

Ella planeó su fiesta de cumpleaños final en agosto en su restaurante italiano preferido. Ella invitó a 200 personas. Por supuesto, no todos podían estar allí, pero 40 invitados celebraron a su amiga. Una amiga, a quien no había visto en 20 años, la sorprendió volando desde California para cenar con ella.

Todos los invitados comieron ensalada, pasta y pizza. Bebieron vino. Se rieron juntos y disfrutaron de la noche.

La mujer no murió en seis meses ni en un año. Ella no murió en dos años. Esa noche fue hace más de cuatro años y medio.

Yo soy esa mujer. Soy una cebra. Y estoy viviendo CON cáncer, no muriendo de él.

¡A la vida!  ¡Viva la cebra!

(To read the English translation, click here.)




I never quite know what to do with myself when I am feeling so restless.  I’m in that place right now.

Things are going (relatively) well, yet I seem to be…

Waiting for the ball to drop.

I know that this crazy-making hyper-vigilance to everything around me is not good for me or my health.  The more I read the more I am convinced that stress makes matters worse in the world of cancer.

Yet, I work more, take on more projects, spread myself thinner, and continue finding more things to do in order to not have time to “wait for the ball to drop,” as a way to distract me.  And it is difficult to control this brain (mind) of mine.

I do not like feeling that I am running out of time.

It is a feeling that is fueled out of desperation.  I know instinctively that this is fear that I occasionally allow to tell me some big lies.

I know that I am not alone in this feeling.  So many people share this same fear (and responsive behavior) when they are facing a variety of challenges in their lives.

Instead of taking on more, I find myself wanting to focus my energies.  I am particularly drawn to two ways to do it:

  1. Working with one-on-one clients (coaching) who are facing transitions in their lives–health, career, and life, and
  2. Speaking to audiences–inspirational speaking–about looking beyond what they see as their biggest obstacles so that they can live life.  I envision this happening at corporate-style events/yearly meetings.  I also see myself being interviewed in order to tell my story(ies).

I feel  that this year is a transition of major proportion for me.  I confuse that with the “ball drop.”  Admittedly, that is a habit that I was taught early on that I sometimes have trouble shedding.

I believe that I am not “done” yet.  There is more that is to come, though I am not sure the world is quite ready for me.

You have NOT heard the last of me!

* * * * * * * *


Coral Levang is a “Personal Change Agent & Life Coach” who offers:

  • Direct, straight-talking approach
  • Intuitive, collaborative style
  • One-on-one coaching
  • Group workshops
  • Inspirational speaking for events

For more information or to book for coaching or speaking:  Call (424) AGENT10 / (424) 243-6810 and leave a message.


Why I started writing online

I have had an online writing presence ever since I was encouraged by an acquaintance and fellow military veteran to sign up with Associated Content with a piece I wrote on Veterans’ Day nearly five years ago called “Thank You for Your Service: My Promise to All Veterans.”  Associated Content was bought out and is now called the Yahoo! Contributor Network and I’ve seen a lot of changes in the site.

I started writing online to give myself a “voice.”

Throughout my life, I’ve been accused of talking too much about things that should not be talked about and being too confrontational. Most saw this as “attitude” when it was actually my personality. Consequently, I took  a lot of criticism.

“You talk too much,” “You have diarrhea of the mouth,” “Why must you always have an argument?” and “Must you always ask ‘why?'” were comments and questions I’ve heard many times over the last 50+ years from people who simply wanted to change me.

Quiet me. Control me. Beat me verbally into submission.

I had rarely felt that others listened to what was beneath the words. I was careful not to question certain people, as “Why?” was not well-received in my family, in the military, nor in several of the companies for which I’ve worked.

But I could not help myself. It is part of who I am at the very core.

Curious. Challenging. Wanting to learn and understand.

It was not until much later in my life that I learned that most of the time the people who were most uncomfortable with me were people who were unsure of themselves.  They did not want to be challenged because they had no answers, nor were they comfortable with being able to “agree to disagree.”

What I also learned later in life is that I did not often speak my truth.  I was careful not to make others uncomfortable or to ask questions to make them think. I learned to “be quiet,” even though I was still quite loquacious.

I have similar stories from my younger days where writing is concerned, graded with high marks for spelling, grammar and the like; yet, I was marked down considerably for content that did not fit the “norm” or that was written in such a way to pose a challenge.

It was when I challenged myself and attended university in my mid-40s that I started to blossom.

Although I met some professors who did not share my beliefs and values and did not particularly care for my challenging nature and also tried to “quiet me,” I saw a marked change in my being free to share my opinions and my questioning.  There were equally as many professors who were quite adept at returning the volley in a way that energized me.

And volley they did!

I have found that the Internet is another place where there are people who are also capable of returning the volley!  I am able to share my thoughts, opinions and much more without as much fear of the criticism

Yes, I still receive a lot of criticism. But I have been able to say what I need to say with much more confidence.  Doing so in writing has allowed me to find my “voice,” able to talk about the things I think are important in a manner that is true to my personality. It has also helped me to develop similar skills in the way that I deliver the spoken word.

And I began to find others who think like I do. Not always in agreement with the content, but in concert with the right to say it. Friendship. Camaraderie. Like-mindedness. My cohorts.

My Tribe.

Now I am in the company of people from around the world who speak their minds.  Engage in conversation and philosophical debate. Who encourage me to do so.  Some like what I have to say and tell me. Others do not and also tell me.

I think this is a pretty good reason to continue to write online here on my blog and to find other avenues continue to speak what I think needs to be said.

From my head. From my heart.

Using my voice.

A message from the author:

To read my original “Thank You for Your Service,” if you do a search for the title and my name, it will take you directly to the article.  From that article, you can find many other things that I have written in the early years online.  Let me know by commenting at the content that you  have stopped by.

If you are unable to find it, let me know and I will send it to you.

F is for the F-Word

a-to-z-letters-f I learned how to use the F-word very early in life.

I’m not quite sure exactly sure who taught me the F-word.  Both of my parents were quite expert at using the four-letter word.  I think they both taught me well.  At least, the foundation was set.

Their friends and other family were also quite capable of it, though I seem to recall some were quieter about doing so.

I did not use the F-word too much growing up.  Well, not when I was around them (my parents) or other people. If I would have uttered it, I would have been in big trouble.

I had to be a good girl. I was not allowed to use such language in the company of others.  Use of the F-word “reflected poorly on the family.”

But in a low whisper, I defied them and continued to use it. They rarely noticed. They were too busy volleying their own obscenities, the F-word solidly finding its way into their language.

By the time I was 18-years-old, I was quite adept at spewing vile words, the F-word as a solid foundation of the other words that would come streaming out of my mouth.

Joining the military helped to perpetuate the use of such language.  No matter how hard I tried to curb using it…A-ha!  It would sneak its way into life’s conversations with others quite often.

If I’m honest with you (and myself), I have used the F-word a lot in my nearly 58 years.

Far too often to count. Far too much to have known how much damage it could do in my relationships with others.  Far too deeply to understand its effect on me.

I have had to make my apologies from time-to-time for using such language.

What I have found odd is that, most of the time, people do not seem to care that I use it. Or they pretend not to notice.

I have worked long and hard at ridding myself of use the F-word and I must admit that I am getting better at it, though I am caught off-guard at times.  Nowadays, I try not to speak it often.

But every once in a while , I start worrying about it. Then I start to think about what others will think of me.  And then my fear is that they won’t like me.  So, I shut down from speaking my truth.

OH, F#&K!!!

I just knew I couldn’t go for too long without using it!


The worst F-word that I have spoken in my life. Ugh!

Now it’s time to go wash out my mouth with soap…Damn those four-letter F-words!

Change: So Goes the Leader…

When I teach career transition workshops or coach people one-on-one, I encourage them to think beyond the obvious, try something new, go out on a limb, and declare what one wants.    I tell others that they may be surprised as to how successful they will be when they just ask for what they want.

What I don’t always do is take those same risks.  Yes I can also get into a rut and be content to stay with what I know, rather than reach for things that (I think) are beyond my grasp.

So, I’ve decided to test my theory.  I never have been been able to subscribe to the “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do” model of leadership.

So goes the leader, so goes the pack.

I am a speaker, trainer and  storyteller.  As such I openly share the stories of my life and experience-–as military veteran, cancer survivor, misfit employee  and  member of crazy family.

I use my stories to provide the message to others as a way to


To walk your own path, laugh at the absurdity of life, and live in harmony and joy with others.

On the go!
On the go!

I am also a Coach. 

I prefer “Personal Life Change Agent,” as I act as your personal catalyst for change.

I am told by many others that they appreciate my very direct, yet compassionate, approach.   I use a Socratic method of questioning to inspire and challenge clients to get past “stuck.”

I believe one must be willing to look  and  think BEYOND challenges in order to LIVE. Whether  discussing the challenges of career transitioning, personal life changes, health-related, or communication challenges, I will help to guide you to identify possibilities to create meaningful solutions.

Some say that I “kick butt” and encourage them to do the same.  With that comes a responsibility.


True leaders must be willing to step up to the plate and try new approaches.  To put themselves out there to make a difference in the world.

So, I’m trying something new with this post…I am asking for what I’d like.

Are YOU ready?

I want to talk with people who are ready to face a major challenge in their lives and are serious about getting out of a rut and starting to LIVE beyond that challenge.  If that is your vision, then leave me a message.  Let’s talk about how we can make that happen.

I also want to give something back to my community.  So, I would like to offer one local South Puget Sound organization  30-40 minutes of my time (speaking fee waived) as an inspirational speaker for your April training event or quarterly/annual meeting.  If you know of an organization who needs a speaker, please leave a message here with contact information or call to leave a message at:  (424) AGENT10 (424-243-6810).   I will contact each organization to discuss the needs and details and will choose randomly (on April 1st, 2013) for one organization to receive this waiver.

Or if you know others who could benefit from style of coaching, or need someone as a speaker, please feel free to share this post or reblog this post. Thank you, in advance.

Change is never easy. 

I know how uncomfortable it can be to do things differently.  To think differently.  To take a risk.
And then I say to myself, “You are a leader, Coral.  Teach by example. Do it anyway.”

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer is ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” ~Steve Jobs