The Unstoppable — Not Even Death or Tornadoes Have Constrained Her — Ann Leach Named NABBW’s New Associate for Grief Relief

by Anne Holmes on July 29, 2014

Ann LeachA very joyful, delighted NABBW welcome to Ann Leach. Your first impression, on meeting Ann is that she is a bubbly, high energy woman, a woman of infinite cheer, resilience and spirit, or joie de vivre.

Glancing at her photo, you might guess that Ann might be an ambassador, an executive, perhaps a public spokesperson. And you would not necessarily be wrong. But it’s not likely you would guess that this high achiever, is a spokesperson — more precisely an ambassador and coach — for grief relief. She’s an expert on overcoming adversity.

And does she have the credentials! As her website explains, Ann has lived through the experience of losing, “all the men in my family by the time I was 21. And then all the women in my family by the time I was 31. Not to mention the deaths of my 2 cats, the ending of 2 significant relationships, the loss of a best friend to a location change and the demise of my home of 14 years to a tornado!

“But after a lifetime of loss something happened when my mother died and I, an only child, saw the spiritual and practical implications of moving into true adulthood without a significant supporter in my life. I had to find a way to cope because it was suddenly just me relying on me when handling all that life had to offer.”

At first, she explains, this meant she was solely in charge of her immediate need to close out her mother’s estate, including conversing with insurance companies, bankers and the social security office. Her estate executor duties then moved on to closing out condos and claiming a new location to live and work.

While these are major life changes, there was more: Even Ann’s work changed: As a result of this experience, she left an exciting position as publicist to the stars of stage and screen to launch a non profit organization dedicated to helping cancer survivors and their caregivers redefine the lives they wanted to live while managing a life-changing illness.

Asked about whether or not this time period was stressful, she says, “Through that time I learned more about truly living than I had ever thought possible and learned from my clients what’s really important in life.”

These days Ann lives in Joplin, Missouri, where she has made a business out of helping others learn to cope with — and even overcome — grief. Websites related to Ann’s work include Your Grief Relief Solution and Life Preservers Grief Support. We’re delighted that she has also found time to work with the NABBW as our new Associate for Grief Relief. Ann’s first columns on this topic will be posted early in August. Meanwhile, she took a bit of time away from business to answer our favorite NABBW blog questions.

Welcome Ann. With all the grief and suffering in the world, we need more people like you!

Using one paragraph, tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m living in Joplin, Missouri and love having access to area lakes and beautiful hiking trails.

I have my own business and get to work from my Creative Cottage, an historic home where I live downstairs and the second story apartment is rented for VIP days, personal retreats and to travelers driving Route 66.Leach Creative Cottage

I am supported by a loving circle of friends and enjoy swimming, jewelry making, writing and walking. I live with a great guy and we have been adopted by 3 feral cats.

Tell us about your family; married, divorced, children, grands, boomerangs or parents living with you, etc.

I am just ‘me’. My dad died when I was eight and my mom died when I was thirty-two and I was an only child. I am currently living with a man who is creative, loving and supportive. I knew in high school that I didn’t want children and I have to say that I have never regretted that decision. I so admire my friends who did, but it was just not meant to be my path.

What is your favorite childhood memory that is reminiscent of growing up in the 50s, 60s or 70s?

I have really fond memories of my mom taking me and my grandmother out to the Steak ‘n Shake drive-in. I loved being able to place our order for an Orange Freeze and 2 chocolate milkshakes at the original place in Normal, Illinois. Those drinks seemed huge to a small child like me at the time.

What qualities do you have that speak of our generation of women?

I’m certainly resilient. I’m resourceful and strong. And I still believe that kindness gets you where you want to go in life.

What inspires you?

Sunrises over the ocean. Color. The amazing power of the human body. People who have used the power of their minds to overcome unthinkable odds. Nature.

What brings you the most pleasure in midlife?

Just knowing all that we know now and being secure in my thinking and the choices that I make for my life.

Do you have any interesting hobbies?Anne Leach _graphic record

It’s not a hobby but I in addition to being a grief relief coach, I am also a graphic recorder. That’s’ someone who captures key concepts from speeches, conversations, etc. in a visual way using familiar icons with markers and paper. I actually create a visual map of my clients’ next steps. I love color and this is a powerful way to show people what they’ve said they want.

Do you have a favorite book or movie? If so, tell us why it’s your favorite.

I read a lot and enjoy so many books that I can’t name just one. I don’t see that many movies, but I loved the imagery and message of What Dreams May Come.

Do you travel and if so, who are your favorite travel partners and where do you like to go?

I frequently travel to Myrtle Beach for business. I’m always adding on days to stay at the beach for pleasure. I usually travel alone, but meet up with friends when I get to my destination.

Do you practice preventive medicine? Please elaborate.

I’m pretty fortunate that I don’t really get sick, but when I do I always use natural remedies. If it’s a cold or sore throat I will just sleep and sleep until the body heals itself. If it’s a stomach ache, I’ll sip on hot tea and use a heating pad. I’m grateful to be low maintenance in this way!

What do you stress about?

Relationship issues mostly. I’m such an independent person that sharing my space with someone can get touchy! I’m working on giving up stress though, especially after reading Marc David’s book, The Slow Down Diet: Eating for Pleasure, Energy, and Weight Loss If that doesn’t make a case for releasing stress, I don’t know what will do it!

Is it important for you to retain your youthful looks, and if so, to what degree are you willing to go?

I do my time in the gym and my hairdresser has a few tricks up her sleeve that I utilize every six weeks or so.

Have you re-invented yourself, and if so, how?

Leach productsThe beginning of my grief-focused work was all about helping people cope with death. But then the Joplin, Mo. tornado of 2011 came and I realized that my grief coping process is applicable for any kind of life-altering event: divorce, empty nest syndrome, job downsizing, planning for retirement and so forth. I was able to expand my work focus and help more people get back to living and truly loving life again.

Do you plan to retire?

I can’t imagine retiring as long as I am still mentally able to continue working. I have designed my life to assure that I have flexibility in my work schedule and can manage time well for work and pleasure. I can talk on the phone and write on my laptop from anywhere in the world, so I’m prepared to keep going!

Are you doing anything to GO Green?

I recycle regularly, garden and eat organically and clean without chemicals of any kind. I’m also using energy efficient appliances as much as possible. I want to do more and have just met an interesting woman who is spearheading a ‘green’ movement in our area that helps businesses build back after the tornado using ‘green’ best practices. I think I will learn a lot from her.

Can you pinpoint major turning points in your life that led to your life’s work/play at midlife?

Absolutely! My work as a grief relief coach came from the fact that by the time I was 21 every man in my life was dead and by the time I was 32, every woman in my life was dead. And I’m an only child! I’ve also lost beloved pets, a best friend to a location change, two serious romantic relationships and a house to a tornado. I know, this reads like a bad Movie of the Week, but the losses helped me transform my life in amazing ways and that’s what I help my clients do too.

Do you still have unfulfilled dreams, and are you doing anything to accomplish them?

I used to have the dream of owning a beach house, but these days I’ve learned that there are many ways to have one without the hassle of ownership and upkeep, so that dream has changed a bit.

I do dream of being at a lesser weight than I have been and I am doing something about it: working with a trainer, watching what I eat and doing the work on the psychology of eating that is getting to my core issues around body image. I am proud of myself for taking this on and know that its not too late.

How do you make a difference in the lives of others, your community, your world?

When I was growing up I heard my mom talking about being a room mother at my school and I realized that I was learning about volunteering. It’s important for me to give back and the Arts have been my passion. I’m also a big recycler and help out with education campaigns in my city.

Who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?

My spiritual mentor, Dr. Michael Beckwith. This man walks his talk and there is no doubt that when he speaks, he is simply allowing God to work through him. I am so inspired by his clear wisdom and his teaching of Truth that encourages me to just be the loving child of God that I am and to trust the process of life. Michael’s teachings have changed my life in very deep and profound ways.

If you were to have a personal mission statement, what would it be? Feel free to be as serious or fun as you choose.

Desire it, envision it, act on it and achieve it

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