Join the Speaking Circle

I often fancy myself as a healthy communicator of my feelings. I can hug people tightly. I can say, I love you, with no trouble. I’ve always been able to stand up for myself when even a tad pushed around. By now, I figure I know who I am and what I want, and I am authentically me on all levels. I write for goodness sakes – that alone means I can communicate, right?

Well, recently I found out the answer is more like, Maybe.

I met with a man named Eric Atwood to discuss his upcoming workshop on June 29 at P&D. And no matter how well I think I am at being my true Self, I learned that there is a lot I could learn from Eric.

Eric AtwoodHe uses a specific technique called the Speaking Circle®, where a group comes together for the purpose of learning to be more authentic. It’s a method to learn about who we are and to be able to share that person in every day life.

I asked Eric what someone taking this workshop would leave with and he mentioned the book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing; a book I have read. It’s about a hospice nurse who travels and spends time living with people on their death beds, who then tell her about what they wish they had done, but it was too late. Eric asked me, Do you remember the regrets of those patients in the book?

I answered, “The lady living for others, how she wished she would have had the courage to pursue her own likes and dislikes, rather than going with the flow with what others wanted her to be.”

Eric knew all of the regrets of the dying. Courage was a big theme of this book and a theme in Eric’s workshop. Eric says, his workshop is geared to allow people to be courageous in their life; to be more natural with other people and to have an authentic voice when expressing it.

Eric and I did a couple of exercises during our time together. I left, even from the short time together, feeling like I knew more about myself.

There are three guidelines for the workshop:

(1)     For the listeners – be available. Give the speaker positive regard.

(2)     For the speakers – be in “relational presence,” a term referring to eye contact.

(3)     Privacy and Confidentiality – nothing shared outside the Circle may leave the Circle. Everyone is safe.

It’s on June 29, 9:30 am – 5:30 pm.

To sign up, Pre-registration required, as space is limited. To register, contact Eric Atwood at 770.365.7447 or email

For more information, you can go to the P&D calendar.



Anna Stevens

Anna Stevens has been through a lot in life. The very fact that she is writing this book, Turn Your Dreams And Wants Into Achievable SMART Goals, to help others attain their dreams in life, seems like a miracle once you have read her personal story.

She wasn’t just a victim of domestic abuse by a spouse, she was abandoned by her dad and grew up with a mother who had Anna out of wedlock, which caused Anna’s grandmother to shun Anna’s mother. Not only that, if her mother was going to have a baby out of wedlock, she wanted a boy, not a girl. But Anna was a girl, and her mother’s solution was to dress her up as a boy and call her Anton instead of Anna.

I have to admit, Stevens’s story intrigued me from the first pages. How does a woman who has suffered so much adversity in Russia come to America only to be abused by her husband. How does a woman who speaks almost no English get delivered by a policeman to a domestic-abuse shelter then three and a half years later end up with her own consulting and coaching business, write a self-help book and receive her MBA from Georgia State’s Business School?

According to her book, Anna attained everything by using the method she describes in the book. She says, “SMART goals” was first coined in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran. What “SMART” stands for is: Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-bound.

I was given a copy of this book from Phoenix and Dragon to write this review. Stevens doesn’t just jump into her method of SMART. First, the reader is taken through a process of self discovery. Stevens also insists on a level of self awakening, in that one should have gratitude, the ability to be thankful for what already is, and be able to feel worthy of success.

Throughout the book are stories of people that have overcome great odds to be in a space of happiness in whatever life (or body) they have been given. And she gives personal stories from her own life – her struggles and how she was able to come out on the other side of the challenge a happy person, rather than bitter.

The plan itself is a worthy one. Something that really caught my eye was how she explains each part of the plan. For instance,

The “S” in SMART stands for “Specific.” Specific means answering the questions, What? Why? And How?

“The what is your head – it identifies WHAT it is that you need to accomplish.

The why is your soul – it specifies WHY you should accomplish it. It gives meaning to your goal, it outlines the purpose and the benefit of achieving the goal.

The how is your hands – it focuses on the tools and strategies needed for achieving your goal.”

She goes on to explain all of the letters in SMART in this way. And applies them to different time tables. She also has chapters discussing the benefits of this program to specific people – entrepreneurs, managers and parents.

She includes worksheet layouts for working on the different timetables and what is expected in each.

Overall, I like this book. I have heard of some of the methods of self discovery she used, but I like that she didn’t just use one, she gave many examples. And the SMART program asks us to be specific about our dreams and how we plan to attain them. I like that too. She gives suggestions about negative self talk and how to overcome it. Everything she suggests we do, she has some exercises to back it up. She doesn’t just say, “do this,” she actually tells how to do it.

In getting this book, be prepared to purchase a journal along with it. In fact, that might be my suggestion for Stevens’s next book – The SMART Goals Workbook. Anyone that goes through this book honestly could end up with a nice journal of self discovery, goals in life and exactly how they can be attained.

I would recommend the book to anyone needing direction, or someone that just wants to find out more about how they really think or what they believe. It’s worthy, but it does require effort on the reader’s part to get something from it. Without completing the exercises, it’s just Stevens’s story and how she is one driven, self secure, amazing person.