TLA Right Livelihood Professional Training

From Your Callings and Passions to Your Work and Community

"There is no passion to be found playing small—in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." ~Nelson Mandela

June 27 - Sept. 22, 2019 with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg & Laura Packer and guest teachers, such as Harriet Lerner, Gregg Levoy, Patti Digh, Jennifer Cross, Rob Peck, Jose Faus, Donna Washington & Kelley Hunt.

Your work in Transformative Language Arts (and related healing and social change arts) can bring you greater fulfillment and enable you to help others find and amplify the voices and visions so needed to address the challenges facing our communities, culture, and planet. 

Guided by Right Livelihood -- the Buddhist term for doing work that serves your calling and community -- and working with experienced teachers, and participants as committed as you are, you’ll unearth and develop best practices for meaningful and ethical work and service in this visionary training. Whether you're just starting out, making a mid-career transition or revisioning your life's work after retirement, this training guides you toward what constellation of vocation works best for you and your community now and when the path meanders. 

This 100-hour training begins with a long weekend workshop June 27-30 at Unity Village in Kansas City, MO., and continues July until September with online study and community support, weekly video conferences with entrepreneurs and leaders in the field, weekly group check-ins and discussions, and individual consultations with Laura and Caryn. The training culminates in a final session at the fall Power of Words conference (date and location tba, and you may attend by video-conference if needed), where you'll be presented with a certificate. Participants also receive special discounts on follow-up work and a toolkit of resources for planning, marketing, further training, and next steps. 

Read an interview with Laura Packer and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg from Chrysalis: A Journal of Transformative Language Arts.

Make your own path.

Is This Training For You?

This training is for writers, storytellers, activists, facilitators, organizers, educators, musicians, artists, health professionals, community leaders, seekers, and others who deeply engage with the power of words for changing our world.

We find the mix people spanning many decades -- from their 20s to their 70s -- makes for a very rich cohort group pooling their wisdom, passions, discoveries, and resources. Because this is an individualized program, you engage with the tools, prompts, resources, and discussions that speak to your path at this moment. Throughout the training, you will find ample guidance, inspiration, and your own best way forward, whether you are just starting out, changing careers (including how to work with the day job while the dream job evolves), retooling your current work, or discovering what's next after retiring from other work. 

Our 2018 RLPT class included a long-time writer transitioning from college teaching to community facilitation, a retired spiritual director ready to immerse herself in poetry, a high school English teacher infusing his teaching with more TLA while developing his storytelling career, and a writer, workshop facilitator, and college student finishing her study in nonprofit management. Participants spanned over 50 years in age, and came together from throughout the country.

Listen to Laura and Caryn about the training here, or watch a video here.


Our Meeting Space at Unity Village
Please note that not all topics speak to all participants who take the training, and you always have flexibility to focus on the work, art, and service that calls you. Photo is of our meeting space at Unity Village.
  • Your Callings for Right Livelihood: Explore and amplify your callings to find and develop your most authentic work.

  • The Big Picture: Explore how to help yourself and your communities challenge and transform the stories we live.

  • Ethics and Values Inherent to Your Work: Guide yourself and your work by the light of your most sacred and intrinsic beliefs and concerns.

  • Your Sustainable and Strategic Plan: Map, dream, write, and revise a short-term and long-term plan for work, art, and/or service following a step-by-step process to grow your work in concert with your community.

  • Resilience, Self-Care, and Community On the Journey: Discover more about how to become more resilient, hone your self-care practices, and find and keep community that supports you in your work. 

  • Revise Your Work Story: Untangle myths and misconceptions, including imposter syndrome, entitlement issues, and the myth of the starving artist, then craft a new story.

  • Connecting with Community Groups, Businesses and Institutions: Learn how to make and follow up on pitching your work effectively and to build nurturing connections.

  • Talking About Your Work: Increase your confidence when you write or talk about your work through developing elevator pitches and talking points for various audiences.

  • Ethical and Soulful Marketing and Authentic Branding: Craft a marketing plan that reflects your values and goals; develop your brand true to you and your work.

  • Funding and Revenue Streams: Explore multiple streams of revenue for your work --  grant-writing, fiscal sponsorship, contracting with groups and businesses -- to grow your work over time.

  • Integrative Finances: Set appropriate rates, maintain basic record-keeping and tax filings, and address any issues about money and worth.

  • Transitioning When You’re Ready: Advance the work of your heart in balance with income, current work, family and community responsibilities.

  • When the Path Changes: Explore how to keep to the path when it changes, holding true to your calling throughout life’s wild curves and sudden bumps.

  • Assessments and Next Steps: Look at future training options, when to take leaps of faith, ongoing research, and opportunities for further outreach, work, and assessment.

Expected Outcomes

By the end of the training, you will have completed all of most of this list as it pertains to your callings and work:

  • A clear understanding of your path to Right Livelihood, including what works calls to you, how you will do it, and what resources you will need.

  • A journal full of writing and other arts to develop greater vision of your work, art, and service.

  • An individualized, interactive, and strategic plan with options for change and unfolding opportunities.

  • A preliminary study of the needs of and possibilities to reach your best audiences and populations.

  • Soulful and ethical marketing materials and strategies as needed, including social media presence (Facebook, LinkedIn and other sources), an enhanced or new website copy, word-of-mouth marketing ideas, and written materials to use in promotions.

  • A individually-tailored portfolio to share with prospective organizations and businesses featuring your services and products, experience, approaches, and endorsements.

  • An effective and authentic elevator speech.

  • An inspiring community and deeply-experienced mentors as you continue down the path of your callings and vocations.

Beyond-the-Beyond Support

You will be linked through a private Facebook group where you can share triumphs and questions, ask for help, and find continuing community beyond the training. We also offer a discount package -- resources, coupons, and special opportunities -- for you to consider as you launch your work, including resources in a tool kit of inexpensive sources for DIY websites and blogs, printing and promotional material, head shots and other photography tips, plus discounting coaching packages available with Caryn and Laura.


Opening Weekend Seminar: Unity Village, Kansas City, Missouri - June 27-30, 2019.

We meet at beautiful and accessible Unity Village, a short drive from Kansas City and Kansas City International Airport. Unity Village is set in lush hills and filled with rose gardens, fountains, walking trails, and Mediterranean-style award-winning architecture. The Unity Village hotel promotes environmental stewardship, and is among the first “green” hotels in the U.S. Visitors find Unity Village to be an exceptional yet affordable retreat center. Our opening weekend begins 7 p.m. Thursday, June 27, and continues until our closing circle, ending 11:30 a.m., Sun., June 30, and consists of group workshops, discussions, and discoveries interspersed with individual consultations and homework to further develop your future work and the pathways toward it.

Online Class and Weekly Video Conferences with Guest Teachers: Online and by video-conference (easily done on all computers or phone) July - mid-September.

For 10 weeks, you’ll work with peers, facilitator-mentors, and on your own through a weekly interactive online class, and ten video-conferencing meetings (to be scheduled during the opening weekend). The online class will introduce you weekly to new lessons; relevant writing and research exercises to develop your livelihood holistically and comprehensively; and ample interaction with peers and facilitator-mentors, who will share feedback, offer thoughtful questions, ideas, and observations along the way. Our video conference guests include leaders in Transformative Language Arts, sustaining yourself as a working artist, self-care, marketing, resilience, social justice, and funding. We will also take breaks for the week of July 4th and Labor Day weekend.

Closing Session: Power of Words conference, September, 2019, date and place TBA soon (you may attend via video-conferencing if you can't be with us in person)

Hours: 100 hours (photo to right is Unity Village room)

  • June 27 - 30 weekend:  20 hours

  • September closing session: 3 hours

  • Video conferencing: 18 hours

  • Online class work: 10 weeks x 5-6hours average each week = 56 hours

  • Consultations: 3 one-hour consultations

Participants must complete at least 70% of each class component to receive the completion certificate, including attending in-person sessions, video conferences, participating in class discussions, and class assignments.


Tuition: $1,450 (payment plans available), plus travel, meals, and lodging. $500 deposit to save spot (space is limited to a small cohort). After January 1, 2019: $1,550 (payment plan available).

Unity Village three night’s lodging: $357 for single, $178.50 for double; we also have available several rooms in the Fillmore Mansion, located on the Unity Village campus (pictured here), for $89 for one single, or $69 for a double (shared with someone else). Please contact us to learn more.

Unity Village six meals (all Friday and Saturday): $123. Additionally, we will order out food for Thursday night dinner with each person responsible for paying for their order.

(Additional costs if attending the closing session in person and the Power of Words Conference, including registration, lodging, and meals)


  • Early bird special ($1,450) is due in full by January 1, 2019.
  • Save your spot: $500 tuition deposit due by April 1, 2019. Full payment due before June 27, 2019.
  • People who pay the entire tuition amount by check receive a $50 discount

Payment Plans for regular rate available. Please contact

Refund Policy:

  • Cancellations by April 1: 50% back on deposit, and 100% back on all additional payments made beyond that $500 deposit
  • Cancellations between April 1 - May 1: Lose deposit, get rest back
  • Cancellations after May 1: No refunds, but please contact us if there are truly extenuating circumstances
  • If the TLA Network cancels, 100% full refund of all payments made

Application Process

To make sure this is a good fit, we ask that all applicants apply. You will discuss your readiness, work and TLA experience, hopes for the training, and any questions you have. We also require two references. Applications will be reviewed by the facilitators and an additional representative from the TLA Network. The training is limited to 16 people. Applications will be accepted until the training is full, or until two weeks before the training begins.

Apply here


Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate is the author of two dozen books, and founder of Transformative Language Arts  at Goddard College where she teaches. Her books include Miriam's Well, a novel; Following the Curve, poetry; Everyday Magic: Fieldnotes on the Mundane and MiraculousNeedle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust; The Sky Begins At Your Feet, a bioregional memoir; and Chasing Weather, poetry with photography from Stephen Locke. A writing and right livelihood coach, working with people to bring what wants to be written and lived into being, Mirriam-Goldberg offers community writing workshops widely, and with Kelley Hunt, Brave Voice retreats. For over three decades, Caryn has worked extensively with many arts and ecological/bioregional not-for-profit organizations as a grant-writer, fundraiser, staff or board member, and consultant on collaborative and community arts, group process, and better meetings. Born hard-wired to make something (in art, music, and especially writing), Caryn’s long-time callings include writing as a spiritual and ecological path, yoga, cultivating a loving marriage, family, and community, and helping herself and others make and take leaps into the miraculous work of their lives.

Laura Packer has been performing, coaching, writing, consulting, and leading the storytelling field for almost 25 years. She knows the best way to the truth is through a good story, and that this universally accessible artform creates empathy, builds bridges, and has the power to both heal and change the world. The winner of multiple awards for performance and leadership, Laura has told, taught, consulted, coached, and considered storytelling around the world. When she isn’t performing, Laura is the sole proprietor of thinkstory, llc, one of the nation’s foremost organizational consulting firms. thinkstory helps both for- and non-profit organizations communicate more effectively through coaching and storytelling techniques. Her one-day storytelling workshop, Stand Up and Speak Out: Tools for Effective Self Promotion, presented at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center was endorsed as “more useful than you could possibly imagine.” Laura knows that following your passion may be hard, but life and the world around will be richer for it. Laura considers her whole life her calling, which includes the depth and breadth of her storytelling and writing work, building and growing healthy relationships, loving the people in her life, practicing radical forgiveness, spending time in nature, cooking, listening, demystifying and destigmatizing grief and other powerful feelings, and trying to live as authentic and engaged a life as possible. You can learn more about her storytelling and coaching work at, her organizational work at, and read some of her writing at

Read an interview with Laura Packer and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg from Chrysalis: A Journal of Transformative Language Arts.

Special Guest Teachers

NOTE: We are in the process of coordinating the 2019 teachers, a line-up that will include many of our 2018 teachers plus others. See a SPARKS session, hosted by the TLA Network, featuring Gregg Levoy talking about callings and right livelihood. These are our teachers from 2018, many of whom who will return for 2019. Stay tuned for our 2019 complete line-up.

Dr. Harriet Lerner is one of our nation's most respected voices in the psychology of women, and the “how-tos” of navigating the swamps and quicksands of difficult relationships. She lectures and consults nationally, and is the author of numerous scholarly articles and 12 books  including The New York Times bestseller The Dance of Anger, which has sold more than three million copies with over  30 foreign translations. Her new book is, Why Won’t You Apologize? Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurt.  Lerner served as a staff psychologist at the Menninger Foundation for several decades and currently has a private practice in Lawrence, Kansas.  For more on Harriet visit her website  or follow her on FB  and twitter.

Charles Eisenstein  is a speaker and writer focusing on themes of human culture and identity. He is the author of several books, most recently The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, and Sacred Economics. His background includes a degree in mathematics and philosophy from Yale, a decade in Taiwan as a translator, and stints as a college instructor, a yoga teacher, and a construction worker. He is also the author of The Ascent of Humanity, and The Yoga of Eating, and he is currently working a new book on the climate change narrative. He currently writes and speaks full-time. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina with his wife and four children.  

Gregg Levoy, author of Callings: Finding and Following An Authentic Life (Random House) and Vital Signs: Discovering and Sustaining Your Passion for Life (Penguin), is the former "behavioral specialist" at USA Today and a regular blogger for Psychology Today. He has Keynoted at the National Career Development Assn., National Conference on Positive Aging, Smithsonian Institution, Environmental Protection Agency, Microsoft, American Counseling Association, been a frequent guest of the media including ABC-TV, CNN, NPR and PBS, and written for the New York Times Magazine, Washington Post and Psychology Today. His website is

Donna Washington is a professional author, storyteller and multicultural folklorist who has been sharing stories for over thirty years. Her amazing vocal pyrotechnics and dynamic physicality make her stories come alive and enthrall and delight audiences from four to one hundred and four. She has been featured at numerous festivals, schools & libraries theaters and other venues around the world including Canada, Peru, Argentina & Hong Kong. Donna is a multiple-award winning artist with nine CDs and is an accomplished author of four children's books. She presents a wide variety of tales from many different cultures. She offers a range of multicultural folktales, personal narratives and stories of her own creation. She also presents masterclasses in storytelling and workshops for teachers, educators and librarians on the role of storytelling in education. 

Patti Digh has written 8 books on global diversity and living mindfully, has worked and traveled in over 60 countries, has served on the President's Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities, and has learned more from her transgender Autistic son than from any of those other experiences. Patti is the founder of The Art of Activism and Life is a Verb Camp, and is currently writing a book on the history of normalcy with her husband, John Ptak.

José Faus is a native of Bogota, Colombia and long time Kansas City resident. He has participated in mural projects throughout the Kansas City area, Mexico and Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia where he traveled under a State Department grant. He has exhibited extensively in the Kansas City area. His writing appeared in numerous journals, and he has published a chapbook This Town Like That with Spartan Press; his second book of poetry The Life and Times of Jose Calderon was published by 39 Street Press. Mr. Faus is an independent teacher and mentor with an interest in the role of artists as creative catalysts for community building. He is a founder of the Latino Writers Collective and sits on the boards of the Writers Place, UMKC Friends of the Library, The Latino Writers Collective and the Charlotte Street foundation.

Rob Peck, is an author, humorist and recovering perfectionist! True to the title of his new book- It's a Juggle Out There, Rob’s moving speeches and uplifting seminars focuses on three things simultaneously: Stress management, Streamlining, & Simplifying. Rob's fun, fast paced programs combine comedy and content with eye-catching juggling and balancing visuals. With humor and heart, he offers fresh insights and 'outside the briefcase' ideas to decrease stress, increase focus, and go to work feeling less overloaded & underslept. He is also a long time member of the National Speakers Association, who has appeared on CBS, NBC, CNBC and was a featured presenter at Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institute.

Priscilla Howe travels the world (12 countries and counting) with a head full of stories and a bag full of puppets. What kind of stories? Folktales, stories from books, her own (almost true) experiences and stories that tiptoe closer to jokes. Her favorite audience is the one in front of her at any given moment. A full-time storyteller since 1993 and a former librarian, Priscilla lives in Lawrence, Kansas. She’s also searching for the best restaurant pie on earth.

Kelley Hunt, singer songwriter and international touring recording artist, has a career that comprises over 1800 live performances, airplay on 5 continents, 6 acclaimed commercial releases and hundreds of thousands of indie units sold and downloaded. She is also a skilled workshops presenter at all levels - from grade schools to the Berklee College of Music in Boston - on subjects including various facets of songwriting, piano and vocal performance, specific workshops for choral groups and even interactive programs for elementary school-age kids. For 13 years she has co-hosted the Brave Voice Writing and Singing For Your Life retreat and workshops with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, and she has been a guest artist at The Power of Words and Circle of Music Conferences. In addition to touring and recording Kelley maintains a robust schedule of teaching and vocal coaching.

Jen Cross is a writer, performer, and writing workshop facilitator based in Oakland, CA. Her organization, Writing Ourselves Whole, founded in 2003, focuses primarily on sexuality writing workshops and writing with survivors of sexual trauma. Her new book, Writing Ourselves Whole, is garnering great praise, and is a bestseller on Amazon. Jen's writing appears in more than thirty anthologies and periodicals, including The Healing Art of Writing, Nobody Passes, Visible: A Femmethology, Best Sex Writing 2008; she is also the co-editor of Sex Still Spoken Here (with Dr. Carol Queen and Amy Butcher). Jen is currently an MFA candidate at San Francisco State University.

"The Transformative Language Arts Network" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Kansas, P.O. Box 442633, Lawrence, KS 66044

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