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. 27, 2019 with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg & Laura Packer
Plus special guest teachers including

Harriet Lerner, Gregg Levoy, Patti Digh, Rob Peck, Jose Faus, Donna Washington, and more.

Your work in writing, storytelling, theater, 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 120-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 (September 26-29th, 2019 at The Casa Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, or you may 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. 

"The RLPT gave me the tools to wade through all the possibilities, identify those that best expressed my values, and make a plan for my future.”

~ Diane Glass,
writer and spiritual director

“It is no exaggeration to state that this training changed my life.”

~ Rachel Gabriel,
writer and facilitator

"The RLPT helps artists like me develop a business,
shine my light, and take care of myself along the way.”

~ Carol Pranscke,
artist and writer

Is This Training For You?

Make your own path.

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 of participants 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.

Get Your Feet Wet!

Join Caryn, Laura, and up to 10 other interested participants like yourself for a 90-minute online small group coaching session.

TopicsOur Meeting Space at Unity Village

Please note that not all topics may 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 2019 meeting space at Unity Village.
  • Your Callings for Right Livelihood: Explore and amplify your callings to find and develop your most authentic work. Craft a sustainable story for your life’s work by untangling harmful myths and giving yourself permission to soar.

  • 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: Become more resilient, hone your self-care practices, and find and keep community that supports you in your work.

  • Building Community, Creating Connections: Explore how to help yourself and your communities challenge and transform the stories we live. Learn how to pitch your work effectively and build nurturing connections.

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

  • Authentic and Soulful Marketing and Branding: Craft a marketing plan that reflects your values and goals; develop your brand true to you and your work. Stay true to yourself, and increase your confidence when talking about your work.

  • Integrative Finances and Money Matters: Set appropriate rates, maintain basic record-keeping and tax filings, and address money and worth issues while growing your work over time.

  • Following the Path: Advance the work of your heart at your own pace, balancing income, current work, family and community responsibilities. Explore how to hold true to your calling when the path changes.

  • 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 a clearer understanding of your path to Right Livelihood, including what works call to you, how you will do it, and what resources you will need, including the following (all or some depending on your path):

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

  • An  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 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 a tool kit of inexpensive sources for DIY websites and blogs, printing and promotional material, head shots and other photography tips, plus discounted coaching packages available with Caryn and Laura.


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

We meet at the 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: September 27, 2019 at the Power of Words Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona (you may attend via video-conferencing if you can't be with us in person).

Hours: 120 hours

  • June 27 - 30 weekend:  25 hours
  • September closing session: 3 hours
  • Video conferencing: 15 hours
  • Online class work: 60 hours (over 10 weeks)
  • Reading & research on your own: 14 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.


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. Laura is the author of the newly-published From Audience to Zeal: The ABCs of Finding, Crafting, and Telling a Great Story. 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

Special Guest Teachers

We are in the process of coordinating the 2019 guest teachers, a line-up that will include many of our 2018 guest teachers, plus others.

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.

Cost & Policies


  • First 4 Applicants: $1,400
  • Early Bird Rate: $1,550 (available until April 8th, 2019)
  • Regular Rate: $1,850

Opening Seminar at Unity Village, MO

  • Lodging at Unity Village (Thur-Sun): We have reserved the Fillmore Manor, located on the Unity Village campus, for our seminar. Rooms in the Fillmore are $89/night for one single, or $69/night for a double (shared with someone else), available on a first-come, first-served basis. Alternatively, you can reserve a double room in the Unity Village Hotel for $119/night.
  • Meals at Unity Village dining hall (Fri & Sat): $50.52/day. Continental breakfast is included with lodging. Additionally, we will order out food for Thursday night dinner with each person responsible for paying for their order.
  • NOTE: All room and meal rates listed have additional tax and service charge.

Closing Session at Power of Words, AZ

  • Conference Registration: RLPT registrants get a special discounted rate of $210, plus free attendance to the Friday morning pre-conference!
  • Room & Meals: On-site room & meal package for Thurs-Sun is $198 per person for double; Fri-Sun is $132 per person for double. Meal package only for Thurs-Sun is $132; Fri-Sun is $88.
  • NOTE: You may video-conference into the session instead of attending the conference.

Registration Deadlines

  • Tuition deposit of $500 due within 2 weeks of acceptance to save your spot, and by April 8th for Early Bird Rate.
  • Full tuition payment due 2 weeks before retreat start date (June 27, 2019). Pay the entire amount by check and receive a $25 discount!
  • Tuition payment plans available for a limited number of registrants. Inquire upon applying.
  • Unity Village Hotel room block is available until May 16, 2019. After then, reservations at the UV Hotel based on current rates and availability.

Cancellation Policy

  • Cancellations before April 30th: Lose deposit only
  • 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. The TLAN is not responsible for any personal expenses incurred in preparation.

"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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