TLA Right Livelihood Professional Training

From Your Callings and Passions to Your Work and Community

June 7 - October 12, 2018
with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg & Laura Packer

Discover, clarify, and manifest the Transformative Language Arts work -- writing, storytelling, performing, coaching, facilitation, and more -- to follow your passion, earn a living income, and serve your community. Working with experienced teachers and participants as committed as you are, and guided by Right Livelihood -- the Buddhist term for doing work that serves your calling and community -- you’ll unearth and develop best practices for ethical paid work and community service, and craft a strategic business plan.

You’ll also create a sustainable marketing plan, explore funding and partnership opportunities, practice ongoing self-care, and find community support through fellow practitioners and mentors. Unlike cookie-cutter career programs, this visionary training guides you toward what constellation of vocation works best for you now, and when the path meanders, whether you’re leaping into a new career or form of service or developing your new work while keeping your current job.

This 110-hour training begins with a long weekend workshop June 7-10 at Unity Village in Kansas City, MO., and continues June - September with online study and community support, video conferences with entrepreneurs and leaders in the field, and individual consultations with Laura and Caryn, all culminating in a day-long seminar October 12, 2018. Upon completion you’ll be granted a certificate, presented at the Power of Words conference at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont Oct. 12-14, 2018. The training also includes special discounts on 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.


  • Your Callings for Right Livelihood: Explore and amplify your callings to find and develop your most authentic work that serves you, your community, and helps realize your dreams.

  • 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 Business Plan: Map, dream, write, and revise a short-term and long-term business plan that sustains you in continually developing your work. Following a step-by-step process, identify what you have to offer, how to reach your audience and interface with your community, and ways to grow your work over time.

  • Resilience, Self-Care, and Community On the Journey: Resilient people achieve their goals. Expand your ability to bounce back when things don’t turn out as planned, uncover opportunity in adversity, and find greater support through self-care practices and relationships.

  • Revise Your Work Story: Untangle myths and misconceptions about self-employment, including imposter syndrome, entitlement issues, and the myth of the starving artist, then craft a new story based on your right to do the work you love.

  • Connecting with Community Groups, Businesses and Institutions: Learn how to make initial contacts, follow-up on connections and opportunities, pitch your work effectively, and nurture healthy work relationships.

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

  • Ethical and Soulful Marketing and Authentic Branding: Craft a marketing plan that reflects your values and goals, and learn how to implement this plan, from social networking to printed material to word-of-mouth generation. Develop brand guidelines and materials that work for you and your potential customers, audiences, or communities.

  • Funding and Revenue Streams: Explore multiple streams of revenue for your work -- including grant-writing, collaboration, fiscal sponsorship, contracting with groups and businesses -- and build the skills and flexibility you need to grow your work over the long term.

  • Integrative Finances: Learn how to set appropriate rates, maintain basic record-keeping, and deal with tax implications from the get-go while addressing  issues about money and worth.

  • Transitioning When You’re Ready: Integrate the work of your heart into your life in balance with income needs, current work, family and community responsibilities, and other obligations and opportunities.

  • When the Path Changes: Our plans sometimes need to pivot on a dime. Explore how to keep to the path when it changes, and hold 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 effective assessment to continually learn how to improve what you offer to the world.

Expected Outcomes

By the end of the training, you will have:

  • 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 and service.

  • An individualized, interactive and strategic business 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, including social media presence (Facebook, LinkedIn and other sources), an enhanced or new website (with DIY tools and resources), approaches to enhance word-of-mouth marketing, and written materials to use in brochures, business cards, postcards, or bookmarks.

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

  • A template of written and edited text on the focus of your work, expected outcomes, populations or audiences serves, who you are and more to use in marketing, grants, and proposals.

  • An effective and authentic elevator speech.

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

Special Guests

Learn from luminaries in the field during weekly video conferences with your fellow participants and facilitators. Each week, on a Sunday evening for an hour 8 p.m. EST/ 7 p.m. CST/ 6 p.m. MST/ 5 p.m. PST between June 17 and Aug. 28, the following people (more to be confirmed) will present some of their work, and join us in conversation when you can ask your questions. Special guests include Harriet Lerner, Gregg Levoy, Patti Digh, Rob Peck, Priscilla Howe, Donna Washington, and more to come. Sneak preview: See a SPARKS session, hosted by the TLA Network, featuring Gregg Levoy talking about callings and right livelihood.

Who Would Benefit?

This training is for transformative language artists: writers, storytellers, activists, facilitators, organizers, educators, musicians, artists, health professionals and others who deeply engage with the power of words for changing our world. We specifically envision people who are ready to make the leap into TLA-focused work, whether they plan on leaving their current job or not.

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 and, in some cases, discounts for:

  • Tool kit of inexpensive sources for DIY websites and blogs, printing and promotional material, head shots and other photography tips.

  • Web and logo design.

  • Accounting and bookkeeping.

  • Audio design and recording.

  • Follow-up coaching sessions and coaching packages with Caryn and Laura available for a special price.


This is a low-residency training, which means you attend an opening weekend workshop in Kansas City, Missouri, and a one-day closing retreat in Plainfield, Vermont. In between you work with peers and the facilitators through a 12-week online class and 10 tele-conference seminars, all through your computer. The training also includes individual consultations with one or each of the facilitators.


Opening Weekend Seminar: Unity Village, Kansas City, Missouri - June 7-10, 2018

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 7, and continues until our closing circle, ending 11:30 a.m., Sun., June 10, 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.

Work Together Mid-June to Mid-October: Online June 13 - Sept. 18, 2018

For 12 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. The online classes and video conferences run from June 13 - September 18, 2018 (skipping a week for the July 4th holiday, and Labor Day).

Closing Session: Goddard College, Plainfield, Vermont - 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., October 12, 2018

Goddard College is a one-of-a-kind institution of higher education with a history of creativity and chaos, invention and experimentation, of growth, decline and reemergence. This 15-year-old institution has survived with integrity and adherence to its founding values. Our closing session ends just as the Power of Words conference, organized by the Transformative Language Arts Network, begins so that participants can further enhance their education, network with others doing similar work, and spark their imaginations and inspiration.

Hours: 110 hours

  • June 7 - 10 weekend:  20 hours

  • October 12: 6 hours

  • Video conferencing: 10 hours

  • Online class work: 12 weeks x 6 hours average each week = 72 hours

  • Consultations: 2 one-hour consultations

Participants must complete at least 80% of each class component to receive the completion certificate, including attending in-person sessions, video conferences, participating in class discussions, and completing assignments.


Tuition: Early bird rate by December 1, 2017: $1,450 (regular rate: $1,580) plus travel, meals, and lodging.

Unity Village three night’s lodging: $357 for single, $178.50 for double

Unity Village nine meals: $162.92 (continental breakfast); $191.16 (full breakfast)

Goddard College one night’s lodging: $70 for single, $50 for double

Goddard College one day’s meals: $42

(Additional costs for lodging and meals for Power of Words conference, starting Fri. night 10/12)

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, including the forthcoming Miriam's Well, a novel; Following the Curve, poetry; and Everyday Magic, a collection of beloved blog posts and personal essays. Her previous work includes The Divorce Girl, a novel; Needle in the Bone, a non-fiction book on the Holocaust; The Sky Begins At Your Feet, a bioregional memoir on cancer and community; and five poetry collections, including the award-winning Chasing Weather: Tornadoes, Tempests, and Thunderous Skies in Word and Image with weather chaser/ photographer Stephen Locke. Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College where she teaches, Mirriam-Goldberg also leads writing workshops widely, particularly for people living with serious illness and their caregivers. With singer Kelley Hunt, she co-leads writing and singing retreats. She also is a writing and right livelihood coach, working with people to bring of what wants to be written and lived into being. For over three decades, Caryn has worked extensively with many arts and ecological/bioregional not-for-profit organizations as a grant-writer, fundraiser, staff, board member, and consultant, and she also founded several long-term groups. With her husband Ken Lassman, she also offers consensus-based decision-making and other organizational development workshops and retreats. 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.

"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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