Danna Demetre is an author, speaker and Co-Founder of Lean Healthy Ageless
Kathleen Cooke: What has God been recently teaching you?
Danna Demetre: “Are we there yet?” As children, we whined these words to our parents on any car ride over 30 minutes. And, we’ve heard it playing like a skipping vinyl record from the backseat in our own cars as our children (and grandchildren) pass on the blessing. We seem to be wired from birth to laser focus on the destination more than the journey.
As I near my 70th birthday, I realize more than ever that life is the journey. As I watch the years fly by at almost warp speed, I know that I want and need is to cherish every moment, capture every opportunity, and invest in every morsel of time as if it could be my last here on planet earth.
Kathleen: We’re all ambitious. Often our ambitions are for the right reasons, but sometimes we can push too hard and take a dive into wrong thinking and choices. What have you learned about ambitious striving?
Danna: In all my years, I’ve had multiple professions. Labor and delivery nurse. Corporate marketing manager. Radio host. Fitness professional. Health coach. Author. Speaker. Let’s say, I was a Type A on steroids. More a human doing than being. In my 30s and 40s, I’d set goals and go after them and then pray for God to bless the work of my hands. Those years of striving were exhausting.
Then, one day I realized that God said in Jer. 29:11: “I know the plans I have for you”. He did not say, “I know the plans you have for you.” I also read the NASB translation of Ps. 46:10, which says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.”. I set aside most of my goals and reported to duty in prayer and “let” God take the lead. I adopted a new life motto: Do the right things for the right reasons, and trust God with the results. It is amazing how freeing it is to take on God-given assignments and let him handle the outcome. (more…)
Kathleen Cooke: As a female producer in Hollywood who is passionate to see women thrive, what do you want women to know that they often don’t seem to comprehend?
Alexandra Boylan: God loves me! God loves you! Everything we see, past present and future, in the way women are treated is not God’s design. It never was, and as we follow Jesus, we see him constantly lifting women up. Jesus is setting the example of how things were meant to be, not the way the fall of man affected the treatment of women. Women don’t get a lot of action in our history books; we don’t see a lot of films from the female perspective. I have chosen to make it my mission to bring stories about women for women to life, with or without anyone’s permission. I pray to someday do a woman of the Bible series! There are so many extraordinary women in the Bible that many of us have never heard their story. But trust me GOD used women all the time. And now it is time to bring those stories to life and into the World. So, we ladies can know we are loved by our GREAT creator.
Kathleen: Talk about ambition. Often our Plan A isn’t God’s.
Alexandra: As an extremely ambitious person I spent my twenty’s chasing after an acting career in Hollywood. I was met with roadblocks at every time. For ten years I pounded the pavement as they say but getting nowhere. At first, I thought God had called me to the West Coast to pursue an acting career, but after so many years of anguish, rejection and pain, I couldn’t justify my own desires anymore. I packed my bags and moved to New Mexico, literally surrendered my life back to GOD. I threw my hands in the air and said LORD, I give my talents to you, guide me where you want to me to go. I spent the next year in solitude with God, praying and surrendering. Well, let me tell you, that when you truly surrender to HIM, your life will come back tenfold. I started creating my own films as a writer/producer and eventually, GOD called me to make movies for HIM. Ever since I began the journey of making female-driven faith based-films, I cannot even begin to describe the blessings GOD has poured upon my life. I pray to never fall out of favor again, always checking my ego at the door. Always asking GOD is this what you want or is this what I want. Because GOD’s plans for our lives truly are better than our own. I did have a lull in my career a year ago where I felt like I was on a dead end street and couldn’t figure out how to get off it. I was praying constantly and asking GOD to show me what he wanted me to do. But for two and a half years, as I persisted to no avail. I kept saying LORD what do you want me to do? Do you want me to stop making films? Lead me, was my constant prayer. Finally, I felt GOD’s call to me to open my home to Christian Women in Entertainment. Once I did that, God blessed me with new friendships and new working relationships. Within that year we were making another female driven faith based film. God just needed some time to bring the right people together, and I was faithful in the call. I think as long as we are searching and seeking GOD’s will above our own, we will eventually be guided to where we are to go. “Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and all shall be added” Matthew 6:33 Sometime it might take longer than we want, but I am learning patience, cause God’s timing is ALWAYS better than my own.
Do you hold onto offense easily? How do you navigate relationships when it seems like the brokenness in others (or yourself) continues to get in the way? Dr. Donna Marie Hunter addresses this important topic that we all face. Find out how you can set healthy boundaries, navigating your way to healthier relationships with others and deeper intimacy with God.
Dr. Donna Marie Hunter is an engaging TV show host on her show, Grace & Space, arousing honest conversations that encourages viewers to continue dreaming by building healthy habits and genuine relationships. She has co-authored two #1 International Best-selling books, Women Who Rise and Women Who Empower. Dr. Donna received her BS degree at Pepperdine University and her Master’s in Educational Leadership; she has a Counseling Credential and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Azusa Pacific University.
She is an intuitive coach for personal and professional growth, a knowledgeable consultant in education and leadership, and an inspiring champion for equity, access, and inclusion for individuals with disabilities. With over twenty years of awarded leadership as a counselor and administrator, Donna is a well-respected expert in public education. Her mission is to educate, enlighten and empower individuals with knowledge that transforms thinking and leads to actionable steps toward positive change.
Kathleen Cooke: One of the biggest challenges today is having meaningful deep relationships with those with differing world views without offending each other. What has God taught you recently about standing for what you believe and yet being “gentle as doves?”
Dr. Donna Marie Hunter: Being unoffended is one of the most freeing dispositions to hold. My ministry, Grace and Space, has been my focal point and banner even before hosting a Television Show. I intentionally focus on forgiveness or grace, which lowers the tendency toward being easily offended and judgmental. Giving space allows for time and distance and to gain perspective, enabling us to see our predispositions and biases more clearly toward people, places, and things. God continues to teach me lessons on being unoffended, which produces the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” Hebrews 12:11 invites. Growing closer to God and letting people off the hook has helped me love my brother and sister as myself. It allows me to esteem the individual while recognizing the imperfection of our humanity; it has freed my soul. When we rise above being offended, it elevates our ability to impact and influence others positively. We become light in the shadows when darkness appears. We take on a righteousness that is not of our own and are able to suspend our ranking and judgment of someone else’s motives, intentions, and actions.
Kathleen: How can we choose right relationships? What’s the one thing we should consider in choosing a meaningful relationship?
Dr. Donna: Relationships are God’s chosen method to heal. We are broken in relationships, and we are healed in relationships. Isolation is usually an invitation to offense, creating barriers. Barring times of consecration when God is setting us apart for intentional growth and ministry, we need one another for our health and healing. When choosing to enter a relationship with someone, it’s imperative to hold the mirror up to ourselves and acknowledge our imperfections. Then, we’re more open to connecting with flawed individuals we choose to be in a relationship with. Appreciating the uniqueness of an individual while simultaneously offering grace and holding true to your boundaries (giving space) is the sweet spot of loving thy neighbor as you love yourself (Matthew 22:39). I’m not sure it’s possible to be in a healthy relationship unless we honor the Spirit of God within ourselves. God’s love flows through us first and then to others, touching us first and extending out.
Kathleen: Relationships are also about drawing boundaries. How can we decide where we need to draw them?
Dr. Donna: Boundaries are the language of love. I love you, and I love me; thus, I want the best for both of us. Understanding my limits and limitations allows me to fully love and express unbridled care for another. Boundary setting starts from a place of honesty and authenticity within, recognizing our brokenness and need for a holy God heal and save our souls. Our propensity toward sin, selfishness, and neediness has the potential to invite extremes and may cloud our ability to communicate authentically and avoid unhealthy situations and people. It is both loving and honest to say, “thank you, however, that does not work for me right now.” We offer grace and space by communicating our portion of the wrongdoing, taking responsibility for the mishap, asking for forgiveness, communicating an ending, and giving space or time for God to heal.
Kathleen: Our influence impacts our relationships, and relationships impact our influence. They work in tandem. What have you learned about how we can influence others?
Dr. Donna: Influence, both intentional and unintentional, is a weighty gift. Hence, my goal is to be intentional in loving and purpose-filled in my impact in the communities where I serve and inspirational in sharing my faith and the message of hope that fuels my passion. Influence is the telltale seeds we’ve sown over our lifespan, the fruit that remains after we have passed by, passed through, and passed on. It bears witness to the gravity of our impact. The legacy we desire to leave in this world is a direct result of our influence and interactions with family, friends, and foes. My favorite hashtag is #MyHopesAreUp. These words are indicative of a life, legacy, and influence I desire to intentionally leave upon the earth.
Connect with Dr. Donna:
Grace & Space Season 1: https://rvntelevision.com/tv-show/grace-space/
Facebook & YouTube: @drdonnamariehunter
Kelsey Cooke grew up acting professionally in Hollywood, signing with her first agent at the age of 7. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Arts from Vanguard University and pursued a Broadway, TV, and Film career in New York upon graduating. Her work eventually brought her back to Hollywood, where she co-founded thisishardtoread productions and is an award-winning producer, writer, and actor in the award-winning feature comedy/mockumentary film RE-OPENING. Favorite career highlights include: LIFE PARTNERS (Tribeca & Sundance Film Festival), BLACK NOVEMBER (Vivica Fox), PAN AM (ABC), ROYAL PAINS (USA), BAD TEACHER (CBS), and THE VERONICA MARS MOVIE.
Kathleen Cooke: OK full disclosure – you are my oldest daughter and the new Influence Women Nashville Chapter Director. I could tell lots about you…but I’ll let you tell us a bit about yourself.
Kelsey Cooke: I am co-founder of thisishardtoread productions with my husband, Chris. We create comedies with heart. I’m a producer, writer, director, and actor – not necessarily all at the same time, hah! I began in the industry as an actor at 7 years old in Hollywood and came up through the industry working not only in LA but after college in New York, working on stage and Broadway musicals before moving back to LA in 2013 as an actress and producer.
Kathleen: How and why have you gotten involved with Influence Women as the new Nashville Chapter Coordinator?
Kelsey: I recently moved to the greater Nashville area for the main purpose of collaborating with like-minded industry professionals. I was tired of waiting for some “big break” that would never come, and after producing my own feature film during the pandemic, I realized the Hollywood industry is so much bigger than the box we put it in. Nashville was the place where I felt called to create a movement with people who feel the same way. I know the multiple challenges of a career in the media and entertainment and the importance of collaboration with the right people and having a community of people who support each other not only in their work but in their faith.
Kathleen: When is the Influence Women Nashville launch, and what’s happening?
Kelsey: We are going to start gathering women on November 9th who are excited to get involved with our mission – to bring women in the industry together who want to encourage, uplift, and empower each other and align their media career with their faith and values. Let’s get to know each other and think of others who would also like to have a local community of creators. Please reach out if you would like to be a part of this initial group.
If you want to connect with Kelsey and Influence Women Nashville, reach out to her at: email@example.com.
Living a life surrendered to Christ guarantees that we will be different from others. We will talk different, think about our world uniquely and make counter-cultural decisions. How do we navigate that journey when it can often make us feel like outsiders? Read this month’s INNER VIEW with Hope Lyda as she invites us into her own process with embracing her unique talents and identity.
Hope Lyda is an author, writing coach and companion, spiritual director, and senior development editor. She’s worked in faith-based publishing for more than 25 years and has accompanied more than 120 writers through the process of finding their voices and expressing their hearts on the page.
Hope considers it an honor to help writers shape their messages with engaging structure, tone, and pace. She also companions them with spiritual insight and inquiry, so they draw from their experiences and beliefs to deepen those messages. She has authored more than 35 books (combined sales over 1.5 million copies), including the bestselling One-Minute Prayers® for Women and more than 15 other books in the One-Minute Prayers® series. Hope has penned a few novels as well as several devotionals such as What Do You Need Today? and Life as a Prayer. Her book My Unedited Writing Year—a gathering of 365 prompts—combines her passions of writing and spiritual direction to invite others to explore life, faith, and creativity.
Kathleen Cooke: What’s the one thing you’d like to share with women that God has recently taught you?
Hope Lyda: As my husband, Marc, and I walked toward the group gathered at a local picnic area, I was regretting saying yes to attending a Saturday event where I wouldn’t know anyone. We drifted from one subgroup to the next until I got in the queue for my chicken, potato salad, and can of soda. The lunch line—complete with plastic-gloved helpers—kicked in my grade-school angst. Where would I sit? Who would I talk to? I checked my watch and chastised myself for being so uptight. Had the day ended there, that would’ve been my life lesson: I am who I am no matter my age!
But God had a bigger lesson…
Marc and I sat down across from a couple. Between bites of my finger lickin’ meal, I spoke with the woman. Even before introductions, we knew we had something in common…this was an event for the blind—and we were there with our blind spouses. She is new to the journey. I’m not. But I’m far from used to it. My heart softened as I recognized her wide-eyed expression of overwhelm. I encouraged her, shared resource info, and we talked about the difficulties of caregiving for a loved one. Two hours later, we were still chatting when my husband motioned for us to go. I laughed and confessed, “I really didn’t want to come.” Her eyes lit up, “Same! I am so grateful I came and that you were here. I really needed this….you just don’t know.” (more…)
Sometimes self-centeredness can look like striving and having an internal hyper-focus on yourself. If the focus is on you, you, you, then there might be a need for readjustment. Read this month’s INNER VIEW with producer Amanda Ashley Miess as she shares how she took the attention and pressure off of herself and put it where it belongs… back onto God.
Amanda Ashley Miess is a writing, producing, and directing triple threat who has over ten years of experience working in almost every facet of filmmaking. A creative storyteller and idea generator, she’s had her hands in film, TV, and digital media and has worked for some of the most influential names in the industry, including Jerry Bruckheimer, The Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Bros. Amanda has developed, produced and directed a host of digital kid-led variety shows for big brands such as Disney Princess, DC Kids, and Polly Pocket, with some videos reaching well over 1 million views. She also co-directed the Pure Flix mini-series The Power Couple, starring Alexa and Carlos PenaVega. She is currently a Senior Producer at Little Dot Studios, an award-winning digital content agency and media network owned by All3Media. A graduate of USC, she has also made several short films, including festival winners Silence Is Olden and Remember Me, winner of 9 awards at LA’s 168 Film Festival. A kid at heart with a strong passion for making influential content for today’s youth, Amanda loves to do anything a 12-year-old would do…. including but not limited to dancing, backflips, board games, crafts, and making goofy music videos.
Kathleen Cooke: This industry is about “hurry up and wait.” How have you learned to wait on God and embrace His peace?
Amanda Ashley Miess: Has God ever “recently” taught you something that He’s actually been bringing to you layer by layer for years? I have! He is so patient. After spending way too much time trying to earn people’s respect and affirmation in this industry, I am finally starting to embrace the fact that I only need my Lord’s approval. I literally have a Google Drive that is 98% full with unproduced scripts, pitch decks, and story ideas. My Lord has shown me that my value comes from Him alone; all my giftings are from Him and are for Him. He will open the doors in His way and in His timing.
One vision He showed me years ago that I’ll never forget: I saw a dog pile of people clambering on each other to reach one key dangling from the ceiling. This is what succeeding in the entertainment industry often feels like. As I stood to the side, watching them climb over each other, fighting for that one key, the Lord told me to instead walk forward towards a small door that was shaped like me. Only I could fit through it, and I was the key. I have spent many years striving to reach that prized “key” hanging from the ceiling and have grown disappointed in God and my abilities when I have not obtained it. Recently, He has instilled in me a newfound peace and purpose. Even if I don’t have all the answers and I am still learning what my true purpose is in this industry, I know I am exactly where I need to be, and I know that even through the mundane, He is using me to bring His Kingdom on earth.
Kathleen: What do you do when it seems like God is silent and you can’t connect to Him?
Amanda: The times I feel most disconnected from God are when the enemy gets me to look at my human efforts and believe that my works aren’t good enough. Even in my spiritual walk, it is easy for me to believe that I am not praying hard enough, reading the Bible long enough, fasting enough, or ministering enough. I start to believe that nothing I do is ever good enough, and so I give up. That’s when I have felt like God is silent, or I am not close to Him. I think that I need to improve my relationship with God and work harder at loving Him and serving Him. But the truth is that if I believe what Jesus did on the cross puts me in right standing with my Heavenly Father, then I am in right relationship with Him right now! Even if I’m not “feeling it,” I am connected. I am pleasing to Him. Every little thing I do for Him or every thought towards Him counts. He is still moving in my life, and progress is being made. When I remind myself of that truth, connecting with God is easy. He’s right there, and I’m right there with Him. (more…)