Thank You Universe: My Vision Board & How I Got Published

By Heather Stang, MA, C-IAYT

Posted: May 20, 2014

A long time ago I watched The Secret and signed up to receive Mike Dooley’s Notes from the Universe. I also practiced Wayne Dyer’s Meditations for Manifesting. Several vision boards and acts of faith later, I became a published author. This is the story of how I got published….

Dear Universe,

I am writing to thank you for bestowing your magic and managing the “cursed hows” so I could focus on writing my dream book. Here is my story…

In 1977 my maternal uncle died by suicide. I was seven years old. My mother was devastated, and my father was grieving the loss of his only brother just four years earlier. I grew up in a loving, but bereaved family.

As a teenager, I was still confused by my uncle’s suicide, and tried to understand it by rifling through my grandparent’s file cabinet. I found the police report, which stated that there had been cocaine residue on the handle of the gun.

I can’t say that this made it any easier to swallow, but at least I could tell myself that he was either in a lot of pain or not in his right mind because of drug use. In my early 30s I decided that even though I couldn’t go back and save my uncle, I could probably save someone else, so I volunteered as a call specialist on a suicide prevention hotline.

At the time I was in the process of selling my web and graphic design business. I owned it for seven years, and was so stressed out that I had received a diagnosis of shingles. My nurse practitioner told me to try yoga.

I was amazed at how free and clear headed I felt after one particular yoga retreat, which I took with my friend Lisa (a fan of The Universe, and mother of Katie, who appears in the 2014 Dreams Come True calendar!). During a private session at the retreat center, my inner wisdom told me to sell my business and become a healer myself. A year later I was a certified Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practitioner, and sold my business to a dear friend, who still serves many of my old clients today!

The combination of helping others through my suicide hotline work and my Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy practice was very rewarding. I balanced the weight of grief by cultivating joy through vision board workshops and leading what I call the Joyful Heart Retreat. It was during this period that I discovered The Adventurers Club after watching The Secret.

Back at the hotline, I met a coworker who was earning a Master’s Degree in Thanatology (the study of death, dying and bereavement) at Hood College, just down the street from my home. My interest was piqued, and although I didn’t apply immediately, a few years later the time was right.

The application process was almost too easy. I did not even submit the required essay before they accepted me (I did turn it in later so I wouldn’t be rejected on a technicality!). A friend of mine (and yet another fan of The Universe) commented on how easy things were flowing for me. “What else can you make happen?” she wondered out loud.

While a student at Hood College, I came up with the idea of creating an eight-week Yoga For Grief group, with a daylong retreat in the middle. This format had been used before for mindfulness meditation and yoga programs, but I had not seen anyone doing it specifically for grief.

Since I believe grief is a natural reaction to loss, I felt the natural practice of yoga meditation and sharing our story of loss could help people reduce suffering and continue to live their life fully. Although I was nervous, I launched my first group and it was met with great success. I started a blog at I ran several more groups, and then began to daydream about the book: Yoga for Grief.

I researched how to write a nonfiction book proposal, and put my idea down on paper. I created a vision board that included pictures of Hawaii and other exotic locations that I wanted to visit, along with words from a writing magazine that read “You Have What It Takes to Get Published.”

The next step was to find an agent.

Instead, I found a boyfriend while surfing in Florida. We went to Hawaii (see above), and then got married at sunrise on my favorite beach – Sanibel Island, FL. This is a whole other thank you letter I need to write, but I will keep this one on track. Long story short, my book proposal sat on my hard drive, unseen for over four years. The vision board remain tacked up on my wall.

I wound up leaving my private practice to help my husband Craig with his business, a local bicycle shop. I loved helping the love of my life, and spending more time with him, but after a couple of years I started to miss my practice. I felt conflicted, and in addition to my daily email Notes, I started to read Leveraging the Universe and listened to the Notes from the Universe on my daily hikes in the hope of finding some clarity.

In addition to Notes, I was practicing Wayne Dyer’s Meditations for Manifesting in the morning and some evenings. I remember one day sitting on my meditation cushion, and raising my hands over my head, fingers touching in the temple position. “My sail is hoisted, I don’t know what’s coming next but I’m ready for it.”

A few months later I got this email:

Dear Heather,

Please allow me to introduce myself as commissioning editor for mind, body, and spirit titles at Cico Books, a London-based publishing house. . . . I would very much like this series to include a volume on Grief and Mindfulness and, as I was researching this topic, I came across your website: I was struck by your background in mindfulness and also by your clear and engaging writing style on your website and I wondered if you might be interested in authoring a book on Grief and Mindfulness. . . .

Lauren Mulholland
Commissioning Editor

My first reaction was “this has got to be a joke.” My second reaction was “HECK YEAH!!!” Okay, so the title the editor proposed wasn’t my exact wording, but that’s just a detail! The content and purpose of the book was spot on.

Let’s pause here a second… Did I mention that my book proposal never got sent to anyone? The only people that knew I wanted to write a book were my close friends, and of course The Universe.  Granted, I had shown up. I put my writing “out there” for anyone to read on my blog, and my enthusiasm for the subject matter was obvious.

If I had never received this email, I may have shopped for an agent at some point later down the road, but I didn’t have to! I just got to sit back and write my dream book, which wound up being called Mindfulness and Grief: with Guided Meditations to Calm Your Mind and Restore Your Spirit. I enclosed a copy as a thank you gift.

Since then I have created several more vision boards, and some other surprising things have come true. There is one area in my life where I feel stuck, and I’ve decided that rather than fixating on it (or complaining about it) I am going to deepen my gratitude practice. After all this is an adventure, and if there weren’t obstacles I would not be able to appreciate the magic.

The reality is everything great that has come to me has shown up as a surprise. The things I sweat and toil and worry about never result in anything positive! This does not mean I’m going to be lazy.  I will continue to show up, put myself out there, be true to my definite chief aim, and also try to let go of the “cursed hows” and smile tenderly at worry when it appears.

And I will definitely, most definitely, hug more people.

I have a happy home, a fantastic family, great friends, great pets and a published book. And I love books! I am so grateful for the abundance that keeps on coming. I can’t wait for what happens next!

10,000 Thank You’s!


Heather Stang

Heather Stang, MA, C-IAYT

About the author

Heather Stang, M.A. is the author of Living with Grief and the guided journal, From Grief To Peace. She is the creator of the Mindfulness & Grief System that is featured in the Handbook of Grief Therapies (2023) and is the founder of Awaken, a mindfulness-based online grief support group. Heather also hosts the Mindfulness & Grief Podcast, and offers mindfulness-based grief support online through her organization, the Mindfulness & Grief Institute. She holds a Masters degree in Thanatology (Death, Dying, and Bereavement) from Hood College in Maryland, and is a certified Yoga Therapist. She currently lives in Falling Waters, WV.

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