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Your story matters. My story matters. Our stories matter… The voice of every woman matters. 


We claim space to elevate and celebrate each other when we shine light on the brilliance, perspective, and wisdom of our sisters. No one voice is more valuable than another… There IS room for all women to shine!


Together we are stronger. Together we rise!


This article launches “Her Story”, a blog series and interview born in June 2018. Shortly after the idea, my life blew up a bit. Then… the world turned upside down… #COVID_DELAY. Now, in February of 2021, the birth month of our first featured woman, I share.

My life was forever shifted on this night in 1999 with Melantha Tatum  

Meet Melantha, she believed in me!

And… She showed me how to believe in myself, a true healing force in this world

Our paths in 1998 on the Shiatsu mat at the School of Healing Arts where I drank in her wisdom as my teacher and mentor. She introduced me to new ways to look at the body, mind, and spirit, Helped me to read and channel energy, mine, and those I worked with. She helped me to align with the power of the heavens and the earth as a reflection of my feminine strength and softness, pointing me back to me. She introduced me to the beauty and magic that happens when women gather in circle.   

Her presence, graceful and mystical… it’s no stretch to describe her as goddess embodied. 

Her radiant beauty and impact as a healer made her an iconic light that many of my fellow students and friends flocked to be near. Her ability as a teacher opened minds, increased wellbeing, and changed lives. 

At that time, I was a single mother to my beautiful son who turned 2 when we met.

I had been through a lot including a difficult birth experience. I remember vividly asking her to facilitate a women’s group… I felt like I was never really connected to my feminine strength or softness.

I longed to learn how to be a woman and was certain that her teaching would support that quest. She agreed and I helped her coordinate the first session, the picture above is of us on that night.  It was an incredible experience and I was eager for more.

With Melantha’s guidance and support, I became connected to my feminine nature for the first time. 

She was instrumental in guiding me to an undiscovered path within that is influential and alive in me to this day personally and professionally.


Wondering what happened at that first women’s group?


My “wax on, wax off” moment… Melantha, my feminine experience of Mr. Miyagi for sure.

The group itself was beautiful, what happened after was a mic drop moment.

After packing our treasures and supplies we talked, I thought to discuss the next session. I had no idea what was about to happen. I was straight up jolted when she shared that night was to be the only gathering she would facilitate.

She unexpectedly handed the baton off to me. I was stunned. I felt a wave of fear run through me. 

Me? Lead? Not possible, I was trying to learn HOW to be a woman not lead women! 

That one conversation, that one night transformed the trajectory of my life. 

With encouragement, I trusted and stepped in… it was a stretch, a free fall. In that one moment of “yes”, I was catapulted into a new direction. I have been creating community experiences, coordinating and facilitating groups, events, and workshops for women of all ages ever since.

The impact of her leadership was so profound that it influences me to this day.

Thank you Melantha for everything… and for sharing your time in answering my questions and for giving me permission to share you with my community.

I wish for all women to have a Melantha in their lives.

To learn more about her background and training, see below the interview questions…

“Her Story” is an ongoing series… you’re invited to reach out to learn more

Contact Leanne directly for details on how to be featured! 

An interview with Melantha, June 1998


Q: Who has been the most influential person in your life?

“My mother.  Growing up my mantra was, ‘I hope to be even half the woman my mother is.’  

She was emotionally strong yet a sensitive artistic woman, strong in a gentle way.  She was feminine and capable of whatever she chose to tackle.  She could build a garden wall as easily as she could glide over a dance floor, impeccably dressed.  

In her college years she surfed on a big, heavy long Redwood surfboard, in the early 1930’s.  She was adventurous and loved a good laugh.  Both she and my father taught us to be gracious to all we met.  Rich or poor, CEO or trash collector, all are to be respected, all are part of society’s fabric.

I am so grateful to mom for all I learned from and with her, and my father as well.  He taught me that we are on this earth to make a difference, to help others, to be responsible to the whole. Kindness, respect, love and a sense of humor and silliness too.”

Q: What do you cherish?

“I cherish Nature in all her moods.  

I cherish love in all its forms: my children and their children, friends, lovers, animals, plants, trees.  

I cherish the ocean, the rivers, the wildlands, and plants.  

I cherish trees and all the creatures large and small that they attract.  Walking among them here on our land or in the Pine forests nearby or in the Juniper forests in our high desert…breathing the life and the luxury of their beauty and their slow and purposeful existence.  

I cherish most memories of my 72 years, for each is a step in my journey to now.”

Q: What did you learn from the most difficult experience you’ve encountered in life?

“I don’t know if there is a “most difficult” experience.  

In the throes of difficulty, it can seem the “most” until solved or time has passed.  Then the next appears.  

I learn and grow from each experience, good or bad.  Breakups, divorces, deaths, disappointments, mostly in myself, all are most profound when in the midst.  With time and reflection there seemed something to learn from each, as if simply a part of the “quickening” of living, learning, and maturing.”

Q: What is one thing you wish you knew when you were a teenager?

 “I was a shy teenager, insecure in my self portrait.  I felt awkward.  

It was difficult to see myself.  I wasn’t sure “who I was,” so I am sure no one else could really “see” me either!  I didn’t have a lot of friends, I preferred being in the background and have always enjoyed being alone.  

I wish I knew that… most everyone else my age had similar feelings. 

While I believe it is a rite of passage to finally learn, I also wish I knew that “I am okay just as I am” … 
and that, “I am learning and growing and will probably be learning and growing until I die.”

I wish I knew…  that life is an ever-changing symphony of who we are becoming.”

Q: What makes you the happiest?

“Love, in all its forms makes me the happiest.  

My husband, children, grandchildren, our dogs, siblings, and their children… Love, it does go on and on and delivers the most exquisite joy.”

Q: What do you love about being a woman?

“I love the knowledge that  I am part of an extraordinary sisterhood. That as a woman I possess the strength and power in the feminine.

I love our ability to love unconditionally paired with the inherent power and ability to change the world for the better…

And I believe we will!”


Q: What do you find challenging about being a woman at this time?


Q: Aging is such a taboo topic, we try to pretend it is not happening in our culture…. What do you think about it all?

“Aging.  It isn’t easy in this current culture. 

So much of this is because of the image of “youth” in our culture, largely from Hollywood and media influence. It is all so absurd.  I am flummoxed by the botox era!  Plastic faces that have foregone any expression for a false “youthful” look.  

Women are being fed the importance of staying young, rather than celebrating the stages of maturity.  In other cultures, women are honored for their age rather than overlooked. 

I think we can shift this reality with more ceremony, rites of passage, and moments to be honored as we age rather than the dread which is our norm! 

 I am fortunate that my mother was so beautiful always, and I could see that who she was shone through the wrinkles and grey hair.  A lifetime role model.”


Q: Definitions of beauty are spoon fed to us through the many forms of media we consume causing a huge disconnect with seeing and accepting natural human beauty. What are your thoughts on this?

 “I feel what the media is doing, has done for too many years, borders on criminal.  It is deeply disturbing! It is such a complicated issue because of the generations that have been influenced.  Hopefully, in time more women will be in places of power over media and advertising and be able to put an end to the travesty.

Beauty comes in all sizes, all proportions, all colors.  

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the stress was on being your healthiest best, rather than some unattainable image that has been airbrushed, re worked to cover any “flaws,” and frozen in time. 

I think an important antidote can start in the home with girls is to help them define themselves with words like how smart they are, or how clever, or strong, or interesting, adventurous, diligent, inventive, resourceful, witty, etc, rather than ‘pretty’ in all it’s variables.”

Q: How do you think we as men and women can respond to this now long-held distorted view of beauty in ways that are empowering and real?

” I wish I knew! It is a great question and I am at a loss.  The distortion has permeated our culture invasively and insidiously. To recognize the ridiculousness and,  I dare say,  the immaturity of this distorted view takes courage and commitment.  I do believe the #metoo movement is a beginning.”

Q: What is your favorite quote?

” Antoine de Saint Exupery’s The Little Prince is my all-time favorite book. Specifically, the edition translated by Katherine Woods first in 1943…

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”  

Q: What ignites fear in you? How do you respond to this? What have you learned from this fear?

 “I recently had to deal with a fear that started so very many years ago.  I was in the 5th grade and was walking to school when a man drove up beside me, opened the passenger door, and asked if I wanted a ride.  When I said no thank you, he quickly reached across the seat and tried to grab me.  I ran home terrified.  A few days later I was home sick from school and my mother noticed a strange man outside our home and called me to her, it was the same man.  Police got involved and I had to identify him.  For a very long time after I was afraid he would find me.  I have never gotten over the discomfort/fear of strange men when alone. There is no rationalizing that kind of fear.

Recently my husband had surgery and I had to take our dogs hiking by myself.  The place is 20 minutes out of town, in the country. A couple of times there were strangers, men, and the fears really surfaced…

I hiked fast away from where they were and talked to myself, remembered the childhood fears, tried to work with them, but you know, the world is full of weird and dangerous people, mostly men.   All I figured I could do is to hike alone and face the fears, again and again, reminding myself that the chances of these men being anything other than nice humans was really slim!

What I learned is to keep going!  I don’t want fears to conquer me, even if we can’t conquer a fear, we can continue to face it and stick our tongues out at it!” 

Q: Do you have a bucket list?

“I do have a bucket list!

A reunion with my children and their children, all together for a week or 10 days, so my grandchildren get to know their cousins better, just to share time together.  My 3 kids live in different parts of the world.  I WILL make this happen. 

I also wish to go somewhere where the night sky is truly dark so that I can once again, as I did often in childhood, see the night sky, the magnificent multitude of stars, planets, and whatever else is there.  

Mostly, I am content with life as it is, as I live it, surrounded by love and Nature’s beauty.”


Q: If you could have the attention of all the people in the world, what wisdom, advice or observation would you share?

Melantha shares a bit about her background… 


I was born and raised in West Los Angeles, the last of five children.  I attended SC and then UCLA but never got a degree.

I have lived in Madrid for a year, Ojen, a small farming village in southern Spain for a year, Washington State for a year, and Hawaii for 3 years.  I always returned to California.  I now live in Central Oregon for 11 years (at the time of this interview).

The first part of my adult life I was a housewife and mother.  I played the guitar and wrote poetry too. 

When my children were older, in high school, I began my studies in the healing arts.  I went to Amiya Institute for 3 years, a center for spiritual healing and growth.  When I graduated I chose to be ordained as a non-denominational minister to officiate weddings, providing personalized ceremonies.  Through the years I have officiated over 150 weddings, baby welcoming, and celebrations of life.  At the same time, I studied Huna, Polynesian philosophy with Serge Kahili King.  These were workshops in Hawaii.  I also studied with Penny Prior Lomi Lomi Temple style massage over the course of several workshops on Kauai.

 After Amiya I moved to San Diego and decided to take my knowledge of energy healing into my massage practice.  I completed the Holistic Health Practitioner program at the School of Healing Arts, San Diego.  While a student there I fell in love with Watsu.  It was an extension of the Zen Touch I learned and loved.  I eventually became a certified instructor of Watsu I and II, having studied with its creator Harold Dull.  Watsu and teaching it, facilitating it, was my true love! 

In 2000 I moved to Los Angeles, continued teaching Watsu, and also studied Yoga Therapy with Larry Payne of Samata Yoga.

The joy of teaching and sharing love in ceremony has been an honor extraordinaire!  I have been deeply touched by all who crossed my many paths! 


Thank you for reading Her Story…

I chose to share every detail of this interview because she means so much to me.
Please reach out if you’d like to share your story or nominate another amazing woman to be featured.

Sending big waves of love your way!
Together we ARE stronger. Together we rise!

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Leanne creates dynamic communities igniting authentic communication, self-discovery, friendship and professional connections. She is a facilitator, speaker and writer. Leanne is known for her ability to create safe spaces for small and large groups where truth, transformation, and connection happen. Her knowledge base includes emotional literacy, communication, leadership, mindfulness, grief, trauma, bereavement, community, conflict resolution, change management, positive psychology and personal development. She is available for workshops, events and speaking engagements.

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