Getting Ahead of Life’s Curves: Using Passion as a Rudder

 By Lynda Dell

Running has always been as vital as breathing for 50-year-old health and fitness expert Deb Dellapena. This Greater Philadelphia mom of two teenage boys and volunteer coach for the non-profit Girls on the Run of Montgomery County shares her love of running and teaches youth about the emotional and physical benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle. Her passion truly runs deeper than achieving goals and surpassing the boundaries of her physical limits.


“I love running long and strong, the feeling of accomplishing a goal, pushing myself farther than I thought I could, and being away from the demands of my family,” said Dellapena. “Running gives me confidence, allows me to feel strong, clear-headed, de-stressed, challenged, and cleansed in some ways. It’s my main source of energy and happiness.”


She followed her heart to develop an action plan to promote lifetime health and fitness. But she never anticipated that her greatest disappointments would turn out to be blessings in disguise. Her journey would lead her full circle to her purpose, opening up possibilities that she scarcely could have imagined.

Finding the Right Fit

Having acquired her Bachelor of Science in physical education, Dellapena landed her dream job in corporate America working for a company that she thought was dedicated to employee fitness with an on-site spa. Several years later she realized that her position really wasn’t a good fit.

Although she would orient clients, one-on-one, on how to use the equipment, the proper way to do stretches and exercises, as well as   set them up with a basic fitness regiment, she was primarily selling gym memberships–and clearly not impacting America’s fitness. Discouraged by how quickly clients gave up on becoming fit, she changed course.

Recognizing the Red Flags: Making Major Course Corrections

Then she pursued physical therapy, first as an aid with the long-term goal of returning to school to become a physical therapist (PT). “As a PT, I could heal the injured and restore their functionality, as well as recognizing the small steps taken in the recovery process,” she explained.


When her grades weren’t good enough to get into physical therapy grad school, Dellapena had to be flexible enough to allow her dream to take on another form, one built on her strengths.

To get ahead of this curve, she would have to be resilient enough to  withstand this devastating blow to the ego.

“It made me feel like I wasn’t good at anything,” she recalled. “So after years of assisting PT’s, I came up with a plan C.”

Taking Action: Capitalizing On Strengths

For years Dellapena has honed her expertise by learning and reading everything about health and fitness.  When she returned to school to pursue her master’s degree in English, she leveraged years of knowledge and field experience to first pivot into the medical publishing field and most recently to the consumer publications market.

Her early freelance opportunities as a fact checker, researcher, writer, and editor and persistent networking have led to her first major break as an acquisitions editor for a major medical news journal.

Today, as an editor, writer, and researcher for numerous major trade and consumer publications, she is involved with all phases of the publishing process from concept development to the final production online and in print content for cardiologists, families, physical therapists,  and addiction recovery patients.

Her advice: “If this is something that you really want, then you will find a way to make it happen.”

Leveraging the Universe to Achieve Success

In his book, “Leveraging the Universe: 7 Steps to Engaging Life’s Magic,” New York Times bestselling author and renowned world speaker Mike Dooley revealed the life-changing  lessons he learned from his “train wreck.”

“And so began the most difficult and humbling and scariest time of my life,” said Dooley. I was faced with starting over—yet I didn’t even know where to start.”

He discovered that once he stopped seeing himself as a victim, and as a no good failure, he could begin to honestly assess his passions, talents, and abilities. Then slowly he took baby steps every day that built on his strengths without getting bogged down with micromanaging how to realize his dreams.

Dooley believes that you should “do all you can with what you’ve got from where you are.” That means to prepare yourself, set yourself up for success, and let the infinite possibilities of the universe play themselves out.

He didn’t sit back and wait for his circumstances to change; rather, he reached out to successful entrepreneurs for guidance, honed his skills and talents, availed himself of the opportunities that began to unfold, and charted a new course to manifest his dreams just like Dellepena has.

“Looking back today,”Dooley mused, ” I can see that my train of life never derailed; it simply changed tracks!”

If you are chasing your dream, what steps have you taken? Or have you stopped prematurely?

Has your “train wreck” turned out to be your greatest gift?




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