It’s never too late to follow your dreams
By Sue Baldani
Dr. Ethel Canty Bothuel has known the elation of success, the despondency of failure, and everything in between. But no matter what life has thrown at her, her faith, determination and fortitude have always carried her through.
A highly-educated woman, as well as an accomplished speaker, an ordained minister, and an administrator who has worked for various universities, Dr. Ethel fell into a deep depression for six long years. In 2020, her situation became even more dire when she lost her home. But, instead of dwelling on her misfortune any longer, she knew she had to do something to lift herself back up.
“At one point, I had the proverbial $1.98 left and that won’t buy you much these days,” says Dr. Ethel. “I hired what I called my ‘thinking coach,’ Stephen Pleasant. He was actually my transformation and success coach. His background is social work and psychotherapy and we went through a program called Thinking Into Results.”
This program gave her the necessary tools to reclaim her life and helped her begin to set goals once again. “I had stopped setting goals, and that’s when my life took a downturn,” she says.
At the height of the pandemic in 2020, she conceived the idea of Dr. Ethel Speaks, a coaching program to help people speak with confidence and get their messages heard. Dr. Ethel Speaks was officially founded in January of 2021. She wanted to focus on something that she knew how to do well and enjoyed doing.
While growing her new endeavor, Dr. Ethel Speaks, she set another goal. “l was staying with friends and I told them that I was going to be on my own in seven months.” In six months, she had a contract on a condo.
Located in Bealeton, the condo had everything she needed except for one thing. “It didn’t have a balcony, which I so desperately wanted,” says Dr. Ethel. “But, I could compromise on that because this is an intermediate stop before I build my own home or buy another condo with a balcony.”
She entitled this transformational process “New Beginnings, a Determined Entrepreneur.”
“My life before had been filled with really good leadership experiences in higher education,” she says. “I worked for Federal City College, now UDC [University of the District of Columbia], Gallaudet University, Georgetown University and George Washington University. I also did a short stint at Public Broadcasting as an administrator. In addition, I was an executive director of a nonprofit of what now consists of 16,000 African American women called The Links, Incorporated.”
Dr. Ethel is determined to get back the happiness and success she once enjoyed, while also sharing what she learned while dealing with adversity. She believes she can relate to those who are having a difficult time. In addition to going through her struggles with money, homelessness and depression, she also lost her middle son in July of 2021. “I really miss him,” she says.
Her faith and strength keeps her moving forward. “You have to be resilient and resilience requires persistence. You can’t just feel good today and go back in the doldrums tomorrow. You have to keep yourself lifted up, even if you have to encourage yourself.”
She adds, “If you have the desire to get things done, you must also have the fire to match that desire. Inspiration without motivation is stagnation. When speaking with someone, you don’t only want to inspire them, but you also want to give them a reason to do what they need to do.”
Dr. Ethel says you can be happier, achieve greater success, and be more confident if you take these steps: Have clarity, change your thinking, and choose to let go.
“Some people, when they get to a certain age, get stuck and they keep to a particular way of doing and thinking that will keep them stuck,” she says. “I strongly believe that you are never too old to start over, it is never too late to pursue a better life, and there is no such thing as too big a dream.”
She also stresses to not let pride hinder progress. “Everyone thought that I always had it together,” says Dr. Ethel. “They said, ‘She speaks well, she dresses well, and she always presents herself well,’ but they didn’t know how I was hurting inside.”
Today, Dr. Ethel is thriving and helping others do the same. In Bealeton, she has reached out to local organizations and has met some wonderful people. “Business people and elected professionals have been welcoming far beyond what I expected,” she says. “I’m also excited to speak to local organizations and in schools and to have clients in this area.”
She is also in the process of writing two books, one of which is almost finished. “It is an inspirational book for high achievers,” says Dr. Ethel “It’s sort of a journal that gives an inspirational tip and encourages the reader to expound upon that.” A title will be forthcoming.
In addition to her academic and business success, she also takes great satisfaction in being a loving and beloved mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Being a role model for them, pursuing her dreams, and never giving up, is a legacy she will someday leave behind. But not anytime soon!
“I’m determined, at 80 years old, to start over,” she says.
Dr. Ethel’s Services
Dynamic and invigorating keynote presentations on a variety of topics to inspire clients to reach their highest potentials. Interactive, engaging and informative lectures that will motivate audiences to accomplish their goals.
Individual and Group Coaching
Enhance your message, increase your confidence and worth, and manage the fear that often comes with public speaking. Learn how to engage your audience and inspire them to listen, learn and launch their own path to success.