13 Teachers who Change(d) My Life

This is a post I’ve wanted to write for a long, long time. Its time came now, as the end of 2014 allowed me to slow down and sink into a deep feeling of gratitude for all that’s good and joyful in my life. Mostly, my thoughts went to the people who supported, inspired and uplifted me on my life journey so far. Here are their stories.

When I was 5, my parents started to send me regularly to the little school in our village as a sort of pre-school preparation. We were seven to ten kids in the four classes, packed together in one room with a few wooden benches close to the stove. Our teacher, Mrs. Paraschiva Balas, was masterfully handling all our needs with the wisdom of her experience (she retired only four years later).

It was Mrs. Balas who held my head, looked into my eyes and told me: “Cristina, when you want something, you will not go left, nor right. You will go straight ahead. When you do so, there is nothing that can stop you in getting what you really want.” Beyond words, Mrs. Balas taught me something else: even when you feel totally lost and the road seems endless, there is a teacher somewhere caring for you. He will show up at the right moment, bringing the ingredients that you are prepared to digest in order to carry your life to the next level. This is a tribute to the most wonderful spirits who crossed my path, held me in my darkest moments and brought my soul to where I am today.

Paraschiva Balas

She rose generations after generations of children in my village. She could be fierce when a child’s interests were at stake. She was willing to go the distance for her kids. When I wanted to let my hair grow, but wasn’t patient enough to let my granny brush it, she would come in to school a few minutes earlier and brush my long, wild black hair.

She was unforgiving with the accuracy of our education. I wrote pages after pages of small signs till my calligraphy got perfect. She insisted on us doing our homework; in fact, when I broke my leg at age 9, she came to our place day after day for three weeks, helping me to catch up. For kids, she could be a nightmare, popping up at our homes unexpectedly at play time. Looking back, she was a saint. And, as a good saint, she’s now looking down upon us from a place in Heaven I like to believe is reserved for caring teachers.

Jan Bílý

I call him my translator of male souls. Passionate, witty, authentic and respectful in front of What Is Greater than us, Jan is inspiring me into becoming more of who I am. Two weeks from now I will start his one-year-long training into systemic constellations. His work with this method in the Czech Republic is revolutionary; his personal development books and blog inspire me to dare looking into places in my soul I didn’t even know existed. Above all, Jan is showing me what can happen when we change nothing, just make room for miracles. I couldn’t be more excited about the journey ahead of us this year.

Marc Fion

I met Marc for the first time in 2003, when he came to Bucharest as a journalism teacher of the Erasmus university exchange program. His passion for journalism is only equaled by his mighty heart and fierce love for the truth and his family. We spent long hours talking about the role of journalism in today’s world. Marc taught me that it is worth it: at the end of the day, when you love what you do, leaving your life in the newsroom is just a fact. You simply can’t do it otherwise.

David Henderson

In 2010, heart-broken after the sudden closure of my paper Czech Business Weekly, I decided to shift gears and become a media trainer. So, I reached out for the best books on the topic. Fascinated with one of them, The Media Savvy Leader , I gathered my courage and invited its author, David Henderson, to Prague. He didn’t only answer me within 24h; he accepted my invitation voluntarily. In April 2011 we held in Prague the first workshop on Brand Journalism in Central and Eastern Europe. Ever since, his support has been a moral compass that doesn’t let me take a single step at the right or left of respectful, professional strategic communications advisory.

Karin Genton L’Epée

Karin is one of the founding pillars of the Czech executive coaching market. She has been around, raising the level of self-awareness and public speaking of local professionals since 1995. For me, she has been a constant source of inspiration and feedback. Above all, she taught me in her brilliant, direct French style that you can follow your path by saying even the hardest things with elegance and grace.

Mona Jusca 

It was more of a happy accident. I met Mona Jusca at a common acquaintance’s birthday party back in 1998 when I was exploring my options for university education. A fresh graduate and teacher of semiotics at the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Bucharest, Mona told me more about the faculty. I can still remember the moment when, in 1999, she took me to the faculty for the first time. Looking down the flat city from the 6th floor of the building I exclaimed: “But where are the hills?” Mona accommodated me at her place almost every third weekend during my last year of high school. Every third Friday I would jump into the night train to Bucharest, travel for nine hours and spend two days with her writing and learning to think creatively. She prepared me for the admission to the University of Journalism. In September 2000, when I found out that I was admitted at the Faculty of Journalism the 7th out of more than 800 candidates, I cried. If there was a key turning point in my life, this was it. Thanks to her.

Katka Masopustová

Katka came into my life from a totally different field. Maybe that’s exactly what makes her unique. Trained to think, I have been rarely trained to do physical exercise, to feel my body, to cultivate my well-being and explore my possibilities also through my body. Well, that’s exactly what Katka has been doing for most of her life: using her body as an instrument to open the path of possibilities for the others. A fierce, forceful trainer of the European Fitness Systems Professional Education (EFPE) school, she goes for nothing but the best for her clients. Reluctant to do anything that might bring quick benefits but long-term harm to the body and spirit, Katka walks her talk and inspires me. Recently she also launched her own training fashion line. During her EFPE training sessions, I learn to feel my body. Thanks to her, I am slowly learning to take responsibility for my health and for feeling whole.

Lenka Mrazová

I met Lenka for the first time when I was still a journalist. Head of the accounting department of one of the largest advisories in the country, I was expecting to meet someone boring and dry. Lenka blew away all my images of the accounting profession. Smart, funny and rich in ideas and vision, she helped me to understand the mysteries of the Czech taxation system. When she left the corporate world, we met again. Lenka is not only my mentor and friend; she inspires me through her way of going fiercely after her purpose to inspire and support other women to experience their lives at full. To me, she’s a symbol of courage, inspiration and never giving up.

Mariana Munthiu 

I was 15 when I first met Prof. Munthiu in one of the dark low-level rooms of the Decebal National College in Deva. My French was raw, as was my wild nature. She lifted my spirit and saw something in me that I wasn’t even capable of grasping. She stood by me all along the path even when I came up with the crazy idea of going to study journalism in Bucharest.

Thanks to her I was able to teach private lessons of French when I first moved to Prague. Thanks to her I was able to make a living and support myself till I got back into the media. Above all, thanks to her I discovered the French culture, flavor of French words rolling down my tongue and, oh ever so tasty French delicacies. Till now I have softness, romance and style connected with listening and debating Et si tu n’existais pas during her classes.

Tamara Melissa

In 2010 I came across a workshop where I heard for the first time of the concept of inner child. When challenged to close my eyes and try to imagine myself as a little girl, to raise that little girl in my arms and take care of her, I couldn’t even breathe. At that moment I knew there was a lot of work for me to do in this field. The path took me towards Tamara, who’s been conducting passage rituals for women for more than 15 years. It was her who allowed me to taste for the full time how it feels to be surrounded by powerful, genuine, fully open Women. She held my hand in a few key moments of my life and showed me the possibilities of a purpose: to learn how to put my own energy at the service of other women.

John Scherer

I met John in 2008, when my good friend Ana Maria Pop organized a seminar of personal development with him in Prague. I wrote an interview with him. I bought his book Five Questions that Change Everything, but reading it was somehow too much for me. The book caught dust till one day, in 2011, when I reached out and started to finally read it. It clicked like a magnet with my topics of attention at that moment. In 2012 I decided to attend one of John’s professional courses, Leadership Development Intensive in Warsaw. I am still carrying the outcome of that workshop, my life GPS (General Purpose Statement), in my wallet. John, who moved to Poland in 2008, has recently launched an online academy for leadership and transformation.

Constantin Stan

The Professor, as we would call him together with Oana Pocovnicu, Gabi Pistol and a few other beautiful minds from my generation of journalism students. Costi, as his friends would call him, practically put the writing pen into my hand and longing for writing into my heart. At a moment when I didn’t think it possible, he wrote the opening word for my first book, The Evolution of Silence, a collection of poems published in Romanian in 2004 before I left my country. A journalist, novelist and writer with the gentlest spirit, Costi joined Mrs. Balas in the Good Teachers’ Heaven way too early, in 2013.

Eva Velechovská

As she says during her enneagram training courses, the best comes always at the end. Eva is the person who brought the enneagram, a powerful dynamic personal development training system to the Czech Republic almost 20 years ago. Committed to raising the quality of human life through personal growth and self-awareness, Eva built a company and a team of selected trainers of the enneagram, emotional intelligence, leadership and communication skills that is unique on the Czech market and fully comparable with the best enneagram schools in the world. She made the Czech Republic a center for gathering of some of the most prestigious enneagram teachers of the moment. Above all, as a fellow 7 Adventurer / Enthusiast, Eva is my constant mirror of what I need to leave behind in order to move forward.

As I’m sure she would agree, some journeys are really worth taking, even – or mainly – when it hurts.

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The best way to gain, retain, and restore your critical distance as a woman CEO is to have a faithful guide, thought partner, and inspiring challenger by your side. This is what I am for women CEOs. If you are facing major developments in your business or in your career this year, we should talk. Please book or have your assistant book a no-strings-attached free 30-minute CEO exploration call with me; we will get to know each other and I will be thrilled to spot how I could be of your service in 2024 and beyond.
Cristina Muntean
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Let's Talk

The best way to gain, retain, and restore your critical distance as a woman CEO is to have a faithful guide, thought partner, and inspiring challenger by your side. This is what I am for women CEOs. If you are facing major developments in your business or in your career this year, we should talk. Please book or have your assistant book a no-strings-attached free 30-minute CEO exploration call with me; we will get to know each other and I will be thrilled to spot how I could be of your service in 2024 and beyond.