Gretchen Eelon Vorbeck

GretchenGretchen and her husband Bruce live in beautiful Sutter Creek, California. They share their home with Dazzle and Poochie, their cat and dog.

Gretchen is founder of Roundtable Leadership. Her expertise: Leadership Mentor, Team Builder and Trans-Party-Activator.

Gretchen’s techniques enhance clients’ willingness, choice and ability to work in unison while maintaining their individuality and uniqueness.

You can find more information on her website,

Here is an excerpt from Gretchen’s book, Mother, I’m Part of the Sky.

31a. FRONT COVER with words. jpg



Looking at myself in the mirror, after returning from my 50 year class reunion in Ojai, California, I declared, “My smile wrinkles are deeper than my frown lines!”

Reflecting on my classmates, I recalled how revealing their eyes were. Some eyes danced, shining brightly as my old pals’ spoke of life. Others’ eyes were dimly lit, revealing a sense of hopelessness.

Dickey’s eyes reflected vibrancy, exuding enthusiasm as he spoke, even though he was sentenced to life in a wheelchair.

I noticed Jack, a former high school “hunk” sitting at the bar. Looking horrified he stood to greet me. “GOD is that you, Gretchen? I thought you would always be beautiful! You hadn’t changed a bit at our 45th reunion. I didn’t think you would ever age!”

To my surprise, I wasn’t the least bit offended by Jack’s remark. Receiving his big hug, I felt an unexpected surge of gratitude. I thought,

My good looks got me through—helped me feel somewhat acceptable growing up. For that I am grateful. However, I am more grateful to believe my best days are in my future—not my past!

Looking in the mirror, I smiled seeing the older woman smiling back at me.

It seems we all have what we need to get by. But as we age, it’s interesting how some of us are driven to expand courageously into the unknown—exploring the mysteries of life—while others retreat.

I walked into the kitchen to brew a cup of cappuccino. Plopping into a comfortable chair—I sipped, reflecting…


Chapter One:

In many ways, I was a very fortunate child. My mother, father, two older sisters, Karen and Susan, and I lived in the country three miles from downtown, in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Our Third Fruit Ridge home was located on a hill near two other families. Within our three families, there were seven children. Driving up the lane to the right was my best friend Anne’s house. We met when the Kuhnhausen’s moved to the hill—I was three years old and Anne was one.

The Conrow’s lived directly across the lane from the Kuhnhausen’s. Continuing straight down the lane past the big apple tree was the white wall marking the sidewalk and entrance to our house.

Our house was unusual since it had once been a barn. I loved thinking that my bedroom, along with Susan’s, had been the hay loft. Our bedroom doors opened to a sitting area. From there we had access to a large sundeck the width of the kitchen, living room, and dining area below. During the summer we were allowed to sleep in sleeping bags on the sundeck, where the stars infused us with beauty and wonder until we slept.

The lane was lined with pear trees growing along the irrigation ditch. The ditch wandered   around the hillside near the Conrow’s barn and past our favorite apple tree. Oh, how we children   loved the tart green apples!

The apple tree was positioned on a long sloping ditch bank, which made a perfect slide into the irrigation ditch. After splashing enough water from the ditch to the bank to create mushy mud, we could slide down the bank into the ditch on our bottoms.   After much use, our slide reached an optimal smooth, gushy slickness, presenting the opportunity to slide on our stomachs head first into the water. We spent   hours splashing, sliding and drenching our bodies in the wonderful mud and irrigation water.

One day we found a rounded metal horse-watering container. Sitting in the container, we created adventures in our imaginations. “We will float all the way to California! We’ll start from the apple tree, float to the canal, then the Colorado River, and be clear to the ocean in California within a few days!”

Soon growling tummies brought us back to reality, and we ran to our tree house for apricots.   Or perhaps first, to the Kuhnhausen’s raspberry bushes, or to the pasture on the other side of the hill. Many times we rounded out lunch with fresh asparagus growing along the bank from our sliding ditch, as it meandered through the neighborhood.

Our mother’s must have been as grateful for the hill as we were-the earth, trees, ditches, and sky were grand caretakers and guardians for their children. Witnessing our creative spirits in action must have filled their hearts with joy, as they watched us create each new adventure.

Susan is three years older than I am, and Karen three years older than Susan. Because of our age spread, I don’t recall much sisterly interaction in our younger years, except at the dinner table each evening where we had family conversations.

Our mother, Bette, was unusual for the times.   She was an abstract painter, a stifled activist, a beautiful woman who practiced yoga. Sometimes Mother took me to the Horn of Plenty natural food store after school for fresh carrot juice.

My father and mother were opposites. He worked. He was the third generation “Herman Vorbeck,” who dutifully followed in the footsteps of his male ancestors managing Vorbeck Sporting Goods, a regional wholesale sporting goods business. Herman and Bette met in high school. As Helen Kuhnhausen, mother of my best friend Anne would tell us, “Your parents were such a handsome couple.”

Helen’s parents owned Potter Drug Store where Helen worked at the soda fountain. Even though Helen was older than Herman and Bette, they all became friends at the fountain in their younger years. I loved hearing Helen’s stories about my parents when they were in high school.   She made them sound so exquisite.

Helen and her husband, Harry owned Homeowner’s Reality. Helen was the only woman on the hill who worked outside the home. She dressed in a business suit and drove a light-blue 1949 Nash Ambassador. Although she and Harry worked in the same office, Helen drove her own car to work.

Harry, Anne’s father, was a handsome man. He looked elegant in his business suit and hat. He loved fishing and hunting. Harry seemed to thoroughly enjoy the slap-stick humor and giggling from Anne and me in the backseat of Kuhnhausen’s car while driving to their cabin in Redstone, Colorado, for summer vacations. Anne’s brother tried not to laugh, but couldn’t keep a straight face.

Gilbert, (Anne and I called him Gillie-Pie) is two years older then Anne. We were cautious when entering Gil’s bedroom. He was inquisitive by nature with science experiments set up in various areas in his bedroom. On occasion explosions, or odd smells, came from his room.

I was honored to be my father’s tomboy however; I sincerely wished I had been born a boy. Producing a boy was necessary to carry on the Vorbeck name and the family business. My birth was the last hope for a boy in our family. Dr. Graves strongly suggested Mother not get pregnant after Susan’s birth. He warned a third caesarian would threaten Mother’s health.

Gommie, my father’s mother, was devastated. She blamed Mother for not producing a male. Mother told me she knew she was destined to birth me. Despite my father’s disappointment, he and I were kindred spirits. I knew he loved me. Mother called me her “magical child” and Daddy called me “Grelfetchin.”

I must have been quite a sight the summer I was five. I refused to wear anything around the neighborhood other than my red cowboy boots, red swimming trunks, and red cowboy hat, believing doing so would please my father……..


“Imagine a modern day Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, talking to animals, hearing guiding spirits, while living in a world where a teacher becomes a witch and a princess meets death through fire.  

Gretchen Vorbeck’s magical child in red cowboy boots boldly follows her spirit voices through the shadow of death, past human egos, until she finds in herself the strong, gifted adviser and community leader she was meant to be.  She has much to teach us.”  

 Helen Bonner, author
MsDemeanors, Cry Dance, Dolphin Papers, & First Love Last

“What a beautiful, heart felt, descriptive life. The magic, the love and the honesty all but overwhelmed me. I felt so close to it, and honored to be there. 

The messages to inspire, to help growth and understanding stood out elegantly. Delightful, well written I highly recommend, Mother I’m Part of the Sky.”                             

           Dana Cummins, Co-Founder Mountain Spirit Co-Op

“Wow, if I ever doubt Spirit’s work in our lives, I will always go back to Gretchen’s writing for inspiration and trust that all is well if we listen. She sure did!”  

Nancy Macias featured in “Born to Live in Sedona” by Dee Beach