home People The Coronado View On… Growth

The Coronado View On… Growth

From the day we are born we grow in one way or another – physically, spiritually, inter-personally, mentally — and often it’s up to us to decide how far we push ourselves to blossom. We asked Coronadans to share their thoughts on growing throughout life, including how to keep thriving despite challenging obstacles.

“I eat bananas and brush my teeth and play and go to the doctor so I grow high and touch the sky!” ~ Peri McPeake (age 2 years, 9 months)

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“I’ve seen a lot of people become stagnant after graduation because there is this false notion that when you’re done with school, you’re done learning. But I think growth — interpersonal, personal, professional, societal — is impossible without education. Education and knowledge are a means toward freedom from inequality and social injustices. It is only through education that we are empowered to examine the status quo — and change it if necessary.”  ~ Benjamin Street

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“As long as I can remember, I have awoken from sleep with ‘challenge’ on my mind.  I challenge myself every day to plan for the future, embrace the diversity of friends and strangers, and learn from the art I discover all around me.  When life tests me, and it does most days, I challenge myself to find the humor in it. And because the Coronado lifestyle is like a dream, it’s also a challenge not to take life here for granted. Meeting these challenges helps me grow a little bit each day.” ~ Susan Tappan




“I think the key to personal or professional growth is pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. You have to try new experiences, ideally with new relationships and new balances. After 15 years running two successful dental practices in San Diego, I was tired and burned out from 12-hour days and doubts about my career. I started to exercise and meditate and focus on balance in my life. Those practices rejuvenated me — and I yearned to start a new practice here in Coronado. It’s amazing how a fresh look at something helps us think differently about our challenges and opportunities.” ~ Katee Yassini Afshar, DDS



Justin Kelley's  post surgeryIMG_1499“In 2005, I had a motorcycle accident. After the trauma, a condition I was born with — arteriovenous malformation — caused three hemorrhagic strokes in my brain. I was in surgery for more than 10 hours and technically died three times throughout the process. When I came out of surgery, the doctor told my parents I’d never be myself again. But over the course of the following years, with the unwavering support of my friends and family, I started to reclaim my life. I had to relearn everything from the alphabet to basic concepts like one-plus-one-equals-two. In many ways, the doctors’ prognosis that I’d never be able to function on my own again was what pushed me to keep striving and growing though the biggest obstacle I’ve ever faced. After a few years, my memories began returning and I started to be a functioning human being again. I’m even working on a book about the whole experience.”

~ Justin Kelley

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“A few lessons I’ve learned growing up are never be mean to your friends, never mess around at school, and when I have a problem with my sister, I try to work it out. But if I can’t, I tell.” ~ Annie Benzian (age 6)

“I think that part of growing up is learning to always tell the truth and be loyal.” ~ Emma Benzian (age 8)




Suzanne Manuel


“In 2009, my life changed drastically when I lost Gary, my husband of 41 years, to pancreatic cancer. Finding my new ‘normal’ was a difficult and often painful journey. In 2010, I made my first humanitarian trip to Missionvale, South Africa, to volunteer in a township that the Rotary Club of Coronado is involved with. As I worked in the kitchen preparing food parcels and passing out soup and bread, I saw such an incredible need in the people of Missionvale, but also such deep love, kindness and spirit. It was a transitional trip for me. In giving of myself and reaching out to help others, I began to heal. That journey, along with the loving support of my family, marked the beginning of my ‘new life.’ I came home with renewed purpose: to do my best to make a difference and use the many gifts that God has given me for something good, and to make my husband proud of the way I was living my life. Coronado Rotary Club has been a vehicle for that purpose; it’s such a force for good in the world that has given me wonderful, loving friends with integrity, high ethical standards and a commitment to serve others in the community and beyond.” ~ Suzanne Manuel


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“I believe personal growth is born of necessity — the need to make a happier, more fulfilling life, and to choose change over comfort. In 2014, I visited the West Coast and fell in love with Coronado walking along Ocean Boulevard. Shortly thereafter, finding myself unhappy in London, I made the decision to follow my heart to the place of my dreams and moved to the island in October. I didn’t know anyone, and it meant leaving everything familiar behind. But I leapt in spite of my fears. We can all heal, change and thrive, but we have to be willing to show up to the challenges. And it’s the bad days that bring essential lessons if you’re open to receiving them.”

~ Carrie Hogan, nutritionist


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