Introducing an Instructor: Debbie Liptan

Welcome to our ongoing series, “Introducing an Instructor.” From time to time, our instructors write about their work here in The Studio and discuss ways in which these programs can help participants manage their fibromyalgia symptoms. Today’s guest writer: Debbie Liptan

Let’s start by clearing up any possibility of confusion: I’m not Dr. Ginevra Liptan! She’s my daughter-in-law: my son Jamie is the Executive Director here at The Frida Center for Fibromyalgia. So it’s safe to say that my family and I are intimately familiar with the challenges and opportunities living with fibromyalgia can provide.

I was born and raised in the Portland metro area. I have nine younger siblings, so I’ve always seen myself as a caregiver and a protector – my mission in life is truly to care for others. Although our family is Catholic, I explored various spiritual traditions in my youth and have been an active practitioner, scholar, and teacher of Nichiren Buddhism for over 40 years.

Eight years ago I was working full-time in a stressful corporate environment. Around that time, my husband became gravely ill with the first of a series of debilitating conditions. It was a challenge, to say the least, to reconcile caring for him with the demands of my employment. Shortly afterward, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

It has been a difficult journey since then, but I have found comfort in my spiritual traditions. The ancient maxim, “Illness gives rise to the resolve to attain the way”, has profoundly transformed my views on life and wellness. This resolve has given me the strength I need each day to care for myself and for my husband, for whom I remain the primary caregiver.

As part of my journey, in 2006 I co-facilitated a multi-day conference: “Overcoming the Sufferings of Birth, Aging, Sickness, and Death.” It became clear to me that helping others facing similar struggles is part of my mission, and I have worked ever since to find new opportunities to expand this role in my daily life.

This is why I am so pleased to be offering a free course at The Frida Center: “From Illness to Well-Being.” Our primary focus will be to address the final paragraph in Dr. Ginevra Liptan’s book, with particular emphasis on the last sentence:

“Our lives should not be defined by our illness or diagnoses. Learn as much as you can about fibromyalgia and use the most effective therapies available. Then focus on living a bold and purposeful life, whatever that means to you.”

Fibromyalgia often forces us into new life patterns – new (or no) work, new (or fewer) relationship structures, new (and largely unpleasant) changes in body and mind. It’s no surprise that so many of us find it difficult to retain our pre-diagnosis identity, our self-esteem, our sense of self. Many of us feel helpless, worthless, lost. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

This course will help participants reclaim their lives and identities through a re-evaluation of their true potentials. We’ll explore our capabilities and capacities, turning each week to a different theme. And we’ll find new ways to define ourselves that include – but do not prioritize – our fibromyalgia.

We know that the mind-body connection is real: our thoughts, emotions, and attitudes can affect our physical well-being. When we begin to value and appreciate ourselves for all of the abilities and strengths that we still have, we’ll uncover new tools for managing our physical symptoms throughout our lives.

I invite you all to join me for this exciting journey.

Debbie’s free course, “From Illness to Well-Being”, will begin May 9 in The Studio. For more information, please contact Debbie at or The Studio at

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5 thoughts on “Introducing an Instructor: Debbie Liptan

  1. Debbie,

    Thanks for using your talents to help others in need. I feel so defined by this illness, it is hard not
    to think about it upon waking, during the day and the last thing at night. When someone asks me to do something or go somewhere, I always have to do this mental body scope and think “What will that involve, how will it affect others if I cancel out at the last minute, what kind of food will be involved, will I get a bed by myself, can I slip away and be by myself, who else will be there and the list goes on.”

    I so want to have some kind of purpose in life and not be defined by what I can’t do anymore.


    • Hi, Sharon —

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts about life with fibromyalgia. Although Debbie’s upcoming course is full, she’ll offer it again later this year, and there are other programs here at The Studio that you might find helpful – including our June 2 “Introduction to SoulCollage” workshop, which explores how to lessen fibromyalgia’s emotional impact on daily life. If you’d like to learn more about what we offer, please contact Michelle at (503) 477-9616, x111: she’ll be happy to discuss our programs with you.

      Best wishes for the road ahead.

  2. Sharon, Thanks so much for your thoughts. I have to say that I totally understand the struggle. It certainly not a breeze – not all the time for sure. But, one thing I know is that life lived viewing my illness as a gift instead of as a burden totally changes how I experience everything. One of the many things I appreciate about the Frida Center is that we are creating a place where a sense of community is developing and “people encouraging people” can happen quite naturally as folks meet in the various classes or even in the waiting room before appointments.

    I look forward to meeting you there sometime soon – or perhaps we’ve already met? In any case, I know we can each choose our own way forward AND we can help each other do that. Take care.

    • I like what you say about viewing this illness as a gift instead of a burden. I will ponder on this as I go about my day.

      I live 4.5 hours from Portland so will probably not be able to make it to any classes. Hopefully they can be videod one of these days and the rest of the fibro community can watch them.

      Thank you and namaste,


  3. I see. Yes, well I do know that there are plans in the works for that very thing – hopefully by later in the year. And, who knows, perhaps there are others in your community who could also use the encouragement. Maybe you can help them. A teacher I follow has said: “When you encounter a wall, you should tell yourself, ‘Since there is a wall here, a wide, open expanse must lie on the other side.’ Rather than becoming discouraged, know that encountering a wall is proof of the progress that you have made so far.”

    I do hope we can meet one day. With much respect for your journey,

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