True Peak Journey: Angie Kenny

by Lance Ekum on · 49 comments

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” ~ Lao Tzu

The Preface

During the fall of 2009, I attended a week-long leadership workshop in North Carolina.  This was a wonderful learning and growth experience, and one I still hold close to me today.  The day I arrived, I sat next to a young woman, unknown to me at the time.  Our group that week was small – 7 participants.  And our time together was also, very much a "getting to know you at a deep level" experience. Good, good stuff.

Back to that young woman, though.  Her name…Angie Kenny.   A soul-filled person, supporting the growth of a  local hotel in neighboring Greensboro.  We connected over that week together, and have continued our friendship and support of each other since that time.

A few months after this workshop, Angie shared with me that her real passion was baking.  Not only that, she was going to give it a shot – going after her dream (awesome, isn't it!).  And that's exactly what she did – and today, nearly two years later, she has a thriving business, Zen Cat Gluten-Free Bakery, servicing the Greensboro area and the world!

Her motto:  Gluten-Free + Vegan + All Love (so, so fitting for this lovely soul!)

Read below as Angie shares a part of this journey toward her true peak.

Angie and Zen Cat Gluten-Free Bakery

I am a dreamer.  I’m also a Gemini, so I like to do a lot of things and dream up a lot of ideas.  I like to learn things to help me grow and to just have an experience with life.  I’ve moved away from the thought that you “choose one thing to do and do it”, career-wise.  I wasn’t conscious about this philosophy until I looked at my job history.  I’ve had experience in interior design, farming, filmmaking, serving afternoon tea, assisting a brilliant CEO and now working in a bakery.

This is not a status list; it’s from where I’ve traveled so I value it as a snapshot of my life.  I also see the trajectory of my choices.  One decision to learn a new skill set (read: overcome fear or reservation) became a stepping stone to the next learning experience.  I only had to apply (basically) one thing:  my heart.

Most of the “adult” career or job choices I’ve made were led by my heart and not by social pressures or a dollar sign.  Sure I wrote down the pros and cons of each move (I am an arduous list maker), weighed options, took a deep breath and took a dive…

My current position in life is no exception.  I am a baker.  I own Zen Cat Gluten-Free Bakery, and I started this business from my heart and with a few business skills picked up from my previous – full-time, salaried, with benefits! –  job at a very successful hotel and restaurant company.

My heart and my tummy moved me!  I had to go gluten-free a few years ago, which is not an easy lifestyle change.  I was hungry!  I couldn’t find any good cookie to eat and worse, I wasn’t able to eat my grandmother’s most delicious pumpkin cake.  I knew that if I was looking for something good to eat, then there were others out there looking for the same thing.

I realized that in helping myself to a good cookie, I could help others.  I would help others in opening a bakery business.  AND, I wanted to touch everyone, not just those who are gluten-free and vegan.   

This became part of Zen Cat’s mission statement:  to create great desserts and bakery products that are gluten-free and vegan (did I mention vegan??), that are more healthful and that appeal to everyone.  I want to bake with mindfulness, with love.  I want love and well-being to be the ingredients, along with organic sugar and fair trade cocoa.  You don’t have to be gluten-free or vegan to enjoy Zen Cat Bakery’s Oh Snap! Triple Ginger Cookie…you just have to love a good cookie! 

What this experience has brought me thus far:  joy, sweat, tears, happiness, fear, surprise, fatigue, discipline, determination, many friendly faces and love.  All those things you get when you are following your path of heart.

There are 2 things that keep me going

1 – When I ask myself “Can I do it, can I run a bakery business?”  I remember my husband’s reply when I asked him this question early on:  “You are doing it”.  Present moment lesson for me.

2 – Curiosity.  My CEO friend emphasized the act of being curious in life.  Ask questions, find answers.  This helps in figuring out new recipes, new markets, business strategies, and of course what makes me tick, what makes others tick.   

For good measure, there’s a 3rd – My dreams and ideas keep me going:  What’s next?  How can I grow the bakery?  What new healthful creation will people love to eat?  And the inevitable:  what comes after the bakery, what’s next on my life’s journey?

Angie has recently began selling her delicious baked goods through Etsy, opening the world up to her yummy treats!! (check them out – they are a delight!)

I've tried several of her products, and have JUST received my second batch of brownies (my favorite!!).   From the packaging, to the personal note of thanks, to  the care and love I know goes into everything she bakes – Angie has created amazing and delicious baked goods that satisfy a gluten-free diet, while not sacrificing taste that some might expect from gluten-free food.  I eat these just because they taste great!!

Keep up with Angie by visiting Zen Cat Gluten-Free Bakery, liking her Facebook page, and buying her deliciousness on Etsy!

Lance writes stories from his heart, aiming to inspire and motivate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he's not here, you can find him hanging out with his family, riding a bike, or just generally acting goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Treehouse newsletter and get additional inspiration in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

rob white August 24, 2011 at 7:45 am

What a shining example of conscious and mindful living, Lance. Thank you for sharing this. The more we are exposed to others joyfully expressing their Authentic Self, the more we are urged on to apply it to our own lives. We must learn to honor our superlatively creative nature first and have no timidity about it. We feel most fulfilled when we go into our days acting as though successful expressions of our creative essence are inevitable.
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Lance August 26, 2011 at 6:59 am

Thanks Rob!!

And that’s what Angie is doing – honoring her own creative nature! And it’s such a cool story!!


Melody | Deliberate Receiving August 24, 2011 at 7:58 am

This is brilliant Lance! I can so relate to Angie’s drive to do more than one thing with her life. I’m the same way. When my heart pulls me in a new direction, I go. I also have “start a bakery with all natural ingredients and tons of love” on my bucket list. Perhaps Angie has beat me to it and there will be no more need for it. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there… 🙂

I love stories such as these. Keep ’em comin’, Lance!
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Lance August 26, 2011 at 7:01 am

Hmmm….I’m thinking there’s room for another bakery out there!!! (sign me up as a customer!!!)


Cinderella aka Laura Garber August 24, 2011 at 11:36 am

What a nice thing for Angie to do and a conscious way to live!

Hope lots of people go see who who live locally – and if they don’t, go visit her Etsy store for her baked goodies:)
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Lance August 26, 2011 at 7:02 am

Angie’s Etsy store IS delicious-ness!! And now I’m thinking…road trip to Greensboro too!!


Lynn August 24, 2011 at 11:40 am

What a neat name for a bakery!
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Lance August 26, 2011 at 7:03 am

I know!!! I LOVE that name, too!!


Keith August 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Hello Lance and Angie,

WOW! Angie is a great example and inspiration. She has ACTED on her dream and did not allow any fear to stop her! What an inspiration for me personally, especially where I am currently on my journey. I am grateful you shared this LAnce, and for you Angie!


Lance August 26, 2011 at 7:04 am

Hey Keith!
I love Angie’s story…and probably even more so – as I’ve watched it unfold from the beginning!! So, so awesome – what’s she has created!


Tess The Bold Life August 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Angie, You look so happy. I love your…I am doing it and be curious! Way to go girlfriend.
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Lance August 26, 2011 at 7:04 am

Isn’t Angie’s smile just infectious!!!


Aileen | Kaizen Vision August 24, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Such a delicious post!
I love hearing about others pursuing their entrepreneurial journey and following their heart. – and I love gluten-free foods which are a bit challenging to find at times.

I loved this: When I ask myself “Can I do it, can I run a bakery business?” I remember my husband’s reply when I asked him this question early on: “You are doing it”. Present moment lesson for me.

The reason I loved it is – it reminds me how often I too forget that I am doing the thing I’m wanting and doubt pops up – and for a moment I believe the doubt. It’s very a human thing do to – and reading it reminded me.
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Lance August 26, 2011 at 7:08 am

Love what you have shared here, and how easy it can be to let doubt creep in. It sure can be! And yet – if we really are out there “doing” it – that’s a testament, right there, to really living our life. And that’s a great reminder!!!

Thanks for being here – I just love the energy you bring to the comments!


Angela Artemis/Poweredbyintuition August 24, 2011 at 8:45 pm

This is fabulous. I’m gluten intolerant. I found out back in 2008. I’ve gotten used to it but I sure do miss baked goods such as bread and butter and bagels and brownies. How you can you live in the NY area and not eat a bagel? I dream about eating bagels with cream cheese…..
It’s so great that you acted on your dream and that your now helping so many people.
Keep u the great work.
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Lance August 26, 2011 at 7:10 am

Mmmm…bagels. They sure are delicious!!

You should definitely check out Angie’s Etsy site – lots of yumminess there!! I’ve tried several – and they are all so, so delicious!!


David Stevens August 24, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Hello Angie & Lance,
Well, you can’t argue with that. Good for you, hold the dream, embrace it with passion.
Continued good wishes & be good to yourself
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Lance August 26, 2011 at 7:10 am

It’s awesome, isn’t it – Angie going out there, and living her dream!!


Bill Jensen August 25, 2011 at 4:42 am

it made me feel so good to read that, brought out a tear of happiness.. I really miss you guys….


Lance August 26, 2011 at 7:13 am

Hey Bill!!
Great to see you here!! And I’m right there with you – this article also reminded me how much I miss our group. We should do a reunion – and then we could all have some of Angie’s delicious treats (and some great conversations, t0o!)!!


Evita August 25, 2011 at 8:47 am

Wonderful guest Lance!

And Angie it is such a pleasure to get to know you through Lance here and learn about your inspiring story! Thank you for being a spark of joy and light, and shining example for others of how wonderful mindful living can be in all areas of our lives. Following your passion can only lead to good things, and you are also providing such an amazing service to the world. Thank you!
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Lance August 26, 2011 at 7:15 am

Hi Evita!!
It’s so cool what Angie is doing!! And it is, especially so for me, as I’ve watched this all unfold over the last couple of years.

…and it’s just simply delicious!!!


Tim August 25, 2011 at 9:37 am


Wow, this is such a great story to share! Angie’s story is such a great example of someone following their passion and making a living out of it. As I get older, I’m realizing that time is just as valuable -and perhaps more valuable- than money. So it’s great to learn about how somebody is spending their valuable time pursuing something they love. Thanks for sharing Lance and good luck Angie!
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Lance August 26, 2011 at 7:16 am

Hi Tim!!
Great, great point! Yes – time is such a valuable resource. And it’s easy to get caught up in the “money resource”…neglecting the value of our time (and how we’re choosing to use it). We all have the same number of hours in our day – what are we choosing…

Thanks for being here!


Justin | Mazzastick August 25, 2011 at 11:13 am

What a great idea, I wish we had a gluten free bakery near us. I went gluten-free back in February and I could definitely tell the difference in the way that I felt and I also lost a few pounds in the process.

I’ll have to check out her products on Etsy as well.
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Lance August 26, 2011 at 7:18 am

Definitely check out Angie’s Etsy site – great, great products!!

I know several people who have went gluten-free (I have not) – and just generally feel so much better. And that’s well worth it!!


Audra Krell August 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Lance, you continue to be a magnet to people who dream big and live hard while pursuing that dream. This is so encouraging. I love that Angie is a just a real life lady who makes anything seem possible for everyone. Thank you for providing gluten free love to a desperate world!
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Lance August 26, 2011 at 7:21 am

I think back to when Angie and I met, nearly two years ago. By chance, we ended up at that same workshop together…and sitting right next to each other. And I’m so, so glad I did (as well as meeting the other very awesome people in that workshop). Seeing Angie’s story unfold over the last couple of years has been a complete joy!!


Jody - Fit at 53 August 25, 2011 at 4:26 pm

OK, I love the point – thank you Lance! BUT I am so caught up in the bakery goods! Lance, if you recall, I am always on the lookout for good cookies as they are my go to treat. Those ginger coconut ones – OMG!!! And the rest of the goods – I just drooled all over my keyboard! 🙂

None the less, a great read!
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Lance August 26, 2011 at 7:22 am

Mmmm….cookies!!! I just had a nut butter cookie from Angie (it was amazing!!)!

Ha!! Hopefully your keyboard is still usable!!!

Have a SUPER weekend!


Debbie @ Happy Maker August 25, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Wonderful Angie I am very proud of you for following a dream and making it real. Thanks lance for sharing Angie’s story with us. It is very inspirational and we all need to here stories of dreams coming true. thanks Angie and blessing to you.
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Lance August 26, 2011 at 7:23 am

Yes, Angie’s story is so great to hear – and remind all of us of what IS possible when we follow our heart!!


Debbie @ Happy Maker August 26, 2011 at 9:30 am

That is the key Lance to follow our heart and use our minds. It can be wonderful what happens when we do this.
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Megan Bord August 25, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Angie, I’m hooked! Not only by your glorious smile and energetic glow, but by your life philosophy to do what moves you. I’m perhaps not as adventurous as you, but I have dreamed of doing everything from acting, to being a barrista, to hosting a radio show, to marrying a millionaire, to … oh there are so many. (And yes, I think “marrying a millionaire” could actually be a job in itself!)

I’m off to visit your web site and possibly order some gluten-free, vegan goodies. There’s a bakery where I live that also makes gluten-free, vegan baked goods and I absolutely adore them. For my birthday in October, I’m excited to order one of their spectacular layer cakes… Ohhhhhhhhhh, I think I’m drooling now.

Lance – thank you for this post! I knew from the minute I saw the teaser in my email inbox that I’d love reading it. Boy was I right! Both you and Angie rock!


Lance August 26, 2011 at 7:27 am

Marrying a millionaire!!! (I *love* it!!! And – it probably is a job in itself!!!)

Angie’s goodies are so, so delicious!!! (I’ve just had a nut butter cookie, too – and those, along with the brownies, are my very favorites!!)

Cake!!! Birthday!!! I want to be there!!!

Yumminess!!! (YOU!!!)


Anna August 26, 2011 at 5:40 am

Cool name for the bakery I think. I visited Zen Cat Bakery’s site, I was hoping to find a clue about the naming reason, but could not find anything about it :). It sounds just so cool, a name that really remains in your head after hearing it once.
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Lance August 26, 2011 at 7:28 am

I know – that name of Zen Cat really is a great one (it stays with me, too)!!


Galen Pearl August 30, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Great story! I especially love her husband’s response. “You are doing it!”
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Lance August 30, 2011 at 7:22 pm

I know – that sure is a great response by Angie’s husband!!!!


Joe August 31, 2011 at 5:38 am

I went to college with a girl who, once she graduated with the Computer Science degree, quit her IT job after 6 months and went back to school for a course on baking. She now works at a very successful bakery/catering company in the city. At first we all thought she was nuts for leaving a steady paycheck for a career in baking of all things – but she is one of the few people I know who are truly happy with their jobs. It’s nice to know Angie and ZenCat are following a similar path.


Lance September 2, 2011 at 1:34 pm

…it’s all about following you heart!! And – very cool for your friend, and that she did this also!!

What looks crazy…is very often the very coolest thing!


Dr. J August 31, 2011 at 2:50 pm

That’s a great story! Of course she is a Gemini and they are always slender!

Ok, she earned it 🙂
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Lance September 2, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Dr. J,
Ha!!! Yes, she earned it!!!


Andrew Walker August 31, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Hi there. Thanks for sharing this story. Very motivating!
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Lance September 2, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Thanks Andrew!!!


Jodi P. Woodard September 1, 2011 at 4:41 am

I love the story too! I always tell myself: if she can do it, I can do it. Really nice motivational reading!

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Lance September 2, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Great to “meet” you!!!

And that’s it…we can ALL do it!!!


Holly Latty-Mann September 2, 2011 at 8:40 am

Lance, thanks for featuring our amazing rock star Angie!
I was a part of that leadership course Lance mentioned, and the 8 of us (including the facilitator) saw the birth of Zen Cat. We all witnessed the courage, the passion, the drive, the smarts that drove the birth of Angie’s dream. Angie, another beauty about you and your busiess is how modest you are about your greatness, which of course is in keeping with Zen Cat Bakery’s philosophy of wellbeing.
Angie, I know I’m late in posting this, but everytime Zen Cat or your name comes up, it is like receiving a big ball of happy, healing energy and always puts a smile on my face.
Tell your kitty that my cat Romeow sends his love. : ) Holly


Lance September 2, 2011 at 1:38 pm

You and I both know, firsthand, just how amazing and brilliant Angie is!!

And to have been along on this Zen Cat journey…from the day it started – so cool! And it is, because Angie is out there, following her heart…and doing it!!!

So, so, so great having you here!!

And our cat, Rufus…he sends his love to Romeow, to you, and to Angie!! (and I do too!!!)


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