Category: Inspirational

The Gift of Bold Living

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The Gift of Bold Living

“My Gutsy Story®” Nancy Sharp

The date, June 17, 2006, was a defining one: widowed and with five-year-old twins in tow, I headed west to Denver. Life in New York City after 18 years just wasn’t worth the fast, noisy, people-populated-like-ants, cash-depleting hassles-everywhere grind. Certainly, I was sad to leave behind family and friends, but the prospect of a different life, one that I could invent, was too fierce a pull to ignore. Moving to Colorado was more than the dawn of a new decade (I had just turned 40); it would be my Act II.

Much has changed these past eight years. My twins are 12, I met and married a native Coloradoan, and I became a stepmom to two boys, now 21 and 22. Today I worry about social connections, ample exercise, and too much video time for the tweens, and dating, organization, and career opportunities for the older boys. My new life has broadened my worldview: I can now grill and pull weeds and even, brace yourself, use a power drill.

By recasting my life, I proved to myself that when the unthinkable happens, we need not be in stasis. Hope and possibility exist, I think, even in the grimmest of times. I should know. My first husband died of a brain tumor at age 39, leaving me with two and half year old twins. Those were hard, hard times. Just when I thought I couldn’t see beyond the vortex of grief, I found a shred of hope.

My moment of transformation arrived with little fanfare. While driving with a friend to visit my family in Connecticut, I suddenly blurted out, “Why can’t I just move to Denver?” Lisa, my pretty and deeply spiritual friend who knew my longtime love of Colorado, answered, “You can. What’s stopping you?”

“Well,” I began dismissively, “there’s my parents and my mother-in-law. I’d have to buy a house, find new work, find a school for the kids, make new friends, blah, blah, blah.”

As the list of why-not-to-move-to-Colorado’s grew bigger, they also became more diffuse. Lisa was unfazed, like a mirror reflecting the longing of my heart. Suddenly, I understand that none of these perceived obstacles came close to what I had already conquered. Just like that, my decision was made. I’m not a runner and never will be, but the surge of energy I felt at that turnkey moment could have propelled me to run the New York City marathon (the real one).

That’s the upside of change: the adrenaline-pumping feeling of hope. Losing my husband to cancer changed my life forever, but moving to Colorado gave me hope that a new life was possible. What does this really mean? In my view, we can choose not to be defined by the past. We can sweeten our lives any moment, any time. That’s right.

You might be thinking, “Well, she had extreme circumstances.” Yes. Extreme events can lead to dramatic changes, but sometimes the opposite is true. It’s easier and safer to stay put when life mows you down, but is it wiser? Saner? I felt stuck for a full two years before making my move. I put on mascara and dragged myself to work, made Micky Mouse pancakes for my active toddlers, even dated a little. I tried to be positive about my future, but in reality, I was just getting through the days. I didn’t live my dreams. One day bled into the next and that is how I passed the time. It’s human nature to want to be fixed in time. But at what cost?

I had no grand plan when I moved to Colorado beyond the desire to claim breathing space for the twins and me. I knew that I was a skilled enough writer to be able to find consulting work when I was ready, just as I knew that I would branch out beyond my one friend in Denver (my college roommate). Since all expectations of the world I once envisioned for myself had already been crushed, I found a strange calm in starting anew. Everything felt fresh and exciting.

It was in this spirit of bold living that some seven months after arriving in Denver I came to reach out to a widowed TV news anchor who was selected as one of the city’s “Most Eligible Singles.”

What did I have to lose by writing him? Maybe we could be friends?

I had never even heard of Steve Saunders before reading about him in the newspaper, nor did I know about his equally well-known father, a veteran print journalist.

I fired off an e-mail and a photo to Steve letting him know that I was new to Denver and that I was also widowed with two children. I proposed that we meet for coffee.

Two weeks passed. No response.

Maybe he never received the e-mail? 

In a burst of courage, I decided to resend it. This time Steve responded within the hour, apologizing for his slow response. He wanted to talk. He wanted to meet.

Dinner last four hours. At first we kept the conversation light (I really was curious to know what it was like to be a TV Anchor in Denver). But ultimately we began to trade “war stories” — the toughest moments for him during his wife’s illness, the worst times for me, the gray aftermath of living with loss, and of course, the way our losses had affected our children.

Nancy and Steve Wedding

Nancy and Steve Wedding

We had many dates in the months that followed. They were fun, light, and adventurous. And so began the process of blending two families. By then we knew we wanted to marry. The love we had found in one another was real and true. We understood how the past crept into the present, but in each other were able to discover peace and joy in living every day. Our story is still being written, still being lived, past and present and future at once. In the words of Joni Mitchell, “Well something’s lost but something’s gained.”

To bold living!

 

NANCY SHARP is the author of Both Sides Now: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Bold Living (Books & Books Press, February 2104). She frequently speaks to large groups about bold living, contributes to the Huffington Post, and authors the blog Vivid Living: Life in Full Bloom…Thorns and All.

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 Both Sides Now won a 2014 National Indie Excellence Award, and 2014 International Book Award. 

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SONIA MARSH SAYS: I love your proactive approach to life and especially what you said:

“In my view, we can choose not to be defined by the past. We can sweeten our lives any moment, any time. That’s right.”

PLEASE LEAVE YOUR COMMENT FOR NANCY BELOW AND SHARE HER STORY

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How Could This Happen? I’d Done Everything Right

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The day I started telling myself the truth

 “My Gutsy Story®” Robin Korth

It was an August afternoon in 2006. I was standing in the quiet of my living room. The “whoosh” of the air-conditioned air coming from the vent above my head made the silence hard to ignore. The room felt very large. I felt very small. My husband had moved out two weeks earlier. My son was away at summer camp. My daughter was somewhere else. I was utterly and totally alone—not a single soul needed me or cared where I was. The chill of this truth arrowed my heart and I began to cry. Then I began to sob. Then I howled. The pain and the tears shook me to the floor.

I was 51-years-old with not a clue as to how I had gotten to this place of feeling so solitary and undone. Life had treated me badly. I had done everything right, but it had just come out wrong. How could this happen? Who was to blame? I remember eyeing that terribly cold room as if the answers might be found there. As if someone would walk in the door and say, “Gee, Robin, I am at fault. Let me fix it all up. I’ll make it okay.” But no one was coming. I was the only one there.

Then the bomb exploded. “It’s you,” said a voice in my head. “You are in this room, here and now, because you chose to be. Isn’t it time you take a good look? Perhaps it is time to do something about what’s going on in your life.” The challenge of these words stopped my self-sorry tears as I just sat there—very, very still. I then wiped my smeary nose and I chose. I chose to start telling myself the truth.

My marriage was in serious trouble because I had grown lazy, selfish and scared. I had stopped talking to my spouse or showing my real self to him. Our relationship had slid into a black hole of us each “doing our own thing” and meeting at meals to talk over the future of our children or the price of a new computer. I could not remember the last time we had shared anything intimate or heart-felt. It had been too easy to go to sleep each night denying that anything was wrong. The intimacy of sharing the same bathroom and bed now masqueraded as a full-loving partnership. I had done nothing to stop the march of this sad show.

My eyes widened as more truth seemed to just rise up from the floor.  Where was my daughter right now? I assumed she was safe, but I knew nothing of the specifics or people who filled her spirit and her days. She had gone away to school and I had let her slip from my grasp. She came home on weekends here and there. We smiled and we shopped. We watched a movie or two. I asked how she was and she told me fine. My daughter was an “I love you” stranger now. I had let this happen.

My son was at camp in upstate New York. His almost-teenage-hood was messy. He wasn’t happy or doing as well as he could. I had so easily marked all the stuff off on his “must-have” summer experience list, and just given him over to someone else’s care. What was really going on with my boy? Did he cry at night? Was there a young woman who longed as much for his smile as he did for hers? Besides loving math and computers and white-sauce pasta, what was special to him? I didn’t know these answers. I had been too wrapped in my own lostness, in my own I-don’t-want-to-look fear.

I did not know my husband, my daughter, my son. I did not know my own self. I had set us all aside and apart from myself. This truth—that I was responsible for my being alone and terrified—caused sweat to prickle my armpits and my breath to come short. My choices and actions had brought me to this place of soul-punching despair. I remember looking slowly around that room where I sat, seeing it all as so different now as this truth sank home. In that single moment, my life went from outside to inside. Inside, where I understood, finally, that I create it all.

How powerful I was! Look at what I had done. What could I not do if I chose differently and acted differently? My heartbeat was a peaceful cadence in my chest as I sat on that floor, clear-eyed and very calm. I was done. No more denial. No more blaming others. No more hiding from the painful stuff, being lazy and soul shy. I was going to start living my life with conscious choice and honest good care.

My life of deep personal truth began on that hot August day. But it did not end there, not by a long shot. The journey of self-honesty is a day-by-day, get-braver-as-I-go sort of thing. It means being kind and patient with myself, too. For so much of what I hold as “true” are things I never even thought to question before. In the setting aside of old habits and old thinking, I allow the inside of me to come blossoming forth with wonder, curiosity and love. Living this way brings a power and a joy to life—and an ability to share myself with generosity and openness—that I choose to never, ever let go.

ROBIN KORTH is a renegade and an outlaw. She is also an international speaker, writer and businesswoman. Number four in a family of seven children, she grew up in the 1960s uncluttered scrub palm neighborhoods of Miami, Florida.  After years of doing life as she was “supposed to,” Korth walked away and began doing life from deep inside. She captures her experience in her book Soul on the Run, which will be published by Balboa Press in May 2014. Soul on the Run is Korth’s courageously honest exploration of the power and joy that living is meant to be.

In 2013, Korth launched her information and blogging website, which generated more than 40,000 on Facebook in its first year. She also introduced the “Robin in Your Face” daily motivational app, which has been downloaded thousands of times across the globe. She is a divorced mother of two, has a friendly rescue dog, named Scruffy and a self-assured cat named Sean. For more information, visit www.RobinKorth.com.

 

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SONIA MARSH SAYS: I commend you for your honesty. Figuring out that you were all alone because you were responsible for the outcome, and being willing to admit this, is admirable. Parts of your story resonate with every mother, wife and woman.

 

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Would you like to submit your “My Gutsy Story®” and get published in our 2nd anthology?

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PLEASE  COMMENT AND SHARE ROBIN’S STORY USING THE LINKS BELOW.

Winner of the April 2014 “My Gutsy Story®” Contest

My Gutsy Story 1st place

This April we had FOUR OUTSTANDING  “My Gutsy Story®” authors. Their stories will be included in our 2nd “My Gutsy Story®” Anthology, published in the Fall of 2014.  Thank you to all four authors. Your stories are all WINNERS.

Our first place goes to Ginger Simpson won 1st Place for her “My Gutsy Story®” about whether she caused her husband to turn to drink. The phrase that struck me in Ginger’s inspiring story is:

“Wanting someone to change isn’t enough. They have to WANT the change.”

Ginger

Ginger Simpson

 

2nd Place goes to Kathy Gamble, about finding her way as an expat living in different countries around the world.

 

Kathy Gamble

 

3rd Place goes to Benny Wasserman, about the impact that one teenage friend had on Benny to change his life.

My Gutsy Story 3rd place

BennyWasserman

BennyWasserman

 

4th Place goes to Alana Woods for her inspiring story about her 200-mile trek across the U.K.

 

Alana Woods

Alana Woods

  Thank you to all four authors. Your stories are all WINNERS.

 

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Would you like to submit your “My Gutsy Story®” and get published in our 2nd anthology?

Please see guidelines below and contact Sonia Marsh at: sonia@soniamarsh.com for details.

You can find all the information, and our new sponsors on the “My Gutsy Story®” contest page. (VIDEO) Submission guidelines here

How I Started My New Life

Laura McHale Holland face

 

New Life

 “My Gutsy Story®” Laura McHale Holand

The Icelandair flight taxis down the runway. I peer out the window, a brown suede shoulder bag clutched to my chest. Moments later, the jet lifts off and zooms toward the clouds. New York City shrinks, the North American continent recedes, and it hits me: we’re crossing the Atlantic; there’s no turning back.

I open my bag to affirm the travelers checks, passport and open-ended return ticket are tucked where I last saw them—about a minute ago. Also inside is a note with the address of a friend of a friend in Switzerland, along with a list of Youth Hostels in Europe.

It’s 1973. I am twenty-three years old, and feel like my adult life so far has been a great big zero. No, scratch that. It’s been a negative number. I just left a man 13 years older than I am. A man I met when I was eighteen, and confused. A man I never loved but I married anyway because I thought I’d never be able to leave him. A man who recently threatened to kill me. That jolted me out the door, at last.

Now I am about to land in Luxembourg without a plan. I might be crazy; I don’t know. I’ve attended night school and I want to return to college full time. But when I think of sitting in a classroom with students several years younger than I am, I can’t imagine what I would say about myself. That I could have gone to college right out of high school, but I put it off, stumbled instead into things that ripped me apart and left me that way? That I allowed myself to be so completely controlled by someone that I often couldn’t even speak? That I don’t know if I deserve to have any hopes at all? Not exactly good ice-breaker material.

I want to create a new life, a different me. Flying to a continent where I don’t know a soul may be foolhardy. But I’ve heard that young people from all over the world hitchhike and ride trains throughout Europe, and the people there welcome them. I thought I’d give it a try.

I nap during the flight and then delve into The Teachings of Don Juan before the plane lands for a stopover in Reykjavik, Iceland. It’s 11 a.m. and pitch black when the other passengers and I deplane to explore the wares on sale in the airport store. I admire a brown lopapeysa-style sweater with a yoke of brown white and tan. A woman who looks about my age approaches and says, “Nice, huh.” The lenses of her wire-rimmed glasses are slightly fogged.

“Sure is, but it’s probably way too expensive for me.” I say.

“Me, too. Dan–the guy over there; he’s my boyfriend.” She points to a tall man with long, wavy red hair. He’s wearing a green parka and looking at a jewelry display–”Dan and I have about four hundred dollars to last us our whole trip.”

“I’ve got less than that, but there’s only one of me.” We both laugh.

“I’m Mags” She extends her hand.

“Laura.” I reach out, too, and we shake.

“Where are you headed when we land?” she asks.

“The Youth Hostel.”

“That’s where we’re going, Let’s go together.”

“Sounds good to me,” I say.

Dan looks up and motions for Mags to come over. “Oh, my guy’s up to something. I’ll see you later,” she says.

After we arrive in Luxembourg, Mags introduces me to Dan and three other young travelers she’s just met. We all pick up our backpacks and duffel bags and share a ride to the city, marveling at the breathtaking bridges we pass. Once we’re on the street, I find the address of the local Youth Hostel. Dan studies his map and picks a route. We march off but are soon lost.

“We should ask for directions,” Mags says. “Anyone speak French?”

I know a little French, but I’m sure someone in the group is more fluent than I am. After a long pause, I say, “I can try.”

I approach a tall woman with black hair and smiling eyes, “Excusez-moi, s’il vous plaît. Où est ‘lauberge de jeunessse?”

She replies with such speed I cannot understand her. I ask her to please speak slowly. She laughs and then drags out, “Allez tout droit pour un bloc, puis tournez à droite et il sera là.

I thank her and tell the group, we’re just a block away.

Mags grabs my hand and says, “You’re handy to have around.” She pulls me, skipping toward the hostel. I feel a little blush of pride.

In the morning, all those who bunked in the dorms gather over cafe au lait to talk about where we’ve been and where we’re going next. Mags and Dan are headed for Amsterdam. Two guys from Ohio are meeting friends in Paris. They ask me to join them. I recall staring at posters of Sacré Coeur and Montmartre during French class when I was in junior high. I opt for Paris.

The group of Ohioans and I become siblings for a few days. We buy croque monsieur sandwiches from street vendors, tour the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and all the landmarks I used to dream about as a child. We talk over French bread, cheese and wine long into the nights in our pension. Then they board a train to Marseilles, and I catch a ride with a Canadian family bound for Madrid. As I settle into a spot in the back of their VW van, a blue eyed preschooler offers me a bag of trail mix, “Wan’ some?” he asks.

“Sure.” I say. The van lurches forward. The boy tosses a roasted nut into my mouth. I toss a raisin into his. We continue our game as the van bounces along, and I realize my new life has begun.

LAURA MCHALE HOLLAND is a multifaceted storyteller and indie publisher, who has released two books: the flash fiction collection, The Ice Cream Vendor’s Song, and the award-winning childhood memoir, Reversible Skirt. Laura’s work has appeared in such publications as Every Day Fiction, Wisdom Has a Voice, several Vintage Voices anthologies, and the original San Francisco Examiner. Her prize-winning play Are You Ready? will be produced by Sixth Street Playhouse and Redwood Writers in May 2014. In all of her work, Laura strives to illuminate truths that are often hidden. Intrigued? Get her newsletter at http://lauramchaleholland.com.

Please join Laura on:

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 SONIA MARSH SAYS: I hope your gutsy story of  seeking  a new life helps someone take the plunge to do something bold and start over. Thanks for sharing your courageous story with us.

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Would you like to submit your “My Gutsy Story®” and get published in our 2nd anthology?

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You can find all the information, and our new sponsors on the “My Gutsy Story®” contest page. (VIDEO) Submission guidelines here

Please leave your comments for Laura. She’ll be over to respond.

 

Next “Gutsy Webinar” on May 30th at 9 a.m. PST “Everything You Need to Know About Formatting e-books and Why Metadata is Important.” Jason Matthews, expert on e-books will be presenting with me. Reserve your seat TODAY.

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What I Did To Make My Life Happy

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Not My Dream, But My Life

“My Gutsy Story®” Jennifer Barclay

I spent my fortieth birthday not being whisked away to a Spanish city for a romantic weekend, as had been hinted in what now seemed the distant past, but weeping and shaky with my parents. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

My life had seemed to be coming together, at last settling into year two with a nice man. We were talking about moving somewhere beautiful together. Then he changed his mind.

For a while, the only option was falling apart at the seams.

All I’d wanted was a simple, comfortable happiness at the centre of everything: helping me to be the person who sang tunelessly as she cycled to work in the morning, had good friends and a fulfilling job and got out into the countryside on the weekends. I’d lost not only the potential love of my life, but my love of life. I hated being a miserable me who cried herself to sleep on friends’ couches.

How did other people manage to stay in stable relationships? What was I doing wrong? Gradually, I started to think of a better question: how could I take action to make myself happier?

I was suffering from more than heartbreak, clearly. It hadn’t felt like I was in a rut, but now when I asked myself what I would really like to do with my life, I realised I’d been putting up with things because I thought they were temporary. I had to replace the plans I’d made with my ex, and come up with new ones; the age of forty seemed a good time to take a good, hard look at what I wanted.

Why wait for someone else to change my life? In fact, I was lucky: now, there was only myself to consider. I’d so often compromised for a partner.

Two years earlier, I’d been invited for a weekend in the country where I was surrounded by happy couples with beautiful children. I’d felt inadequate for two days, and the dinner on the Sunday evening was offering much of the same. Then one of the father-husbands asked me if I’d been on holiday that summer.

‘Not yet,’ I said. ‘My job’s always busy during the summer. But next week I’m off for a week on my own in Ibiza.’

His jaw dropped, and his eyes assumed a dreamy look. ‘I would kill for a week on my own in Ibiza.’

All those people in their seemingly perfect relationships had others to think about. I only had myself. In fact, I almost had a duty to think about myself, and how to be happy on my own.

Holidays on Greek islands always gave me huge amounts of joy. My love of Greece started when I was a child on family holidays, and continued into my university years when I travelled around with a friend. I’d spent a year there after university, when I’d been feeling a little lost career-wise and didn’t know what to do. Then, Greece had been the answer – could it be the answer again? In recent years, holidays on Greek islands for a week or two snatched from my busy working year always left me feeling rejuvenated and wanting more. I wondered about going for longer, perhaps a month: two weeks of holiday and two weeks working remotely from there.

My boss took some convincing, but finally I had a month on a Greek island to look forward to; a month to swim in the sea, walk in empty hills, sit in the brilliant, warm sunshine; a month to think – but not too hard – about who I was and what I wanted to do next with my life. In the meantime, I’d put relationships on hold, and I’d start escaping from the never-ending cycle of work, beginning with a freelance day per week, taking a pay cut to invest in my future.

On my first morning waking up on the island of Tilos, with a view of deep blue sky and mountain from my bedroom window, and the glittering sapphire sea through my bathroom window as I brushed my teeth, I knew I’d done the right thing. In fact, it felt like the cleverest thing I’d ever done. Happiness is easy sometimes, as a Greek friend had once said.

I’d work in the peace of the morning, with sweet smells from the next-door bakery wafting up onto the terrace. At lunchtime I’d plunge into the sea, maybe doze a little in the sun as I dried off. After an afternoon of work, I’d walk around the bay, admiring the light and inhaling the fragrance of herbs on the hillside – herbs I’d pick to sprinkle over a simple dinner. In the evening I’d sit out in the balmy air and look up at the stars.

Halfway through my month there, I was snorkelling in a pretty pink-sand bay with my new friend Dimitris, when he found a fat red starfish and put it in my hand. I felt its feelers on my skin, then let it float gently down to the sea bed. Swimming back to the same spot ten minutes later, I saw it had fallen upside down and was slowly, slowly turning itself the right way up. Perhaps that’s what I was doing.

It was hard to leave Tilos at the end of that month. But I’d got my mojo back. And I thought of it not as an ending, but a beginning. Strong again, I decided what to do: not what was sensible or expected, but what felt right for me. The taste of freedom, working from home on a sunny Greek island, showed me the way forward. I could do it.

I used to have recurring dreams of Greek islands, especially in winter when things looked bleak: I’d see myself walking in sunshine on a wild hillside with clear blue water below, into the whitewashed alleyways of an old village. Now that’s not my dream, but my life.

 

JENNIFER BARCLAY is the author of Falling in Honey: How a Tiny Greek Island Stole My Heart, and blogs about Greek island life at www.octopus-in-my-ouzo.blogspot.com. Her first book was Meeting Mr Kim: How I Went to Korea and Learned to Love Kimchi, and she is the editor of many travel-related memoirs. Having worked as a literary agent and then an editorial director at a publishing company, she now works freelance from her home office as a writer, editor, writing coach and agent (www.jennifer-barclay.blogspot.com).

Join Jennifer on Twitter: @JenBarclayBooks
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SONIA MARSH SAYS: What a beautiful, uplifting story to start a new week,, and a new chapter life,  Jennifer. Your phrase,

“I decided what to do: not what was sensible or expected, but what felt right for me.”

is so uplifting and motivating. I truly believe that travel allows us to “re-connect” with ourselves and find out what’s important to us.

PLEASE LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS FOR JENNIFER BELOW AND SHARE USING THE LINKS. THANK YOU.

 

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Would you like to submit your “My Gutsy Story®” and get published in our 2nd anthology?

Please see guidelines below and contact Sonia Marsh at: sonia@soniamarsh.com for details.

You can find all the information, and our new sponsors on the “My Gutsy Story®” contest page. (VIDEO) Submission guidelines here

VOTING for your favorite April 2014 My Gutsy Story®,” starts on  May 1st, and ends on May 14th. The WINNER will be announced on May 15th.

 

PLEASE VOTE AND SHARE THESE STORIES USING THE LINKS BELOW.

Vote For Your Favorite April “My Gutsy Story®”

 

VOTE BE GUTSY BADGE

 

 

Get ready to VOTE for your favorite one of 4 “My Gutsy Story®” submissions. You have from now until  May 14th to vote on the sidebar, (only one vote per person) and the winner will be announced on May 15th (from Spain!) and will select a prize from our generous sponsors.

Our 1st “My Gutsy Story®” is by Kathy Gamble.

SONIA SAYS: Kathy makes us feel what it’s like to live the expat life and try to adapt to the people and customs in each country.

 

Kathy Gamble

Kathy Gamble

 

Our 2nd “My Gutsy Story®” is by Benny Wasserman

BennyWasserman

BennyWasserman

SONIA MARSH SAYS: Benny’s story makes us realize the impact that one person can have on our life.

 

Our 3rd “My Gutsy Story®” is by Alana Woods

Alana Woods

Alana Woods

SONIA MARSH SAYS: After reading Alana’s story,  I feel like I’ve exercised enough for the year, thanks to you for taking me on this amazing trek across the UK. 

 

Our 4th  “My Gutsy Story®” is by Ginger Simpson

Ginger

Ginger Simpson

SONIA MARSH SAYS: Ginger asks her alcoholic first husband the question “I continually asked him if I was the reason he turned to alcohol.” So often we blame ourselves for others’ behavior.

 

 

MGS FINAL COVER Small

Click on cover to go to Amazon

Would you like to submit your “My Gutsy Story®” and get published in our 2nd anthology?

Please see guidelines below and contact Sonia Marsh at: sonia@soniamarsh.com for details.

You can find all the information, and our new sponsors on the “My Gutsy Story®” contest page. (VIDEO) Submission guidelines here

VOTING for your favorite April 2014 My Gutsy Story®,” starts on  May 1st, and ends on May 14th. The WINNER will be announced on May 15th.

 

PLEASE VOTE AND SHARE THESE STORIES USING THE LINKS BELOW.

The Impact of One Teenage Friend Who Cared

BennyWasserman

A Teenager Who Cared
“My Gutsy Story®” Benny Wasserman

“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

For many years I told people a book by Jack London turned my life aroun¬d. It turns out the teenager who gave me that book was more important than the book itself. In the end it was this high school friend, whose faith in me changed the course of my life.
My father was fifty-two when I was born. He was a poor, Polish immigrant who could hardly speak Eng¬lish. When I was seven years old my mother committed suicide. My father physically and verbally abused me most of my childhood years. What¬ever re¬spect I had for him was out of fear.
From the time I was eight years old I had some kind of a job. Everything from sweeping floors, paper routes, working in a bakery, driving delivery trucks, and by the time I was twenty I was working in a slaughter house killing cows.
Although I’m ashamed to admit it, I was also involved in criminal activities which could have resulted in prison sentences. Fortunately my life turned around before I ever got caught. I don’t paint this picture of my youth for sympathy. I do so to show what a high school friend was dealing with when he tried to have some positive influence on me. He was dealing with a func¬tional illiterate who had no self-esteem or self-worth.
Now for the part of this story that has meant so much to me for the past forty-six years.
What is important about this story is not how much time I spent with my high school friend, but the incredible compas¬sion and faith he had in me. I had no idea at that time that another teen¬ager would become so concerned about my future. I now be¬lieve that what he did for me during the follow¬ing eight year period was just part of his benevo¬lent and charit¬able nature.
It all began when I was sixteen years old in my friend’s backyard. We had just finished playing stick-ball. I was about to get on my bike to go home, when he told me to wait a minute. He ran into his house, came back out, and handed¬ me a book to take home to read. All he said was, “see if you like it.” I said noth¬ing.
Nobody had ever loaned me a book to read. I took it home, kept it for a couple of weeks, and than returned it — unread. He never asked me if I liked it or not. If he did, I would have made something up. There was no way I was going to read a book.

During the following two years he loaned me three more books. It never occurred to me why he was loaning me these books, and I never asked. I never read any of them.
Before my friend went off to college, he asked me which college I was going to. After telling him I wasn’t going, he asked me why not. I told him because my father couldn’t afford the $75 for tuition. He than asked, “is that it?” I said, “yes.” Of course, I lied. I had no intention of going to college. I still hated school with a passion.
The following day my friend knocked on my door at home and handed me a check for $75 signed by his father. He said, “I think that should do it.” I could only shake my head in disbelief. What could I say, except thank you.
Two years later, on a college break, my friend came to visit me. He asked, “How’s school?” My face turned red as a beet. I had quit college three months after I enrolled. I told him that it just didn’t work out.
By then I was working in a slaughter house killing cows. It was 1954 and I was twenty years old. My friend suggested I join the Army for a couple of years to sort things out. So that’s what I did. Unfortunately I came out of the Army with no more vision of what I wanted to do with my life than before I went into the Army.
As a result of the training I had in the Army, and the GI Bill, I was able to attend an unaccredit¬ed trade school for Radio and Televison Repair.
At the age of twenty-four I got married. Although my friend was unable to attend the wedding, he sent us a strange wedding gift: A book! In¬scribed inside this book were the words, “To the Wasserman’s on Their Wedding Day.” That was it!
With the encouragement of my wife, it took me two years to read the book. Each time I learn¬ed the mean¬ing of a new word, and there were 747 of them, my self-esteem and self-worth took a giant leap forward. My life was never to be the same again.

Slowly but surely I became addicted to reading. My new found fascination with learning would never end. This experience was not only responsible for me becoming an aero¬space engineer for thirty-five years, but more importantly it led me to other books which were respon¬sible for allowing me to raise my children so dif¬ferently than the way I was raised. I was able to break the cycle of violence. And all of my children have advanced degrees.

JackLondonCover

Oh yes, the book was “MARTIN EDEN,” by Jack London. And that high school teen¬age friend, who never lost his faith in me, was Carl Levin, who is presently serving his sixth term as a U.S. Senator from my home state of Michigan.

Benny Wasserman and U.S. Senator Carl Levin

 

BENNY WASSERMAN was born and raised in Detroit, Mich.  Graduated Central High in 1952. He was in the U.S. Army 1954-56.  Trade school – Radio and TV Repair  1954-1956. He got his AA degree Pierce College.  Attended UCLA with a major in Sociology. Benny married in 1958, and has three sons (one physician and  two attorneys).  He has nine grand-children.

Benny was an Aerospace technician, Engineer, and Manager (1958-1992). He retired at age 58.

Benny Wasserman became Einstein impersonator – 1992 to present.

Benny as Einstein impersonator

Benny as Einstein impersonator

Published book, Presidents Were Teenagers Too in 2007.  Journal writer since 1985 – 10,700 pages ( page a day)  Completed autobiography Circumstances Beyond My Control.

BennyCover

Click on cover to go to Amazon page

Recently submitted parenting memoir, How Imperfect Parents Raised Perfect Children.

Please follow Benny Wassserman on the following sites:

Twitter@prezwereteens2
Yes, my book, Presidents Were Teenagers Too, can be found on Amazon and in six presidential gift shops around the country including the Richard Nixon Presidential Museum and Library in Yorba Linda, CA.
Autographed books can also be ordered from me directly for $10 plus shipping. E-mail Benny Wasserman for your copy: Wassben@aol.com
SONIA MARSH SAYS: Benny, your story makes us realize the impact that one person can have on our life. I so admire what your friend, Carl Levin, did for you and how you became an author, after being illiterate as a young man. What a beautiful story of compassion, and perseverance. Thank you for sharing your amazing life journey through struggle and raising a successful family of your own.

REMEMBER TO VOTE for your favorite March 2014 “My Gutsy Story®.” VOTING ends on April 16th.

The WINNER will be announced on April 17th. 13th.

 

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Would you like to submit your “My Gutsy Story®” and get published in our 2nd anthology?

Please see guidelines below and contact Sonia Marsh at: sonia@soniamarsh.com for details.

You can find all the information, and our new sponsors on the “My Gutsy Story®” contest page. (VIDEO) Submission guidelines here

 

PLEASE VOTE AND SHARE THESE STORIES USING THE LINKS BELOW.

Vote For Your Favorite March 2014 “My Gutsy Story®”

VOTE BE GUTSY BADGE

Get ready to VOTE for your favorite one of 5 “My Gutsy Story®” submissions. You have from now until  April 16th to vote on the sidebar, (only one vote per person) and the winner will be announced on April 17th, and will select a prize from our generous sponsors.

Our 1st “My Gutsy Story®” is by Yelena Parker.

Yelena Parker

Yelena Parker

SONIA SAYS: Yelena is living life to the fullest and stepping out of your comfort zone. She is volunteering in Tanzania right now, and I have the pleasure of doing a Google+ Hangout with her on April 10th, about her experiences there.

Our 2nd “My Gutsy Story®” is by Rosalie Marsh.

Rosalie Marsh

Rosalie Marsh

SONIA MARSH SAYS: Having never traveled before, it must have been a huge thrill for you to explore other countries on the big “beast” motorcyle.

Our 3rd “My Gutsy Story®” is by Rachael Rifkin.

Rachael Rifkin

Rachael Rifkin

SONIA MARSH SAYS: Rachael’s story captures the essence of travel: exploration, freedom, fulfillment, trusting yourself and  the opportunity to get to know yourself.

Our 4th “My Gutsy Story®” is by Peter Jones.

Peter Jones

Peter Jones

SONIA MARSH SAYS: Peter’s story captures all the emotions he went through after loosing his wife, and manages to find and write about happiness. It’s such an emotional and inspiring story.

Our 5th “My Gutsy Story®” is by Angela Marie Carter

Angela Marie Carter

Angela Marie Carter

SONIA MARSH SAYS: Through your courage of taking the steps to change your life, you are making  a difference to help other women who have been sexually abused.

 

MGS FINAL COVER Small

Click on cover to go to Amazon

Would you like to submit your “My Gutsy Story®” and get published in our 2nd anthology?

Please see guidelines below and contact Sonia Marsh at: sonia@soniamarsh.com for details.

You can find all the information, and our new sponsors on the “My Gutsy Story®” contest page. (VIDEO) Submission guidelines here

VOTING for your favorite March 2014 My Gutsy Story®,” starts on April 3rd, and ends on April 16th. The WINNER will be announced on April 17th. 13th.

 

PLEASE VOTE AND SHARE THESE STORIES USING THE LINKS BELOW.

Inspirational, motivational, My Gutsy Story, People  |  

Sometimes we have to save ourselves. How Poetry Saved My Life

Angela Marie Carter

Angela Marie Carter

Poetry Saved My Life

“My Gutsy Story®” by Angela Marie Carter

We don’t have to die in order to stop living. In fact, most of my childhood and teen years were a form of sleeprunning, (not to be confused with sleepwalking), that led to my one and only suicide attempt.

At around 15-years of age, I made a decision to play Russian Roulette with medication. I laid there accepting my fate, genuinely spoke to God for the first time, and felt a longing for the future I had just robbed myself of. I survived, and would say it was the first near-death experience of my many near-life experiences.

It took me many years to learn how to live. I used to think I was cursed. As a child I was molested and lived in a household of alcoholism, neglect and abuse. When I did tell someone, silence followed. Not long after, I was sent to live with my grandmother and, even to her dying day, she was never aware of my secrets, but was aware of how broken I was.

I believed, even from a very young age, that poetry saved my life. It was a constant companion that appeared instantaneously after I was abused. I had never been introduced to writing, and at some points was told it was a waste of time. Poetry was a friend that I would ignore for several months, but would always return when I needed it most—something I had never encountered with any human.

My constant fears would put me in dangerous situations that I now look back and cringe at. As a teenager I found myself in physically and sexually abusive relationships, and constantly in debt with my past. It was important to me that I not be neglected, even if it meant I nearly died in the process. I can remember covering hand-print marks around my neck, and convincing myself that pain was all that I deserved. Depression controlled me, while the person I wanted to be lurked in my shadow and was disappearing.

I thought if I escaped my hometown in Virginia, I’d escape the cycles I’d fallen into. At 18-years-of age I received a scholarship to study at the University of Bath, England. I was a girl from a town of 280 people, studying in a foreign country! When I fell in love with the idea of being unknown, and the possibility of rediscovering myself, I stayed. I met the love of my life, married, and was blessed with the gift of a child. But, not even 3,736 miles could save me from the curse. You see, the curse was not out there, it was inside of me. After freeing myself of familiar territory, the past revisited me in new forms that was equally, if not even more destructive than in my past. Bulimia controlled my every move for over five years.

I returned to Virginia, and we welcomed a second child. It was then that the depression almost fully consumed me. I was a living-zombie, but the love for my chosen family outweighed it, so much that I made the decision to admit myself into a program for treatment of depression. I waved good-bye to my daughters in the backseat of my husband’s car, and wore a hood over my head until I entered the building. As I went up the elevator, I thought of how most mothers were creating their children’s lunches from organic foods, while my family was driving me to the front door of a hospital.

Throughout all of the bad, there was one constant friend that was always there: poetry. Although I had muted my external voice, I found a new one through writing. I have never been a book-smart kind of person, but believed with every piece of my being that I was gifted the ability to write poetry so that I could help others. Whereas I once felt that I’d never be any more than a victim, I began to see good in it. A new world formed, one where I was more aware of how universal secrets truly are. I learned through sharing my writing that it is not what happens to us that truly damages us, it’s how we, and others that we love, choose not to acknowledge it.

Since that time, I have used all my energy to help others. I have many defining moments in the last few years, but one that marked my most gutsy moment ever. I recently spoke, in public, about what it is really like to be a child that is abused. I owe this power and strength to poetry. Not only do I have a voice, I use it to speak of all the subjects that many will not.

Sometimes we have to save ourselves. I saved myself by breaking silence, and reaching out to others through poetry and public speaking. I offer therapeutic writing coaching, coordinate a local poetry group, and have a forthcoming poetry book being published. I accept any opportunity, no matter how small the crowd, to let others know that silence is not golden.

My husband calls me brave–because it was my choice to save my own life, and gain the confidence to share what was always there–a beautiful woman that is not cursed, but instead chosen to help others. In fact, believe it or not, I wouldn’t change a thing about my life. Sometimes our gutsy moves save many lives, even if we believe we have only saved our own. Sometimes seeking help is the bravest thing we can do.

Not dying may seem elementary, but living is after all, a choice. Sometimes it takes us a while to end up where we need to be; taking my time didn’t make me any less gutsy. It just makes my remaining days very precious.

I intend on making every instant be about helping others find their gutsy moment.

 

Angela reading her poem

Angela reading her poem

ANGELA MARIE CARTER, author of forthcoming poetry memoir Memory Chose a Woman’s Body, grew up in a small Virginia farming town. After moving abroad for several years as an adult, she returned to sweet Virginia with her new family and new-found voice, to speak of the unknown instances she experienced throughout her life. Angela offers her poetry and public speaking as a voice, of many, that proves silence is not golden. www.angelacarterpoetry.com

Please join Angela on her sites:

www.angelacarterpoetry.com
https://www.facebook.com/angelacarterpoetry
https://twitter.com/amcarterpoetry
http://www.pw.org/content/angela_carter

Family_happy

Angela says, “My daughter, Nori, (6) drew this, and it symbolizes the person I always hoped my children would see me as.”

SONIA MARSH, Angela, I am so thankful you shared your story. Through your courage of taking the steps to change your life, you are making  a difference to help other women who have been sexually abused. Thank you for what you do, and your poem in the video, is so strong and beautifully written.

Would you like to submit your “My Gutsy Story®” and get published in our 2nd anthology?

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Click on cover to go to Amazon

Please see guidelines below and contact Sonia Marsh at: sonia@soniamarsh.com for details.

You can find all the information, and our new sponsors on the “My Gutsy Story®” contest page. (VIDEO) Submission guidelines here

COME BACK TO VOTE  FOR YOUR FAVORITE MARCH “My Gutsy Story®.”

THE VOTING STARTS ON APRIL 3rd AND ENDS ON APRIL 16th. THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON APRIL 17th.

“Doing Everything, Being Happy” by Peter Jones

 

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 On my thirty-second birthday, as I sat at my mother’s dining room table in front of a large cake, thirty two candles threatening to ignite my beard should I lean too far forward, I realised that the only ambition I had left in life – the only dream I hadn’t given up on – was to be married.

Or at least in some sort of steady, loving relationship.

A long term partnership with someone whose ying was a close match to my less than melodic yang.

But even this, this last naive expectation of life, was looking increasingly unlikely. Every candle on that cake was some sort of burning epitaph to just how utterly rubbish I was when it came to affairs of the heart.

There had been relationships in the past – of course there had – but I’d kind of ‘fallen into them’, by accident. And after the ladies in question had tried, and failed, to mould me into the kind of man they actually wanted, those relationships had withered and died. There hadn’t been an ‘accidental relationship’ for a while. Colleagues no longer described me as an eligible bachelor. Some had started to question my sexuality.

So as my family launched into a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ I decided there and then that the prospect of being single for the rest of my days was unacceptable.

Something had to be done.

 

* * *

Around that time there was a TV show called ‘Would Like to Meet’ where a team of experts would take some hapless individual and turn them into a heartthrob or a man-magnet. It very quickly became my favourite TV show. I’d watch it avidly from one week to the next hoping to pick up some tips. And the conclusion I came to was that I too could do with a similar makeover – albeit without the entire viewing nation of the United Kingdom looking on.

So over the next few weeks I tracked down Image Consultants, and contacted one. Back then, Image Consultants mainly worked for corporations, re-styling senior corporate executives who might otherwise look less than sharp in the boardroom, but I had surprisingly little problem persuading my consultant of choice to broaden the scope of her client base to include one sad and lonely thirty-something guy. She took one look at me, threw away every item of clothing I’d acquired in the previous decade, and in an afternoon gave me some much needed va-va-voom, in the wardrobe department.

And once I’d been completely re-styled, I looked around for a flirt coach.

These days, you can barely move for self-styled relationship experts and flirt coaches but back in 2003 I could find just one. And she ran courses.

I took several hundred pounds from my savings, and booked myself on a ‘flirting weekend’. Nervously, I took my place in the front row, and when instructed I turned and introduced myself to the stunning blonde sitting next to me.

“I’m Peter,” I said.

“I’m Kate,” said the blonde.

Then she smiled.

And I was smitten.

The course wasn’t that much of a success, in that it didn’t teach me how to flirt. Not that it mattered. My strategy had worked, somewhat differently but infinitely better than I’d hoped. On the Monday evening Kate and I had our first date. By the Tuesday I’d officially found myself a girlfriend. A few months later I found myself on one knee. And a year to the day after we’d first met, I found myself married.

And when she died in my arms just two years later, I was heart-broken.

 * * *

 Peter and Kate on their first Wedding Anniversary in Paris

Peter and Kate on their first Wedding Anniversary in Paris

People rarely ask me how Kate died. It’s just not the sort of question they feel comfortable asking. Most assume she must have had cancer – that we’d have had some warning. We didn’t.

I’ve learnt since that sudden deaths like Kate’s (a sub-arachnoid haemorrhage) are surprisingly common. Kate had a weak part in her brain, probably since birth. It could have happened at any moment. It was almost inevitable.

I learnt too that after the shock comes the guilt. Every cross word, every nasty thought, every lie – they all come back to haunt you. And amongst the demons that were queuing up to torment me was the realisation that I still wasn’t happy, and maybe I never had been. There had been happy moments, of course. Quite a lot of moments. Most of them in the previous three years, and most of them down to Kate, but they were moments none the less. And I wanted to be happy all the time. Not just occasionally. Not just for a moment.

Something had to be done.

 

* * *

And so I decided to tackle the problem in the only way I knew how: by making lists, and coming up with a strategy.

“So what,” people ask, “is in this… ‘happiness strategy’?”

I tell about my ‘Now List’,  my ‘Wish List’, how I set myself yearly goals, and how I make sure I actually achieve them.

I tell them how I’ve taken back control of my life, decided how I want it to be, pointed it in that direction, and given it a kick up the backside.

I tell them how I’m having more fun than I’ve ever had. Smiling more than I ever did. How there’s love in my life again. How I think Kate would be proud of me. And that I can finally say, I’m happy.

PETER JONES started professional life as a particularly rubbish graphic designer, followed by a stint as a mediocre petrol pump attendant. After that he got embroiled in the murky world of credit card banking where he developed ‘fix-it-man’ superpowers.

Now, Peter spends his days – most of them, anyway – writing. He is the author of three and a half popular self-help books on the subjects of happinessstaying slim and dating. If you’re overweight, lonely, or unhappy – he’s your guy.

Find out more about Peter Jones, his books, speaking engagements & workshops, at peterjonesauthor.com

Join Peter on

Click on cover to view on Amazon

Click on cover to view on Amazon

 

SDSW Kindle

Click on cover to view on Amazon

 

SONIA MARSH SAYS: Peter, When I read your story, I saw a movie. It captures all the emotions that are part of being human, and at the same time, ends on a positive note. I am so glad you shared your amazing story, and can show others how you overcame the loss of Kate.

 

Would you like to submit your “My Gutsy Story®” and get published in our 2nd anthology?

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Please see guidelines below and contact Sonia Marsh at: sonia@soniamarsh.com for details.

You can find all the information, and our new sponsors on the “My Gutsy Story®” contest page. (VIDEO) Submission guidelines here

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT FOR PETER AND SHARE USING THE LINKS BELOW.