Meet the wonderful people who inspired Bouncing Forward!
I didn’t write this book because I have all the answers. I wrote it because I have questions. I set out to ask masters of resilience how they found strength in adversity. By researching their life stories, perhaps a bit of their magic would rub off on me? Did they have a resilience code, and could I crack it?
I interviewed civil rights icon Maya Angelou about overcoming her childhood traumas, drummed with Def Leppard star Rick Allen, fed puppies with ex-POW Rhonda Cornum on her farm in Kentucky, visited autistic animal activist Temple Grandin in Colorado, went to my first Fanfest with genetic wonder woman Meggie Zahneis, and explored Berlin nightlife with famed jazz guitarist Coco Schumann who played for his life in Auschwitz. I cheered on paralyzed surfers such as Jesse Billauer (Life Rolls On) as they navigated eight-foot waves, learned about the power of bearing witness from Buddhist teacher Roshi Bernie Glassman, and talked with Canadian business consultant Alain Beauregard about his realization that cancer was “the greatest gift” he was ever given. I sat with Tibetan yogis in the Himalayas, attended the US Army’s resilience boot camp, and spoke with pioneers of a burgeoning movement of psychotherapists, scientists, and medical professionals who are trying to pinpoint what exactly it is that makes some people grow in the midst of adversity.
It is at this interface of Western psychology, Asian wisdom and Army toughness that our journey begins. We will look at crisis from different angles: physical, mental, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. You will meet people who have approached pain from seemingly opposite perspectives—tough soldiers, soft-spoken Zen masters, creative entertainers—and yet their best strategies to tackle these pains turn out to be surprisingly similar.
My interviewees are role models for people everywhere who are exploring their life purpose while facing challenges. One of the most insightful ways we can progress is by studying the biographies of people who have mastered the art of bouncing forward.
Meeting the subjects of this book changed me. They have been assaulted with sufferings that seem too big to bear, yet they bore them. They could have been crushed, yet they grew. They could have broken down, yet they broke through.
We learn resilience not in isolation, but only from other people, by interacting, connecting, and observing. I recommend that you don’t undertake this journey alone, but instead find a skilled guide.
We discover solace and gratification in connecting with others who have walked in our shoes and understand what we have gone through. “Talking to another bereaved parent was ten times more helpful than anything else,” says my sister-in-law Tami Carter.
We all have our tribe, and we need to reach out and find it.
This is exactly what I am offering with this book. Here you are meeting people who have survived dramatic events and who now are willing to share how they went to pieces without falling apart.
Nothing is as powerful as knowing we are not alone.
Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly: Be passionate. Be courageous. Be your best.
Temple Grandin: "The world needs all kinds of minds"
Paralympics sprinter Aimee Mullins: "The opportunity of adversity"
The most incredible surfer: Jesse Billauer
Rick Allen's Drum Circle
Genetic wonder woman Meggie Zahneis speaks about her painfree life:
Stacey Kramer: "The best gift I ever survived"
Don't give up!
"A Good Day! with Brother David Steindl-Rast
Banner image: Jesse Billauer surfing Surfrider Beach, Malibu © Catherine Gregory