Each contributing author in this extraordinary book has played a pivotal role in the advancement of mental health services and personal transformation. They coined the phrases, they made the discoveries, they are the vanguards who brought us a deeper understanding of the issues that affect us, our families, our communities, and every one of our relationships. They are the true, indispensable guides and mentors who rescue us from ourselves and each other, that teach us better, more fulfilling ways to live.
These stories chronicle experiences that go beyond the educational realm, past office visits and therapy sessions, and brought them deep into the tender realm of the heart. They are the encounters that blurred the lines and made their work personal, the hopes and tears of their careers, the indelible scars that belie their commitment to do whatever it takes to make a difference. It is this blending of personal and professional life that births wisdom, that connects people, and heals a hurting world.
Let Success Stories from the Heart inspire you—it's a celebration of 40 momentous years and a thrilling celebration of life!
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About the Author
Peter Vegso, is an entrepreneur and pioneer of self-help publishing, best known for being the original publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Many years ago, Vegso made a commitment to be a conduit for goodfor improving the lives of others in every venture he would undertake. Health Communications, Inc., the company he co-founded, is a leader in the field of mental health information. In addition to publishing books at HCI, his dedication to advancements in mental health care encompasses the experts who provide invaluable services to those in need and can be witnessed throughout the pages of the indispensable Counselorthe premier magazine for addiction and behavioral health professionals. U.S. Journal Training's conferences provide top-notch speakers, workshops, educational opportunities, and more to professionals in the mental health field who share his heart for humanity. Originally from Canada, he now lives in Boca Raton and Ocala, Florida, where he enjoys life with his wife of 47 years, Anne, their children, and five very active grandsons.
Gary Seidler has been one of the foremost supporters of the addictions and mental heath field for the past 40-plus years as a publisher and professional conference organizer. A newspaper reporter and editor in Canada, he joined the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario as Press Officer in 1970. In 1976, Gary and Peter Vegso, both in their early thirties, moved to Florida where they co-founded Health Communications, Inc., and the US Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence (later US Journal Training, Inc). Gary was closely associated with several bestsellers, including Adult Children of Alcoholics by Janet Woititz, Healing the Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw, and the worldwide bestselling series, Chicken Soup for the Soul.
He produced The Process, an award-winning docudrama which demonstrates the value of experiential therapy. His most recent project has resulted in The Heart Reconnection Guidebook. Gary continues to work closely with USJT in developing training conferences for professionals in the addictions/behavioral health field, and is executive consulting editor of COUNSELOR, The Magazine for Addiction and Mental Health Counselors.
Read an Excerpt
Intuition and Leaps of Faith Heart Drive
"The only real valuable thing is intuition." Albert Einstein
In life and business, I've always felt it was important to read between the lines, to listen to how people say something as well as what it is they tell you, and to pay attention to your dreams and to your intuition. Doing so can change your fateand in some cases, save your life.
Many years ago, my wife Anne, my two daughters, and I were visiting with Anne's parents on a small island just off Victoria, Canada. My in-laws offered to watch the girls overnight so Anne and I could enjoy some relaxing time by ourselves on the other side of the island. The island was very scenic, and our drive would be interesting, taking us on roads where logging trucks once went, along the hillside, with rivers on the other side far down the hill. It was a nice break from the heat, humidity, and flat terrain of South Florida, the place we now called home. Still, while I looked forward to our alone time, I kept having a recurring and disturbing vision that started when we first got on the island: I was trapped under-water, and I couldn't break through to the surface because it was covered by thick glass. I couldn't figure out what this was all about, and the unsettling feeling stayed just below the surface of my consciousness.
We had rented a car in Seattle and took a ferry to the island. The car was fine when we left the rental agency, but when we landed on the island and began our drive to the other side, the vehicle started feeling strange. I couldn't quite put my finger on it; the brakes and engine seemed to be workingwhich was good because we would be driving up and down mountainous roadsbut something about it just didn't seem right. I, too, started feeling out of sorts, but we continued along, looking forward to our mini vacation.
We hadn't made reservations for a place to stay, thinking we would find lodging there easily. When we arrived at our destination, we were surprised and disappointed to discover that not a single hotel had a vacant room. We had no choice but to turn around, so we started our journey back.
Traveling along, we discussed how sad we were that we couldn't stay when an enormous black bear came bounding across the road, seemingly out of nowhere. I slammed on my brakes to avoid hitting it. Anne and I were momentarily speechlessthough afterward we laughed about it, wondering how we would have explained hitting a bear!
My heart was beating at a fast and furious pace, and all my senses were heightened. The foreboding feeling came back, now even stronger. A short time later, as we were heading up a small incline in the roadway, I lost control of the steering and the car began to fishtail, drifting wildly from left to right. My wife was totally scared, and I fought to control the erratic movement as we were coming up to a hairpin curve. I suddenly got control back, and Anne and I both breathed a huge sigh of relief. It was short-lived because the next moment I lost control again. Just as that happened, I had my recurring vision of being underwater, under glass. That thought caused me to react. I followed a strange gut instinct that, on any other day, I would've considered insane: I turned the steering wheel hard to the right, causing the car to crash into the ditch on the right side of the road.
Seconds later, an enormous semitruck loaded down with logs came barreling around the curve. Driving far too fast for this narrow part of the road, it was halfway in our lane. If I hadn't driven into the ditch, we would have been smashed to smithereens, and likely would have ended up tumbling down the hill and into the frigid waters of the river below.
Anne and I had a few bumps and bruises, and the rental car was worse for the wear, but we were aliveand thankful to be here, ditch and all. I held Anne tightly, tears of relief and gratitude filling my eyes, thinking about all that could have happened but did not.
The police officer who arrived soon after to sort out the incident told us we were lucky to be alive, but then in the next breath wrote us a ticket for parking illegallyin the ditch. We were dumbfounded, but at least she apologized for having to do it. Rules are rules, apparently.
When we returned home, I shared our story with one of our authors and conference speakers, Jane Middelton-Moz, who has great knowledge of native people's spirituality and symbolism. "Peter, the bear was a warning of danger," she told me. "It saved your life." I knew that it was true; I was trying to push away my vision of being in the river, but the bear wouldn't let me. The next time I saw Jane, she gave me a gift: a talisman from a Native American who said I should carry it with me if I ever visit the island againwhich I haven't done, nor will I ever.
Since this experience, I knew for certain that even if your head tells you something that is logical and makes perfect sense, it is your heart that will always lead you in the right directionand that just might be into a ditch (better than the alternative)! We need to listen to our guardians from above. While they cannot help directly, they can create thoughts, feelings, visions, etc., that we need to pay attention to, and let our gut (spiritual instincts) guide us to do the right thing.
©2018 Peter Vegso and Gary Seidler. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Success Stories from the Heart: Passionate and Caring Stories to Open the Heart and Energize the Spirit to Succeed in Life and Love. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Intuition and Leaps of Faith
Heart Drive Peter Vegso 7
The Lost Luggage That Saved Lives Gary Seidler 11
The Fairy Godmother Reverend Bernardo Monserrat 16
Love Never Dies: From Hope to Faith in Thirty Years Brian Luke Seward, PhD 19
With Only God in My Pocket: Stories of Immigrant Faith Tian Dayton, PhD 24
The Magic of Synchronicity Sheri Laine 30
Recycled Dreams Jennifer O'Neill 37
A Doctor's Journey Christine Pisera Naman 43
A Higher Calling…from the Penthouse, That Is Kim Weiss 47
The Second Road Kelly Martinsen 52
In a Real Fairy Tale, the Prince Is the Result of a Quest Jan Denise 58
From Certain Death to Super Health Raymond Francis 64
Chapter 2 Sacrifice and Selflessness
The Cat Man Roger Dean Kiser 73
True Liberation Harley A. Rotbart, MD 78
Thanksgiving Kindness Benjamin D. Garber, PhD 82
Love Unexpected Patti Lawson 87
The Bellman Dan Clark 93
A Flood and a Home Jason Hastie 98
The Country Store Todd Outcault 104
A Life: Hanging in the Balance Virginia Bell 107
Beau Jack: A Christmas Story Hackie Reitman, MD 112
Grandma Annie Christine Pisera Naman 116
A Hero Stanley Kapuchinski, MD 120
Chapter 3 Inner Strength and Overcoming Obstacles
Finding the Warrior Within Anonymous 127
A Journey to Understanding Molly Murphy 132
My Name Isn't Bastard, It's Bobby Robert J. Ackerman, PhD 137
You Are a Man, My Son Cardwell C. Nuckols 143
Come What May Dave Pelzer 149
The Gift Cheewa James 153
My Fight Class Michele P. Roseman 158
The Light in the Darkness Chris DiGiuseppi 161
From Powerless to Powerful: My Evolving Spirituality Reverend Leo Booth 165
Honest, Open, and Willing One Day at a Time Joseph R. Cruse, MD 170
Morphing Pain into Purpose Joan E. Childs 173
Striving for Balance in an Unbalanced World Kristin K. Finn 179
The New Normal Kevin Kuczynski 184
The Magic Within Mary Lee Zawadski 189
Chapter 4 Shedding Old Ways and Finding a New Path
A Struggle to Learn-and Then to Teach-Social Skills Alan Garner 197
All the Words Judy Clement Wall 202
Finding New Purpose Tom Lagana 208
Hang In 'til the Miracle Happens Amy Baumgardner 211
The Flies on the Window Sean Kenniff, MD 217
Brain Switch: The Neurobiology of New Beginnings Genie James, MMSc 220
Out of the Shadows Mark Sanders, LCSW, CADC 229
Leaving Behind a Legacy of Shame Roanne Weisman 232
Chapter 5 Connections and Family
Mail Call Roger Dean Kiser 239
The Power of Firsthand Experiences Sue Scheff 244
Shamrocks, Rainbows, and Love Brian Luke Seaward 248
A Mother's Love Shirley Washington 252
Becoming My Mother Kelly Johnson 255
Birth Rite Rabbi Joshua Hammerman 259
Kindness Has a Strong Pulse Michael Adamse, PhD 264
Many Kinds of Success Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse 268
The Power of Pining Bettie B. Youngs, PhD, EdD 272
Memories of a Special Friend Stan Sanderson 278
Remembering Al Joan Aho Ryan 282
The Legacy of Mr. Croft Dan Clark 287
After the Glory Billy Staples Rich Herschlag 292
Chapter 6 Attitude and Perspective
They Just Led Pat Williams 301
The Intensive Summer-of-Self Bettie B. Youngs, PhD, EdD 310
Different Glasses Sandra Felt 316
Joe D. Batten: Faith-Based, Strength-Focused, Vision-Led Wendy Batten Havemann and family 320
The Little Lost Cockapoo in Hyde Park John C. Friel, PhD Linda Diane Olund Friel MA 324
The Memory Coat David T. Kyle, PhD 331
Kind Honesty, an Honest Mirror, and a Resting Place for Dreams Jane Middelton-Moz 335
And a Life Was Changed Elise Edelson Katch 343
The Gift of Forgiveness Kay Sheppard 349