John Casey, founder of The Sustainable Journaling Project, describes living with gender dysphoria and finding his way to transitioning in his 40s after meeting other people who were gender non-conforming. He took baby steps throughout the process and had a ‘transition buddy’ that helped him meet his goals. His advice to everyone is to develop a list of resources on which to rely, and to keep a daily journal as a way of checking in, documenting and honoring the experience.
Alexandra Capellini was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) when she was 7 and had her right leg amputated above-the-knee. She describes growing through it with the help of her family, her team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and the other kids in the hospital. She learned about the power of selflessness and resilience through the experience. Her advice to others is to lean on those around you, and trust your support system. Also, be flexible with yourself and know that every day is a chance to reset how you’re thinking. She is presently a medical student studying to treat children with cancer.
Grow Through It: Adoption, Child Abuse, Substance Abuse, Opiod
Kevin Barhydt, author of Dear Stephen Michael’s Mother, describes the primal wound he experienced being adopted when he was born. He recounts being molested as a child, raped as a teen, and becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol as a young person. It was not until years later that he came to terms with feeling abandoned, not wanted, and understood the effect the adoption had on his self-worth. “An adoptee alone is in bad company,” he says, and attributes turning his life around to therapy, 12-step programs, and a community of adoptees, birth mothers, and adoptive families. His advice: “Do not do this alone.”
Tracey Syphax, serial entrepreneur and author of From the Block to the Boardroom, describes a childhood filled with traumatic experiences that led to drug use, stealing cars, drug dealing, getting shot, and spending 7 years in prison. He turned his life around after reading the bible twice—cover to cover—in solitary confinement, developing a strong faith, and believing that God saved him. Syphax says that the possible is always possible. If he could go from the crackhouse to the White House, anyone can find their purpose and passion in life.
Samuel Moore-Sobel, author of Can You See My Scars?, describes an accident in which he was burned by sulfuric acid when he was 15-years-old. With second and third-degree burns to his face and arms, he had more than a dozen surgeries over the years. He attributes his emotional recovery to his psychiatrist who taught him to ‘assemble a toolbox’ to withstand future challenges.