Live the Story You Want to Tell

It all suddenly made sense.

He said, “A moment that clearly defined what purpose meant to me was when I first started teaching… I don’t mean to teach people skills… but to get people to believe in themselves...”

Self-belief, a concept that gives you the confidence to overcome any obstacle that’s put in front of you.

Self-belief, a concept that develops from understanding your own abilities.

He continued by saying, “I had students who I worked my butt off to create these great lessons for, and I don’t think they always walked away understanding what I tried to get them to do. But, then I would get an email back from them, a year, two, three later or a Facebook message… and they’ll share these stories of where they’re struggling in their life… and they’ll say, ‘Mr. Guay, I just wanted to reach out to you… I’m realizing who are the people that helped me realize my greatness… the things that I could do… who pushed me to be a better version of myself… and I think of you”

As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • On Life: Live the story you want to tell

  • On Purpose: It’s defined by who you are, and creating something only you can create

  • On Adoption: “I think adoption is a superpower. I think the reason why it’s a superpower is because it puts you on a self-introspective journey”

  • On Teaching: Help people believe in themselves

  • On Relationships: They allow us to grow into the greatest versions of ourselves


Want to Connect with Mark?

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Finding Home

He was in real, physical danger.
 
He said, “There was a time when I used to think that my father was going to kill me. So, I used to stay up late at night, tucked in the corner of the room.”
 
At school, people would ask Ron Bultongez about the bandages and bruises, but he was too afraid, to tell the truth.
 
So, he lied.
 
A set of experiences that would make most, if not all, of us, want to forget about our early days and move on.
 
But, Ron Bultongez was different.
 
He decided to use his story in order to show others the path, from being a victim, to becoming a survivor, and ultimately turning into an advocate.
 
An advocate for those who’ve experienced physical or mental abuse in the household.
An advocate for those whose voices are often not heard.

“The quickest way to lose hope is believing you’re alone.”


EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • On Life: Understand that life is unfair and difficult

  • On Adversity: You don’t have to go through it alone

  • On Impact: Focus on changing one life, one day at a time

  • On Odds: Switch your mindset from “probability” to “possibility.”


Want to Connect with Ron?

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Holding On, Moving On

It was hard.

She said, “I went through ten different foster homes between the ages of 2 & 16.”

A system filled with memories of rejection and abuse.

A system that made Stacy Johnson realize she had nothing more to lose.

A system that made her redefine the meaning of family and love.

A system that helped her find her purpose in life, to help other foster youth rise from all of the above.

Three years ago, Stacy started Central Texas Table of Grace, an emergency foster youth shelter.

An organization, whose name was inspired by the following lyrics, “…At the table of grace, the cup's never empty. The plate's always full, and it's never too late. To come and be filled with love never ending. You're always welcome at the table of grace…”

An organization, that helped her find healing and meaning in life.

Are you living a meaningful life?


EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • On Escaping Abuse: Find an outlet that will allow you to escape your situation

  • On Healthy Mind: “Garbage in, garbage out”

  • On Goal-Setting: Visualize the outcome

  • On Life: “Your life is the lens you see it through”


Want to Connect with Stacy?

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"Where Do You Belong?"

Born and abandoned.
 
She said, “When I was found by the Ahmednagar police, I was severely malnourished, miasmic, and suffering from dysentery.”
 
An event that’s difficult for most, if not all, of us to imagine.
 
An event that first showed Rebekah Mallory what rejection and lack of belonging felt like.
 
But, this wasn’t the only time Rebekah experienced rejection and lack of belonging.
 
She said, “I was seven years old… I don’t remember what brought it on or what caused it, but one of my friends was making fun of me for being black… One of the first times I was aware that I was being humiliated for being different.”
 
An instance that questioned her identity once again.
 
But, it is an instance like this that made her stronger.
 
An instance that made her realize how we should focus on our similarities rather than our differences.
 
An instance that made Rebekah embrace who she was.
 
Remember: Everyone has a story. Embrace it. Live yours.
 
“As an adoptee, there is nothing more you need than other adoptees... who bring new perspectives to the table”


EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • On Living Life: Look forward, not into the past

  • On Rejection: Be aware that it may happen

  • On Community: Find people who care about you

  • On Connecting with Others: Don’t be afraid of abandonment and rejection


Want to Connect with Rebekah?

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You Can’t Elevate Yourself By Putting Others Down

It was devastating.
 
She said, “I thought if other people heard it or if they knew about my early story, then they would see me as less able to do the job that I was doing. Somehow scared, less desirable to hire.”
 
A set of feelings that were difficult to escape.
 
So, she hid it for as long as possible.
 
Until one day a breaking news story developed.
 
She said, “I was on the news desk, reading this story coming down on the prompter about a homicide that had happened… The suspect was the adopted son of this couple… It said ‘the adopted son’ over and over again.”
 
A story that made Michelle realize that we cannot run from the truth of who we are.
A story that helped her embrace her adoption as a strength, not a weakness.
A story that helped Michelle define her purpose in life, to ensure that the adoption community is heard, seen, valued, respected, and understood.

"I want to help people rise… I want to help them overcome"


EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • On Becoming Resilient: Make the decision to move forward

  • On Life: Your decisions control your life, not the events that happen in it

  • On Identity: Don’t hide from your story

  • On Advocacy: Rise up every morning and be passionate about your work


Want to Connect with Michelle?

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Be the Person You Needed Most When You Were Younger

Unknown.

A word that can be used to describe much of her early beginnings, especially her experience related to adoption.

She said, “There is so much that’s lost because my birth mother is no longer on the planet.”

A person, with whom April Dinwoodie wishes she had developed a stronger connection with.

A person, who may have helped April find answers to some of her burning questions, such as “Were my birth parents in love? Were they connected in some significant way? Was there a forced sexual experience?”

A list of questions that will always remain a part of her identity.

An identity that was formed by taking bold steps forward, not backward.

Helping her gain significant experience in the process, including CEO at The Donaldson Adoption Institute, founder of Adoptment and host of the rapidly growing podcast, Born in June Raised April.

Leading her to experiences that have helped her position herself as a thought leader within the adoption and foster care community.

A thought leader, whose efforts continuously challenge the norm.

A thought leader, whose efforts could be looked upon as inspiration for future leaders.


EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • On Claiming Identity: Embrace your differences

  • On Transracial Adoption: Be fierce about protecting your child, physically and emotionally

  • On Qualities of Great Mentors: Commitment, Patience, and Presence

  • On Advocacy: Strive to become an influencer


Want to Connect with April?

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Creating A Meaningful Life

October 15th, 2014.
 
The day she received her diagnosis.
 
It was thyroid cancer.
 
She said, “I have been working with cancer for almost 20 years and I have never had it before. So, to get diagnosed with it was shocking.”
 
A condition that is often times kept as a secret.
 
But, for Pamela Cordano it was different.
 
It was an opportunity to learn things she didn’t already know.
 
To develop a mindset that helped her excel as a being, adoptee, and psychotherapist.

A mindset that has made her life more meaningful.
 
I asked, “How does one find meaning?”
 
She said, “Meaning is available to all of us, all the time… I think that when our lives aren’t meaningful or we’re lacking meaning in our lives, it’s when we’ve become disconnected from it… There is an abundance of meaning around us all the time that’s just waiting for us.”
 
She continued by saying, “Meaning can be experienced through our senses… things that we do like our work or an art… people, places and things that we love… important stories from our past… the legacy we want to leave in the future… attitudes that are important to us when we encounter adversity or life’s limitations.”
 
Are you living a meaningful life?


EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • On Cancer: Treat it as an opportunity for learning and growth

  • On Abuse: Speak up if you can

  • On Development: Elevate others first

  • On Resilience: Move into an expanded state of mind

  • On Happiness: Give before you receive


Want to Connect with Pamela?

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Battles of Life

Five percent. That was her chance of survival.
 
A hard thought for most, if not for all of us, to swallow.
 
What would you do if you were told you had a five percent chance at life?
 
Would you be satisfied with the person you have become, the lessons you’ve passed on to others, and the amount of time you’ve spent with those you love?
 
But, Karin McHugh is different compared to others.
 
She developed a mindset that she wishes to pass on to others; to never give up, no matter how difficult the circumstances may be.

This mindset helped her overcome a difficult illness that prevented her from witnessing the birth of her son.

An illness that taught her a tough, but an important lesson: to not reason, but rather accept things for what they are. And most importantly, to choose to fight on.


EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • On Adoption: Don’t tell your children they’re “different”

  • On Recovery: Take time to process your feelings

  • On Acceptance: Don’t try to find a reason, but rather accept things for what they are

  • On Experience: Yours may be different, but it is no less valid than anyone’s

  • On Finding Courage: Find your safe space