Introduction

 

"Adversity is like a strong wind.  It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.’" Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

Imagine being in the prime of your life, the mother of three young children with a good career. Then one day, without warning, it is all taken from you. You can’t move; you can’t speak; you can’t hold your newborn baby. Your husband is an abusive alcoholic; there is no one to help you. That’s what happened to Robyn.

But Robyn is not alone. Her story is not extraordinary.

Keith could not even pronounce his own name as a boy and is now one of the largest private developers in Australia; Louisiana is blind but has travelled extensively to foreign countries; Rossco overcame a life-threatening condition to become a world-renowned dancer and choreographer; Van has found his identity as a young migrant and is working his way out of poverty; another Robyn has overcome crippling grief to become a successful businesswoman; and Jodi has battled anxiety and fear to become a self-confident, well-travelled public speaker.

The people who share their stories within these pages have all faced adversity in its varying forms and share a common link: they have refused to allow their trauma, hardship, disadvantage or disability to define their character. They have not blamed others for their hurt, nor have they used circumstance as an excuse.

They have all taken responsibility for their lives and are not afraid to live them. Their adversity has been a catalyst for their realisation that they have much to contribute to others, regardless of their perceived disabilities and weaknesses.

This is not a self-help book. This is not a book about people who have become rich, famous or powerful, although some have. It is not a celebration of celebrity.

This is a collection of true life stories about everyday people who have overcome their problems and fears and are working towards their potential. Every person included in this book is a positive inspiration to others. Their stories are ones of achievement, perseverance, forgiveness and love. They all have much to contribute to humanity. And there are so many more in your community who bear similar scars of survival.

The subjects covered in this book are but a small representation of the problems and successes, the challenges and achievements life presents. Such obstacles can present themselves in various forms and combinations. Likewise, at the back of this book is a list of organisations offering help to those with needs specific to those who have shared their stories here. It is by no means exhaustive.

We hope this collection of stories will serve three purposes.

Firstly, that after reading it you take a second look at others around you: the cranky man scowling in the street, the pessimistic friend on the phone, the ever sorrowful relative, and wonder why they are the way they are. We hope you will take time to listen to others and make time to patiently help them.

Secondly, that you consider how your actions affect others, that we are distinct but not separate from the one body of humanity. That through empathy with others, we can all make a real difference to the world in which we live.

And thirdly, that you take inspiration and hope from these 11 people. After all, they are people you pass unnoticed in the street; your friends and neighbours; local business people. They are People Like You.

 

Ellen Hill

 

 

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