I decided to put together some Frequently Asked Questions based on the most common concerns, curiosities and comments I receive. I’m an open book, so if you’re still left with a question, send me a note! Here are the most common things I’m asked:
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1.) “Her story is a bit…extreme for my audience. I’m looking for inspirational, not scary.”
Ah, I get this a LOT. I get it – I went through a very hard time. When you hear that my stomach exploded, and all the rest that followed, it may seem that my story is straight out of a horror movie, or the twilight zone. But here’s the point: although what I went through may have been “extreme,” the emotions I experienced – the frustration, uncertainty, anger, pain – and the good emotions too, including the joy, gratitude, hope and self-discovery – those are universal themes we all come across on our various “detours.”
That is the power of stories – although what happened to me was “unique”, the emotions I experienced through every peak and valley so far, are shared experiences of what it means to be human on this earth. So basically, the focus of my talks are not on what happened to me specifically, but the lessons I learned about the human spirit, and how we can all transform adversity into personal growth.
2.) “I’m looking for something a bit more…upbeat. Like, inspirational wellness.”
I’m not the hugest fan of sob stories, so don’t expect them, even when I do talk about my own medical saga. I’ve always been chronically optimistic, which is what has helped me make it this far – I think I get the relentlessly-positive gene from my mother.
I’m happy to say that while my presentations may garner a few tears when appropriate, I’ve never given a presentation where at one point or another, people aren’t cracking up hysterically. Humor is a huge part of my persona credos, and an essential part of any talk! I’m an actress, so I’d rather save the drama for the stage. Check out some of my favorite wellness tips.
3.) “Is this really going to be appropriate for a young audience?”
I love young audiences! And I have a wealth of family-friendly material. I’ve spoken to middle schools, high schools, and I even lead fun, creative workshops for elementary school students. I can’t help it – I’m a kid at heart. It’s that childlike wonder, awe, curiosity and fearlessness that helped me survive. Kids are my greatest source of inspiration. Check out my article, What I Learned From Teaching Nursery School.
4.) “She covers so many topics. I’m looking for something more specialized.”
Yes, there is definitely an overabundance on content on my site, and you may not know where to start when I list my lengthy assortment of speaking topics. I encourage you to reach out to me directly if you are interested in a specific topic. My life experience has certainly sent me in many directions, but I can get as specific as your needs require.
Yes, I do understand that my story is a LOT. I’m asked to do this for the various publications I write for as well, and it’s perfectly possible. I appreciate that certain audiences are more focused on one topic over another.
6.) “So, you do a show too? Is that part of your presentation?”
Yes, it can be! I have a 70-minute musical about my life, Gutless & Grateful, that can be specialized for many different audiences. Usually, I perform the musical, then give a 20-minute talkback on the relevant issues it addresses (based on my audience) and open it up to any questions.
7.) “I’d love you to perform, but we don’t really have a venue or equipment for that…”
I’ve performed Gutless & Grateful for auditoriums with 900 people, lecture halls with 200 students, or a classroom with 10 people sitting at desks. The beauty of the show is that it’s super-simple to put on, and can also e shortened to 40 minutes, based on your needs.
8.) “Do you do anything interactive, or just presentations and performances?”
Yep. Check out my workshops. I lead creativity workshops, storytelling and writing workshops, and even a Detourist Workshop based on my #LoveMyDetour Campaign – that’s my most popular workshop for students.
9.) “I’m looking for a talk that’s more clinical, less motivational.”
I give plenty of those. If you contact me, I would be happy to send you some of my clinical abstracts. I’ve spoken at national and regional WOCN conferences, the National Mental Health America Conference, and 2016 American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress. I was the keynote speaker at the 2016 Pacific Rim International Conference on Diversity and Disability in Hawaii, and will be the featured keynote at the 2018 International School of Social Work Conference in Ohio.
10.) “Can you give a presentation that has nothing to do with trauma, health, sickness or mental health at all?”
I certainly can! As I say in my talks, I have medical circumstances, sure, but they aren’t my life. I’m not a patient, victim, or even survivor at heart. I’m an artist, actress, daughter, woman, leader and student of life. I give presentations purely on creativity and the arts, writing, leadership, social entrepreneurship and marketing, and faith. Send me a note if you’d like to know more.
11.) “Can you send me proof, like references and testimonials, or more information?”
Yes. You can see audience testimonials, professional references, quotes from the press, a booking history, and reader reviews. Also let me know if you’d like to see a full program outline, or some of the PowerPoints I’ve presented in the past. I can also send you the handouts in advance. Finally, you can view my professional bio, and listen/watch some past interviews and media segments.
12.) “How can I see your show/get you to come to me?”
13.) “Once I book you, will you help me promote it?”
That’s something I do better than anyone I know, I must say. Once you book me, I’ll send you a comprehensive promotional guide with flyers, logos, and press ideas. I’ll also promote it extensively with my e-mail list and large online following. I am very hands on in working together, and I’m excited to help every step of the way!
14.) “Can I work with you privately?”
Yes. I offer creativity coaching, sessions to help you navigate your own life detours. I’ve also coached survivors of assault and trauma with customized art therapy sessions. If you’re more interested in the business, speaking and marketing aspect, I offer business and speaking coaching as well.
15.) “You talk about stories a ton. I don’t really have a story. Is this relevant to me?”
After I premiered Gutless and Grateful, people would come up to me and tell me how inspired they had been by my story. They would almost apologize, as if ashamed that their own problems could possibly compare. This always struck me odd – because I believe that suffering is relative. Although my situation was extreme, I experienced universal feelings that everyone goes through in life – whether it’s a surgery, a break-up, or a broken heart. What ever the story, it is ours and uniquely ours and we all have to get it out there. Through telling our stories, we realize that we are not alone. We feel connected by a shared experience – and this experience strengthens us just enough to keep getting through life’s experiences day after day!
16.) “But I haven’t been through anything as severe as what you’ve been through though…”
I am a firm believer that suffering is relative. I’m no martyr – the anger, the joy, the frustration, the gratitude, the sadness, the longings that I felt – every human on this earth has experienced these things. When people started sharing their stories with me after premiering Gutless & Grateful, I was inspired to make my autobiographical show larger than just “musical theatre.” I had to make it a transformative, motivational tool – a workshop experience to show people that although my circumstances were extreme, what I felt and experienced were feelings we can all relate to. I wanted to show people what was proven to me – by just sharing our stories, we realize we are not alone. There is such strength in numbers. When I was coming out of my coma, my mother would read me other survivors’ autobiographies. I was so depressed I acted angry, upset at the world, and pretended like I wasn’t listening. But deep down in my heart, reading their words ignited a glimmer of hope in my heart, that “Oh, maybe I CAN thrive, it’s not too late for me…” Now I want to help others feel the same.
That made me realize that not only does MY story have to get out there, there HAS to be a way that everyone can share these stories. Because you never know who YOUR story may help!
This realization I had that we all need to tell our stories inspired me to get my story out there. That was the drive behind writing for places like The Huffington Post, or speaking across the country. Just because I believe that stories are the best self-help guide – our stories and the stories all around us.
17.) “But really, why should I tell my story? What’s in it for me?”
Through telling our stories, we create a roadmap where there is none, and we find that lantern to guide us home. No one else can write the story of our life – its what makes us unique, yet we all can relate to certain themes and feelings. When we tell our story, we are asking for attention from those we care about or wish to affect – connection.
Every day we have a different story in us, something that is always changing. Telling our stories helps us process it – just like you learn something better yourself when you have to teach someone. It also makes us feel less alone –we are stronger in numbers. Through our shared experience, we can heal. It’s not the details that matter – suffering is relative. By sharing our stories, we can connect with others who feel the same way.
Telling your story gets it out of you. otherwise its repressed and you run away from it. You can’t live your life until you embrace all the parts of you – broken and the brilliant – in order to move on wholly. Stories make us feel less alone, an unfolding narrative. If we don’t tell our stories we feel disconnected, like something is blocked in us we can’t get out. With stories, we show our humanity. We are not alone.
So anyway, my presentations veer more on the side of the lessons we can all teach ourselves – because that is my story: a story of learning to trust my instinct when I woke up in a world with no clear road map – a world filled with unexpected detours.
My story is the tale of how I became a Detourist – and how you can be one too.
18.) “Awesome! So when’s your book coming out?”
Available for pre-order this Spring 2017!!! Subscribe for updates…