by Carol Graham
Having had more than the allotted amount of challenging experiences that any one person should have to endure in a lifetime, I always knew that one day I would be successful. After decades of opportunities going wrong, discouragements, shattered dreams and broken promises, I became conditioned to question everything, not trusting. Often, it would take every ounce of effort I could muster to get out of bed in the morning and make it through another day.
Putting one foot in front of the other seemed a greater feat than I might be able to accomplish. Although a constant battle, I never gave up hope and wrote my memoir to encourage anyone going through similar experiences. With each of the twelve chapters sharing a major trauma, I knew most people would be able to relate with at least one of them.
In my memoir, Battered Hope, I tell my story as a resilient woman who endured traumatic events that would cause most people to roll over and quit. I learned the long-term effects of one bad choice that led my life into a downward spiral. I never blamed God or allowed unforgiveness to take any root in me.
My story is not one of an abusive childhood but one of mistakes, poor choices and circumstances as an adult that developed into a series of major losses in physical, financial and emotional arenas.
The challenges of uterine cancer (in my 20’s), being drugged, raped and left for dead, marital abuse, suicide attempt, the loss of a child, and financial ruin at the hands of others made me a victor – not a victim.
I look at what life has taught me and what I can teach others instead of complaining that life cheated me. I strongly believe that faith and laughter will get you through anything.
If I had not gone through what I did, I would not be the woman I am today. I would not be able to relate on a level of sincere empathy.
As a result of my memoir, speaking engagement soon became a regular part of each month; the more I shared my story, the more people were encouraged and uplifted. I quickly realized that there were multitudes of people who had a story they wanted to share about their own emotional pitfalls and eventual successes.
The idea struck me. I knew the Lord had placed that thought and desire into my heart. I would create a talk show to interview ordinary people who had overcome extraordinary trauma in their lives. I posted an on-line request for people who fit this category to come forward, more than 100 did on the first day. And it continued…regularly. But I didn’t have a clue where to start. I had less than zero experience in this arena.
I did not have the means to hire any help or pay for courses or equipment. What on earth was wrong with me? I spent hours, days and weeks researching; the more I learned, the more discouraged I became. I was illiterate; still learning the language of the social media world and now I was venturing into whole new territory.
I found some free training courses online but the language was difficult to understand. Learning how to record, edit, how to make an into and outro for the show, what hosting service to use – each step was challenging and completely out of my comfort zone, but I was making progress.
During this entire time, I was interviewing future guests up to five times a week. I had warned them this was a new show and it would be a while before it would air. I had no idea how long that would actually take.
Were there setbacks? Almost every week. Did I cry? Almost every week. Why did I keep doing it? What was motivating me? The people…and their stories.
Often, after an interview, I would stare at the wall, tears rolling down my cheeks. I was so touched by these survivors of tragic circumstances I would never have been able to endure. I began to change as a person. New life was welling up inside me. Even if the show never aired, I was personally encouraged. My guests told my audience (of one) how they crawled out of the hole of despair and knew they would succeed. Little by little, day by day, I grew stronger. I owe them so much more than I could ever give back.
Then I had a brainstorm. I decided to do a blog post for each guest including links to their book/s and website and then promote it extensively to the best of my ability. I had been interviewed many times. After the interview was over, it was over. That was the end of it. I had no knowledge if anyone heard or cared. I determined my show would be different.
Finally, after ten months I was ready to start broadcasting. I watched the stats for each show and noticed that over 56 percent of my listeners were in Washington D.C. This puzzled me.
Then, I got THE call. The call that changed everything. As I listened to the publisher of a woman’s magazine, I kept waiting for the shoe to drop.
“Carol, you are exactly what we have been searching for. We have listened to every one of your shows and were so impressed by the professionalism. You must have had a great staff of people putting it together for you.We had our staff of independent book reviews read your book and it was unanimous. They want you. Your book.”
She continued, “We are a non-profit organization that seeks authors who have lived through a lot and have given of themselves. It’s your turn now. We want you on the front page of our magazine and a two-page article about you. We will actively promote your book and put you on the map. We are very selective and our criteria are high. You and your book title are in a CATEGORY of your own. You lived a life of shattered dreams, but you never quit. We want you on board. Your book afflicts the comforted and comforts the afflicted.”
Was I hearing her correctly?
She continued to tell me all the perks – and there were many. I was asked to attend a gala affair in Washington, D.C. to receive the Woman of Impact award for my memoir, Battered Hope, and my podcast, Never Ever Give Up Hope, now airing in over 140 countries.
Please realize deeply that there is hope for the hopeless. There is help from others who have had similar experiences. This is what the show is about. When you are passionate about caring for other people, it is one small step to changing more than just your own world, but also the world outside yours.
But the greatest attainment is the feedback from hearts that have been touched and lives changed as a result. It is not where you have been that matters – it is where you are going. If you quit, you will never know how success feels or that the answer to your prayer was just a step away.
I thank God for trusting me to take the step of faith and being obedient. When God asks us to do something, it is often difficult to believe we can. But with Him, all things are possible and He will give us the tools we need – each step of the way.
Bio: Carol Graham is the author of a fast-paced award-winning memoir, Battered Hope, the blog Never Ever Give Up Hope, a regular contributor to several websites and has been published in many anthologies. In addition to traveling as an international key-note speaker and hosting a bi-weekly talk show, Never Ever Give Up Hope, Carol is a business owner, a certified health coach, a wife, mother, and grandmother who has rescued over 30 dogs.
Carol has survived the challenges of major illnesses, devastating personal losses and financial ruin more than once, yet she refuses to become a victim. Her goal is to share with others how to survive and thrive.
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