|"I need a
little boost," Don Kuhl, Founder of The Change Companies, posted
the personal request to his (March 12) Mindful Midweek blog.
Unusual for the man who established the national publishing,
consulting, training and media company a quarter-of-a-century ago,
Kuhl's weekly banter usually gives others a lift.
But then back in November of 2013, Kuhl felt a strange pressure in
his chest. True to the "Interactive Journaling" self-empowerment
practices his company teaches, he wrote about the experience:
"I was at the Love Field Wyndham Hotel in Dallas, and next thing I
know, I'm in great pain, sprawled on the floor next to the
reception desk... thinking 'How embarrassing... This isn't good'."
An ambulance ride delivered Kuhl to the University of Texas
Southwestern Medical Center where the emergency room cardiac team
wheeled him to the operating room as he dropped out of
Diagnosed with a full
blockage of his left anterior descending (LAD, interventricular)
artery, a type of heart attack commonly referred to as 'the
widow-maker', a laparoscopic wire was surgically inserted from his
groin to his heart and a stent was pushed into place, opening the
"A few days later, I was flying back home, the
owner of a repaired heart." Kuhl said that he felt humbled and
thankful for the
fantastic medical care he'd received, and responsible to do his
part to pay the kindness forward.
But a heart attack unleashes intense waves of emotion and
according to leading experts, roughly 40% of survivors feel
scared, nervous and bleak and may slip into depression even though
they are grateful to be alive.
Proactively fending-off the blahs, Kuhl reached out to his readers
by "proposing an impromptu writing exercise" and offering prizes
of $500, $250 and $100 for the three best "short and wise stories"
describing a time when things weren't going well and "you were
down for a period but found a way to get back on the horse."
Working with leading experts to develop evidence-based tools to
assist individuals in making positive life changes, The Change
Companies' "Interactive Journaling" workbooks and facilitator
training programs are widely used by prevention, treatment,
addiction, impaired driving, criminal justice, education,
healthcare and rehabilitation specialists to facilitate and
empower personal achievement among the at-risk
individuals they serve by building consistency and confidence.
"I think there are a lot of us who could use a short, honest story
about resilience, determination and true grit," Kuhl's invitation
elaborated. "Your submission may inspire thousands of people to
mount up again."
by Christine Beems
One thing has always gotten me back in the saddle. It started
20 years ago when my beloved husband, father of our four children,
had open heart surgery and became disabled. Our eldest child was
eight and I was traumatized, but it was up to me to hold our
family together... so I did.
Life was very hard for the next 10 years when suddenly things got
worse. Out of the blue, my spouse abandoned us. This totally
knocked me for a loop.
A divorce ensued and life felt meaningless. Heavy with
Lashed with grief, despair and doubt, numb from wondering 'what
did I do wrong?', I sometimes wished for death but clung to life
for the sake of my children... which I knew meant that I had to be
a good example for them and grousing around, wallowing in misery,
certainly was not..
So together we played a game. Called 'What If-ing" it goes like
1. Imagine that today is 'the day after' every problem in the
whole world has been solved.
2. Pretend that everything you've ever hoped for and dreamed of is
now a reality.
3. Ask yourself: "What do I want to do next...?" and then listen
-- to yourself and each other -- as you share what comes from your
Besides learning a lot about my kids, just playing the game was a
magic elixir for me.
And still today, even playing alone, gives me clarity and
aware of The Change Companies several years ago, doing
research into the rehabilitative programs being used in the
federal prison system," said Christine Beems, first place winner
of the impromptu essay contest. "Deeply impressed by the quality
of the materials they publish and their professionalism, and have
followed the company with admiration ever since."
Under the leadership of Sherry Newsom, Owner, The Change Companies
grown from a small regional publishing shop to a major corporation
serving private- and public-sector clients in all 50 states
including many state DUI/DWI programs, the Federal Bureau of
Prisons and the Salvation Army.
One small example of the comprehensive materials provided, The
Change Companies produces the American Society of Addiction
Medicine (ASAM) eTraining courses for staff, participant
Interactive Journals and web versions of The ASAM Criteria in
Criminal Justice book.
To date, over 20 million individuals have explored and engaged
life-changes through 4,000+ federal, state and local
mental-health, behavior modification and cognitive development
programs which rely on
The Change Companies for quality-proven transitioning tools,
resources, and training.
"Don's Mindful Midweek musings always give me warm-fuzzy smiles
and pause to reflect on the quality of my life," Beems, a retired
journalist who has lived in Shirley, Arkansas, since 1989,
continued. "So when he reached out for support I just felt I had
to chime in."
Hundreds of readers responded to Kuhl's call for courageous
personal stories and Beems said that she was "elated and thrilled,
cherishing the tremendous compliment" that Kuhl gave her essay --
about how she got through a difficult period in her life by
playing a game called
"What If-ing" with her kids -- top honors.
Kuhl said that the selection of the top three from all of the
"remarkable and inspiring" stories was difficult because each one
a winner. "I will be forever grateful for your boost," he
All three winning essays are published on the company's
Mindful Midweek blog
For more, visit
The Change Companies