I have long loved and treasured the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. In 2007, USA Today named Chicken Soup for the Soul one of the five most memorable books in the last quarter-century.
With over 100 million books sold to date in the U.S. and Canada alone, more than 250 titles, and translations into more than 40 languages, "chicken soup for the soul" is one of the world's best-known phrases. New books in the series continue to be popular with today's readers and books published years ago are still treasured by their owners.
In 1993, I received Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit from my sister. I was new in nursing management and the book helped ground me on the importance of life balance.
In 1997, I gave my Momma Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Hearts and Rekindle the Spirits of Mothers for Mother's Day. In May, 2010, I re-gifted this book back to myself, upon Mom's death, as well as the Chicken Soup for the Mother and Daughter Soul Journal that I had given her in May, 2007. These books will always mean the world to me.
In 2004, a dear friend gave me Chicken Soup for the Girlfriend's Soul: Celebrating the Friends Who Cheer Us Up, Cheer Us On and Make Our Lives Complete for my birthday ~ one of those gifts you never forget.
What a series ... a theme for every inspirational point along our life journey, written by men and women from every walk of life.
In Gail's own words: "This volume of CSFTS will include 101 empowering stories of resilience, positive thinking and overcoming many of life’s most difficult challenges such as divorce, addiction, natural disasters and financial problems.
We are all stronger than we think and the stories in this book show it’s possible to find happiness and silver linings despite tough times.
The foreword is written by actress and author Fran Drescher who is a uterine cancer survivor and president of the Cancer Schmancer Movement."
Recently Gail shared a pearl of wisdom that I could relate to because of my own life circumstances. I suspect many of you can as well: "The older I get, the more I realize life truly is stranger than fiction and our life stories take more twists and turns than we could ever have imagined in our youth. The journey is sometimes difficult and bittersweet but even from the worst of times we can gain wisdom and use it to help others who are facing their own challenges."
Imagine my delight when I recently learned that my dear friend, Gail Sobotkin, a retired community health nurse and freelance writer from Milford Delaware would have her story, The Boy I Loved and Lost included in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength.
When Gail learned her story, The Boy I Loved and Lost, would be included in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength, she walked the labyrinth at St. Peter’s Church in Lewes in prayerful meditation. It had been a long time since she lost her first love to cancer when she was 18-years-old, but she was grateful their love story would be published in the latest Chicken Soup book where it could reach many readers who are currently grieving and need to find a way to move forward with their lives despite their painful loss.
She paused in the heart of the labyrinth and when the hair on her forearms tingled, sensed Helmut’s presence and silent approval. He’d suffered at the end of his short life but had wanted her to live a long life of service to others. The day before he died Helmut told her, “You’ll make a great nurse someday,” and it was the memory of those words which helped lift her out of her grief and focus on her nursing studies after his death.
During her long nursing career she took care of many patients who were chronically or terminally ill and though she has been married to a wonderful man for 40 years (whom she loves dearly), she never forgot the boy she loved and lost and how traumatic it was to watch him die at a time when there were no hospice services available. I have had the pleasure of meeting Gail's Fred and can testify to the love, friendship and support these two remarkable people bring into each other's lives.
Personal and professional experience later taught her the comfort such services can provide. Gail's father died suddenly from a heart attack, but her brother, several close friends, and mother received hospice care before they passed away.
Gail said, “Grief is always hard to bear, but having the support of caring, knowledgeable professionals makes a huge difference when a family is faced with the imminent death of a loved one, and those services continue after the death when grief counseling for the survivors is needed.”
More recently, Gail discovered labyrinths can be healing in times of grief. In a commentary article that was published in the Sept. issue of Delaware Beach Life titled, Exploring Life’s Twists and Turns, she wrote about walking local labyrinths as a tool for meditation and a metaphysical journey through grief.
She will be speaking about her use of the labyrinth as a healing tool at a Delaware Grief Workshop at the Milford Public Library on Sat. Nov. 1, 2014 from 10 am to 1 pm and is thrilled to be participating in this event which is sponsored by the Milton Wellness Center, Delaware Hospice and Delaware Grief Awareness Consortium in honor of Delaware’s Grief Awareness Week.
Gail said, “The workshop will be led by two bereavement counselors--Mary Van House, co-owner of the Milton Wellness Center, and Midge DiNatale, from Delaware Hospice. Mary is a certified labyrinth facilitator who will lead participants through a guided walk on a 30 feet canvas labyrinth. Midge will speak about grief and ways to cope with it.”
I had my first labyrinth walking experiences with Gail at the Labyrinth in the Anthony N. Fusco Reservoir at the Delaware Art Museum. And my second will be when I attend this workshop on November 1st...! I am greatly looking forward to learning more from these amazing women and furthering my own journey in the grief process.
If you don't yet know, my friend Gail, you really need to take the time to check out her work. As well as being a truly "great " nurse as Helmut predicted, she has been writing for 20 years and her stories and articles have appeared in the American Journal of Nursing, Delmarva Quarterly, Delaware Beach Life, and Mysterious & Miraculous Books I & II. Her work can also be seen on the website, HubPages.com where she writes under the pen name Happyboomernurse.
As for me, holiday shopping has suddenly become much easier. In reading my own autographed copy of this book, I have discovered 100 equally amazing stories filled with inner strength and courage. The writers are cancer survivors, retired, working single mothers, folks from every walk of life who are brave enough to share their vulnerabilities and the strength and wisdom gained from such.
I was blown away reading Fran Drescher's unforgettable Foreword on her feelings about Cancer Schmancer. 'The Nanny' sums it up best in her philosophy that: "Sometimes the best gifts come in the ugliest packages."
This CSFTS volume is one that I will reach for time and time again, when in need of an inspirational lift. This book is a perennial comfort and a reminder that none of us travels on this life journey alone.
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength, just like my friend Gail Sobotkin, is a keeper!
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