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Michaela Haas
Author of Bouncing Forward
Author of Bouncing Forward
Michaela's posts

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Turning traumatic experiences into post-traumatic growth

Check out my latest piece on Maria Shriver´s Architects for Change:

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How Germany`s most famous jazz guitarist played in Auschwitz for his life

The now 91 year old Coco Schumann has played with jazz greats like Marlene Dietrich, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, and Louis Armstrong. Yet until the 1980s none of his colleagues knew of his experience in the Holocaust. Coco didn't speak about "it." Not even his closest friends knew what had happened to him except for the barest of facts Coco volunteered.
"I was in Theresienstadt and Auschwitz," he would say and leave it at that.

Coco is featured in Bouncing Forward and the forthcoming book The Ghetto Swinger. Read an excerpt from his moving life story in my latest Huffington Post blog:

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I spoke with Cheryl Strayed, bestselling author of Wild, about her journey, posttraumatic growth, and running for president.

Here is her answer to the question: What makes you stronger?
"I think the number 1 thing that makes us stronger is love. Sometimes even just the memory of love. When I was at my bottom, the thing that really pulled me through was that I realized so much of the negative feelings I had inside of myself, so much of that grief, or of that sense of 'I can't live' or 'I'm messed up' had to do with just how much I loved my mom. And that ended up being an awakening: wow, grief is actually about love. So here again we have this ugly thing that is actually a beautiful thing. Grief is ugly, and yet we wouldn't be grieving as fiercely as we do, if we didn't love that person. Grief is only about love. Remembering that was really powerful to me, also remembering the love my mother had for me. Thinking I have to make good on this. Throughout my life, I was rich in love. That's another thing my mother used to say that drove me crazy: "We aren't poor, we're rich in love." My whole life I have been rich in love. And part of it was that I reached for it. Even in the hardest times I have always sought connections, and consolation from other people─sometimes in the form of people who are long dead, people who wrote books or poems or essay that I carried around in my purse because they spoke truth to me. That manifested itself as love in books."

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An interview with internationally renowned grief coach and bestselling author Dr. Ken Druck

“We define (and distinguish) ourselves by how selflessly and courageously we love, summon up strength of heart (compassion and humility) in times of adversity, reinvent ourselves over a lifetime and give something back to the world.” – Dr. Ken Druck

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When I asked the incomparable Maya Angelou the question that has gripped me for years, "How do we manage to triumph over adversities?", Angelou’s advice to me was clear-cut: Develop an attitude of gratitude. "I think we have to be grateful,” she told me in her deep, raspy voice. “You could have died last night, you know.” She laughed.
Rather than reveling in the injustice and brutality that stamped her life, she chose to focus on the achievements. “If I live my life with self-confidence and kindness and don’t get anything back from that, I’m not overcome.”
Here`s how this gratitude practice actually works: My new blog on mindbodygreen

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NO DEADLINE ON RAPE: Bill Cosby or the Cosby-Bill?
As a journalist, I have to assume Cosby's innocence as long as he has not been convicted of a crime. However, as an author and advocate for trauma survivors, the lack of understanding for the victims leaves me frustrated: I have spoken with countless survivors of sexual abuse who struggled for decades before they found the courage to speak about their pain. Self-blame, guilt, and fear are powerful emotions and extremely common after sexual assault. "It takes rape survivors time to weather the storm of shame and victimization," one of Cosby`s accusers, filmmaker Lili Bernard, said at the rally, "It's unfair that once you're ready to talk, you can't."
We can only begin to heal trauma when we express it, articulate it, and share it. We can only find safe ground when we find compassionate allies who believe us and walk this difficult path with us. And it is much easier to find closure when justice has been served and the perpetrator has been forced to take responsibility for his crimes.

SHARE if you agree.

My new blog on The Huffington Post

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Resiliency is a Team Effort: Our Duty on Veterans Day

"Resilience and post-traumatic growth are not just tasks for the soldier's psyche (or any survivor's, for that matter). That we, as a country, leave alone the very soldiers we sent into war makes us "complicit in a plague of American disengagement," as the New York Times wrote. How we, as a culture, as friends and family welcome, support, and integrate the survivors matters hugely.
This is significant on Veterans Day and on every day."

Check out my Veterans Day blog on The Huffington Post

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Faith Can Move Mountains (and Cancer Cells)

Faith can help us in a crisis or not. Why does faith increase for some and weaken for others after a traumatic experience? Turns out it’s not which religion you follow or how strong your faith is — it’s whether or not you can integrate the traumatic event into your core beliefs.

My latest blog for OnFaith:

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An interview with internationally renowned Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield, PhD, author of A Path with Heart and The Wise Heart

What an extraordinary lineup! This November 15, renowned Buddhist teachers Jack Kornfield and Trudy Goodman will host a unique event for Insight LA in Santa Monica, "Living with a Joyful Spirit and a Wise Heart." A special group of influential meditation teachers will participate via video: living legend Ram Dass, author of the seminal book Be Here Now; Jon Kabat-Zinn, the creator of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program and bestselling author of Full Catastrophe Living; Tara Brach, bestselling author of True Refuge and Radical Acceptance; Joseph Goldstein, co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society, and Congressman Tim Ryan as well as Golden Globe winning actress Sandra Oh. The event will also be streamed live.
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