Tag Archives: Chicken Soup for the Soul

Weekend of inspiring women

amy newmark_joy

At the contributor dinner with Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Amy Newmark.

This past weekend, I attended the What Women Want conference in Atlanta. The 3-day event featured speakers from a wide range of industries, with a focus on inspiring women to take it to the next level of their business or begin a new path to career fulfillment.

The entire event was great, and gave me new ideas on how to promote my caregiver advocacy work. I was most interested in hearing the opening keynote speaker, Amy Newmark. She is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Chicken Soup for the Soul. A story about my father, French Toast, appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias.

On Saturday, Amy and her crew hosted a dinner for Atlanta-area Chicken Soup for the Soul contributors. What a fun and inspiring event that proved to be! I met people (mainly women) from all walks of life, who had shared an inspiring story that had touched their hearts. I love events where I get to have one-on-one time with people who I’d probably have never crossed paths with otherwise.

A very moving part of the conference was the Women for One’s Truthteller Tour. Women from a variety of backgrounds shared their intimate and painful yet triumphant stories in front of a live audience. If you’d like to submit your story, it is free to do so.

With so much negativity and hostility in the world right now, it was refreshing to spend a weekend with women whose mission it is to make a positive impact in other people’s lives.

What organizations or groups inspire you to be the best you can be?

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Book review: Simply Happy

I had the privilege of receiving an advance copy of simply-happy-cover
Simply Happy
, a different kind of Chicken Soup for the Soul book. This time, publisher Amy Newmark has written an entire book herself, based upon the wisdom she has gained from reading all of the inspirational submissions over the years.

As you may remember, I was honored to have my first-ever Chicken Soup for the Soul submission, French Toast, accepted and published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias, which benefitted the Alzheimer’s Association.

I was as surprised as anyone to pick up a Chicken Soup for the Soul publishing credit. I am pessimistic by nature, though I prefer to refer to myself as a “realist.” My job as a journalist involves me seeing the worst and best of humanity day in and day out, and I admit the bad news seems to have more of an impact than the positive.

But that is exactly what Newmark is trying to address in this collection, which offers simple, realistic tips on generating greater happiness and satisfaction in your life. Newmark uses prior Chicken Soup for the Soul submissions as the main resource, adding what she learned or how she applied some of those lessons. Newmark was a successful Wall Street analyst before she took the Chicken Soup for the Soul helm, so she doesn’t gush rainbows and kittens, but addresses struggles that many people can relate to and how changing your perspective or outlook can help. There are no wonder cures or guarantees of happiness here, but I found myself relating to quite a few of the essays.

One that definitely hit home was the “Imposter Syndrome,” where people (especially women) feel like they are inadequate, even when everyone around them thinks they are amazing. I definitely suffer from this and am sure this is common among caregivers!

I also enjoyed the essay about removing toxic people from your life and embracing the art of saying, “No.” As caregivers, we often feel it is our duty to do everything, but that eventually leads to burnout. We have to learn when to say no and ask for help.

Simply Happy goes on sale Oct. 4th and would make a thoughtful gift. If you read it, let me know what your favorite passages were.

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Free Alzheimer’s books in honor of The Longest Day

UPDATE: Thank you to all who requested a book. Your copy will be mailed soon. And a big thanks to all of you who participated in The Longest Day.

Today the Alzheimer’s Association sponsors The Longest Day, where from sunrise to sunset everyone is encouraged to participate in Alzheimer’s awareness activism.

Chicken Soup For the Soul: Living With Alzheimer's and Other Dementias

My way of participating this year is to offer a free copy of “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias” to anyone who is interested. I have a limited supply, but I can fulfill several requests. They will be handled on a first come, first serve basis. If you would like me to send to a friend, relative, organization, etc. I am happy to do that as well. I just want these inspirational and moving stories to find a good home where they will be appreciated by others who are on a similar journey.

Rest assured I will never share any contact information with anyone else.

I will cover all shipping costs. Simply email me at joyjohnston.writer@gmail.com or leave the mailing info in the comment section below. I will update this post when I have received the maximum number of requests that I can fulfill.

What are you doing for The Longest Day?


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Want a free copy of a new Alzheimer’s book?

It has been just over a month since “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias” was released. So far, the demand has been overwhelming, the reviews extremely positive, and a second printing has been ordered!

Chicken Soup For the Soul: Living With Alzheimer's and Other Dementias

Since I was fortunate enough to be selected as a contributor, I have a few extra copies available. Starting today at noon ET, through Friday noon ET, you can enter a raffle for a chance to receive a complimentary copy of “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias.”

Note: You must click on the Rafflecopter link below to be registered for the contest. Rafflecopter is a popular, safe contest platform. You can login through Facebook or with an email address. Follow the prompts on the form to enter the raffle.

Enter the book giveaway

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“Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias” goes on sale today

Today is the big day! As I wrote previously, I am so honored to have a story about my father included in the latest “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book. This special edition is dedicated to those with Alzheimer’s or other dementias and their families. The collection includes stories of love, compassion, inspiration and yes, even humor. The best part is that the book is a collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association, and all royalties will go to the Alzheimer’s Association to help spread awareness about this terrible disease. The book, “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias” goes on sale today, at Amazon and all major book retailers and online outlets.

CSS Living with Alzheimer's & Other Dementias

As many of you reading this find yourself the family caregiver of someone with Alzheimer’s, I know you will appreciate the book. It would make a thoughtful gift for anyone coping with Alzheimer’s in their family. If you cannot afford to buy the book, request it at your local library. You will laugh, you will cry and you will gain a greater appreciation of the strength of family caregivers.

If you are curious, my story is titled, “French Toast,” and appears in “The Lighter Side” section. Some of my favorite stories were the funny ones, surprisingly. I loved the one about the mother-in-law who hated cats but had a surprising reaction to a feline when she is in the mid-stage of Alzheimer’s. I also loved the story about the mother with Alzheimer’s who wakes up her daughter in the middle of the night to tell her there is a bird in the house. You’ll have to read the book to find out the wild ending of that story!

I know that wherever Dad’s spirit is now, he would be proud of me for being a part of this project.


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Reimagining the simplest things

I’ve finished reading my advance copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias and I am deeply moved by the brave and loving stories shared in this collection. As we approach the release date of April 22, 2014, I will be blogging about some of the stories that I found particularly touching.

CSS Living with Alzheimer's & Other Dementias

One such story was about a man who had been married for many, many years to the love of his life. Once his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he tried his best to adapt their lives to deal with the disease. One area where his wife really struggled was with telling time. For those of us who have dealt with Alzheimer’s in our own family, we are all too familiar with the “clock test” and how that is used as one marker to determine a person’s cognitive functioning. My dad never took the test that I am aware of, but my mom did. My mom does not have dementia, but when she developed cancer, she was so ill that she stopped eating and her potassium levels dropped dangerously low. This can impact cognitive functioning, and boy, did it ever. I watched my mom struggle to draw that clock, and I thought my mom was facing the grim future of my father. Fortunately, her cognitive function was restored once her illness was treated.


But back to the story. After the wife repeatedly asks the husband in the span of a short time when dinner is, the man puts on his thinking cap. Knowing that she cannot tell time now by a traditional clock, he sets out to recreate the tool we use to tell time. He removed the second hands and the minute hands, leaving only the hour hand moving. He then places a piece of tape above the hour they are going to eat. With the simplified version of his clock, his wife can now understand when their next meal will be, relieving a bit of stress for both of them.

Will there come a time when his wife will not be able to understand even the reconfigured clock? Probably. But the love and wisdom shown in the husband’s actions will definitely withstand the test of time.

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My story will appear in “Chicken Soup for the Soul Living with Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias”

I am very excited to announce that a story that I wrote about my father, called “French Toast,” will appear in a special edition of the popular “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series. This edition features stories about living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and is a joint project with the Alzheimer’s Association. All royalties from this special edition will go directly to the Alzheimer’s Association. The book will be released on April 22, 2014.

CSS Living with Alzheimer's & Other Dementias

I am thrilled to be a part of this upcoming book, especially for a publisher as popular and well-respected as the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” folks. From thousands of submissions, 101 stories were chosen to appear in the book. I look forward to reading all of the inspirational stories.

If you’re wondering how I came about submitting my story, it was really just by chance. I was doing my daily “looking for paid writing gigs” web search and was on the Work-at-Home Moms website. Now I’m not a mom (unless you count the pets) but I find that their website sometimes posts opportunities I don’t see elsewhere. It was on their website that I saw the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” callout for Alzheimer’s and dementia stories. I said to myself, “Why not?” I submitted two stories: a depressing one and a funny one. The funny one was accepted. 🙂

One of the main goals I had in mind when starting The Memories Project blog was to raise awareness, not just for Alzheimer’s but for family caregivers as well. I’ve virtually met so many wonderful people through my modest but loyal following. The dialogue we have has educated and inspired me and lifted my spirits. Yet I know so many others are struggling silently and I hope by being able to get out the word on a larger platform, more people can get the support they need.

To prepare for the upcoming release of the book, I’ve added a couple of pages to my blog: media appearances and publishing credits. If you or someone you know would be interested in a copy of the book, an interview or a guest blog post, feel free to contact me directly at joyjohnston.writer@gmail.com.


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