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Author Matthew Sanford: Inspiring Hope in Challenging Times

Everyone’s had trauma in their life.  There is hope on the other side of grief. There’s opportunity when you process change.  Without change you wouldn’t be alive.  – Matthew Sanford

Matthew Sanford was a recent, featured author at the Brainerd Public Library Brown Bag Author Series.  His book Waking: a Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence won the Minnesota Book Award for Non-fiction/Memoir in 2007 and continues to inspire readers to find hope and opportunity thru trauma and loss.  Sanford became paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident that took the lives of his father and sister.  Waking resonates universally with anyone facing challenges, trauma, disability, or loss. 

…Although you are reading about a 13 year old boy’s arc of healing, you’ll see yourself in the story, too…That’s the goal of the book…As our life arc continues, we’re going to all have trauma, loss, and disability. 

The uncomfortable truth is that we are all becoming, in various forms, disabled.  Aging guarantees it.  At 65 you’re probably not doing as many cartwheels as you would do when you were 8. Whether it’s with a loved one, a parent, someone you have to care for, this is part of the human experience…Being alive is also heading toward our end and there’s this beautiful balance between the two... especially as we age…

One of the ideas of Waking is that… your body is more faithful to living than your mind. It will, with every ounce of its energy, move towards being alive as for as long as it can.

My body didn’t ask for what happened to it, doesn’t ask to age, doesn’t ask for any of it. But it will faithfully move toward life and it’s the mind that wavers. 

As people continue to adjust to the challenges presented by today's Covid -19 world, Waking inspires readers to intentionally consider their paths during uncertain times:

It’s relevant to now.  There is so much adjustment and change going on for our minds that our bodies are doing as best as they can, and that’s a source of strength…One of the great opportunities now is to re-choose your life.  You take the pauses in your life and use them.  Whatever your life unfolds to you – and there is a lot of loss… there is the ability to readjust and re-choose.  I want people to come out of this time and choose their life in the way that has more meaning for them. This is part of the opportunity now – to re-evaluate and appreciate.

Sanford is Founder and President of Mind Body Solutions, a nonprofit helping people transform trauma, loss and disability into hope and potential.  He’s a yoga instructor and workshop leader, and public speaker.

Katie Carter started at Northern Community Radio in 2008 as Managing Editor of the station's grant-funded, online news experiment Northern Community Internet. Since 2016, she's produced Area Voices showcasing the arts, culture, and history stories of northern Minnesota. She's our local host of NPR's All Things Considered and CBC's As It Happens every weekday from 4-7pm.