Episode 68: Resilience is a Choice, No One is Coming to Your Rescue

Stories That Build Emotional Resilience


This third episode in the Resilience series features Amber Johnson, owner of Last Dance Gulch in Helena, Montana.

Andrea Amundson, the first guest in this series, saw her resilience as a product of her sense of responsibility to others. Charlotte Wittenberg, our second guest, saw resilience as more of a product of past experience, and being able to learn and grow from those struggles and opportunities.

Amber has a different perspective on this topic; she sees resilience as a personal choice not to be defeated, and not to be a statistic. She sees resilience as a choice to live your best life, despite challenges and struggles.

This episode was recorded on a road trip from Helena, Montana to Great Falls, Montana when we had an opportunity to see Pink Martini perform on Tuesday, April 2nd. I love the conversations that come up during windshield time, and this is no exception.

My favorite part of this road trip recording is when Amber said: "No one is going to rescue you. You must decide what you want in your life and make it happen."

We used a few analogies during this recording; my favorite was when we used food and cooking to describe how we use the ingredients in life to create something delicious.

"Resilience is like a muscle. The more you use it, the more strength you have to take some unfortunate news or circumstances, and survive it, overcome it, and create something tasty out of unexpected or unwanted ingredients."

Want to see Amber doing her thing, dancing the night away with her whole heart? Check out this video!

Episode 67: Resilience - Drawing Strength From Past Experience

Our Stories Offer Evidence That “This Too Shall Pass”

If we consider the struggles we’ve already survived, we can see the evidence to suggest we’ll survive any future challenges, especially if we really think about what it took not only to get through a difficult situation, but to thrive as a result of having that experience.

That’s what Charlotte Wittencamp and I spoke about in this episode; drawing strength to get through a challenge through recognizing the value of our past experiences.

During our conversation, we spoke briefly about Johari’s Window, a concept drawn to describe aspects of self awareness. If you’d like to learn more, here’s a great article from Charlotte’s website. She also published an ebook to download free about crossing cultural divides. It’s a great guide for people trying to settle into a new culture.

Episode 66: Resilience Isn't Just About Survival

Stories of Resilience - A Series, Part 1

When we share stories, whether in our personal or business lives, how we share them makes a difference in how we remember them, and in how we’re perceived by the people we’re sharing them with.

Think about a story a stranger recently told you; what did that story say about the person sharing it? Did it demonstrate a different aspect of their character than you were expecting? How we choose to share a story - the details about the characters, our body language, our facial expression and tone of voice - all contributes to the perception our audience will have of us afterward.

When listening to this podcast, I encourage you to listen to consider your related stories, to listen and consider which stories in your life might have impacted you in a similar way, and to consider how you share your own stories, and the messages they carry for yourself and for the people around you.

For the next few weeks, we’ll be exploring the word resilience. 

According to, resilience is defined:

  1. the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.

  2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.

Andrea Amundson

Andrea Amundson

Our first episode in this series explores that definition from the perspective of a cancer survivor, Andi Amundsen.

Though I’d never use that phrase, “cancer survivor” to describe or define this woman, it does give you a picture of the specific illness and adversity she has experienced.


I like to think of Andi as a magnificent tree, growing roots from her feet to hold her steady so she can support her many branches; her children, her grandchildren, the many who rely on her for comfort and as a resource when faced with struggle and tragedy. She is the picture of the word resilience, as far as I’m concerned, not because she has survived, or because, as the definition describes, she has bounced back to her former form. She hasn’t bounced back to her former form because cancer will never allow someone to go backward. She is the picture of the word because she continues to thrive, despite her diagnosis and ongoing treatment.

Andi has the positivity of a tree in springtime, with the reality of a future of snow and bitter cold. Her version of resilience comes from a love for super heroes, magical creatures, and her belief that she is here for a reason. She believes that when she provides support and resources for others facing a similar diagnoses, love and comfort for her family and friends, and constant encouragement for her daughters, she is serving her purpose; she is alive simply because she lives her purpose. (And maybe because she’s so damn stubborn.)

Curious? Listen to the podcast!

Visit the Lost & Foundation website to learn more about the organization and the people they serve.

Share Your Story on Your Terms

How Do You Tell Your Story Without Being Defined By It?

Share Your Story on Your Own Terms.png

It’s not uncommon for people who have disabilities, or dealt with tragedies and other life-altering experiences to want to move forward and just “be normal.” Children who have experienced the death of a parent or sibling are often heard expressing this feeling of not wanting to be known as “the kid who lost his mom.” Many times in life, we see our weirdness through the eyes of the people around us, not really knowing that most everyone feels weird or different, or somehow not “normal” at some point in their lives.

Brian Schulman was sure he was weird, sure he didn’t fit in as he was growing up, partly because he had been born premature and had related health issues, and partly because he was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome in his pre-teen years. He definitely stood out with his tics and quirky physical movements, and being bullied didn’t help at all with his internal messages of being different.

The beauty, though, of each of us having those negative experiences is that they help us make a choice between adding to the sadness and aggressiveness in the world around you, or making a positive difference so those around you never feel like you did. That’s how Brian chose to live his life. He intentionally became a person others wanted to be around, he made sure the people around him felt good about themselves, felt like they could BE themselves.

Learn more about Brian, and connect with him on LinkedIn and Facebook!

Are you enjoying listening to episodes of this podcast? Are you wondering how you can help me sustain this project, to support and encourage the sharing of important stories?

Here are a few ideas!
1) Leave a rating and comment on your favorite podcast service like iTunes or Stitcher
2) Share a link to the show and tell people why you like it
3) Become a sponsor (for as little as $2/month) by going to Patreon