Park City author explores the courage in women
One by one, the stories came in.
There was the woman who left her abusive husband in the middle of the night. Still in pajamas, she grabbed her child and the car keys and never looked back. There was the mother whose mentally ill son was living under a freeway in San Diego. She made it through each day never knowing if her son had survived the previous night.
There were countless other women, too, and Terry Sidford combed through all their stories. She often found herself moved to tears. Two-and-a-half years ago, Sidford, a life coach in Park City, decided to write a book about the courage found in normal women. She wanted to find out what it was, exactly, that made them so resilient in the face of overwhelming difficulty.
So she sent 11-question surveys to 100 women, asking them about moments in their lives when they’d displayed courage. The answers she received were staggering. She came up with the idea for the book from watching a close family friend confront the death of a child with grace and love, but she had no idea that so many other women also had that kind of bravery within themselves.
"I found that the tragedies or the difficult circumstances that they faced in their lives helped them find their own strength," said Sidford, who recently released her book, titled "One Hundred Hearts." "They didn’t let the stories define them. They let the stories actually help them find who they are. It’s, ‘I can either let this beat me and take me down, or I can stand up and really show what I’m made of.’ And that’s pretty cool."
A common theme among the women who answered the survey was that many wouldn’t call themselves courageous. It became clear to Sidford that they face life with resilience not by choice, but by nature. She hopes readers find meaning in the stories and understand that they, too, can find courage when they need it, even if they don’t recognize the trait in themselves.
"I think courage can be a roar or it can be a whisper," she said. "And for some people, it’s just getting out of bed. So the definition of courage I think is often misunderstood."
For Sidford, writing the book was a transformative experience. She said completing it was the most courageous thing she’d ever done, and learning the incredible stories of other women gave her a sense of perspective, both about her life and about her strength.
"It was so humbling," she said. "I felt honored to get a little peek into their lives. They were so candid and honest, and it made me feel like any problems I have are just minimal. But it made me think that if I had to go through anything near what these people have gone through that I could handle it as good as them. It helped me find my own strength and courage.
"I feel like I’ve been able to speak my own truth, and I feel like I’ve been able to help other women speak their own truth and to stand up for who they are."
The response to be book has been astounding, Sidford said. Both women and men have told her how connected they feel to the women in the book and to their stories. They have told her that seeing how others have faced battles has made them feel a little less alone while fighting their own.
"It’s inspiring," she said.
But it’s not over. Sidford wants to continue gathering stories of courage and see where it takes her.
"Maybe that’s expanding on this and seeing where it goes," she said. "Maybe that’s the next book. Maybe one on men. It would be really interesting to compare courage in men. I don’t see this thing going away for me."
"One Hundred Hearts" is available at Dolly’s Bookstore and most major book retailers. Sidford will be holding a reading at Dolly’s on Dec. 12. For more information, visit Sidford’s website at createyourlifecoaching.net.
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