Susanne Veder Berger has faced many challenges in her life, but instead of sitting on the sidelines and watching life pass by, she decided to not let it paralyze her and has become a mentor to inner-city high school students, an author and an accomplished blog writer. Susanne has written a new book called 'Getting Naked' (to be published in 2013) about her journey of self-discovery. She's created a new life and wants to help you create yours.
Candace Rose: Can you tell us about your blog, Create a new life with Susanne?
Susanne Veder Berger: "I had no choice but to change my life and start afresh. It was a bittersweet situation for me and an incredible gift. So many people around me were in the same position, but I actually had it easier because I got a complete new beginning. I decided to share my adventure with the world, and I decided to create a new life and share the experience with others who wished to join me, and also a journey with me. I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed and how much the blog has taught me. And that sounds really funny because I've had to learn new skills and new techniques and it's really brought out the best in me. What surprises me the most is how much it's evolved. I'm so surprised and proud of me. Creating a new life is very difficult to do and being able to write about it."
Candace Rose: You've faced many obstacles in your life and are just such an inspiration to others of all ages. Where do you find motivation?
Susanne Veder Berger: "From the center of my heart. When you enter this world one way and you are given a miracle of medical technology and technique, you realize that you've been given a gift. And if I share, it makes me feel better, and if I give, it makes me feel incredible inside. I'd rather do it for others and I learn, and it pushes me harder."
Candace Rose: I love this passage on the blog- "the people I admire most are the ones who can look at themselves and honestly admit when they're not happy. Instead of bottling it up or feeling guilty about it they say to themselves 'there's a reason I'm not happy and I need to find out what it is and do something about it'. How would you suggest somebody who is going through a traumatic life event or who isn't happy with the way things are going in their life, acknowledge it and make changes?
Susanne Veder Berger: "Well, it's very simple, it's called getting naked, and that's taking a look at who you are and why you are where you are today. There's the real us and then the world we try and conform to. When real tragedy comes down to and you have to face it, you need to find your center and you have to go back to the 101's. Keep it very simple and remember the child inside you and know you are okay. When you like yourself, you're able to handle adversity much better. I like to think I give you step by step tools to help you like yourself better."
Candace Rose: And you also mentor students at an inner-city school in Brooklyn. Can you tell us about your experience and how you got started?
Susanne Veder Berger: "It was purely by accident. I was asked to speak to 9th grade students and I walked into a room and what I expected to do didn't happen, I was surrounded by these children and I realized this is the age and you can have an impact. They're not going listen to their parents but they will listen to you. And I realized as I looked around that room- and it happened to be the day after the Martin Luther King memorial service in Washington, and I realized this is what the dream was- to give these students the security and the tools to make them successful. And I know one out of five of my children really don't have a home. These children have not necessarily been given a foundation, and if I take the time and gave them a foundation and gave them exposure and by giving them more choices it would get them out of where they are and to think bigger, and that they can achieve more. And if you can believe in yourself and you have goals, you can achieve anything. I fell in love and I decided I wanted to go back, and I've actually adopted the entire school. I'm going to graduate with the 10th graders. My students are active participants on my blog, and they talk about emotions and bullying and goals- things that high school students think about and their challenges. And they give how they feel and I think it's amazing to give these children a voice."
Candace Rose: You also mentioned on the blog that you made the decision to become a writer in 2005. How did writing become a passion of yours?
Susanne Veder Berger: "Writing a book has been a huge challenge for me. It's like starting from the very beginning, and then I discovered I love it. What I'm doing now is what I guess I've always dreamed of, and I always wanted to be but never had the opportunity. One of the nice opportunities I have now is I get to be who I really want to be and without any obstacles. I find that our biggest challenge is stopping ourselves, and I think we stop ourselves for many reasons. And I have nothing stopping me from being anything I want to be. And isn't that cool to be able to do that, and especially when you've reached my point in life when most say 'it's over and I can't achieve anything'. Isn't it nice that I can, and you can make dreams come true."
Candace Rose: I love that! Can you tell us about your new book 'Getting Naked'?
Susanne Veder Berger: "'Getting Naked' is my story of finding who I really am, and my journey of discovering who I am. When you have a clean slate and when you look in the mirror and literally the person you see in that mirror is not who you've seen all your life. To be able to wake up and see a real no deformity on my face is like 'wow' and when you have that type of change, you need to embrace it and go back to who you were, and I had to go back to where I was as a child. I was four months old when they started covering my face and when I started hiding. Once you learn how to hide one thing, you learn to hide everything. I've discovered everybody has a little secret and when you release that secret and you feel safe, you really get to be reborn and then you're able to move forward and put everything from your past (the negatives) into its proper place. And then take the good and the positives you've done, and you take both of those and you remove it, and you've become amazing. And life, every step of it, you appreciate. The book is a tool to get naked and move on."
Candace Rose: When will the book be out?
Susanne Veder Berger: "I'd love it to publish in January. January is the beginning of new opportunity, and that is my goal."
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional information you'd like to share with readers?
Susanne Veder Berger: "I'd like to invite everyone to come read my blog. I had one of the folks that works at the school tell me 'thank you', and I said 'for what'? And she said 'well, you handed me an article'. I'd told her 'I want you to go to the blog, and I want you start from the beginning because it's an opportunity for you to see where I started', so it's a very nice beginning for anyone who is trying to create a life. So for any additional information I would go to the blog. I've also started writing for magazines and newspapers, and other blogs. I would love for you to read those articles and read the other blogs because I believe we all have the same mission. It's important we take care of ourselves and when we take care of ourselves, we take care of our eating, we sleep right, we exercise and we feel better about ourselves. And when we feel better about ourselves we are powerful and we can make change and when we make change we can move mountains, and we need to move mountains. I'm a big advocate of you need to take care of you, and you will take care of the rest of the world. I'd like others to share this, and also share their stories with me. Tell me you're creating a new life, and you're on board, and some of your tips because if we share and we do this as a team we work better together."
For more information be sure to head out to CreateANewLifeWithSusanne.com.