We all face challenges in our daily lives, which can either hold us down or inspire us to make changes. “The Imagine Project: Stories of Courage, Hope and Love” by Dianne Maroney, is a book about ‘ordinary people who have persevered through the unforeseen circumstances of live.’ Dianne was kind enough to join me for an interview recently to discuss her new book, what inspired her to write it, and how we can overcome challenges in our own lives.
Candace Rose: Can you tell us about your new book “The Imagine Project”?
Dianne Maroney: “The Imagine Project: Stories of Courage, Hope and Love is a book about ordinary people who have persevered through the unforeseen circumstances of life. Those features in the book are from all over the country, highlighting a variety of people such as teachers, soldiers, blue-collar workers, even the wealthy. Their stories range from cancer to bullying, immigration to homelessness, addiction to disabilities and even staying in love and marriage for over 50 years. The book is a coffee table photography book with soulful images of those featured in it. The stories are told in a unique format. Each story fits on one page and each sentence begins with the world Imagine… Every story has a word that represents their story. For example: Jin Robertson’s story is about equality, here is a sample:
Imagine…being born a girl in a small fishing village in Korea.
Imagine…your angry grandmother leaving you in a cold dark corner of the room because, in your society, a baby girl is deemed worthless.
Imagine…knowing your mother had to risk her life selling goods on the black market so your family could eat.
Imagine…reading about a job as a housemaid in faraway America.
Imagine…the joy of becoming a US Citizen.
Imagine…being the first woman to serve as a Foreign Area Officer for the US Army, a prominent title, but in a male-oriented society.
Imagine…retiring from the military and graduating from Harvard with a PhD at age 52.
Imagine…knowing that girls can be all they can be.”
Candace Rose: What inspired you to write it?
Dianne Maroney: “I have been a nurse for over 30 years and I have had the privilege of traveling across the country to speak at conferences and various events, meeting many inspiring people. A couple of years ago I was in Monterey, CA at a conference. The venue was beautiful (right on the beach) and the topic was working with babies. It was this particular weekend that I became very aware, even in an environment where life was good, that people were negative, complaining about minor issues. The world felt broken. It seems that since 9/11 people have felt overstressed, unable to sit back and see the beauty in life, unable to just smile and appreciate. I decided someone had to do something and the idea for The Imagine Project came to me. I had used the Imagine… format when speaking and found it to be very poignant and a beautiful way to tell a story. The journey began.”
Candace Rose: You featured 39 different people (in the book) who have overcome challenges to live their dreams. How did they find the strength to do so?
Dianne Maroney: “When I asked each person in the book how they made it through, each had their own answer. Faith was common, support of family and friends, and sometimes they said they had to because there were others depending on them, such as their children. Jeff, who was burned over 57% of his body in a helicopter crash while fighting wildfires, said he never considered anything other than surviving. He said this very quickly and simply along with, “I never gave dying an option.” Although each person has their own way of dealing with their circumstances, they all seem to keep a positive attitude and a love of life. Jin teaches to take a step, any step, just one that keeps you going in a positive direction.”
Candace Rose: How has “The Imagine Project” given you strength in facing challenges in your own life?
Dianne Maroney: “As you can imagine, writing a book like this is quite challenging, but when I faced a roadblock or a frustrating time, I thought about those in the book. For some reason, Bucky always came to my mind. He is a kind, gentle man who fought through a devastating diagnosis of brain cancer for over 4 years, 4 years longer then they predicted. His demeanor was about love and seeing the good in life. I always fall back on the strength of those in the book when I’m feeling down or challenged, they never let me down.”
Candace Rose: How can this book help us overcome challenges in our own lives?
Dianne Maroney: “There is something about reading or hearing about someone else’s story to help you through your own. If Karina Sanchez lived in the dumpster behind her school during her senior year of high school and still graduated top ten in her class and was given a full ride scholarship to a prominent university, then we can make it through our challenges. This book conveys hope, love, strength, courage and the will to make it through anything. You can feel these emotions when you pick up the book, even before you open it.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any advice on how we can support friends and loved ones who are facing challenges as well?
Dianne Maroney: “Listen. We all just want to be heard, especially during hard times. Looking someone in the eye with compassion, holding their hand, giving them a hug and believing in them will be endless in their journey. Show them you know they can make it.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share?
Dianne Maroney: “www.theimagineproject.com.”