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Local authors share the secrets of success
Newly released book features tales of 40 Minnesota women
One woman’s dream is another’s nightmare. But through it all, the Minnesota women featured in the recently released collection “Unlocking the Secrets of Success: Minnesota Women Share Tips and Strategies for Achieving Your Goals and Living Your Dreams” have persevered.
Joan Kennedy, 91, of New Brighton gathered the stories of 40 women working in a variety of professions to create a collection of success stories, ranging from tales of professional success to personal triumphs.
Kennedy explained that she was a stay-at-home mother for much of her life and when she found herself re-entering the working world in her 40s, she did not know how to ask for advice.
“I found it was difficult to ask successful people how they made it,” Kennedy said. “By the time I was trying to figure it all out, I was at an age where I should’ve known and couldn’t ask anymore.”
So, she said, after navigating the professional world as an author and speaker, she decided to ask some successful women to explain how they got where they are.
“There are a lot of women who are uncomfortable asking someone, ‘How did you do it?’” Kennedy explained. “Writing the book was a need I had. There are so many women who hesitate to ask.”
Given her personal success and age, Kennedy says some people may be surprised that she took on such a large project. But she says she learned a number of lessons while compiling the stories for the book.
“I learned from (the women) that it’s one foot in front of another. Before, I was seeing the whole story—but it’s a day at a time.
Other life lessons were to always have a goal, and be confident that if you have a dream, you’re going to achieve it.
Two of the women who submitted stories to the collection are local writers who had to endure hard times before they reached a better place, and now have their own wisdom to pass along.
Lake Elmo resident Meg Corrigan and Oakdale-based Gloria VanDemmeltraadt, both published authors, were asked to share their stories for the book.
Corrigan’s chapter, entitled “Healing on the Mountain,” details her tumultuous childhood with an alcoholic mother and co-dependent father, as well as surviving a sexual assault as a young adult. Now, she says, her faith has helped her come to terms with her suffering.
“The past doesn’t have to determine the rest of your life,” Corrigan explained. “A lot of people don’t feel they have control of their life—and they don’t really, because it’s in God’s hands.”
Writing her memoir, “Then I Am Strong: Moving from My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child,” served as a way for her to not only share her story, but also to spread a message of hope to those who have experienced a traumatic event, Corrigan said.
“What I want people to know is if they have survived a trauma—abuse, violence, assault, or anything like that—that you can piece your life back together. That’s my message to the world.”
Corrigan urges those seeking help to talk with a doctor, or a mental-health or faith-based organization to learn more about the available resources. She cited Canvas Health, a local crisis-counseling provider, as a good place to start for those living in Washington County.
“You don’t have to go through it alone,” she emphasized.
For more information about Meg Corrigan, visit www.megcorrigan.com.
Finding a passion
VanDemmeltraadt says it’s “humbling” to be included in Kennedy’s collection of stories.
“I’m embarrassed at praise,” she said. “I know if I’ve done (something) right or not.”
VanDemmeltraadt’s chapter advises people to find a passion and stick with it.
“We all have a determination to do something we love, and you need that staying power,” she explained.
Her life, she said, has been “varied.” Her first husband left her and two young children while she was pregnant with their third child. Four years later she married a widower who had teenage children.
“All of a sudden my children had a new dad, a new house, a new brother and sister, and a mom who stayed at home instead of working two jobs,” VanDemmeltraadt writes in her chapter, entitled “From Survival to Joy.”
It was her children who encouraged her to write her first book, “Musing and Munching,” a fusion of a cookbook and memoir, in 2007. Earlier this year, she released “Memories of Lake Elmo,” a collection of personal stories from more than 100 people that detail life in Lake Elmo all the way back to when it was an unincorporated village.
After her second husband died, VanDemmeltraadt again remarried, and now volunteers at a hospice center, where she interviews patients and writes life stories to be passed along to family members.
“I feel like I’ve been successful at living,” she summarized. “There’s strength within me. Success isn’t in the eye of others—it’s within you.”
For more information about Gloria VanDemmeltraadt, visit www.gloriavan.com.
Johanna Holub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-748-7822. Follow her on Twitter @jholubnews.