A Tale of Resilience, Faith, Family Love, and Kindness

Herman Williams MD dropped dead 27 years ago. 

Thankfully, he lived to tell about it. 

Clear! Living the Life You Didn’t Dream Of— became the first book published by Atkins & Greenspan Writing.

Herman is now speaking about his inspiring memoir at places that include the Harvard School of Public Health, the American Heart Association, and the Detroit Medical Center.

“I’m looking for a ghostwriter to help with my memoir,” he wrote to me – a complete stranger – on LinkedIn a few years ago.  Our first phone call lasted two hours because his deeply spiritual message and incredible story resonated with me.  I agreed that he had a story that the world needed to hear.

So he flew from Nashville to Detroit to meet me and get started.  I interviewed his wife, Jeannie, his son, Cole, and many others, then became a “literary chameleon,” writing the 155-pages through Herman’s “voice.”  The story is so powerful, it wrote itself, while enriching my spirit with his tale of resilience, faith, family love, and kindness.

Now Herman is sharing his inspiring message that includes an instructional section on how to live a more purposeful, joyous life. 

Available in hardcover, paperback, and ebook, this “self-help memoir” is for everyone, especially those surviving a catastrophic illness that redirects their life’s trajectory.  Though a medical resident at the time of his “death,” Herman had to abandon his dream of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.  So he re-invented himself and found new fulfillment.  He created The Kindness Scale, which he details in the book, teaching people how to feel better by helping others.

Herman Williams MD is proof that committing your life story and your uplifting message to the pages of a book is an exciting, impactful achievement and contribution to the greater good of society. 

 

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10 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Memoir Now

Warning: I’m about to encourage you to do something that could become an obsession.   

You won’t want to do anything else until it’s finished. It may be heart-wrenching, hilarious, and possibly the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But you’ll love it. And it may change lives — even save lives. I’m talking about writing your memoir. 

“It was never a matter of making myself write,” Sally Field told The New York Times about composing In Pieces, released by Grand Central Publishing on September 18, 2018. “It was a matter of being terribly irritated when anything else got in the way.” 

Sounds like an obsession to me. An absolutely thrilling one.  

But to write a great memoir, you don’t have to be a famous actress or former First Lady Michelle Obama — whose memoir, Becoming, goes on sale from Crown Books on November 13. 

No matter what your age or background, you have a unique story, and it can help you and others in many ways. Most importantly, the experience and expertise that you’ve gleaned from life’s blessings and burdens could be the magic formula that someone else needs to survive and succeed. 

And whether you’ve been sharing your wisdom around the kitchen table, in the boardroom, on a farm, in a factory, at the country club, or on social media, someone wants and needs to hear it. 

That someone may be you! Reflecting on your life can be healing, exhilarating, and affirming. If you’re still not convinced that your story is worth sharing, here 10 reasons why you should write your memoir now. You will: 


1.      Have fun!  Going back through your life and remembering the hilarious things you once did will make you belly laugh all over again.

2.     Feel grateful.  Exploring your story will help you see what you’ve done and accomplished; that boosts your confidence and deepens your gratitude.

3.     Get perspective.  Writing about the magical times when you, for example, fell in love, could renew passion with that person — or inspire hope that you’ll find it with someone new.

4.     Assess your life.  Writing a book is like doing a giant overview of YOU from birth ‘til now. You’ll see how you’ve grown, succeeded, failed, changed, suffered, and celebrated. You’ll also identify the voids where you have yet to bring certain dreams into physical reality.

5.     Face your demons.  You’ll pinpoint what’s been holding you back, and hopefully get help to break a bad habit, escape stifling jobs or relationships, and build a better self-image to finally, for example, lose the weight, love yourself, stop smoking, and be your best.

6.     Heal & forgive.  Writing is therapeutic.  You can use words to purge anger, pain, trauma, and resentment. It’s a literal releasing of things so they no longer hold you back from happiness and better health.

7.     Celebrate your survival.  Your survival story can show other people in that predicament how they, too, can do the seemingly impossible. Whether you cured a terminal illness, escaped a deadly situation, recovered from addiction, or found successful treatment for mental illness, your miraculous triumph over potential tragedy can give others a blueprint to survive and thrive.

8.     Make a plan and take action!  Someday, someone is going to write your obituary. Writing your memoir, and lamenting what dreams remain unlived thus far, may inspire you to make a plan and take action to bring your dreams to reality.

9.     Tell your story, your way.  Your family, your colleagues, your neighbors, your friends, and maybe even the media — all tell stories about you in a certain way. Their way. Writing your memoir gives you the power to tell your story, your way.

10.  Leave a legacy.  Even if you never plan to publish it, the official record of your life story will preserve your legacy for your children, grandchildren, and future generations to know and love you. 

So what’s the difference between a memoir and an autobiography? An autobiography chronicles your entire life, from your point of view.Your memoir, however, focuses on a particular theme that you showcase with select stories.   

For example, when I wrote Fat Family, Fit Family: How We Beat Obesity and You Can, Too, for the Morelli family, the 2011 memoir from Penguin Books showed how Ron Morelli and his son, Mike, excelled on NBC’s hit TV show, The Biggest Loser. The book focused on obesity, as mom Becky and younger son Max embarked on a healthy lifestyle and the family lost nearly 800 pounds together. 

Right now, I’m writing a memoir about my spiritual awakening, and I work until I can’t stay awake at night. I measure every activity by how much time it will take from writing God’s Answer Is Know: Lessons from a Spiritual Life.  It’s a mirror into myself, and every day I learn and grow while composing a book that will teach how to deepen your spirituality. 

“I can’t talk right now, I’m writing,” my mother usually said when my sister Catherine Greenspan and I called while she was writing her life story. The need to write would wake her at 4 a.m. to chronicle her story about beating the odds as a biracial baby in foster care, surviving her adoptive mother’s abuse, then weathering a scandal in 1966 after marrying a former Roman Catholic priest who was white and 25 years older, and finally becoming the longest-serving Chief Judge in the history of Detroit’s 36th District Court. 

She finished The Triumph of Rosemary: A Memoir, by Judge Marylin E. Atkins in five months. Writing was her obsession, and now her story is making readers laugh, cry, and learn. 

As the late Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 

It’s time to tell yours, on the pages of your memoir.

* * * * *

Elizabeth Ann Atkins is a best-selling author, award-winning TV host, actress, book coach, ghostwriter, and journalist who aims to inspire people to live and love in peace and purpose. To do this, Elizabeth teamed up with her sister, Catherine M. Greenspan, to create: Atkins & Greenspan Writing, which provides ghostwriting, publishing, and book coaching services; and Two Sisters Writing & Publishing, which publishes their own books, hosts monthly writing contests, and showcases their blog, A Tale of Two Sisters.  

They also teach a meditation and writing technique in the online community, PowerJournal.Life.

Elizabeth and Catherine have written dozens of books, and were proud to publish their mother's book, The Triumph of Rosemary: A Memoir, by Judge Marylin E. Atkins, which she wrote to chronicle her interracial marriage to former Roman Catholic Priest Thomas Lee Atkins.

With a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Michigan and a master’s in Journalism from Columbia University, Elizabeth has been a guest on Oprah, Montel, NPR, Good Morning America Sunday, and The CBS Evening News.  Her work appeared in The New York Times, The San Diego Tribune, Essence, Ebony, and The Detroit News, where her articles on race were nominated for The Pulitzer Prize. 

Elizabeth hosts a weekly TV show, MI Healthy Mind, exploring mental illness and addiction.

She exercises, does yoga, journals, and meditates to cultivate a joyous and peaceful life.

 


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