An Interview with Harriet Cabelly, Author of Living Well Despite Adversity


Having had a tricky few recent years, it gives me very great pleasure to welcome Harriet Cabelly to Linda’s Book Bag to tell us a little bit more about her book Living Well Despite Adversity as I know I need some advice and I dare say many blog readers do too!

Living Well Despite Adversity is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here.

Living Well Despite Adversity

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Join Cheryl Strayed, Temple Grandin, Meredith Vieira and others as they share their honest accounts of heartbreak, and the secrets they discovered that led them to triumph ‘despite it all’.

In this collection of interviews, Harriet Cabelly has dug deep to reveal the critical wisdom found in the midst of huge challenge or loss. She highlights themes such as purpose and gratitude that all of us can incorporate into our lives as we go through our own difficult times. In particular, she reflects on the importance of developing resilience and a positive attitude, even in the face of insufferable odds.

The people in this book don’t flinch from telling it how it really is. Their stories are raw, at times, as they openly describe their struggles and how they have learned to cope with loss, disability and addiction.

Their stories will strengthen and inspire you.

They will show that you, too, can come out the other side of heartbreak intact and go on to rebuild a life filled with renewed meaning and joy. That, despite it all, you can thrive.

An Interview with Harriet Cabelly

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Harriet. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing and Living Well Despite Adversity in particular. Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourself?

I am a social worker, positive psychology coach, speaker and workshop facilitator.  And I now can add in author!  I am a guest coaching expert on WOR radio’s, Change Your Attitude, Change Your Life show.  I journey with my clients as they cope with and grow beyond their painful circumstances,  supporting and guiding them towards their best life.  I am a life-long learner and I love taking on new and challenging experiences – saying Yes to new opportunities.  I believe we can all rebuild our lives with renewed meaning, purpose and joy despite and through our personal challenges and adversities.  Hence my website –

Please could you tell us a bit about Living Well Despite Adversity?

This book is a compilation of interviews of people who have been able to transcend their personal challenges and losses and gone on to live with renewed meaning and joy.  The wisdom, teachings and inspiration are from the interviewees who share with open hearts their pain and the journey they’ve been on to come through whole and richly engaged in  a thriving life.

As well as being a writer, you’re also a social worker and positive psychology coach. How did these other roles lead you to writing Living Well Despite Adversity?

First and foremost I’m a parent of a daughter with special needs who miraculously survived a year-long medical crisis, which I write about in the book.  This book is really the outgrowth of her miracle, as I was searching for a way to honor it.   I have always been interested in this theme of people overcoming adversity; the idea that it’s not how we can avoid bad things happening since it’s inherent in the human condition, but rather when they do happen, how can we cope and still manage to have a good life, despite.  Since we’re only given this one life, it behoves us to make it as good as possible.

Combining my professional expertise and interest in people and their stories, together with my personal experiences, I decided to take my life theme on the road, so to speak, and when I started my blog years ago, I began my project of monthly interviews with people who exemplified this theme.

How did you decide whom to interview for Living Well Despite Adversity?

I wanted a variety of challenges and adversities, to show that it wasn’t the circumstance per se but rather how the people responded to their situation.   Since I’m a book lover and specifically of memoirs, I found many of my interviewees through their books.  I took the liberty to request a blog interview by email or phone and most surprisingly said yes.  As an unknown interviewer,  I was thrilled, especially when some more well-known people agreed.

Many of the stories in Living Well Despite Adversity show people with extremes of problems or emotion. How would you say their messages can be incorporated into anyone’s ordinary life?

These are stories of grief and resilience.  Research is now pointing to the fact that we can build our resilience, that it’s a learned set of skills we can develop and enhance within ourselves.   Although each person/interviewee’s circumstance is different, the themes that are gleaned out are universal: faith, support, purpose, gratitude, attitude, choice….  A main theme in the book that I hope comes across loud and clear is that it’s not our circumstance that defines us but rather our response to it; and we are responsible for our response.  We can intentionally and purposefully choose how we respond.   Another predominant theme is that feelings are to be felt – in other words, permission to feel.   We must allow ourselves to feel – the bad and the good.  In fact we need to grieve, that’s how we go through the pain.  As someone once said, “We can’t heal what we don’t feel.”

These vital messages of choice, response, allowing for our feelings, gratitude …are all ingredients for a life of well-being.

As a result of producing Living Well Despite Adversity what have you learnt?

I’ve learned that living well beyond loss and extreme challenges/adversity is very intentional.  It’s a choice.  It’s all too easy to fall prey to our circumstances and remain stuck in our pain.  All these interviewees made the decision to continue on living and learning how to do it well; not just to survive but to grow, create meaning out of their suffering and to thrive.

If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that Living Well Despite Adversity should be their next read, what would you say?

A book to guide and inspire us to cope and live well beyond our struggles.

Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions, Harriet.

About Harriet Cabelly

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Harriet Cabelly is a social worker, speaker and workshop facilitator who has appeared on ABC News as a parenting coach and is a guest coaching expert on WOR Radio’s, Change Your Attitude, Change Your Life Show. As a positive psychology coach, Harriet journeys with her clients as they cope with and grow beyond their painful situations.

You can follow Harriet on Twitter @rebuildlife and visit her website. You’ll also find her on Facebook.

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