An Interview With Sara Connell
… To always believe in my vision, so I won’t quit. Even during years when my vision seemed totally unattainable, it was like a siren song that sang down deep, humming, until it was time to take concrete steps toward its fulfillment.
Books have the power to shape, influence, and change our lives. Why is that so? What goes into a book that can shape lives? To address this we are interviewing people who can share a story about a book that changed their life, and why. As a part of our series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nancy Landrum.
For 25+ years, Nancy has specialized in transformative relationship skills for couples including strategies for stepfamilies to succeed. Nancy brings her MA in psychology, personal experience, and research proven strategies to help couples and stepfamilies communicate and resolve conflicts. Nancy’s coaching for relationship happiness can be found in her streaming course, “The Millionaire Marriage Club” and 8 books, including “How to Stay Married & Love It!” and “Stepping TwoGether: Building a Strong Stepfamily”. Nancy’s private coaching and group classes reach couples across the US, Australia and beyond through Zoom.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory” and how you grew up?
I grew up in a very small town with very conservative, religious parents. Even as a young child I desired to have a more loving marriage than it appeared that my parents experienced. They were good people but didn’t know how to treat each other with respect and kindness. Somehow, I “knew” that I would write books to help others have more loving relationships. What I didn’t know then, was the forty years of painful lessons I’d need to go through before having anything of value to write about!
Let’s talk about what you are doing now, and how you achieved the success that you currently enjoy. Can you tell our readers a bit about the work you are doing?
I have been teaching couples healthy, practical communication and conflict management skills in classes and in private coaching sessions for more than twenty-five years. I have written eight books on various aspects of healthy relationships and published an online streaming course that teaches those same skills.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
ONE: My childhood dream has continued to pull me in the direction I’ve consistently followed. I guess you could call it a vision that powered me through some of the most painful, challenging years of my life. I’m not sure it’s a character trait as much as a powerful image of what I wanted. Even while my late husband Jim and I were struggling through years of terrible conflict, I believed that there must be laws that govern loving relationships just like there are dependable, knowable laws that govern the universe. I wanted to find out how I was violating those laws, because once I understood them, I would adhere to them to have the loving marriage I’d dreamed of as a child. Together, Jim and I learned methods of speaking and listening with respect that enabled us to spend the last 17 years of our life together without even a harsh word between us, even though our circumstances were often challenging.
TWO: Perhaps the trait would be tenacity. I find it hard to let go of anything I deeply want, even when a saner person might give up! While creating the online course called the Millionaire Marriage Club, I had to learn technology that was extremely difficult for this techno-phobe! My negative inner voice, whom I call Helga, was beating me up every day, shouting in my head, “You can’t do this! You’re too old! No one will want this! It won’t be good enough!” Finally, one day I’d had enough of her negative vitriol! I got up from my desk and stomped around the house yelling, “Shut up! Just Shut up! I don’t care if no one buys it! I don’t care if it’s not good enough! I won’t quit! You hear me? I’m not going to quit, so just shut up!” Although Helga occasionally harasses me, her voice has never been that loud again!
THREE: I believe I was meant to do this work. I believe that everyone deserves to love and be loved with dignity and respect. I deeply desire that everyone have the quality of loving relationship that Jim and I learned how to produce and nurture through every minute we had together. Teaching others the skills that enabled the loving marriage we enjoyed is the passion of whatever time I have left on this earth.
What’s the WHY behind the work that you do? Please share a story about this if you can.
I get so many stories from people that remind me daily of why I’m doing this work. One of my couples of 13 years shared their story on a review and with their permission and photo is now on my website along with others. In part, this couple encapsulated the substance of why I do this work, “… What we learned is more valuable than we could have ever imagined! It wasn’t ‘counseling’ and talking about the past. What Nancy teaches is the ‘HOW’ in a marriage. How to talk to one another, how to focus on the present to build a better future, and how to heal our own hearts as individuals so we truly have a deeper connection to ourselves and our partners…”
On a personal note, while I deeply desire that every couple have the opportunity to learn and practice the practical skills that enabled Jim and I and so many others to fulfill our dreams for a loving, peaceful marriage… Even more than that, I do this work because I want every child to have the experience of growing up in a loving and peaceful home where the parents model effective communication and conflict management skills with each other and their children.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’d have to name my late husband, Jim, as the biggest contributor to the fulfillment of my dreams. I had the vision, but he participated in its fulfillment by working with me to learn and practice better communication skills. Then, he went on to encourage me to earn my master’s degree… we taught classes together… he believed I had the talent to write our first two books and he often told me he believed in me and thought I could do anything!
Awesome! Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. I’m an author and I believe that books have the power to change lives. Can you please tell our readers about “The Book That Changed Your Life”? Can you share a story about how it impacted you?
While creating the online couples’ course, I went heavily into debt. Although I tried hard to practice faith in the ultimate outcome, I was often overwhelmed with anxiety to the point that I had trouble sleeping. I was fortunate to have occasional appointments with a gifted therapist who began to teach me about controlling my thinking…that my thinking would either help me live in a circle of Ease and Grace or be consumed with fruitless worry. About that same time I opened Amazon one day and the book, “Outrageous Openness” by Tosha Silver was featured. I read the synopsis and knew it was meant for me.
I bought the paperback, dog-eared, and highlighted many pages, and then bought the audio version. I would frequently turn the audio book on during the night when I couldn’t sleep. I believe I must have listened to it twenty times over the next few years. She proposes that the Divine is constantly leaving messages for us to reassure us of our value and showering us with love. I began to look for…and found…messages, both internal and external, that showed me the way through the financial mess I was in.
As soon as her next book came out, I grabbed that one, too. “It’s Not Your Money” applied the same lessons to my relationship with money. My fear of being poor, and embarrassment about needing to occasionally borrow money from my family, began to diminish. Just this past Fall I completed clearing the $80K debt that had been such a burden.
What was the moment or series of events that made you decide that you wanted to take a specific course of action based on the inspiration from the book? Can you share a story about that?
The biggest course of action from both books was to believe that I am deserving of and will receive Divine help while struggling through stuff on earth. An important part of that process was forgiving myself for making poor financial decisions and releasing myself from the self-judgment that was not only painful but prevented me from finding my way out of the mess!
Can you articulate why you think books in particular have the power to create movements, revolutions, and true change?
I believe in the power of stories to inspire and guide. I also believe that there are those who have traveled this path ahead of me and can help me navigate life more easily by adopting their wisdom. In our current culture that so rarely listens to the wisdom of the elderly, books that seem to be divinely dropped on my path are a modern way of gleaning wisdom from someone who’s gone ahead of me.
A book has many aspects, of course. For example, you have the writing style, the narrative tense, the topic, the genre, the design, the cover, the size, etc. In your opinion, what are the main, essential ingredients needed to create a book that can change lives?
Mainly, be devoted, diligently, to only writing about what you have experienced and know to be true. Even in fiction stories that ring true are far more believable and engaging than those that are entirely made up. In non-fiction, it is even more essential that concepts are backed up by empirical research and experiences that the reader can learn and practice–and from which can gain valuable growth and success.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started My Career” and why?
- To always believe in my vision, so I won’t quit. Even during years when my vision seemed totally unattainable, it was like a siren song that sang down deep, humming, until it was time to take concrete steps toward its fulfillment.
- Only share my vision with those who can be trusted, so that my vision can be encouraged and supported. During the tough years, I had one family member and a few friends who have always, without fail, been encouraging. I eventually learned that other family members and friends only got the bare minimum of information.
- How to silence the Inner Critic. If I had listened to the inner critic I wouldn’t have written my first book, “How to Stay Married & Love It!” and I wouldn’t have persevered to tackle new technology to build “The Millionaire Marriage Club”.
- To believe and trust that divine help will be given, often in miraculous ways I couldn’t have predicted! A few days after giving up on ever paying for publicity again, my stepdaughter Teri Gault began spontaneously sending public relation opportunities that fit my genre. I began contributing and was placed in some notable publications! Now the number of press placements is somewhere around twenty I believe!
- To develop a team of those who are good at what I’m bad at! I’ve never liked doing the social media thing…and “everyone” advises a business like mine to be active on social media. Recently I was able to hire someone to put in a few hours a week placing my new articles in two or three of the biggest social media sites. With Teri handling publicity, a great web designer/manager and the social media chores being done by someone who is good at it, I feel very blessed!
The world, of course, needs progress in many areas. What movement do you hope someone (or you!) starts next? Can you explain why that is so important?
Can you imagine how the world would change if every child was reared by parents who loved and respected each other and that child? In only a few generations the need for prisons, jails, welfare policies would disappear. Even our mental and physical health care would go down. What if all the energy that goes into correcting society’s ills could go toward improving living conditions and education for everyone? What if love, respect, and kindness became the norm? All of that begins with the relationship between two persons who love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives with each other. That may be simplistic to some, but to me it’s looking at the smallest denominator that is changeable. Teaching couples how to talk without fighting is where it begins. That is doable!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can find me, my coaching, my books, The Millionaire Marriage Club and all of my resources at www.RelationshipRehabCoach.com. And I would love to see you on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin
Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us and our readers. We know that it will make a tremendous difference and impact thousands of lives. We are excited to connect further and we wish you so much joy in your next success.
Author Nancy Landrum On The Book That Changed Her Life was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.