Today I’m happy to introduce you to Anne Lyken-Garner. A published author, a blogger and website editor, you can see and read about her inspirational book, Sunday’s Child here. You can also become a reader of her blog, How To Build Confidence where she shows people how to build confidence based on her own experiences and life lessons.

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In Conversation With Anne Lyken Garner

I know we connected via our blogs, Anne, but then I discovered a whole new you when I read your memoir Sunday’s Child,  I was completely blown away. I couldn’t reconcile the often-hungry, always fearful, and much abused little girl with the smart, sophisticated and successful woman you obviously are. But the book also showed me the tenacity of spirit of the young girl that was you, and I knew I wanted to interview you for my blog. Thank you for agreeing to this interview.  Can you briefly outline your story for my readers, Anne.

Thanks for doing the interview with me, Corinne. I do appreciate your interest and the chance to talk about my book.

My story is that of a little girl, growing up in Guyana, who was systematically abused by her grandmother. The 1980s was a time of desperate economic crisis, and the country was forced to resort to food and energy rationing. My tale picks up on the humorous aspects that the young girl experiences while forced to spend hours in food lines, simultaneously unfolding the sadness and desperation that is her everyday life.

A soldier in Jonestown, where more than nine hundred people committed mass suicide, the young girl’s uncle tells her of the dead bodies he’s seen – but she doesn’t mention the one that she herself has witnessed. When she loses the one person in her life who cares for her – and tries to save her – she knows in her heart that her life is about to end…

Here’s the blurb from my book: Sunday’s Child is the remarkably inspirational true story of a little girl struggling to rise above poverty, appalling living conditions, food lines, violence, abuse, mental anguish and political hardships. It shows how she picks out little glimmers of hope and love and uses them as positive anchors in her life. She draws on everything she has – just to survive.

I’m certain writing Sunday’s Child was a painful journey back in time for you. Why did you choose to write your story?

I know that a lot of people who have difficult childhoods tend to have their adulthood overrun with disappointment and low self-confidence. In fact, according to many child psychology studies, these individuals are almost EXPECTED to lead unfulfilled lives. I wrote this book to show that your present does not have to depend on your past, that you can overcome your past – no matter what happened in your childhood to excel as an adult.

I wanted to demonstrate that if it was possible for me, then it can be possible for the reader too. You have to make the choice and then stick to it. I always remind myself that my grandmother chose fear and tension to rule my life as a child. Now that I’m an adult and can make my own choices, I reject those negative emotions and constantly remind myself to choose happiness and laughter as my anchors instead.

Did writing your story help you or change you in any way?

Yes. I think writing my story did make me put a lot of it down. Putting it on paper meant that it was now recorded and behind me. I think it helped me to move on even more than I had previously done.

Your story could be that of many children in under-developed countries. However, many of them don’t make it out of vicious cycle of poverty and abuse like you did. What do you think makes you different?

I’ve always had a strong belief in God. I think this is the main element that changed my life. Apart from this, as anyone can tell from reading Sunday’s Child, I always thought that there was a better place for me, that I belonged somewhere better, doing something inspirational, fulfilling my dreams and breaking a cycle presented to me as my blueprint for living. This belief and my faith in God have made my story one of inspiration rather than one of woe, despair and sadness.

You have to believe it and it will happen. Don’t accept negative living just because someone else thinks that is all you’re cut out to do and be. Reject it and choose your own path. The power is always in your hands.

What advice would you give to those of us who watch a child struggling with abuse in a neighbour’s home, for example, and don’t know what to do?  How can we step into the situation in such a way as to empower the child to find help?

These days there is so much more available to abused children. I presented a lot of the signs of child abuse in my book. My neighbours for example, knew what was happening because they had seen some of the abuse first hand. Yet, no one did anything – perhaps because they didn’t want to get involved.

My advice is to get involved. Befriend the child, show them something different. Make them aware that the abuse and the life they’re living is not the only option available. Show them that there are good adults out there who really care. This will go a long way to alleviating some of the despair they’re feeling. Perhaps you (the adult) can be my Mr. Williams (my teacher in Sunday’s Child), the rose in a thorny life the person remembers forever.

And when the time is right, help them to help themselves: perhaps to make a call, or to speak to the right person who can get them out of their desperate situation. If the child thinks there’s no recourse, they’ll think that desperation is how life is supposed to feel like. They’ll think that they must repeat and reinforce the wicked cycle. They’ll learn early in life that no one cares, so what’s the point of dreaming, of trying to be better.

If you have this blessed chance of making a difference to an abused child, don’t turn your head because years later, when it’s too late you’ll regret not having done anything, regardless of what negative outcome you may/may not have had to face up to.

Although Sunday’s Child tells of your childhood, it does not tell us how you transitioned out of your situation and country (Guyana) to where you are today. Do you have a sequel planned?

My sequel is already written. I’m editing it at the moment. It’s going to be called, ‘Fair of Face’ and will continue the story into adulthood. A lot of the transition will be seen then.

On a much lighter note, as an Indian, I was so fascinated with the many references to Hindi films and songs. They seemed to bring a measure of joy to your life. Is Indian cinema still a part of the Guyanese culture?

Oh, yes. Definitely. You have to remember that 55% of Guyanese people are from Indian descent. Indian films play a large part in Guyanese culture. Indian stars as just as big as Hollywood stars there – at least they were when I was living there.

Thank you so much, Anne.  You truly are an inspiration.

I’m encouraging, you,  my dear readers to read Anne’s book – Sunday’s Child and to look out for ‘Fair of Face’.