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Have you ever formed a friendship with someone whose beliefs differ from yours only to realize you have quite a bit in common?
This is exactly the type of friendship I’ve formed with Alex Blackwell. We’ve had many of the same experiences, and formed many of the same insights, but we’ve found peace and comfort in different understandings of spirituality.
Alex runs The Bridge Maker, where he shares his lessons about creating meaningful change. Though Alex’s writing often reflects his Christian faith, it always comes straight from his heart and includes lessons that anyone can apply to their circumstances.
When Alex asked me to read his first book, Saying Yes to Change, I immediately felt intrigued. While I didn’t connect with some of the parts related to faith, I felt connected to Alex in reading his stories, and grateful for his courage in sharing himself so honestly.
Loaded with practical tips and gentle encouragement, Saying Yes to Change is an uplifting guide to transformation. It’s my honor to share with you an interview with my friend Alex.
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1. Tell us a little about your blog. When did you start it, and what was your intention?
I started blogging by accident. In 2007, my wife decided to go to graduate school. Our time together diminished so she could attend class, write papers, etc. Other than sports, I’m not a big television person. So, I had to find a way to fill the time.
I’ve always had the itch to write, but honestly lacked the discipline to do it consistently. One Saturday afternoon when Mary Beth was buried in a paper, I was surfing the net and typed in “how to start a blog.” When I discovered how easy, and inexpensive, it was to start a blog, I was hooked. The blog I started then transformed to The BridgeMaker four years ago.
Blogging offers a write-as-you-go-approach that is comfortable. I haven’t stopped blogging, or writing, since that fateful Saturday.
2. Why “The BridgeMaker”? How did you come up with that name?
The BridgeMaker connects people who are looking to walk by faith, share inspiration, and celebrate positive change. The meaning of the blog’s name comes from becoming aware of where we are today and seeing where we want to be tomorrow, and then making the deliberate choice to cross the bridge to discover the beautiful life waiting for us there.
3. What inspired you to write Saying Yes to Change?
The book has been inside me for a long time.
Writing every day for my blog did two things: It made me a better writer, and it helped me find my voice. With a newfound confidence in my writing, along with the positive reactions I was getting from readers, I felt the time was right to write the book.
The book is a heartfelt recounting of my best advice on building healthy relationships, learning to love yourself, and being a positive force in the world. My book was not only inspired by my blog; it was inspired by seeing the positive difference I was making.
4. You talk a lot about faith in your book, as you do on your site. Would you say readers of all spiritual traditions can benefit from your book, even if they don’t put faith in a higher power?
I think so Lori.
The faith message I share in the book isn’t necessarily from a Christian point-of-view. It’s more about having faith that our lives matter; that we are all born with a purpose and with unique gifts to fulfill that purpose. For me, faith is about finding the strength (no matter where you look) to never give up on your dreams—or on yourself.
5. You’ve written, “You cannot heal what you don’t acknowledge.” Why do you think we choose not to acknowledge our pain?
I think the reason we choose not to acknowledge our pain is because it can be uncomfortable to do so. Sometimes we sweep past events under the rug so we don’t have to see them, or be reminded by them.
For most of my life, I’ve swept the pain of being bullied under the rug. I thought if I didn’t think about it then it never happened. I would associate feelings of shame with being bullied. So, if I didn’t acknowledge the bullying, then I didn’t have to acknowledge the shame either.
What I didn’t realize was the impact the bullying had on me. It affected my self-confidence in most areas of my life. It was only when I addressed the bullying, that I was able to improve my confidence—and my happiness.
6. One section of your book is titled “Learn to Live without Asterisks.” What does that mean exactly?
It’s about not setting on limits on how we think our lives should be. Asterisks are typically associated with limitations, restrictions, or conditions. We can get mired down with how we should do something, rather than following our heart.
For example, “I want to write a book, but I should spend more time with my family.” You know what I did? I asked my family. They told me to follow my dream and write. On my last day in this world, I won’t have an asterisk next to the goal of writing a book!
7. In your section on love, you defined it as seeing the best in others, not the worst. Why do you think we struggle to do this, and how can we change our instinct to focus on perceived flaws and slights?
I think we tend to see the flaws in others before recognizing their beauty because that’s how we see ourselves sometimes. When we believe we are beautiful; not so much in a physical sense, but in a spiritual one, we can then begin to see the world and everyone in it, as beautiful, too.
8. What do you think is the most important precursor to real, lasting change?
Wanting to change—really wanting to change. No matter if it’s learning to be a better spouse or partner, losing weight, or pursuing a passion, nothing happens until we want it to happen. But to answer your question directly Lori, I think the precursor for change is recognizing that a certain aspect of our life is no longer for us, but we desperately want it to begin working again.
9. What is the main message you hope readers take from your book?
Creating positive change begins with discovering one powerful truth: You cannot change or heal what you do not acknowledge.
Learn more about Saying Yes to Change on Amazon.
FTC Disclosure: I receive complimentary books for reviews and interviews on tinybuddha.com, but I am not compensated for writing or obligated to write anything specific. I am an Amazon affiliate, meaning I earn a percentage of all books purchased through the links I provide on this site.