The Power of Storytelling - Episode 21

Welcome back to The Power of Storytelling!

Amy, Gwen and Makayla - thank you for sharing your stories, your words, and your journey with all of us.

This month’s episode reminded me that every experience in this journey serves a purpose, and often it’s up to us to determine what that purpose will be. Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned - and that’s okay! We always have the power and the opportunity to take those detours and re-routes and allow them to become stepping stones on our path towards our truth, authenticity, and joy.

It’s truly my honor to share the stories and provide the space here to share a little bit more about the women and men behind these words. I encourage you to check out Amy, Gwen and Makayla after you listen to this week’s new episode.

*Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this episode are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Seek The Joy Podcast. 



Amy Oestreicher is an Audie Award-nominated PTSD peer-to-peer specialist, artist, author, writer for The Huffington Post, speaker for TEDx and RAINN, health advocate, award-winning actress, and playwright. She’s also the author of a brand new novel, “My Beautiful Detour: A Unthinkable Journey from Gutless to Grateful”.

In this week’s new episode Amy shares how she was an ambitious, audacious teenager who had her life all planned out: go to college, win a Tony, and conquer the world. But life took an unexpected detour when the week before her high school senior prom, she found herself in unusual pain. She was rushed to the emergency room, and due to a blood clot, Amy’s stomach exploded to the ceiling of the operating room. After both lungs collapsed, she almost died. Months later, she awoke from a coma covered in tubes, bags, and drains, and was told that she had no stomach anymore, she could not eat or drink, and it was not certain if or when she would ever taste one bite ever again. It took 27 surgeries and six years, but eventually, Amy was miraculously reconstructed, and with the intestines she had left, was given a system that digests food.

Today, through her #LoveMyDetour “Detourist Campaign,” she creates content that inspires, educates, entertains, and transforms our perception of obstacles for individuals faced with unexpected bumps and “detours” in their lives – much like what Amy faced at 18 years old. As founder of #LoveMyDetour, she provides advocacy, entertainment, seminars, and peer-to-peer education on trauma, mental health, women’s issues, storytelling, and diversity. Her vital message is delivered with humor, eloquence and heart in a down-to-earth, relatable and positive manner.

This is not the life I planned for myself, but does anyone’s life ever work out exactly as planned? I was led astray and hurt, taken apart and put back together, but differently. My passion never went away. I kept my hunger alive and now I know that my role in life is to still be that same performer I always wanted to be when I was 13, but now with an even greater gift to give - a story to tell.
— Amy Oestreicher


Gwen Finestone, MFT, Ph.D., CT, is President of California Southern University and has been recently nominated as a “Woman of Influence” via the Irvine Chamber for her contribution as an inspirational leader, role-model and advocate and mentor helping women in the workplace rise in leadership.

She began her career working in trauma forty years ago as a co-founder of a rape crisis center, helping countless people work through their life traumas from childhood into adulthood. She specializes in grief, loss, trauma, and dissociative disorders. Her expert witness services are retained by attorneys in civil and criminal cases.

In this week’s new episode Gwen shares her journey and introduces us to her new book, “Finding the Gems,” In this book, Gwen helps readers overcome major life trauma and loss and teaches them to lead a happy and positive life without letting their tragedies define them. She blends psychology, spirituality, humanism, meaning and purpose to help readers free themselves from the pain of their losses. Throughout her career Gwen has often been asked by her patients: “Why did that happen to me?” “Why isn’t life more joyful?” “Why can’t I have what others seem to have so effortlessly?” “Why do I feel stuck?” “Why didn’t my previous therapy help?” “Was I born only to suffer?” “Where was God when this was happening?” “What is spirituality?” “How can I let go of my grief?”

Gwen shares that even if your most significant losses or traumas occurred as an adult, lessons learned in childhood will inform your interpretation of adult experiences.Personalizing the work of the great Viennese psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, she blends psychology, spirituality, humanism, meaning and purpose. She argues that finding the meaning in painful experiences is what can free each one of us to be who we want to be. Each chapter is introduced by a quote and concludes with a spiritual lesson that will help you find the gems in painful memories and experiences. It’s been so wonderful to connect with Gwen and learn more about her work and her journey, and I’m so excited for you guys to connect with her and follow along!

This book afforded me the opportunity to learn something very important about myself - at 64, there was still shame. After all the therapy, all the years of hard work, there was still some shame. I was still owning that experience. I was still taking responsibility for someone else’s bad, bad behavior. But you know what, I’m a thriver!
— Gwen Finestone


Makayla Cooper is a Domestic Violence survivor who has turned her pain into her purpose with The Butterfly Effect. She created this project to bring awareness to Domestic Violence, and create a safe haven for women and families to not only discuss domestic violence, but also bring awareness to it.

Through The Butterfly Effect, Makayla brings awareness, peer-to-peer support, and guidance to women and their families. She helps them navigate their next steps by providing resources. When you’re in a violent or abusive situation, it’s often difficult to speak up for yourself - and Makayla’s goal is to start a non-profit and to create a safe house for women and their families.

It’s so important to bring awareness to domestic violence and its impact, and Makayla also hopes to network with other people who are looking to change the conversation surrounding domestic violence. Makayla is encouraging and empowering families all over the world by sharing her experiences, story and truth

From my experiences I’ve rebuilt myself and I was inspired to start the Butterfly Effect Project. Today I help women all over the world, and I’ve learned from sharing my truth and my story that you can inspire others and also help heal yourself. My biggest dream is to bring as much awareness to domestic violence as possible, and to help as many people as I can.
— Makayla Cooper


To connect with Amy and to learn more you can connect with her on her website and on Instagram @amyoes70 Facebook @amyoestr and on Twitter @amyoes and to learn more about her new book, “My Beautiful Detour: An Unthinkable Journey from Gutless to Grateful” click here

To connect with Gwen and learn more visit her on her website and on Twitter @finestonegwen Facebook @dr.finestone and you can find her new book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

To connect with Makayla and learn more about The Butterfly Effect visit her Facebook page here and you can connect with her via email

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