FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — Paul Wichansky, a motivational speaker from Freehold Township, has produced his first book, “Yes I Can! Lessons Learned From a Life Less Ordinary.”
The book can be purchased on Amazon.com in eBook, hardcover and softcover formats.
Wichansky, 51, described “Yes I Can!” as a book that can provide students and adults with the tools they need – such as a positive attitude, support group, perseverance, resilience and empathy – to build confidence and self-esteem and to harness untapped potential, assisting with mental health issues and individuals who are bullied.
“I felt it is exactly the right time for such a book for everyone,” he said.
Wichansky, who has cerebral palsy, has hosted presentations and delivered keynote addresses since he was 10 and owns the website JustTheWayYouAre.com
“For years, friends and former students encouraged me to write down my experiences overcoming cerebral palsy and hearing loss. I would usually demur, as I did not know where to begin.
“So many youths and adults are also feeling isolated, depressed and frustrated to face their challenges. With so many people discouraged by adversity, I felt it was the right time to help others understand our challenges can often be our greatest gifts.
“I feel my cerebral palsy and hearing loss are not disabilities if we remove the first three letters from the word ‘disability.’ We are left with ‘ability.’ That is what we need to focus on,” Wichansky said.
The inspiration for “Yes I Can!” was a journal written by Wichansky’s mother that he found after her passing.
“(My father and I) found a journal, in her handwriting, that describes her detailed memories and frustrations going back to the time of my birth. Dad and I had no idea she kept a journal and left this treasured gift for us. Many of my childhood experiences would otherwise have been lost to time.
“After we laid mom to eternal rest, I felt her guiding my thoughts as I read her journal and weaved her loving recollections into the narrative. I found myself often writing so rapidly at night that I sometimes went to bed at sunrise.
“My best writing occurred during those times I focused and placed myself in a writer’s ‘trance,’ where these stories poured out onto the page. I tried to have no distractions, so late nights were the best. Dad offered constructive critiques, this time in person, that have added brilliant clarity,” he said.
Wichansky said writing the book helped him remain productive during the coronavirus pandemic.
“When the pandemic hit, I lost my programs and keynotes for about a year. With nothing else to do, writing was the best way to stay productive,” he said.
Regarding the book’s title, Wichansky said he always believed in the statement “Yes, I can.”
“(People around me) were quite surprised to find I had achieved more than they believed I could do. It felt like a stereotype was being shattered about my challenges of cerebral palsy and hearing loss.
“Each chapter is categorized by a fundamental principle of self-improvement, such as a positive attitude, support group, perseverance, resilience, self-esteem and empathy.
“For instance, by sharing uplifting experiences from different times in my life, the chapter on positive attitude recalls those moments of optimism and laughter that have helped me reject the effects of my disabilities by developing complete confidence in my abilities.
“Though written from a first person point of view, I switch to the second person narrative near the end of each chapter to offer readers strategies to adopt that guiding principle into their lives.
“The book can assist parents of special needs kids and with others having physical, mental or emotional health issues. I used to be a special needs kid myself, so I have written it from that perspective,” he said.
In his book, Wichansky writes, “Those times where you are happy and content, and everything seems to be going your way, will always be mixed in with other times when you are sad, angry or depressed.
“When your sun has risen above the horizon, your future looks so bright and promising as you bask in the sunshine. But realize that there will be moments when your sun abruptly sets, ushering in a period of nightfall.
“The darkness may be accompanied by looming feelings of frustration, depression or despair. At such a moment, you cannot allow your self-esteem to plummet, losing sight of the future: keep your gaze focused toward the east.
“Your sun will rise again, so good times are ahead with a strong support group that helps you stay optimistic and motivated. This is life itself, and no one is excluded,” Wichansky writes.
“Yes I Can!” can be purchased online at: https://www.amazon.com/Lessons-Learned-Ordinary-Black-white/dp/B0BJTJ34J7