Farmington Hills author lands spot in new ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ book

5-time contributor returns to well-known book series

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published October 16, 2019

 The work of Farmington Hills author Sue Ross, 71, is included in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive, Live Happy.”

The work of Farmington Hills author Sue Ross, 71, is included in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive, Live Happy.”

Advertisement

FARMINGTON HILLS — A local author’s short story has found itself a home within the pages of the widely known “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series’ new volume, “Think Positive, Live Happy.”

Sue Ross, 71, of Farmington Hills, said this is her fifth time, out of seven attempts, contributing to the book series in her eight years as a published author. Her first story to be accepted into the book series was featured in the 2015 “Think Possible” volume. She said it always feels good to have her stories accepted.

The “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series has continued to publish books that give people real-life examples on how to handle their own challenges through storytelling since 1993.

Ross, who is retired now, said she’s been writing since she was a child. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in secondary education and English, and completed post-graduate work in the fields of administration and criminal justice.

Her latest contribution to the book series, a story titled “The Dancing Rabbi,” reminisces on a short period of time when she was living in Sante Fe, New Mexico, and met a rabbi, the late Leonard Helman, who was battling Parkinson’s disease.

Ross said she always wanted to commemorate the rabbi and that time in her life. Once the topic for the book came across her desk, she felt that story was “the perfect fit.”

“Because this particular book title was seeking stories about being positive and living happily, he seemed to personify what can be done no matter what odds are against you,” Ross said. “He was stricken with Parkinson’s, but it didn’t slow him down for a second. He used his affliction to propel him forward, not only in his rabbinic duties, but to serve the community in other ways and lead these joyous sing-alongs, which were hysterical.

“He had such a joy for life and an ability to rise above all the difficulties he faced. He inspired others, and I wanted to expand that audience so other people could be moved by what he taught, like I was.”

Amy Newmark, the publisher and editor-in-chief of the book series, said she and author Deborah Norville were looking for stories of people who employed positive thinking, counted their blessings and used gratitude to direct their lives — people who could be role models for their readers to lead more positive lives.

“We thought Sue Ross’ story was a great example of that,” Newmark said. “Here was a guy who was so inclusive, so welcoming to everybody in his congregation. He tap-danced right through his Parkinson’s. We just thought he was such a great role model for people of a guy who uses joy and brought joy into other people’s lives even as he was facing his own challenges.”

With roughly 4,000 stories submitted in consideration for this volume of the series, Ross’ story had to make it through several rounds of read-throughs before making the final cut.

Newmark said there’s no cap on how many stories an author can contribute.

“If she has a lot of great stories, we will keep publishing them,” she said.

Ross hopes readers can take away some joy and inspiration from her short story.

“I think every human being has difficulties in their life. (For) some people, it’s economic difficulties, some people it’s physical ailments, some people it’s family issues, but no matter what problems anyone faces, it’s all about attitude and how one decides to engage with the world and use it to their best advantage,” she said.

“I encourage people to not allow themselves to be discouraged in today’s world, which is a tough one, and to keep dusting off their knees, getting back up and trying again.”

In the end, Ross believes storytelling is the best way to inspire others to do just that.

“Storytelling is the way we humanize events, situations and circumstances. It allows people of different backgrounds, ages, ethnicities and tribes to really recognize we’re all still members of the same human family. What happens to one of us frequently can be found happening to others. That’s the connection we make through storytelling.”

Advertisement