CRESTVIEW — For over 20 years, Chicken Soup for the Soul books have lined bookstore shelves, with over 200 editions to date. Each edition highlights 101 inspirational stories submitted by ordinary people.
Works by Crestview resident Mary Beth Sturgis have been published twice in Chicken Soup for the Soul, with her latest submission available in the edition titled, "The Best Advice I Ever Heard."
Sturgis' personal essay, called "Exit Forward," highlights her experience coping with a failing marriage.
A nurse who retired after 40 years, she writes about the moment a friend encouraged her to seek therapy after anxiety about the divorce led to an outburst of emotions during a work meeting.
"I couldn't keep doing what I was doing," Sturgis said.
Sturgis came in contact with a therapist she trusted and actively sought help.
In the essay, she writes about the different techniques her therapist used.
In one session, her therapist gave her a difficult homework assignment — write a letter to her late father with an explanation about the divorce.
Though Sturgis faced trying moments, the essay ends on a positive note with lessons she values to this day.
"It's important to get the message out that when you need help: 1. Ask for it. 2. Listen to your friends that say you need to get help," the Crestview author said.
Sturgis said this moment in her life encouraged her to "reconnect with God."
"God was watching out for me and I didn’t even know it," she said.
By acknowledging and expressing her emotions through therapy, she learned to remain optimistic about the future.
"There's always hope no matter that happens in life," Sturgis said. "...Strong faith is the greatest hope."
Today, Sturgis said she is happily remarried to her husband, Ed. She enjoys spending time with family and gardening with her husband.