Sometimes it can seem impossible to surmount life’s obstacles, particularly if you have been dealt more than your fair share. But you can often draw on the strength of others for inspiration and helpful advice, especially those who have gracefully overcome difficult trials of their own.

Author and musician Vanessa Leigh Hoffman first learned of the power of her own strength as a teenager when she was undergoing chemotherapy while attending school and writing and recording music.

“One can conquer anything he or she puts a focus on,” says Hoffman, who over the course of her life, endured both stage three Hodgkin’s disease and a car accident that left her in a coma for close to two weeks. “After my accident, I had to relearn to walk, talk, write, sing and do even the most menial tasks.”

While not everyone will have to deal firsthand with that much tragedy, we are all subjected to unexpected challenges in our daily lives. To help, Hoffman is offering some practical insights for coping with everything, big or small.

  • Be inspired: Allow your negative experiences to be your inspiration. For example, Hoffman has reprised some of the great themes of her life in her art. Her new novel, Treasure, a fast-paced trilogy, tells the story of two twin boys orphaned and separated at birth, challenging readers to ask critical questions about how our lives are shaped. Treasure, the winner of the Hollywood and Southern California book festivals, was inspired by Hoffman’s real life encounter with President Kennedy’s former chef, a mysterious figure in her life.
  • Don’t be disheartened: Whether it’s discouraging feedback from a teacher or a bleak prognosis from a doctor, don’t let the words of experts, however well-intentioned, define the scope of your potential. After Hoffman’s accident, the medical team caring for her predicted that she would never talk, walk, read or write again. Instead of resigning herself to their expectations, she became a veritable renaissance woman, as a singer-songwriter, businesswoman and author fluent in four languages, amongst other varied pursuits.
  • Have goals: It’s easy to let your goals fall by the wayside, particularly when life’s challenges prove time consuming, distracting and demoralizing. By embracing your passions and pursuing those things that you hold most dear, it will be easier to stay motivated to follow through.

More information about the Treasure: A Trilogy and Hoffman, who is donating a portion of the proceeds from her book to St. Jude’s Children Research Institute and Hospital, can be found at

When life gets tough, don’t focus on despair. By allowing endurance and perseverance to rule the day, you can achieve more of what you set out to do.