ep 19 - Amanda Lindhout: NYT Best-Selling Author, Journalist, & Kidnap Survivor
An award winning humanitarian, journalist and NY Times bestselling author, Amanda Lindhout was abducted and held hostage by teenage criminals in 2008 while researching a story on the millions of people ravaged by two decades of war, drought, and famine. She endured 460 days of unimaginable hardships during her captivity.
ep 19 - Amanda Lindhout: NYT Best-Selling Author, Journalist, & Kidnap Survivor
Amanda: Having a conversation, the hands go up. Okay.
Gail Davis: Our studio guest today is Amanda Lindhout. Amanda is a New York Times best-selling author, speaker and journalist. [00:01:30] Her multiple award-winning memoir, A House in the Sky, continues to be a bestseller after three and a half years. As a matter of fact, Amanda's book is one of the most sold books by any Canadian author. What a thrill it is to have you here, Amanda, while you're in Dallas. Welcome.
Amanda: Thank you so much. Excited to be here.
Gail Davis: So, I had the pleasure of hearing Amanda in Toronto last April, and I've also read [00:02:00] her book, which I cannot recommend enough. Amanda, for those listeners who may not be familiar with your story, can you tell them about what happened, and what you write about in A House in the Sky?
Amanda: Right. A House in the Sky, my idea behind it was that it would not just be a narrative of the 460 days that I spent as a hostage in Somalia, but it's a bigger story. It's my story. It's the really coming of age story of a young, [00:02:30] ambitious woman, who is me, out in the world. I grew up in central Alberta, in a place called Red Deer, from really meager beginnings. My parents separated when I was really young, so I was raised by my single mom, who was a cashier at a grocery store. We just had no money, but I always wanted to see the world. The world, to me, during those early years, was images that I saw on the pages of my treasured National Geographic magazines. I kept this big stack beside [00:03:00] my bed that I bought at a used bookstore for 25 cents a piece, and I dreamed about seeing the world.
When I was old enough to do so, meaning I graduated high school and started working as a waitress in the nearest big city, which was Calgary, Alberta, I was able to save enough to take myself out into the world on my first trip, and then that was really it. I was hooked. I wanted to see everywhere, I wanted to go everywhere, and I did that. I spent the next eight years traveling to, at that point, [00:03:30] over 50 countries. Going to far flung corners of the world that not everybody sees, and I guess just gaining confidence as I traveled across more borders, and pushed limits.
At a certain point in my travels I became really interested in journalism, and then that enabled me to travel to places like Iraq and Afghanistan, where I lived for periods of time as a journalist, and then all of that ultimately led me to Somalia, where three [00:04:00] days into that journalism trip, I was there to get a particular story, I was abducted by a group of teenage criminals and then held hostage for the next 15 and a half months, enduring really terrible things, and ultimately discovering a great deal about the sources of strength within myself. Sources of strength that exist inside of all of us to overcome really unimaginable adversity.
Gail Davis: [00:04:30] Wow. I'm now going back to the book, and when I heard you speak, it was about an hour, and I was blown away. But then when I read the book, the detail that you go into, and then to look at you, and who you are today, and how poised, I mean it's just absolutely remarkable.
Amanda: Yeah, people find it hard to reconcile the brutality of the story that I lived through with the image that [00:05:00] they see on the stage today, which is that I'm a really healthy, happy, confident 35-year-old woman now, and it's taken a lot of work to get to where I am. I have worked with a lot of therapists, I continue to work with a lot of therapists. I'm so dedicated to my own recovery, nothing is more important to me than that. And so my message, in turn, is also always evolving as I learn more about overcoming, and the incredible resiliency that we all have inside [00:05:30] of ourselves. I feel so excited to share that with other people, because this isn't unique to me. I'm not a special person.
We all have this inside of ourselves, and that's what makes me so excited to stand on a stage and be able to tell the audience, whether you're going through a divorce, or a death in your family, or whatever feels stressful and really traumatic to you, there are these reserves of strength within us that you don't even know are there until you're [00:06:00] really challenged, and then there are certain ways we can access those reserves. Once you tap into that, it's exciting because you realize that there are no limits to your own growth and potential.
Gail Davis: I remember when I saw you speak, your mother was there, and it was so powerful. No one in the audience knew Amanda's mother was going to join her onstage, but throughout the story, you can't help but wonder what it would have been like to have been your mother. They were asking for ransom, [00:06:30] and the Canadian government, nor than the United States government pay ransoms, so imagine your daughter being held captive, and navigating your way through that. It was extremely powerful to have her join you onstage, and hear from her.
Amanda: Yeah, my mom is such a hero, really, in my whole story. This is the woman that gave me life, and then saved my life. What's amazing really about my mom, Lorinda Stewart, is that she [00:07:00] did all of this, all of her efforts to bring me home, with no real foundation of knowing people with money, or knowing how to do this. She was a cashier at a bakery when she gets the call that her daughter has been adducted in the most dangerous country in the world, and they're demanding a ransom of $1.5 million. So, that amount might, to some people that will sound like a lot, [00:07:30] and to other people that will not sound like a lot, but for my family, given our financial background, that was like asking for the moon.
But my mom was such a superstar, she just dedicated her life, and it took time. It's also why it took 460 days. She had to literally start from the bottom, and reach out to people who had money in Canada, people who had never [00:08:00] heard of me before, but she was presenting her story, and wanting to bring her daughter home, and these people, these amazing people stepped up and helped her do that. Then ultimately she was able to raise enough to bring me home, and her strength and perseverance, and tenacity through the whole thing is incredibly inspiring to me, too. It's just remarkable.
Gail Davis: One of the favorite speakers I've ever heard is a woman named Gerda Klein, who's a Holocaust survivor. She has a line, "Pain [00:08:30] was not meant to be wasted. Pain was meant to be shared."
Amanda: Oh, I love that.
Gail Davis: I love it that you and your family have opened this story up to so many people. I'm curious, what came first, speaking about it or writing a book?
Amanda: Speaking about it. Actually, speaking came pretty early. I mean, I'm going to say, I can't be absolute, but I think it was less than a year after I had been released from captivity. So I came back from that experience [00:09:00] really determined to move my life forward. I certainly wasn't thinking about things like speaking at that time, but I had other ambitions. I had never been to university, for example, so I enrolled in a university course, because I was interested in international development. Then, as happens when you go through a headline event, people ask you to speak, so I started, and I found that I had a natural ability to do so, and audiences really resonated with the themes that I wanted [00:09:30] to talk about.
Which, by the way wasn't the salacious details of what happened to me. People are often surprised by that. They read the book and they go, "Wow, so much happened to you that you don't even get into in your speeches," because I don't think that the point is to lead people through the details of the worst things that happened to me. It's more like what I learned, and how I got through it. And so, I became a very popular speaker in Canada almost right away, and meanwhile was working on the book the [00:10:00] whole time. Then, of course, the book came out about three and a half years ago, and since then my speaking career has had a whole new lease, and it's taken me all over the world. I've been to over 25 countries around the world, speaking about my experiences, and more importantly, what I've learned through them, and teaching people actually how they too can get through really challenging things in their lives. It feels so important to me. [00:10:30] It feels like my life's purpose.
Kyle Davis: That's awesome. I'm curious, you said that you had this adventure, kind of strain or gene in you, I guess that was coming out of reading National Geographic and wanting to do all that. What made you decide, before the 460 days, what made you decide to go to Iraq and Afghanistan? How do you even think of that?
Amanda: Fair question, and a question a lot of people ask me, and have. [00:11:00] I mean, I didn't start out there. I started going to the much more touristic places that people would expect a young woman in her early 20s to go to, the beautiful parts of the world, Thailand. Easy places that were in particularly challenging parts of Europe, etc. But I think there was a desire in me to understand something about how people [00:11:30] overcame suffering. It's interesting, looking back, after what I ultimately ended up going through, but I also had a really difficult childhood. A childhood that was a constant day-to-day challenge for myself just to get through, and so, from a really young age I was interested in survival, and then once I started traveling and I was going to these parts over the world, not even dangerous parts of the world, but I would see people living very [00:12:00] differently than I am so privileged to live in Canada, and I would be so shocked at their joy and happiness, living a life that, for me, looked really hard.
And so, there was this interest in human survival, and how do people do that, that became more and more intense for me, and then started leading me into countries like the first risky country that I went to was Pakistan. I went to Pakistan, not as a journalist, [00:12:30] but as a backpacker. That might sound insane to people, but I went there because I met, in India, when I was there, other people who had come and who had talked about how amazing it was. I was curious, and I was bold enough, reckless enough to cross the border and go in. Then what I discovered there was not what you see on TV. It was that people there are just like we are, and people are really wanting the same things, and yet there are people who suffer there, [00:13:00] and understanding their stories was really interesting to me.
And so, that just became this natural leaning into journalism, which I was never formally trained for, but took some courses, but I've always been interested in storytelling. Then ultimately, that led me into Afghanistan, where I spent the better part of the year embedded with the Canadian and American militaries, and seen some truly awful things, but also understanding again, more about human suffering. [00:13:30] How do people survive? And just being really inspired by that. Then going to Iraq in 2007, not a great time to be in a country like Iraq, but again learning more about that same thing. There was this real lust inside of me to understand how people overcame suffering, in part because I probably wanted to know more about that from my own childhood and the difficulties of my childhood.
Then amazingly, ultimately in Somalia, [00:14:00] I had this incredible experience myself, which was so much about getting through suffering. In Somalia, in the midst of the worst of it, I would often think about these people I met around the world who had endured things that I thought at that time were just unimaginable, and I drew a lot of strength from remembering those stories like, "Wow, people have gotten through worse than I'm going through now, and gone on to make lives [00:14:30] for themselves, and to find real joy and happiness, like I know that that's possible." That motivated me then. It motivates me still today. I think there's just so much resiliency we have as human beings that we're not even just day-to-day aware of.
Kyle Davis: Before Somalia, you just briefly touched on it, because you tapped into those experiences, but what did you learn about the human condition, or about resiliency, [00:15:00] just from hearing stories, and seeing and witnessing what you did? What did you learn prior to that? Then, when we do talk about it, I'd like to know what your reflections were.
Amanda: Sure. I think particularly living in Afghanistan and Iraq, which are as bad as you can imagine. We read the newspapers, we read about the bomb blast there, the suicide bombers, just the daily strife that people have to live through, and you can't really imagine [00:15:30] it. Then you put yourself in the middle of it, living in Kabul, living in Baghdad, and what that actually looks like. What was astonishing to me every day, and even looking back on it now, I just marvel at it, is the incredible tenacity that people have to just get through the day. It's like, what is ultimately important to people around the world, here at home, or over there in the middle of a war are things like family, and purpose, [00:16:00] and people find a way to be committed to their families, to have purpose in their lives, no matter what's going on around them.
I thought that was amazing. You think, if your whole city or country falls apart, you then too, in turn fall apart, but it's actually not true. People just continue surviving, and living, and I found that really inspiring. Well before I went through my own really traumatic experience, I just was amazed at how people, [00:16:30] human beings can manage like that. It's not just one or two people, it's a whole country. You move through the country, and people are still doing what they need to do. People still smile. People still laugh. They have fun, they have friends, they have purpose in their day, and it's like, "Wow, that's kind of amazing."
Kyle Davis: Especially a country like Afghanistan, that legitimately hasn't known peace since 1971.
Kyle Davis: There's, I think it's [00:17:00] a Vice documentary that just shows, it's funny because it's a motorcycle gang in Baghdad.
Amanda: I haven't seen this.
Kyle Davis: I'll have to show it to you, but they're just trying to get through their daily life. I mean, they're getting harassed by the police because they're riding around on motorcycles, and they're listening to American metal music, and a whole bunch of other stuff.
Amanda: Love it.
Kyle Davis: But they're falling asleep. They go, "Yeah, we fall asleep to bomb blasts, but then we wake up and we just live our lives." It's what they know.
Amanda: I would love to see that. That's so much my experience of being in those kind of places.
Gail Davis: [00:17:30] When I listen to you talk, what I hear is this real empathy that you have for other humans, and it makes me think of what I find the most astonishing and amazing part of your story. That is your ability to forgive, and how you actually empathized with the people that were holding you captive. Can you talk about that?
Amanda: Yeah, thank you. I'd like to talk about that, actually. Thanks for asking. I have, I think my whole life, had this empathy for [00:18:00] other people, but that empathy was really challenged, actually, once I was taken hostage. Imagine one day I'm in Somalia, I'm chasing a story, just like I had been doing for a couple of years as a journalist, not thinking my life was going to change in any way, and then it did. I was abducted by a group of masked teenage boys on the side of a road, and then I had these 15 and a half months to observe these guys. The first period of captivity [00:18:30] was, I was angry. I was really upset. It felt so unjust. How could this be? I'm a good person, how could this happen to me? But the more that I observed them, and just actually broke it down to the reality of what was happening around me was, these were young men, the youngest of whom was 14, by the way, who had been completely shaped by the war and the violence around them.
If I thought about it like that, like these are young [00:19:00] people that have grown up around war, and death, and violence, it's not so surprising then that they have fallen into something like my kidnapping, which was for them a job, basically. They were getting paid a couple of dollars a month to be part of this thing that they also perceived to be associated with an extreme form of their religion, and that made me feel sad for them. If I could break it [00:19:30] down like that to myself, even in those really painful moments, these are young men, barely older than being children, who are part of something that is so big, and so terrible.
I always thought the degree to which they could create suffering for me must be the degree to which they were suffering, because a perfectly happy, healthy person does not have the ability to create such suffering for another human. They just don't want to. [00:20:00] So, when somebody is involved in something like that, I'll be honest. I went through terrible things. I was tortured, I was raped, I went through terrible things in captivity. It wasn't a walk in the park. Every day it was also trying to humanize these people around me, because the scariest thing was, they're monsters, they're not even human. But to remember, they are humans with stories of their own, with really painful stories of their own, and their own pain and suffering is enabling [00:20:30] them to act in these particular ways, which yes, was creating enormous suffering for me, but can I feel compassion for that?
That was always my challenge for myself. In chains, in a pitch black room, being starved and abused, can I still feel compassion for the people who are doing this to me? Because obviously, these conditions are a reflection of how they themselves are suffering.
Kyle Davis: It's almost as if they're victims, too.
Amanda: Thank you. That is exactly what I often think and say, [00:21:00] is they are both the victims, and the perpetuators of this violence. That is the truth. Even now, I'm not going to lie, I have days that are hard for me. I have days that the anger comes up, and when that happens, I remember what I just said. They are victims of it, too. Then, when I feel that anger it's like, okay, if I can remember that truth, that helps me just move through the [00:21:30] day. I feel bad for them. Even now I feel bad for, they now, imagine, they have to live with everything they did to me for the rest of their lives. That 14-year-old boy who hurt me in all the ways that he did, he now has to live the rest of his life with the knowledge and just the emotional imprint of what he did to me, and I can even feel sorry for that, because that's terrible.
Kyle Davis: I've kind of forgot [00:22:00] what the phrase is called, but in psychology when they talk about, whether it's domestic violence victims, or sexual abuse victims and stuff like that, how it's a perpetuating self-fulfilling cycle, kind of. It just keeps going, and going, and going. My question that you hinted at, you're just going down the road and there's a snatch and grab, or how?
Amanda: A trap had basically been set out, though we don't think it was for myself and my [00:22:30] Australian colleague, photographer friend, Nigel Brennan, who was with me that day. We actually think it was for two other guys, National Geographic reporters, funny enough, who were staying at the same hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia as we were. Now there was only the four of us foreigners in Mogadishu at that time, and they were affiliated with a big magazine who was going to pay a ransom for them if something happened.
They went down the same road as [00:23:00] us, but 15 minutes before, and these guys were on the side of the road a little late. So, when our vehicle came down the road, and they stopped it and abducted us, they were shocked that a woman was in the vehicle, me. They were not expecting it to be us, and too bad for them, because unfortunately we didn't have, we were both freelancers. We didn't have a big magazine behind us who was going to pay a ransom. We only had our poor families to struggle with [00:23:30] coming up with some money for us, so it wasn't also what they had planned.
Kyle Davis: Now, were you kept in Mogadishu, or were you shuttled around?
Amanda: We were moved around quite a bit. There was 13 different houses in total during the 15 and a half months, so we were moved as far down south as a Somali city called Kismayo, which is totally controlled by Al-Shabaab, a very dangerous part of the country to be in. That took us probably about 12 hours [00:24:00] by road to get to. Things were just becoming a little intense for our abductors in Mogadishu, they were constantly worried about other criminal groups stealing us from them. We were worth so much money, and so eventually they moved us down south, and that's where we spend about half of our captivity.
Kyle Davis: Now, I think prior to us going to record, you mentioned that these guys were more, I had mentioned the phrase inland pirates, but they weren't necessarily associated with Al-Shabaab. I think that's [00:24:30] more of a, not misnomer, that's not the right word, but misinterpretation.
Amanda: Yeah, it's true. Actually, most of the time when people hear my story, they just assume that it had something to do with Al-Shabaab, which is a recognized terrorist organization, a large one that exists in Somalia, affiliated with Al Qaeda and other such organizations. But in fact the group that took me hostage was kind of like a rogue group of kids [00:25:00] who came from different clans. The clan structure is very prominent in Somalia. It's very important, so it was kind of unusual in our case that there was these kids from all these different clans, but the leaders of the kidnapping weren't particularly organized. They didn't seem to have done this before. It was something that seemed to be like the first time, and they were just figuring it out as they [00:25:30] went along.
For the kids that they had employed to be their "soldiers," who were the boys who were with us every day, they shaped the narrative to these kids as, it was a form of religious jihad. Like Nigel Brennan, my Australian colleague and I come from Australia and Canada, two countries which are part of NATO, which supported an Ethiopian invasion [00:26:00] of Somalia, and so from our abductor's point of view, it was legitimate under their religion to abduct us as prisoners of war, because we're from enemy countries, and we were not Muslim. That's how they justified in their minds the abduction of us, and that was really important to them, because they saw themselves as very religious.
Kyle Davis: Just to clarify, I have an understanding of this, but it [00:26:30] wasn't like one of those Somali pirate type situations?
Amanda: It was so different than that, yeah. Very different then the pirate situations, which is obviously too a huge problem in that part of the world.
Gail Davis: Amanda, can you share with listeners how you came up with the title, A House in the Sky?
Amanda: Yeah, I would love to. I worked in A House in the Sky with a co-author, Sarah Corbett, who is a contributing writer to the New York Times magazine, and has become my dearest friend and confidant all these years, and we worked on A House in the Sky [00:27:00] for three and a half years together writing it, and obviously the title was a big decision. How are we going to decide what to call it? One day, I was driving in Canada, where I live, in British Columbia, and I drove past this national park which was called Meadows in the Sky, and I thought, "Wow, that's so beautiful." And I kept driving, and then all of a sudden it came to me, the title of the book, A House in the Sky. What A House in [00:27:30] the Sky meant to me was, both the place that I could go mentally when things were really difficult. I mean, when they were the very worst.
I mean, I was kept in chains in a pitch black room, and just struggling to get through each second, literally. I could close my eyes and I could go to this place in my head, my house in the sky, where I could remember the beauty of the world that I'd been so lucky to see. I [00:28:00] could sit around a table with my family, and have a dinner in my head. I could imagine all of those things, and then simultaneously A House in the Sky meant, for the young men who had abducted me, they were building their own house in the sky through their interpretation of their religion was, what they were doing was justified, and they were accumulating goods in the afterlife. They were building [00:28:30] their own house in the sky, in their version of what is paradise.
Gail Davis: Wow. Okay, how about the movie? Can we talk about the movie?
Amanda: Yeah, can we talk about that, how exciting it is? A House in the Sky was optioned about two years ago by a big Hollywood production company called Annapurna Pictures. Annapurna Pictures, for people that don't know, has done movies like American Hustle, Zero Dark Thirty, Her, and [00:29:00] they've brought on board a wonderful young actress, Rooney Mara, who's been twice nominated for an Academy Award for Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and last year for Carol with Cate Blanchett, which was a beautiful movie. And so, it's been in development for the last two years. The screenplay was done by my co-author, Sarah Corbett, which was amazing, and exactly the way that I wanted it to go.
Production will start this year, so [00:29:30] we're looking at a release for the movie of 2018, and it's going to be no small deal. The production company is really behind this. They wanted to do a beautiful job with this. They're excited. I have had many meetings with the heads of the production company who are absolutely dedicated to making this movie into something that's really going to move and inspire people in the same way that I wanted the book [00:30:00] to. It was, from the start, once this production company got on board, I knew it was something I wanted to do.
Gail Davis: Have you gotten to know Rooney very well?
Amanda: I have. I've gotten to spend a lot of time with her. We text almost every day at this point.
Gail Davis: Excellent.
Amanda: We're just friends, and I obviously have a great deal of respect for her as an actress. She's truly gifted, and she has said to me that she feels like she was born to play this part.
Gail Davis: Incredible, incredible.
Amanda: [00:30:30] Yeah, it's just perfect.
Gail Davis: I cannot wait.
Amanda: Me too.
Gail Davis: I want to be on the red carpet with you when this gets nominated.
Amanda: You're coming, Gail.
Gail Davis: I'm so excited. Tell us a little bit about the nonprofit that you founded, the Global Enrichment Foundation.
Amanda: It surprises people to hear the genesis of my nonprofit organization, because it actually came to me when I was in Somalia in the pitch black room in chains. Left in a state [00:31:00] like that, you certainly have a lot of time to think. I thought a lot about, if I were lucky enough to have another chance at life, what that would look like, and what would be meaningful to me. What I knew for sure was that I had a pretty unique perspective on what was happening inside of Somalia. I mean, for better or worse, I had this understanding of this very troubled country where women, for example, are totally marginalized and have almost [00:31:30] no rights, where young men like my kidnappers have no access to education, and therefore get involved with these criminal groups, etc.
So in captivity, I started thinking about, what do I do with all this information? I mean, I can go out of here and just forget about Somalia forever, or I can do something, maybe, to make this country a little bit of a better place for the people who live here. And so, the thought of doing that actually really helped me get through my days. [00:32:00] I would spend my days in that dark room, dreaming of what that looked like. For me, I had this idea that one day, I would set up a nonprofit organization that would help women and kids in that country, and thankfully when I was released, I went back to Canada when I had opportunity to do so. It was about four and a half months after I was released that I launched the organization that I called the Global Enrichment Foundation, and initially it was hard to get it off the ground [00:32:30] because, especially in Canada, we had so many headlines about the terrible things that had happened to me, and then I started this organization.
People are like, "What are you doing? Why do you want to help people there?" But I never really doubted whether or not it was the right thing to do. I just knew that it was, and I felt like if I just continued to drive it forward, people would see I'm really serious about this, and it's important, and I was right. That was about seven years ago, and we've raised about $3.5 million to [00:33:00] support different aid and education initiatives inside of that country, working in partnership with some incredible Somali humanitarians there, and I feel really proud of what we've managed to accomplish. I guess I feel, in a way, like it's a sense of responsibility. I know so much about that country, so I want to do what I can to help, in my own humble way, to help the people [00:33:30] who live there.
Kyle Davis: If the listeners want to help with the Global Enrichment Foundation, how can they do so?
Amanda: Thank you for asking. People can either go to my website, and there's a direct link from there, which is amandalindhout.com or globalenrichmentfoundation.com, and there's ways to donate from there.
Kyle Davis: Cool. I always like it when we have something positive to pump up.
Kyle Davis: Cool. I know one of the questions I've asked, and I wanted to come back to it, [00:34:00] was about the resiliency. You talked about what you saw when you were in Iraq and Afghanistan. What are your thoughts on it now? I mean, I understand the concept of A House in the Sky, but what are your thoughts on resiliency now?
Amanda: So many, and ever-evolving. I feel like everything that I knew about resiliency, as seen through other people, was amazing for me, and really helped [00:34:30] shape how I survived in Somalia, but then imagine I get released seven years ago, and then I really needed to find a lot. Of course, I needed resiliency to survive the 460 days, certainly, but then on the other side of release, just to rebuild your life again from such trauma requires a huge amount of resiliency, and so I've always thought of it like, [00:35:00] when struggle comes up in life, two things rise up inside of us. There's despair, and there's resiliency. You can nurture either one of those, and they're going to dominate.
Like a lot of people, and myself too, for sure, it almost seems easier to melt into the despair like, "Oh my God, poor me. This is unfair. Why me?" Etc. I mean, I've been there, believe me. I know what [00:35:30] that feels like, but there's this other thing that rises up, which is resiliency. For me in captivity, I had to really hang onto it just to get through the days, and on the aftermath, on the other side of it, I hung on to it because I wanted to build a life for myself. I didn't want to lose my life to that experience, and so easy as it was to have days, certainly of sliding into despair, I still hung on pretty tightly to this resilient side of myself, and anything that you focus [00:36:00] on, what you focus on grows and becomes stronger. It's like working a muscle.
That resilient side of you become stronger, and it's actually amazing how strong it can become, and how it can just start to carry you, and carry you through your bad days. You're talking to me now, seven and a half years after I was released from captivity, and I can say my resiliency has carried me through so many dark moments, and months, and now, [00:36:30] today, I feel healthy, and strong, and more resilient than ever, and totally sure that whatever life throws at me now, I'm 35 years old now, I have a lot of years to live, and a lot of life to live. Whatever is going to come at me, I'm going to get through it, and I'm going to be okay, because I know how resilient I am, and we all are.
Kyle Davis: The line you said prior to us recording was that you felt the best now that you ever have, in your [00:37:00] entire life.
Amanda: Yeah, so true. Do you know what it is, though? It's dedication to being my best self. It doesn't just come. Every day, I make choices to be my healthiest, best self. Whether those choices are working with a therapist, exercising, eating healthy, crying when I need to. Taking space to also process and feel the things that come up. Nothing is more important to me right now than being well, [00:37:30] and I think really stepping into that, and just allowing that to be the most important thing in my life has brought me to this moment. I feel so vibrant right now. I feel more alive than I have ever felt, and I'm so excited to see what life has in store for me.
Kyle Davis: Like I mentioned prior, I have some friends of mine who are combat veterans, and different things like that. Their moments of trauma were probably, at most, [00:38:00] an hour or two, and I remember, I think one of the phrases that one of my friends said was, that moment was a couple minutes, but the aftermath of working through it has taken so long. Not to make fun, but it's different strokes for different folks. For that period of time afterwards, you're still grieving with it. Even I, having met you just now, am like, "Oh damn, she's pretty happy-go-lucky." I mean, you'll [00:38:30] comment on this in a moment, but for me, with this being my big thing of being open and honest, and being just real, you're doing good.
Amanda: Thank you.
Gail Davis: I just want to ditto that. I've seen you grow just from when I first met you in April, and I love your forgiveness.
Amanda: Thank you.
Gail Davis: I love your empathy, and I love your commitment to being well. I think there are not a lot of people listening to this who have ever experienced anything to the depths that you have, [00:39:00] but it gives us such a great perspective, and I just want you to keep doing what you're doing, because I know it's going to inspire so many people.
Amanda: Thank you.
Gail Davis: And I'm proud to be on that journey with you, Amanda.
Kyle Davis: Cool. We want to wrap up? Cool, we'll wrap up. If you want to read the transcript for today's podcast, you can go to gdapodcast.com. If you are interested in booking Ms. Amanda Lindout. Is it Lindout or Lindhout?
Kyle Davis: [00:39:30] See, I have to get corrected every once in a while. If you're interested in Amanda, you can contact GDA Speakers by calling (214) 420-1999, or you can go to gdaspeakers.com. Once again, your foundation's website is?
Kyle Davis: Yes, go donate, and then go see the movie. Go buy the book, keep it as, how many weeks now is it the number one Canadian? Amanda: Three and a half years and continuing. We're number seven this week in Canada, so it just keeps living [00:40:00] a long life.
Kyle Davis: Awesome.
Gail Davis: Perfect.
Kyle Davis: Hey, thanks again.
Gail Davis: Thank you, Amanda.
Amanda: Thank you.