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Meet Sandra Younger of ComeBACK Solutions Intl. in Lakeside

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sandra Younger.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
In early 2003, my husband, Bob, and I left suburban San Diego and moved to Wildcat Canyon, between Lakeside and Barona. We loved living so close to nature, with wildlife everywhere and a stunning view all the way to Mexico. But just 7 months later, we woke up in the middle of the night to the sight of fire outside our windows. We grabbed our pets, threw a few photographs into a laundry basket, and ran for our lives, driving through smoke and flames to escape the Cedar Fire, until last year, the biggest in modern California history.

Our new home burned, like more than 2,400 others across San Diego County. But worse, 17 people died; 12 of them lived near us in Wildcat Canyon. Because I was a journalist, I felt compelled to capture the story in a book, “The Fire Outside My Window,” which I’m happy and grateful to say has now been featured on NBC’s Dateline, embraced by Amazon reviewers, and adopted as a training text by top-level emergency professionals.

In researching my book, I interviewed more than 100 people and noticed that most of them self-identified as either “victims” or “survivors.” But the label they chose didn’t seem to correspond with how much or how little they’d lost in the fire. In fact, some who’d lost a garage or an office were more bitter than others who’d lost loved ones. That’s when I realized: It’s a choice. We can’t always choose what happens to us, but we can choose our story going forward. We can be victims. Or, we can be survivors — and eventually victors.

From there, I discovered a body of scientific research that suggests other simple but powerful steps we can take to build our natural resilience like a muscle. I summarized those findings into a set of five resilience-boosting practices I call The ComeBACK Formula™, which I now share as an international speaker, consultant, and media guest.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Recovering from any sort of setback, whether a natural disaster or a fender bender, is hardly ever a smooth road. My comeback journey, like most, was a roller coaster of struggle and incremental successes leading to a new normal that in many ways is richer than my life before the fire. I had to rebuild my home — a huge project— and then research and write my book, which turned into an even bigger job that took far longer than I ever imagined. I eventually left the financial security of my job as a magazine editor to focus on the book, and that created a whole new set of challenges. There were times, I wondered if I would ever finish, but “The Fire Outside My Window” finally launched on the 10-year anniversary of the Cedar Fire.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about ComeBACK Solutions Intl. – what should we know?
I call my business ComeBACK Solutions Intl. My work is to teach what I’ve learned from personal experience and empirical research about how to build our natural resilience, so that we can transform disaster into opportunity and even loss into a legacy. I now share this message as an international speaker, workshop leader, consultant, writer, and media guest.

I’ve also written two instructional guidebooks: “The ComeBACK Formula™: A resilience system” and “The Story POWER Process™: A 5-step curriculum for mission-centered leaders with a powerful comeback story at the heart of their work.”

I especially love speaking with disaster survivors, emergency professionals and proactive community groups who want to learn how to better prepare, respond and recover from disasters and other bombshell life events. These audiences appreciate that I’m a civilian who’s “been there, done that” and found my way back, plus I understand the challenges emergency responders face.

Because sharing our comeback stories inspires others, I also work as a master story strategist. This means mission-driven leaders hire me to help them craft their personal comeback stories so that they can connect with their audiences in a powerful way that leads to growth, healing, and transformation. Of course, that’s my ultimate goal, too!

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Success is relative. At first, we think it’s all about accomplishments, money, and status. And that’s a good place to start. But when you lose your home and everything you own overnight, you realize none of that really matters very much. What matters is the simple but profound miracle of life itself and those we share it with. So what I look for as markers of success in others and myself is how grateful we are for our lives, how aware we are of our countless blessings, how loving and forgiving we are in our relationships; how courageous and tenacious we are in rebounding from setbacks and pursuing our true purpose.


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