From a doctor’s controversial LSD treatments to a mother’s high-risk efforts to recover her abducted child to a punk rock pioneer’s radical career reinvention, these are stories of people making dramatic, risky changes—and the big and small decisions that change the course of lives. Hosted by award-winning journalist Judy Campbell.
Brace Belden was 27 when he snuck into Syria to enlist in a Kurdish militia, leaving his girlfriend, job, and hometown of San Francisco behind. Even he thought it was a dumb idea, but it was also a chance to finally put his beliefs into action.
April hasn't seen Steve in 15 years. So when she gets a call from a lawyer asking about him, she's not sure what to think. As memories from long ago crowd her mind, she's also confronted by an ugly new truth. One that haunts her present and makes her doubt the past.
Daley Dunham was a junior in college at UC Berkeley when he decided to donate sperm. He likened it to donating blood -- an opportunity to do something good for a person in need. Except when you donate blood, you don’t get a tidal wave of children crashing into your life twenty years later.
My Linh Le has been lying to her parents about who she is for decades. When she’s with them, she gives them the daughter they want, and she keeps the truth about who she is to herself. But then one night, My Linh has a strange dream and wakes up wondering, at 31 years old, is it finally time to own up to all the lies she's been living since high school?
Sunday, December 9, 1984 is a day Beth McGhee will never forget. It’s the day her three year-old daughter, Neola, vanished, kidnapped by her ex-husband. As Beth launched into the painful search for Neola, she had no idea how long she would be waiting for her daughter to come home. Or if she would come home at all.
We've been asking for your stories, and on the last episode of Season 2, we highlight three of our listeners' leaps.
Gavin McClurg embarked on a death-defying adventure on the Pacific that changed the direction of his life. Amy Gotliffe decided to adopt a baby as a single mother, an experience that brought her both joy and heartbreak. And, at 58 years of age, Bette Giordano left her husband, her ailing father and her way of life for a journey of self discovery in the West.
Henny Kupferstein grew up in the Belz sect of ultra-orthodox, Hasidic Jews in Borough Park, Brooklyn. From early childhood, she felt like a misfit. After getting married to a virtual stranger at age 18, Henny began secretly rebelling against the confines of her sect. When she was 34, a startling diagnosis would lead her on a dramatic path away from the Belz and everyone she knew, including her four children.
In the early 1960’s, a psychologist named Gary Fisher carried out a radical experiment on severely emotionally disturbed children at a residential hospital in Southern California. Fisher believed these children’s behavioral problems could be traced back to profound trauma they had suffered in their early childhoods, but had never adequately processed. He thought very large doses of LSD might cure them.
Whether Fisher’s experiment was reckless or whether it was heroic depends on how you think about science, and what risks we’re willing to take in pursuit of something groundbreaking.
Jill Sutherland has been numbing her feelings of emptiness with food, drugs and alcohol since she was a child growing up in California’s Central Valley. Several years ago she did something she's always wanted to do, something she didn't know she was capable of. She embarked on an extreme weight loss plan and lost more than 200 pounds in just over a year. Everyone told her she looked amazing. But she knew something was wrong.
San Francisco International High School is the city’s only high school exclusively for recently arrived immigrants. But you can also think of it as a factory.
What comes in are immigrant teenagers speaking 18 different languages, including Arabic, Russian, Tagalog and Spanish. Many haven’t been to school in years. Some have never used a three-ring binder, navigated a city, or shared a classroom with a member of the opposite sex.
What’s intended to come out are Americans with the full range of American options: go to college, be a scholar, a scientist, a teacher, an engineer. Every teacher here believes education is central to improving your life, but the students don’t always feel that way, at least at first.
Tesilya Hanauer grew up on a commune deep in a Northern California forest. When she was five, her mother joined a nomadic group of people whose philosophy involved breaking the bond between mother and child. They were called the Shivalila, and they believed that if parental bonds were severed, a communal consciousness might emerge that could eventually transform society. Over the next few years, Tesilia would follow them from California to the Philippines to rural India, hoping always for a glimpse of the mother she once had.
It started with a knocking sound, then whispers, then the strange conviction that he could read people’s minds. In this story, we meet Frankie as he sprints away from his history of mental illness and toward the “normal” life he always wanted.