This is a deeply heart-centered show with one of the most beautiful souls I’ve encountered, Melissa Bernstein. We talk her founding a hugely successful toy company and her epic existential struggles with depression. Melissa really shares her heart here with me and all of us.

Melissa & Doug is a half-billion-dollar success story, its products a cheerful presence in toy stores and on children’s bedroom floors everywhere. Far less known are the real people behind the company: Melissa and Doug Bernstein, a married couple and parents of six, who are the founders, architects, and entrepreneurial force behind the company’s meteoric rise. Melissa, with her uncanny ability to understand what brings joy to children, has been the chief designer of its 5000+ playthings. But behind that genius is a truth she’s rarely divulged: she has spent her life grappling with existential anxiety and depression, a condition that both fueled her creativity and brought her to the brink of self-harm. In LIFELINES: An Inspirational Journey from Profound Darkness to Radiant Light (publishing March 16, 2021), Melissa shares the story of her journey inward toward self-discovery, detailing the ways she adapted her thinking and practices to feel at home in her body and in the world. The book offers solace, connection, and support to others struggling with feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation, or loneliness, with one fundamental message: you are not alone.

LIFELINES is an unfiltered and authentic reckoning with how Melissa’s anxiety and depression—which started in childhood and continue to this day—have manifested and how she coped. Born of a desire to forge community, LIFELINES features Melissa’s story, as well as three of the “lifelines” that saved her: the rhyming verses that have been filling her head for decades (many of which became her mantras), her deep connection to nature (depicted throughout the book with awe-inspiring photography), and stories of how she wrangled her pain into positivity through the act of creating toys.

Melissa is sharing her innermost experience and the lifelines that saved her because millions of Americans are struggling with mental health issues—now more than ever—and she believes her personal story can inspire and bring light to those shrouded in darkness. Melissa outlines her journey through existential depression and into self-acceptance and offers an outstretched hand to those seeking meaning and community in their own lives.

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Read The Book That Inspires The Show

Paul Samuel Dolman, author, podcaster, and speaker, presents What Matters Most (the book!) a series of interview transcriptions from more than twenty inspirational Nashville and Tennessee residents, including special guest the journalist and author Bill Moyers.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, former Governor Don Sundquist, Academy Award-winning actress Patricia Neal, Grammy Award-winning entertainer Wynonna Judd, and many more share intimate and inspirational aspects of themselves.

This twentieth anniversary edition also features bonus material from thirty more notables from Tennessee, including local business owners, spiritual leaders, coaches, radio personalities, authors, and educators.

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