Niki Glanz


By Niki Glanz, Ed.D.

We’re certainly facing an abundance of odds; we know them all too well. No need to recite them here. Instead, better to focus on the difficult but heroic tasks needed to conquer Covid-19. Since national leaders tell us – and it feels like – “we’re at war,” let’s enhance our creativity by reviewing tactics employed by a real-life “Bourne” we’ll call “Rolf,” in homage to his Slovakian roots.

Mercifully, Rolf had a kind and loving mother who taught him elementary reading and math. Otherwise his childhood was anything but normal. His father forced him “to kneel on a sharp piece of wood” beginning at age 5 for “any disobedience” and compelled him to walk through forests “in total darkness, no water allowed” to overcome any fear of “wild boars, bears, or other animals and build a strong will.” Instructors at a boy’s boarding school slapped his face “almost daily” for errors in reading. Once World War II began, Rolf’s nights were filled with sirens warning of American bombers overhead and German missiles shooting back. Dead soldiers and mass graves for as many as 400 surrounded him.

When the Soviet army invaded Slovakia and defeated the Germans, Rolf was just 18. He was accused by Russian authorities of “espionage – death penalty.” The nation’s soccer coach, who shared his jail cell, taught Rolf essential strategies: “You cannot admit anything. They’ll torture you for 7 days. If you confess, you’ll be hung as a spy [or] you’ll go to Soviet uranium mines and die of radiation.” Rolf lost 3 teeth but held on, enabling him to contact 2 jailed accomplices “about what he was going to tell the court,” as the coach suggested. To one he sent a message “as a pill” rolled and pushed into a piece of bread; the other he “telephoned through the sewage system.” Of all those the Russians had arrested, only Rolf and the coach survived, exonerated by their accomplices.

Rolf’s next challenge was “to escape from the Iron Curtain.” Fortunately, before the Russians came, Rolf, his brother, and father had dug a bunker in the forest and stocked it with food. He “hid there for 10 months [before] finding a connection” to cross a roadway patrolled by Soviet sharpshooters, just 2 miles from West Germany.

You can read more of Rolf’s incredible story in Memories to Momentum: Stories of Looking Back, Living Forward, available in eBook and paperback from Amazon. For now, let’s plumb Rolf’s experiences for strategies that might aid us in fighting a pandemic:

  1. Tolerate painful and adverse conditions when unable to change them
  2. Improvise technical solutions as needed
  3. Call on fortitude developed during prior hardships to persevere through current challenges
  4. Prepare for the future by setting aside ample cash and stocks
  5. Be patient until the right connection or moment occurs
  6. Cooperate with others you may have come to detest, especially those in “core” social groups, such as your family and community, to solve problems and secure the future
  7. Befriend others who have faced similar issues and learn from them

Recent research by Dr. Angela Duckworth and colleagues finds that grit, smarts, and physical prowess tend to be distinct traits: people high in one tend to be low on the others. Rolf, however, appears to be an exception. He displays cognitive brilliance in devising a telephone system via sewers, social intelligence by identifying a sharpshooter he could bribe, physical strength by living alone in a bunker for 10 months, and grit throughout all ordeals. Was “the hell” of his upbringing the key or did the key consist of kindnesses from his mother and the coach? Or both?

Memories matter. Find bits of yourself in Rolf’s and others’ life stories chronicling the adult impact of childhood memories. Researcher Dr. Niki Glanz toured North America 5 times to bring you these stories of courage, love, laughter, tragedy, growth, and success. 59 incredibly diverse accounts await you! Enjoy!

Memories to Momentum, on sale now at Amazon. Available in Paperback or eBook.

© 2020

Your comments are welcome! Please email them to: [email protected]


Madeleine Li

Memories to Momentum is a heartwarming read of great insight – any reader will find parts of their own stories within the many individual journeys that Glanz so thoughtfully weaves throughout the book.

Madeleine LiProgram Officer, Global Non-Profit
Stanley Gardner

I like the concept of stories of our childhood memories influencing who we are. Through our imagination and understanding we gain growth, which brings us to who we are today. A must read!

Stanley GardnerBusinessman
Henry Stadler

Memories to Momentum provides insight into the power of memory and its effect on happiness. Myriad stories provide insight into the manner in which childhood memories can create an enduring mark for the rest of our lives. Through Niki’s accounts, readers learn how to achieve happiness in their own lives.

Henry StadlerUndergraduate Neuroscience Student at Skidmore College
Dolores DeGiacomo

I met Niki several years ago while she was working on this research. I’m so glad to see her final product. For practitioners, it’s incredibly important to work with our clients in the present with a better understanding of their past. This book will help professionals bridge the gap between goals and motivation in a way that helps clients succeed.

Dolores DeGiacomoCoach and Business
Judith Brown

This book made me ponder how people in our lives affect, so much, our end result.  Anyone would enjoy reading this book!

Judith BrownRetired Insurance Underwriter
Red Cross Disaster Volunteer & Rotarian
Jake Jacobs

This book gave me hope and reassurance that am not alone in the difficulties of life. Yes, I have seen where the struggles I go through have benefitted me. This book is a must read.

Jake JacobsEngineer
Ron and Dell Hadley

Memories to Momentum is elegant and thoughtful.  The diverse examples provided by the author through her numerous interviews provoke the reader’s own odyssey through their memories.  This medium also facilitates neat prose which allows the book to be enjoyable for all age groups.

Ron and Dell HadleyRetired Telecom Executive and Community Volunteer Mother of 5 daughters, now a grand- and great-grandmother
Marie L. Procter

Niki gathered a range of stories for Memories to Momentum that elegantly highlight the important experiences that shape our lives as we grow up. Readers will find themselves reviewing their own memories and being inspired to write their own stories, leading them to make meaning of life’s events. Memories to Momentum is a must read. It not only inspires but sheds light on how we are influenced by family values, cultural norms, environmental conditions, and economic security.

Marie L. ProcterReal Estate Manager and Book Club Devotee
Board Member of Community Organizations

“Great book!” Peg C, PA

“Received my copy yesterday and have read many pages already, starting with ‘Grandparents’ since I remember so well my dear Grandfather. Thank you for your accomplishment in publishing these important stories. Wonderful book!” Ron C, CA

“I very much enjoyed reading your book. The conclusion makes the reader appreciate the value of childhood memories.” Irma M, British Columbia

“Reading really well!” Patti M, United Kingdom

“Your book is both interesting and informing. Congratulations” Elfriede M, Georgia

[Re Homa’s Afghanistan story] “I realized how traumatic and damaging it is to millions of children that are impacted by conflict where they grow up.” Yuan K. L., Singapore

“I enjoyed your stories about mothers. Thank you!” Carol V, CA

“So positive to hear all those stories and how they grew from memories. Thank you so much for sharing this and creating this!!” Diane L, VT

“Congratulations – what a neat project.” Cindy, P, SC; Professor of Psychology, Clemson University

“Good work!” Rebecca M, Chair, NH Racial Healing Group

Memories to Momentum: Stories of Looking Back, Living Forward

Book Description

59 life stories from a wide variety of people as told by them!

Hear how they overcome adversity and enjoy good times, gaining a sense of pleasure and purpose in the process.

Who Will Benefit:

  • Family and Community Members
  • Public-Facing Employees (ed, medical, HR, gov’t, etc)
  • Entrepreneurs, College Students, and High School Seniors/Juniors
  • Seniors and their Families
  • Book Clubs

What You’ll Gain:

Both negative and positive memories contribute to lives with meaning and mirth. Discover strategies for meeting challenges and enjoying various forms of happiness. Benefits may include:

  • Increased self-knowledge
  • Both short-term and long-term happiness
  • Greater sense of strength and self-confidence
  • Personal growth
  • Increased resilience

Who Am I? Why Did I Write M2M?

I’m Passionate about Learning, Life, and Community!

dsc03833v1Learning. I graduated from Northwestern University and the University of Pittsburgh, then had the great fortune of teaching social studies courses, including several I created, at two top-tier high schools. One, in Evanston (IL), included students from more than fifty countries plus a diverse, local community; the other, located in LaPaz, Bolivia, attracted native Bolivians, Asian immigrants, and a smattering of North Americans. Sandwiched between these two positions, I taught ESL to adult Laotian refugees.

These experiences whetted my appetite for a doctorate that would incorporate cross-cultural education issues and strategies. I found exactly that at University of Massachusetts-Amherst. I also was able to study with renowned qualitative researcher Gretchen B. Rossman. Although I had majored in statistical research for my MEd, I delighted in the novel, unexpected findings that qualitative methods, such as interviews and observations, offered.

I then became an education professor at Augusta (GA) College (now University). There I had the thrilling opportunity of teaching grad and undergrad courses to students who would play a part in Augusta’s transformation from a leader of the Old South to regional, New South leadership. I also conducted staff development, special programs, and research with local, public school teachers and administrators.

Life. Meanwhile at each locale, my children and I were making significant life discoveries. As our physical settings changed, so did our pastimes. Celebrations ran the gamut from small-town strawberry festivals to Bolivia’s sensational Carnival to sledding down Amherst’s Memorial Hill to golf’s prestigious Masters tournament. Food, music, and speech varied, too, while warm-hearted people proved a key constant.

Following nearly 20 years in education, I launched a career in finance, managing a stock/bond portfolio for ten years. Fortunately, it handily beat S&P 500 metrics. Engaging with the business world was enjoyable, too – yet another slice of life!

Community. You could summarize all the above as a celebration of our greater community’s diversity, while seeking strands that unite. My family and I gained a lively amalgam of contrasting approaches to life that has enriched us in ways small and large.

I think you, too, will enjoy meeting a variety of people. Psychology, my major content area professionally and personally, provides us with a way to do that via “life stories.*” Enjoy M2M’s 59 takes on life: they come to you with both groans and grins from people who care enough to reach out and get personal. Voilà!

*See nearby link for more info re “Life Stories.”

More Info re Book: Memories to Momentum

By Niki Glanz

M2M highlights fifty-nine edited interviews that describe the intricate weaving of participants’ sad/happy, tragic/ecstatic memories. The book features millionaires to the homeless and includes participants of all ages, races, major religions, and an enormous range of locales. They portray horrors, such as war, abuse, and disability, along with uplifting scenarios of happiness, tenderness, and success. Feel free to befriend participants. Many share powerful, though subtle approaches for overcoming adversity and enjoying good times.

I have seen these ideas strike a responsive chord with the public. In the last several years, attendees at four international conferences have heard various findings from interviewees’ stories. For example, at the July, 2016, International Network of Personal Meaning conference in Toronto, I presented three, general ways participants turned challenges into triumph. Members of the audience warmly thanked me afterwards. Hopefully you, too, will find nuggets of wisdom and inspiration, as well as enjoyment, in M2M’s stories and Conclusion.

As a finale, M2M encourages readers like you to craft your own life story. The coping skills and optimism inherent in your story may help chart a way forward as you navigate that often tempestuous, yet gleaming river of life. An Introduction, Conclusion, Appendix and References supplement the 59 stories to complete the book.


Memories to Momentum: Stories of Looking Back, Living Forward

Do happy childhood memories matter? Seeing a slender boy perform killer cannonballs on a gorgeous summer day during a cross-country move impelled me to find out. Beyond his mighty splashes, the boy was a titan of joy. As he drew onlookers into his celebration of life, his exultation activated my research instincts: would later life reflect this exuberance?

Seventy in-depth interviews later, after touring North America five times for a diverse sample, I found the answer. Yes, upbeat episodes and retrospection of them promote a long-term imprint. The reality of joy appears complex, however. Although unasked, all interviewees also cited negative memories – at times devastating and tragic. Surprisingly, both negative and positive memories sparked life-affirming commitments. [If you’re wondering how negative memories could lead to anything good, here’s my response: Kindly buy the book!]

eBook and Paperback of Memories to Momentum NOW AVAILABLE from



Price: $14.99

To contact Niki Glanz: [email protected]