Bob Olson is a writer who aims to inspire readers to improve themselves, follow their passions, and make the world a better place to live. He’s the author of The Magic Mala (fiction, 2017) and Answers About The Afterlife (nonfiction, 2014). A former private eye, Bob used his investigation skills to explore the topic of life after death. In Answers About the Afterlife, he wrote what he learned about the afterlife in his 15-year investigation following the death of his father. In his newest book, The Magic Mala, he uses a fictional story to illustrate what he learned about life in that same investigation. When not writing, creating a new podcast episode, or working diligently on his websites, Bob Olson is often hiking, kayaking, or biking with his lovely wife, Melissa, who he began dating in 1979 when she was 12 and he was 15 years old. They both love spending time with friends and family, usually having conversation and laughs over a delicious meal or taking in a show related to music, art, theatre or comedy.
What do I do best?
I believe what I do best is learn about myself by exploring the world and then communicate my most extraordinary discoveries publicly. This typically begins with investigation, followed by analysis, and then I reveal my conclusions through speaking or writing. Whether I’ve experienced a new book, a mind-body-spirit practice, or possibly a life-altering adventure, I love sharing my discoveries so others can learn about them and then seek them out for themselves.
In my first nonfiction book, Win The Battle (1999), I wrote about my struggle with chronic depression in the early 90s and how I overcame it. In my second nonfiction book, Answers About The Afterlife (2014), I wrote about my investigation of life after death and my conclusions after fifteen years of research. In my third book, The Magic Mala (2017), I wrote a fictional story that teaches what I learned about life while investigating the afterlife.
What makes me the best version of myself?
My willingness to take risks, to not fear failure or ridicule, and to create a trail where there is no existing path, is what has led me to my proudest accomplishments. It’s what steered me to become a private investigator in the 80s, inspired me to first write books in the 90s, and propelled me to create an online show when none existed in my field in the early 2000s. And it’s what gave me the courage to talk and write openly about subjects steeped in stigma and skepticism, including depression, the afterlife, and even psychics. I think what motivates me to be the best version of myself is my love for trying new things and learning new skills along the way.
What are my aspirations?
My personal and professional aspirations have always been intermingled. I have three significant aspirations that fulfill me on both levels.
First, I hope to teach people the power that exists within them to create their own reality. If I can help people recognize that their thoughts, words and actions are constantly affecting their future, whether they are thinking positively or negatively, perhaps people will utilize this power more consciously. I believe this insight is necessary if we want to improve both ourselves and the state of the world.
Second, I hope to continue my work helping people deal with loss by teaching them about life after death. In my 19 years investigating the afterlife and sharing what I’ve learned, I’ve found no more effective method of comforting and healing grief than simply learning about the hereafter.
Third, I would love to teach more through storytelling – articles, books, movies, and possibly television. My latest book, The Magic Mala, teaches the power of intention using a fictional story. I have spent the last six months writing the screenplay for that movie, thanks to the encouragement and mentorship of a movie producer who fell in love with the book. I hope to continue teaching through fictional stories in the future.
My Biggest Success?
At the risk of sounding corny, I think my greatest success in life is my relationship with my wife, Melissa. She and I starting dating when she was 12 and I was 15 years old. That was 1979. We continue to be best friends today. We work together, play together, and support one another’s personal growth each and every day. No other accomplishment can or will match this life-long love between us.
My Most Challenging Moment?
In over five decades of life there have been many challenging moments, but two come to mind. The earliest was in 1989 when I suffered a chronic depression that hammered my mind and life for five years. I was out of work for most of that time, slept an average of eighteen hours a day, and tried more than fifteen medications—one every few months—that failed me. During this time, I struggled with persistent suicidal thoughts, outrageous side effects from the medications, and virtually no support from friends due to the stigma and ignorance around the brain disorder at that time. Except for my wife, Melissa (who was an amazing support), even family members had difficulty understanding why I wouldn’t just buck up and push through it.
The decision I made that impacted my life was to believe in hope in spite of every setback and to persist forward in my efforts to find a successful treatment regardless of how dismal my chances seemed. That wasn’t easy in the face of a debilitating depression and constant suicidal ideation. Yet five years after my diagnosis, on September 17th 1994, I overcame my depression and have now been symptom free for twenty-four years.
Perhaps the most challenging moment of my life, however, was when my wife, Melissa, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. This to me was worse than my depression because it was the love of my life who was inflicted. Melissa opted to treat alternatively, and that scared the bejeezus out of me. I cried for hours out of fear. But when she told me that treating without surgery, chemo or radiation felt more loving to her body, I knew I had to respect her decision on how to treat her own body. Because she always acted out of love over fear, I trusted that her instincts were perfect for her.
I believe in the power of belief, and Melissa believed in her choice. Consequently, it worked. Melissa is cancer free today and has been for years now. I learned a lot from her during that time. That experience alone taught me to follow my own instincts about what is most loving to my body, to my needs, and to what brings me joy, whether we’re talking about health, career, relationships, or simply how I choose to spend my personal time.
My favorite mantra is: The more I take care of myself, the more _______ (fill in the blank). I began using this by saying, “The more I take care of myself, the more money I make.” This worked so successfully, I began using it in other ways. The more I take care of myself, the more joy I feel. The more I take care of myself, the more my relationships flourish. The more I take care of myself, the more energy I have. The more I take care of myself, the more opportunities come my way. There’s really no end to it, and it has proven itself to me as a powerful tool for years.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
I admire a lot of people. Obviously (if you read my other answers), I admire my wife beyond measure. If anyone is a role model around love, she has been that for me. In the same way, I tend to admire attributes of people as opposed to putting anyone on a pedestal.
For instance, I admire my father’s open heart, my mother’s perseverance, my father-in-law’s generosity, and my mother-in-law’s gift of gab. I admire one friend’s articulation in communication, another friend’s community service, another friend’s integrity, and another friend’s creativity. I admire my barber’s family values, my chiropractor’s vast knowledge of health, my neighbor’s sense of adventure, and my producer’s authenticity. It’s rare that I don’t find some characteristic in a person to appreciate, respect, and serve as a good example for myself.
I’ve never been one to look up to people, but at the same time I have never looked down upon anyone, either. I believe we’re all equal and have much to teach one another. We each have our own unique qualities, talents and skills, and I admire anyone who uses his or hers to make their life and our world a better place.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
My favorite place is our home. Melissa and I live in Maine. We have nature all around us: trees and fields sprawling across the landscape, deer and turkey walking through the yard, and a river that gushes out back. There is no place either of us would rather be, which is partly why we are not well travelled.
We also had a dog, Libby, for 13 years. We didn’t travel much because of her. It’s a challenge finding the right person to take care of your beloved family member, and the older she got the more needs she had. Libby passed last year, and we’ve now been challenged with breaking the pattern of staying home. Now that we have the freedom, we are working to create new habits of planning adventurous trips.
I do love England. There’s something about it that gives me peace. I’m not a big fan of city life, yet London felt warm, welcoming and safe to me. The people in that city are just lovely, and the architecture is exquisite. Without question, Melissa and I will return there many times.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
I love mala beads, which is why I wrote a book about a man who found a mala that changed his life. I wrote that story because mala beads have unquestionably changed mine. Certainly malas are beautiful in themselves, but it’s what malas teach us that arouses my passion.
Malas teach us to be conscious of our thoughts and words because of their power. Some might call this the power of prayer. To me, it’s about communicating with my higher power. I use mala beads to communicate to this higher power what I desire and what I’m grateful for. Gratitude, when it’s truly heartfelt, is a potent force. It clarifies what we love in our lives and, therefore, what we want more of.
I also love fine pens, watches, and old typewriters. And my wife will tell you I have more shoes than her. But one material possession that has really surprised me is my Can Am Spyder that I got this past summer. A Spyder is a 3-wheel motorcycle (two wheels in front, one in the back). I chose it because it’s quiet, therefore Melissa and I can ride and talk with one another without yelling. And I feel safer than on two wheels (perhaps due to my age, 54). But the reason I love it so much is that it has helped me live in the present moment, convene with nature, and feel immense joy by simply going for a ride. I had no idea how much bliss I would feel from a motorcycle, otherwise I would have gotten one a long time ago.
My Current Passions?
I’m currently passionate about screenwriting. It’s so different than writing a book. I find it more challenging. There are rules of screenwriting that I never knew existed before I hired a screenwriting teacher. And I absolutely love the effort of working within them.
To me, the challenge of screenwriting is to tell your story using action and dialogue only – no narrative. This means you can’t tell the audience what a character is feeling or thinking. You must show it. It’s not even a good idea to say what they’re feeling in dialogue. Showing it in action is most effective because a movie is a visual medium.
These parameters force me to be a better storyteller. Every writer knows to “show don’t tell,” but it’s probably the most violated storytelling principle. Add to this the rules of act structure, script formatting, character arc, and so much more, and the whole process is simply intoxicating to me.