Holding on to Air addresses heart disease, trauma, and resilience.
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New Book, “Holding Onto Air: The Art and Science of Building a Resilient Spirit,” Reveals Fresh Insight Into the True Nature of Suffering and How to Transform It.

The debut opus by three-time young heart attack survivor (psychologist and trauma researcher), Dr. Michele DeMarco, offers a transformative new lens for healing from trauma, grief, and loss and building resilience.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, [Berrett-Koehler Publishers]

Imagine you are 33 years old, at the peak of health and in the prime of life, having just completed three graduate programs, and the promise of a new life with a husband, a new vocation, and plans to start a much-desired family. But rather than pursuing those dreams, you find yourself barely able to breath, with crushing chest and back pain, on an operating room table, hooked up to all manner of machines; and when one suddenly changes tone, everyone in the vicinity leaps to attention, and one specifically, leaps onto you, while another yells, “We’re losing her!” –And you realize you can neither escape your impending doom nor do something to save yourself.

Such was the case for Dr. Michele DeMarco who suffered two Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissections, or SCAD, in one week (and a third a decade later). SCAD is an acute heart condition that occurs when a tear forms in a wall of a coronary artery. And despite its statistical rarity, it is the most common heart attack in women under 50 — affectionately called the “healthy girl” heart attack.

As DeMarco explains, “In a moment, my world completely turned upside-down; I felt like a stranger in a strange land, with everything around me still looking normal but feeling inside as though ‘normal’ was no more. Suddenly, all the study, practice, and research I’d done about trauma, the human condition, and how people throughout time and across culture build a resilient spirit in the face of meaningful adversity, wasn’t just an intellectual abstraction or someone else’s reality — it was mine, and very personal … a loss of innocence.”

Combining two decades of research in psychology, trauma, and world religion/spirituality, with her own inspiring story of several near-death experiences, DeMarco has written a trusted and transformative guide that uniquely addresses the age-old human struggle of meaningful challenge or loss and the essential journey of reclaiming one’s life and building resilience. The result is Holding onto Air: The Art and Science of Building a Resilient Spirit. Early praise by New York Times best-selling authors, such as Anne Lamott, attests: "Michele DeMarco has written a wise and welcoming guide to what comes after survival — the rebuilding of hope, spirit, resilience, and joy."

Holding onto Air is the first book to illuminate the dual nature of loss — the science behind it and the art of transforming it.

Holding onto Air is for everyone who knows the pain of lost innocence—whether that’s because of a health challenge or the loss of a meaningful relationship, job, pet, security, finances, faith, trust, moral compass, dignity, an opportunity, and so on—and offers a healthy new lens and an innovative, science-backed approach for healing. Through rigorous research, poignant narratives, and a painstakingly developed framework that includes step-by-step instruction, exercises, mindfulness-based practices, life tips, writing/journaling, and creative inspiration, readers learn how to see themselves in the fullness of time (or as DeMarco calls it, a “coherent sense of time”) and integrate all their experiences to Honor the Past, Transform the Present, and Craft a New Story for the Future.

**EVENT: Join Dr. Michele DeMarco at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA on February 17, 2024, where she will be in conversation with her agent Kimberley Cameron with a book signing to follow. Drinks and snacks will be provided.

About the Author

Dr. Michele DeMarco is a San Francisco Bay Area-based award-winning writer and an expert in the fields of psychology, trauma, health, and spirituality. She is also a professionally trained therapist, clinical ethicist, and researcher who has spent the last two decades studying trauma generally, moral injury and lost innocence specifically, and resilience. She is one of Medium’s Top Writer’s for Mental Health and Health, respectively, and the author of the Psychology Today blog: “Soul Console: Healing from Moral Injury.”

Michele’s writing has appeared in national and international publications, including the New York Times, POLITICO, The Boston Globe, The Hill, The Daily News, Psychology Today, The War Horse, Forge, Elemental, and One Zero, among others. She has been featured as a psychology and spirituality expert for MindBodyGreen, The Free Press, Integrative Practitioner, Lifehacker, Bloomberg/WNBP Radio, and Partners HealthCare. Her upcoming novel, About Others, won the national Mystery Writers of America’s Helen McCloy Award for Mystery Writing. She’s taught Creative Nonfiction and Conflict Transformation at California Institute of Integral Studies, where she is also a Vice President.

Find Dr. DeMarco at www.micheledemarco.com


Andrew Martin, Associate Director of Media Relations

California Institute of Integral Studies


Mobile: 347.820.2474

www.micheledemarco.com | Penguin Random House Book Website

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