Selected Life Lesson
Never take anything for granted.
-Lynne L’s life lesson from St. Louis, Mo.
I recently returned to the tennis court. For many people, not big news … but for me, a guy who was told by a doctor nearly three years ago that I shouldn’t play much anymore, this is a big accomplishment. Shortly after playing a tournament in August 2006, my best summer as a tennis player, my back was a nightmare. I could hardly walk at times. I saw numerous doctors until I final received the dreaded diagnosis in the spring of 2007. No more tennis. I could play, but not at the level I was accustomed.
I hung it up. I was done. Since that diagnosis, I have picked up a racquet maybe a dozen times. For a guy who had played a lot since the age of 12, not playing tore me apart. I find it slightly ironic that my best friend also had an injury and had to quit playing at the same time. Until this “retirement,” I had taken playing tennis for granted. It was just something I was always going to do.
Well, a few weeks ago, I started in on one of my goals for the year, to play in four tennis tournaments. Without question my body is going to be sore. I am going to go through a lot of ice. But it is going to be worth it. I love the game and if this is my last season and if my last match is right around the corner, I am going to savor every moment. I will never take it for granted again. What should you focus a bit more positive energy into this week? There is no time like the present.
Over the last year as I’ve been writing and working on this book, I’ve had countless people say that either they or someone they know has always wanted to write a book. I admire that because I was once one of those people. Of course, if you know me, I still want to tackle the fiction genre at some point as well. There are a lot of steps that a writer must take in the creation of a new work.
First, an idea must be born. Then the idea must be fleshed out and sometimes flushed down the toilet. At no time is it easy. Then the idea must be turned into a lot of words… and I mean a lot! Then those words are deleted to the ever growing heap pile of passive verbs and then sentences, paragraphs and sometimes entire pages are re-written.
I had to re-write a whole chapter of Anything is Possible! In fact that’s what this photo is of. The night of editing Chapter 8, I worked until the early morning hours and tried to hand write some thoughts at the end of the night, only to not be able to read them the next morning.
I haven’t even touched on the publishing process which is many many posts worth of information. I’ll just say I learned a lot, got rejected and still found a way to finish this project in a way I am proud of.
After all this work and all the time and energy, the blood, sweat and tears (okay, maybe not blood), the book needed a cover. Nathanael worked for hours trying to find the right cover for me. But as the writer, the artist, I knew what I wanted and we couldn’t find it. Then came the turtle. Within a day of seeing it I knew it was perfect.
I will say this, the stress was absolutely worth it. It was worth it because it was the fulfillment of a dream. And I believe any dream you have and keep dreaming is a dream worth chasing.
Selected Life Lesson
Everything happens for a reason.
-Anonymous life lesson from Olathe, Kansas
I’m sure we’ve all heard this lesson, but what does it really mean? How can you incorporate it into your life? Well, for me, today marks a very special anniversary. On this day in 2003, seven years ago, I lost my campaign for mayor of Mason City, Iowa. I was disappointed. I was depressed. I had lost. I had poured my heart and soul into the four month campaign. And I lost.
But what also happened – the amazing thing – is that I also won. I found a new passion. I found that politics wasn’t the only place for me. I loved speaking with people and talking about living life full of dreams and passion. It did take a few years after that loss to begin chasing my dream, but the time was worth it.
The great thing about losing the campaign was that it taught me more about myself than winning ever could. Seriously – I ran for office! And I won the hearts and minds of over 600 people; most of whom I’d never met. I lost so I could find my way, my path. What is yours? You are where you are in life for a reason. What is it? Have you found it? The Time is Now.
As I worked through my outline and then the editing process, I was constantly adding and changing content. That’s the nature of being an artist. From the first drafts of some of the chapters to the end, there were drastic changes and some ended up being pretty close to the initial writings.
My goal when I began was to create a book that told a story of struggle, reflection and success. Putting together the three makes a road map of sorts of how to go after your dreams. The key for me as the author was to keep that in mind and not get bogged down in the minutia of the “guide” itself and instead just focus on letting the stories themselves do the teaching.
Because I was so close to the subject matter and had been writing the book in my head for years, I needed a team to help me. That’s where my tremendous editors came into play. But before them, I had at least four people review the outline sketch to make sure that not only did the concept work, but did they think my direction was correct.
My editors were charged with that task as well, but with the complete text. Nathanael, Karith and Stephen were a tremendous team and pushed me to go places as a writer I hadn’t gone. I found my biggest problem as a writer, especially when talking about stories that were near and dear to my heart, I’d leave out details. Certainly not on purpose but simply because I knew them and glossed over them in the writing. Those three made sure that wasn’t evident in the final draft.
I’ve always known the importance of having a strong team and support system around you, but this definitely solidified this for me. No matter where I go in life, I will build a team of people who are dedicated, smart, passionate, creative and certainly honest. Without this team, I would not have ended with this amazing book.
(flickr photo via atomicshed)