Thursday, April 21, 2016

What books inspired you?

Whether you read fiction or non-fiction, I believe books inspire. They inspire you, the reader, to learn something new, or to reinforce something you already believed, or maybe, just maybe they open your mind to explore. Books give us an opportunity to not just escape from our everyday lives, but to give us an opportunity to experience new places, new theories, and new people without leaving the comfort of your favorite chair.

However, I think a good book will also introduce you to and inspire you to want to explore and experience something in real life. Not just while sofa surfing.
What do you think?

What books have made you get up out of the chair and try something new or to learn something more?
There are several books that stand out in my lifetime of books that have inspired me to expand my horizons, go in search of new adventure, or just to experience something new or different.

Nora Roberts book, Born in Fire had a character who was a glass blower. I had never heard of such a thing so of course I had to look into it and then proceeded to take two classes. The result is I created several glass paperweights that I still have today, and a glass rose.
While reading every book I could get my hands on written by romantic suspense author Linda Howard, I decided I wanted to write a novel. Talk about inspiration, not to mention aspiration! Well, not only did I do it, but I wrote six novels, five of which have been published. This experience gave me the opportunity to explore a creative side I didn’t know I had, made me some great friends along the journey, and learn more of the craft of writing and the publishing industry.

Another book that got to me was a book written by Carla Neggers. The timing of me reading this book was so amazing that I swear to you it was a sign. I wanted to go on an adventure. I wanted to go to Ireland. I just didn’t know where in Ireland. I started searching and one day while online I saw this cottage, this stone cottage in Kenmare, Ireland. Hmmm…where is Kenmare, Ireland? I discovered that Kenmare was in southwest Ireland and is beautiful.
Then I opened the book I had been reading, The Whisper by Carla Neggers, and turned the page to Chapter 26 where the first thing I read were the words; Kenmare, Ireland.

Seriously! If you do not believe in signs then you should. My fate was sealed. I made my reservations that day to stay in the stone cottage in Kenmare, Ireland. I’ve gone back for a second visit where I explored even more of Ireland, ran a half marathon in Dingle and took a one day photography class. Yes, there will be a third visit to Kenmare, Ireland, my home away from home.
One day two years ago a woman in my office gave me a book titled Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. She gave me the book because I love running. Well, it’s actually a love/hate relationship. Depending on the day it can be painful, but when you are out there the mind clears and the feet just like to move. Anyway, at first I was not going to read this book. Sorry, Christopher McDougall, but it’s true. I didn’t want some book to change my new found love. I could not have been more wrong!

There. I admit it. I was wrong. (Don’t get used to it.) Born to Run expanded my horizons. I learned not just about a tribe of amazing runners called the Tarahumara, but I learned about ultra running. What is that you ask? That is a run any distance longer than a marathon. What?! Yeah, exactly my point. I became fascinated. And this book led me to read more books related to long distance, endurance running. And of course…my first ultra marathon. This year I will make my first attempt at a 100-mile run.
Another friend recommended the book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History written by retired Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen, and Jim DeFelice. The book is the memoir of CPO Chris Kyle, U.S. Navy Seal. If you have not read it, I highly recommend American Sniper. You will get a feel for what our men and women of service go through, and how they struggle to deal with “normal” life when they return home, not to mention what it is like when deployed and on the battlefield, plus a whole lot more. It was this book and the tragic death of Chris Kyle that inspired me to spend the next year running to raise funds for his foundation, Guardian for Heroes Foundation.

Guardian for Heroes Foundation provides free, in-home fitness equipment, facilitation of donated health club memberships, individualized programs, personal training and life coaching to in-need veterans with disabilities, and those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) from combat deployment. With this mission, it seemed only natural that I, a runner, a supporter of our Veterans, find a way to give back.
I encourage everyone to give back. Find a way.

I have always donated to various charities, none more than our Veterans and children’s education. Every year I donate to a local business various gifts that our retired military men and women who live in a home need. They ask for the simplest of pleasures; a new comforter, a tin of cookies, sugar free candy, and everyday toiletries. It is my mission every year on Veteran’s Day to grab several names from the Veteran Tree and make certain those folks get their Christmas gifts.
As I reflect back, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History inspired me beyond just that one year of fund raising, which by the way I am not good at. It inspired me to do something more, to want to make a difference in this world.

That’s where my next book comes in play.
I have been having health issues and it has become more than obvious that much of it is related to stress. Stress on the body whether mental or physical is still stress and the body does not like it. In my case, the universe and my doctors are telling me that my job is toxic. How do you like that word? I’d say that is very descriptive. And I agree, but I’ve known this for four years and have not done a thing about it. Well, I have, but not the right thing. Not the thing that is going to go after the root cause. Not the thing that is going to change my life and put me on the happy path.

Part of that is fear, because let’s face it; we all have to pay bills. But fear is not usually something that holds me back. As my friends and family will attest, I like to go. I like to try new things, new adventures. Part of what is holding me back is the people that work for me and our accomplishments. We do perform some work-related miracles and make a huge difference. But that difference is only affecting the organization for which we work. Not making a difference in the world. Not making us happy.
So here sits me, or maybe it’s running, and I contemplate, and think, and consider, and search…for that thing, that passion that will help me make a difference, help me find my calling. After a ten-miler last Sunday I was sitting in my house or should I say bouncing off the walls. I couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t focus. Since I had already gone for a run I didn’t want to do that so, when all else fails I went to the bookstore.

BAM! That’s when the title of this book hit me in the face. Okay, not literally, but seriously, how can you not pick up a book titled Do Cool Sh*t by Miki Agrawal.
I read Do Cool Sh*t in three days. It would have been one if I did not have to work. And wow! I resonated with Miki. At one point in her book she started having stomach pains and I knew exactly how she felt because I have the same thing. Gosh darn processed foods!

Anyway, because of Miki’s book, Do Cool Sh*t, I have new inspiration to go after my dreams and it is not to work for anyone else. It is to jump tracks and start something that will make me happy and make a difference…even if only in a small corner of the world. Her writing inspired me to the point that I signed up for a class this morning in the hopes that this class will help me shift my focus and learn something new that will benefit me in my search for my passion.
To the authors mentioned above and to all the others I've read but could not possibly list, I thank you! Thank you for inspiring!

What about you? What books have influenced and inspired you? Why? How?



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