Tell us what inspired you to write Manual For Living: REALITY and CONNECTION, User’s Guides to the Meaning of Life.
From as far back as I can remember, understanding the meaning of life has been a core tenant of my life. I spent over 30 years contemplating the realities of existence, reading voraciously, and paying close attention to life – the ups and downs, challenges, pain, and opportunities. When I was diagnosed with cancer the first time, I made the decision to start formally writing, even though I didn’t exactly know what the outcome would be. I would write wherever and whenever possible – in the evenings after my kids went to sleep, on the weekend, at lunch, etc. I wrote for five years, all while working multiple jobs, raising my kids, and living my life. The finished book ended up at around 700 pages, and due to its magnitude, we decided to break it into three books.
What sets your book apart from other self-help books?
The Manual For Livingis probably like no other book series you have seen or experienced, given its format and its content. When we start reading a book, we often feel an obligation to finish it. This book is never finished, and is not actually designed to be read from cover to cover, but instead picked up intermittently when you desire guidance along your path, and even then you randomly open the book to a page of your choice, and quite often you receive exactly the guidance you seek. There is also very little within the book that you have not already heard, but the context in which it is presented provides a tremendous opportunity for growth and understanding. We will all face tremendous obstacles, challenges and trauma in our life – that is inevitable. It is who we choose to be and how we respond to such opportunities that determine the quality of our existence.
True happiness and lasting fulfillment are available to all of us, but it is not one little thing that makes all the difference, but a little effort and guidance in every area of our life. The Manual For Living covers every aspect of our lives, from life to death, time, balance, illness, happiness, peace, etc. As we make subtle improvements in every area of our life, for example how we approach our work, to how we connect with our children, to how we listen to our truth – we become happier and more fulfilled in the process.
We all have fear, although it tends to be unique for each and every one of us. Our greatest opportunity is to find strength in the face of fear, whether being inspired by the prospect of our path and purpose in life, or perhaps even by fear of impending death. For me, writing the Manual was the easy part, but then I spent another five years editing, adjusting, tweaking the content, and constantly wondering if the book was complete and ready for distribution. I eventually realized that every time edited it, I was re-writing the book not necessarily because it needed it, but because I was a different person. I also realized that at the rate I was going, the book was never going to be published. One day I made the decision that it was time; people needed to read it, and so I sent it to the world and have never looked back.
I would say it’s a million little things that get in the way of happiness; from the way we approach finances, to how we manage time. It involves our level of balance, our health, how we sleep, how we breathe, and overall how we approach our life. However, the core tenants of a life of happiness revolve around taking responsibility for everything that is within our control, letting go of everything that is outside of our control, expressing our kindness, our gratitude, and being of service.
Cancer, like many traumatic illnesses, challenges you physically, emotionally, mentally, and if you so allow it to – spiritually. For those suffering with cancer or with illness, I would remind you to be kind to yourself, and to those around you – realize that it’s probably harder on those who love you the most. Remember to look forward in life and not backward. Try to move beyond the “why me” and into the opportunity of the moment. Death is imminent for all of us, but illness brings it right to the forefront, but try not to be afraid, there is nothing to fear. Be strong, open your heart, and make sure that the choices you make are in alignment with your reason for being. Lastly, laugh, laugh and laugh. Find any excuse to laugh. Rent funny movies, read funny books – and just laugh. None of us know how much life we have left to live, so lets make sure that we are living for the right reasons and making the right choices.
We can learn from illness just as we learn from every obstacle and challenge. Life can be so painful at times if we choose to see it that way, but it also can be amazing, inspiring, and transformational. We have full control over how we choose to see and experience our life, and that is the greatest opportunity before us. We can be petty and mediocre in our life, or we can be gracious, empowering and inspirational – the choice is ours.
I have always expected the Manual For Living book series to be tremendously successful, but not necessarily in the number of books sold, but in the number of lives affected. This book has a very important message, and it is my job to make sure the book gets in front of the people who need and want to read it. This book is a labor of love, and as such it is with incredible pleasure that I get to write about it, speak about it, and connect with such amazing people around it; wherever and whenever possible.
I am very excited to continue building a community around the Manual, to lecture, and to continue sharing the stories that have shaped my life and all of the lessons I have learned along the way. In the process, perhaps those who read the book won’t have to suffer as I have, or possibly won’t make the same mistakes I made. Even more, maybe we can all step forward into our greatness and be better stewards of our communities, and find greater levels of happiness through the choices that we make.
We should all remember that the obstacles and challenges we face, and the associated, are unique to each and every one of us. We need to stop comparing ourselves to those around us, and instead look within for the guidance we desire. The Manual is designed to help you find clarity and guides you to your inner truth. We each have a unique path and purpose in life and it is our responsibility not only to discover that purpose, but to fulfill it. It doesn’t matter the color of our skin, how much money we have in the bank, our religion or our blood type – we don’t know how much time we have left. Death is inevitable, but living life is not. We have an incredible opportunity to experience the greatness of this life and to be of service to those around us.