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Monday, December 31, 2012

Between One Transformative Year and the Next

The world didn’t end in 2012, but it left many of us in a different situation than when the year began.  That’s how it was for me, partly because I was determined to make it a differenty year, and partly due to some surprises.
To help make this a different year, I worked with a life coach who helped open my mind to new possibilities and eliminate stumbling blocks in my life.  Before long, I felt a shift in my thinking and how I saw myself.

In March I had my first taste of success as aninspirational speaker when I took Second Place at a regional Toastmasters International speech.  The award was nice, but the real payoff was having people tell me later how much my story had touched them.

A few months later I was asked to serve as president of the local Toastmasters slub.  At first I shied away from the idea, but saw how it could help me grow in several ways in addition to speaking.

In May I attended an intense traning for people aspiring to get high-paying public speaking engagements.  My mind lit up with all the information, ideas, and connections I made.  It was my first time in L.A. and I had some extra free time to see some of the place.  I loved it.  Watch out, Los Angeles, I'll be back one day.

But I had a big health flare-up midway through theconference.  I got so sick I had to be taken to the emergency room, where they discovered my blood sugar was through the roof.  I was admitted so they could run tests on my transplanted pancreas.   It looked fine, but I had several gall stones.  The pancreas had just worn out.  It was depressing to be hospitalized so far from home and learn that 14 years of non-diabetic freedom had ended.

I flew home, had my gall bladder removed, and tried to adjust to being diabetic again.  I’m getting better at it.  More about that in future posts.

In September I attended a book marketing seminar in Philadelphia but had time to do a little sightseeing too.

I attended the 30 year class reunions of both high schools i attended.  It was really tough changing schools halfway through 11th grade.  Seeing both groups of classmates after all that time helped me put that part of my life in perspective.  Time and maturity helped, but doing that at this stage of the game caused me to edit my memoir and soften the tone in that section.  It also helped me rewrite history so that several people are better, more likeable people—including me.

My memoir!  Ifinally finished it!  I started writing it in 2006 and got sidetracked with some other writing projects and some health issues like cancer and whatnot.  Now it’s being formatted and will be published soon.  

That’s why I expect 2013 to be AT LEAST as transformative as 2012 was.  This will be the year my life story will be put on display for anyone to read.  It will be the year I do paid speaking engagements.  It will be the year I watch my web site grow and possibly launch the line of books related to it.

I’ll be cancer-free two years in early 2013, which means I can get on the transplant waiting list for a new pancreas.

2013 is the year I expect to come into my own and live up to my full potential.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Putting Myself Out There

It’s done now.  My memoir has been a work in progress for almost 7 years.  To put it into perspective, that’s more than 3 times the gestation period of an elephant.  Since starting it in early 2006 I’ve moved twice, endured the worst ice storm in state history, had a severe eye injury, survived cancer, had gall bladder surgery, and have adjusted to being diabetic again.  I was working full-time back in 2006 but left that in late 2009 because it was just too stressful.  I know, excuses, excuses.  Part of that time I was just unfocused and unsure of what to do next.

“You have to blog.”

“You have to Twitter.”

“You have to Facebook.”

Those were only a few of the bits of advice I got along the way—the ones I did. 

I also joined Toastmasters International so I could fine-tune my public speaking skills.  Earlier this year I did well in the International Speech competition with a speech about my experience as an organ transplant recipient.  It was a glimpse at the future, when I’ll be talking to large groups of people about my life and the memoir.

There were other writing projects along the way.  A humor book about Northwest Arkansas, magazine articles, short stories, and an almost-completed novel to name a few.

Sometimes I lost sight of the project that started me on the path as a serious writer.  I was like Murphy Brown’s house painter who never quite finished the job until the end of the series.

And now here we are.  It’s out of my hands and in the formatting process.  As any writer (or any creative person for that matter) can tell you, it takes a thick skin to put your work out there, to open yourself up to scrutiny, criticism, judgment.  I already knew that from approaching shop owners about selling my humor book.

But this is different.  This is my life on paper, along with a few photos of me during good health and bad. 

This is me.

I’ve been told countless times I have a lot of courage.  I guess so.  I just did what I had to do to survive.  But that’s nothing compared to the courage it takes to put all my experiences into a package, slap a current photo of myself on the cover, and say, “Here it is.  Buy it.  Read it.  Form your own opinions and judgments about my life.”
The day I submitted the manuscript, my hand hovered over the mouse, reluctant to click the “upload” button.  I had given my first insulin shot and faced surgery with less angst than I had about letting go of the story.

Next month it will be out there.  I’ll be out there.  Submitted for your approval.


Jim's book, What Didn't Kill Me Made Me Stronger, will be available on Amazon in print and Kindle.