Maybe I was depressed.
Life had turned out to be so much more disappointing than I had hoped and dreamed and planned it to be.
My theme song (I have one for every life stage) was Coldplay’s Viva la Vida:
I used to rule the world...
I used to roll the dice, feel the fear in my enemies eyes. Listen as the crowd would sing, now the old king is dead, long live the king
One minute I held the key, next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand upon pillars of sand.
We’d taken risks. We’d pursued a dream and we had lived it. Then it all came crashing down.
[message type="custom" width="100%" start_color="#FFFFFF" end_color="#FBF8FF" border ="non" color=""]Reading has drastically altered our life. It has made us who we are. Books have been our closest friends when no one else believed in us or the ‘beauty of our dreams’.
Here is our list of Must Read Books.[/message]
In 2007 we had made a dream come true. Through reading and dreaming big, planning and persistence, we’d moved to Costa Rica with our four young children. We were ‘living the dream’ as we called it, renting a beautiful home in a tropical locale, visiting beaches and waterfalls, having grand adventures and living it up.
Then in 2008 it came crashing down around us. We lost our investments in the stock market. We lost our income. Seeing our only option was to return to the States for a job, we sold whatever we had of value (like Greg’s $2000 mountain bike) so we could buy plane tickets for our family of seven.
We moved in with my mother-in-law, until someone lent us the money to get into our own apartment. Going from living in a 6500 sq. foot mansion in Costa Rica to living on the second floor of an apartment building was debasing for me... but the kids called our new home the ‘castle’. The mansion was just ‘the big house’.
Greg got a job as a server at a restaurant. We were broke. Dead broke. On top of our own personal degradation, we had to deal with humiliating encounters with those who ‘told us so’.
“Welcome back to reality,” they said.
Life sucks, and then you die. That’s how most people live. Why did we think that we were any different?
Maybe they were right. Maybe we were crazy to have big dreams and to try and break out of the ‘mold’ cast by society.
It went on this way for months, feeling that dreams were impossible to achieve. The problem was, the dreams didn’t go away. We still really wanted to travel with our children. We really wanted to live abroad -- full time. But how? I didn’t see anyway it could happen.
And so my despondency continued, and I questioned whether success was reserved for the elite few. Why did some people seem to achieve everything they wanted, while others would persist year after year facing obstacle after obstacle, struggling and surviving but never thriving?
And was that our fate, a fate we just had to accept?
And if life was meant to be so dreary, then why did I have such big, ambitious dreams? Were they there just to torment me?
For months I wondered if I should just accept what is, if there was no actual way to turn dreams into reality. I mean, we had tried, really tried... and this is what we had to show for it. Broke and broken.
Then, finally, I started reading again. I hadn’t read a good book for months. Now I picked up Success Principles by Jack Canfield.
As I read, it was as though someone turned on the lights, and there, previously hidden in the darkness of my despair, were the answers to the questions I’d been asking myself.
Success was not reserved for the elite few, but was available to all who applied it’s principles. There were specific actions and steps to follow. There was a course laid out. Our dreams weren’t given to torment us, but as a compass showing us the way to follow. Yes, failure would come, as it had to us. But success would follow if we used our failure as fertilizer and ‘kept moving forward.’
Hope filled my soul once more. Determination flowed through my veins. We can achieve our dreams, and we will. Of that I was certain.
But it didn’t end there. We continued to pursue our dreams, and with each success came more failure. And every time, when discouragement, disappointment and demoralization would almost make us give up, go home and accept a mediocre, normal life, there was a book that would show up in our life. We would read it, and almost magically, it would contain the guidance, direction and inspiration that we needed to ‘keep moving forward’.
It was books that started us out on the path of dreaming. It was books that led us to pursue ‘something different’. It was books that brought on success. It was books that led us through the darkness of failure.
Books have molded our thinking process, altered our characters and shaped our life into what it is today. Books have been our closest friends when no one else believed in us or the ‘beauty of our dreams’. They’ve always cheered us on, given us just the right advice, and provided inspiration and encouragement to keep dreaming.
I wish I could go back and share with you every book we’ve read and how it impacted our life, but as Emerson said,
I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”
We can’t go back, but we can go forward. Reading great books is something we continue to do, and because they have such a positive impact on our life, we want to share their messages with you, hoping that you too will be inspired to read, and be changed, by them.
For that reason we’re creating a ‘Reading for a Change’ series. As we finish a book, we’ll post about it here, sharing it’s insights, principles and inspiration.
How have books changed your life? What are your favorites?
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