The Book Shelf ““ Bringing Life Into Focus

The Book Shelf

A Compilation of Journal Entries Over the Past Few Days:

Today I Chose to See.

This morning I woke facing a bookshelf filled with words and layered in dust. As I lay there waking slowly to the morning light, I set my focus on the titles embossed on the spines of a myriad of great works from children’s books, inspirational prose and texts of humor. In straining my focus to read the small print on some of their spines, one title seemed to reach out to me, and reading its words stirred my soul. To some the message of its title may evoke fear, while others curiosity. It read “A Year To Live” by Stephen Levine, sparking something within me, something I couldn’t ignore.

It became my morning read and inspiration for a new path. The author’s concept is to encourage others to live one year as if it were their last. He goes on to explain that each year so many people are told by their doctors that a time stamp has been put on their life, an expiration date. Whether it is years, months or even days that you have left to live, if you were given the expiration date, what would you chose to do with the time that remains? The author goes on to list a few changes people tend to focus on when they learn that their days are numbered. Such questions he lists that some may propose are: “Should we “˜get down to work’ or quit our job? Should we get married? Should we get divorced? . . . Change our religion? . . . Get a tattoo or remove one? . . . Should we read all those books we kept meaning to read? . . . Save all our money for our heirs, or spend every cent on an extended vacation?”

What would be on my list? What would be on your list?

I have chosen to create my own yearlong experiment. I am calling it “Aspire to Inspire ““Learning to live as though I were to die.” I am currently reading a book called “Aspire” by Kevin Hall, who gives its definition as “meaning to direct one’s hopes or ambitions toward achieving something.” He also goes on to describe the word “inspire” as “to breath life into another’s dreams.” These two words combined reflect a message of having a purpose other than solely for myself. I believe there will be much to be learned in the next 365 days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes, and if it is not shared knowledge it will be less meaningful or worthwhile.

So here is my plan.

Starting this day I will choose the first of 52 books to complete during my yearlong experiment of living as though I were to die. The first book I choose to complete this week will be “Aspire” because of the message it already has taught me in the first few pages. It is one of those reads that leaves you wanting more, wanting to be more. The second book will be “A Year To Live” because of the lessons I feel the author will teach me to successfully complete this challenging task.

Not only will I read a book a week, I will also journal daily about my experience. In the past I’ve never been great at journaling. I’d set goals to do so, and when I’d come up short I would stop the process. Sometimes I’d try a handwritten journal, while other times the plan was to do it all on the computer. With my new journaling goals I find myself wanting to keep a handwritten script even though I have committed to writing it on the computer because of the quickness and ease to edit (my spelling is utroshush). With that said, in the book “Aspire” the author tells of his habit to always carry a journal with him. He explains the benefits of doing so and tells of an experience while reading “The Pilgrimage,” a book by Paulo Coehlo, stating that “the writing triggers a torrential downpour of fresh insights, confirming to me the wisdom of always having two books with you: the book you are reading and the book you are writing. Placing pen to paper, I write fast and feverishly in my leather journal, barely able to write and contain the abundance of ideas.”

I can’t tell you how many times my mind has been flooded with insight and I hadn’t the insight to write it down, only to find it to be a memory lost. I have just been given a golden gem in this bit of advice. I will still keep my typed journal but will always carry a small leather bound book to record moments of thought. The two will complement each other and will help me to walk this journey with more intent to learn from every step.

The third action I will take in this experiment is to evaluate my personal progress in five areas each week. They will be physical, financial, emotional, spiritual and social (as listed on the mission statement for By taking the time each Sunday evening to reflect on my progress or lack thereof, I will be better able to make changes where change is due.

Finally, the forth and last part to the plan will be taking time to listen to one new speaker a week. As I read today I couldn’t believe how many times I stopped to underline or highlight something profound within the book. It is interesting to think that if I hadn’t listened to the author speak last Thursday I may not have been lead to his work. Hopefully with this goal I will open my world to a variety of great writers, many I currently do not know.

I realize that so much good has been given to the world through the written and spoken word, and it is important to open my world to these works so that I too can bring change through understanding. By learning and sharing the knowledge of my experiences in the process, I will have a greater aptitude for aspiring to inspire.

Next year I will be straddling the time in my life between the first fifty years and my second half-century. As in a race, the latter half typically is the most difficult but also can be the most rewarding. I feel this experiment will bring me to a higher level of understanding, and as my view broadens in finding a better self I will develop a greater capacity to lift others along with me.

Today I chose to see a new path that if followed and studied will take me to a much higher ground then if I were to take the easy road with least resistance.

Time to Get To Work!!!!


In Other’s Words:

“One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea,

Never regains its original dimensions.“

~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.~

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