25 January 2011

Did You Ever Wish Life Came With An Instruction Manual? Got One Right Here...

Back in 1992, I bought a book called Life's Little Instruction Book, by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.  Eventually, I bought the hardcover version (shown here) which combined his first three books.  If you have read any other books of The Giving Book Club you've probably noticed a trend.  Most of my collection of books like this, are not written in chapters like you'd find in most non-fiction books.  They are bits and pieces that don't require more than a couple of minutes to read... or seconds for that matter in some of them.  The great thing is... I don't need more than a glance some days, because, like this book is arranged, reading a couple of lines really just acts like a thought provoker.  It puts some important bit of wisdom in my brain so that I can turn it over and over throughout the day.  

I don't have time for more than that most days and back when I first found this book, I REALLY didn't have time.  I can't remember anymore, just where I was when I picked this book up for the first time.  I DO remember that I was pretty much at the end of my rope, wishing that my life had come with an instruction manual.  The experiences we'd had for about an eighteen month period prior to this time were...  'eventful'.  From my first glance, at the first page, I was hooked.  Below is Mr. Brown's description of WHY he wrote these books (from the publisher section on  Barnes & Noble's web site):
H. Jackson Brown, Jr. originally wrote Life's Little Instruction Book™ as a gift for his son who was leaving home to begin his freshman year in college. Brown says, "I read years ago that it was not the responsibility of parents to pave the road for their children but to provide a road map, and I wanted to provide him with what I had learned about living a happy and rewarding life."

"But it's not just for young people," says Brown. "Most of us already know how to live a successful and purposeful life. We know we should be more understanding and thoughtful, more responsible, courageous and appreciative. It's just that we sometimes need reminding." 
  • Never give up on anybody. Miracles happen every day.
  • Be brave. Even if you're not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.
  • Think big thoughts, but relish small pleasures.
  • Learn to listen. Opportunity sometimes knocks softly.
  • Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all they have.
  • Be kinder than necessary.
  • Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
  • Commit yourself to constant self-improvement.
  • Don't major in minor things.
  • Never cut what can be untied.
I read somewhere that Mr. Brown's son, Adam, had written back to his father to tell him it was the best gift he'd ever gotten and that he would add to it and pass it on to his children.  

This book help tie a knot in that rope I was at the end of and allowed me to hold on.  One of these days I really should do a post... or three... about that time period.  Til then, here's the Reader's Digest Version:
  • Pregnancy after three years infertility
  • First Gulf War breaks out
  • Permanent Change of Station (AKA PCS) and a move half-way around the world to Guam from southern Florida... a military move instruction manual would have been amazing...
  • Pre-term labor and a placenta that had started to tear... I didn't even think of an instruction manual... I just wanted Mom...
  • Evacuated to closest Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit in the Philippines.  9 days before...
  • Mt Pinatubo Volcano erupts requiring evacuation... I really could have used an instruction manual around this time...
  • Evacuated to closest Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit in Japan... no instruction manual... just an air sickness bag...
  • Minor earthquake... still no desperately needed instruction manual to be found...
  • Almost four weeks to due date... fetal lung maturity tested and found OK
  • Evacuated back to Guam
  • Five days hard labor.  Water broken and seventeen minutes later we have a baby girl named Nicole
  • Nicole broke collarbone in delivery. I broke tailbone in delivery.  Born three weeks early
  • First child... still haven't found an instruction manual on life...  now in desperate need of an owner's manual too...
  • Six months later... uh oh, oops... instruction manual not needed, had this subject covered in High School health class... guess I must have missed that lecture...
  • Problems with pregnancy... hospitalized for about four and a half months... again, I didn't want an instruction manual... I wanted Mom...
  • Nicole's first steps and a lot of other firsts happen without me... still waiting on those instruction manuals (life and owner)...
  • Evacuated to closest Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit in Hawaii
  • Mother in Law flies to Guam, picks up our daughter and brings her to Hawaii and stays... A Mother with an instruction (and owner manuals from older models) memorized...
  • Super Typhoon Omar destroys our home on Anderson AFB... tissues supplied... instruction manual not needed... 
  • Mom flies home... detailed instructions given prior to leaving...
  • Category four Hurricane Iniki hits Hawaii, passing directly of Kaua'i.  The most powerful hurricane in Hawaiian recorded history, devastates Hawaii... a survival manual instead, might have come in handy at this point...
  • Danielle is born three and a half weeks early.  Has severe jaundice and stays hospitalized
  • A couple of days later, I tripped in hospital parking lot.  Broken left big toe, torn ligament in left ankle, torn ligament in right knee... did not follow Mom's detailed instructions to the letter...  already know what instruction manual said and really didn't need an 'I told you so'...
  • Return to Guam.  Not much to salvage.  Not much to pack.  Not much need for instructions on what comes next...
  • Instead of accepting an unaccompanied short tour for a year, I separated from the military
  • Fly most of the way without my husband from Guam to Maine with 15 month old, 6 week old, left ankle in cast, right leg in brace from hip to ankle... (Have I mentioned how much I LOVE my cousin Denyse?  She has a really big S on her undershirt!  She's my hero.  She flew to San Francisco to help me, and then we flew home together.)
  • Land, head straight to emergency room with two children running raging fevers from ear infections... Mother with instruction (and owner) manual memorized... was on site...
  • Three months later, husband separates from active duty and returns home to Maine... Serious need for an encyclopedia of Life's Instructions...

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