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...

6 Intelligent Comments:

calistalee said...

Wow. That sounds like a beast of an experience. I'm glad you made it out on the other side with some instructions in your manual :-}

meleah rebeccah said...

well, you sure sold me. Now Im off to google and possibly purchase Life's Little Instruction Book!

Lemon Stand said...

Calistalee - Live where the odds of seeing any combination of these things are at least better than 75% in your favor! Oh, and don't have kids...

Meleah - It's a great book when I need a laugh. You can't read too many pages before you come across something to give you at least a case of the giggles. (disguised as a snort for all you manly man types...)

Wiley said...

Damn... Are you sure it's not you with the S on the undersirt?

airforcewife said...

I can truly say that I don't think Laura Ingalls Wilder has anything on you in the, "You said WHAT happened?" department.

I mean, they survived fire, locusts, and plague, but there were no volcanoes shooting off in South Dakota. Or hurricanes.

Lemon Stand said...

Wiley - Nope, I was the one whining and crying like a baby... with a baby and a toddler. :) Aren't you glad we didn't visit Australia while we were in your neck of the woods?

I have three paternal cousins and they are all wonderful... but Denyse definitely has the 'S' undershirt! :)

AFW - Fire? Locusts? NO... I'm not going to think about it and jinx myself. We have luckily not had to survive those... yet...

I realized this morning that I had forgotten the tsunami. I REALLY, kid you not! First the Volcano, 'small' earthquake, a little 'bigger' earthquake in Guam (destroyed most of the hotels on the bay), tsunami (it mostly went UNDER the island and was caused by a different under-water earthquake), Typhoon (while we were present in Guam), Super-Typhoon (while we were vacationing in a Hawaiian hospital, and a Category 4 Hurricane. Like a said. It was an 'eventful' 19 or 20 months. I know it was just over a year and a half, but really didn't want to research the exact dates. Like I said, another post or three.

My Father-in-Law was only half-kidding when he told us we couldn't come home until we lost the natural disaster magnet. (I told him, we had alreadyleft Homestead AFB before Hurricane Andrew, so he couldn't pin that one on us. We had left there to PCS to Guam)

I am happy to report that with the exception of a severe ice storm that the knocked power out of our house for a week, there has been NO natural disaster on that magnitude anywhere near us for just over eighteen years. It is safe to visit us, or have us visit you. I think we ran through our lifetime quota. :)