In one word, the central message of my memoir Shining Brightly is:
Wherever life takes you—even to a death sentence like the one I received twice in my life with diagnoses of advanced stage IV cancer—there’s always the possibility of a surprise around the corner. After a lifetime of experiencing such surprises, I’m so full hope that I now work with others on a daily basis in encouraging a similar resilience in their lives.
So, let me ask you, right now:
Want to discover more hope this week?
Want to share more hope this week?
Let’s start by considering the many pleasant “surprises” in our lives. We all encounter terrible surprises, too, don’t we? Believe me, after two bouts with deadly cancer, I understand those surprises that feel more like shocks.
But, in addition to whatever traumas we encounter, we all experience surprises that make us smile as we recall them. I’ll bet the stories you’re starting to recall, as I write this, are spreading a smile on your face. That’s how this process works.
Let me illustrate from my own life. Here are five of the many surprises I have discovered in my life:
First: Like fans of the movie Dirty Dancing, I learned a lot about life and about loving family relationships at those classic summer resorts in the Catskills that today mainly live in nostalgic memories for countless families.
As you’ll read in the book, I explored those resorts with my sister and cousins as children, hosted by our grandparents. For us, those trips modeled the central importance of spending family time together every year.
All I have to do is pause and recall those adventures with my sister and our cousins in the Catskills and I’m smiling.
Second: I love the Atlantic shoreline, but not where you would expect. As the Catskills faded, the annual cross-generational outings in our family transitioned to the Atlantic shoreline. There are many spots along the ocean that are popular to millions of Americans—and are jam packed as a result. Instead, our family found a favorite resort area way up in Maine that we claimed as our family home away from home for decades.
In my book, I risk letting readers in on our little slice of Atlantic heaven. As a result, I realize I may be adding to the crowds along our favorite stretch of shoreline.
I’m risking it to spread a little joy into readers’ lives.
Third: Everything I needed to know about working with customers in my career as a successful entrepreneur, I learned from a traveling shoe salesman.
That’s my father, who supported us by loading up old-fashioned carrying cases of shoes and boots and then crisscrossing New England to sell his wares. In my memoir, I write about my love of my father and his marketing adventures. There’s a lot we all can learn about the power of personal networking from those independent entrepreneurs who tirelessly build loyal customers nationwide.
In fact, as my book is launched, Dad still is out there beating a path to some of his oldest customers like many other salespeople who form a backbone of our country’s economy. In the pages of my memoir, you’ll likely gain a whole new appreciation for these daring entrepreneurs.
Fourth: My brother Ian was never supposed to be my real brother.
Let me explain that puzzling line: In this memoir you will learn how I agreed to a carefully monitored mentoring arrangement with little Ian through a program that was known as Jewish Big Brothers.
Then, all of us were surprised at the solid relationships that formed between Ian, his mother and my existing family through the years. If you want a true testament to hope that lies just around the corner for all of us, then read the story of my relationship with Ian.
But a word of warning: After reading those stories in my book, you may decide to become a mentor yourself.
Fifth: Basketball is my happy place.
Again, I need to explain that line. Part of successfully building up your resilience is becoming aware of the places that sap your strength and raise anxiety, as well as those places that are guaranteed to make you happy and rebuild your energy. I discovered basketball as a child and play it to this day.
In fact, as you will discover in the pages of Shining Brightly, I even promote interfaith peacemaking on the basketball court.
How do I do that?
Well, you’ll just have to discover this and other surprises in the pages of Shining Brightly.
This is a perfect moment to become one of Howard’s growing global community of friends by ordering your copy of his book.
Here are other articles we have published, exploring the launch of this book:
Take a look at the book’s Foreword: ‘Shining Brightly’ Foreword by Dr. Robert J. Wicks: ‘Learn anew about the American Dream’
Want a snack as you read? Howard Brown and Jennifer Bass: Shining Brightly 1 cookie at a time
Want a personalized copy of Howard’s book? Howard Brown helps readers personalize their gifts. (Get yours now.)
Download (and free-to-share) resource guides for discussing Shining Brightly:
- First is What are the ‘Keys to Resiliency when Confronting Cancer?’ Howard is freely sharing resources from the Discussion Guide for his new book—a page that lists 18 keys to resiliency that have proven valuable in his life and in the lives of people he has mentored through cancer.
- Second is Why should we become mentors?
- And finally Interfaith Bridge Building: Why do this work?