Months ago I was fortunate to be included in an article written by Christine Miller Ford for a Spirit of Jefferson publication. To check them out, go to www.spiritofjefferson.com
The question she posed to several local authors was “what book has most influenced your life and why?” It was not a question I had ever taken the time to think about and so it was not only an honor to have been included but warmed my heart to reflect on something that shaped the person I am today. Thanks Christine! My response is below.
I Will Not Die an Unlived Life / Dawna Markova
Growing up, I was that kid who hid under the covers after bedtime, equipped with a flashlight and the latest book from the local library. Books provided me with opportunities to let my dreams soar and live vicariously in an imaginary world with no limits.
I loved Pippi Longstocking! We shared a common look – skinny, freckled, with a flamboyant head of orange-red hair. She taught me that looking different simply gave me permission to let my true personality speak and that redhead was an attitude!
Author Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi was strong, spirited, irreverent and audacious! I loved the fact that she was adventurous and lived by her own rules. What kid wouldn’t love that fantasy? She had a gift for spinning the most hilarious tall tales out of any situation and I found that to be truly captivating! Little did I know at the time that these same qualities would serve me well today as a professional speaker, storyteller and author!
My love for reading continued into my adult life and has served as a strong foundation for building my training business. The bookcases in my office cover the length of the entire wall and contain a plethora of readings on leadership, management and motivation.
However, the one book which has influenced me most is I Will Not Die an Unlived Life by Dawna Markova. My copy is rife with underlining and personal notations in the columns. Many pages have been folded for easy access and recall. It has become my adult-version of how to live a Pippi Longstocking-kind of life!
The opening begins with a poem bearing the title of this truly inspiring, life-changing book. “I will not die an unlived life,” it begins. “I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me to make me less afraid, more accessible ….”
The book is not one to read cover-to-cover for simple enjoyment as you might a work of fiction. I Will Not Die an Unlived Life is a manual for living life fully and can only truly be appreciated if you mosey along the pages, pausing for reflection, analysis and continued periods of “soul work” and introspection.
The author shares many great quotes from the work of Parker Palmer, Pema Chodron, Gandhi, and even Albert Einstein, but it is during her moments of personal transparency and authenticity that I find the book most compelling and meaningful.
Take the time to do the homework, to mull her questions over in your mind and answer the difficult questions we are often too busy to give credence to. Doing so changed my life and not only influenced my career choice but continues to define the kind of person I’m becoming.
Near the conclusion of her book, Markova tells of a scientific experiment where baby fish were raised in a small fish tank which, in turn, was placed inside a much larger fish tank. The babies could see the larger world and the fish who swam in it but were confined to the boundaries of their smaller tank. Eventually their barrier was removed and the fish were allowed to swim among the others in the much larger tank. As you might imagine, they continued to swim in the exact same, limited pattern in which they were raised. It was as if the barrier still existed.
There have been many occasions in my recent life when I have recalled that analogy. It served as inspiration for me to pursue my expanded world with increase fervor and courage.
Writing and publishing two books in my new series Must Love Shoes was one of the many ways I met her challenge to remove the invisible barrier of fear and doubt so that I, too, will not die an “unlived life.”
I think Pippi would be proud.