Hi everyone!

This month marked a turning point for me in my author career. And I wanted to take the time in this newsletter to talk about it.

Recently, I had the idea for another new book. This one is a memoir. And I have started to workshop a few of the chapters at a local writing group that I am in here in Suzhou. I thought it only fair to also share this with all of my fans as well. Here is an introduction chapter I have been working on for a new nonfiction memoir.

I have a title in mind, but for now, I’m going to keep that to myself until more of the book gets developed. I'm curious to know, however, if any one else has come as close to death as I have, within a literal inch? I would love to hear your story sometime if you wouldn't mind sharing. Let me know. For now, though, the cognizance of how close to death I was (along with some other factors you'll find out later in the book) is what propels my belief that everyone has a purpose in life. It serves my impetus to continue writing this nonfiction memoir. 

Normally, if authors do nonfiction AND fiction they have two different brands as to not to confuse the two; however, I feel as though this idea of finding one’s true purpose—which is the cornerstone of the nonfiction memoir—is linked similarly to my fiction series The Guardian of the Core.

The Schism of Swords, a stand-alone prequel novella to that series, also focuses around Grace finding out her true calling to life. If you still haven’t downloaded the Schism of Swords, make sure you visit here to do so. And, if you have finished but have forgotten to leave a review, please go and leave one on Goodreads!

My hope is that this nonfiction memoir helps readers understand their true calling in life and to truly become cognizant of the fact that we all are put on this earth for some reason.

With that being said, I am interested in what you think of this introduction chapter. Do you want to see more of the book? Does it keep you engaged?

Current Book Reads

This book is absolutely fantastic. One of the best books ever written and I’m including it here because it is one of the tools that I will be mentioning in this nonfiction memoir of mine. This book is all about Santiago following his Personal Legend (aka following his dream). The text is rich in symbolism, parables, allegories, and is essentially a fable about following your dream.

I’ve always loved this book, but I just started teaching it here in China. My students are getting into it as well and they like Santiago’s story, although sometimes the story can be a little hard to digest for them because English is their second language.

Have you read this book? If you have, what did you think of it? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it and how it has changed your outlook on life (if it has at all).

The Trials we Face

- March Spotlight: ChenChen

Note: The following is a story from one of my friends here in China named ChenChen. I only edited the story for grammar and context. 

When I was in the second year of high school, about to take the ever-important GaoKao (a college entrance examination here in China), I lost my mother. After a year of fighting an illness, she finally succumbed to it and left us.

During that time, I told myself I would only allow myself to grieve for her for three days because I had to concentrate on taking this exam which would determine the rest of my life. Doing well on it is what my mother would have wanted for me, so this is the only thing that kept me going during that difficult time period.

After three days, I returned to school and turned my attention to studying. I buried my sadness underneath textbooks and graphs and homework.

But things got worse.

Within a few months, my father remarried. I had no idea how he could move on so quickly after my mother’s passing. The perfect family I once knew was shattered even more. This caused me to isolate myself from others, only socializing with a few close friends. In the middle of night, I would hide in bed and cry to myself, and during the day, I would mask the tears under the mountains of textbooks and homework we Chinese students receive.

The only time I felt happy was during art class in the afternoon. And eating toffee. I love toffee, but now it has messed up my teeth a little bit, so I no longer enjoy sweets. Sometimes I couldn’t wait and would sneak into the art classroom while everyone was on lunch break and paint quietly by myself. By the time class came, I had already finished all of my work.

Eventually, I was admitted to university and left my hometown to live in another city. Without friends and family close by, sadness and guilt began to envelope me. While it was great to be admitted into university, I blamed myself for not being able to do more for my mother in her suffering. I was selfish. When I complained in my heart that I had spent every weekend in the hospital, I never understood that my mother wouldn’t even have the chance to go outside of the hospital and take in the sun or breathe the fresh air. This is my biggest regret. I could have always suspended my studies and pushed them back another year to spend more time with my mom, but I didn’t, and now she is no longer here to spend time with.

This guilt and shame in how I acted made me not like socializing with others. 

One day that all changed when a new restaurant opened in front of the school. As a frequent guest of the restaurant, I got to know the woman who ran it quite well. I learned that she had lost her son. We bonded over this loss of family naturally, and she told me that although our loved ones have left the world, they always live inside our hearts, just like where our love lives for them. It never disappeared.

A sad day is a day, just as a happy day is a day. It’s only a matter of perspective, so why not live happily? People cannot live in the past. And if we appreciate things through the right lens we can find that the whole world is a garden that we should nourish by cherishing the present and enjoying the most precious thing we have in this world: time.

She changed my outlook on life. Whenever I encounter difficulties now, I tell myself that nothing is worse than losing the closest ones to me. This has grown my heart to be strong. My advice to others is to realize that we are very small in the scope of universe and nature. Time is short, so you shouldn’t live your life with regrets. Don’t hesitate about what you want to do, don’t hide what you want to say, enjoy each moment, and cherish contentment. When the day comes that you lose a loved one, as that day will certainly come for anyone, face your emotions and sorrow, and cherish those moments you had with them. Never regret them.

Never regretting anything is something I really take to heart. It brings to mind something Ray Charles once said, “Live every day like it’s your last, ‘cause one day you gonna be right." 

Final Thoughts

I hope you found ChenChen’s story inspiring and motivational. If any of you are going through a similar situation, I hope this helps in some way. If you have any of your own Trials that you have gone through and would like to share in hopes of helping others, please reach out to me and let me know. I will send you a submission form so that you, too, can be featured in an upcoming newsletter.

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