I spend a lot of time reading/reviewing books in a wide array of genres (including fiction and nonfiction). I also interview a lot of amazing authors and share those exclusive interviews with you here, on my book blog. However, today I'm sharing something new with you. An exclusive excerpt from my latest book, Be Awesome: How to Live Your Best Life. You can read more reviews on the book, HERE. The book is filled with motivation, inspiration and helpful advice to be utilized at any point in your life. It's a book you can revisit time and again over the years.
Why did I write the book? Because I was searching for it, and after reading hundreds upon hundreds of self-help and motivation type books, I couldn't find what I was looking for. So, I wrote it. I wrote the book I wanted to read. And the feedback I've received since it's publication in January, has been amazing. Here's one more review, before we get to the exclusive book excerpt. "...[Be Awesome: How to Live Your Best Life is] the gateway self-help book you need to begin with. "Be Awesome" is a very well researched and thoughtfully presented conversation about YOU, the reader, that starts with Stacey’s own personal universal story of being trapped in an unrewarding, life-sucking, joy-destroying desk job. (I’ve been there. And you’ve either been there, or are there right now.)
There are great nuggets of wisdom shared in this book. For instance, finding the life you love. Paying it forward. How to work smarter. And for me, a professional comedian and improvisor, perhaps what struck the biggest chord was how to embrace failure, trial and error, and remembering to force yourself out of your comfort zone. What Stacey’s book snapped back into focus for me was that mistakes and poor choices are a necessary part of the process. And really… they’re not mistakes. They’re part of your path. You have to scrape bottom to know which way is actually up for you. Those moments in life where you feel awful? That’s because you’re not living the life you want. And that’s normal. It’s necessary. Moments of huge personal growth are often only the result of going through discomfort, hardship and yes, sometimes even personal sacrifice and pain. But those obstacles are lessons. As Stacey herself writes: “Writing this book is as much of a reminder and an encouragement for me as it is for you. I found a way to live my best life and let the rest fall into place”.
excruciatingly slow minutes tick on the clock, knowing I had to put in my time and keep my derriere in my seat until the end of the scheduled day (even though there wasn’t a lick of work in sight). I’ve cleaned urinals. I’ve picked through trash. I’ve scrubbed gates and floors on my hands and knees using a toothbrush.
On the flip side, I’ve found what I love. It was with me all along. The difference was, I finally opened my eyes and took notice. I didn’t change anything about who I was, or am. I just let myself (finally) be that person; and that’s when everything began to take shape. That’s when I started writing for money; albeit a mere forty dollars an article for a local paper, I was being paid to do what I love. I was listening to my gut. I was finally breathing.
Don’t get me wrong, I learned plenty of lessons from picking through trash. I’m an avid recycler for life. Okay, maybe I didn’t find a deep meaningful lesson in scrubbing urinals, but then again, maybe I did; presentation matters, even with the little things, like urinals. When we really look, there is a lesson in every experience; even if it’s “I don’t want to be doing *this* for the rest of my life” (that moment when we make a promise to ourselves that we’ll find something better suited for our talents).
I’m not here to tell you which jobs are great and which aren’t. I literally clean up shit every single day as part of my dream job. I did it today. I’ll do it tomorrow. And I love it. Not the act of cleaning poop, of course, but I love what I do with the non-profit animal welfare organization I co-founded and operate. It’s incredibly difficult and exhausting, but it’s what I was born to do. And cleaning poop is a small part of my big dream, so I embrace it. You might love cleaning urinals. I didn’t. But I do clean poop, so I’m totally not judging. The point is, I’m your cheerleader (oh, I’ve been one of those too!). I’m here to help you find what you love to do and to encourage you to begin (or continue) your journey to your best life. Whether you’re nineteen or eighty-five, it’s never too late to start living a life you love.
Why is the title of this book Be Awesome? Because you are. You are awesome. You are unique. You are special and you possess skills and talents that can contribute to this wonderful world we live in.
Did you ever have a nickname as a child? I did. I had plenty of them, but I always remember one. So…in case you’re curious about that one nickname, I’ll dish. Big Mouth. My loving aunt called me this All. The. Time. Not cute little kid. Not pumpkin, angel or darling. No, my nickname was big mouth. I’ve never been a boisterous individual, but I have always had an opinion. When I was a child, I didn’t realize that the opinions of little girls were not high in demand. I was simply fascinated by words and finding ways to best utilize them. I was anxious to share my thoughts with those around me. But then I grew up. I became an adult and the nickname disappeared, just as I had from myself. I thought I was supposed to be one thing and I tried, I really tried. But I couldn’t be that person. It was like telling an oak tree to grow pine needles. As much as I tried, I failed. It took me a while to realize how lost I’d gotten from myself. Eventually I figured it out, and I’m still figuring it out every day. Living your best life is not a one-size fits all deal. It’s uniquely yours. So what that I couldn’t stand to work in a cubicle? So what that I’m a workaholic who prefers an unconventional life? So what that I didn’t marry the person of my parents dreams? So what if I’m a big mouth? I have opinions, likes and dislikes, dreams and goals…and I’m good with that. The goal, I’ve learned (and continue to learn) is to be happy with me, and for you to be happy with you.
Recently, while attending my niece’s birthday party I passed on taking a plate of cake. I passed on the meat lovers pizza, too. I sound like a bore. I know. And my family, as all loving families do, begged me to “try some”. A) I’ve never liked cake. And B) I don’t eat meat. A+B= I’m a picky eater. This is nothing new. I’ve been this way for my entire existence. I politely declined on the cake and meat lovers pizza. A few beats later my sister leaned toward me and said, “It’s okay, you just know what you like.” And I do. That night I tried a few new fruits and vegetables. I’m willing to step out of my comfort zone; but I didn’t eat what I already knew I disliked because that wouldn’t be true to me. It’s taken a long time to get here, to the point of being okay with saying “no”. In the past I would have taken the plate of cake and forced myself to eat it because I was too scared to say that tiny two letter word, no. But learning how to say no and knowing who you are, are musts if you want to get to the things you really enjoy, the things that make you, you. The things that make you awesome. The things that make you come to life.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
We’re all a work in progress. Finding our best self is about the journey, not the destination. It’s about finding our happy. It’s about being our best self so that we can move the world forward to something brighter and better. About stepping outside of our comfort zone. It’s about realizing that we all don’t have to be the same. That would be boring. So let’s be different. Let’s be exactly who we are and celebrate that person every single day.
There are a lot of labels thrown around in the world. Big mouth is only one of the many poignant names that have been tossed my way. It’s funny how years later I recall the name with a sense of nostalgia rather than one of embarrassment or hurt. As an adult, I remind myself to be more like that kid every day. Bring big mouth back in all her glory, I rally myself each morning. So what that every single person in the world doesn’t agree with my opinion on every single thing? It’s okay. Life goes on. I’m allowed to voice my opinions, albeit I am careful to do so respectfully. I’m allowed to take time to play (i.e. doing something that is totally not productive) and not only is it okay, it should be celebrated because play often brings new creative projects and business ideas and it’s good for my body, mind and soul (and yours too)! I’m allowed to be successful. I don’t have to fit a particular mold because of the way I was raised or how I look or because of my gender. I can be exactly who I am and thrive. And it’s okay. In fact, it’s better than okay, it’s fantastic. It’s breathtaking. It’s exhilarating.
I’ve written this book because I want you to find this too. I want you to live your best life and do the work you’re passionate about. That doesn’t mean it has to be your full time job. What brings you joy might manifest itself in the form of a hobby, a small business, a big business, a club, a non-profit…the possibilities are endless. The truth is, I have no idea how your best life will manifest itself. The point is I want to help you find it. I want to help you along your journey. I want to tell you, you can do this. You can live a life you love. You can do work that makes you come alive from the inside. You can go after your dreams. You can do anything you put your mind to; I believe this with all of my heart. The upcoming chapters focus on areas that will assist you in becoming your best self; how to work smarter, how to embrace failure, learning through trial and error, stepping out of your comfort zone, how small steps add up to big wins, and so much more. Are you ready to get started? There’s no better time than now. Take a deep breath, pat yourself on the back for picking up this book and taking a step toward discovering your happiest life, flip the page and let’s get going. And don’t forget to pay it forward. Tell a friend to grab this book, too. Encourage each other to go after your dreams. It makes the journey that much sweeter. When we lift each other up, cheer each other on; when we champion one another instead of gossiping, judging and tearing each other down, the world becomes a much better place. All of us become stronger, happier, wiser and better. We can do this. You can do this, and now is the time.
DID YOU ENJOY THIS FREE EXCERPT OF BE AWESOME: HOW TO LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE, BY STACEY RITZ?
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