It’s here! A Second Chance is available, just in time to celebrate the 5-year anniversary of my own Sudden Cardiac Arrest. And yes, many of my own experiences and journal entries in the five years since have been sources of inspiration for Jenny’s story. (With some fictionalizing, much name changing and a lot of embellishments added.)
A Second Chance is the prequel to My Wildest Dream, where Jenny decides to leave Crafty Hands, follow her own dreams, and be true to her inner self. Once she figures out exactly who that inner soul truly is. (My Wildest Dream releases in January 2016.)
The 1,825 days – or 43,800 hours – or 2,628,000 minutes – since my heart started beating again has been an adventure. While no, not all of it has been easy, nor would I want to repeat a few instances here and there, I am truly grateful for my own second chance at life – a chance to create a meaningful one full of passion and possibility.
Here’s a snippet from A Second Chance. I hope you enjoy it and that it raises a few questions in your own life. Celebrate life and enjoy every breath you take!
If there’s not something in your life right now that gets you excited to jump out of bed each and every day, it’s time for a new direction. Life is meant to be lived. Life is about expanding your boundaries and squeezing out every bit of your passions and talent each and every day. If things are not working out right now, that’s okay. Decide to chart a new course, a new you, and a life full of possibilities. Brad Gast
The wolves howling on my phone told me it was Carla calling without even seeing her face appear on the screen. “Meet me for dinner sometime this week? I have a book I think you’d like.”
“Any night but Wednesday or Friday,” I answered. “I have to close those nights.”
“Thursday? At Chili’s?”
Thursday night couldn’t get here fast enough. This was the kind of week that cried out for a frosty, cold margarita. Carla looked up with a surprised look on her face when I ordered one. “Whaaaat? You don’t usually order alcohol. What’s up?”
“It’s been one of those weeks. Annoying customers, a manager that got on my last nerve, and a few coworkers that I could just about strangle.”
“Your manager being a jerk this week?”
“Not so much that. It’s just that sometimes I wonder how he gets through the day. I have an appointment next week and I submitted my form three weeks ago to have Tuesday off. The schedule comes out today…and he has me working that day.”
The server approached with our drinks and Carla reached for her sweet tea. “Remind him about it. Tell him he screwed up.”
Things were so cut and dried for Carla. She never had a problem speaking up. “I told him. It’s fixed. But it’s aggravating because this consistently happens. Once here or there wouldn’t be bad. But over half the time? That starts to get old.” A nice long sip of the frosty beverage in front of me soothed my inner beast. At least temporarily. “And then there’s Vicky. I was ordering today, so I could see when people went in the break room. Vicky took six breaks today. Six! And at least two of them were close to thirty minutes.”
“How does she get any work done at that rate?”
“I have no earthly idea. When I was clocking out for lunch, she was at lunch in the break room. She got up from the table, punched back in, then went and sat back down at the table to finish her conversation with Shauna.” Another big gulp of slushy margarita slid down my throat. “Oh good Lord, those women drive me crazy sometimes.”
“So…what would you rather do?”
“I don’t have a clue. Anything but Crafty Hands. I want out of there so bad.”
The server sat a steaming plate of fresh grilled tilapia covered in mango sauce in front of me, distracting me. “All it needs is a little sprig of fresh rosemary on the top.” I glanced over towards Carla’s meal. “Those sizzling fajitas look good too.” Those were the last words we spoke for a while as we each dove into our dinner.
Carla groaned and laid her fork down. “I can’t eat another bite. I’m stuffed.” She tipped her glass up and emptied the last of her tea. “Oh, I almost forgot your book.” She rummaged around in the bag she’d carried in with her, pulled out a paperback and handed to me.
“The Joy Diet, by Martha Beck,” I read aloud from the cover. “Have you read it?”
“Yes. I really enjoyed it. I thought you would too.”
I barely heard her as I scanned the blurb on the back.
Carla kept talking, even though I hadn’t acknowledged her earlier statement. That’s one thing about Carla though, she doesn’t need much interaction. She can keep the conversation going pretty much on her own. “I marked a section for you.” She pointed to a little yellow sticky note protruding from the center of the book. “Some of it seemed to match the questioning you’ve been going through lately. The author talks about being truthful with ourselves and how we can disengage from our experiences.”
“I don’t feel that I’m disengaging,” I countered. “I’m trying to dig deeper and be more real.”
“You are now. But maybe before you were, to some extent.”
“Maybe,” I reluctantly agreed.
“In the section I marked, she talks about words Virginia Woolf wrote long ago. Something about ‘living behind a pane of glass’. It’s how we distance ourselves from our reality, and that while living behind this pane of glass is numbing and empty, it also feels safe.”
Touché! How much of my life did I spent behind this numbing pane of glass? I’d never knew that I’d done this. Thumbing through the pages, I glanced at some of the headings. “Guess what I’ll be reading at bedtime tonight?”
Carla began humming a familiar tune and I knew the words as they fell from her lips. “…I…have become comfortably numb…”
“Pink Floyd,” I chimed in. The wheels in my head were already turning. I was thinking of the distancing I’ve allowed in my life. To live an authentic life and be true to myself, I must know myself – my true being – without the cloak of protection this gauzy layer provides me. So, what is my true being? What do I want to do with my life?