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Don't Miss Your Life! (2009)

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Don't Miss Your Life!

By Charlene Ann Baumbich
Author of Don't Miss Your Life!

CBN.comYour invisible, utterly personal, wholly accessible, always-ready-for-new-entries, combination diary and scrapbook of sensory-loaded captured moments. Properly honored, added to, mined, evaluated, sifted, and, sometimes even edited, gentle examination of said captured moments can become the key -- the very path -- to your success in not missing your life.

When I was a child, I loved playing spaceship and building worm forts with the Cook brothers. They lived just up the path through the weeds -- the path we'd created by endlessly running through them. (Cook brothers, if you're out there, please contact me! My maiden name was Brown.) We once left this earth (for real ) on an abandoned hot-water heater rigged with a control panel made of half-melted camera flash cubes and pieces of wood that we wired and taped to its side. Of course this was back in the pre-Wii days, when our only option was to engage in real-life hands-on play, like sifting through the remnants of the garbage our folks burned in a rusty barrel out back. Where else could we discover a once-common flash cube transformed by fire into a crystal launch button?

During our space explorations, I was always Flash Gordon. I mean to tell you, I was Flash Gordon, neither a pretend Flash nor one of those froufrou tight-clothed girls in the old black-and-white television show of my youth. Nope, I was Flash, who was also tight-clothed, but not in "that" way. As for the worm forts, they were exquisite -- although I do not recommend putting a swimming pool in your complex. Don't ask me how I know.

Over time, I became a Gypsy (inspired by the exotic Sophia Loren), Annie Oakley (sharpshooter), Calamity Jane (rough-and-tumble), Crazy Googenheim (I loved making my mother laugh while pretending to be that wonderful character brought to life by Frank Fontaine on The Jackie Gleason Show), and Doris Day, that quirky fanny-swinging dame of a movie star with whom men always fell in love. A comparable cast for today's youth -- or, on a bad day at the office or with the kids -- perhaps might be made up of an actual astronaut (we didn't yet have them back in the fifties), Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, or, say, Jim Carrey.

Although I wasn't doing typical childhood writerly things like reading stacks of books or writing, not even in a diary, I always had a story running in my head. I was too busy "living" in another world or paying attention to the fine, wondrous, confounding, and startling details of my own life to sit down and write about it. At the time, little did I know that my natural childhood inclination to live in "otherly" skin was setting the stage for my all-growed-up, as my grandma used to say, "accidental" fiction-writing career. Never did I suspect that my youthful God-given instinct to pay close attention to the physical and emotional nuances of my own life, as well as the lives of those around me, was preparing me for one of the most fulfilling and rewarding joys of my entire life: writing this book. However, during an astute memory portfolio (MP) review, my writerly path and this burning message became as clear as a bell. When we give our MPs a chance to work for us, what obvious and meaningful threads we discover woven throughout them! Not only that, but what might the patterns of our frayed threads teach us -- spare us from in the future -- if we learned to recognize and heed their warning stitches?

Turns out I am best fed, educated, and ministered to by the magical, mystical power unleashed through stories, and hugely blessed by passing them along. I'm also often a complete doofus, a "qualification" God uses to make sure I don't run out of fun and wholly relatable, so I'm told time and again, material. Thank you, God -- I think. That is why I'm offering you this easygoing pluck-and-play opportunity to pluck what you want from this book of stories and play their implications and possibilities into your life as needed. Be advised that along with a full exploration of your MP, a strong Play! thread will weave its way throughout these pages. Doesn't this approach add up to more fun than a scary "self-help" theme?

Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Genesis 2:7 NASB

In the most relaxing, amusing, yet thought-provoking ways possible, I want to remind you, (and me, too) of an incredible asset you've been given. I'm talking a mega-asset that is so easy to forget. Ready? Here it is: your one and only, true-self -- not someone else's version/vision -- God-breathed life. I don't know how we can forget such an easy-to-remember asset, but we do. So, if you feel like you've lost your way, or like you might need an emotional laxative for your fun-impaired, spiritually constipated, fear-laden self, this message is just the painless (well, mostly) ticket to help you get your life back to YOUR LIFE!

'Tis my quest to help you learn the lively and releasing arts of listening to, mining, and then sharing your own stories. Yes, even that story that you hoped you'd never have to think about again, since maybe, just maybe, you can at long last learn to laugh about it, or at least unknot the emotional ties that feed its life-nabbing viral-ness.

* * *

If you explore your happiest childhood memories of times at play with your friends, I believe you will discover that they reveal the same keys that can infuse you with satisfaction today. This is one of the best features of an MP, demonstrated by the fact that when I say something like "Explore your happiest childhood memories," you can. Your MP is already up and running and contains everything you need. Although it might require an occasional reboot or memory tickler -- and I'm going to deliver tons of them -- no new software is required. Just dive in! In fact, do it right now! Shine a light around in the alcoves of your childhood when you were playing with your favorite playmates.

You are searching, remembering, rediscovering, reawakening...

What did you find? Did you spend the majority of your youthful playtime with your imaginary friend? Well, that counts. If you thought, perhaps still think, that imaginary friends are completely weird and unheard of in your land of play, well, that counts, too. After all, it is your brain, your life.

But the universal truth is this: whether our true friends were born of our imaginations or our childhoods or we cultivated them as adults, they can serve as mirrors and stabilizers, partners and butt-kickers, examples and lessons in our lives. Those voices from the past, trusted friends in the present, and conversations regarding our futures can often guide us back to our personal North Star course, which we might have long ago lost in the shuffle. Please try to consider me one of your new friends, for that is the spirit I bring to this book.

Are you unhappy in your current vocation? Perhaps something as easy as perusing your MP and pondering your natural gifts, attributes, and leanings can point you toward a new, more satisfying career, or at least flush out a fresh, rejuvenating, and fulfilling avocation or hobby. Later, I'm going to help you examine the "way" you used to play before someone encouraged you to start "applying" yourself, which often implied you should knuckle down and leave your natural-bent "fun and frivolous" -- HA! -- inclinations behind. Your MP is a great place to search for the gifts you've lost or set aside, to lift them to the light and reignite them.

What if you don't even know if you have any gifts? Suggestion: listen, mouth zipped, to the way your friends, both old and new, can lay out your strengths. If you don't believe me, ask them. It's time you shore up and reclaim your uniqueness, if, somewhere along the line, you handed it over to the blandness of other people's expectations for you. It's time to reignite the God-given hope you already harbor within.

But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. Romans 8:25 NASB

Hope is perhaps the first key that can enable you to wake up, then open up, to your life. Without hope, we are left with only despair. As I heard -- and forever remembered -- Marilla Cuthbert say to Anne Shirley in the 1985 made-for-TV adaption of Anne of Green Gables, "To despair is to turn your back on God." Now, who's gutsy enough to do that?! Not I!

To read more, get a copy of Charlene Ann Baumbich's new book, Don't Miss Your Life!

From DON’T MISS YOUR LIFE! by Charlene Ann Baumbich. Copyright © 2009 by Charlene Ann Baumbich. Reprinted by permission of Howard Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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