Are You Starting Over? Have You Ever Started Over?

Vincent Wright, a good friend, is teaming up with my publisher to write a book called “The 42 Rules of Starting Over.”  This book will have 42 chapters written by people who have started over, and I’m sure it will serve as an inspiration to many people… people who are starting over from divorce, addictions, catastrophe, loss of a loved one, etc.  Even job loss.

Vincent has a number of authors right now (I submitted my story), but if you have any inclination to share your story or how you started over, please contact him.  Here are some details about what they want:

  1. All rules must be between 550-650 words
  2. All rules must have an example, story or anecdote to make them come alive.
  3. The rules are to be phrased in the positive whenever possible.
  4. We need to condense (stories) down to the elements that are
    critical to “starting over”. What was the one thing you’d tell others
    who are trying (or are forced) to start over?

I know there are hundreds of people who read this blog who have had to start over, in one way or another.  And YOU MADE IT!  Consider e-mailing Vincent with a summary of your story to see if it fits into this book project.  Just thinking about this book has been a major inspiration for me!

Vincent’s e-mail is Vincent [at] VincentWright [dot] com.

16 thoughts on “Are You Starting Over? Have You Ever Started Over?”

  1. I can see the benefit of a positive starting over book, but personally I do have problems with the redundancy of the subject. There are bad times for a lot of people. It is a struggle. It isn’t a case of well if they can do it I can do it. The safety nets that were in place for many people have disappeared.
    There are a lot of people who have started over. I’ve had to start over multiple times and there have been failures and successes.
    Even with the successes there are still holes left from bad times.
    Reality is both success and failure and stages. Some people will hit bottoms and come back up, some people will just hit bottom.
    I think even in the content
    “The rules are to be phrased in the positive whenever possible.”
    Avoiding the dark side is a mistake IMHO.
    Peter

  2. Peter, interesting take on this. As I look at my little library of books near my desk, I see books on job search, career stuff, networking, marketing… all redundant subjects. Seriously, how many networking books are there?

    I’m definitely not saying that this justifies one more… on any subject. But different folks are going to have different perspectives, and different people will be able to influence/help/inspire readers in a way that other others didn’t.

    I see this as an inspirational collection of personal stories of people who have failed… in any regard. Whether it was significantly life-changing, or something that others would think “that’s it? That’s no big deal!” … but the key is, these should be stories about how people dealt with the issues at hand.

    I am interested in sharing my story because it’s not a story I share often… typically I’m asked about JibberJobber, or networking, or LinkedIn, or something like that… but I think what happened to me would, could and should inspire others who feel like they are down on their luck.

    And the most important thing is, I’m nothing special. I’m not a celebrity, I’m not a member of mensa, I’m not privileged or unprivileged… I don’t have anything that makes me more noteworthy or newsworthy or predisposed to achieve… nothing more than what anyone else has.

    Anyway, I still think it’s a cool project, and think the book will be cool, and if it helps just one person get through that rock-bottom, then it will be worth it.

    Just my 2 cents 🙂

  3. Hi, Jason,
    Thanks for your response to Peter. Believe it or not, I’ve been in places in my life which would cause me to agree with both of you.

    Peter’s perspective reminds me of an attitude I adopted a long time ago as a young musician – as someone new to music, I was looking for the next great sound – a new sound. But, unfortunately for me and all my breathless expectations, all songs sounded EXACTLY THE SAME. The 70’s would come and certain songs just reminded me of stuff I’d heard back in the 60’s. The 80’s would come and certain songs would remind me of songs I’d heard in the 60’s and 70’s. The same old refrains – decade after decade. Rare was the song which came along and did something *different* – something *new* – something which moved both music and the subject of the music forward. How much “sameness” do we hear in music even today? Yet, someone today will go back and hear something in the music of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s which is “new” – to them…

    No one knows who will ultimately read the book they author. I know that for myself, I’ve spent countless evenings and early mornings as excited and as encouraged as can be by books long after they’ve been out of print, long after their authors have died. One book which comes to mind is “The Mature Mind” by Harry A. Overstreet. I think even the author of that book would be startled as to what that book has meant to me since the 70’s and what it still means to me in 2008 – decades after the book has been out of print and decades after Overstreet’s death.

    While “42 Rules of Starting Over” may not move the subject of life’s challenges forward for everyone, I hope it will serve as a new foundation, a new thing for someone in need of hearing just the right thing said just the right way – a way which will help them start over more easily than we. Having 42 authors increases the chance of readers finding a chapter which speaks in just “the right voice” to them….

    Thanks for your response Peter. And thanks for posting this on JibberJobber, Jason.

    Keep STRONG!
    Vincent

  4. I’ve submitted my story, which may or may not be the kind of thing you guys want or envision. I have to comment here because I think I’m hearing something from Peter that neither Jason nor Vincent is quite getting, filtered through the extremely high enthusiasm for this new project.

    While this project sounds good to the originators’ ears, there are two related problems with it I’m hearing from both Jason and Vincent:

    1) you are blindered, suffering a bit of forest/tree syndrome here, not realizing how much information you are NOT providing to your public–hence NOT infecting them with your over-the-top enthusiasm

    2) you are so enamored of the “think positive thoughts and it will get you through” school of thought, which is not bad and has made a LOT of people (read: authors of self-help books and products from Nightingale and Covey through to the current release of The Secret) EXTREMELY rich, you are forgetting that there are people in this world who just can’t pull themselves up (alone) and start over. There are people in this world who, once the world stomps on them, just give up and die. Inside, figureatively, if not literally.

    There’s the argument that people–humans–were not designed and created to exist alone, and I’m not trying to start a religious discussion. I’m pretty secular actually, and very much by choice, thanks, but there is a certain design to human psychology that we haven’t, as a species, managed to overcome just yet. We NEED each other. We need HELP and not “I told you so” help and not “Just do it” or “Don’t be lazy, get up and get energized” but sometimes, some of us actually need a soft and gentle hand up, with no judgments attached and no expectations dragging like a ball and chain afterwards.

    Far too many of the self-help books and schools of thought (and I believe at this point in my life I may actually have read them *ALL* wow) just really get that over-the-top enthusiastic attitude going and get you all inspired while you’re reading but are such loads of bulls**t it’s not even funny after you put it down and realize what a load of crap it is…at least out in the REAL WORLD. You know, the real world where people are shot. Dead. The real world where children are starving–and I mean INSIDE the US. The real world where if you lose your job, you DON’T necessarily EVER find another one. The real world where if you have kids of your own, you’d better hope you can afford to buy them clothes for school next month and figure out some way not to let them know how utterly terrified you are of being financially ruined and destroying their lives….now that you’ve brought them into this Real Wonderful World.

    I’m not saying the “42 Rules…” should include doom and gloom but you guys need to have some real world in there, too, not just the “Hey! you can pick up any pieces from any life and make it happen if you just WANT it bad enough!!” I say that not to speak to your sales numbers, which I would HOPE are not your primary concern when assembling / publishing this book, but rather because your audience is going to actually trust you to have something helpful to say. Don’t gloss them over with the brown stuff and send them off to forage in the forest. Give them an actual tree to climb and some assistance getting that first foothold, eh?

    Sarah, The Webbiegrrl Writer

  5. Sarah,
    I appreciate your post. However, you’re making assumptions about a book you haven’t read – and – about a person whose life story you don’t know. I believe you need a bit more information before making the pronouncements about such things as my “over the top enthusiasm” and my experience with the “REAL WORLD”

    Time won’t permit me to share it with you this morning but, my experience with the “REAL WORLD” could cause some to have a nervous break down.

    If you know anyone who has sat in their home and listened to more people get killed than I have, God bless you. I know that listening to 5 people get shot to death over an 18 month period of time is enough “REAL WORLD” experience for me.

    If you know anyone who has spent more than a decade of their most fruitful years wrestling with a $100 Billion Dollar Corporation, God bless you. I know that losing more than $1.5 Million Dollars in earnings over a 12 year period of time, is enough “REAL WORLD” experience for me.

    If you know anyone who has gone without food, heat, lights, phone, human contact more weeks than I have, God bless you. I know that going for weeks on end without those things, is enough “REAL WORLD” experience for me.-

    If you know someone who has sought to encourage more people than I have as my own foundation crumbled beneath me, God bless you. I know that encouraging thousands of people – non-stop – for more than 3 years, is enough “REAL WORLD” experience for me.

    But, even if I were to list the full details of my most gnawing, challenging, unnerving, innervating experiences, listing those things, while perhaps entertaining for those who may have some sort of sordid fascination with gawking at the worst things humans can experience, listing them, in and of themselves, will not do one single thing to help anyone deal with similar issues – it will not help one person to start over.

    For me, based upon my own experiences with the REAL WORLD, I’m okay with setting a self-assigned mission of encouraging the world…

    Thus, I must ask you Sarah: does the above list help me be more “authentic”, more capable of dealing with the “REAL WORLD” in your eyes? Or is there something further you need?

    Hope you feel encouraged, today.

    Keep STRONG!
    Vincent Wright

  6. Whoa!! Did I ever touch a nerve and set you off on a defensive roll here. Okay, let’s back up. First, I apologize for drawing out such a negative energy here. I had not intended to bring negativity to the table but it appears that’s just what I did. I responded to the comments that were POSTED, not the comments you DIDN’T post. I cannot respond to things not said because much as I wish I could, I still have not managed to learn how to read minds. Darnit. 🙂 Not giving up hope yet though!

    Notice also, please, that my first remark to you (Vincent) about this project was to speak to the fact that it sounds like there are things you guys are thinking but not saying because there seemed to me to be some “missing” information about the project, about what you’re looking for, about what you’re intending to do, etc. In fact, I’ve repeated that remark more than once in our emails, haven’t I? I could TELL there was a lot going UNsaid but I couldn’t even begin to guess what it was. So my comment on this blog responded to the remarks you chose to say, Vincent. That’s all.

    Based on the replies to Peter’s first comment, my response stands. You chose what to say and what to keep to yourself. I simply responded to what you chose to say as anything else would have been inappropriate and yes, as you said, would have required me to make some wild assumptions.

    Based on your additional information, Vincent, wow, you’ve led a full life and I think you SHOULD have said a lot more than the Disneyesque “Happy happy joy joy” message delivered in your first comment on this blog. Your REAL WORLD experience *would* have added depth and credibility to your words. I’ve been to more seminars, read more books, and listened to more inspirational speakers (some of whom were friends, some of whom were strangers) and I recognize the “Plastic Fantastic Lover” syndrome that comes about when there’s an UNREALISTIC (or as you’re saying here, less authentic-sounding) undertone to the remarks. A little less stress on “must be positive” as opposed to “being positive will empower you” and people respond in a whole different way.

    Real people are not perfect nor do real people live in a perfect world. Real people have flaws, have fears, have scars and have problems. Real people who are authentic to themselves and the world around them don’t necessarily “bleed on the page” all the time but they also don’t hide their “negative past” simply because it’s not all sparkly. And real people don’t want to listen to someone give them advice when that someone tells them the world is or can be just perfect if you just wish for it hard enough.

    I maintain that the over-the-top enthusiasm has a place but this wasn’t it. And I’m with Peter on the idea that encouraging people is one thing but that insisting that “The rules are to be phrased in the positive whenever possible” might be a bit much, might even *alienate” some of your readers (not to mention your potential contributors).

    That subtle difference is precisely what I was saying in my first comment. Be more honest, more realistic and more true to yourself and your REAL WORLD experiences, especially if what you’ve recited in your last comment is your personal history. Sometimes, the Nitsche cliche (What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger) actually applies!! Use it instead of hiding it behind “happy happy joy joy if you just think positively enough, the world will be a better place.” Reality doesn’t always work that way.

    On a personal note, Vincent, never in any of it did I intend to diminish your accomplishments–past or present. Especially the ones you NEVER CHOSE TO SPEAK ABOUT here. I was speaking from my OWN experiences not addressing YOURS. Amazing how paradigm shifts can change the unchanging, huh? I’m saddened that you felt attacked or felt defensive as a result of my remarks. I apologize for poor phrasing, that I made it sound like an attack. That was definitely NOT my intention and it certainly was NOT personal at any level.

    Hard as it might be to believe, I am a master of turning negative into good (I actually aggravate a lot of people IRL who have contact with me because I refuse to give up looking until I’ve figured out a “good thing” to focus on whenever something “bad” happens) I’m really grateful for this misunderstanding because it got me thinking outside the box a bit — and writing!! — which is always a good thing. So thank you.

    Sarah, The Webbiegrrl Writer

  7. You’re confusing me, Sarah: You refer to my first comment as being a “Disneyesque “Happy happy joy joy” message” but, it appears to me that we’re not reading the same thread. For your consideration, I’ll repost my first comment below. Please tell me what’s “Disneyesque “Happy happy joy joy” about it:

    Hi, Jason,
    Thanks for your response to Peter. Believe it or not, I’ve been in places in my life which would cause me to agree with both of you.

    Peter’s perspective reminds me of an attitude I adopted a long time ago as a young musician – as someone new to music, I was looking for the next great sound – a new sound. But, unfortunately for me and all my breathless expectations, all songs sounded EXACTLY THE SAME. The 70’s would come and certain songs just reminded me of stuff I’d heard back in the 60’s. The 80’s would come and certain songs would remind me of songs I’d heard in the 60’s and 70’s. The same old refrains – decade after decade. Rare was the song which came along and did something *different* – something *new* – something which moved both music and the subject of the music forward. How much “sameness” do we hear in music even today? Yet, someone today will go back and hear something in the music of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s which is “new” – to them…

    No one knows who will ultimately read the book they author. I know that for myself, I’ve spent countless evenings and early mornings as excited and as encouraged as can be by books long after they’ve been out of print, long after their authors have died. One book which comes to mind is “The Mature Mind” by Harry A. Overstreet. I think even the author of that book would be startled as to what that book has meant to me since the 70’s and what it still means to me in 2008 – decades after the book has been out of print and decades after Overstreet’s death.

    While “42 Rules of Starting Over” may not move the subject of life’s challenges forward for everyone, I hope it will serve as a new foundation, a new thing for someone in need of hearing just the right thing said just the right way – a way which will help them start over more easily than we. Having 42 authors increases the chance of readers finding a chapter which speaks in just “the right voice” to them….

    Thanks for your response Peter. And thanks for posting this on JibberJobber, Jason.

    Keep STRONG!
    Vincent

  8. Vincent,
    I don’t think we are on the same page with the music analogy. That period was pretty fertile for me I had access to a lot of venues and listened to different styles and types. There was great diversity and originality. Yes there was a lot of sameness to some but I looked and found other things. Then there were classics which could sound fresh or new anytime you heard them. The same with life and problems you don’t always what what to do until you face it then the more that happens you apply some of the old skills and adapt new ones. It should never be dome alone
    I believe you were overly harsh with Sarah and I understand it. I didn’t need for you to qualify your experiences for writing the book. I do understand some particulars she used as generalized but not specific towards examples caused a reaction. I am sorry for your losses and I do not Sarah was attacking you, which is the impression I got from reading the e-mail. If I read it incorrectly please explain.
    Let’s just step back to the original request we are talking about rules. To me in this case rules would be a set of individual procedures or codes to conduct to help me start over. Examples being the Big Book and the 12 steps and 12 traditions, any 12 step program. Recognizing the stages of grief and loss Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance as presented by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in death and dying and clarified in her last work On Grief and Grieving. With Alzheimer’s disease there are rules for management for behavior. There are rules for every situation you have explained and they are not all the same.
    The request is for rules, now are the rules the stories ? How do the rules and stories work together.
    There are down sides to starting over stories your are starting usually because of catastrophic event these are hard to keep positive. One step forward, 3 steps back is just the way it goes. I’m also confused with 42 rules and 42 chapters
    When anyone submits a story what are the rules. People are exposing themselves. How is their privacy protected ? What are their rights ? What are the rules regarding approval, final edit, ownership the basics of using people’s personal material in a book.
    You are pursuing a noble cause with good intentions but the current presentation does not work for all which is neither good nor bad as it has been presented (my opinion) it needs clarity.
    I did visit your video and found the John Lennon Video and the Lyrics to Starting Over was this part of your inspiration?
    thanks,
    Peter

  9. Its not easy to start something new especially if you have been working at some place for a very long time. A book like this is very important.

  10. I just stumbled upon this. I’m in the process of falling, slowly crumbling floor by floor, into what is very likely to be what old-time writers called “ruin”. This is despite best efforts. This is despite intelligence, education, a pleasant disposition, skills, plenty of receptivity to all of that encouraging literature out there, and a lack of disabling mental or physical conditions. I’m with Sarah and I will tell you why. This is happening all over this country. Not only are we in a recession that some say is a new sort of global depression, but the old safety nets of family, community and humane government have simultaneously collapsed. When that happens in a society, magical thinking proliferates. I love magical thinking. It’s about what’s left to get me out of bed every day so that i can charge around optimistically and skillfully all day (and I really hate to say this, but I’m pretty sure that I’ve read 100,000 versions of the book that you want to write), and it gives me something happy to come home to so that I don’t have to sink too deeply into the realization that I’m about 2 months away rfom not having a home to come home to. We are legion. That’s the probem. There are a whole lot more of us even than there are books telling us that we’ll be fine, even secure, even prosperous and well if we only can learn the 10 rules, 20 mottos, 30 steps to perceiving reality differently, 40 affirmations, 50 steps to reach our goal, 60 skills, 70 parachutes, 80 ladders, 90 sources of inspiration , 100 strenuous but rewarding exercises and a f*****g partridge in a pear tree.
    The literature in America during the great depression was ful of this stuff. It’s a rich and deep vein in our cultural heritage, and it flows from a combination of ultimately vicious Social Darwinism, smug Calvinism, and what we were taught in grade school to admire as “rugged individualism. The assumption underlying all of it that misfortune stems from some sort of personal flaw. “Losers” have simply failed to internalize the rules of the game. It’s always winnable with the right combination of grit, gusto and goodness. “Winners” are admirable, and the discouraged hordes, if they dare speak the truth, are “whiners”. I will tell you something. We really don’t want to hear about the fellow who lost several million dollars and bravely fought his way back up to the top. It’s like reading about the girl who can play Bach with her toes. How very interesting. Again, rags-to-riches comprises a whole depression era literature. Dale Carnegie loved the stuff. I’m sure that Trump just adores it. This is a sign of the times, friend, and we all know who would have called it the opiate of the people. And no, I’m not red. Just that no one is wrong about everything.
    Me? Divorced at 58 after 30 years marriage. Plans fell through. People got sick. (Can you spell universal health care?) Jobs got scarce. I own a modest house but can’t afford to heat it and can’t afford the taxes. Everyone is very very very busy desperately trying to hold on to what they have. I’m sorry, but I’m TIRED. The top 2% hold 99% of the nation’s wealth and they hold it tight. Do the world a favor and write about that. The deck is stacked and the game is rigged. We’ll be seeing even more bootstrap propaganda as things grind along. If all else fails, we can kick back and wait for the Rapture. (Do some research on that sort of trend and from what cracked socio-economic soil it springs. Fascinating reading.) Oprah is a fascinating case. She set up a magnificent private school in some god-forsaken corner of Africa. Oprah is so inspiring. Interviewed tons of desperate, half-starved little girls. Picked the “cream of the crop”, the ones who had that “certain sparkle”, to attend the glorious school and get free. Like Little Orphan Annie, I guess. The other ones? Fired from the fantasy. If they’re bitter, it just goes to show.
    Didn’t you ever see They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Check it out. And buy me a ticket to Sweden, where this sort of desperate effort just to live a decent life Isn’t neccessary.
    I’m sure that you’re a very nice person. So am I. Usually. Maybe I’ll get that second job soon. And will be able to keep the house. Barely. Roof leaks and windows don’t open, but man, it’s home. Then I can work until I’m 80 and die slowly in a lovely nursing home; after that, they take the house, you know. Would be so much nicer to bequeath it to someone like Sarah up there.

  11. PS You know what I would buy? I’d buy a book about really notable and extraordinary people who ultimately failed anyway and died in grinding poverty. That would include PT Barnum, William Durant, Ulysses Grant, Vermeer, Mark Twain, Thomas Paine, Harriet Tubman, Mozart, James Joyce, Henri Rousseau, Christopher Columbus…

    because, you know, it’s humbling but comforting company.

  12. You know, I was NOT going to say anything but darnit that PS is just too funny. confetti, man you have a FANTABULOUS sense of humor. I love it!! Thank you. And please, don’t bequeath me your house. What on EARTH would I do with a house that has a leaky roof? *haha* Hey, leaks or not, you still got a roof, that’s something.

    I really *do* want to see a book sometime address the fact that indeed the top 2% hold 98% of the nation’s wealth (I don’t confirm those numbers, just restating to make the point but I think they are actually off slightly though very very close), but I can’t imagine that anyone in power to buy it would really want to get the word out there *grin*

  13. Well there is A white paper

    Recent Trends in Household Wealth in the United States:
    Rising Debt and the Middle-Class Squeeze
    by
    Edward N. Wolff
    http://www.levy.org/pubs/wp_502.pdf

    One problem is it stops at 2004.

    Saw on the news that the next big tank job will be China, Factories are shutting down, material costs high cost of labor 100 a month, change in Chinese Dollar, and lack of labor.

    I’ve enjoyed watch my pay scales steadily decline for years. This year has been the worst and I’m still waiting for a bottom. No happy talk here

  14. Yep, China’s economy is already crashing now that the Olympics jobs are ending. There was a huge false boom to their economy to serve up the world event, but you know, somehow, I just can’t be sorry to see their economy suffering. I mean, we’ve GIVEN them sooooo much money that OUR economy has crashed, it’s only fair that theirs should ultimately crash and burn too…it’s all those US dollars in their system. If they give us our money back, maybe their economy will recovery, whattaya’ think? 🙂

  15. But I feel terrible. What possessed me to lash out at an obviously kind and generous person who has an idea that might perfectly well fly? Whose side am I on, anyway? The bloggy guy who wants to do something helpful, or the soul-crushers who run the world? The hopeful person who might just help someone out here snag the golden ring, or the nasty little pain bodies who don’t want anyone to succeed if they can’t? I’m truly sorry for that mean,funny litte post. There’s truth in it, and it IS important not to taunt the “losers” at this particular moment in history with all too rare “success stories”, but how does ANYONE get out of bed except on the dear wings of hope? I wish you luck on your project, and I know that you wish me luck on mine, and damn it, I hope you make a zillion dollars on your book.
    Rule number one must certainly involve a heartfelt and sturdy persuasion that there’s some way to go. Otherwise all we’ll do is tap out discouraging little screeds at the end of discouraging days and wait for the roof to collapse. That’s not the way, either.
    Just, I think, don’t make it all about ex-CEOs who went briefly bankrupt and are now enjoying their new accumulation of villas in exotic resorts. Measure “success” by a lot more than money, don’t include all of those people who think that hardship is losing one’s ability to hire a full-time nanny because all that’s left is the trust fund, and for god’s sake skip those who saved themselves from the tensions of earning 6 figures by choosing a “simpler lifestyle” selling homemade jam in Vermont. If people are “starting over” with more resources than most Americans can even dream of, then you aren’t targeting the people who need your book. They are going to be fine, anyway. Keep it real and encourage modest success. Survival. Decency. Gratitude and a sense of proportion. Endurance. And compassion. That’s what all of need to hang on to.
    And if that’s all we hang on to then we have already started over. I just did, in writing this. May have to every day for the rest of my life. That may be enough, yes?

  16. I’m just curious as to how much you’re paying for contributions. Chicken Soup pays $300 for each story published. Thanks.

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