Portrait by Tao Nguyen

Friday, June 15, 2012


No, I don’t want your money! What I mean is, can you spare some time to reflect and look at what’s going on in your life that needs to change, and then do whatever it takes to make that happen? Here's an example. I constantly rushed around and became so accustomed to being stressed out that stress became my “normal.” Monday through Friday I left the house an hour early to make a commute in congested traffic that shouldn’t have taken more than twenty minutes. By the time I arrived at work I was so keyed up the mood was set for the day and I couldn't slow down. Year after year my husband and I both worked ourselves into a state of exhaustion until one of us realized we had to take a vacation before the pace we were keeping had a negative impact on our health. It was a wake-up call that brought me to my senses and sprung me into action. I booked our flight to Kauai, a car, and rented a condo in Poipu Beach. The next morning I informed my boss when we were going and I arranged for a temp to cover me in my absence. I was so firm when I told her our plans I didn't get any resistance.

The morning of our departure the airport shuttle came for us fifteen minutes late and freeway traffic was making such slow progress I was sure we wouldn’t make it to the airport in time. My heart pounded until we arrived. After we checked our bags and passed through security we went to a restaurant for breakfast. I kept checking my watch, impatient to board the plane. My husband’s cell phone rang—a business call—life as usual. 


We arrived! My husband knew the way to Poipu Beach and drove us directly to the condo. On the way, I drank in the sunlight, awed by the deep red soil and lush vegetation. Ancient mountains in the distance dotted the countryside. Kauai is a paradise where papaya trees grow alongside the road and tropical flowers bloom everywhere. By the time we drove beneath the tree tunnel I knew we were almost at our destination.

I was anxious to get settled and felt it took the clerk much too long to check us in. Our internal clocks were operating from totally different perspectives. The condo was beautifully furnished and had a spectacular ocean view. I opened the sliding glass door and the breeze caressed my face. The sound of breaking waves and the rustle of palm trees embraced me and felt like a soothing balm. Tropical birds sang, “padda pah pah, padda pah pah.”

Almost in a trance, I settled back on the couch and said to my husband, “I remember this; now I remember this feeling. I haven’t felt this way since the last time we were here.” My shoulders relaxed and the nervousness poured from my body like running water, replaced by a feeling of inner peace and well-being. I’d surrendered to island time. I was being mindful and living in the moment.

Two characters in Good Fortune, Michael Hamilton and Wu Chow, are over-achievers. They focus only on work and neglect the rest of their lives. When Michael gets laid off he's completely lost and doesn’t know how to process what's happened. Several weeks later when he meets Jennie Greene at a bookstore and invites her to coffee, they talk about themselves and Jennie is such a good listener he makes a confession.

             Until a few weeks ago I was an executive at an advertising firm. My job dominated my life. Now I don’t know what to do with myself and all this free time.” He adds, “I was so busy I didn't even allow myself time off to take a real vacation. Work became my identity.”

Later, at his friend Eric Brewer’s house, Michael talks to his wife Susan, a licensed therapist. Susan listens as he expresses his feelings about losing his job and his frustration with his situation. Susan says:

           “I don’t want to make you feel worse. Look, the important thing to recognize is, by driving yourself to achieve in school and business, you were so driven to succeed that you didn’t leave yourself enough time to develop your personal life. What have you got without your career that defines who you are now?”
“Nothing,” he admitted. He averted his eyes for a moment. “It’s depressing, but I don’t know what to do and I’m feeling kind of lost. Everything I was—or thought I was—is gone.”

Wu’s circumstance is the mirrored image of Michael’s, exactly the same but opposite. He has a wife and sons and manages Good Fortune family restaurant. His job is secure and even though he can make his own schedule, instead of taking time off to be with his family he chooses instead to work long hours and neglect them as the excerpt below reveals.

Anna and the boys spent a lot of time without him despite the fact the restaurant was so successful he no longer had to prove himself to anyone. Instead of celebrating his achievement with his wife and children, he imposed pressure on himself, believing only he was qualified to run things at the level he wanted. He forgot his father’s lesson: “Learn to delegate authority to others. They will appreciate the opportunity to earn your trust.”
At night he played host in the dining room, networked parties, and bought customers drinks. He put in so many hours at work he rarely, if ever, was home for dinner anymore.

Wu’s father, Tong, waits patiently for the right moment to confront him. When it finally comes he says:

“For years I have watched you work tirelessly in your effort to amass more and more money for the future, never seeing what it cost you in the present. You achieved affluence years ago. Nonetheless, you have felt driven to accumulate a greater fortune without realizing the irony of your endeavor to obtain what you already have.”

Michael and Wu both have to make life altering decisions and change their priorities. They each have important life lessons to learn while they embark on personal journeys and discover how to overcome difficult challenges. Tong's gentle wisdom will guide them in totally different ways.  Please read Good Fortune and find out what happens.

When facing your own life challenges, I wish you success in reaching your goals toward good fortune.

Leslie Bratspis, Author
Good Fortune

Good Fortune is available on Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes&Noble.com,  Nook & Smashwords.com 


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