I am a voracious reader.

At least, I am now, as an adult.

I hated it when I was a kid, except during the “Book It” years. Remember that? What kid doesn’t want to read books to receive stars to put on a button that can be redeemed at Pizza Hut for free Pizza?


1980’s Button

This kid sure did.

I know what you’re thinking, “Pizza Hut? Really?”

Let me explain. It was the 80’s. Pizza Hut was the sh%@.

Outside the “Book It” years I would rather have punched myself in the eye sockets than read a book.

But, as an adult, I love to read and secretly wish someone would devise the adult version of “Book It” that gets me free pizza…and drinks.

I love to read all kinds of things these days – inspirational books, entrepreneurial books, biographies, fantasy novels (although, I do maintain the philosophy, “Why ruin the movie by reading the book?”), comic books, how-to books, comic books, the Bible, comic books – you get the idea.

I was inspired this week by an essay I read by novelist Isabel Allende entitled, “In Giving I Connect With Others” featured in a book you should be reading.

The book – This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men & Women.


I figured I couldn’t say it any better so I decided to share an excerpt. I hope it resonates with you as it did with me.


“I have lived with passion and in a hurry, trying to accomplish too many things. I never had time to think about my beliefs until my 28-year-old daughter Paula fell ill. She was in a coma for a year and I took care of her at home, until she died in my arms in December of 1992.

During that year of agony and the following year of my grieving, everything stopped for me. There was nothing to do — just cry and remember. However, that year also gave an opportunity to reflect upon my journey and the principles that hold me together. I discovered that there is consistency in my beliefs, my writing and the way I lead my life. I have not changed, I am still the same girl I was fifty years ago, and the same young woman I was in the seventies. I still lust for life, I am still ferociously independent, I still crave justice and I fall madly in love easily.

Paralyzed and silent in her bed, my daughter Paula taught me a lesson that is now my mantra: You only have what you give. It’s by spending yourself that you become rich.

Paula led a life of service. She worked as a volunteer helping women and children, eight hours a day, six days a week. She never had any money, but she needed very little. When she died she had nothing and she needed nothing. During her illness I had to let go of everything: her laughter, her voice, her grace, her beauty, her company and finally her spirit. When she died I thought I had lost everything. But then I realized I still had the love I had given her…

The pain of losing my child was a cleansing experience. I had to throw overboard all excess baggage and keep only what is essential. Because of Paula, I don’t cling to anything anymore. Now I like to give much more than to receive. I am happier when I love than when I am loved. I adore my husband, my son, my grandchildren, my mother, my dog, and frankly I don’t know if they even like me. But who cares? Loving them is my joy.

Give, give, give — what is the point of having experience, knowledge or talent if I don’t give it away? Of having stories if I don’t tell them to others? Of having wealth if I don’t share it? I don’t intend to be cremated with any of it! It is in giving that I connect with others, with the world and with the divine…”


Honestly, what more could I say? Except to ask the question I asked myself…

What are you giving away?



About The Author

Jason Sowell

Jason is a man (really), non-profit entrepreneur, missionary/pastor, musician, part-time barista, and a pro surfer in another life.

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