Tuesday, August 25, 2015

2 Words 2 Live By

With his book, 2 Words 2 Live By, first time author Mark Madden not only crossed off an item on his bucket list, he realized the process is what made it worthwhile.

With no writing experience other than academic (Mark attended T.L. Hanna High School, Anderson University, Clemson University, and the University of South Carolina), Mark wanted to write something to help people, but unlike the usual, lengthy self-help books, he made it short and simple.  Mark's 2 Words 2 Live By suggests You can change your life-two words at a time.
I wanted a book people could pick up for five minutes at a time and still walk away with a small nugget of information they could use to improve their lives. I decided I could put a lot of inspiration and motivation into just two words. I came up with at least two hundred two-word phrases during my brainstorming.

It's divided into five disciplines of life: physical, mental, practical, social, and spiritual.  With research or an anecdote, Mark discusses two words, for example: Physical. Seen often at the YMCA, Mark is a confessed gym rat.  Stay Healthy: Your health is your most important asset and must be protected at all costs. Do something now to improve your health. Every step you take toward better health is a step to a longer, happier life. He also gives readers an action.  Choose one new healthy habit such as taking a walk after dinner or adding a serving of vegetables to your lunch.

There's an area in which all of us can use two helpful words, Mental. To Keep Learning, Mark reads fiction for escape, especially the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child.  To broaden knowledge and for inspiration, he enjoys non-fiction.  His favorite is Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell.
It's an incredible tale of the bravery, courage, and compassion of the servicemen and women who protect our precious freedom.

The 2 Words I didn't expect in the Mental discipline were actually the words that helped Mark ignore self-doubt, which is what all of us, especially writers, experience: Expect Nothing. But, Mark's explanation makes sense.  It cannot be denied that human beings have an innate desire to accomplish, achieve, and accumulate.  We are satisfied when we reach our goals and unsatisfied when we do not.
I just focused on the task at hand the process of creating the book. I still expect nothing out of it.
I'd love to sell millions of copies and earn a living creating future related books. I'd love for people to tell me this book helped them change their life, even if only in a minor way. However, I look back at all I've learned and the talented people I've met who helped me complete this project, and I realize that the process is a part of what made this worthwhile, not just the product.

I especially liked Mark's Practical advice, Pursue Adventure, because it's something I don't practice nearly enough.
My absolute favorite hobby is spending time in the streams of the Appalachian mountains with a fly rod in my hand pursuing rainbow, brown, and brook trout. When I'm there all my problems disappear, if only for a while.

A life devoted to nothing but drudgery quickly dulls the spirit and dampens a person's sense of fun. There's excitement in adventures, big and small. Adventure is what makes our fondest memories.  It is what you (and your children) will remember many years from now. Mark is taking his own advice of Start planning your next adventure now.  He and son, Landon, earned their Basic Keelboat Certification in June of this year, so look for them soon sailing Hartwell Lake and in and around Charleston Harbor.

There are few endeavors more creative, frustrating or time consuming than writing and publishing a book.  The writing process for 2 Words 2 Live By took about a year without editing because it was a part time effort for Mark.  He's owned or co-owned several information technology related businesses, been a consultant to several large corporations, and invented and patented a product, which was sold to a company in Rhode Island. Presently, Mark's on a personal sabbatical, working on his bucket list, taking care of his mom, Jeanine Shufford Madden Garvin, who has Alzheimer's, and trying to figure out his next career move.

After editing, Mark had to rewrite 50-75% of the book.  This is standard. Although he encouraged himself during this process (Mark kept this a secret mainly because it was a personal bucket list item he was determined to complete regardless of what others had to say), he persevered and includes two words Encourage Someone as a Social discipline. Everyone has a memory from childhood when an adult, mom, or dad or a teacher, offered words of encouragement.  Mark's dad, Samuel Landon Madden, passed away in 1982.  But, always his biggest cheerleader, Mark knows his dad would be the most proud of him.  That's an encouragement. He realizes Adults need encouragement, too. Find a way to encourage someone this week.

Mark likes to keep the gospel simple, so his favorite passage is Matthew 22:37-40,
which basically says to love God and love others as yourself.  It also says that all the law hangs on these commands, which leads me to believe that if we would all just love God and love others as much as we love ourselves, we really wouldn't need any other laws.  What a world that would be!
Spiritual -of or pertaining to the spirit, or the soul.  Of or pertaining to God, sacred.  Most of us know I Corinthians 13: 4-7, Love is patient, kind, does not envy or boast, is not proud, does not dishonor, is not self seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrong.  But, sometimes we forget this passage is a call to act.  Two words to live by Love Others: Data indicates that relationships may have as much influence on our health as do factors such as obesity, smoking, and exercise. Everyone wants to feel loved. But what about showering love upon others? His advice? Do something special for a loved one today.

Life is working, creating, and doing. It's how we grow. Writing and publishing a book began as a bucket list, but Mark's life was also changed.
I think any worthwhile endeavor changes your life. You learn, you make mistakes, you meet people who have amazing talent, you discover that through collaboration with others you can do just about anything you want to do.

Our physical, mental, practical, social, and spiritual lives could use a little improvement: Walk Daily, Be Positive, Buckle Up, Appreciate Others, Don't Envy.  With a copy of 2 Words 2 Live By in hand, each day or week, we can read at random or choose a discipline that fits our present circumstances. 

2 Words 2 Live By is simple, enjoyable, and helpful for every person at every age and walk of life, so it makes a great gift.  

Mark lives in Anderson, South Carolina with wife Sissy and son, Landon.  His daughter, Kinsley, lives in Nashville. If you live in the Anderson area, you can buy a copy directly from Mark ( his book is on Facebook). https://www.facebook.com/twowordsbooks
I hope you'll buy a copy, Start Reading and Take Action 2 Words at a time.






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