It was a hot, humid day in August, and the sun was beating down on our driveway. The neighborhood basketball game was tied. My two sons, Nick and Josh, were on opposite teams, their competitive spirit alive and well. Elbows were flying and bodies were being shoved. It was getting intense, especially for me, the sweating, frazzled dad trying to referee. Was this a basketball game or a wrestling match? A quick pass, a missed shot, more elbowing and shoving for the rebound and . . .
'Ouch! Hey, no fair!'
'Dad, he hit me in the face! That's a foul!'
'No way! I was going for the ball!'
'What's the call, Dad?'
Too much mayhem. Ref didn't see it. Silence. Thinking.
. . . More silence from a very confused referee.
Finally, in a burst of true brilliance, my son Nick spoke up: 'Can I get a do over?'
As a kid growing up in Minnesota, I remember games like that. Whether it was backyard softball, freeze tag, or kick the can (remember kick the can?!), inevitably there was a moment when someone would yell out, 'Hey, can I get a do over?!' At that point, the game stopped, a conference was held, and cases were pleaded. Finally, someone (usually my friend Walt, the oldest, biggest kid) would say, 'Okay, do over.'
For that brief period in time the slate was wiped clean, the past forgotten, and permission was granted to try again. With newfound confidence and resilience, we jumped back into the game, more determined than ever to give it our best shot.
We were like that as kidsresilient, confident, and determined. We weren't afraid to 'go for it' again. As time passed, however, we progressed from board games like Monopoly and LIFE (with make-believe money, plastic people, and pretend consequences), to the real game of LIFE (with real money, real peopleokay, a few plastic people as welland very real consequences).
Do we need to do an in-depth analysis of the various challenges we have faced over the last few years? I don't think so. Financial setbacks, the declining economy, job layoffs, record numbers of home foreclosures, strained relationships, too little sleep, stress, divorce, and oh, yeah, obesity. As my dad's favorite comedian Henny Youngman used to say, 'And that's the good news!' Let's face it. It's depressing. Just watching CNN can make you want to crawl back into bed and roll over instead of do over.
I've always considered myself a positive person. I was blessed with extraordinary parents who grew up during the Great Depression. My late father fought for our freedom in World War II. So his old-school phrases like 'enjoy the little things in life' and 'see the glass as half full' were instilled at a very young age. The real problem is that, for many, the glass isn't half full, it's empty. Over time, the challenges I was seeing and reading about were no longer just news stories. They started to hit home with close friends and family members.
My wife, Amy, and I were discussing our future one night and asking ourselves what we'd do 'if and when' the storm hit? I guess I'd have to reinvent myself,' I said. Exactly how I would do this wasn't clear. I found myself studying people who had 'reinvented their lives.' As I read news articles and did research online, it became somewhat of an obsession for me. As Dr. Wayne Dyer mentioned to me one evening, 'When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.' I found that some of the most remarkable people were right in front of me or standing right next to me on air at QVC. That proactive 'pick yourself up and get back in the game' spirit became a rallying call. It also became the inspiration for this book.
The stories within the pages and creases of Can I Get a Do Over? are about real people with real challenges. Most are told in their own words. That desire and drive to give ourselves a second chance is woven into the very fabric of our country. The United States itself was founded on a do over. To celebrate this, we've also included several classic do-over stories from the past that shed light on our world today. My talented (and extraordinarily hardworking) coauthor, Max Davis, and I are on a mission: to inspire others with living, breathing examples of ordinary Americans who have made extraordinary, unforgettable changes in their lives.
What was most gratifying about setting out on this journey was how inspired we became ourselves. Getting to know the people in this book was a humbling, life-altering experience. The challenges and choices were as varied as their definition of 'rock bottom.' For some, it was simply a creative need, a calling. For some it happened because of circumstances thrust upon them and choices that had to be made in order for them to either sink or swim. For others, it was truly do over . . . or die.
Despite our particular situations and circumstances, regardless of our disappointments, hindrances, and failures, what if we could get a do over? Whether it involves our careers, dreams, relationships, or our physical bodies, the way we respond to the above question speaks volumes about who we are and about how we'll be spending the next five, ten, even twenty years of our lives. The good news is, the people you're about to meet have an answer to the question, 'Can I get a do over?' It's a resounding 'Yes!' Some stories will make you smile, some will make you put down that cookie and head to the gym, while others may make you want to immediately stop what you're doing and change directions, perhaps even start a new career. They'll make you question what's most important in your life. And all of them will remind you that, although our time on earth is oh-so limited, there is still time for a second chance. So go ahead, flip the page, enjoy the read, and give yourself permission to start again.