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125 - The Untold Story

ron smith May 14, 2022

Hey Guys! Nicole Gabriel here! I’m the host of the Let’s Get Your Book Published podcast. I’m also the author multiple books, a Book Designer, and a Publishing Coach as well as an intuitive Business Coach.

I’ve been in the book business for awhile now and I’ve helped many clients get their book published over the years. On this podcast I share personal stories, client stories, and the truths about the publishing industry….


Today’s Topic: The Untold Story, Using A Book to Leave Your Legacy
Well Guys…I’ve gone on a missing spurt again and I apologize for that. My last episode was 3 weeks ago. I’ve just been really too busy. But, we have many new authors that have just birthed wonderful new books. I often times have to juggle my client business with my own and my clients always come first, so I apologize for being MIA but we’ve all been doing some really great work. I’m happy to say that I’ve been doing some of the best work of my career as of late. There has just been a perfect match between clients and the work they are doing and my ability to help showcase them with brilliant cover design, a few fun new interior layouts, eBooks, and marketing pieces. It really takes a perfect partnership to pull off the vision clients have and it’s just been so wonderfully aligned these days. I’m truly proud of the work we have done in partnership.

But, I have to admit, there was something that threw me a bit off-kilter lately. There was a neighbor in my parents neighborhood…the guy that sort of set the tone for the whole neighborhood…that passed recently. I used to visit mom and dad in Michigan and it was his sweet little piece of property overlooking a small lake, the stone farmhouse so neatly manicured, his friendly wave, the barnyard animals and grazing sheep that would always come to mind when life got a little to big all those years I lived in Hawaii. It wasn’t like his life was easier per se, but it was kinder. It was a choice that wasn’t outwardly pretentious but yet it wasn’t affordable by many either. I had days in Hawaii I found myself drifting off and desiring a brief hello as I walked by… a short chat about the weather perhaps. There is a kind of repetition that happens in Hawaii… same island, same people, same weather, and always living with influence from the land… as they say - a respect for the aina (the land) is something one must gain living there as the islands will engulf you if you’re not alert. There is a kind of escapism most are living with in the islands… leaving behind what didn’t work, trying to live the dream yet over time those on the mainland kind of treating you like you’ve died since you are so far away and it’s so costly to visit. Many want to avoid the mainland pitfalls of materialism or expectations or comparisons with a neighbor. There is not just an avoidance factor but an intentional desire to live differently and in that there can oftentimes be a lack of a grasp on reality. The allure of the islands captures many and the transient nature of those with dreams of being there and it not working are plentiful. It can be hard to make friends because you never know how long they will stay. Income and employment are generally at the center of this but so is a lack of modern living or the cost of living. You oftentimes have to go without something to be there so one must weigh what they are leaving behind to make a life there. If you aren’t close to your family it might be a great place to be. If you’re retiring you would miss out on your grand kids so you might be best there by not having any. The winds are always blowing in Hawaii and at times that can be a bit exhausting. Going to get your mail also means you are going to sweat getting there. The idea of a good hair day plain doesn’t exist. The humidity and wind will undo any attempt. Typical family functions are a bit different as there and there are no large theatres for plays, and sporting events are playing against locals or other islanders.  When you do business with someone they are generally a neighbor and having a bad experience with anyone is likely not going to work in your favor as everyone knows everyone. It’s not my intent to paint a bad picture of the islands but simply one of realism. What I experienced there made me feel like this was my home in some moments and in others… I longed for the slower pace of what my parents neighbor epitomized.

When approaching the small Stonehouse on walks with the dogs I would begin to look around because he was always outside in his yard picking up fallen branches from the big walnut trees. He had what I called the lawn iRobot - a remote-controlled yard mower that looked like (and sounded like) a vacuum. I would pass by the old horses in the paddock and hear the bells of the sheep and wait for my wave and “hello”. I’ve been in Michigan for awhile now and walk the dogs by there on occasions still today. The dogs are aging and our walks aren’t as long as they used to be. But I took notice over the winter that the three cars he owned weren’t moving. I asked my dad how well he knew him and if he knew him well enough to check on him. He said he took notice that there was a bit less activity there than normal as well. Finally dad called and his number was disconnected. Dad waited for an opportunity to stop by but one never seemed to present itself that wouldn’t have him showing up knocking on the door like a nosy neighbor. Some time passed when all of a sudden there were estate sale signs in the yard and dad and I both began to hypothesize about what was occurring there. We found out that indeed those cars were not moving for good reason. He had passed exactly at the time we had noticed the cars. We inquired some more and mom eventually found his funeral notice. His name - Ron Smith. There was no mention of family, kids, etc. There was only a mention that he followed his aunt and uncle in passing. So, this leaves me to the premise of todays podcast - the untold story!

We know nothing about this man other than his love for animals, where he lived, and his name - Ron Smith, died at age 78. Oh, and there was mention he was a retired Engineer from General Motors. But, dad and I talked about how something magic happened there. On occasion I would walk by with the dogs and hear loud folk music playing… a banjo usually. I always thought there must have been great joy in that for him and often wondered if he played. It kinda felt to me like a scene in a movie where a golden light diffuses the room and fairy sparkles filled the air… a dance of joy and celebration… kinda like an invocation to the elemental spirits of fairies and gnomes. He had a magical connection to his land that was clear by any passer-by. Anyone that watched had to wonder about the magical life of this man. He was always happy and with a smile on his face. Up til the very end he manicured his lawn and tended to his farm animals. In fact, shortly after they came in and cleared out his home without any personal acknowledgment or respect, a large tree branch fell in his front yard that bothered me so much I had to pull over the car, get out, and move it. He would have never left that branch in his yard. As I moved it I thought - they all came in here - hoards of people - elbowing in for a good deal and they took everything, even the pots of dirt in the front yard. And not one person took the time to pick up a branch or mow the lawn! No one knew he never left a single fallen branch in his yard - ever!

We suspected his estate was donated to the church but the story of this man will remain a mystery.

My point in telling you this story - writing a book is how you leave your legacy! I guess some of us prefer to slip out quietly, but I, for one, would have loved to know more about the retired engineer named Ron Smith. I just know the world missed out on knowing the magic that happened there in that little stone house in rural Michigan.

The thing about writing a book to leave a legacy…it doesn’t have to be in the form of a memoire but it could be a book about all the things you have come to know or learned in a life well-lived. It could be the things you learned in your career, it could be what you learned about raising a family, or it could be what brought a single man with no kids happiness… I think in Ron’s case it was evident his joy was in the life he created for himself. So many people don’t write because they think their life wasn’t interesting enough or wonder who would read their story. But, it really kinda comes down to how you package it. If you don’t think your life is something someone would enjoy reading then approach it from a value stand-point. Where can you provide value? People generally either read to be entertained or to learn. The best way to get started is to determine first how you fall into these categories. Then, start laying out either your life stories in a chronological way or lay out the lessons or learning points. See, a lot of people say “I have always wanted to write a book.” or “I’ve always felt my life was worthy of a book.” Or “People have always told me I should write a book.”

Some books are designed to make a profit and others are designed to capture a moment in time. It’s not like every book needs to be made into a movie… because really this is how people think… “a book I’d write is no good if it’s not movie-worthy". But, at minimum your family will likely read it. To get a broader reach means defining a marketing plan. And that plan starts well before the manuscript is written. You have to decide who your target audience is and what they want to hear and then match up your life experiences in alignment with that message and how you can provide meaningful and valuable content. You are the master of your own life and the master of the legacy you wish to leave behind. There might have been points in your life with animosity that you wish to come to peace with before you depart this planet. There might be something amazing that happened that you wish to broadcast to your reader. There might be things you learned along the way that could help someone in a similar scenario. I’ll bet you have a parent that somewhere in your life gave you the story of how they overcame something… even if it’s walking a mile to the school bus stop with holes in their boots…yeah my dad told that story a few times and somewhere along the way the holes turned into baggies on the feet… either to see if we were paying attention or to really exaggerate the triumphant victory or perceived hardship.

A book can capture all the family stories, the workplace victories, the personal challenges overcome, and serve as a voice of reason, provide companionship to someone in need, to win an argument, to make a point, or to be identified as a leader or master of a particular topic. Everyone has a story to tell and a legacy to leave, so what is yours and when are you writing your book?

We have a practice in my yoga where we chant “Akal” three times to release the spirit of someone whom has passed… to send them back home. I sat on my yoga mat the other morning and said goodbye to Ron and said… Ron, I sure wish I had known more about you… rest in peace my friend! From a girl that never really made her presence known or let you know how you impacted me…knowing he must have impacted far more than me… the girl that just walked by and waved every once in awhile. As we say in Hawaii - “a hui ho” (until we meet again)!

And on that note… tomorrow’s are not guaranteed! If you have a story to tell, there is no time like the present to get going on your book! I’m happy to guide you along the way when you’re ready!

As always… wishing you peace, love, and light…

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