Biography/Autobiography/Memoir, Nonfiction

Countdown to My Death

If the title of this week’s blog post made you think I’m dying, don’t worry. I’m completely healthy. But this week’s book certainly has me thinking about how I’ll use the rest of my time on Earth, especially after experiencing the death calculator!

Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned While Doing Stupid Stuff by Chip Gaines

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you know about the charming and business-savvy couple, Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV’s hit show Fixer Upper. For any of you under-rock dwellers, Chip and Jo are residents of Waco, Texas where they transform dilapidated houses using Chip’s goofy humor and Joanna’s shiplap-loving, rustic style. They just revealed that the fifth season of their television show will be their last (at least for a while), so that they can focus on their family and other business ventures. And earlier this month, they revealed they are pregnant with their fifth child, and I’m pretty sure it rained kittens and unicorns on the internet as a result of this news! Chip and Jo are beloved, and their sweetness with each other, their genuine personalities and desire to lift up others make them just a delight to follow on tv and social media and through their magazine, Magnolia Journal.

Can you tell I’m a fan of theirs? Even as a fan, I have to be honest that I wasn’t very interested in reading Chip’s recently published book, Captial Gaines: Smart Things I Learned While Doing Stupid Stuff.

In his book, Chip explains how he fought to use this unusual picture for the cover art.

While I love watching Chip’s shenanigans on Fixer Upper, I believed that his goofy, rarely serious style wouldn’t translate to a book that I would enjoy or learn much from, so I passed it up. . . until I had a six hour road trip with my friend Jamie’s mom, Lynne, who I knew was a fellow Fixer Upper fan. Chip’s book was the ideal length for our trip, and it was one more book to help me achieve my 2017 Goodreads Challenge goal of 80 books. More on this goal in upcoming post.

Lynne and me ready to road-trip and listen to some Chip Gaines!

So, we listened to it, and this is what I thought:

Woah. Unexpectedly, the overall message of this little book left me fired up to do more good in the world. Chip narrates his autobiography and reveals how his unfailingly positive, seemingly no-fear attitude has served him well throughout his life. He details his start as an entrepreneur of three businesses and how his terrible money-management skills nearly cost him both his businesses and his new relationship with Joanna.

Chip has a refreshing take on life, and it’s clear to me after reading this book that he has a strong faith and truly finds joy in EVERY experience– even when he flipped a four-wheeler as a brand new dad and ended up in the hospital. Chip uses this book to encourage others to live in the moment just like he does and tells his story with his trademark sense of humor. The audiobook even includes testimonials from some of Chip’s employees who tell all about Chip’s quirky and unconventional leadership style. A feel-good read that exceeded my expectations. For more than just fans of Fixer Upper.

This book would serve as an excellent choice for a reluctant reader or a student with business interests. My husband is a high school marketing teacher, and I bought a copy for him to add to his classroom collection.

Countdown to My Death

This is the first nonfiction title I’ve reviewed for my blog, and it lent itself very well to a #plotdrivenlife experience. Chip actually encourages readers to take these particular inspired actions.

First of all, I checked out how much longer the death calculator suggests I might live, and THAT was an eerie experience, let me tell you! On this website, you input some basic information about yourself (height, weight, BMI, etc.) and the death calculator not only computes your age of death, but it picks the exact date you’re going to croak, pastes it on an image of a tombstone and then starts a countdown clock to your death! I was highly peeved that I am only calculated to live to age 82. My mom’s parents lived into their nineties, so I’ll feel robbed of at least eight years if the death calculator is accurate and I’m supposed to kick the bucket on April 10, 2066. Eek! So weird!

Suddenly, I’m stressed!

Chip’s suggestion that we check out the death calculator serves a reminder that our time here is temporary, and he wants us to make the best of it. His other suggestion, one that I completely embraced, is to write your own obituary. Again, this is definitely a morbid recommendation, but I love Chip’s mindset that we can create the lives we want through the power of positive thinking and hard work. By writing our own obits, we are telling the Powers That Be what we expect out of life. This action not only holds us accountable for the lives we want to live, but also it communicates to the big, wide universe that it better get behind our big, fat goals, darn it! So, here’s my obit with a snub to the death calendar:

KELLY OLIVA (December 20, 1982 to June 6, 2083)

Kelly Oliva passed away peacefully at her beach home in Key West, Florida this past week, surrounded by a brood of loving family, friends and pets. Born in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, Kelly moved to Missouri to attend Lindenwood University on a field hockey scholarship. She met her husband, Mike, during her first year as an English teacher, and the couple celebrated 60 years of marriage and shared many wonderful adventures together before Mike passed away at 99 years old.

Kelly was an acclaimed writer and speaker who traveled the world, often by RV with Mike and their pets, educating people of all ages about the joy of reading and encouraging them to lead purposeful, fulfilling lives by stepping outside of their comfort zones. Kelly was a passionate advocate for pet adoption, using her wealth and notoriety to benefit no-kill animal shelters across North America. As a result, she was recognized by Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, for her goodwill. She was also interviewed by Oprah Winfrey who became her mentor and friend.

Kelly loved to perform random acts of kindness in the places she visited, sometimes paying the cost of all gifts on layaway at Walmart before Christmas, stocking a school library in need with new books, or offering to cover the adoption fee for all animals at a local shelter. Kelly inspired others to follow her example, and her non-profit “Kindness Looks Good on You” will continue her work after her passing.      

Ever proud of her Canadian heritage, Kelly will be buried in her hometown of Kelowna, BC. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to Kindness Looks Good on You or your local no-kill animal shelter.

If you’re laughing hysterically at my old-age picture, you’re welcome. You, too, can age yourself with AgingBooth, a free iOs app. If you’re interested in motivating yourself by writing your own obituary or you’re a teacher who wants his/her students to write their own obituaries, you might want to consider using a free newspaper generator like this one which adds some authenticity to the experience.

Happy reading!
~Kelly

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