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I did it.

Despite the cold, depressing, hopeless feelings that hung over me while I read Angela’s Ashes, I forged ahead and finished the book. And I’m glad I did because at the very core it’s a story about a young man who dreamed of a better life.

And who can’t relate to that?

To be honest, I can’t fathom the amount of strength, determination and perserverance it must’ve taken for Frank McCourt to rise above the extreme poverty, starvation, abandonment, illness, humiliation and loss he faced as a child. But he did. He went from dressing in rags, living in squalor and daydreaming about the luxury of having a hard-boiled egg to eat to building a life and career in America and winning the Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography.

His life serves as proof that no matter who you are or how little you have, there is greatness within all of us, just waiting to be discovered.

Anyone else feeling particularly inspired by a recent read?

As I continue to make my way through Andre Agassi’s autobiography, Open, I’m intrigued by just how flat broke Agassi was in the very beginning of his career. I guess it’s not how broke he was that surprises me – after all, he was just a teenager at the time – but how little he feared money and financial insecurity.

Since borrowing money from his tyrant father was never an option, Andre and his brother, traveled from one tournament to the next in a beat up jalopy and lived on Andre’s meager winnings. Most of the time, they survived on baked potatoes and generic lentil soup but every now and then, when Andre won, they treated themselves to a feast at Sizzler. Rather than letting the lack of money scare him, he let it motivate him and he forged ahead. Of course, in due time, Andre’s career sky-rocketed and his earnings followed, setting him up for life.

The fear of money (or lack thereof) is one of the biggest fears that prevents people from chasing their dreams. Often times our dreams have the potential of paying us exponentially more than we’re currently making, but we can’t find the courage to take the leap. Most of us promise ourselves that once we earn X then we’ll feel comfortable enough to make the leap. The only catch is that once you make X, it then becomes, “Once I earn Y, THEN I’ll feel comforable enough to make the leap.” X becomes Y, Y becomes Z, and your dreams quickly become encapsulated by fear.

Sort of makes you wish you were rich, doesn’t it? Aaah, the security that must come from being filthy, stinkin’ rich. Well actually, according to “almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. And at least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.” So when you look at it that way, I AM filthy, stinkin’ rich…and so are you. There’s no need to keep holding out for X or Y or even Z. If you’ve got a dream and you’re serious about following it, I’d venture to guess that you’ve probably got the resources it takes to follow that dream right now. Today. Yes, it may require making a few changes to your lifestyle, but I believe it can be done. Do you?

Here’s a conversation starter. I hope you’ll join in! Just leave a comment with your thoughts:

When Andre was first starting out, he and his brother scraped by on baked potatoes and generic lentil soup; what did/does your “scraping by” phase look like?

Read along! This month we’re reading Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi.

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