Family Life

Read the Introduction to "Think Big"

Read this introduction to Bill and Jen's new book "Think Big." This inspirational book encourages readers to reach for their dreams, no matter what obstacles they face.
posted: 02/03/16
Think Big book cover
Courtesy of Howard Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster
Order your copy of "Think Big" here.

Enter for a chance to win a signed copy here.

Each of us is stronger than we realize. Strength is something we often find in desperate
moments. Often, it's those we love who end up showing us what it looks like. This happened one
October Monday in 2013, when my wife, Jennifer, taught me the very definition of bravery.

I stood in a house that felt large and lifeless.And while three-year-old son ran around
playing with his toys, our two-year-old daughter wailed next to the front door. I had just introduced Zoey to her new home for the first time, but she didn't want anything to do with it,and she didn't want to be near her new daddy. Now that it was just the three of us, poor little Zoey seemed to feel like she was in some kind of prison.

After the long trip home from New Delhi, India, where we adopted Zoey, I felt like I could barely walk, yet I knew I needed to keep on going. A twenty-four-hour journey is difficult enough, but a twenty-four-hour journey with two toddlers was another experience altogether. We had embarked on it without Mommy. Jen had unfortunately been sent on her own journey--one far more difficult than mine.

While we were in New Delhi becoming acquainted with our beautiful new girl, Jen had had a medical emergency and was forced to fly back to the States a few days early. I had to bringWill and our little girl home alone.

Zoey had bonded with Jen, but not with me, and without her new mommy, she was inconsolable. Trying to soothe Zoey only made things worse. Her cries echoed throughout the house. She was in a new, strange place, with people she didn't know. The attachment that was forged in India with Jennifer was waning and her tendency to gravitate toward any female in theroom made my role as her parent that much more difficult. I felt helpless and alone, as I had no real means of communicating with her. Zoey obviously wanted and needed her mother.
She wasn't the only one missing Jen.

I had to shake off the worry and the fear surrounding Jen's diagnosis. She had come back
home from India and undergone immediate testing. The results of which unveiled that she had a rare form of cancer, an aggressive choriocarcinoma. Since she had been treated with intensive chemo, Jen's immune system was paying the price. This meant she could not be in the house with us when we first arrived. Who knew what germs and viruses we might have picked up on that long flight back home? Jen was staying with her parents nearby.

The first thing I did after we arrived home was to call her to let her know we'd made it.
We didn't talk for long. The camera crew for our TV show, The Little Couple, wanted to capture our arrival home. They had been with us on the journey to India, and had been there when we met Zoey for the first time. Now, they wanted to catch her first reaction to seeing her new home. Our exhaustion tempered any kind of initial reaction, though, and after documenting the otherwise anticlimactic arrival home, we said our good-byes to the crew. Kate, our nanny, who'd stayed with me throughout the trip, helped us get settled, and then she, too, departed to get some rest.

Once alone with the kids, I ignored my tired body and went about getting the kids settled, fed, and to bed for some rest. Those things had to get done. I'd have to battle my exhaustion along with Zoey's exasperation.

A knock on the back door got my attention and made me mutter under my breath. I
assumed someone from the camera crew had forgotten something in the house. When I reached the door, I couldn't believe who stood there.

It was Jennifer.
She had been staking out the house with her dad, hiding in his Jeep and waiting for us to
arrive. She just wanted to make sure we got home safely and didn't intend to come in. Once
everyone else had left, however, Jen knew it would be impossible to resist seeing us. She was wearing a surgical mask to avoid exposure to any viruses while immuno-compromised, but above it, her eyes smiled enough to make all of us incredibly happy. Zoey spotted Jennifer and stood up, stopped crying at once, and then walked over to gently touch the glass that separated them.

Jen couldn't hug or kiss the kids, so we kept the door closed and talked through the glass.
Will and Zoey were confused, but they kept their composure just like their mom. I can't say their dad fared as well. Tears streamed down my face. I was a bit of a wreck--both happy to see my wife and disappointed that I couldn't give her a hug. Yet as I watched her interactions with her kids, smiling and laughing, another emotion filled me.

How incredible is this woman standing beyond that glass?

This was a snapshot of spirit, a true image of someone being courageous. Jen was undergoing intensive treatment and fighting for her life, yet she was standing there trying t omake us feel better. Her voice and demeanor were calm and upbeat. As always, Jen was trying to stay positive.

I don't think she had any idea what it meant to see her right then.

In that moment I saw just how she was going to fight the cancer: on her own terms, in her own way. Showing up at our doorway sick and surely exhausted, Jen wasn't going to let the mask she wore hide her grin. And she wasn't about to let this cancer destroy her spirit. I could see clearly what Jen believed.

Cancer is not going to win.
Witnessing this, I not only believed it, too, but I felt a surge of strength go through me. I wasn't on my own, and neither was Jen. We were going to meet this challenge head-on, together. And we would win.

It wouldn't be the first time we'd faced challenges.

Both for Jen and for me, the first forty years of life have been filled with challenges. We
were both born with a rare form of dwarfism, called spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia (SED). SED is characterized by short stature and a range of medical complications that have to do with the skeletal system. It affects approximately 1 in 100,000 births and is the product of a random genetic mutation, unless one of your parents has SED. And while having a disability of this nature is difficult to manage, painful to live with, and usually requires many adaptations to function "normally," it is possible to lead a happy and prosperous life. We are two cases in point.

People ask us all the time how we both have such positive attitudes, despite all the
challenges we've faced. These challenges could have led to emotional turmoil and negativity. We could have let our differences get the better of us, keeping us from being all we could be. So what happened, people ask us. How did we end up being so optimistic?

That is what this book is about. What has touched us and forged our resilience. And more importantly, what we now turn to time and time again as new challenges continue to arise.

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill to take. But we have come up with something of a philosophy to live by, a way of approaching life. In this book, we would like to introduce to you our mantra: Think Big.

From everyday challenges to life-changing decisions, Thinking Big has gotten us through
a lot. We think of each letter in those words as a sort of -tool to our toolbox.
Think Big

T is for Try: You never know what you can accomplish in life unless you first try.
H is for hope: Nothing can be accomplished without the hope of accomplishment.
I is for initiate: What first step can you take today toward the goal you want to achieve?
N is for no: Never listen to the no's.
K is for know: Know your limitations.

B is for believe: Never stop believing.
I is for improve: Always continue to strive to improve, even if you achieve your goals in life.
G is for go for it: Identify one thing you are going to do and just go for it. These are the words we live by.

We try to explore every opportunity and complete every
task using this approach. Remembering to Think Big helps us give an honest and complete effort to everything we do. When we Think Big, it becomes less important whether we succeed or fail,and more important how we approach any given situation. Think Big is a way of thinking that has radically changed our lives, and we hope that by sharing some of what we've learned, it will help you as well.

Jen and I believe that if you apply Think Big to your challenges, big and small, you'll
find greater success. You'll also recognize greater satisfaction with your journey toward achievement and find joy in the things that matter most.We have shared this Think Big idea in some of our talks, and we have found that people always respond well. Not everybody has spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, but everybody has something difficult they are facing. Everybody has challenges every day that feel too big to endure. No matter what obstacles you face, we believe THINK BIG can help you approach them with optimism and courage. Our hope is that our words will help you feel like you, too, can face any challenge.

To illustrate the points we're making in this book, we're going to use examples from our
lives. From childhood experiences to some of the most serious, adult situations a human being can face, you will see how Think Big has helped us in nearly everything we do; and how it can help you to achieve your goals, too.

Laugh with us, cry with us, and Think Big with us.
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