Mark’s Journey: Are You Ready to Take on Life Now?
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” –John F. Kennedy
“Walk away from the 97% crowd. Don’t use their excuses. Take charge of your own life.” Jim Rohn
As we wrap up the Thanksgiving weekend, it is imperative that we remember to be aware of not only good things we are grateful for, but also of people whose lives have blessed and touched ours. I am thankful for all the good Samaritans, friends, family and other notable people for being there, over the years, in times of great need or for showing sheer courage by embracing life and teaching us to do same.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am continuing the interview series started several weeks ago with a particularly heartwarming interviewee. Today, we meet an extraordinary young man, Mark Lewis, whose poignant story will touch your heart. I met Mark via Darren Rowse’s Problogger community and was immediately struck by his positive attitude and take-charge-of-life healthy approach.
Mark has taken what some might consider an insurmountable condition and created a positive company that reaches out to encourage and give others hope. He tells part of his compelling story of tragedy and triumph here and on his blog, and shares the meaning behind his company message: Take on Life.
Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” John Milton
Tell us a bit on your background: Who are you? Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I grew up in a small town just south of Boston, Hingham, Massachusetts – that is, if you consider a population of 20,000 small. I spent most of my summers as a youngster on the water; working, fishing, and sailing. You could say that the great blue runs through my veins.
During my early years in college, at Northeastern University, I learned that I could travel and get academic credit at the same time. This was a revelation to me. Shortly after, I learned about my university’s work abroad program and signed up. I spent six months in Belfast, Northern Ireland working for Price Waterhouse Coopers. During that time, I applied for Semester at Sea (the premier shipboard program for global study abroad) which offers a study voyage around the world. Upon my return from Belfast, I started working on my next work abroad experience in Australia.
Midway through the voyage around the world with Semester at Sea, I found out that a company had hired me in Melbourne, Australia; sadly, it was a position that I would never get to fill… My Semester at Sea voyage ended, approximately 60 days after we left Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, when I suffered a catastrophic injury in the Seychelles. I broke my neck in a swimming accident in the Seychelles and was dealt quadriplegia for the rest of my life. Up until this point, who I was mystified even me. Part of the reason I wanted to travel the world was to find myself. I found myself in the Seychelles on October 26, 2001 at approximately 6:30 PM.
Who am I? I am simply someone who has learned a few of life’s lessons. I have had some of the greatest highs that life has to offer and I have also had some of the greatest lows life has to offer. In the end, you have to take on life because with every low there is a high. I live to spread that message.
“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.” Soren Kierkegaard
What do you do for a living?
I run Take on Life which sells apparel spreading the message – Take on Life. I accept life’s lemons as challenges that exist only to make our life better and more enjoyable. I live with passion and purpose and encourage others to do same.
My goal is to make a living encouraging people to love life, pursue their ambition, and follow their heart. My company and products convey this message powerfully. I am also taking time to pursue an MBA at UMass, Boston. The program has proven beneficial to my business – Take on Life.
Why did you choose the path you now follow?
I have always felt the urge to start and run my own business, but the path itself chose me and I accepted it; I accepted the challenge.
When did you decide to make key changes in your life?
I am constantly making changes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m content, but I think I can do better. I can do better for myself. I can be better for others.
Share your world view: How do you live your life and manage your household?
I live my life for the moment, and the moments to come. My approach is: Never neglect the present and always have hope for the future. And if life throws you a lemon, just roll with it.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt
What motivates you to get out of bed?
Carpe diem. ~ Seize the Day!
What makes you happy/laugh?
My friends and family make me happy. I make myself laugh; seriously, I’ve done some silly things.
What makes you sad/mad?
There is much that makes me sad or mad. However, I don’t tolerate people that take advantage of me. There is no reason you can’t conduct your life and business with people as a win-win.
What would you do differently with your life if you had the power? With the world if you had the choice?
A tough question. As much as I want to say I wish things were different, I take on life with more enthusiasm and ambition than I ever did. I have a greater impact on people as I am than if I had a particular power: the power to walk; the power to be truly independent; the power to get myself out of bed every morning. In the end, I have the power I’ve always asked for; the power to help and inspire people to do more for themselves.
“A man’s indebtedness is not virtue; his repayment is. Virtue begins when he dedicates himself actively to the job of gratitude.” –Ruth Benedict
What guiding principle(s) do you follow to make your life meaningful?
I take on life with passion and purpose. I don’t think you can live a happy life without either one.
What word(s) of advice would you give to others today?
Don’t simply live to survive, live to take on life.
How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as someone who enriched people’s lives by sharing happiness and opening doors to new experiences and opportunity.
Mark Lewis continues to take on life and teach others to live a life of passion and purpose through his company -Take on Life. He writes a terrific blog and you may connect with him via his blog or by becoming a Take on Life fan on Facebook.
What are your thoughts on Mark’s inspirational life and interview? Do you have a similar story of courage to share? Do share your feedback with us. Thank You!
Ruby Throat Humming bird by Avivaphi ~ via Google Images
Mark Lewis Sailing ~ via M. Lewis
Niagara Falls ~ via Lifecreations on Flickr
Singing Santas at Trafalgar Sq in London ~ via SCAD Industries
The Road ~ via Google Images
Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©