For advertising creative Kat Gomez-limchoc, turning 40 meant keeping a promise to herself to finally write her first book.
My Book Of 40
I ONCE READ THAT TO LEAVE YOUR MARK IN THE WORLD,
you had to “father a child, plant a tree and write a book.” I had already done two things on that famous to-do list to insure a measure of immortality—i had planted a tree and brought not one, but two beautiful children into the world. I had long wanted to check “write a book” off that list.
What finally got me started? It was the thought of dying young. Less than a year before September 1, 2015, my 40th birthday, a routine check-up led to a finding that needed a biopsy. Some time during the two-week wait for the results, I found myself alone on a plane, traveling to a creative festival abroad for work. Mid-flight, closer to heaven than I normally was, I decided to stop worrying. I had lived a life full of joy and love, adventure and creativity, unapologetically living on my own terms. I would celebrate my 40th birthday with the same spirit, the biopsy results be damned!
Within a day, I had planned an almost-40-day trip around the world, to visit places I had long wanted to see and to be with people I loved. Then with simple certainty, I also decided I would use this adventure as a framework for my book.
Before I boarded the plane on my way home from that business trip, I got a message from my doctor that all was well. By then, my heart was set on making my plans come to life.
And so I turned 40 dancing in a fountain in Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York. Before that, I had traveled to my favorite city of San Francisco with one dad and visited my other dad in Florida. (You have to read the book to find out why I have two dads!) I went to see Machu Picchu and the Nazca Lines in Peru, was toured by my best friend around her favorite city of Barcelona, and finally visited Hogwarts with my Potterhead family in Universal Studios, Osaka.
A few weeks after I went home, I sat down to write my book. I decided it would have 40 sections, each with an idea I knew to be true from my 40 years of life. I elaborated on each idea, sharing insights and stories. Then I thought of another way the idea could be expressed creatively, and whom I could work with, among the many creative people I am very blessed to know.
Book of 40 was released in late 2016. My ideas were brought to life in 40 collaborations with friends, family, and much admired artists in the creative field. For instance, to bring to life the idea, “Life will teach you what you need to learn,” I wrote a song and produced it with awardwinning composers and arrangers, Mike and Angelo Villegas and my daughter Snow (you can hear it on bookof40.com). To illustrate the idea, “Since pre-colonial times, we knew what great leadership was,” I collaborated with Ang Gerilya, a street art group to create a five-storey mural in a busy Manila intersection. Inspired by the idea, “Kindness can make a world of difference,” a radio campaign I wrote with three teammates was aired all over the Philippines. In the book, there is also a detachable greeting card, a to-do list you can tear off, as well as other beautiful artworks.
When I think back to how I got all that done while having a demanding job, running a household, and spending quality time with my family and friends, I honestly cannot believe how I managed.
Budjette Tan, acclaimed graphic novel author wrote this about Book of 40: “Life is a collaboration with your family, friends, and strangers. Life is a collaboration between your head and your heart. Life is a collaboration between your soul and your Maker… May it inspire you and move you to create a life less ordinary.”
I have already written my second book, a children’s story book inspired by my eight-year-old daughter’s drawings. It is about how life will always put adventures in our path, so that our hearts may grow even bigger. I have also recently discovered the joy of witnessing God’s creative powers by growing my own vegetables. I hope that by continuing to be deliberate about listening to my heart and deciding to just do what it calls me to do, I will continue to write a life story beyond the ordinary. Kat Gomez-limchoc is the Executive Creative Director of Blackpencil Manila, an advertising agency part of the Leo Burnett Group Manila. Follow @bookof40 on Instagram. Get the book from Fully Booked, Common Room, or Local Edition.
Part of the proceeds from the sale of Kat’s book will go to the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation.