I met Vera Koo a few years ago and have been intrigued with her ever since. It’s no secret that I think she is an absolutely amazing person. As I read her recent column, my respect for her grew all the more. Vera Koo gives us a peek into her personal life, and shares a bit of what we will find in the book she is writing. ~MC
In my Chinese culture, we are taught not to air our dirty laundry. If something bad happens to you, you are supposed to try to maintain an outward appearance of strength. You are not to let on that you are struggling. My culture tells us that we should not talk of our problems with others.
I have decided to go against my cultural upbringing. I will air my laundry in a book that serves as a memoir highlighting some of the most pivotal moments of my life. The book has been an ongoing project for several years and is nearing completion.
I am not an author by nature, but people have continually told me throughout the past 2 decades that I have a story worth telling.
After I endured a terrible personal crisis in my life more than 20 years ago that shattered my core values, I spent 2 years seeing a therapist. During that time, she repeatedly encouraged me to write a book. She thought I had many life lessons I should share with others. She was not the only person during this time that suggested I write a book.
At the time, writing a book did not seem appealing to me. I am an artist. I am a businesswoman. I am a Chinese-American. I am a mother, a grandmother. I am all those things, but I am not an author. I had no real writing experience, and technology was a mystery to me. I hardly even have time to read books. Writing a book was the last thing on my mind.
And yet, I had a story that needed told. Somewhere along the way, I decided I wanted to take a shot at telling it.
I have a theory about learning new skills. I think it takes 5 years to get into something, 10 years to become good and 20 years to become great. I think of it as my 5-10-20 rule.
With that in mind, this book has, not surprisingly, been marked by many years of labor.
I started writing the book in 2003. I did not enjoy the project, and the book was not turning out. Meanwhile, my shooting was going downhill, so I tabled work on the book. It lay dormant until 2013, when I re-launched the project. Knowing that I do not have a background in writing, I have worked with a couple authors on the project over the years.
As time has gone by and I approach 70 years old, I have often wondered what I will do after my shooting career ends. I am the type of person who needs to be strongly focused on something and have an incentive pushing me to work hard. I cannot wither at home. I am often most attracted to activities that require an immense amount of work and offer goals that are hard to attain. I am not retired from shooting, and working on this book has helped keep me especially busy. After the book is finished, it will still keep me active with speaking engagements and promotion of the product. These will be good activities to keep my mind sharp and my body on the move.
However, as good as this project has been to keep me busy, that was not the reason I decided to author a book. Rather, I decided that my story can help others, and therefore, it was a story worth telling.
My book will touch on my life as a shooter. Certainly, the shooting sport has been a big part of my life for the last two and a half decades. But more than a rehashing of my shooting career, my book is a story of how when life comes at you hard, there is a way to come out better on the other side.
Life has presented me with many great challenges. I immigrated to this country without knowing a word of English. My husband, Carlos, and I saw our business teeter on the edge of bankruptcy before we built it back up. We lost a son. And then, more than 20 years ago, I endured a personal tragedy that rocked me to my core. I will detail this personal event in my book and discuss how it shattered me but also how I was able to rebuild myself whole again.
My book also will touch on God’s love. I have learned that although God might test your strength with adversity, He will never give you more than you can handle. While I recovered from my personal crisis, the shooting sport became a place of refuge where I could escape life’s troubles. But although shooting was a great coping outlet, it did not save me. My faith in God saved me.
This book has been a grueling project, and it has required a lot of soul searching. Since I rebooted this project in 2013, it has helped heal me. Seeing my story unfold in words in front of me has helped me grow. My husband says that fear no longer affects me, no longer occupies important space in my mind. Over time, that personal tragedy that used to have a toxic effect on me and everyone around me is fading away. It is now just a small part of my life story.
I want people who read my book to know that if they are facing struggles in life, they are not alone. There are many people around us who are presenting a strong front to the outside world, and we do not realize it, but they are hurting on the inside, toiling with their own personal demons. I know, because I went through this. I wanted to seem like a strong pillar to others, to keep my life adversity tucked away.
However, I have learned that there is no shame in talking about your problems and discussing how you overcame them. I hope my story can help heal and inspire others.
I know that life can be a rollercoaster sometimes, but for every tragedy, there is a great triumph waiting for you on the other side if you are willing to work to attain it.
Read more articles by Vera Koo in her column at The WON.
Vera Koo is an 8-time National Action Pistol Woman Champion who holds 2 World individual titles. Her most recent win was a Gold for Team Women (2-person team) at the NRA World Action Pistol Championship in Germany in September 2012. Vera is proud to be part of the United States Action Pistol Shooting Team since 1999. She is passionate about sharing her love of the shooting sport and the pressures of being a competitive athlete while challenging cultural expectations. View all posts by Vera Koo