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A Life List with A Life Lesson: Lori Nelson Spielman on Finding “Mr. Perfect”

It’s no secret: The idea for my novel, The Life List, was sparked by an abandoned life list I’d written when I was a teen. But what most people don’t know is that I also wrote another list, eight years later, when I was 22. Cheerleading and good grades didn’t make the cut this time around. Instead, I’d written 18 serious goals, things I hoped to carry with me for the rest of my life.

Naturally, as a single young woman, meeting and marrying a wonderful man was at the top of my list. And I wasn’t willing to stop at wonderful. I added 25—25, mind you!—adjectives describing Mr. Perfect, my future love. I included everything from athletic and ambitious (not overly!), to faithful and fun.

A part of me wondered if I was being naïve. Was Mick Jagger right when he sang, “You can’t always get what you want”? Was I wise to set high standards, or was I being nit-picky, setting myself up for disappointment? And who was I, anyway, to think I deserved a man so flawless?

Fast forward five years. I met him! My parents, my friends, everyone agreed he was perfect for me. He possessed every quality on my list…except for one teensy thing I could only admit to myself: I loved him like a brother, a best friend. But that was okay, I reasoned. Everyone knows the spark fades eventually anyway, and he was so perfect in every other way (every box on my list was checked!) that I thought it wouldn’t matter.

That one tiny issue led to heartbreak beyond any I’d ever experienced. I constantly second-guessed myself after I’d made the hardest decision of my life. How could I end a relationship with someone so nearly perfect? I had to be making a huge mistake. Surely I’d never meet another man so special.

Fast forward another ten years. I finally met him! The real him! Some of my friends weren’t entirely sure he was right for me. He was, after all, missing several adjectives on the list. But he had the most important ones. And more importantly: This time it was real. I was in love.

And I still am.

My life list came with a life lesson: it’s not the number of wonderful qualities that makes a man Mr. Perfect, it’s thinking he’s perfect despite those missing adjectives.

So in the end, Mick Jagger was right. “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”

Lori Nelson Spielman, a former speech pathologist and guidance counselor, currently works as a homebound teacher for inner-city students. She enjoys sailing, running, and reading, though writing is her passion. She lives in Michigan with her husband and a very spoiled cat.Her first novel, The Life List, is on sale July 2nd and available for pre-order now!

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