Beliefnet

Former Olympian Shawn Johnson discusses life after retirement and how she hopes to encourage others to fulfill their dreams and find hope in her new book, Winning Balance.

What do you ultimately desire to accomplish by writing this book? How has doing this project brought healing into your life?

In writing this book I learned a lot about myself and my career. I learned how strong of a person I have become through the trials and triumphs along the way, much stronger than I give myself credit for, and in writing this book, I hoped to relay to everyone that it wasn't easy. It wasn't a walk in the park, and just like them, I started from the ground and worked my way up. So many accomplished athletes and people are put on such a spotlighted pedestal that seems unattainable to the people watching and supporting. I hoped that this would take that away and let people see the real me.

I know this as an emotional time for you with the announcing your retirement. What or who has been an inspiration to help you through this time?My parents. They have been my biggest supporters through this whole process. When everyone else was telling me I was crazy and should just push through it, they supported me in knowing what was best even if the world didn't see it that way. I knew in my heart, and with every ounce of my soul that this was the right decision, and they were next to me the whole time ready to back me in my leap of faith.

What will you focus on moving forward? Will you go into motivational speaking or broadcasting?

Moving forward I'm not quite sure what I want to focus on yet. Motivational speaking and broadcasting is something I have had a small amount of exposure, and want to give my full attention now to see where it may lead. I feel like talking to people and sharing my story, relating and connecting and hopefully inspiring someone to pursue their own dreams would be a true honor and interest of mine if given the opportunity. And of course broadcasting and still being able to be a part of the athletic world would be a dream come true. This is my life and I can't see ever not being a part of it.

I really like the lessons and advice you give readers after every chapter. Why was this important to implement this in your book?

In this part of the book my intention was never to preach or act as if I know what life is all about. It was simply an idea of mine to share with those reading how I personally became a stronger person going through my own life's hard times. I feel like with many of the topics in my book, people of all ages can relate and in writing the lessons it's simply what I wish someone would have told me, or what I wish I could have gone back and told myself to get me through it all.

What scripture has been an encouragement to you in your life?

John 4:6 simply stated.... God gives grace to those that are humble. I live by it.

You talk about the love of your family and friends throughout the book. How important was this to your career and personal life?

I can honestly say I don't know where I would be or the person I would have become, if it weren't for my family and friends. It is truly because of them that I have kept two feet on the ground and my head clear. They have pushed me when needed, comforted me when times got hard, and yes, put me back in my place when I lost my way. They are a true blessing and the most important part of my life.

Have other athletes pulled alongside you to offer encouragement over the years?

Many athletes have been a part of my life throughout my journey, as I have been in theirs. It's been more of a mutual friendship and support then anything. We've all celebrated in each other’s success and helped each other through the low points. No one knows what to say during the good times and bad better, then my teammates and athlete friends, because we all share a unique and similar bond through competitive sport.

If there was anything you could do over again, what would that be?

My life's motto.... "Everything happens for a reason." I honestly wouldn't take anything back or redo anything in my life. Things have happened how they were supposed to.

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