Basketball took West Las Vegas grad Vera Jo Bustos through college at Adams State, where she is the Grizzlies’ career points leader and a member of the school’s hall of fame, to Greece to play professionally and, finally, back home to New Mexico to work with the UNM Lobos.
By any reckoning, it’s been a whirlwind adventure.
So much so that Bustos, 30, decided to chronicle at a least a portion of it in her first book, “A Mindful Journey,” which just became available for pre-sale on her website, mentalitysolutions.com.
The book is a look back at her year overseas.
“It’s based on my time in professional basketball in Greece,” Bustos said. “I kind of did it in a different way. There are so many inspirational motivational stories out there. When a young athlete hears that story of their hero or somebody they look they look up to, they talk about how they overcame with the discipline that they have within them.”
Bustos, who recently left the Lobos to concentrate on individual coaching, as well as her business of mentality training, took a different tack.
“I wanted to come from sharing my vulnerabilities and my self doubts, and all of the negative thoughts that I had to deal with while overseas,” she said. “I’m sharing from a perspective of a vulnerable mindset, that most of us have these negative mindsets and most of us are able to overcome that.”
The book incorporates some of the ideals she teaches both the athletes and the business people with whom she works.
“We all have negative thoughts, self-doubt and vulnerabilities,” Bustos said. “But you can still dig deep within yourself, and overcome them with mindset mentality tips and tricks. I incorporate a lot of that mindset training within the book.”
The book actually is culled from a series of blog posts and journal entries that Bustos wrote during her professional season.
“Interestingly enough, this started the first summer that I got hired at UNM,” she said. “I used to blog while in Greece. And I went back through those memories, the blog and a journal. My mom actually was the one who said, ‘How cool would it be to print this and have it for you to look back on.’ ”
So she started out thinking of it as small, personal project, and maybe print a few copies for some friends and family.
She enlisted the help of her high school AP English teacher, Carmen Baca, to clean up the grammar and get her going.
After starting to read through the material, Baca, a published author of several books herself, encouraged Bustos to turn it into a book.
“She read the first 50 pages and she told me, ‘You need to make this into a book. It is way too good to keep this to yourself,’ ” Bustos recalled. “Ms. Baca is the one to give me the inspiration to believe in myself and to do something more.”
That was five years ago in what has been ongoing process.
“When I was at UNM, I was extremely busy, so I worked on it on and off,” Bustos said. “During the season, time was almost non-existent, so it really took five years from the very start of the idea to now coming to fruition.”
To see it coming to print is an amazing accomplishment because when she got her first draft back from Baca, it was something of a red letter day.
“I was transported back to high school English all over again,” Bustos said with a laugh. “All I saw was red. Grammar, and comments like ‘not enough details.’ What is the food like? So many things I needed to add. I don’t even know how many times she’s read my story, but she really helped me make it what it is. I did not know what it entailed to paint the picture for the reader to see for themselves.”
Small, New Mexico Desert Ridge Press is publishing the book, which will be available through online sources come July 14. With coronavirus concerns still circulating, Bustos said she is uncertain when or if she will do any kind of a book tour.
“Going the route of published author is another form of vulnerability,” Bustos said. “I’m sharing a big vulnerability, but I’ll just ride it out and see where the book is taken. It’s nerve-wracking that you’re putting a piece of yourself out there. I just try to take my own advice the best I can. Focus on what you can control, but, at the end of the day, you want something that you put so much work into to be well-received.”