It was a wonderful night. On Friday November 21st 2014 I shared an evening with family and friends to realize a dream of launching my first novel. It was a brilliant ending to the process of writing and publishing and a wonderful beginning to sharing my work with the world. Following you will find the words I spoke after a brief reading from the book. With heartfelt love and gratitude I would like to share this with you all:
I’m looking out on a sea of faces that represent my life from birth to just days ago. And I realize tonight is not a celebration of a book. It’s a celebration of you and me and the connection we have. You are the people who light me up from the inside. We are all a product of our experiences and how we choose to see what we’ve been through. But nobody does it alone. I am so rich in friendship. Some of you I see regularly and some I haven’t seen for years but you all matter so much and are a part of the intricate fabric of my life.
I am an introspective person who has spent a life time in deep thought about what true happiness really means. My search since my first memories was not for things or status or money, it was for peace in my mind. I was little girl with a big heart that felt trapped, unable to express itself, and a mind that seemed plagued at times by a state of overwhelm at all that daily life expected. I was overcome by dreams that seemed so much bigger than me, yet part of me.
One of those dreams was to write a book. Not for the achievement of it necessarily or what it could give me, but because it just felt like it was me. Like an appendage I was born with but hadn’t yet figured out how to use. So before I get all mushy let me tell you how it happened.
I have a voice, or many, who knows, that speaks clearly to me when there is something I need to do. I don’t hear it often but when I do I listen. 10 years ago I had a glimmer of an idea for a story and with it the voice that told me to take a chance on writing a fictional tale based on experiences from my life and to see it through to the end. I never thought I would write fiction. I always saw myself as an article writer. Short and sweet because I swear I have ADD but I’m okay with that. I heard the voice and I took the challenge to see this huge project through to the end.
An amazing process unfolded as I committed to writing every day between 5am and 7am before my kids got up for school. I did this for 6 months not missing one day to my memory. The little idea grew and evolved into a rough draft of what you hold in your hands tonight. The book was called I Can See Clearly Now. Once done I went back to the beginning and rewrote it…3 more times! Then I printed and bound it and put it in a sealed envelope, mailed it to myself to copyright it and stuck it in the freezer having no idea what to do next and not really feeling a call to do anything. Nobody read it and I didn’t look at it again for many, many years. But it never left my mind….
Fast forward to April 2014. After months and months of probing, encouraging and at times nagging by one of my dearest friends to finish what I started and publish this book I took a serious look at it. It was her birthday weekend and we both needed a retreat from daily life. We hopped in the car and headed to lake placid for some R&R. My intention was to escape from my fitness persona and business and immerse myself in determining what I was going to do about my dream to become a writer.
I took the manuscript and also an idea for another book I wanted to write. I am famous for thinking that when faced with something overwhelming, sometimes it’s easier just to start fresh. But the manuscript called out to me. I went in my room, lit a candle, lay on the bed and started to read. Many hours later I emerged having read my own book cover to cover for the very first time. Then I did the scariest thing. I handed her the book, said “Happy Birthday we are going to publish this. It’s actually pretty good.” Why so scary, because you’re holding a very vulnerable piece of me. Allowing the world into my thoughts and at times real parts of my life is frightening. But I preach risk, and facing fear, and overcoming inner demons to take a chance at doing something great so I needed to walk the walk and embrace an opportunity to fulfill a dream and maybe…just maybe, produce something that will help others see their lives in a new light despite hardships and tragedies.
But in truth at that time the book wasn’t really good, it just had potential. The writing was raw but the message was clear. Fast forward again to weeks of interviewing editors, months of editing, months of cover design, researching how to publish, proof reading and more proof reading, and a title change because who knew Wayne Dyer would publish a book called I Can See Clearly Now just months prior. Then came more editing and here we are.
Butterflies Among Us is a story of a woman faced with sadness and an overwhelming desire to simply leave this life as fatigue took away her will to fight. A very important guiding force, her father, who had been gone since she was a child but whose spirit had been with her her whole life stepped up to his soul’s purpose; which was to lead his daughter through this difficult time and unite her family through the gift of perspective.
When faced with death life looks different. Love becomes more transparent. Walls fall away and all that’s left is what truly matters. We are busy little beings full of fear and judgement, desires and disappointments, love and loss. We make mistakes, we fall down, we get back up and sometimes we crawl. We get hurt through tragedy and circumstances we have no control over. But when we love through the worst of it we can forgive anything. We can look at our family in its state of brokenness and see how blessed we truly are for all of it. My gift to the world, should it choose to accept, is this novel which comes from my heart and my life and my love and passion for a message of peace of mind and forgiveness.
It’s for my family who means more to me than I’ve ever had the courage to tell them.
It’s for Belinda who saw this project through with me and truly made it possible.
And it’s for my children, who may never understand me but who I hope will always love me through my shortcomings.