The last six months have been pretty exciting in my house.
Hannah Jane prepared for and presented her SECOND solo cabaret show to a nearly sold out house and I wrote a book. Yes, you read that right ... I WROTE A BOOK! (Not in the last month, mind you. But I finished it in the last month, so it kind of counts.) I keep saying it out loud because I can't believe that I actually did it.
I wrote a book.
I wrote a book.
I WROTE A BOOK!
As I put the finishing touches on it, I began to try and anticipate how I would feel when my publisher, Steve, sent me THE email that would say "I reviewed the online proof and clicked the “Approve” button." Would I be happy? Excited? Terrified? All three at once?
That moment came at 9:38am this morning.
As I read that email, I think my stomach dropped 14 stories below the deepest underground subway we have in NYC. Approved. That meant the next step was for Amazon to upload it so ya'll could buy it. Then read it. Oh crap, people are going to buy it AND read it? Geesh, why didn't someone explain that to me before I decided to do this?!?!? :)
At that moment the emotion I was anticipating made it's grand arrival.
This wasn't a new feeling - I had been carrying it around with me for months and months. I have literally worried non-stop about what people will think of my 'little book.' Will my NYC friends think that our adjustments to living in this big city were just silly? Will our friends and family back home think that we are are struggling just to survive here and on the verge of giving up and coming home? Will the random stranger who just stumbled upon it while browsing the Kindle library expect a riveting, page-turning, roller coaster of an adventure and be disappointed before they hit page 10?
The reality is, all of those are possibilities. I expect that someone (or more than one someone) is going to feel at least one of those - heck, maybe all three. I just have to suck it up and realize there is no way I will please everyone. My head knows all of this - it's my heart that's causing me trouble. It's not even out yet and I have already convinced myself that a record breaking number of reviews are going to start rolling in once it's out there for public viewing. Every one of them is going to be so awful I am going to be forced to take refuge under a giant rock until I'm 70. (Drama runs deep in this little family, ya'll.) For most of my life my heart has been three steps behind my mind. I actually think that was a good thing on many occasions. There are more times than I care to count in my past where following my heart would have led me right off a cliff into heaven only knows what kind of a mess.
When I set out to write this book, one of the promises I made to myself was that I would always be honest. If I really wanted to inspire people, I needed to be open about the good, the bad, and, the ugly (i.e. the embarrassing stuff). About right now, someone is scratching their head and saying, "Why in the world would she share the bad and the ugly?"
I'm glad you asked. Let me tell you why. I have met so many people over the last five years who have said "because you did this, I feel like I can, too!" A few of them were dreaming of a performing career just like my Hannah Jane. But many of them were not. Several people moved to take a new job and explore a new city. One person said "I have nothing to move to, but I want to know what it's like to live somewhere different." I remember one person made the jump a few years ago - gave up and went back home - and then decided to try again after following me on social media! Interestingly enough, when I think back over those conversations, they all had one thing in common. They were afraid of something. They carried fear around like a chip on their shoulder, just like me.
I mean, let's face it, we have all had times in our life where fear seemed to consume our every thought. I am no exception. I have had a lot of moments where fear was driving my life. One of my biggest fears was letting Hannah Jane down. Being the mom and dad is hard and I always felt like I had to fill the gap. I wanted to least try to expose her to some of the dad stuff I knew she was missing - things like fishing, and automobile maintenance, and sports. As a single parent, you question every decision you make because you really don't have anyone to talk through things with you that knows exactly how it feels to love THAT kid. There is no doubt I have carried this fear of totally screwing her up around for years like it was a third leg or something.
For the last several months, when I rise in the morning and before I sleep at night, I silently ask God to use something in my book to touch each person who reads it in a way that is meaningful to them. Then, I have a stern conversation with my heart and remind myself why I decided to do this in the first place. I felt like sharing my story might help someone else begin to write their own story full of one adventure after another.
Every single person is born with gifts and dreams. But so many people let them sit idle on a shelf because their fear is bigger than their faith. I am here to tell you - your fear is only as big as you allow it to be. You have control over how much residence you give fear inside your mind. Yes, I said YOU. You have the power to push it out and replace it with something positive and fruitful. You have the ability turn those negative thoughts into positive actions. You just have to remind yourself that YOU CAN.
I hope this book helps someone find their courage to take a leap towards something they have always dreamed of doing.
I hope this book gives someone permission to misstep, get back up brush it off and keep going.
I hope this book is the last little nudge a dreamer needs to take that final leap towards something amazing.
Listen, it's not perfect. No matter how many times I read it - or let someone else read it - it won't matter because there are always going to be things I could change. Heck, if my publisher didn't actually have to hit the Approve button at some point, I might still be editing. I promise you this, it's real, it's funny and it's heartwarming. It's a glimpse into our hearts and minds. It's also a glimpse into what living life with an adventurous spirit can look like.
I can tell you this book is not all of our story. It's the parts that struck me as book-worthy at this moment in time. There are many more stories in my brain, on Facebook and Instagram, in my Google Drive and in my journals, just waiting to jump onto the pages of another book.
God-willing, there will be even more adventures to come that we can share to encourage and inspire other dreamers like us.
Be a dreamer.