I finished writing the book yesterday. Actually I finished it last week except for the last chapter. I was editing this week and wrote the last chapter yesterday. After more edits today and tomorrow it will go off to my editor, then to my beta readers.
This book is the most vulnerable I have ever been. I, myself, am in a continuous process of relearning all the lessons I talk about that I've learned in this book.
Writing this was a project I needed more than I realized. A few weeks ago, my beloved dog Cornflake passed away. It was tragic, but we knew it was coming. He had an autoimmune disease and we knew his death was an inevitable outcome, but we tried everything we possibly could until the end. The week we lost him however, was particularly traumatizing because of another event.
Something else happened that week that shook me to my core. I am still not at liberty to talk about it, but I can tell you that it has changed my whole world. My reality has shifted and I am still reeling from it every day.
It also made me reprioritize my life and what was important to me. My publisher's sales have been dwindling the past year and I pivoted a bit too late - almost too late. I am making it, but belts got tightened, my husband has had to take on the bulk of our financial responsibilities, and I became obsessed with making more money since early spring of 2022.
What used to be fun - making books for children, creating images and text to post and delight others on my social media became a chore, a job. My own sales from my own books were never enough, my expenses got too big and I was not even breaking even - my debt soared. I began to equate my bank account with my success as a human being. The emptier it got, the emptier I felt.
I have always loved the challenges of being an entrepreneur, but in the past year, I lost myself. Everything became about money. And ironically, the harder I worked, the less I made. I woke up and went to sleep feeling like a failure - wondering if it was time to go get a regular 9-5 job - if I perhaps had my run as a children's book author and illustrator.
Then, this event, this life-altering, heart-breaking, soul-shattering event happened. And money didn't matter. My people mattered. I dropped everything I was doing and took care of my people, especially my children. I took care of other people who needed my comfort and my words.
In an instant not only did I remember who I was, I realized who I had become. I was now someone filled with anxiety, going through the motions, valuing money over my mental health. I had lost my joy.
I started meditating each day, sometimes for up to an hour. I was desperately trying to reconnect with myself and find my joy again. It was after one of these sessions where I realized I needed to write this book - to remind myself of my journey and to remember that there is no destination we are trying to get to - there is no finish line - there is no trophy to win for this life.
As I wrote the book, I felt my joy returning. As I remembered the past 20 years of my life, and years before that, I began to feel lighter. My heart began to shine again.
I am in the middle of this journey. I am not on the other side of this yet. I didn't want to wait to write this book until I felt whole again. I wanted to write this book while I am still shattered, write it as I am putting my pieces back together again.
I wanted to write this so that when I get shattered again, as I inevitably will - because that is what living as a human being means - I will be able to reread the words I have written to myself.
When the darkness and doubt comes back again this book will help me remember that it always gets good again.
The light always comes back.