OK! It’s official! I’m an author! I held my first book signing thanks to the gracious and persistent Tanya Augsburger of the Bluffton Public Library, Bluffton, OH.
Months ago- before there was an actual book, Tanya engaged me to consider hosting an author event at the library. I thought she was jumping the gun, but I appreciated her thinking ahead for me. It was a delight for me to work with Tanya to put together this book signing event. I am so grateful for her and the Library for hosting this opportunity.
I knew that book signings were often part of an author’s next steps. I knew that it was valuable to connect with interested and potential new readers.
This past week, I have been working intently to finish up details for publishing the Lovely Traces of Hope book. I had one of those moments as I sat late into the night reading/ editing/ proofing yet again through my own story.
For the umpteenth time, I was reading through Chapter 14, Turning East, which I have sent to many of you already. (Click here if you haven’t read it yet.) In that chapter, I share excerpts of Jerry Sittser’s book called A Grace Disguised. Jerry literally led me through much of my grief through the sharing of his own story.
Several months ago as I was reworking that chapter for the book, I sent Jerry a letter to thank him for being bold enough to share his story because of the influence it has had in mine.
I was sittting at the Arby’s across from the mall in the area that is all window. People watching at its best. The sky was clear with the exception of a few, very small, very white clouds slowly drifting by. What a beautiful day!
My friend Sarah, over at Simply Sarah: A Seer of People, has recently shared some of her memories of Leisha as we have talked about the soon to be published book Lovely Traces of Hope.
I asked if I could share her most recent post. I thought you might find it interesting as well. Sarah shares her story in the book Lovely Traces of Hope, due out August 2016. If you have other memories or comments, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
“I believe that once it lives, beauty never dies. I’ll never forget those eyes.” – Leisha by Josiah Gillespie (Written by Josiah Gillespie, 2006)
A lot of tragic things have been happening lately, in my personal life (as I talked about in my last post), in our city (3 shootings in 3 days), and in our country (Christina Grimmie’s murder and the shooting in Orlando). This has only added on to what I have already been feeling since March.
You see I experienced a great loss in my life almost ten years ago, and I relieved that experience by reading about it from the perspective of another back in March. Ever since then I have thought about it from time to time. I have the past (almost) 10 years anyway, but especially these past few months as I relived it in a way and God brought me to deeper healing with it.
But after the weekend at the first ever TRIBEWRITER’s Conference, (hence #tribeconf) I came to own I have been on this journey of writing most of my life.
Jeff Goins, founder and host of the TribeWriter Conference, (Superman in another life) spoke directly to me (though he doesn’t know it) on the very first session.
He challenged us to:
Let go: of expectations, of fear, of shame (feeling that we Should Have Always Mastered Everything). Here we go again. First thing he says and I’m already having to open my hands to what God might be wanting to do here.
Embrace the mess: How did he know I woke up in the middle of the night in a sweat, wondering if I was going to show up and be shown up for the mess that I was? He asked us to partner with the community regarding the issues we have. I did! I found great encouragement and accountability in the process.
Become a more true version of yourself:
Be you! Not someone else, even if you admire them.
Believe in yourself. Action follows belief.
Try something new this weekend. That was easy! Everything had some newness to it.
While the weekend was full of excellent speakers with very practical resources and action steps for us, I probably could have left after the first speaker and felt like I got what I needed.
I have struggled ever since Leisha died feeling like I need to write to finish her book, but have been in a battle to rediscover who I am really not just as a writer, but as a woman. All I thought about myself had been put into question when my daughter died. I blogged a bit about this during the weekend. You can catch it here.
But Ally Vesterfelt, of Author Launch really spoke to this as she shared her father’s story as he was near death. As a clinical psychologist and marriage counselor, he had worked with all kinds of people. But his first article as he fought to live was “Dying is easy, Life is hard to do!” Yes it is! I can attest to that! I never considered that Leisha had the easy road in dying. The rest of us had to fight to live.
Ally was just getting started with her challenge to me. Her next thoughts made me know I was going the right direction.
We find our voices when we are most likely losing them.
One of the most painful things is to lose the sound of your own voice.
FIGHT for the truth, the rawness, and the realness of your own voice.
Finding your voice starts with finding yourself.
Wow! For her to speak directly to the battle I mentioned earlier means she is familiar with the pain of it. I have been there for the last 9 years. Finding my voice by finding myself. I can identify that it must be truth, it will be raw, and it must feel real or it feels disingenuous to the process of healing.
“More than likely you will find your voice on a path you least wanted to go down. Sometimes the sufferings, not the healings, are the source of greatest transformation of our life.”
She was right! I knew she was!
I was being changed through the sufferings. I didn’t want to suffer. I tried to avoid the suffering, but I knew it when I embraced the ache and walked into the darkness that the greatest transformation occurred.
As I work to finish Leisha’s book, I reconnect with many layers of grief in order to share what I have learned from the last 9 years. That has been part of the mess I have felt recently. But I wouldn’t change the process. I am much more aware of who I am and what I was meant to say!
I understand that I must find my own voice before I can truly help someone else find theirs. While I hope that the book will be used to change one person’s life in an effort to change the world, I know that writing this book has and is changing me.
The story I’m getting ready to present to the world in a few months has been in process for most of my life.
I’m a writer! I have been a writer! I need to write if just to change me!
How’s your story coming?
P.S. Thanks Jeff Goins! For letting go, embracing the mess and becoming a more true version of yourself. You have modeled for me and given me courage to do that same.
Thank you Ally Vesterfelt! For sharing out of the raw, real, truth of your own story. I am one who is changed because of it.
Just because I didn’t write life lessons from all the other speakers doesn’t mean I couldn’t have. I am still just processing the first one. Thanks to all of you for your time, availability and genuine support.
I’m already signed up for TribeWriter 2016. Join me?
Today I’m sitting in a booth at Panera people watching mostly. I had visions of writing- a blog, a chapter, even an email, but I’m just not into it. I’m tired! Discouraged! Weary! Yet I’m not!
Do you ever have those days? When you feel like you can’t do the next thing even though you are excited about it. You even like what you are doing!
A college team of girls and their coaches came in for dinner. I didn’t ask if it was volley ball or basketball, but immediately the space around me was filled with conversation.
As I sat watching I reflected back on my own journey.
When you are young, you don’t think about life ending. You are young! You expect to have all of life ahead of you! You live and dream and plan as if there is nothing stopping you.
When you are in your 20’s, you get a job or marriage that keeps you focused. The job wasn’t what you thought it would be- but hey, it’s a job. You marriage isn’t the fairy tale you dreamed it would be, but hey you are in love. You still have the energy and the stamina to tackle anything in your way, so you keep on with determination.
You hit your 30’s and 40’s and suddenly thing gets harder. You get the promotion you thought you wanted and the family you always dreamed of. Now you have trouble remembering what your dream is because somewhere, someone else is telling you what to do. Your boss, the needs of your kids, the bills that must be paid. You can’t imagine what it would look like to stop what you are doing- if you drop one ball the whole thing will be crashing in on you. So you keep going!
You turn 50! You either lost your passion for The job you had or you got laid off. Now you are starting over again. The kids are going to or finishing college, you are prompted to remember the dreams you had when you were their age. You long for that ability to face the future with such vibrancy and freedom.
i’m not sure about the next 60’s on up. I’m not there…yet!