Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to give presentations about my latest book, The Refuge. I love sharing my story with audiences and listening to their feedback as well as answering their questions. It’s always a fun experience. Sometimes, even after the event is over, a particular question will continue to resonate with me. I had this happen just a few days ago. A woman had asked me if I had ever experienced a great loss similar to that of my main character, Anna Waters. In reply, I shared about a loss that was very personal to me – the loss of myself years ago – which opened up a whole new conversation about wounds and healing. The woman went on to say that she could tell my writing and my life were very closely connected. When I got home that evening, the woman’s question re-entered my mind. As I pondered it further, I was reminded of the important role writing played in my healing process. Many years ago, I decided to write a book with its sole purpose to help me heal, and it did just that. I never intended to publish the book, and I never did. But writing that book also helped me realize my deep love for writing. It even turned out to be the catalyst for my future writing endeavors – even though they wouldn’t materialize for more than ten years.
This past week, I had the privilege of connecting with many different people while presenting at the Local Author Night at Barnes and Noble as well as facilitating a local circling group. It was great seeing friends and former colleagues in attendance, but it was also fun meeting new people and listening to their stories. These experiences reminded me of the important role connections play in our lives – both our connections with others as well as our connections with ourselves.
This past week, my aunt and uncle came for a visit. Since they were going to be staying with us for a long weekend, they emphasized the need to keep it simple. They didn’t want us to worry about cleaning the house or buying groceries ahead of time. Their main objective was to spend time with us, and they didn’t want their visit to be a stress or a burden. While they were here, we mostly hung out at home playing cards and passing the football around in the backyard. We also attended a couple of my son’s flag football and soccer games and looked for seashells along the shore of a beach near our home. It was a low-key visit, and although we were willing to take them to the local attractions, they simply wanted to “be with us” – stepping into our lives for a few days. It turned out to be a wonderful and relaxing weekend, and my children were very sad when they had to head back home. But, we were all grateful for the quality time we got to spend together enjoying each other’s company.
Last week, despite my harried schedule, I decided to take a short stroll along the beach near my home. As I walked beside the grass-covered sand dunes, I gazed out at the rolling waves crashing toward the shore. Breathing in the fresh sea-salt air, I felt my shoulders instantly relax. With sea gulls soaring through the cloudless blue sky, I ambled along the shoreline. Stepping over several patches of smooth wet stones, I looked further up the beach and noticed a large bleached-out log that rested near the dunes’ edges. Taking in the beauty all around me, I slowly lowered myself onto the sand and closed my eyes. Listening to the soothing rhythm of the waves, I felt a calm wash over me. I breathed deeply and let the calm fill my entire being. It felt as though I was connecting with the sea – like it was calling me and reminding me of my connection with Mother Earth. My soul stirred and I knew that spending time in nature was important for my overall well-being. It helped ground me and made me feel as though I was part of something vast – a large universe where everything was connected.
Six and a half years ago when I began writing my first novel, I was browsing in the jewelry section of a local department store. Drawn to a silver ring that was on display, I read its inscription: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” I smiled at the simple wisdom of those words and remembered they were written by the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu. Immediately, I purchased the ring and placed it upon my finger. It has stayed there ever since serving as a symbol of hope during times of frustration, disappointment, and despair. Its message has helped me believe in the power of perseverance. And even now, as the ring’s inscription is beginning to fade away, it still serves as a reminder to me to never give up and always keep reaching for my dreams.