Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Woman in Her Thirties Learns, Personally

So, it happened.  This weekend happened, and this book is shipping, and I wrote the words in it, and all the dreams and goals associated with that are now coming to fruition.

Logistically speaking, it couldn't have been more of a success.  I blogged about it here.  If you're book-minded, writer-minded, or launch-party minded, then that post is for you.

But I didn't just learn things from a logistical perspective.  This weekend, and all the days and weeks leading up to it, made me realize a lot personally, as well.  Here are five things publishing this book has taught me, not just about writing, but about life.

1. Believe in it.  ALL of it.

People throw adages like this all the time:  Believe in yourself!  Believe in your dreams!  But seriously-- what does that mean?  I've written my whole life.  I have pages and pages, books and books of writings by yours truly.  But when it came down to this book, the writing was the easy part.  I had to believe in the brand, the vision, the greater purpose.  I had to believe that the time I was spending on it and the energy I was putting into it was worth it.  That I could be proud of this book for the rest of my life.  It wasn't until those pieces were in place that I was able to move forward and really take the risk of publishing it.

2.  Give.  THEN receive.

We live in a society where we associate 'giving' with writing large checks to large charities.  That is great, but that is not the only kind of giving out there.  You-- YOU, you lovely woman in her thirties-- have gifts to share.  Your time.  Your creativity.  Your kindness.  Your caring, non-judgemental friendship.  These are important, and they matter more than your tax-deductible donation.

But make no mistake-- giving helps you.  It creates your 'brand' and your image. By donating my time in the classroom, at book clubs, through guest blogging.... I have built my audience.  I have gotten many sales of the book through these 'donations'.  Give first, then receive.  It's a thing.

3.  I take my friends and family for granted.

It's going to be hard for me to write this without getting emotional.  When I stood at the book launch on Sunday and looked out at that crowd, 90% of it was friends.  Neighbors.  Friends of neighbors. Book club friends and mom's group friends.  I think one of the main reasons I didn't want to do a book launch was because somewhere deep inside of me I was afraid no one would come.  But there everyone was, standing room only.  And when I came home... flowers.  Bouquets and balloons and texts and emails from people who couldn't be there.  Not every woman in her thirties has such support, and I think I take it for granted every day.

4.  Haters gonna hate.  

I published independently, and am fully aware of the stigma attached to that.  I tried to avert my eyes when another blog post would come up about the 'sellout' indie writer, but it was hard.  But just as in everything in life...  positivity is a choice.  So is negativity.  Please, choose positive.  A much better use of your energy.  Haters can live in Hate-ville, but you don't have to.

5.  Define success unconventionally.

My goal is to 'break even' with this book.  I want to make back all the money we put into it.  Once that is done, my monetary goal will be complete.

But it is so much more than that.  I've already succeeded, and here's how.  When my mom got here, she had me sign FIVE books to her, her sister, brother, sister-in-law, and friends.  Her pride in me was overwhelming.

And even more.... this moment:

Anna, signing books with me.  Anna, holding my book (and stealing the show):

How much for these moments?  A billion dollars?  A trillion?  I wouldn't trade them for that much.  I've already succeeded; it's already done.  Now to enjoy the rest.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

When a Woman in her Thirties... Barfs

Well, it's happened.  You know how I've been alluding to all the crazy that's been going on the last year and a half or so?  We're at the apex.  The climax.  The pinnacle of crazy, this week.

I have been wanting to write about it here, but I just couldn't.  I don't do well in the moment of things-- I do well after, after a glass of wine, some sleep, and maybe a hot yoga session.  But there have been SO many moments of 'things' lately-- write-ups and two radio interviews (one went super well, and one not so much....) I could feel it all getting the better of me last night, as I tried to sleep.

I wanted to write about it... but it was all so jumbled that I just couldn't.

So I logged into my computer this morning and saw Project Underblog had published a piece I wrote awhile back.  (P.S. Do you subscribe to this blog?  Super encouraging and empowering.)  Anyway, I read it and thought, Thank God I wrote that! It's exactly how I feel and I'm far into crazy town to write  it now.

I titled it 'When Your Dream Comes True and then you Barf.'  I'm such an eloquent writer, aren't I?

But there is one thing missing-- a huge thank you to all of you for your calls and texts and emails and words of encouragement throughout all of this.  It is true, I want to barf.  But it is the best kind of barf.

And I have all of you to thank for it.

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Woman in her Thirties Has Got It. Really.

Any parent who shops with their children knows what I'm talking about: when you go to the store, you have a routine.  A sacred, unchangeable set of motions.  Parents with young children don't linger in aisles when they see friends.  They don't look at labels and compare prices.  They are in and out as fast as humanly possible because one does not tempt fate when one has a cart full of perishables and little ones.

Anna has always been a good shopper, but Aaron not-so-much.  (He gets it from his dad. No, wait.  He gets it from me.)  Either way, going to Target is a no-nonsense adventure for us.  First stop:  the bakery for a cookie:

These cookies buy me approximately 19 minutes of shopping time.  Thankfully, I know the P-ville Target like the back of my hand, so 19 minutes is do-able.  In and out.  No messing around.  

But no matter how hard I plan, or how quickly I shop, there is something that happens in the check out line.  I blame the conveyer belt-- it's just too tempting a toy to play with.  Checking out at Target is usually a not-so-fun experience.

And today... well, today was super-not-so-fun.

Now, I'm no expert when it comes to parenting.  But I do know a couple of things that work for me, and I know the kind of parent I want to be.  I also do a lot of yoga.  What I'm saying is that crying and whining don't work on this woman in her thirties.  I don't want my kids to think that the louder they cry the more likely I am to give them their way.  So today, when they both started breaking down in the checkout line, I offered them a quick consolation ("I understand you want to get down, but you have to wait just a few more minutes"), and then I continued on with the business at hand.  (That is where the yoga breathing comes in.)

The point is.... I had it.  I knew they were crying, I knew why, and I was okay with my way of dealing with it.  My silence was not a precursor to me breaking down in sobs of my own or going postal on anyone in the building.  My silence was chosen, and I was fine.  My kids were going to be fine.  EVERYONE WAS GOING TO BE FINE.

Here are three things that happened that made it not fine:

1. The check out lady stopped checking and started story telling.

"I remember one time, my girls really didn't want to go for a walk, and...."  She lost me there.  She was trying to make me feel better-- that she had kids too so she understood. But the only thing I wanted at that moment was for her to check me out faster, so we could get out faster.  

2.  The woman behind me made sure I knew she had it worse.

"Try doing that with three of 'em!"  She said.  Gee, thanks.  I didn't know we were in a competition.  You win- your life is harder than mine.  Ugh.

3.  The woman TWO AISLES OVER shouted at me.

"We've all been there!"  Thank you, very much.  I know that.  I don't look at my crying children and think they are any different from any other children that have walked the planet.  I know she was trying to help, but all she did was make more of a scene.  Because SHE SHOUTED AT ME.

I was pretty frazzled when we got home, and it wasn't even because of the experience. I couldn't figure out if I was overreacting or not.  I am usually very considerate of people's meanings... and most people mean well.  These women certainly did.  But they still shook me, and now I know why:

They made me question what I was doing.  They made me second guess my judgement as a parent.  They embarrassed me.  

I had it... didn't I?

I have this.... don't I?

The answer, obviously, is yes.  Of course I do.  I KNOW THAT.  What rocked me wasn't their well-meaning 'help'.  It was the idea that maybe I should have been more unnerved than I was.  That a mom like me needs constant reminders that she's not alone.

And those reminders are nice.... sometimes.  But sometimes, it's okay to look at a woman in her thirties, see her breathing (in through the nose and out through the nose) and think.....

Would you look at that?  She's got it.