This past month was big for me. I took a much needed vacation, sent my eldest to kindergarten, and conquered a major fear. Oh, and approved the final sketch of my title character! So here I sit reflecting. This is my story...
Rewind to the start of the Summer when I had newfound goals on my mind:
Cultivate and harvest homegrown veggie garden.
Set a date for picture book release.
Grow social media followers.
Dust off my Marketing 101 skills.
Enjoy Summer with the kids.
Hustle, hustle, hustle!
Here's the thing about lists...I love making them, but find it hard to conquer them. With a little help from caffeine, (okay, maybe a LOT of help), I navigated through my list...
Cultivate and harvest my own veggie garden? Lucky for me, I have a dad who is quite literally a plant whisperer. With his help, I had two marvellous veggie beds where I successfully grew broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, leeks, peppers, yellow beans, and lettuce. The kids were excited to pick fresh veggies from the garden, and I felt a sense of accomplishment from the tangible results. I've also found that gardening has a calming effect on me which is an added bonus. I consider this one checked off my list!
Set picture book release date? Sure, no problem. Between illustration deadlines, printer lead times, and the reality of my calendar, I'm aiming for December 2019. Wait, debut picture book during the chaos of holiday month?? Hmmm...Okay, let's say early 2020. Done!
Grow social media followers? This requires consistency and the willingness to put yourself out there for everyone to see. Vulnerability is really not my thing, but it's on the LIST, so it shall be done. Post, like, comment, follow, and repeat! On most days it feels like I'm talking to myself when I post on social media, but connecting with so many inspiring people makes it all worth it. Cross it off the list? Not quite.
Dust off my Marketing 101 skills? The thing about self-publishing is that you have to wear a lot of hats. I'm comfortable with my ability to write and collaborate with my illustrator, but getting the word out is daunting. My career background is in Marketing & Advertising, yet this is the aspect of my journey that terrifies me the most. I signed up for an Author Marketing course and loved every bit of it. Shoutout to Lauren Ranalli, (laurenranalli.com), and her "Think Beyond the Book" course. I certainly dusted off my marketing skills, and learned some new ones while taking Lauren's online course. Done! (Well, for now).
Enjoy Summer with the kids? This is a loaded goal. With a four and two year-old at home, most days feel like a Dr. Seuss rollercoaster of adjectives. You're up, you're down, you're loopy, you're twisty, you're sideways, you're floating, you're hanging, you're grounded, you're torn, you're whole...this is parenthood. With kindergarten looming, I made the decision to fully embrace the chaos this Summer with my kids. We splashed, we climbed, we tumbled, we rode, we indulged, we read...we fully enjoyed. It was a Summer for the books; complete with a marvellous family vacation up North where I took a time-out from blogging for one full week...oh my! Check that one off the list!
Be present? If being present means doing a dozen things at once on any given day, then I certainly over-achieved this Summer. Unfortunately for me, I believe the definition of being present is about living in the moment without distraction of the past or future, and free of any worry. This will forever be a work-in-progress for me. "Worry" might as well be my middle name. I've wrestled with anxiety most of my life. Most of my anxieties stem from my perception of other's perceptions of me...try saying that ten times fast! I'll share more about this in a future blog. What's the status on this goal? It's complicated.
Underlined, bolded, and in sparkly pink marker is the last item on my list: Hustle, hustle, hustle! I'll admit, this just sounded and looked pretty on paper. I stared at this line item every day, and like clockwork, I read it out loud with stomach flutters in action. Remember when I mentioned that vulnerability isn't really my thing? Oh, and all that anxiety stuff? So here's where my Summer got interesting...
My phone rings and it's my dear friend asking me about a potential opportunity to discuss early literacy on television. My initial reaction is, YES, YES, YES! I get to talk about my love of picture books, the importance of early literacy, and my debut book? Sign me up! I was giddy with excitement, and so grateful for the opportunity. A few days later with an official green light from the t.v. station, and the reality set in. More specifically, my anxiety set sail. What will I say? What if I freeze on-air? What will I wear? What will people think? Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
In true mompreneur mode, I sucked up my worries during the day with my kids, and spit them back out at night where my fearful thoughts simmered. It was days before my t.v. appearance and I embarked on some retail therapy. First stop: fancy coffee with all the bells and whistles. Next stop: new outfit for my big day. Last stop: overnight hotel booking near the studio. Logistically, I was all set.
'Twas the night before the big day. I checked into my hotel, organized the picture books I was discussing, and ran through scenarios with my dear friend (the one who helped me get the gig). As the stomach flutters mounted before bed, I visualized my list: Hustle, hustle, hustle! It's as if the "hustle, hustle, hustle" became a melodic lullaby that soothed me to sleep.
The next morning arrived and there was no looking back. Makeup on, check! Hair done, check! Books in hand, check! In-studio on time, check! The staff was lovely and professional, and I was in awe of how quick and seamless the on-air personalities ran through the morning news show. The host spent a few minutes with me prior to our segment and immediately calmed me down. She squeezed my hand and said, "this is just two moms having a casual conversation about our kids and books." We instantly connected in that moment, and my stomach flutters began to subside.
Our segment was short and sweet. We discussed the importance of early literacy, a handful of picture books that help ease the transition into kindergarten, and my upcoming book series. Cut to commercial, and it was over. I did it! Wayne Gretzky was right when he said, "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take." For me, going on-air to discuss my passion was my version of taking a shot. It was fast, exhilarating, and a personal win.
As I exhaled from the personal accomplishment of conquering my t.v. jitters, I inhaled the reality of sending my eldest to kindergarten. We had been preparing for weeks...sharing stories, answering questions, and letting the feelings sink in. Fast forward to the first day of kindergarten, and the Dr. Seuss rollercoaster was back. This time the fun was gone, and it was more like the gut-wrenching pains going downhill at full speed. Sounds dramatic, right? It sure felt dramatic as I let go of my son's hand and he hysterically cried in his new teacher's arms.
For the rest of that day I replayed the image of him crying in his teacher's embrace. Was he crying in a corner? Is he not eating his lunch? Does he know how to unzip his backpack like we practiced? Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. The hours crawled through the day until it was time to pick him up. I waited anxiously at the yard as the kids were being dismissed, and a few minutes later he came running into my arms. He was smiling from ear-to-ear and telling me all about his first day of school. He did it!
Again, I was reminded that fears and worries are much worse when they are trapped in your mind. The reality was that he had a great day at school, and his reaction in the morning was short-lived. According to his teacher, he stopped crying within seconds of us walking away. Oh, and he also ate every last little bite of the lunch and snacks that we packed. Big win!
So what's the moral of "my story"? Well, I've realized that this Summer is merely one chapter in my long storybook ahead. I'll leave you with this quote that really resonated with me:
"Breathe, darling. This is just a chapter. It's not your whole story." - S.C. Lourie
Until next time...happy reading!