Yesterday, while writing in my journal, I sobbed with gratitude! Seeing my memoir Raw: My Journey from Anxiety to Joy published is a long-held dream come true. I’ve travelled a labyrinthine road to get here.
During these months leading up to my book launch I’ve been surrounded by to-do lists. I’ve tried to wrangle each “must-do” item to the ground, but many have slipped away! I’ve learned this: it doesn’t matter. I’ve done my best. And I have a confession to make: I have habitually fallen into the trap of believing I must do xyz (insert a long list of author to-dos, including social media, newsletters, book tour planning, speaking gigs, article writing and placement, blog posts, graphic design, interviews, launch party details, editing excerpts, email announcements, and more).
On top of these author-related tasks, I have been convinced that I needed to engage in a host of personal practices such as meditation, yoga, dance, journal writing, walks, healthy eating, and getting a good night’s sleep. All of these are great, as are my work-related tasks, but they’ve been fueled by a fundamental misunderstanding that my well-being depended upon them. This is not true. My well-being does not depend upon my doing anything, personally or professionally. Contrary to how it often appears, the outside world need not look a certain way for me to be essentially (spiritually) okay.
Sometimes I forget this and think that if I could just achieve or accomplish xyz, I’d be good, safe, valued, or loveable (fill in whatever blank). But I’m discovering that my well-being resides within. The only thing that keeps me from it is my own thinking. This is liberating because it means I’m not a victim of outside circumstances I can’t control.
The other day I was driving in my car and I suddenly felt a wave of joy. For no reason. I realized my fearful, negative thinking fell away for a moment and I was left with the real me—my essence, which is filled with love. This is how I want to live my life and this is how I want to launch my book—from this understanding.
I’d like to be a successful author, but it’s good to know that neither my identity nor my well-being depend upon it. I recognize the anxious yacking of my insatiable ego, choose not to take it seriously, and focus on what matters most: showing up, doing the work, connecting with others, and being of service. I finally get that I’m good enough, no matter what.
I get to play this game called life in which I’m taking on the role of an author right now. But I don’t have to do all the things I’m doing; I get to do them. And it’s fun. My intention is to proceed with joy. That’s my barometer for what to do next. I ask myself, Does this feel good? Will it bring joy? Does it feel light and spacious or heavy and dark? Does it make me feel like a headless chicken running all over the place? If so, my answer is, No thank you. I’ll pass.
After decades of writing I finally get that I don’t have to strive or worry; I can turn to my inner compass instead. A friend recently reminded me, “You’re a shower-upper. You’ve already won.” And that’s exactly how it feels. My book is a shining moment, but my life is my ongoing project. The journey continues.
Putting my memoir into the world provides countless opportunities for me to grow, learn, and love. This is my practice and my pleasure.
I’m hosting two launch events in Los Angeles: Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, where I’ll appear in conversation with author Clarie Bidwell Smith and The Mystic Journey Bookstore in Venice, where I’ll read edited excerpts. Manny Velazquez will play flamenco guitar before and after my reading. I’ll also be doing events in San Diego, Corte Madera and Larkspur (Northern California), Long Island (near where I grew up), Northern Virginia, and Portland. I’d love to see you at any of these gatherings! I hope to connect with old friends and make new ones as I celebrate this milestone!