It’s been way too long since I’ve written here, and so much has happened. I’m not sure how to organize it all! I’ll just dive in, and hope you can follow along.
If you’ve followed my story, you know that I have struggled to write because of severe and chronic pain that makes it difficult to type. I have been able to type in short bursts, but rarely more than a page at a time. I tried dictation software, and it functioned fine, but my brain just doesn’t work that way. My thoughts flow more elegantly from my fingertips than they do from my mouth.
Last year, we moved to a new city for my husband’s job. We were just settling in to our new home when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was stunned. My family has no history of breast cancer, and I didn’t have any of the known risk factors. Fortunately, it was caught early (please do all the recommended screening tests!). I had surgery and then went through five weeks of daily radiation therapy. The radiation left me exhausted. I spent most afternoons in my recliner, with my two Bichons (Lily and Larry), curled up on my lap.
When I was nearing the end of my radiation treatments, I was approached by a publisher with an offer to write a book on self-confidence. Initially I said “no.” I had written four books in the past, and I assumed that part of my career was over. It wasn’t physically possible for me, with my chronic pain and now my fatigue, to write a book. But, the idea kept popping up in my head!
Who thinks of taking on a huge task when they’re exhausted and in pain? I do!
Writing makes me feel alive! I want to do this!
One of the things I like about myself is that I’m a creative problem-solver. I knew if I were to write this book, I would need help. If I could find a co-author, it would decrease the workload while still giving me a meaningful project in which to immerse myself. Immediately someone came to mind—Celia Ampel.
I had met Celia in a round-about way through my son years ago. As a graduate of the prestigious University of Missouri School of Journalism, she is a great writer. I also knew she was interested in psychology as we’d collaborated on a few blog posts a while back. She lives in Florida now and I decided to text her to gauge her interest and availability. The timing was perfect! She had just decided to leave her job and do some freelance writing, and she said she was definitely interested. Yippee!
We signed the book contract and off we went! We met over Google Hangouts to discuss ideas and used a shared Google document to write. She was the best co-author I could have. We were always completely in sync (we decided it was because we are both INFJs on the Myers-Briggs test and “Rebels” on Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies test).
We had very tight deadlines, met each one early, and completed the entire book in under ten weeks (while I was also still working my regular job)!
I can’t believe how much I was able to write, or the amount of time I was able to sit at the computer. I was on a mission. Writing with Celia was so much fun I didn’t notice the pain as much, and what discomfort I had was worth it. We both felt good that we were working on a creative project that had the potential to help so many people. At the end of the writing process, Celia came to St. Louis to visit. It was so nice to see her in person. My husband, Greg, took pictures of us together, looking confident, of course.
This week was the one-year anniversary of the tests that led to my cancer diagnosis. I went back to see my doctors and have more tests. Everything came back clean. Even though I had expected good news, I hadn’t realized how much these follow-up tests had been weighing on my mind. It sounds cliché, but facing serious illness changes everything. One thing I learned for sure:
I’m not ready to quit writing. I still have things to say.
Just this morning, The Self-Confidence Workbook: A Guide to Overcoming Self-Doubt and Improving Self-Esteem popped up on Amazon—it officially comes out October 23 and is available for pre-order now. I’m really proud of it, and believe in the approach we present. Celia and I found ourselves becoming more confident ourselves as we became immersed in the material. (We had fun texting each other big and small confidence victories along the way!)
As I type this, I look around my office for inspiration. My eyes land on a small painting that my husband gave me after I completed my radiation treatments. He had asked a local artist to do a one-of-a-kind piece for me. I love the work of Janice Scherer who is known for her “Stripy Arms” paintings. She had met me once and didn’t really know me, but magically her painting fit me and my situation perfectly.
“Show up. Stand up. Speak up. Every day, in every way—I am overcoming and pushing through perceived obstacles and challenges to do what I need to do—to find my courage, my strength, and my voice.”
I had planned to tell you more about the book and why I’m so proud of it—but I think I’ll stop typing for now. I can do that later…