I promise I will start a series of writing tip posts soon but, reflecting on this weekend, I wanted to talk about gratitude.
This past Saturday, I was a part of the Take 190 Book and Art Festival in Killeen, Texas. It was such a wonderful experience. I arrived early and sipped on a latte while I laid out my table cloth, arranged copies of my book around the table, set up my banner, and put all my merchandise on display. I wasn’t nervous. My hands weren’t shaking. I was peaceful, calm, happy, grateful.
Tears are already forming in my eyes.
This is a very personal post for me.
I grew up in a loving and supportive household. I never wondered if my mom or dad was going to support me in my next venture. I always knew they would. I never wondered if they cared about me, I never worried where we would get a meal, I don’t think I EVER heard my parents fight.
Still, even being enveloped in a loving and nurturing environment, I went through some things. I was molested for a time when I was very young, and I believe this set me down a long path of self-doubt and self-image issues. Even though I was capable in school, made pretty much all A’s and B’s, even though I was successful when trying new activities like karate, gymnastics, and cheerleading, I still saw myself as holding almost no value. I was also constantly obsessed with pleasing people. Somewhere along the line, in my teenage years, I completely lost myself and was no longer able to discern what I wanted or what was important to me – I was following a path, but I really didn’t know what I was doing or why I was doing it, I just kept moving forward.
What does all of this have to do with gratitude? The me from those days would have never guessed she would be setting up a table at a book festival some day…the me from those days was very bitter and unsettled and sad; the me from those didn’t have hope. She had dreams, but she never thought she would achieve them.
So there I was, behind the table, book on display, proud, eager, grateful. I met new readers, watched some faces cringe as they looked at my cover and mumbled they don’t do horror, watched other’s eyes light up as they read the description, then asked ‘how much.’ I met other authors, some seasoned, some new and eager; all of them seemed just as happy as me to be there. I bought some new books and merchandise, ate free candy, snacked on a sandwich, and when it was all over, I packed up my things and carried them to the car with a beaming smile on my face. There was no concern for how much money I made or what kind of impression I left. There was just a very large feeling of sureness and pride, sure that I am finally comfortable in my own skin and proud of what I have done so far.
Why do I share this with you? I’m not doting on myself, and I don’t just want to ‘share my story.’ I am telling you all of this, because life can be hard. Sometimes it kicks you over and over and embeds this dreadful sense of hopelessness that makes it seem like things will never be different. In such moments, its easy to question the point, to wonder if it’s even worth continuing. I went through some of those moments myself over the years but, if I wasn’t still here today, I wouldn’t have seen what I was truly capable of. I still have no idea where all of this will lead, but I do know that I sure as hell can’t wait to find out. I’m glad I’m still here, and I’m glad you are, too.
Don’t ever give up on yourself. Don’t ever give up on life. Don’t ever give up hope. If you have a crazy dream, don’t ever stop chasing it, regardless of who does or doesn’t believe in you. At the end of the day, this journey is yours and you have to make the calls and decide where it’s going to lead. I love and am grateful for all of you. Thanks for sticking with me.
Until next time.
With all my love and gratitude,