What inspired me to write a memoir? I’ve been asked that question a lot lately, especially from people who know how private I am. And now that I am only weeks away from my book launch, I find myself asking the same question — and this one: What was I thinking? Here’s what I know. One life changing event and three simultaneous inner urgings inspired me to write my book.
The life-altering event was the swift, merciless death of my mother – who happened to also be my best friend – when she was an otherwise robust and healthy 68 years old and I was 45. I was completely unprepared for life without her. Her death broke me open in unprecedented, yet ultimately life-affirming, ways.
While I was mired in grief, and playing all sorts of grief games in an effort to stay connected with her, I also felt compelled to live more boldly, authentically and vibrantly than I ever had before. Even though I had always prided myself on living with intention and enjoyed setting and reaching challenging goals, there were a few dreams, like writing a book, I had been too scared and overwhelmed to tackle. But in the wake of my mom’s death there was no time for just thinking about “tomorrow” or relegating my long buried dream to “someday.” My someday was now.
The second thing that inspired me to write my book was a deep, intrinsic desire to produce something that would outlive me. While I had two wonderful stepchildren and a puppy I treated as my baby, I hadn’t yet truly offered the world something tangible that would endure. And now I had a fierce longing to give creative birth to something that would speak for me when I was gone – something that would be part of my legacy.
The third thread of inspiration for my book came from a yearning to find and validate my own voice. Ironically, as a professional coach I was comfortable and competent helping others claim and cultivate their own voice yet I had been remiss in doing the same for myself. Coming from a family of successful writers (but never identifying as one myself) I always knew that writing was a wonderful way of clarifying and cleansing one’s thoughts. But beyond penning some bad adolescent poetry and keeping journals episodically throughout my life, I never took myself or my writing seriously. That changed once my mother died, my heart broke, and my time and need for self-inquiry and validation burst forth.
Lastly, I had and have a powerful desire to reach out and connect with other people, women in particular, who were struggling with issues similar to mine. Issues like self-acceptance, using longing as a substitute for loving, and overcoming the loss of a loved one. Reading books, especially stories of personal resilience written by women, had always been a comfort and balm to me. Through the brave and honest stories of other women I found strength, companionship and validation. My loneliness or isolation would lift, even for a bit, and my fortitude and hopefulness would be reignited. Also, since I adore championing others, writing a book felt like a natural and necessary vehicle to relate with people on both deeper and broader levels and to inspire those who are on a similar journey toward love and self-acceptance.
So dear reader,
- Did you ever find yourself taking a risk you never imagined for the sake of something bigger?
- What long buried dream are you ready to give birth to? What next step can you take along that path?
- What book has brought your comfort or inspiration when you needed it most?
Until next time, take care of your special self.