In 2018, my husband and I did away with New Year’s resolutions. Instead, we decided to create a motto for the year. Our motto for 2018 was Do Things Differently.The wonderful thing about a motto is that it can become a mantra, as Do Things Differently became for me.
While in the process of researching agents and publishers for Tornado Dreams in the spring of 2018, (and, while constantly evoking my new mantra), I was invited to speak at a women’s retreat that March. At the end of the retreat, I was asked to be a guest author at a book club. This sounded like a great opportunity, however, at that time, my book only existed on my computer.
In keeping with our New Year’s motto, I decided to do something I had been adamantly opposed to: I pursued self-publishing. By June of 2018, I had a contract with Orange Hat Publishing, was working with a former client on the cover art, and had secured one of my readers and my husband to edit my book. Tornado Dreams launched on September 6, 2018.
While there were several other things I did differently last year, none was quite as challenging as informing my three older siblings that I had written and published a memoir. My mother already knew about the book.
It is so difficult, in families that are broken, and have been functioning in dysfunctional dynamics for decades, as is my case, to communicate openly and honestly over matters that make one vulnerable. Normally, in these instances, I downplay what I have done and what it means to me, I try to be one step ahead of any judgements my siblings have taught me through our shared history to expect, or I get upset (okay, angry) for having to do this dance causing me to have an unnecessary edge in my voice and to explain things in manner that presumes disinterest on the part of my siblings.
But this time, I chose differently.
Instead of doing any of those things, I decided to take a risk and honestly share with my family why I wrote my memoir, what I hoped readers gleaned from it, and, for the first time, stated in a real way that I was now pursuing a career as a writer. I did this through a slowly written, thoughtful letter that I included in a copy of my book that I mailed to them individually. I left the decision to read the book up to them. I made it clear I would not be offended if they chose not to.
Doing things differently, led to different results. Each in their own way, voiced congratulations and support. And, while there hasn’t been any extensive conversation or curiosity regarding the book, they have all read it. That is a positive outcome.
Moving on to 2019
After being introduced to the beautiful Hebrew word Ephphatha (EHF-uh-thuh), which means be opened, by Pastor Ann Williams, we decided to add it to last year’s motto. After doing so, life began to change even more dramatically.
This word is so beautiful to me. Ephphatha. Saying this word is like speaking a sigh. Saying this word calms me and centers me. Feel free to look up how this word is biblically used, but for me it means to be opened to life, to love, to those things we need in order to accomplish our goals, of which, are often the very things we don’t want to do, or are the things we believe we are incapable of doing, or are the things, through extreme stubbornness, we refuse to budge on, no matter the consequences.
While I have many examples already this year that demonstrate how Being Open and Doing Things Differently have changed my life, there are no greater examples than my website and this blog.
As of two weeks ago today I was never going to have a website, and I most definitely wasn’t ever going to have a blog. As of a week ago today, I caved on the website, but held firm to never doing a blog. Well… here we are. And, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I have enjoyed writing both entries thus far.
Ephphatha, my friends. Do Things Differently.