My mother was the first person to donate to my Kickstarter campaign. I should say OUR campaign; Johnny is my partner in this children’s book adventure. So she donated (I gave her the laptop and I showed her how). I was very honored that my mother was the first to donate to my dream—this little kid’s nook about MS, Zoe Bowie Sings, Despite All Sad Things. It felt sweet and important that she do the honors.
But I didn’t cry. I looked over the peninsula counter frozen in fear between the prospect of NOT raising even a $100 toward our $5500 and not hearing from my sis who is supposed to cook this turkey at my house the next day. I’m hosting. I’ve never touched a bird. Never stuffed one or cleaned one. Never run a Kickstarter campaign or attempted to publish a book. I was kind of shaking, kind of faking it, thanking my mom, but also understanding that that donation was my mom. Your mom always supports you. No matter what I do, even the stuff that makes her itchy and uncomfy and sometimes angry (I share too much), she loves me and supports me unconditionally. She’s my mom!
But would anyone else support this silly dream of mine? Can I make a fricking turkey on my own? Does one Google it? Rainy is in Florida with stuffing up to her neck and I don’t know if my mom knows how. My sis has always done it. And $5500 is a lot to ask for. People are struggling. God we understand the struggling. I just stood there. I just stood. I think I prayed in my head, I was giving the fear up to my higher power.
And then the pledges started coming. Friends would text me, attempt to call me (we get shitty service, I have to curse, it’s that bad), inbox me, YELL from other rooms to look. They were watching and routing with me-is this is a kin to my husband and dad going nuts over Thanksgiving football? Whatever it was, my reaction was a smile and complete hysterics. Lol. I can’t stop laughing about the tears. From that second donation, Dylan, I love you and so grateful to see a name that wasn’t my mother’s, to the next and the next. I was dumbfounded, overwhelmed, overgratituded (yeah, that’s a word because I said so and it’s Thanksgiving). I’d get $25, $500, $35, $500, $150…$1150. Holy shmolies universe what is happening? Are you really backing me? Does that really happen when you are convinced you suck, but you go forth anyway?
Sidenote: Perusing the library with my kids and reading AJ all these books while Zoe Bowie is in school, I have realized that the difference between a published author and non-published author is obviously CONFIDENCE. Some of these books, weren’t that great to me, and they were PUBLISHED. My friend Anne pointed out that the difference between them and me is that they didn’t take NO for an answer. Take that and tweak it to fit your life because it is true. Sometimes the only difference is confidence and the refusal to accept the word "no".
I was telling my husband how on the outside anyone looking in would think this was one of my most successful years. I wrote two books, still run my own company, I’m in the midst of making the first book a published reality, but it was one of the darkest of my life. When you are in it, you feel overwhelmed and scared and dark. I used to have this recurring dream when I was about 4 years-old and we lived in Hartford in the projects in this ugly green house. In my dream I’d wake up in my room in the dark. And all of a sudden one leg would appear from underneath my bed. It was always rocking a multi-colored cowboy boot. It would be slowly creeping out, exposing the man undeneath. On my night stand would be that toy—I forget what it’s called..we’d pin those little lights on it? I’d have it there lit up and it would come to life and show me what to do to escape the man with the boot underneath my bed.
But I couldn’t move and I couldn’t yell for my parents. I'd try, but nothing would come out of me. Right before his face appeared everything would be speeding up and my heart i s pounding in fear and then PAUL STANLEY’s face, just for a millisecond, in complete KISS make-up. I’d wake up sweating and panicking and still unable to yell for my mother.
That’s pretty much what this year has been like. Terror. Knowing what I should be doing, but not totally confident I had the voice to do it, or the guts. It’s been sleepless nights working and then coming home to tend to my kids and work some more and clean. It’s been showerless and frantic.
There’s this blurry line between genius and just plain old fricking crazy. This last year I was steadfast in my belief that a children’s book was needed, but the idea that I could make it happen, was just plain old fricking crazy. I can’t tell you how many hours and wasted words by a space heater-depressing moments where I truly said, “I can’t do this.” But for some reason, God would always bring me back to it. He’d take my hand, even if it was just to push me to look at a bill that was lying near my computer, He’d lead me close and light that little “What if” spark inside me.
“I’m NEAR the computer. What if I just opened the story to look?” A look would lead me to a correction. Before I knew it I’d be writing again. I’m not saying it still didn’t suck, but I am saying I was still going forward, which is so much better than hiding in your bed wondering about what could have been and sleeping the real life dreams off.
You can’t just sleep with your dreams. The best ones come when you are awake. I was filled with fear, but I went forward. I’m hoping someone out there needs that message, so I’m saying it now. Sometimes we bully ourselves into bed, under the covers. I can never do that! I can never write books or accomplish dreams. I’m dumb. I’m busy. I’m too fricking tired. I don’t look right. He didn’t want me. She’s gone, what’s the point? I smell! I was in Remedial Verbal in 9th grade with Sister Peggy Ann?
OK the Remedial Verbal one is a personal reference. I confess, that was me. I can’t remember who taught the class, but I do remember someone reading the word chaos and pronouncing it like chows and we all got in trouble for laughing. Twenty something years later I was reading with Zoe Bowie and she had to read that same word and I fell onto her floor laughing before she even attempted to pronounce it. She thought I was laughing at her. I tried so hard to explain why I was laughing and the memory, but through the tears and lack of oxygen I couldn’t get it out. It didn’t matter. She rolled off the bed and was craughing (cry laughing) with me.
That moment made me remember. I was the worst writer. I had trouble reading in 9th grade. Not because of a developmental problems, but because of a deficit. Somewhere in my life, between my parents trying to do the best they could, working so many jobs to take care of us (my dad being a professional bowler would be gone for months at a time) and my schooling….it wasn’t enough. I needed more help. Mount Saint Dominic was the big leagues. Smart, smart girls. They were doctors and lawyers the moment they walked up those steps on our first day of 9th grade. I was alone and scared. I was rememdial. I just wanted to be a missionary and begged my parents to let me go. That was it. My parents thought I was insane, but they eventually caved and scrimped by to send me. No, I was never a normal child.
So I felt a little less than at times. I was in remedial verbal, but so what? We had so much fun and I was safe and learning. And I can proudly say that I was in AP classes by my senior year. I remember sitting in Caldwell College library my freshmen year trying to teach myself HOW to study. I didn't study in middle school. I was the kid with big hair, cutting an dsmoking in the girls' room. Oh it was daunting, but I did it. These are the things I need to remember when I tell myself I can’t as an adult. My inner child, the one I’ve lost touch with, pops up every now and then as a shaining example. I need her around more.
I need to remind myself of these things. I don’t limp around the world thinking I’m great or I can do anything. I just kind of do what I need to do. I do what is required. But gosh darn we should. We shouldn’t be staring at our feet feeling defeated all the time or scared to try. That’s how I walked. That’s how many of us walk. I don’t really feel defeated all the time, I’m just always in my head thinking of everything I need to do and always feeling like I can’t catch up. But, I still feel accomplished doing what I need to do as an adult. Truly. I was good with that.
In a way felt like something else I needed to do, but it I was also coupled with something else I’d never attempted before -- a dream. Not something I typically do. I was suddenly standing on a step stool (anyone who hangs out with MS-riddled self knows I can’t balance for shite) and reaching, and attempting to extend a smidge more…just one more smidge I’m almost there…fully aware I could fall flat on my face at any time. Blocking it out and trying to steady myself. It was scary. It still is. But I have my husband and Johnny and Candi and Danielle and Donna and Rainy and the people that just don't let me stop trying. And FAITH. I could do NOTHING without my faith in God.
So I know why I cried yesterday. It’s because it’s fall and I’m full of gratitude. I have a turkey I’m supposed to do something with in like ten minutes (if you know what that is please tell me) and because of pure, sheer relief and gratitude. The universe, YOU, did not let me fall. It hasn’t even been 24 hours and we have reached $4450 of our $5500 goal. You did not let me fall, so I cried. Thank you my friends. Wishing you the best Thanksgiving ever and a life filled with gratitude and real-life, fully awake and living it, DREAMS!
Thank you for supporting this book, the biggest dream I have. I just want to hold it (I may sleep with one just for a single night, cuddle) and give it to Zoe Bowie. I just want to show her, "Here, I saw you deal when you didn't think I was looking...Mama's always hear..." And I couldn't give you a cape, like you deserve because you are my heroe, but look what I made for you.
*Click here to visit our Kickstarter page and watch our video...