Shifting the Definition of Success

She is out there; for all the world to love and judge. She has been born; for all the world to embrace or reject.

She is shining bright; whether or not she sells or bombs.

At this point the making of Ever Upward has been years, and as of last week she has now been born into this big, scary and incredible world.

And, it feels awesome.

 
 

Saturday was my first book signing in a real book store. I went in with absolutely no expectations, or at least I tried as the very normal human being that I am.

No expectations=no disappointment.

Right?

And, just like everything else in this incredible journey, He had a lesson for me.

I had 20 people RSVP for the Facebook invite. The store manage at Barnes & Noble said that if I sold 10 books it would be considered a very successful signing.

Part of me me thought for sure this was doable. And of course, that perfectionist part of me desperately wanted those 10 sales, better yet 11!

But then there was reality. It was a super nice day in St. Louis on Saturday, which is sometimes hard to find in early Spring. I am a first time author. And, my book is about one of the most shamed and misunderstood topics in our society.

Shit, I'd be lucky if I sold a couple books. And 45 minutes into the signing, I had settled for selling even just 1.

Panic did try to settle in off and on, especially those first 45 minutes.

But, I fought her off by choosing my perspective. I practiced gratitude.

I am an author. I am an author signing her first book in a real bookstore. 

God, I am grateful.

And of course, He quickly started showing exactly why I was there that day for my first book signing.

And, it was not to sell books. For the record, I only sold 3 or 4 that day and only a few of those 20 RSVPs showed up.

I was there to connect and educate people.

First, was the older woman who stopped by and told me about her grown children who went through infertility. As we chatted, she was adamant that they got kids though so they are completely fine and would not need my book. You can bet I took that moment. I pointed out that part of the title is Lifelong because the infertility journey changes us forever, even if you do get the happy, healthy kids out of it.

No sale but she promised to tell her kids about the book.

Next there was the woman who looked at me with the fellow warrior compassion and said, "I had to go through infertility too and it didn't work for me either." She then told me about her two amazing daughters she adopted from China. We talked about the childfull life and the scars that the infertility journey leaves us with.

No sale but we connected as mothers, her as a mother to her adopted girls and me as a childfull mother.

That perfectionistic panic and doubt tried really hard to take over here. If I couldn't get these two women to buy my book, then I did not stand a chance of making one sale today.

And then He gifted me the moment that the entire day was for.

A mother and her three kids were lingering by the table, I smiled and said, "Hi!"

The mother then pushed the younger daughter forward and said, "She would really just like to meet a real life author."

My heart soared and I smiled hugely, "I guess that is me, I am a real life author now."

The girl, maybe 10 or 11 years old came right up.

"How do you exactly write a book?" she asked excitedly.

 
 

As I am telling her my book writing process her mom picks up Ever Upward to read the cover and the back cover, she lights up, "They're IVF babies!" as she places her hands on the tops of the girl's and her twin brother's heads.

She goes on to explain that they both know how hard mom and dad had to fight to get them and how they are products of infertility treatments. And then her eyes fill with tears as she realizes that infertility did not work for me. I tell her that Ever Upward is about my journey, defining my own happy ending and how I live a childfull life.

And, that I am okay.

The conversation continued with much excitement. I gave the little girl an Ever Upward journal, "For free!?!", she exclaimed. And she asked me to sign it.

I made her promise that she would write in it every day for at least 30 minutes because this helps our creative writing muscle grow. Her mom then explained that she would be homeschooling next year and she looked at her daughter and said, "Maybe she will be your English pen pal? Why don't you ask her?"

I of course said yes. As they walked away, I took that all familiar deep knowing breath and felt my soul settle, tears came to my eyes and I got it.

No sale but an amazing moment of childfull living.

That is ever upward.

I was in the bathroom when they were checking out with their other purchases, the little girl was upset when I wasn't at the table anymore. When she realized I hadn't left she ran up and gave me a huge, and quite possibly, the best hug ever. I reminded her to keep writing and to definitely email me.

I pray I hear from her and I pray her mom knows how much that moment meant to me. And best of all, I am so thankful that some of my closest friends and my family were there to share this with me.

I have always known Ever Upward was not about the royalty pay outs or the fame. But, society (and my own perfectionism) can really challenge this truth at times. I am thankful that through practicing my daily work in recovery, I was open enough to accept the gift of what my book signing was really meant to be for and mean; connection and education.

Doing this work allows me to be open to what He has in store for me, the true gifts. It is only through this lifelong work that I allow it to be good.

Better than good; ever upward.

~~~

If you have read Ever Upward, leaving a review on Amazon helps in the exposure the book gets on search engines and I appreciate the feedback so much. Please consider leaving a review.

National Infertility Awareness Week is next week. Please consider viewing, sharing and telling CNN that my iReport story needs to be featured. Help those still in the trenches of infertility and those of us who it didn't work for know they are not alone.

Living Wholehearted With Perspective Not From Comparison

Only nine months ago I had to go back to work as the authentic therapist I am after being out from a family member's life threatening, and ultimately life changing, accident. Only nine months ago I had to pray before each session and take a deep breath in order to be present for my clients and to not compare my hard with their hard. Only nine months ago I had to have the conversation with my clients that they are still allowed to their hard even though they know I am going through hard too. It was only nine months ago that my dad fell 6 feet off a ladder and sustained a traumatic brain injury and a life long disability. It was life or death. Less than two months ago Chad's sister, Becky, suffered from Spontaneous Coronary Dissection of all three of her heart arteries and on December 18th she received a heart transplant.

So I again still had to be the authentic therapist I am . I again had to pray before each session to help be present. And, I again had to assure my clients that their hard is still hard.

This is living life in the wholehearted way. Hard is just hard. Sure there is life or death but hard is just hard.

 
 

This is perspective. What I think we must remember is to practice this wholeheartedness with perspective but not through comparison.

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This comparison comes up a lot in the practice of gratitude. Practicing gratitude has been something I've taught to my clients for years at this point. Practicing gratitude has years of research to support the positive benefits of it. Practicing gratitude has been tweaked and improved by many of my favorite people such as Sonja Lyubomirsky, Marie Forleo, Brené Brown, Gabrielle Bernstein and Elizabeth Gilbert.

I write about the different ways I practice gratitude myself and what I teach my clients in Chapter 4 - Choosing Change in Ever Upward, especially in gratitude journals. Which you can guess are usually received with an audible groan and rolling of the eyes. But, it works! I promise!

What I have learned since writing the book is that I need to check my intentions when practicing my gratitude. I need and want my gratitude to come from a place of wholeheartedness. I need and want my gratitude to come with perspective and not from comparison.

We've all heard the sayings, be thankful someone always has it way worse than we do or it could be worse. I think practicing gratitude from this place of comparison is not healthy for us. And I know for sure, that practicing gratitude from this place of comparison, especially when coping with anxiety or depression, only makes it worse. Practicing gratitude from comparison leaves me asking myself, "Why can't I just be happy?" Which, ultimately, only feeds the depression.

Of course, things could always be worse. Trust me, half the time I've survived the worse. However, I must choose to practice my gratitude from the intention of a new perspective and not from comparison.

~~~~

This has been coming up a lot for me personally lately with Becky.Very unexpectedly all of our lives changed, hers the most, and it was life or death.

And, it is scary, it is sad and it is miraculous and amazing.

But, if I torture myself by saying, "Well, at least my heart beats." I minimize my struggle. If I look at my clients who are very much struggling after this holiday season with this place of comparison in my heart, I would never be able to help them.

Because, hard is just fucking hard.

Needing a new heart. Depression. Mold in your newly purchased home. Struggling to find the right diagnosis. Struggling to find the right partner. A chronic illness. Anxiety.

Whatever our hard, it is all just really hard. Sometimes, hard is actually life or death. But, all the time it is the life or death battle of losing ourselves.

It is true, comparison is the thief of joy, happiness...really of all good. Check your intentions as you practice your gratitude, better yet as you live your life.  Live wholehearted from the lens of a new perspective but not in the darkness of comparison. I promise you will feel the difference immediately. I promise your ever upward will come into full focus for you to walk into and fully embrace.

This post linked with Amateur Nester's Link-Up.