So I had an interesting experience this weekend…
I have had the absolute pleasure to co-author (along with 24 other amazing, powerful, successful, beautiful, inspiring women) a book called Success Through Failing.
I have to say, the opportunity fell into my lap a little bit randomly, and yet I could see exactly why God put it in my life. I was contacted by one of my business partners, who let me know that she had referred me to an author out of Vernal, Utah who was looking to put together a book project. She said it had something to do with successful women who had overcome failure.
Well, wouldn’t that be ANY successful woman? I’m pretty sure failure is a part of the deal…
In either case, the author gave me a call a few days later and explained the book project to me. She said the goal was to empower women (um… yes please), and the idea was to collaborate with MANY “successful” (fill in your definition of success here) woman to share a broad array of life experiences that may have- at the time- been perceived as a ‘failure’. I honestly thought she was referring specifically to business failures, but as we talked, I realized she was looking for something bigger and deeper.
I knew the story I had to tell. I cried on the phone as I shared it with her. And I wondered, immediately, if telling it on this scale would be too hard for me…
But I agreed to do the project. You see, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve been writing since elementary school. I remember writing a murder mystery in a spiral notebook because computers weren’t yet a thing! I have written MANY, MANY short stories (and I’ll admit it… N’sync fan fiction) and I’ve even worked on the beginnings of two to three novels. I have always known that I would, one day, become a published author. It just wasn’t something at the top of my list, per say.
BUT, I have been feeling the God nudge to blog and write for quite some time now, so when this opportunity popped up, I can’t say it was completely out of nowhere.
However, I had to laugh that it came up as THIS opportunity.
You want to be a published author (God asked)? Well, here you go. Tell your deepest, darkest story. I dare you!
The fear of being that vulnerable was very palpable. What will people think? Who will be offended? How honest do I have to be? How deep do I have to go? How do I tell this story?
If I’m being honest, the story came out pretty easily. I have a visual memory so it really served me in this process. I just had to go back and relive the memories and put them to paper. Which means… I had to go back and relive the memories.
I respect deadlines, and as I was now going to be a real live published author, I had no idea there was any wiggle room on when I could submit my chapter. And that meant that I would have to be writing my story, from my trailer, in the evenings after my kids were asleep, while we were on a 2 week road trip. Not exactly the most conducive place to go into that deep place. But I just allowed the story to take shape, and the timeline to unfold as it played out in my head. It ended up being a beautiful place to write.
Did writing this bring up some crap? Absolutely. I have to say it’s made me a little unstable ever since. I finished it early October, and it’s been popping up in the back of my mind ever since. Writing it, I realized that I had really worked hard on putting all that stuff in a closet and dead bolting the door shut. I thought that was the best way to get it behind me, but now I’m wondering if I am supposed to be sorting through it more. And I have to be honest, that sounds exhausting. But I wrote it, I brought it to the forefront, and now it’s there…
And now, this thing keeps happening…
It’s come up in different settings– the story. My story. I’ve shared bits and pieces of the person I used to be and the things I struggled with… and you know what? It’s helping people! People, unfortunately, RELATE to the crap I walked through. And they seem to find hope in seeing me in the position and the mindset that I’m in now. Go figure?! And when I’m asked if I have a training or something that they can revisit or share with others, I can now say… I HAVE A BOOK!
God is good. And he uses ALL things for His purpose. And this is no exception.
Even though this experience has forced me to face some things, and look at some things again, it has also made me realize that I am so blessed BECAUSE of the life I’ve lead. I have SUCH perspective now and what I realize is I would have NEVER gotten to the place I’m in now– and it’s a great place– if it weren’t for all the obstacles. I wouldn’t have learned. I would take for granted. I never would have arrived at this place of peace.
And as I’ve read the other chapters, from these women who I have never met, the theme is the same. They are GRATEFUL for their failures. And in most cases, we now don’t see them as failures at all. They might just be our biggest blessings. They have led us to where we are and who we are now.
What a gift!
This past weekend, the book launched. All 25 stories of mom failures, wife failures, marriage failures, death, self esteem issues, rape, drugs, abuse… it’s all there. And this weekend, we held a Success Summit to allow the authors to come together in Utah to share our experiences, answer questions and give break out session trainings to other people who are looking to come through failure and step into their greatness.
What another amazing opportunity to serve, I thought! What a great chance to continue to push this message out that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be afraid, you can be in the middle of your crap and still find a way through to the other side.
And so I left my business retreat and my business partners in Reno, Nevada a day early, and I headed out to Utah for a solo 24 hour trip to help others. Or so I thought…
Well, that’s not exactly why God called me out there.
As soon as I got off the plane, I was RIDDLED with insecurity– which is a feeling I don’t often feel anymore, I’m grateful to say. And all of the sudden, all these strange thoughts started to creep into my brain…
What if the other authors don’t like me? What if they’re cold? What if I’m sitting in the back of the room by myself? What if they are all friends and no one sits at my table at lunch? Yes, I was THAT middle school about it.
And it just hit me… I do NOT step outside of my little world anymore! I have become successful in my bubble, and it’s comfortable and I like it, and I stay in it. I have stopped growing. I have found the end of my comfort zone and MAN was it uncomfortable to step outside it.
So there was that. Strange. Raw. And just there.
And as I pulled up and walked into the summit– late I might add, the last author there thanks to flying in the morning of– I realized that I was going to have to be the bold one. I was going to have to find a way to make friends and open up. This is NOT my strength with groups I don’t know. (I realize this may come as a shock to some of you reading this).
I wish I could say that that is exactly what I did! I owned my role and was outgoing and confident and made friends! But, unfortunately, I spent a great deal of the first half of the day asking God why He had brought me here. I could see right away that it wasn’t to grow my business– but I also knew that wasn’t really my calling there to begin with. And as I read the descriptions of the other break out sessions, I begin to panic that no one would even attend mine!
What would happen if no one showed up to hear me speak? I thought that was why I was here, to serve people by helping them gain perspective! This was going to be a disaster. I was going to be the ONLY one with no one in attendance. And then what? I had to record my training so that the attendee’s would have it available after the summit, but if there was no live audience would I still be expected to record my training to an empty room? Why would they want to hear it after, if they didn’t even show up to hear it live?
I panicked. Absolutely went into a spiral of fear, doubt, insecurity and self pity.
And wouldn’t you know it… my subject matter for my break out was entitled:
It’s not about you.
Oh God, another zinger! Thank you SO much for that! Right to my pride.
After the morning session, I attended a break out session about getting into alignment at home. I picked the topic because, if I’m being honest, it’s the place I feel least successful. I am always wondering if I’m a good enough mom. If I’m doing the very best I can. If I’m giving them the best parts of me. I wonder if I spent too much time working FOR them and not sitting WITH them.
And so I figured, if I’m here, maybe I’ll learn something instead of teaching something.
And wouldn’t you know… that’s EXACTLY what happened!
I did have people attend my break out, but I know that that was NOT the reason I found myself in Utah this weekend. I was there because I NEEDED to be there. Just for me. Not for me to do something for someone else. But just so that I could sit, and reflect, and see where I needed to grow, and learn, and internalize and take stock of why the heck I felt all those uncomfortable, debilitating things.
By the end of the day, I had seen three break out sessions– in addition to giving my own– and I had learned SO very much. I got great tips on how to organize my home life and be more present. I have to say, Sabrina– the author leading the break out– she really hit on some HUGE ideas that I didn’t even know I was struggling with. I ended up going to another break out just because I wanted to be friends with the author. And I went to the third because I thought it would help my business, but it ended up giving me a thousand ideas for my husband’s business.
It was all for a purpose. And it was all for me.
By the end of the evening, as I laid in bed connecting deeply with the woman who had invited me into the project to begin with, I had to praise God. THANK YOU for always leading me where I need to be. Thank you for showing me what I can’t see about myself. Thank you for helping me gain perspective always. Thank you for teaching me the hard lessons that I haven’t wanted to learn or face. Thank you for pushing me.
I’m so grateful for the challenges and obstacles of this life. I now know for certain, they’re the only things that lead to success.