This was a tough week. My mother is very ill. She has pancreatic cancer (15 months in) and although statistically she is already a survivor, the grim reality is startling at times. When someone you love is sick, the balancing act is tested and whiplash sets in when you are forced to “live your life” because you don’t have the luxury of hiding under the covers when young children and responsibilities loom.
In the last year and more, I have canceled numerous appointments, engagements, and meetings. I have postponed writing my third book at least twenty-seven times. I have resigned from positions and causes that are near and dear to my heart because I was stretched to the limit and was urged by my loved ones to start caring for me. Tell any woman to take care of herself and you will be met with disdain and a chuckle. The excuses are endless: my kids, my spouse, my home, my pets, my causes, those less fortunate, etc.
The last two book clubs (Vigneto with Ronni Buchman and friends, and Boca Book Club at the lovely home of Marjorie Miner) occurred in the midst of tough days. Never did I once consider canceling. Even while en route to both destinations I got caught in miserable Florida traffic that could have easily turned into an adequate excuse, I stayed the course.
These evenings are therapeutic and the most welcoming of distractions. The women are intelligent, engaging, and kind. Being an “author” isn’t all that it seems. You can be tested when you walk into a room of strangers and you don’t know which one of them maybe didn’t like the book. It’s not about showing up and having your ego stroked while someone asks you, ordinary you, for your autograph. There is anxiety involved when you knock on that door and part of your heart and soul are resting in their hands and they are about to dissect every word and every character. For the record, I didn’t like Jessica at times either! And shame on Marty for putting up with her as long as he did!
When you are in the moment at a book club, it is a thrill to hear people talking about your work. You get caught up; you disclose about your characters as if you didn’t chart their course! That’s a small part of it. There is a deeper connection that surpasses literature and your Goodreads bookshelf. Connections are so important throughout life. Connections prove that we are not alone and we all suffer and feel pain at times. Connections are the ones who lift us up when our spirits are waning, our belief system cut to the very core. Connections share our triumphs and joys. The book club connection is one I admire and most enjoy.
To the ladies of the most recent book clubs, I have listened to your histories and you have heard mine. You may not have known it, but you have nourished my soul and given me glimpses of goodness and hope. All of us are unique and experience life in our own personal way, but one thing we share in common is our willingness to show up and open our hearts. Whether you are the hospice nurse, the author of PREVIVORS, the member of Potential Church, the marketing executive, the welder, the teacher, the grandmother, the mother, the wife, the daughter, the sister, the friend…you are all powerful women. You all help me to show up.
How has your book club helped you through a difficult time?