I am so happy to sit and visit with you in this moment. I’m currently working on my “inside outline” for my next book. As you may recall, it turns out that book two is actually an expanded version of The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderon: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship.
We’re talking epic quest, travel to Italy, an origin myth based in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and more. For readers of my first novel, I think you’ll love the evolution of Selma, Hurley, Guadey and X. And good news, you had a glimpse of some secondary and tertiary characters including Clare and Pemba who now have enhanced roles and some wicked cool powers.
As usual, there is food, lots of food, including my intense research at Johnson’s Popcorn.
There is a new character whom you’ll adore. She is Hurley’s great grandmother—her name is GG. And there’s some A-Mazing TREE magic in this book. Some might say it’s a reason for me to shamelessly research trees, but I think you’ll especially love the chapter that I just turned into Barbara Boyd, my book coach based in Italy. I actually stayed with Barbara in 2017 when I was researching book 2. She lives in Belevedere Marittimo in Calabria. She is certified by Jennie Nash’s Author Accelerator book coach program. In fact, Jennie just released her Blueprint for a Book and I can attest to the fact that the tools make a world of difference when writing a book! You can learn more about Barbara on her site (she focuses on non-fiction authors) and in this fabulous interview on The Listen Podcast.
I was actually interviewed on the same podcast by Kate Jetmore about my experiences in East Africa. You can listen here. It was such a joy to talk with Kate and to go back to my time 20+ years ago in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Much of my time there informed The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderon. I hope you enjoy our conversation. Kate is true to the title of her podcast. She deeply listens and asks informative questions.
And you’ll hear a “vintage” recording in my 20s with some fabulous Kenyan Women researchers, Soila and Katito Sayaliel and Norah Njaraini with elephants very close to our research vehicle. And you’ll hear this Philly girl who is a little scared!
I have a ton of resources which have been gamechangers for me in my #MysticAthlete quest. You can learn more about that in my What’s a Mystic Athlete section of my blog.
Before I share a few of my favorite resources, I want to pause to write to you about self-doubt.
I’ve been talking about it with my writing partner, Michelle Reynoso as she works on the 3rd installment of her trilogy. I’ve watched us both as we navigate working full-time, writing, momming, being a wife, a friend, daughter, sister, paying bills and cleaning our houses. And I will tell you that I get a C+ in the latter.
Anyhoo, self-doubt is a like any other foe—as my mother would say, it’s FULL OF SOUP. Here’s a sampling of what my self-doubt character has said to me:
“Why are you even toiling with this story? You already wrote one book. Why make it bigger? Is it really worth it to spend this time and energy on a book that…really HOW MANY people will actually read it? What’s the point?”
Have you ever had a voice like that come into your head? About work? Relationships? Your health? Guess what! I have a solution for you! If you’re a long-time reader of my blog, you’ll be familiar with my approach of giving that inner critic a whole persona so that you can converse with him or her. You can read about that process here. From SARK, I learned how to give those individuals a new job. Back in 2015 when my novel, The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderon: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship was published, I was only a few months into my lifelong dream of living at the beach in California (where I’m writing to you now!!) and within a few months had been reassigned (gratefully) to a newly formed department in my day job.
So you want to talk CHANGE. New job, new home on the other side of the country realized after 20 years and a book published that took 10 years to finish while writing, momming, healing and more.
In 2015, fear came up for me. And she and I had full conversations in which basically, I assured her that I was following my life’s calling and that she didn’t have to keep me safe with her caution and concerns (and freaked-out paranoia). Instead, I sent her out to screen test scary movies.
Now when self-doubt comes for a visit and wants to challenge the future of my novel on the big screen or on Netflix, I know that Selma’s story is bigger than I am. I know that any piece of doubt or discontent is so far apart from my right livelihood as an author that I am able to say hello to my self-doubt, have a conversation with it and even dance it away, or simply say thank you for the challenge and your efforts to keep me safe. I am here. I am writing and I am still showing up.
Do you have a similar inner critic that doubts your efforts at home or work? At your health? At your dreams? If you do, I encourage you to check out my resources section, especially the first one: Create Your Own Matilda, because WE NEED for you to pursue your dreams. They are a gift. Listen to the whispers. You want to run a 5K? A marathon? Write a poem? Cook a new dish? Create space for the love of your life…unknown until now or perhaps the person who sleeps next to you at night? How can you shift your perceived reality into that pulsing wish of your heart?
First, WRITE IT DOWN.
If you read my Secrets from the Olive Grove post, you’ll see a photo of a piece of construction paper which was on my fridge for 8+ years. And honestly, that dream was a much longer one in which I had simply planted the seeds of the idea of a happy family on the beach…in a journal with a photo of my family of origin in Ocean City, NJ and a post card from Santa Monica, CA. It was a broad wish that got more specific over the years.
At times, when I’ve felt afraid of wishing for what I’ve truly wanted, being able to eek out a tiny wish like “happy family at the beach” has been a giant leap of faith. Then, I have been able to get more specific and find a kind of joyous solace in at least knowing what I desire.
Moving to California to live by the beach – took close to fifteen years.
Writing a book – took ten years.
But what is time? Do we judge the amount of time as good or bad?
In truth, I had a journey of healing that needed to happen before calling forth the concrete reality of my life now.
I wished for a faith community here in my area that makes me feel at home. I joined an Episcopalian Church about 5 years ago in an affluent area near me. I didn’t think I would feel at home, but that pastor kept coming up in my “field”*, so I tried it. And low and behold, this community ended up supporting me through the fires and mudslides we had in 2017 and 2018 and also created a space where spirituality and communion can exist just minutes from my home. And check this out, I wasn’t raised Episcopalian.
Some other tools which have helped me thrive during a year of challenges, grief and joy are:
Building New Habits: Based on the work of BJ Fogg – the father of behaviorial design from Stanford University.
Optimal Health through Small Daily Actions: Dr. Rangan Chatterjee‘s Feel Better in Five is so simple and straightforward. If you take his advice, it’s likely that you’ll feel significant changes. His podcast, Feel Better, Live More has made the biggest impact on me. You might enjoy his interview with BJ Fogg on The Secrets to Creating Habits that Stick and episode 119 with Esther Perel on Relationships and How They Shape Us.
Living in My Zone of Genius and Creating Deathbed Markers: The Joy of Genius by Gay Hendricks is a slim little book that is the follow up to The Big Leap (which is available everywhere including on the free Hoopla library app). This book has helped me to reframe some of the most mundane and frustrating aspects of my life to uncover my best skills AND to spend more time doing what I love! One of the culminating exercises includes creating a list of deathbed markers–as in when I die, this will be. I have that list posted on my studio door and see it every day. It reminds me to focus on what matters most to me. It’s different than the bucket lists we hear about. It lights me up.
*I want to address the term “field” because it may seem a little ethereal. Here’s how I look at it: there are clues all around us. Synchronicities and magic. Today, I texted my friend from a resort (where I spontaneously spent the day) and then found a book in the lounge with his very unique name on the cover. And now, as I write to you, the people behind me just said his name. I can’t make this up—as great as my imagination works—this just happened.
That reminds me, I wrote a book blurb for a book called Leap to Wholeness. Many of you may not know this, but I NERD OUT on science…especially science that proves magic is real. Wait, what? The author, Sky Nelson-Isaacs, a physicist, does an amazing job of explaining the physics behind synchronicity — which you might call coincidence, in your daily life.
I encourage you to read it.
And speaking of reading, I adore the book When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller and I fell in love with Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez. I am currently reading the sequel, Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe.
Thank YOU for reading this post. I know that life is full for so many of you. And wanting to help yourselves and loved ones as well as those suffering in places like Afghanistan and Haiti can be overwhelming. I learned about organizations making a significant impact in Afghanistan through Valarie Kaur of The Revolutionary Love Project. She consulted a close friend who worked in Afghanistan for 15 years and suggeted three non-profits. I chose the Church World Service to help families get re-settled. She also recommended The International Refugee Assistance Project which is providing legal resources to refugees and No One Left Behind which is working to secure chartered flights and is the key organization helping to evacuate and resettle Afghans in the Special Immigration Visa (SIV) process. I am looking for credible non-profits helping the people of Haiti and welcome any suggestions.
Thank you for reading and loving and showing up. The world needs you! Look for everyday magic—it’s all around you. #cucalacas