My memoir, My Million Dollar Donkey officially comes out on Tuesday, Sept. 28. Apparently, all books are released on a Tuesday. You learn something every day. I am having a book release party on Wed. June 29th from 7-9 pm at Heartwood, an event open to the public. Not the best month or time or day of the week for a book release party, I suppose, but with our Summer Yoga Training Programs starting up and the book release date landing in June, I was hard pressed to find time to fit in a party. I’ve been on Craigslist this morning seeing if I can rent a donkey as a mascot to set the stage and provide inspiration for those who attend. I’ll be reading from the book, sharing some of my hard earned country wisdom, and no doubt enjoying the support from friends and students. It will be a very special evening for me, and long in coming.
I was sent a few cases of advanced copies of the book, so My Million Dollar Donkey has been for sale at the studio for a week or so. Quite a few students have picked it up unbeknownst to me. When I go in to teach, I am often treated to heartfelt positive feedback which always comes as a surprise since I have no clue who has picked up the book (so they don’t have to politely pretend they like it). The story seems to really resonate with Yogis as well as people who are in midlife, or who have sustained losses of love, money or self. I’m so honored that these people, who no doubt pick up the book out of devotion to their yoga teacher, take the time to read the entire story and bother to go out of their way to tell me what they love or feel moved by – or even what they take exception to. One student told me she loved every word of my book except a short passage describing “some women of Sarasota as superficial”. She wiggled her finger at me and said that wasn’t a fair description of all women in the area, and I laughed and reminded her that I too am a Sarasota Woman, so I meant no offense.
I have been signing a great number of books. That is fun. But for all that nice words provide a flash of confidence and pride, the most poignant feedback I’ve gotten thus far was the beautiful reaction and appreciation from my parents, who made me feel gifted and very respected (I should mention they do not praise lightly, so expressions of pride feel doubly special). I also will always cherish a beautiful text from my youngest daughter that revealed not only her support for my writing honestly and well, but her beautifully expressed realization that she’s been afforded an amazing gift to see the world and our shared experience through my eyes. Witnessing how I felt and experienced this time in our family history allows her to know me better and to understand things in a broader perspective.
To be validated by those you love is probably the most wonderful feeling in the world, a feeling that was rare, if not totally absent, from my past . I can’t help but note that my life reinvention, difficult as it was, led to an evolution in my community, family, and friends. My world now turns on an axis of love rather than jealousy or resentment, because those who couldn’t muster up earnest care or positive intentions towards me have just naturally slipped away. Amazing what making a commitment to yogic principals does to restructuring a life. In this way, releasing my book was releasing something I’ve held inside for many years too. An emotional freedom has been gained.
If you missed the trailer, here it is:
One very special part of finalizing this book project for me is that I have something more to share with my writing students. When I first returned to the area, I taught writing at the Sarasota Senior Center because I wanted to reconnect with the community and volunteering has always been important to me. I learned a great deal about how to effectively teach writing during that time. 18 months later, I began teaching at my studio, and later began a writing program at Heartwood Retreat Center, (which is at long last taking root and blooming). Meanwhile, I am teaching 5 writing classes at ACE (Adult Community Education) at Vo-tech in Sarasota starting in Oct. including Memoir, Journaling, Writing Spiritual Wills, and Fiction. I’ve written syllabus’s and prepared lessons and I’m excited for the term to begin. Now, when I lecture about what works and doesn’t work on the page, and when I discuss the challenges of not just starting a project, but sticking with it to fruition, I have a tangible project to point to as example of elements that worked better than anticipated and elements with room for improvement. I can talk less theoretically and more experimentally about the publication process, and we can openly explore issues of concern, like the awkwardness of writing about your own life and having to face the reactions of family and friend. Or a writers doubt or disappointment about how difficult the process that go far beyond the simple act of writing the dang story. This book offers me a world of new material to work with in regards to mentoring others – and the philosophy I’ve developed regarding the act of writing for personal growth has been a foundation for my next project too.
I admit, as a first time author, and considering the subject of this memoir, I don’t expect much from the publication of My Million Dollar Donkey monetarily or career-wise. But like dance, (and all my art endeavors, in fact) I do not engage in writing for notoriety or with expectation for measurable gain. I write as a spiritual and creative practice. In this way, seeing My Million Dollar Donkey evolve and manifest into a book that actually reaches out to others and sends a message of hope or wisdom has been a deeply moving experience on many levels. The process of finalizing this story has given me a whole new understanding of myself and my life goals and the potential for writing personal life stories spiritually.
So much, in fact, that I’m writing a book about it called, “Yoga on the Page.” More about that later. For now, I invite everyone to my book release party, or to at least pick up a copy of the book on Amazon to read with an open mind towards not just the story, but what goes into a release such as this on every level. I look forward to feedback and all I have yet to learn from others, because if there is one thing life has taught me, it is that everyone we interact with in life is both a student and teacher.