Academia Hath Responded!

Photo by Анна Рыжкова on

One morning this week, I opened my emails to lo-and-behold find a response from one of the researchers I had contacted about my memoir and their research alignment with it. I was so very excited to see the name of the researcher sitting there in my inbox!

I waited to open it. In the email could be the path to my book finding a wider, professional audience, the momentum and direction I have been waiting for so long to receive. So yeah I waited.

…But not very long! At some point I clicked on the screen and unfolded the message before my eyes. As I read each sentence, the words began to form the sense of cold distance I had feared might come–her thanking me for my interest, considering my request to send more of her research articles my way, and then at the end of the email were the words, “best of luck with your memoir.”

Best of luck. Not, “how wonderful! I’d love to read it!”

Not, “We actually have been looking for more stories to include in our next research project, would you like to be involved?”

Nope. Just…”Best of luck.”

I reeled in my sense of disappointment after reading the email, and reasoned with myself that this was a professor at a major university, with hundreds of research projects and articles juggling in her hands. Of course she didn’t have time to read my memoir. For a moment, chiding thoughts of “how could you have even thought she would???” reverbated in my mindspace, but again, my practiced detachment from desire assisted me in stepping back from needing this person’s response. I was disappointed, but I had to believe that if she didn’t feel called to engage, there was a reason…or at least that it wouldn’t help me to be distraught over it. At least she responded so I knew it had been received.

This felt like the first lesson in “rejection” I have had yet around my memoir publishing process, and I knew it would come somehow. At least it was gentle, and I feel like it both made me face my doubts but also have some courage to try again. I really had hoped by some strange strike of luck that this connection would lead suddenly to a clear and direct path instead of the convoluted, layered one I now face. And face it I will.

My next challenge is to query my prior boss, a major leader in the recovery field, to ask her to consider reading my book, to offer me feedback about how it might be received by that world. This terrifies me, as she has no idea what happened to me, her “recovered” professional after I chose to leave her organization on my own path. I’m not exactly sure what I’m afraid of, certainly I am facing some major shame I have about what happened and not living up to her expectations. Yet that is the point of my book, to allow those who continue to struggle to have self-compassion no matter where their journey has taken them. Isn’t that the same energy I should have with myself in sharing my book with her?

Questions, questions. Hopeful not too many to prevent me from taking these next steps in revealing myself, my story to the world. Creating a website, advertising my book, letting my community know this story and standing strong despite the vulnerable light it puts me in..all of these, terrifying. Yet I know, in some way, my next step is to face the fears, all the fears that come forward in my attempts to birth this book into the world. I know I will be okay.

Even if all I read is, “Best of luck with your memoir” over and over again.

Rites of Passage

Photo by Roberto Nickson on

This weekend, I assisted in a powerful rites-of-passage wilderness workshop for young women in the mountains of Santa Cruz. To see these 10-13 year old girls learning primitive skills, tracking, fire-building as well as inner strengthening exercises like facing fear, darkness, challenges was more than inspiring.

One night, we took the girls into the dense forest and in pitch black, blindfolded them and let them try to find their way to a distant drum beat. Their knowledge of listening, feeling the earth beneath their feet, grounding and calming themselves, and facing their fears helped them make their way through this darkness relatively unscathed. Adults were of course surrounding it all and there in case someone was going towards danger, but for the most part their skills got them where they needed to go. At the end we all circled by the fire, faces glowing, and shared how the experience affected us, and my heart was moved by the depth that these young ones shared amongst us all. We sang songs of embracing light, embracing darkness, we spoke of finding the “true drumbeat” to listen for and follow in the dense forests we must walk through ahead in life.

I wonder what my life might have been were I exposed to something like this before my journey with the eating disorder and depression began…would my psyche have taken me there anyways? Would it grab some of these young women too, initiating them in the ways I was? Or would it have prevented the need for such intense initiation? I’m so curious how these girls will turn out as a result of being involved in such powerful rites-of-passage work.

Today, sitting at my desk I faced my fear, my own rite-of-passage. I was inspired by these girls, walking so bravely into the unknown night, trusting the drum, trusting the journey it would take them on. Today, I wrote a letter to the professors of the study I mentioned last week, asking if they might be interested in connecting and talking about ideas, possibly in reviewing my memoir. I wrote the letter pretty easily, but it was in pushing the send button where I faced my own darkness–putting myself, my ideas, my relatively “unknown” status as a writer out there in the wider field. Putting these things out there to possibly get rejected, ridiculed, shamed, all the fears that a writer or any creative has in putting out their heart to the world.

My finger trembled above the enter button as I steadied myself, like those young girls did in that forest. I breathed in, sent my roots down, and listened for the drum–the sound of my heart’s desire to share my story–and braced myself for the unknown that may come of this contact. I have had much practice in self-soothing, in courage, in trusting and daring, but for some reason I really felt the energy of those brave girls affecting me, urging me, to hit that button. So I did, and with a whoosh it has flown into the interwebs to do its magic. We’ll see what happens next.