Friday, July 28, 2017

Seven Days of Surprises

Now that my book is printed and published and I need to get my inventory sold, I figure I'm making up for all the time over the winter months when I waited for it to be finished.  It's funny how there are seasons like that in life, and like I often say, it's probably a good thing we didn't know just what we were getting into when we committed to this project.  If we had, there would have been plenty of reasons we could have come up with to push it down the road a bit further.

Even since the book came out, there have been weeks where I have done more with it than others, based on everything else we have going on.  But the last week was not one of them.  In contrast, in the last seven days I've had four book-related events, which in and of itself is a bit crazy.  But these days have also been full of wonderful people, as well as a reminder of why I am doing this in the first place.

For starters, a week ago, I went to the childcare center at our local Y and read Bubble Wrap Girl to the classes there.  I started with the two-year olds, who didn't have a lot of verbal skills yet, and then progressed through the toddler, preschooler, and finally, kindergarten readiness rooms.  With each classroom, my time there became more and more fun.  Being with kids this age, sharing my story with them, and experiencing their enthusiasm was such a boost.

Yesterday, I ran into the parent of one of these kids, and she told me how much she and her son have been enjoying Bubble Wrap Girl, reading it over and over again at night.  Hearing something like that is a day-maker, I tell you, and such a blessing.

Then on Saturday, I headed to Nisswa for a book signing that I had arranged at the beginning of the month.  The book shop there is delightful and the owner was gracious enough to have me.  Though I've never lived in Nisswa, I have connections to Brainerd and friends both there and in Pine River, so it seemed like a good place to spend a Saturday morning, and it was a good opportunity to share my book with more people.

It turned out to be a beautiful day and there was a constant stream of people coming into the store. The best part of the signing, though, was seeing friends I hadn't seen in 10 or so years and meeting new people who were excited about my book too.  And that's the cool thing about this book that I don't think I could have ever predicted.  It's bringing me together with people I haven't seen for a long time, as well as with people I would have never met otherwise.  People both "old" and new have been so supportive and excited for me, and that means so much.

Sunday was another day of overwhelming support as the Children's and Family Ministry Boards at church hosted a chance to celebrate Bubble Wrap Girl with our congregation.  I wish I had taken a picture of the table they set up, because it was absolutely adorable and festive, complete with balloons, square pieces of bubble wrap to give to everyone, and some wonderful friends who spent the morning with me.  Again, I could have never imagined such wonderful support and am so very grateful.

Finally, a couple of days ago I took a vacation day and drove up to Duluth to meet someone from the Alumni Office at UMD.  It' nearly seven hours round trip, but it was my excuse to see Lake Superior this summer, something I probably wouldn't have been able to do otherwise.  I had never met Mollie before, but after I originally shared about my book with her, she said she'd love to hear more about it, so I  jumped at the opportunity to have lunch together on the Canal.

We didn't have any agenda other than getting to know one another, but as I left the patio where we ate that afternoon, my cup overflowed.  My conversation with Mollie gave me yet another opportunity to reflect on how passionate I am about sharing the message of Bubble Wrap Girl with kids young and old and the drive gave me a chance to let my mind wander.

Obviously the message is packaged as a children's book, but my goal is to encourage people to be brave and to know they can do hard things.  As I tell kids whenever I have the chance to read Bubble Wrap Girl to them, bumps and bruises of all kinds will happen as we journey through life.  But we each have what it takes within us to bounce back, keep on going, and do great things.

Sometimes, that great thing may be trying a new activity.  Sometimes it may mean standing up to a bully or doing what's right, rather than easy.  And sometimes it will mean believing in yourself enough to let your light shine, not giving in when others try to subdue it.

These are things I have had to work at in my own life, and some have taken me longer to learn than others. But that's why, if I can do anything to inspire someone to be brave and go after what is good, right, and beautiful in the world rather than sit along the sidelines or settle for what society says is the way things will be, I want to do it.

And so in all these ways and more, the last seven days have been full of good surprises.  They have been full of great people.  And they have also been incredibly affirming.  Yes, getting my book out there and selling it is hard, and takes a lot of time and energy.  But each step of the way, I learn something new, and in that way, this whole process has been a gift-- one for which I am extremely grateful.

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