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Transitions, Rebirth, and a TEDx Talk

This past Sunday marked the vernal equinox, that time when day and night are equal, green buds tremble with potential, and the robins return to sing in Minnesota. This week is symbolic to many spiritual and religious traditions--Pagan, ancient Mayan, modern Christian--a period of potential resurrection after a winter of dormancy. In a very real way, I find myself right now living this process of transition and rebirth: struggling to find balance, choosing hope (light) over worry (dark), and shrugging off the itchy skin of a previous life. Specifically:

  • I'm uprooting my kids and moving us all to Minneapolis. My house sold in three days--too soon! we have nowhere to live--and then yesterday the buyer changed his mind--whut??? how can we move if our house doesn't sell?
  • My fiance and I will be moving in together in Minneapolis. I've been a single parent for 17 years. I am CRAP at compromising. He is great at bringing playfulness into my overbooked life...
  • We're moving from a small, conservative city to a big one. All good, but still...transition.
  • My 17 yo is moving to Chicago to start college this coming fall. She is brilliant, feisty, funny and will thrive. But she's my baby...
  • I've completed the closest thing to a memoir that I've ever written, an intimate, instructional, how-to-transform-life-experience-into-a-powerful-novel guide that rips the lid off of treasures, pain, and fear that I've been sneaking water to for decades. My agent began to shop it around yesterday.
  • In the most unbelievable news of all, my proposal to deliver a TEDx Talk on my experience transforming fact into fiction in the wake of my husband's 9/11 suicide has been accepted. I walk onto that big stage on June 22. Me, who was raised to be intensely private, will stand emotionally naked before the world. I am profoundly honored, and even more profoundly positive that when the time comes, I will step in front of the cameras and bleat like a sheep before my bowels relax. But I'm going to do it because turning fact into fiction is a magical process, both for personal healing and for crafting incredible novels, and I don't get to keep that gift to myself because I'm scared.

I know the secret to navigating life changes: celebrate what you had (even if what you had was a too-small life, it still deserves acknowledgment), release it (this is super uncomfortable and feels exactly like the wrong thing to do, which is why your ego will come up with all sorts of fancy-sounding reasons why it would be stupid to release the familiar), and surrender gratefully to the future. Can I give you an example of how bad I am at letting go and surrendering to the future? Two hours into heavy labor with my son, I convinced myself that if I kept my knees together and didn't make eye contact with anyone that I could maybe avoid the whole messy process. (I was wrong.)

Here's what I am learning: you can grip the familiar so tightly that your fingers bleed, as I do more often than I'd like, or you can let go, slap a smile on your face, and enjoy the log ride, coming out at someplace wonderful beyond your wildest imaginings. The butterfly is the symbol for this transformative process, and there are a ton of aphorisms about how wonderful this personal metamorphosis is, but you know what? If you stuck a tiny microphone up to that little green caterpillar's leaf-chewing mouth and asked him if he wanted to be a butterfly, he'd say, "Pass. Hard pass."

Because you know what? Moving into the unknown--house, next level of a relationship, new style of writing, a TEDx Talk, whatever you're dealing with right now--is terrifying.

The only thing that keeps me going is that NOT evolving is even more frightening. Really. In case I doubted that, I received a call this morning letting me know that a coworker, the best teacher I've ever met and a woman my own age, is having emergency surgery and will not be back this semester. I’m sending her and her family a heart full of love, and I am reminded of how we must live large, each day, stretching, pushing, falling down in spectacularly embarrassing ways, rising, laughing as we dust each other off, and stretching some more. Because the only safe bet in life is what you decide to do with this moment.

So please, if you can find it in your soul to join me in this feels-like-bullshit-but-probably-looks-good-from-the-outside spring metamorphosis, even one small way you can step out of your comfort zone with me, post it below. It's easier to leave this cocoon if I'm not alone.

blue-butterfly

Happy spring and big love to you, baby butterfly.

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In this highly-anticipated comic caper mystery series finale, librarian, aspiring PI, and unlucky-in-love Mira James discovers that a secret her father carried to his grave is the key to finding why Battle Lake girls are vanishing.

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Become a VIP Reader!

Interested in free books, exclusive bonus content, and VIP early access to Jess’ upcoming projects? Then sign up here to become a VIP Reader. You’ll immediately receive a free copy of May Day, the first in the Mira James comic caper mysteries, just for signing up!

Become a VIP Writer!

Do you want to learn more about writing, including receiving marketing tips and tricks, deals on valuable workshops and retreats, and time management hacks? Join the VIP Writer’s Club! You’ll receive free VIP access to an online novel-writing course just for signing up and can unsubscribe from the newsletter at any time.

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