Many of you who have read my book (At Home on the Kazakh Steppe) will know that it ends with this paragraph (I don’t think I’m giving too much away here)
I’m still jumping off high dives, and hopefully will for a long time to come. But thanks to my time in Kazakhstan I wait a bit longer now, not knowing any better what lies below but at least now able to take some time to enjoy the view. To enjoy what is.
Besides that double “now” that slipped in along the way, (and bothers me more than I care to admit) the general idea has stayed with me since I first wrote it.
It resonated enough so that in that moment when I realized my nest was once again empty – my “baby” had flown – I consciously decided to stand still for a while. To stay open to what might come my way, perhaps opportunities would present themselves that I’d miss if I were busy bustling about into something new: trying on, attempting, starting, jumping. This memoir had consumed me for seven years. It was time to try on “being” rather than “doing.”
True I’d taken a few breaks and written the companion children’s book, Grandma Goes to Kazakhstan, but that was only while my memoir was out at an early editor getting cut down to proper size.
I had a daily routine that involved writing, editing, and rewriting, or reading about writing, editing, and rewriting. Suddenly (and suddenly is just how it seemed) I was no longer doing that. What to do?
I chose to do nothing. That didn’t mean watching TV and eating Cheese-Doodles. It meant not committing to a new project until I was certain it was the project for me.
That is how my life has gone for nearly a year. In that year, I’ve graduated from my second Gestalt training program, but haven’t begun a new private practice. I’ve maintained my blog, but haven’t done much more writing than that. I’ve jotted down numerous ideas for new projects, but haven’t begun any of them. (We’re talking publications here, not gardens).
I’ve stayed open.
- Open to meeting new people.
- Open to ideas.
- Open to experiments.
- Open to not knowing.
Ah, that last one was troublesome. That’s not always the most comfortable place to be, “not knowing.” I like knowing. I like planning (you know that from the book no doubt). I like having a sense of the big picture.
And life goes on anyway. Even when I don’t know.
Here are a few items that have fallen into my lap of late, while I’ve been up there on that high dive, just casually looking around, not knowing, but enjoying the view.
I kept hearing about those short-term EBook promotions where you reduce the price of your book. (See my blog post on doing this last week). This didn’t take too much energy, but it did take $208, which came directly from my book’s earnings to date. I’ll post the results next week.
Even better, here are a few things that have fallen into my lap recently.
In the past year, I have been invited to speak
- at five Peace Corps recruiting talks
- at three libraries
- at four bookstores
- on a one-day “Inspirational Authors” Facebook event on July 2
- on a panel discussing “creating strong women’s voice” at a writer’s conference in Los Angeles next March
- at a Sci-Phi gathering in Virginia – twice (This is not a typo; it helps to see Sci-Phi written out: short for Science and Philosophy)
- at the Kazakhstan Embassy in Washington DC in early July, for a “book launch party and discussion” and celebration of Astana Day. I know little more than that at the moment. But I’m buying a new dress.
And, last but not least, just a week ago, I got word that my book had won The Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award (Here’s what they say about it)
THE PEACE CORPS EXPERIENCE AWARD was initiated in 1992. It is presented annually to a Peace Corps Volunteer or staff member, past or present for the best depiction of life in the Peace Corps. It can be a personal essay, story, novella, poem, letter, cartoon, song or memoir. The subject matter can be any aspect of the Peace Corps experience — daily life, assignment, travel, host country nationals, other Volunteers, readjustment.
In 1997, this award was renamed to honor Moritz Thomsen (Ecuador 1965–67) whose Living Poor has been widely cited as an outstanding telling of the essence of the Peace Corps experience.
Since 1992, it has been awarded for one poem, 15 essays, and seven (including mine) books. It is not always given, so I feel particularly honored and very, very grateful to have my book recognized in such a manner.
Except for the eBook promotion I’m in the middle of this week, I haven’t done anything in particular to bring these good things about. I’m just standing here in Vermont, tending my gardens, talking to my dog, playing with my hubs, singing in my choir, saying what’s on my mind, withdrawing from places (and people) that don’t bring me satisfaction, engaging with like-minded souls in social media, and in general pleased with my life in a way I don’t think I ever have been before.
And life seems to be well pleased with me.
I will admit to one detour caused by all those little typos screaming to have me come make it all better. Fix it. Cure it. Control it. I let their rantings take control and dove in to edit the book, yet again.
Sure, fine, it is a stronger book. But, my final editor knew it would be a year ago, before the First Edition went public.
“It would benefit from one more pass,” she had said. But I was eager to jump. And I did.
“It’s good enough,” I hollered back, as I fell into the pool below.
Live and learn.
I’m back on an even keel again. My serenity is back. And I’m eager to begin exploring the vast and entertaining world of cultural differences once again, while I continue to pay attention to what the universe is trying to tell me.
How about you? How do you know what you are meant to do?