If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you. ~ Natalie Goldberg
The sun just rose on 2016. Never have I felt such intense anticipation at the start of a new year.
Three years ago I decided to write a book about my journey to mindfulness. I started this blog, played with different ideas, spun my wheels, changed the book concept, changed the title, wrote and rewrote. I was pretty invisible, so it was a safe place to play around.
I’m a little stunned that Blooming into Mindfulness: How the Universe Used a Garden, Cancer, and Carpools to Teach Me That Calm Is the New Happy will actually launch in a few weeks. Having spent the past six years learning to not be afraid of the voices inside me (the very essence of mindfulness practice is to learn to let go of the thoughts that don’t serve us), I feel prepared for whatever awaits from the critics outside me. (Easy to say now before Amazon reviews come in.)
I have followed my heart every step of the way, and feel in close alignment with my purpose.
But I’m still a little scared.
I’ve been sitting with this now unfamiliar emotion and simply observing it with curiosity. The fear, I’ve come to realize, stems more from the unknown of how my life will change once I put myself out into the broader world. Flying under the radar screen is safer, which may be one of the reasons that self-publishing appealed to me.
I have felt pulled to share my story as a means to inspire others to take control of their happiness and well-being, trusting that the book would find its way to the right people. I didn’t write the book with the hope of making a lot of money or becoming well-known.
So as I was telling my husband last night about my fear–specifically regarding higher demands on my time from outsiders as marketing efforts kick-in–he said, “So, you’re afraid of success.”
When you put it that way, well, yes.
So I’m in a funny spot right now. I’ve spent three years pouring my heart and soul into this book. I’ve loved the process, particularly the creative control I’ve had as an independent publisher and author. The downside of self-publishing is that distribution isn’t as wide. I’ve hired some people to help me with that on a moderate scale, but I like the idea of starting out slowly and going at my own pace (Slow is the New Fast in my book).
The launch date has yet to be pinned down. I made an eleventh-hour decision to change designers, which slowed the production process. But the first typeset proof that I received just before Christmas confirmed that my instincts were right. The layout is beautiful and meets my artistic standards to the same degree that the new cover does.
And though I was initially frustrated to learn that the design company closed between Christmas and New Year’s, I’ve actually been grateful to have the time for a relatively leisurely review of the proof. Final tweaks give me one last chance to feel in control.
But in the end, I’ll just have to let go and see where it all takes me, doing my best to stay in the present moment. As is usually the case, fear is based on stories we create about future scenarios. Right this very moment, I am safe and taking purposeful action. Just writing that stills my heart.
One of my favorite mantras, as I’ve written here before, is Eleanor Roosevelt’s admonition to “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
This will be a year of doing many things that scare me.
Today, on January 1, 2016, I feel like I’m standing at the edge of very high diving board, facing backwards. I’m about to let myself tip blindly into the open space behind me. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I keep my legs straight and my toes pointed, will you? I don’t have the slightest idea what to do with my arms when I visualize this. They will probably be flailing all over the place.
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