TRIGGER WARNING – SELF HARM.
Inspiration Part One
To understand how Lucky G came to be, we need to take a journey. It will not be pretty. But it needs to be told. Much like the vines in this photo, it is going to take a lot of different directions; but also like the vines, it is rooted and tracing those roots explains where I am today.
In early 2015, my family was asked to come next door to go through some of our lovely neighbor Shirley’s cherished belongings. We had a 4-year-old daughter at the time, and Shirley’s daughter Mary wanted our little one to have her beautiful wicker bedroom set. We were honored and excited to see this fantastical furniture that belonged to this lovely soul.
When we arrived, it was magical. We had never really seen all of Shirley’s house. There were so many trinkets and knick knacks and whimsical bird drawings on the walls. I turned to Mary and shared my childlike enthusiasm. Mary looked at me with her sparkling, bright eyes and said, “If you like this, I really must show you something else.”
Mary brought out her phone and shared with me a photo of a lovely little girl sitting in the middle of a pumpkin patch. What caught my eye most came from above. Shining down brilliantly on this child was a glimmering ray of sunshine. It was as if she were being selected or protected. Mary and I agreed this entrancing photograph was straight out of a story book. I said I could write said book in a few months. Little did I know that it would turn out to be several years down the road.
Mary shared what she thought the book should be called. She emphatically proclaimed randomly (or maybe not, depending on your thought process), Lucky G and the Sunbeam Girl! Immediately I adored the title. I swore to write this book. It would be a saving grace. So many projects had taken over my mind and they died there, scattered here and there on the proverbial floor of my mind or the literal floors of my house. I needed to prove to myself I could see something through. At the time, I had no idea what direction the book would take. Then again, I had no idea what direction our lives were about to take.
A dark December
December 12. The day of my first 5K race. The book was no more written than it was the day I talked to Mary nearly a year before. My life had changed. I remember groggily getting out of bed wondering what I was going to wear. It was Michigan winter cold and we were supposed to be festive. I mustered up the same MSU jersey I always wore as the green contribution. Stained with paint from some household project. Truth be told, I ruined it and then stole it from my husband. No wonder he wanted a divorce. That announcement came in November during couples therapy.
Because I was horrible at keeping schedules, I had double booked the race with my children’s holiday choir concert at the mall next door. I arrived at an empty finish line. A friend snapped a picture and you would never know anything was wrong. Other moms arrived at the finish line to children with hand painted signs, hugging husbands, or other loved ones. I had no one. I hustled to the mall where I barely caught any of my kids’ performances. Another failure.
Some other day in December. I told my parents I may hurt myself. They took me to the hospital. I was admitted for two nights. I was discharged with no further diagnosis or change in my meds, as far as I can recall. There really isn’t much more I remember about that.
Christmas Day. We don’t think the kids know our family dynamic is changing. We will wait until after the holidays. Disaster. I am fighting tears the whole time. Gifts are labeled wrong. I don’t think the kids got anything they really cared about that year. I don’t remember shopping. I remember lying in the dark and using all my energy to make it down for dinner. I wasn’t comfort eating, for once. I was attempting to show my babies I was okay. I wasn’t. At all.
December 31. My two sweet little boys went with their dad for a morning dentist appointment. Baby girl stayed behind with me. I got out of bed. I remember walking around the house. My little one was talking to me, following me around. The stress of the previous months mounted on my mind and I was a time bomb. A frenzied search for something to end it. A call to my neighbor for my daughter to come across the street and go play. I finally decided I couldn’t do this anymore. I had what doctors say was a “psychotic break”. Self-loathing festered. I did what no one ever thought I would possibly do.
But I hung onto life. My baby girl had given me another chance as she went to get help from our neighbor. He broke down our door, called the ambulance. I was given blood transfusions. Surgeons skillfully repaired my hand in a four-hour operation. Heroes from all over came together to help this woman who had only one thing to say. I am not worth it.
I would go on to mutter the words, “I am not worth it” dozens of times during my first month in the hospital. I wouldn’t eat. I didn’t join activities. Some doctors told my parents of “the worst depression they had ever seen.”. It was time for drastic measures. it was decided by my team to give me ECT or electroconvulsive therapy, also known as shocks to the brain.
Seven shock sessions. I am now singing. My memory is foggy, yet I actually want to BE. I want to be a better mom. I want to be a better person. I was released from the hospital after two months. Thankfully, my parents let me stay with them. They were my rock.
Inspiration Part Two
When I got home, I focused on being a mom. I had supervised visits with my kids due to what we deemed “the incident.”. I still needed physical therapy for my hand. I dug into how I could be the mom I knew I could be; I quickly learned there were not really any resources to help children understand what their mom was going through. I looked and looked and looked. My parents had told me they came up with nothing. They were right. I felt like I needed to change that. I am a journalist by trade and spent ten years as a news producer. Surely those experiences could help me become an author. I went into that industry to make a difference. My mission as a children’s book writer would be much the same.
I remembered Lucky G and the Sunbeam Girl. That discussion with Mary. My quest to become someone who would complete something. It now had a chance to become much more.
The Writing. I wrote a lot, mostly in my mind. I found that wasn’t the most reliable. I jotted down notes whenever and wherever I was inspired. In 2017, I decided I would sit down Mother’s Day weekend and write my first real draft. The words flowed. I did it. God willing, I will never forget that feeling.
Editing. Elizabeth, or EJ, is the best editor/marketing machine/sounding board out there.
Publishing. I decided I wouldn’t shop a publisher. I wasn’t ready for that. I would self-publish.
Another mentor, Curt, told me of a local publisher that did really nice work. I called Color House Graphics and priced out my dream.
Funding. It would be a couple thousand dollars. I had nothing. My mom suggested a crowdfunding platform. I investigated and decided on Kickstarter. It took one month. My loved ones put forth their faith and hard-earned dollars to help ME. I was extremely touched.
Illustrating. My first illustrator and I didn’t get very far along before she quit due to family commitments. Leela and I met at the gym. We had a lot in common. I hired Leela and it was one of the best decisions ever. She is talented. She is quick. It took about a month for her to finish the book. We worked closely on each page. Leela is also really patient. That’s needed to work with me.
Laying it Out.
My publisher recommended a graphic artist to lay out the book. Vickie was also a dream to work with. Total pro. Totally human.
Final Product. In May 2019, Lucky G and the Sunbeam Girl spread its wings. I remember waiting for that delivery truck like the ice cream truck!
Curtis, the awesome driver, got the first copy of my book. Signed, of course.
Advice to an Aspiring Author
- Write. Write all the time. Not just in your mind. Get it on paper or into a computer.
- Be patient. Find it. Get outside. Read other people’s stuff. Go deep within yourself.
- Tap into your spiritual side. No matter what you believe. Put it out there to a greater power.
- Work. Hard. Smart. Go after your dreams. Surround yourself with great people willing to help.
- Take care. Of you. Drink plenty of water. Eat nourishing meals. Get sunshine. Move your body.
Sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way we thought it would. That doesn’t mean you cannot have a great life. I believe I am where I am supposed to be. Time will tell. For now, let’s just keep flying, shall we?