Sun Days on Orcas | Obstacles – real or imagined?


For many years I thought about the idea of ​​publishing a book about Orcas Island. There were definite reasons that I chose not to for a long time. I’m a stay-at-home mom and I didn’t want to give up time from my little ones, knowing I’d never get it back. So I set it aside.

As the kids got older, they alternated homeschooling. It wasn’t something we planned, it just happened that way. We were fully committed to learning as much as possible and sticking with a full schedule, so there was no space for writing a book in between. I barely had time to brush my hair.

A few years ago, they both went to school. All of a sudden, I had time. I had never allowed time to pursue my own passions while they were home. I went to the library every day and wrote a book that flowed out of me. (It isn’t published; I may never publish it. I just needed to write it.) I finished it in late February of 2020, and in March the pandemic began. All kids were sent home for the rest of the year for distance learning – more “home” schooling. While this time I wasn’t calling the shots, I was fully present as a teacher’s assistant and cheerleader.

They went back to school the following school year, and I learned I had a disc in my back that was shot, inner fluid spewing out into a nerve. I’ve always carried heavy things without asking for help, and a stout white dresser was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I spent my days either walking endless hours or lying in bed, the only comfortable options.

During my longest stint in bed, I wanted to use the time for something important if I could. The last time I had been in bed several years beforehand with an odd sickness, I created a blog in between blocks of sleeping. I felt like this physical setback was the perfect moment in time to learn about publishing a book.

I couldn’t get out of bed without fear of losing strength and falling, nor could I sit up in bed. What do you do if all you can do is lie flat? I ordered The Book You Were Born to Write: Everything You Need to (Finally) Get Your Wisdom onto the Page and into the World by Kelly Notaras. I devoured it – it’s a fantastic book. If you resonate with the title, get it!

I had always seen Life on Orcas Island in my head in book form – a large, color photo on the front, the title in big type, and pages with colorful images and thick captions. But there were unknowns, which felt like obstacles – how do I publish it? How do I find the right editor and graphic designer to hire? What if there are errors in the finished product? Those and a few other questions kept me on pause.

Fast-forward many months. I narrowly averted surgery thanks to one miraculous-seeming acupuncture session with Dr. Shu. We traveled abroad, a trip we planned as a shot in the dark during the isolated times in case it could somehow work. On the final leg of our trip, I remember wondering aloud to God what I would do with my time once we returned and our kids went to school again. Would I be writing a book? I had no idea whatsoever. Would I find a way to keep schooling other people’s kids? Again, no idea.

On the plane ride home, one of the movie options was Marley & Me, about a guy who has a dog and writes a column. to column! That’s it! I realized that I would love to be a columnist someday! The thought had never occurred to me until that moment.

When we got home, the kids went to school and I started writing posts about our trip. Not two weeks later, I received an email from Lin, the editor here at theOrcasonian, asking if I would consider writing a weekly column. Noway! I hadn’t even told anyone but my husband about my columnist idea. I agreed, baffled.

One day when picking our kids up from school, a teacher mentioned wishing there was some way that a few kids could improve their math skills outside of the classroom. She wasn’t thinking about me being the solution, but I offered just in case. Within a week or so, I became a tutor.

A month or so later, halfway into the posts about our trip, I realized my interest was pulling me strongly to a different subject – the book about Orcas. I’m a big proponent of listening to your gut. I listened, and realized the time had come. A friend had recently challenged me to stop looking at the obstacles to writing a book and just go for it.

“Why aren’t you writing your book yet?” she said.
“I don’t want any errors in it.” I replied.
She shot back, “Perfection is stagnation!”

That really took hold inside of me.

I began. In a message on Facebook sent to an old acquaintance who had self-published a cookbook, I found monetary inspiration – he had only spent about $3,000 total to make his book from him. I had assumed it would take five or ten thousand. I have also raved about his publisher. Within an hour, I had an editor – his from him.

Not knowing how to find a graphic designer, I Googled “how to find graphic designer for book,” and up popped It’s a site that connects you with professional book designers, typographers, editors, etc. by showing their samples and allowing you to ask for up to five bids from the people whose work you like. I immediately honed in on one of them – she had ten years of experience designing coffee-table books for a well-known company called Rizzoli. A day or two later, I had a fantastic graphic designer at an affordable price.

After researching several self-publishing companies, there was one that stood out because their customer service people are always available to answer questions. I needed that. This was my one chance at making the book I had always seen in my head. As a novice at publishing, I needed real people who could field a few critical questions along the way so that the end result would be a book that looked right. Now I had a company – BookBaby.

I could go on and on, but I will wrap up this novella by encouraging you to evaluate your dreams. Are the obstacles to your dreams real or imagined? If real, like the fact that I was a homeschooling mom and didn’t have time to write a book, that’s okay if there are legitimate obstacles. But what thoughts about your dream project are imagined obstacles that you assume will snag you? I’d like to suggest that perhaps those snags are phantoms that can stop us permanently.

I type here today to tell you that NONE of the obstacles I imagined were actually obstacles. My snags only opened new doors to better options. Every single time. That’s what I learned in all of this – that perhaps every fear I have about something in life is ungrounded.

What other things am I not doing due to ungrounded assumptions about the outcome? It’s a life-changing revelation.

I hope that you step into the unknowns, too, and do what you are meant to do on this earth. The world needs your gifts, and will enjoy the fruits of your specific talents and passions. Living on Orcas Island and making the book in my head have taught me that.

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