Last year in May, I went to Scotland with a complete stranger and in December I decided to write a book about it. The result is “Scotland with a Stranger: A Memoir.” To birth a book like that you have to be willing to go to the deepest, ugliest places of your heart. The sins you have tried to hide with distractions, the hideousness that you try to deny. You have to be willing to unearth it all and write about it as raw and truthfully as you can because if you do it right, someone else could gain strength from your story. You have the power to help cast a little light onto their darkness and make other people feel a little less alone, and a little less damaged.
Life hasn’t been kind or easy for me, but I have turned a corner. I am healthy, and in a place where I can finally achieve the things that have eluded me for so long. Success on my own terms and on my own two feet. Able to provide healthy support for my two children, one an adult and the other not too far behind. I am in a healthy relationship after test driving enough of the bad ones. Life is finally getting to the good stuff.
I went for a walk today to clear my mind before I got down to writing my words for today on my new books and the song “Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw came on, the lyrics, “When the dreams you are dreaming come to you when the work you’ve put in is realized. Let yourself feel the pride, but always stay humble and kind” reduced me to tears on the trail. They hit my heart so hard, I was overwhelmed by the intensity.
I have cried over this book, laughed over it, rewritten, and reread it until I was sick of it. I have opened it up to trusted readers for feedback and have listened to their criticism and written a better story from it. It has been on my mind and in my heart for months. I have put in the effort and the work to create a book that I am proud to have written. A book raw and controversial and funny and adventurous all at the same time and now I am setting it out into the world. A world that can be cruel and judgmental, where many have opinions that are easy to spew behind the anonymity of the internet. I am bracing for the feedback, knowing that some of the decisions I have made will trigger judgment from others. And I am okay with that, I am at peace with myself and comfortable in my own skin for the first time in my entire life. It feels so good.
I have never been afraid of hard work. Definitely a workaholic. Consumed to make success for myself because of the freedom it will give me and the tools it will give me to make a better life for myself, for my kids, and for a bigger plan, I would love to execute when I reach best-seller status. It’s so easy to be consumed by work, to jump into the next project. But listening to “Humble and Kind” today gave me the chance to celebrate where I am today, to take a breath, and enjoy the journey. To see where I was, a lunch lady with a dream in her heart, to where I am going, a full-time author whose stories matter. The sacrifices I have made are getting ready to pay off for me and I am so grateful.
I am humbled by the people who have cheered me on in this journey. Their encouragement has kept me going when things were dark. When I was getting up at 4 am to write before work, when I had no idea how to publish a paperback, or how to market my books, or build an author platform.
To build my reader base, I decided to just be me. To show my readers who I am fully. Someone who loves to laugh through life at inappropriate things, but who has a big heart and strong work ethic. I have laughed with you in my reader group. (Join the NINYONS at your own risk) I have shared the low points on my journey and the wins, (okay technically I have overshared.) But always in the spirit of embracing my new philosophy in life. Be authentic. Being authentic has brought the right people into my life at the right time and they are showing up faster now that I am on the right path.
I am a deeply flawed individual who has been broken but is still beautiful and I hope you gain some strength from my story, if only you walk away from it with an example of how not to live. 😉
The dreams I’ve been dreaming are coming to me. And the work I’ve put in is being realized. I am deeply grateful and excited to see where this path leads me. To be able to shift gears at nearly forty-five has been an incredible gift.
To whomever is reading this, I hope you love yourself enough, that if there is an unrealized dream in your heart that you decide to go for it. That the excitement burning in your soul cannot be denied and that you run toward it with open arms.
Always stay humble and kind.
PS. If you love these blog posts, help me keep the lights on and Doritos in the pantry for my teenager, by checking out one of my books below. There's something for everyone. "Velvet Guild" is naughty and explicit. (Erotic Romance), "Scotland with a Stranger" is a memoir of my trip to Scotland last May and "AnaStasia" is a parallel lives story (Women's Fiction)
Friends Don't Let Friends Stay Vanilla
Desperate times…call for sexy solutions.
Aimee is panicking, feeling like a middle-aged failure, barely scraping by, raising a teenager alone. She is also a submissive who yearns to be dominated in the bedroom.
Could she introduce couples to the BDSM lifestyle through a house party format? Instead of game night, it could be blindfolds and bite marks.
Scotland with a Stranger:A Memoir
“Who goes to Scotland for two weeks with a stranger they met over the internet? I did.”
At forty-three, Ninya was depressed, out of shape, and filled with crippling anxiety after addiction, cancer, and divorce had destroyed nearly everything. One day, she received a message from a stranger. This woman offered to lead her on a self-healing trip hiking through the Scottish highlands.
It seemed like a sign.
This is the story of one life, lived two different ways.
In one reality, “Stasia” is the beloved daughter of doting parents who spare no expense in supporting her ambition and talent. Adoring not just their daughter but also one another, their home is full of celebration, warmth and love.
In another reality, “Ana” washes dishes at a nursing home to buy her carefully-budgeted art supplies, waiting until her alcoholic father passes out before creeping downstairs to paint. Ana must survive her father’s nightly verbal abuse without any help from her silent, cowed mother, until she can retreat to the only place she feels safe, in front of her easel.