But on June 5th, I publicly introduced myself and I'm relieved to report that my world didn't collapse. I didn't receive hate mail, knock on wood, and I continued living my days in blissful obscurity, busily filling my time with massage clients, writing and Zumba choreography, all the while excitedly anticipating the release of the first 2 books my stories have been published in.
That is, until it came time to do a book signing. That's what you do in this industry. You promote the book, you advertise it, and you brand yourself. It shouldn't be an emotionally life altering event for anyone...unless of course that 'anyone' is someone who just 16 short months ago was crying backstage at her church, not wanting to do a 2-minute walk down a runway modeling an outfit for a charity fund raiser because people might look at her. I'm super stable like that.
Don't get me wrong, God has brought me a long way since then, but when push came to shove on this book signing, I may have slightly reverted back to my insecure ways.
Publicity became nothing short of a hyperventilating nightmare until one of my best friends, Mandi, finally took it over. Probably as much for her sanity as mine, but seeing as she's the one that started this whole ball rolling one year ago when she said, "I'm going to start praying about your writing," I think she deserves a little taste of insanity.
The closer we got to the event, the obsession became about what to wear, because here's the simple truth about a book signing event as played out in my mind. Either nobody would show up, or worse...somebody would show up. So the wardrobe dilemma became, what does one wear to a public library to either sit alone for 2 hours or have people look at you for 2 hours? Enter my other best friend, Lissa, who saved the day with a shopping trip that had me waiting unclothed in a dressing room while she ran around the store bringing me things to model. Sometimes life is one humiliation after another. I blindly trusted her judgment until a pair of 4inch heels made an appearance. I stood firm on my NO...but then she threw out the word 'badass.'
She always knows exactly what to say.
I spent the day of the signing with a team of highly skilled professionals, namely Melanie and Juliene, who polished, waxed, buffed, curled and transformed me. An undertaking similar to the makeover scene in 'Miss Congeniality,' except when I walked out, the song 'Mustang Sally' didn't start up, although I did trip and almost fall down. Probably because I was walking normal speed in my badass heels and not super-cool-slow-motion. We can't all be Sandra Bullock, okay?
The feeling in the pit of my stomach as we drove to the signing was distinct and I knew where I'd felt it before. I could picture the moment in the airplane as it hovered 13,000 feet in the air while I was inched closer and closer to the open door by the man who was strapped to my back. I knew that day would end in one of two ways. I'd either live or I'd die. I wasn't in control and my only responsibility, as spelled out by the man pushing me toward the open door was, "Stop thinking and enjoy the ride."
So when we pulled into the parking lot, I was overcome by peace as things were put into perspective. This day would end in one of two ways. People would either show up or they wouldn't. I'm not in control and my only responsibility, as spelled out by my God who's not on my back, but rather whose got my back as He gently pushed me toward the door was, "Stop thinking and enjoy the ride."
Ron, Lissa, Mandi and a giant sheet cake kicked off what turned out to be an absolutely beautiful evening full of friends and family who came out to help this often-times-hot-mess celebrate a milestone on her path. Humbling and overwhelming would be the words to best describe it. Once again, God carried me over the threshold of a door that He'd opened for me Himself and then He met me in the free fall of the unknown that lay beyond it.
The only slight hiccup of the evening happened at 5 o'clock on the dot, when the signing was scheduled to start. A complete stranger tentatively walked through the door and approached me. Clearly, neither of us felt comfortable as she nervously said, "I'm here to meet Shari." I could feel Ron's eyes boring into me from across the room silently imploring me to speak. My cheeks felt like they were on fire during the silence that hung in the air before I finally said, "I'm Shari." I fumbled through our awkward exchange as she bought books and tried to hide my surprise when she asked me to sign them.
When she left, Ron had a piece of advice for me:
"Wow. You're gonna need to work on your social game."
Hey. I didn't burst into tears when she looked at me. Baby steps.
Lissa: Best friend, Stylist & Partner in Crime
Mandi: Best friend, Publicist & Prayer Warrior
(aka: The Stable One.)
Chuckles: Husband, Business Manager & Social Etiquette Advisor
Do you have someone in your life who cries with you in celebration because she not only knows your journey, but has faithfully walked along beside you since day one?
I do. Her name is Susan: Best friend. Cousin through blood.
Sister through life.
So what's your story?
You know me, now I'd like to know you.
Please feel free to introduce yourself.
That means you too, Russia readers...all 78 of you.