Violet the Hugging Octopus has been out in hardcover since February 1st. The subsequent months have been filled with events, networking and anything and everything to get Violet into the hands of the most people around the world who will benefit from her loving and healing message. During this time I have had the exciting opportunity of talking to tons of new people. Interestingly, the one question I am most commonly asked is, “Did you always know you wanted to write a children’s book?”
That is such a great question and the answer is, drumroll please, no, not even an inkling. It was actually the furthest thing from my mind. You see, I don’t have children and I have very limited experience with children. Even in my current career, the first time I taught a children’s yoga class I got in my car and cried because they were so scary. To those who have seen or read the book and then asked me, they found this answer hard to believe. Yet, it is true. The children’s book idea came out of the blue, out of nowhere in the form of an idea spark.
What are idea sparks?
Idea sparks are a phrase that I first heard about in an American Girl Book a few years ago. For me, this term completely describes that brief fleeting moment when an idea pops into your head. Crazy ideas, awesome ideas, that have come from your heart, not your head. They are ideas that light you up in an instant so quickly and fleetingly that sometimes you even feel it in your belly.
Sometimes these ideas are so instantaneous that many of us miss them, discount them or just simply ignore them. If we do hear them, we have a tendency to minimize them, reducing their importance by finding a reason they won’t work. For example, “I don’t have the money, or the experience or the time to try that.” This kind of response is easy to do and happens without even realizing it. I truly believe that following those idea sparks can significantly impact our growth and happiness.
Being open to the idea sparks
Over the past ten years I have worked on being open and receptive and following my idea sparks. I used to have a tendency to feel very rigid and inflexible unless I knew the outcome of whatever situation I was in. That was because I was afraid. I hated change and needed stability to feel happy and whole. My life experiences continuously supported those negative truths that I held about myself. Those closed off feelings only lead to more and more unfulfilling experiences. When I was ready to change that, I began working on allowing, listening and then doing.
Every single day, countless times a day, I affirm to myself that I am open and receptive to the new. I diligently work on remaining open and ready to allow, even when I’m afraid. Then I take a step forward, even when I don’t know where it will lead. With a lot of practice, I have learned to listen to my idea sparks and then take action.
Simply allowing and listening without doing will leave you perpetually in the same place. To move forward, I now take one small step toward the idea that lit me up, regardless of how crazy it may seem.
For example, when the idea spark flitted through my mind that I should become a yoga teacher, I signed up for a yoga class and began talking to yoga teachers. It was that small. You get the idea, one step forward. It doesn’t have to be epic, it simply has to be one mini step forward. The craziest thing ever is that this practice has lead me to the most extraordinary things in my life, including Violet.
Four years ago, a vision of a smiling pink octopus flitted through my mind. It happened again, then it happened again. I acknowledged it, gave it room to grow and remained open to it. Below are a few of my journal entries, that help characterize these early idea sparks.
(My journal entry) Nov 11, 2015
I had another vision of the pink octopus, two more times actually. This time she was animated and sweet and adorable. I knew instantly that I was supposed to write about the pink octopus that wanted to hug people. Her face is sweet and she loves to hug people with her arms. That’s why she has so many. So I shared this with Sandy and told her about the sweet hugging octopus with the eyelashes. I told her that I was going to write a children’s book.
It’s true, I had no idea how to write a children’s book. I hadn’t even read a children’s book since I was a child. But, I was open and receptive so I sat down with my journal and a pen and began to write whatever came. The first rendition of Violet the Hugging Octopus poured out onto the paper. I was stunned, absolutely stunned. Later that day I called my friend Debbie and said, “I wrote a children’s book today.”
I would love to tell you that the rest of the story was all kittens and rainbows but it wasn’t. Writing, rewriting, illustrating and publishing the book that I was now madly in love with took tons of time, money, patience and tears. A hundred thousand tears. The confidence I felt at the start waned over and over and I wanted to give up.
(My journal entry) March 17, 2016
Today I tried to write more Violet and nothing comes. I feel insecure and inadequate as a writer. I haven’t gone back to my other manuscript and every time I go to write Violet it’s a dead end feeling. It feels like I won’t ever help anyone with anything even though I was convinced that I could help people with my words. I want to help people love themselves and I want to love myself. But, I love Violet and want her to help people of all ages love themselves and feel confident to be themselves.
I wanted to help people of all ages to learn to love themselves so badly, that I continued to move forward even though it took courage I didn’t think I had. Each little step forward was a victory that continued to gain strength and build upon itself. Days turned into months, months into years and then one day it was time. The time had come to share Violet with the world.
(My journal entry) Jan 31st, 2019
It is the eve of my first ever Book Launch Party. Violet the Hugging Octopus is being released tomorrow in hardcover and the success of her eBook has exceeded my expectations. It is so exciting that I can hardly put it into words.
That little spark, the one that made absolutely no sense is now a #1 best selling children’s book. I was open, I allowed and then I took one step forward. You can too. Start listening to yourself. Give yourself permission to change any negative beliefs that you have held about yourself and see what happens. The next time an idea spark comes, no matter what it may be, to start a garden, become a massage therapist, volunteer at my local shelter, write a novel, listen.
Allow, listen, then do. One small step will always lead to something new and that can be extraordinary.
Hugging and supporting you always,