Wednesday, June 13, 2012

ON TOUR: Lonely Planet Review and a Monk from Burma

It doesn't take much to make me happy. Just a Lonely Planet review and a monk from Burma to cheer up an otherwise rainy day. Sorry for the absence here friends. It seems like I haven't been here in ages, but it's really only been about a month. I could give you excuses—hundreds of excuses—for  my disappearance such as: 1. My mother was in the hospitalized due to a gall stone attack and had to have surgery 2. I was finishing a quarter at the college and had lots of paperwork 3. I haven't felt like writing much. All of the above are true.

But here I am! My mother is now on the mend, I am completely finished at the college and won't go back until summer quarter, we have joined the masses and now have Comcast for our internet and my husband is mowing the lawn! And I'm here WRITING!

Life is pretty good. I won't deny that. But still, there are times when I wonder how I'm going to get by—financially, physically, emotionally. I tend to be an optimist. I believe that we create our realities in this world. It's up to us what we do with this life we've been given. I believe each one of us should be on our way to living the life of our DREAMS...and there are no excuses for not taking steps towards them!

 But every now and then I fall into a hole that seems deep, dark and hard to get out of. Sometimes I feel stuck there and it takes everything I've got to pull myself out. I think that's what I've been feeling lately and perhaps why I haven't been here much.

But writing isn't just for the good times. It's for EVERY time. When I blogged everyday for 365 days, I knew that. There's no where to hide when you've made the promise to blog everyday.

I've hinged my entire life on this book I have written. I live and breathe Lessons from the Monk I Married. There, I said it. It's true.

But there hasn't been a review of my book or any media coverage recently. My publicist has sent the word out, but it's just not getting OUT THERE and I have felt a bit frustrated lately. I know it's a good read because so many have let me know this. I even get fan mail (okay, just a handful of e-mails from unknown people, but still).

Every writer who publishes wants their work to be READ. Every. Single. One.

But there are times when you want to say, "Hello....hello???? Is there anyone out there?"

So, metaphorically, I was still in my dark hole while I was at school proctoring a State Exam for ESL students. I've got students from Ethiopia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Romania, Ukraine, Mexico, Congo, Saudi Arabia, Iran...oh, and one lone monk from Burma who appeared in my class in his saffron robes at the start of my book tour. I took that as a good omen.

As each student completed their computerized State Exam, I handed them their registration papers for next quarter and bid them farewell. I had a good class and I appreciate each one of them, but it was now time to say goodbye and move on.

It wasn't easy to explain to a class of 35 immigrants and refugees that I'd be out for a week on book tour during the start of the quarter. After all, they are only at Level 3 in their English abilities and it took a bit of repetition and gesturing to get the message across, but they finally got it.

And then came, "Teacher, what's title?"

"Ummm..." I said, glancing at the serious-looking monk sitting in the front row.

Then, I decided to rely on written communication. I've had better luck with that.

In big letters I wrote on the white board: LESSONS FROM THE MONK I MARRIED.

"What's monk?" asked Alejandro from Mexico.

Oh, here we go I thought. Gesturing was not going to get me through this so I pointed to the lone monk in our classroom who was staring at the white board with a perplexed look on his face.

So it took me by surprise when this somewhat serious monk in his flowing robes whipped out a copy of Lessons from the Monk I Married from his monk bag on the very last day of class and said WITH A SMILE, "Teacher, can you sign my book?" It made my day.

And then...after a dry spell of no reviews or any coverage on my book and a silent prayer that my publicist would give me news of came.

LONELY PLANET REVIEWS LESSONS FROM THE MONK I MARRIED appeared in my inbox. I just sat there staring at it in awe.

 It wasn't The New York Times, Cosmopolitan or The Boston Globe. It wasn't Oprah calling (see newer post, we recently had a Skype interview for OWN TV!). It was the trusted guide books I've used for traveling/backpacking all over the world. I never thought in my wildest dreams that Lonely Planet would review my book and place me right next to their travel books on India, South Korea, Seattle and Seoul, places that are mentioned in my book. I never thought to categorize my book as travel literature. But it is! It's a JOURNEY in more ways than one.

So just when you think you've sunk and you've tried everything...hang in there. Something is bound to shift, but it won't be anything like you expected.

My husband's Facebook status yesterday read, "Lonely Planet Reviewed my wife's book. We aren't lonely anymore."

A perfect ending.

(Photo above is my husband, the monk I married, with young monks from Milarepa's cave in Tibet. We were there traveling in 1996. The story is in my book.)