Worth Celebrating

My good friend’s advice on publishing a book:
Celebrate each tiny, barely-there milestone. Often.

My response:
That sounds like a lot of work.

I’ve never been really great at celebrations. What if I’ve left someone off the guest list? What if their feelings are hurt? What if no one talks to each other? What if I have to strike up a conversation, to mix and mingle, but I don’t realize the chicken has begun to burn and then what? What if everyone’s hungry but the food has burned, or worse, the food runs out? Or tastes terrible? Or what if I manage to not cook the chicken all the way through and everyone gets food poisoning?

What then?

Order pizza, my friend says. Problem solved.

But of course, these aren’t the real fears. The real fears cannot be solved with pizza, because the real fears are these:

What if everyone hates it?
What if the book isn’t worth celebrating?
What if I’m not worth celebrating?

I will tell you this: the book is deeply personal, and was deeply difficult to write. (When is a book not?) And I’m a lot excited for you to read it, but I’m also a little scared for you to read it.

Whew, there. The truth.

As a kid, when I was scared, I’d look for an afghan to hide under, not a blanket. An afghan has holes, you know. You can see everything while remaining unseen.

(Mostly.)

And so, the dinner party. I suppose this dinner party is the great lifting-up-of-the-afghan. I suppose this dinner party is the final realization that, all this time, the afghan is doing me no good.

No one remains truly unseen, after all.

Last week, I gathered with a few supportive, encouraging voices in my life. The design revisions are finished, the book is headed to press, and there’s a bit of a lull before it all flies into the world. And so, we paused.

There was French rosé and evening sun and fresh herbs. There was charcuterie and dancing candles and stories. There was laughter and music, babies and gifts. There was great, great love.

(The chicken didn’t burn. I made shrimp.)

We ditched the afghan for a tablecloth, and we peered around the table to see ourselves in the eyes of another.

Shutterfly printed custom wine glasses with the book’s release date (mark your calendars: 1-10-17!), and we chatted over candles that held favored quotes from the pages. I passed around glass trays with the book’s main themes, and it’s just that it all felt so custom, so special, so real.

So worthy.

Last weekend, as we talked marriage and families and work and art and projects, as the orange sun lowered and the blue jazz swelled, I realized something new:

The goal isn’t to write a book worth celebrating.
The goal is to celebrate a book worth writing.

They’re different things, aren’t they?

I’ll never be entirely comfortable in the spotlight, but I’m starting to understand what my friend was getting at when she pushed me to celebrate each tiny, barely-there milestone.

It’s not about surrounding yourself with cheerleaders.
It’s about learning to become your own.

 

 

This is an essay for my friends at Shutterfly, the greatest celebrators and cheerleaders I know. Thank you, friends!





  • This makes me happy! And I really can’t wait to read your book, so I’m celebrating right there along with you! Cheers to you!

  • January 10th?!! Well, that’s my birthday! Happy 41st birthday to me! Beginning your book will be a perfect gift to myself! Can’t wait!!!

  • How I host a party: If there’s not too much food then I don’t have enough…I’m going to need a 10-minute break to myself in a cool, quiet, silent room about 1.5 hours into the shindig…I’m happier behind the serving tray making sure things are restocked and everyone has a drink than in the thick of the conversation (even with my own friends!)… And I’m so looking forward to celebrating your book worth writing. xoxo

  • The shy, creative-type-A introvert in me 100% understands exactly where you’re coming from. That said, I’m really excited to read your book, and I’m sure everything is so worth it.

  • I loved afghans. All of this…I relate so much. I’m so glad you are learning to celebrate you. You are so worth celebrating. xx

  • I don’t have babies, or a partner, or faith, so while I usually enjoy what you write, it doesn’t often resonate with me. However, I do have a massive fear of dinner parties, and of celebrating myself. I’ve been especially low lately; an absence of the three things mentioned in my first line is causing what my counsellor says is an ‘existential crisis’. Add in stress from work and additional study and my resilience has gone AWOL. So finding out I’ve successfully passed another stress-ridden, sickness-inducing subject should be celebrated, right?…and I almost did, by way of sending a text message to a few friends to whom I’m OK admitting my vulnerabilities. Only, I never sent it. It’s my birthday in a couple of weeks, and I probably won’t celebrate it either. Why not? Because under the fear of the dinner party, or txt message, or whatever, is the REAL fear – what if no-one wants to celebrate with me? So thank you, thank you, for your timely, resonant post reminding me that I DO need to be my own cheerleader and to trust that there will be someone who wants celebrate with me. Especially if wine is involved. And good luck with your book! x x

    • oh jo – i totally totally hear you! it’s so hard to become our own cheerleaders for the very ‘what if’ reasons you mentioned. but i’m so confident there are many who are waiting in the wings to celebrate it — send that text, girlie! and happy early birthday. ;)

  • definitie worth celebrating!!
    and it looks like you are pretty good at celebrating :-)
    the warmth of friends and family and nice food and surrounded by beauty and creative food for the soul.

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