I’ve been in the process of writing and illustrating a book this year.
It has been several years since my husband and I collaborated on a short series of whimsical words and illustrations which we called “Joyness” and released as a tiny ebook in 2008, just after the crash when we felt that the world needed some hint of Joy to bring them through the fear and dark. At the beginning of last year, after a long draught in the Art Department of my life- a Department, I’m fairly certain, that had gone on strike or taken an extraordinarily long lunch- a new book came to mind – a bonafide, full fledged Book-y Book! This is to say that it will be a bit longer (by a lot) and more substantial than Joyness. The feelings I wished to elicit in readers, however, are the same, so the lovely title Happyful (a take on Joyful) settled into my mind and lo’ an entire book about Cultivating Joy began to take shape.
The only problem – at the time this book appeared in my life – was that I wasn’t altogether sure I was the happiest of people on the planet. I mean … shouldn’t the author of such a book be the most blissed out, happy go lucky, cheer-filled person you ever did see – ? I wasn’t. Not even by a long shot. I think saying I felt a smidge of “happy” would be overstating my state of mind. I was maybe 32% what one might call a “happy person” the other 68% was what one might call a mess. I carried a lot of baggage – guilt, shame, regret, resentment, envy, fear, and let’s not forget that Cocktails were my new escape hatch to feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, and panic.
Needless to say, I’d write a bit, sketch a bit, and then, feeling like a complete and utter Liar, tuck the random pieces of “the book” out of sight. I didn’t want to be like one of those self-help gurus one hears about who give lipservice to all of the right guidance but in their “real life” are not even close to being happy or decent human beings.
But, something remarkable occurred during the process of writing and working out the outline and map for a book on Happiness… a new Me began to emerge, or perhaps the Other Me simply began to fade away. With each block I felt to being a happy person writing a book on how to be happy, I took every obstacle as a guidepost for blocks anyone might encounter when attempting to live an entirely new and better life. Perhaps I had it all wrong. Perhaps Happy books should be started by unhappy people who are battling shadows, and demons, and the past, and their fears. Perhaps I knew more about how to get Happy than a previously Happy person ever could.
Am I happy now?
But more than that … I’m also very, very different than what I used to be. I don’t dwell in the past anymore. I don’t blame my childhood or anyone or anything for my present. I don’t panic as I once did. I do cry. I probably cry more now than I used to… but perhaps that’s part of being Happy too…
I’m so so excited to get this book out into the world before the Holidays. I imagine it sprinkling its little magic Joyness dust all around this pretty planet.
Nothing could make me happier.