2 Guest Posts + 2 New Book Formats = 4 Reasons to Smile

Hello & happy Monday!

Today, I’d like to share a few exciting announcements with you.

First, I have a new guest post up at MissMinimalist.com! (Longtime readers may remember my first guest post there 2 years ago as well – how time flies!) Miss Minimalist is all about “living a beautiful life with less stuff.” Author Francine Jay is a gracious, articulate writer, and her site is an excellent resource for simplicity-seekers.

Today’s new post is, Real Life Minimalist Update: Caroline McGraw.

Welcome to A Wish Come Clear, readers from Miss Minimalist!

Thank you for visiting! I’d like to invite you to receive posts via email, along with your FREE copy of Your Creed of Care: How To Dig For Treasure In People (Without Getting Buried Alive).

It’s a book about balancing your responsibilities to others with the responsibility of caring for yourself. It’s a labor of love, containing 60+ pages of true stories and essential insights. It’s about living a life grounded in self-respect. It’s about loving yourself, so that you can love people with others from a place of peace.

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Next, in case you missed it last week, a piece I wrote was featured on Tiny Buddha; it’s entitled How Taking Quiet Time For Yourself Helps People Around You. I share a story of how a wise L’Arche friend’s comment changed my perception of silence, helping me to consider it as an act of service. (It’s my third contribution to Tiny Buddha, a community curated by the lovely Lori Deschene.)

I Was a Stranger to BeautyFinally, my most recent book, I Was a Stranger to Beauty (Think Piece Publishing, $1.99), is now available for Nook and iPad readers! You can also find it on Amazon.

(And if you don’t have a Kindle, Nook, or iPad, don’t worry! Neither do I. You can use Amazon’s free Kindle Cloud Reader.)

What’s the book about? It’s the a story of a family moving through a terribly difficult time, and arriving at a place of acceptance and love.

In a way, it’s all of our stories.

It’s the time you got back up … even though you didn’t think you had the strength to stand.

It’s the time you trusted … even though you’d been hurt in the past.

It’s the time you opened your heart … even though you were tired and wanted to go home.

We’ve all been strangers to the beauty in our own lives. The question is, will we stay that way, or will we learn to open our eyes?

Happy reading!

Love, Caroline

So Much to Celebrate: Thoughts on A Wish Come Clear’s Second Anniversary

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Here’s what I’d like to share with you today:

1. A tremendous amount of gratitude. The launch of my new Kindle Single*, I Was a Stranger to Beauty, has been an amazing experience. I’m so thankful to have released this book with ThinkPiece Publishing; Adam Wahlberg and his team have done a phenomenal job. (And remember, sales support a great cause too: 5% of the proceeds from the first 30 days go to L’Arche DC.)

I Was a Stranger to BeautyAnd thanks to your support, the Single debuted at #3 in the Special Needs Memoirs and Special Needs Ebooks on Amazon. 

Going into this launch, I had zero expectations with regards to rankings. With every book I write, my hope is that the story speaks out to you. I hope that it makes you laugh and cry and have more brave days.

And of course I want it to do well. Yet as launch day drew near, I did what most writers do: I simply prayed that it would not be a complete flop. And even if it was, I prayed to keep it in perspective, to remember that real success is in the effort, the attempt, the ‘showing up’.

Given this, it was wild to see that we made the top three in two categories. Just wild. I was giddy, making ridiculous comments like, “Number three! You get a medal for third in the Olympics!”

The ranking was just icing on the cake, though. The substance of ‘success’ was the sense of having dared to put this book out there. It was the beautiful comments from you. It was talking to my parents, and seeing how our family’s struggle was actually helping others.

It was the feeling that this was exactly what I was meant to be doing. It was the same feeling I had as I walked up the stairs to a certain L’Arche home for the first time in 2007. It was the feeling of coming home.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

*If you don’t have a Kindle, don’t worry! You can read Kindle books with Amazon’s (free) Kindle Cloud Reader. If you have Amazon Prime, you can also borrow the book through Amazon’s Lending Library.

2. Two new guest posts!

My gratitude to Barrie and Tammy for allowing me to contribute to their lovely sites. And thank you to The Speech Ladies, Kristina and Cindy, who ran a special post to announce I Was A Stranger to Beauty.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Caroline and Willie

An illustration from my very first book, age 5, entitled, “My Brother.”

3. A revised version of Your Creed of Care: How to Dig for Treasure in People (Without Getting Buried Alive), thanks to my dear friend and designer Tamara Templeman. If you subscribed within the last week, you’ve received the new version; if you subscribed earlier, you can download the revised version here.

This book is my gift to you; feel free to share it with those you love. If you believe that it will serve someone else, pass it on!

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

4. A Wish Come Clear had its two-year anniversary last Wednesday; in the excitement of the launch, I nearly forgot. But two years, 126 posts, and an amazing community? That’s worth celebrating.

For two years, we’ve been sharing true stories together …

and sharing stories is a way of bearing the light.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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How will you spend the MLK Holiday? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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*L’Arche is a faith-based non-profit organization that creates homes where people with and without intellectual disabilities share life together. I spent 5 years serving the DC community in various caregiving roles.

Liked this post? Receive posts via email, along with your FREE copy of Your Creed of Care: How To Dig For Treasure In People (Without Getting Buried Alive).

The Delivery That Changed My Life (And The Book That Could Change Yours)

Photo Credit: Allison McGinley; be-not-afraid.org

Last week, I found a small, brown package propped up against the door to our apartment. I didn’t have to pick it up to know what it was; in fact, once I did pick it up, I set it carefully on our coffee table and proceeded to ignore it for several hours. (Perhaps ignore doesn’t quite capture it. Tiptoe around it like the elephant in the room is much more accurate.)

The proof copy of Love’s Subversive Stance had arrived, and somehow, I wasn’t quite ready to open it. And then, hours later, I was. Slowly, I cut through the tape, taking care that I didn’t damage what was inside. Because what was inside was what I’d worked toward and dreamed about my entire life: a print book of my own.

As the cardboard fell away, I caught a glimpse of the back cover, with its rich colors swirling before my eyes. One glimpse was all it took. Tears came, unexpected, unstoppable tears. And in a rush, I knew why I’d felt the need to wait so long to open it. Deep down, I knew what opening the package would mean to me.

I felt a shadow of what a mother must feel when she sees her newborn child for the first time: an admixture of stunned awe and love, startling in its intensity. I was surprised at how beautiful the full-color print book was; in fact, “Beautiful” was the first word to cross my lips. Despite the fact that I’d written the book (and made or OK’ed every editorial and design decision), I was still astonished at the final result. Despite months of hard work, I was still amazed to see it come to fruition.

Being intimately involved in the process of creation, it turns out, does not preclude wonder. In fact, it only increases it. And in that moment, I understood a bit more about the fierce love it takes to do anything worthwhile. It takes a lot to write a book, to pursue creative dreams, to give birth to a child and care for that young life every day. I was — am — humbled to bear witness to that love’s transforming power.

And with all of that said, I’m very proud to share that Love’s Subversive Stance is now available in print! I hope you’ll share this book with those you love, because it was (is!) a labor of love.

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To select a full-color print book version as a beautiful gift for yourself

or a loved one, visit Love’s Subversive Stance at CreateSpace.

(Additional print and shipping charges apply.)

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In celebration of this milestone, I’ve also altered the price of the digital book to $10.

To purchase the digital book, please visit the Bookstore!

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What are readers saying about the book?

“The more I read of this book, the more I love it. It’s really a beautiful collection of stories.” -Allison McGinley, Be Not Afraid

“Congratulations! I love the book…beautifully laid out.” -Arvind Devalia, Make It Happen

“…All I can say that it is beautiful. One can learn so much from your experience and interpretations of the challenging relationships we face in life. Your writing is so inspiring and just flows across the pages…” -Metod Kolla, reader

“…It is very rare that you come across a book that gives you permission to enhance your relationships and yourself the way that Caroline has here. As I was reading I felt compelled to share the lessons I had learned from her stories with every stranger I passed on the sidewalk. Read this book for encouragement, for inspiration, and most of all to wake your heart up to that love train you’ve been missing.” -Dusti Arab, Undefinable You

What’s this book all about?

Love’s Subversive Stance is a collection of stories centered on these questions: how can we honor our passions and our caregiving relationships at the same time? In loving someone with intellectual challenges, how can we become more fully ourselves?

This book is NOT a quick-fix. Instead, it’s about telling true stories…the sort of stories that will allow you to become rooted and grow. It’s about examining the seemingly insignificant details of your day, and seeing what they say about you and your relationships. The book contains 90+ pages of stories for people who want to say YES to standing on the subversive soil of love.

If you’re all about grounding yourself and growing in relationship — seize the day and seize your copy!

If you’d like a bit more of an introduction to this new book, simply press Play!

Breaking Free From Failure In 4 Steps

Author’s Note:  I have a guest post up at Bloom, a website that focuses on “Parenting kids with disabilities”. It’s entitled, “An open letter to parents:  on what your children remember.” Visits and comments are welcomed!

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Since I last wrote about ‘Secrets of Success’, I thought today would be a good day to talk about the F-word:  Failure.

So let’s say you’ve decided to be vulnerable, to start paying attention to the important things, break free of your perceived constraints and celebrate what is. Fabulous. I’m right there with you. But what happens when things don’t go as planned? What happens when, say, your beloved manuscript that you’ve worked on for nearly four years gets rejected by a publisher who had (previously) expressed interest?

A hypothetical example, of course.

How do you cope with a dream (temporarily, but resoundingly) deferred? From the front lines, here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Remember to give yourself time.

Set aside time to cry, rage, scream…whatever you need to express, get it out. Giving yourself time also means:   not making any big decisions. Cocooning. Telling friends that you are not up for a night on the town. Using as many Kleenex as you need.

This is an important place to be. A full acknowledgment of what you’ve lost is essential. However, it’s also important not to stay there. In moving forward

2. Remember who you are.

Do small things that connect you to yourself. Read your favorite books, watch your favorite movies, spend time with your favorite people. This may sound basic, but it’s tempting to move toward self-punishment when you feel as though you’ve failed. Self-care sends you the message that, though your project/proposal/interview may have tanked, YOU are not a failure.

Once you’ve done this, start to remember what you believe in, and why you took the risk of failing in the first place.

As my husband said, “Have you read your blog lately?” He was talking about my last post, and how we define success for ourselves, rather than letting others define it for us. I do believe this, despite the setback.

My husband also reminded me of why I wrote my book:  to tell the stories of the remarkable people at L’Arche, and how their lives have changed my life. (Also, because writing is what I love to do.) Do these reasons justify the risk? To my mind, absolutely.

Once you feel more in touch with who you are…

3. Remember what you know.

I once learned an important lesson from my former roommate, Julie. She was a biology major at Vassar, and during our senior year she spent a semester on a self-directed experiment whose primary hypothesis turned out to be…entirely inaccurate.

When I went to her presentation, the scientific terminology went over my head. But what stayed with me was the confident, calm way in which she said:  “A negative result is significant.”

As Julie learned, her experiment wasn’t a waste of time because the hypothesis proved incorrect. Likewise, in crafting my (failed) submission, I gained valuable skills. I taught myself how to write a formal book proposal, I took a calculated risk and I received some good feedback.

However, though a few of the editor’s criticisms were valid, some were off-base. Case in point:

“…you simply haven’t lived long enough [to write an effective ‘spiritual memoir’]. Also, you are writing about people and situations that most of us don’t want to really know about.”

What a one-two punch:  you’re too young to do justice to the story of your own life, and most of us don’t want to hear the stories of people with intellectual disabilities? (Would Anne Frank and Temple Grandin please stand up?!)

Once the hurt passed, I felt relieved. What do I know? That this editor is not a good match for me or my work.

4. Remember to reach out.

It has helped beyond words for me to visit Miguel* as he is in the hospital with a partial bowel obstruction. His condition is improving, but naturally, he wants to go home. And naturally, I want to be able to say, “Miguel! The book I wrote about you and your brother is going to be published!” Neither of us are getting what we want today. We both need to be patient. (And I need to put my loss in perspective. I don’t have a tube sucking gunk out of my bowels.)

Miguel is teaching me about bearing up gracefully. As I sit beside him, I am thinking of ways to make my manuscript better…because no way am I giving up. No way am I putting my dreams in a box.

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Thank you for reading! Retweets and subscriptions via email or RSS are always appreciated. (Especially when this writer is a little bit down and out.)

*Names have been changed.