“This book grew out of a desperate plea to myself to figure out a way to take care of me, as I felt I was literally gasping for breath while being swallowed up in the sea of motherhood.” –The Self-Care Solution
Most authors embark on their writing journey with a similar mission—to create something that matters; something that reaches into a reader’s heart and soul and moves her to discover something new. Authors want to expand their reader’s mind and create new pathways, new ways of thinking, feeling, of seeing the world and humanity.
We authors spend countless hours alone, blocking out the rest of the world, head bowed, pen to paper or fingers to keyboard stringing together words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, paragraphs into chapters, and chapters into a book. We battle and embrace feelings of vulnerability, angst, euphoria, fear, and excitement. We are propelled by the hope that even just one reader will “get” our message. But we are keenly aware that our chosen words, ideas, and stories may not matter to anyone else.
We write because our words matter to us. We write because we have to. Because we believe that our story has to be told. And we hope against hope that one, ten, or a million readers agree with us.
I started writing a book when my second child (of four) was one. He is now 19 and in college. The book I started writing 18 years ago would change, evolve, grow, shrink, get shoved to the back burner, side burner, and in rare bursts, move to front burner, but not for very long. The book was a source of pride, shame, wonder, purpose, worry, fear, anger, and hope. It gave me a “higher” sense of purpose and validity as I raised my children and worked part time.
“Yes, I am writing a book,” I stated proudly, and sometimes even haughtily, at the playground or a school function. However, over the years, the empty pride turned to deep shame. “No, it is not done yet. I know, I have been working on it for a long time.”
But it wasn’t until after my book actually published this past May that I fully understood its magnitude.
I realized that the decades I spent “writing a book” kept me connected to myself, and my sense of purpose as a woman, a writer, and a mother. My commitment to my book was an integral part of my self-care as I anxiously and often unsuccessfully struggled to hold on to me while my roles of mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister, and employee pulled me further and further away from my center.
The book drew me back in, anchored me. It forced me to look inward and look back. It forced me to deal with and write about my tattered and dark past that included childhood trauma and years of battling disordered eating and anxiety. The book also let me forgive, to heal, and to let go. It created space and freedom within my mind and heart so I could and embrace the present and rekindle hope for the future.
My writing process also prompted me to look at mothers around me; each with their own history, their own stories, their own scars and their own struggles. And to talk to them, to connect with them and to give them a place to share their truths, which are scattered on the pages of my book. The book offered a safe place for the voices of the hundreds of mothers I interviewed to live together on the page, along side mine, supporting each other with our words and our stories.
I walked steadily, slowly, and often frustratingly down the path of writing this book. And I am grateful every day that I did not listen to my demons that regularly told me to “forget about it! Who do you think you are? You will never really finish this thing anyway.” I fought to uphold my duty as a writer, and as a woman with a message to share, all-the-while ignoring the nay-saying voices screaming in my ears.
Writing this book changed my life. It enhanced my relationships with my husband, children, friends, and with myself. Ironically, while I aimed have this book serve as a permission slip of sorts for mothers to infuse their life with self-care, I also learned the true meaning of emotional, physical, and relational self-care, and witnessed how the implementation of regular self-care practices in my own life enabled me to achieve my dream of becoming a published author while caring for my family.
Every author knows that writing a book is not an easy or straight path. There are no signs or arrows pointing us in the “right” direction. It is an unpredictable and sometimes treacherous path, yet a dizzyingly exciting and mystifying one. Each author creates her own path, inviting others to walk along it, take in its uniqueness, and hopefully find its beauty.
I know that my path as an author has only just begun. My passion for exploring motherhood and self-care is a flame that cannot be extinguished. There will be more writing. There is more to this story. There always is.
Julie Burton is a freelance writer and speaker specializing in self-care, parenting, and relationships. She earned her master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, is the former editor of Momtalk magazine, and writes for many local and national websites and publications, including Brain, Child magazine, Your Teen, Mamalode, and Get Healthy U. She blogs at juliebburton.com, is the co-founder of the Twin Cities Writing Studio, and teaches yoga, writing, and wellness workshops. Julie is a mother of four children, ranging in age from 21 to 12 and a wife of 23 years. The Self-Care Solution: A Modern Mother’s Must-Have Guide to Health and Well-Being is the first in what Julie plans to be a series of books on self-care for mothers. Julie lives in Minnetonka, MN, with her husband and children.
You can connect with Julie on Twitter and Instagram @juliebburton, and Facebook /juliebburton2/.