I've been in Florida for a couple of weeks, doing book signings at bookstores, and attempting to have a real vacation for the first time in a long time. Seventy degrees and sunny vs twenty-five degrees and snowy at home sounded like a good deal to me. Then the opportunity to sign books at bookstores and attend the IACP Officer Wellness Conference in Atlanta on the way home. A few thoughts and happenings......
At my first book signing, I started the day, in beautiful weather, in a beautiful location. I arrived early, looked at the covered walkway area, surrounded by palm trees and large bushes, forming a large open square. People were walking down the covered sidewalk, carrying cloth bags to visit a Farmers Market at the end of the street and walking back with their bags full of produce, nick-knacks, and souvenirs, enjoying life and chatting. I got coffee and sat watching, and waiting for the store to open and let my mind wander. I was worried about selling my books and the fact I had not met anyone from the store yet. This was different then being back home. I couldn't recruit friends and acquaintances to support me. The store employees arrived and set up a table. They were very gracious and professional. Once things were set up in this idyllic setting, the day began. I learned a big lesson this day. I started out trying to sell my book. The first hour drug on and I didn't even have a decent conversation with anyone. Then it hit me. LESSON ONE; GET OUT OF MY HEAD. COME FROM MY HEART AND CONNECT WITH PEOPLE. BE YOURSELF AND THINGS WILL WORK OUT. I did and all of a sudden, things shifted. I started having great conversations with people. We talked about their lives, some talked about trauma they had experienced, and last and probably least, I started selling books. One couple talked about how they trained service dogs to help people with their trauma. It turned out to be a fantastic experience and I met people from all over the eastern United States. A friend once told me, there are no strangers, simply friends we haven't met yet. This turned out to be the case. Thank you to the Hidden Lantern Bookstore in Rosemary Beach, Fla for this opportunity.
Three days later. at another bookstore, a few miles to the west. I had no idea where I was going. It took longer to get there then planned. After walking from the only parking area, I arrived. It was another beautiful location and I was the featured, "Author on the Porch" today. I arrived with minutes to spare and set up my table on the elevated porch. This porch overlooked the cobblestone street that was only open to pedestrian traffic. There was an amphitheater, park, across the street, lined with the standard palm trees. Spring Break had started and there were tons of college age kids running around. Today started off beautiful, but rain was in the forecast. Today, I didn't have time to get into my head, except about not having my morning coffee or breakfast and worrying about my sugar level dropping. (It didn't and the coffee and breakfast sandwich I had at 3pm was worth the wait). Now I started talking with people and it was another amazing experience. One lady told me she had heard about my book, in California. Another worked with injured veterans and bought a copy to take to 29 Palms Military Base, also in California. This is near and dear to my heart as my son was injured in Afghanistan. Another heard about my book on Tik-Tok. This one was interesting as I met a young man last October, who was big on Tik-Tok and had many followers. We talked in the hot-tub at the condo we were staying in. He opened up about trauma he had experienced. I told him about my book and he read it. Now someone was promoting it on that social media platform. LESSON TWO; JUST BE ME, SINCERE, OPEN, AND HONEST WHEN I TALK TO PEOPLE. THE SEED WILL BE PLANTED AND WILL GROW IN WAYS I CAN'T EVEN IMAGINE.
Another woman, had lost a child in a horrific way and suffered PTSD. We talked for a long time and discussed things that had worked for both of us as we continue making our way to being healed. A young couple waiting for the birth of their first child, talked about how his father had been in the military and to this day, refused to talk about anything he had seen. They could see the demons that he refused to acknowledge. Yes, I sold more books and am grateful they will go into the hands of people who may get something from them to help them deal with the traumatic events experienced in their lives. Thank you to Sundog Books in Santa Rosa Beach for this wonderful opportunity.
We visited a Scottish Festival where I met a veteran who saw my service dog, Shiloh. He asked about service dogs and talked about getting a service dog to help him with his PTSD. Hmmm. I know someone from a book signing a few days earlier. There are no accidents. I will be happy to forward this referral.
Tomorrow we leave for Atlanta to attend the International Association of Chiefs of Police Officer Wellness Conference. I was worried about the cost and the fact that I am out of books. Now I look forward to seeing and meeting people from all over the world with similar interest in officer wellness. I look forward to seeing the presentation of Bobby Kipper, who endorsed my book. I look forward to making new connections and planting the seeds of truth in the healing of our fellowman, especially our law enforcement families. I look forward to creating that ripple, in healing relationships, one person at a time. Mostly I look forward to connecting to those who also want to improve the lives of law enforcement and the world. LESSON THREE; I AM THE CHANGE, WHETHER I WANT TO BE OR NOT. MY EFFECT RIPPLES OUT TO ALL I COME IN CONTACT WITH AND IT IS MY CHOICE TO MAKE IT A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE.