Lungleavin’ Day

Every so often, someone asks me about my first novel. I give my standard reply (which is usually too long and confusing, but which they politely listen to). Then I get one of two responses: 1) a blank stare while they’re obviously thinking why did she write THAT?, or 2) a blank stare and the outright question, “Why did you write that?”

I usually hem and haw (blank stares tend to reduce me to hem-and-hawing) and say something vague about being bipolar, blah blah blah.

But the truth is that when I was pregnant, I was afraid. I lay awake at night, dreaming up the worst case scenarios for what might happen after I gave birth. What if I developed postpartum depression? What if I developed postpartum psychosis? What if I tried to hurt myself or the baby or both of us? My fears were grounded in the reality that being bipolar and pregnant is not a pretty combination, and other women have experienced all three of the things I feared the most.

Finally, I decided to do something constructive with my fears: I created a character, mercilessly dumped all my insomniac nightmares upon this poor helpless creation of mine, and wrote her story. A novel was born. And in the writing of it, I was reminded of the truth that, even in the darkest of times, there is hope.

When we face our fears and pains, we find a rich source of inspiration—not just in writing but in living.

Recently, I met a lady named Heather Von St. James. When her daughter was three months old, Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. It’s almost always deadly.

Talk about fear: facing almost certain death is never easy. It’s definitely not easy when you have a husband and a new baby whom you love dearly. What do you do?

Talk about courage: Heather grabbed onto hope with both hands and hung on. Hope became calling out to God for help. Help took the form of a major surgery, one that took her left lung and gave her back her life. Life became living one day at a time, living fully and facing her fears and inspiring others to do the same.

It’s now been seven years, and Heather is cancer-free. She’s created a holiday called Lungleavin’ Day on the February 2nd anniversary of her surgery. It’s a day that she and others set aside to face their fears. They write down their fears on plates: all the things, big and small, that hamper them from truly living. Then they throw the plates (and symbolically, all those fears!) into a bonfire.

It’s a celebration, but it’s also about raising awareness of this horrible cancer. Heather has taken her fear, her pain, and used it to help and encourage others.

Read more about Lungleavin’ Day on Heather’s blog:

www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/heather/fear.htm.

Her joy and enthusiasm for life is contagious and hope-filled and inspirational; I walked away encouraged, and I’m sure you will, too.

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9 thoughts on “Lungleavin’ Day

  1. What a great story of hope and help and celebration of overcoming, Laura.

    Tim

    P.S. Have you published? Are you shopping your novel around? I bet there’s a market for it somewhere!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Tim. I’ve shopped my novel around a bit, but no takers yet. Since I’m in the middle of writing novel #2, I’m holding off on querying any more agents right now; it’s a bit too discouraging to get the rejection letters while I slough through a 1st draft. I really think there’s a market for it, too, but thus far nobody in the business seems to agree! Oh well, I’ll just keep writing.

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  2. This is a nice story; I don’t know how I’d feel if I had terminal cancer but to hear someone has got over it, is nice to say the least!

    Like you, I write a blog, and I am writing a set of four Christian self-help books. When I edit them, the first two that are written anyway, I am hoping to get them published. I don’t know about you and how you get your ideas, I tend to get idea after idea, long before in fact I had any desire to write; it’s not getting the ideas that is a problem, it’s finding the time and energy to write them down. Also, I have a number of novels I want to write too, like you. I also get ideas for TV programs as well, but it is VERY VERY HARD to break into that market.

    Have you got the ‘Writers and Artists Yearbook’ by the way? Lots of good advice and guidance there. Yes, the writer’s job is by its very nature a lonely and solitary one. Keep writing!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Tim. What are your self-help books about?

      I don’t have the Yearbook, but I’ve gotten something similar in the past. I used to subscribe to Writer’s Digest, but we’ve had to cut some expenses in the past year, so the subscription had to go. Luckily, there’s the internet and they make a lot of their articles available there! Best of luck with your writing.

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  3. They are Christian self-help books, books that are practical and pragmatic with a flavour of Christianity. I subscribed to the National Geographic but couldn’t really afford that this year either. Likewise, best of luck with your writing too! Just a curious question; how long do you actually write each day?

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      1. About 4 hours a day huh. That’s about me too. I don’t get writers block or anything like that I just have to be in the right ‘mood’ to write. I have chronic fatigue so am often tired and in need of a sleep; when this happens, often I just don’t feel like writing; in turn this depresses me and I berate myself for not using more of my time more productively. I am now asking God into this; if I could write about 6 or 7 hours a day I would be happier and feel more productive, and also I would get more ideas knocked into shape. I don’t know about you but I get idea after idea for all sorts of things but it’s getting around to making them understood to a publisher, that’s the hard bit.

        By the way, did you know you could self-publish with Amazon kindle? It might be an option worth thinking about.

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  4. Nobody knows better than myself how nasty depression can be, and how hard it is to conquer.

    In addition, cognitive behavioral therapy may be offered or group therapy.
    Show them that you can listen without being judgmental.

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