Book Launch Party : Anxiety Turned to Joy

Today was stressful.

I knew it would be to some degree. The last two weeks most of my “work” time has been spent preparing all of the elements for a gallery exhibit at an art center that On Angels’ Wings was asked to do. Help was provided from my board, but I still had (and have) a lot to do to prepare it. Then we spent five days in St. Louis as a family getaway, which was long overdue and needed.

But that meant coming home to some chaos as I catch-up on things I’m behind on. And, in hindsight, the date I picked for my book launch party wasn’t the smartest with everything else going on right now. But it was out into the world, so I had to press forward.

After I did some more work on gallery stuff this morning, I ran to Hobby Lobby. Because I knew that I wanted to provide a gift to those that attended the party, but for the life of me had not been able to come up with any ideas (that’s what happens when you’re a creative but your brain is at capacity). I knew HL would come through with some motivation and it did not disappoint. I found these adorable little vases that very closely resemble the vase depicted on the cover of my book. Embracing that fall is nearly here, I grabbed some of the fall flowers that were on sale, and these cute charcuterie skewers that I think make killer bookmarks. Add some ribbon, a personal message and a cool highlighter for book reading, and I was really pleased with the results!

This was followed by a brief “self-care” moment with my personal trainer (who also happens to be my best friend, so I can vent my building anxiety about the event and also lift some hard weights to get the aggression out).

The rain storms started while I was in her gym. Torrential downpour in fact. A brief “uh-oh” was thwarted by another set of lifts and by the time I was done with my workout, the rain had subsided.

I headed to Walmart to get more supplies (remember when I said I hadn’t had time to do anything for this party – I meant it!). As I got out of my car, there was a simultaneous lightening bolt and thunderclap directly above me. I thought to myself “is this a bad omen?” but pushed the thought out of my mind.

Moments after I walked in the store, the downpour started again and continued the entire time I shopped. I did self-checkout, tied up all the bags to keep things dry and, because time was running short, opened my umbrella and trudged through the flash flood that had resulted in three inches of water on the entire parking lot. There was no avoiding getting soaked, so there was no point in trying to outrun it.

Once I loaded the car and finally got in, I saw a text from my husband. My youngest was worried about me in the storm. I assured him I was okay but, as tears started to well up, expressed my anxiety that this storm would ruin everything, and no one would show to my party. Ever the shoulder to lean on, my husband responded with our “luvin’ u” to let me know he is here no matter what happens – that he’s got me.

I drove half the speed limit home due to the lack of visibility. Once I got there, I got to work. I spent the next hour putting my little attendee gifts together – while still in my workout clothes – internally panicking. The rain wasn’t letting up much; the radar said it would still be bad for awhile. So I bumped the party’s start time by 30 minutes in hopes that more people would show, and because the storm had put me behind to the point there was no way I was going to be ready for guests at the studio space by 6pm.

At 4:20pm I rushed through a shower, fixed my hair, got dressed, grabbed my makeup bag, and my husband and I loaded the car and went to get the custom cake I had ordered for the event, made by my talented friend at Tina’s Sweet Tooth who made a cake that was gluten/diary free for me and regular cupcakes too – she even put my book on the cupcakes all cute and I hadn’t even asked her to do that. She’s a rockstar! (Coincidently, it had occurred to me to possibly reschedule the event with the storms, but then I would have this amazing cake for 50 and no one to share it with!) We delivered everything to the studio, and I brought him home to get our boys dinner, while I ran to get dinner myself – I hadn’t eaten anything since 10am.

By 5:45p I arrived at the studio. My friend Rachel was there preparing the charcuterie (she does awesome work – check out ArtiSims – she even did some that were gluten free with goat’s milk cheese for me). I set up the space: arranged chairs and couches, set up the cake and cupcakes, set up my book display and gifts. By 6pm my husband arrived and by 6:15p I asked him set aside his introvert hat and greet guests while I locked myself in the bathroom to scarf down my dinner and put on my makeup.

Right at 6:30p, I stepped out to find a few people had arrived. Thankfully, I had planned to wait about 30 minutes before doing any dedicated activities. It gave me time to talk to each guest, hand them a gift, and make them feel welcome. With each arrival my anxiety subsided a bit, but I held out hope that more would show. A little after 7pm, it was clear that whomever was going to be there had arrived, so I gathered everyone for a reading.

The group was smaller than I’d hoped, but they were all completely engaged. Even my 11-year-old, who really doesn’t enjoy doing anything that doesn’t align directly with his personal interests, was into it. Some had tears in their eyes. I read for about 15 minutes and the more I read, the more my anxiety dissipated.

These people were fully present to support me. There were many others that wanted to be there, but life got in the way. As I finished my reading, we ate cake, I signed books and we took selfies. And that anxiety was completely replaced by abundant joy and gratefulness.

The finishing of this book couldn’t have come at a better place in my life – a better season. Some of my best relationships have become stronger and the newest people I’ve met over the last several months have been some of the most incredible people I’ve known in my life. No exaggeration. This place in my life and this tribe of people I’m doing life with are genuinely the best they’ve ever been and I’m so humbled by that fact.

I hadn’t even planned a launch party until two new friends in my female entrepreneur networking group insisted that it was necessary to celebrate this major accomplishment. In fact, nearly half of the people that attended the event were from the FEMastermind group I’m a part of. I’ve been in networking groups before, but never have I experienced the enthusiasm and drive to see others succeed that comes from the relationships I’ve made in this group over the last year and a half.

My amazing family was in attendance (my mom, my in-laws, my husband and boys, my sister via Facetime, even my nephew surprised me!). My best friend – ever present for all the things. My business partner from Stoecker Media came to take video for me (she’ll be making promos) and my photographer friend, Shannon Alexander, took these awesome pictures. An OAW recipient who is deaf even attended my book reading, just as a show of total support (touched my heart). These people who took time out of their lives to show up for me – it made a huge impact.

I know that I will always have an anxiety disorder and chaotic days like today will mean that the battle is tougher. But with people like this to bring me out of the jumbled mess and into the peace of friendship, family and love – I feel like I can do anything!

Photos by Shannon Alexander Photo (except the selfies – ha!)

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