It’s goal setting time. I’ve been on an incredible journey. The evening we left our house in Waterford to attend the launch of my first novel, Butterfly Barn, my husband, Michael said, “No matter what happens tonight Karen, this is an incredible achievement.”
How lucky am I that this happened!!
To share my life with someone who believes in me more than I do is the greatest gift. When terrible things happen (and unfortunately they do) family and friends are the ones who are always there. The best advice I can offer you is to value them. They must come first.
I’m writing this because I’ve been invited to speak at the Women’s Inspire Network, in Wexford on Jan 28th. The organiser, Samantha Kelly (aka @tweetinggoddess) asked me to share my story about how I came to writing, being a bestselling self-published author and my goals for the future.
I’m excited about this because it is awhile since I set goals. So this is a perfect opportunity for some self reflection and future planning. How did I come to writing and publishing two novels in one year?
To answer that question I will share some of my story. For twenty years, I worked in the travel business, happily selling holidays. I became a manager for a large corporate travel company but in 2002 my life changed in ways I could never have imagined.
Two life changing things happened. We lost our twin baby boys in pregnancy and our 6 year old daughter was diagnosed with a learning difficulty called dyspraxia. At that time very few people had heard of it, I even had to spell the word for an occupational therapist (note dyspraxia is a motor co-ordination problem and OT’s are supposed to be the experts). Thankfully, the child psychiatrist who had recognised it had also warned that this might happen. The only reason he knew about dyspraxia was because when he lived in America his son was diagnosed with it. He hadn’t understood why his boy was so clever in many ways but could easily fall over his own feet, his handwriting was atrocious, and his social skills were awkward. That lovely man advised me to research as much as I could. His exact words were, “You are the only person who can help your daughter, if you don’t protect her self-esteem this challenge could become a psychiatric problem.” He also told me that his son’s teachers had recommended that he attend a special school but they had declined. The young man was now studying computers in Cork. His words were the glimmer of hope I needed.
Previously, at a national work conference, the CEO of the travel company I worked for had recommended that everybody should read at least one self-help book a year. I can still remember the looks passed around the room. To be honest, we were snickering. Why would we need to do that? But when my heart was in pieces I went to the self-help section and I picked up a book called “Journey to the Heart” by Melody Beattie. (It’s still on my bedside locker).
I took their advice.
Reading and researching became my passion; there was so much I needed to learn. I studied special needs, Adlerian psychology, complimentary therapy, brain coordination therapy, training and development, and literacy. I was searching for ways to cope with my grief and ways to help my daughter. Knowledge is power, education gives people a chance and I wanted my daughter to have every chance. What I didn’t know was that the loss of my beautiful babies and my daughter’s learning difference would lead me to become an adult education tutor and now an author.
For the past ten years, I’ve been working in training and development. My areas are business, tourism, communications, personal effectiveness, but the area I draw the most satisfaction from is working for the literacy service. One in six people in Ireland and the UK have problems with basic reading, writing and numeracy. I believe much of this is connected to not recognising specific learning differences such as dyspraxia, dyslexia, ADD, ADHD and others. So many people have slipped through the cracks in our education system and unfortunately they still do. That statistic of one in six is from the latest OECD report and it applies to people from the age of 16 – 65 years old. Shocking, isn’t it. Here’s a link for more information http://bit.ly/1I1uC9Z
I dream of changes in the system, and with educationalists like Sir Kenneth Robinson speaking out some changes may be possible in my lifetime. You can listen to one of his TED talks here it’s called “How to escape education’s death valley.” http://bit.ly/1MKV4Zo
Working in the area of personal development, I’ve researched people I admire who have followed their dreams and shared their experiences in a positive way. But to make it easy, setting out to write this blog, I found an interesting YouTuber called Evan Michael http://bit.ly/1Lcb1qF he has created clips of the top ten rules for success according to some of the world’s top entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Another source for those of you on Linkedin http://bit.ly/1PgBuUe
From listening to Oprah, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Chris Gardner, Steve Jobs and many more. The common threads are:
- Find your purpose and believe and love what you are doing/making
- Surround yourself with a team of good people
- Work hard – you make your own luck
- According to Chris Gardner, the man behind “Pursuit of Happyness” use what he calls “The C5 Complex.” Your goals should be CLEAR, CONCISE, COMPELLING, CONSISTENT and COMMITTED
- Run your own race/ or carve your own path is how I like to put it
- Respect and thank people/ your reputation will always follow you
- Learn from failure and make changes
- Be a giver
- Offer something of value
Writing this has given me the opportunity to clarify what I want.
My ultimate goal is to create a place called Butterfly Barn. I’ve been told it will cost millions!!
So for now I have created it in my books called Butterfly Barn and On Butterfly Wings. I am honoured that so many people are reading my novels both here and across the world. The support I have received landed On Butterfly Wings at no.5 in original fiction on the Irish Best Sellers List. This is unheard of for a self published novel without a marketing machine. So believing and loving what I do has helped others believe too.
My goals for this coming year are:
- To speak at a range of events across Ireland and highlighting the areas I care deeply about, pregnancy loss, dyspraxia, literacy and bereavement
- To host Butterfly Barn creativity day’s based on the topics I write about
- To give writing and self-publishing talks and workshops in libraries nationwide
- To make my song “Angels By My Side” an anthem for International Baby Loss Awareness Day – which falls on the 15th of October every year
Thank you for supporting me along this wonderful adventure. Enjoy setting your goals, I promise it will be worth it.
Wonderful blog Karen!
Really enjoyed it..will look up those videos..
P s can’t believe an OT asked how to spell dyspraxia!
You are a woman with a Butterfly Barn in your heart . You create butterfly barns in other peoples hearts. This is a much more powerful place than anything created out of wood and stone. Thank you Karen