education, kindness, REBkind, reflection, writing

Becoming an Author in 2019

As I sit here at my writing desk reflecting on the past year, I am simply awestruck. I don’t even know if I can fully articulate the impact 2019 has had on my life.

It has been a transformational year.

In 2019, I became a published author. Just typing those words still brings the novelty and thrill of a child, hands clasped together in absolute glee, looking up towards the heavens shouting, “I DID IT!” It was a goal I had hidden on my heart for decades and, truth be told, if it wasn’t for the constant support of many friends and coworkers, I’m not sure I would have crossed the finish line to say those words.

I actually wrote a book about my passion for kindness.


“I’m a published author!”

I could end this post right there, as that bucket-list goal, life dream achievement was enough – more than enough – to celebrate a year well-lived. But what I didn’t know in February 2019, when my book showed up on Amazon lists and Barnes and Noble advertisements, is that it was just the beginning of an incredible adventure I am still learning how to navigate.

There’s no rule book on how to become an author or what to do once it happens. I just knew that I had a story to share with the world and I wanted to inspire and uplift others along the way. While my book details my kindness journey both inside the classroom and outside in the community, I also shared the stories of twelve Kindness Cultivators (one for each chapter) and dozens more scattered throughout the pages.

This wasn’t a book focused solely on me, it was a book about us.

I told myself if only one person was positively impacted by my book – just ONE – then to me, it was enough. It would be worth the hours of writing and sacrifice of time, energy, and sleep. It would be worth the paranoia of perfectionism and the irrational angst of anxiety that whispered in my ear as I worried about every little detail.

Just. One. Person.

It was enough.

The response to A Passion for Kindness: Making the World a Better Place to Lead, Love, and Learn has been overwhelming for this gal who comes from “the land of tomatoes.” I can still remember Maureen Ambrose holding my book at a playground before I even had the chance to get my own purchased copy. My father-in-law, affectionately known as “Grandpa Letter,” bought a copy for every person in his neighborhood book club before I even figured out which pen would work best for autographs. My forever friend, Lisa Zader, drove hours to help me unpack boxes of books, delighted to be the first to photograph my excitement.

Mike Mohammad posted a screenshot of himself ordering my book, then later posted a screenshot of the Kindle version on his iPad saying he couldn’t wait for the hard copy of the book to arrive, he wanted to read it right then. Even now, nearly a year later, my heart soars remembering the way Christine Bemis‘ Nana held my book in her hospital bed while recovering from a fall, her smile radiant as she listened to stories about prioritizing kindness. I was especially touched when I saw the watercolor artwork created by Amanda Fox‘s 10 year old daughter, Rowan, inspired by the cover of my book.

The posts flooded my social media feeds with your book screenshots and smiling faces. I took screenshots of your screenshots so I could always remember the ways you wrapped me with love to celebrate my accomplishment. Each day was like unwrapping a new gift under the tree, waiting to see what would connect with you as a reader, which stories would resonate most.

Local businesses and organizations welcomed me into their spaces for book signings and meet-and-greet events. Educators around the world contacted me to join them on their podcast shows or moderate their Twitter chats. I received invitations to create webinars and presentations. Dr. Gill, the superintendent of my school district, invited me to all four graduation ceremonies and mentioned my passion for kindness in his commencement speech with quotes from my book. I was even interviewed for our local CBS Channel 6 news station’s morning show and later chosen as one of their “Month of Giving” recipients at the end of the year.

Rob Cardwell from WTVR Channel 6 News surprised me at school as one of their “Month of Giving” recipients.

I visited Houston, Texas and Boston, Massachusetts then traveled out of the country to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada as part of my R.E.B. Award for Teaching Excellence, meeting dozens of kindness cultivators along the way. It was especially humbling to meet Barbara Gruener, Jet Stream Jax, Houston Kraft, Todd Nesloney, Wendy Hankins, Cathy O’Grady, and Annick Rauch during my travels. I was so inspired by those mentioned in my book that I turned one of my books into an autograph book so I could capture the signatures of those who made such a powerful impact on me!

Blessed by Barbara’s kindness to drive more than an hour to visit Todd Nesloney at his school!
Wendy Hankins signing her page in my book.
Barbara Gruener’s sweet autograph for my book.

Becoming a published author has been absolutely surreal!

What has resonated most about this entire journey of becoming an author in 2019 has been the ways in which my story has impacted yours. Every single day – without exception – I have received some form of contact from someone in the world: emails, text messages, private messages, voicemails, cards in the mail, even post-it notes on my desk and door.

You have shared in my joy. You have asked questions. You have poured out your hearts and taken time out of your day to describe your commitment to kindness. You have inspired me with your examples of ways that you make the world a better place to lead, love, and learn.

I have hugged parents who are completing kindness missions in memory of their children who have passed away. I have listened to students share the most wonderful things they have done for others and how “being kind makes a difference.” I have watched strangers come together for a common cause and enjoyed the viral sensations of kindness posted in our Passion for Kindness Facebook group.

When 2019 began, I was looking forward to the joys of becoming a published author. When I sit here now, as 2019 comes to a close, I realize I became something else.

I became a better person because of you.

You believed in me.

You encouraged me.

You picked me up when I got knocked down.

You hugged me when I became overwhelmed.

You shared my stories with others and embraced the knowledge that there’s plenty of room in the spotlight for all of us to stand.

All that I accomplished in 2019 was because of you.

You showed me the true meaning of having a passion for kindness.

Thank you for an amazing year!

Traditionally I share my accomplishments with links to blog posts and such, but this year I decided to create an infographic to summarize it all. A special thanks to Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. for taking a chance on this first-time author. It’s been a year to remember!

Check back soon – my One Word 2020 post will be shared on New Year’s Day!


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