Grace in Growth

Wow. What an intense 7 weeks it has been since the launch of my first picture book, Jacaranda Magic.

I have visited 20 schools and kindergartens to share story readings and run play based extensions or curriculum-linked workshops for children Prep-Year 4. I have been a panelist at two community-focussed events run by Share Your Story to share my experience as newly emerging author in the publishing industry.

This week I’ll be running two full days of student workshops for Jacaranda Magic together with illustrator Megan Forward for Oakleigh State School’s Book Week and then travelling down to the Grafton Jacaranda Festival where I will officially launch the book in NSW. In November, I’m headed to Melbourne for two Victorian launches, one at the Keeping Books Alive Seminar and the other at Ford Street Publishing HQ.

Lots of change. Lots of new experiences. Lots of new feelings.

Author Dannika Patterson reading her picture book Jacaranda Magic to kindergarten children.
Getting to wear a flower crown to work? Winning!

I am incredibly happy that Jacaranda Magic is being so well received in schools, kindergartens, libraries and in the wider KitLit community. It’s gaining its share of lovely reviews and is selling well enough that my publisher has gone ahead with a second print run inside its first month of release (woo hoo!).

And yet, when family and friends have asked me how it’s all going, I have struggled to come up with the right adjectives. As someone who works with words for a living, I usually supply way too many adjectives in answer to questions like this. So why was this one throwing me off my game?

The experience of becoming a published author has been many things so far: joyful, exhilarating, scary, exposing, uplifting, humbling, inspiring, rewarding, confronting, frustrating, mystifying, unsettling, affirming.

But I kept feeling like my answer to that question, ‘How’s it all going with the book?’ was falling short of the truth. I just couldn’t put my finger on the descriptor that was missing.

Until today.

Today I did not have the day I had planned.

Tomorrow is my son’s 6th birthday and today, because it’s a student free day for primary schools here in Brisbane, we had planned his last grand adventure as a 5-year-old – a visit to his favourite place on earth, Australia Zoo.

We were all packed and just about to jump in the car and set off when my 4-year-old started vomiting. Not cool. And not portable.

Thank goodness for grandparents. My Mum and Dad happily volunteered to take my little boy on his early birthday present special outing to the Zoo, while I stayed home to nurse my little girl.

As my daughter rested on my lap, I indulged in some Instagram scrolling, came across this quote and thought, ‘That’s it!’.

Growth is uncomfortable because you've never been here before - you've never been this version of you. So give yourself a little grace and breathe through it. Kirstin Lohr.
Quote and image credit @kristin_lohr

I am growing.

And it does feel quite uncomfortable . As it should.

All that stretching for the sun, extending my roots, being blustered by the breeze to bend my branches and shedding what no longer holds life. Spikey new shoots are spouting in the form of new ideas and dreams, the occasional brightly coloured bloom bursts forth. Ouch!

I am growing. 

As soon as I put a name to it, and recognised growth as the primary reason I’ve been feeling unsettled lately, I felt calmer. And all the adjectives that have been jumbled up, battling for dominance, chilled out. I finally gave myself a moment of grace.

While it’s true that change is a constant and inevitable part of life for us all, growth is a choice. I’m all for choosing growth. It’s positive. It’s forward-focussed. It’s life-affirming. And although it can be mighty uncomfortable, it can also be very clarifying. 

Because of recent growth, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I want to spend the vast majority of the rest of my working life being a children’s author and working with young children to inspire a love of books. I know it will continue to be all the adjectives that I have found it to be so far, and more. And I know that the work will be worth it.

So next time someone asks me, ‘How’s it all going with the book?’

I will answer, ‘It’s helping me to grow in the most wonderfully uncomfortable way.’

Before I sign off I must acknowledge the synchronicity of writing a blog post about grown up growth on the eve of my son’s 6th birthday. As a mother, I spend so much of my time fixated on and dedicated to supporting the healthy growth of my children, that I do forget to give myself the grace I need to continue to grow well too. I’m going to try to tweak that. And I’m going to indulge in sharing with you a picture of my gorgeous boy, who is growing up so beautifully, at Australia Zoo, with his wonderful grandparents, celebrating his final day of being 5. Happy birthday for tomorrow, my darling.

5 today. 6 tomorrow.
5 today. 6 tomorrow.

So here’s to continued, lifelong, growth. To giving ourselves the grace we need to get through it. To getting comfortable with the discomfort of trying new things. To being brave enough to try to become the beautiful blooming wonders we are capable of being.

 

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