Life Decisions [IndiesForward]

Today is a very special day.

Earlier this month, I was contacted by the family of a very incredible woman named Julie Forward DeMay. Julie dreamed of becoming an author and in 2011, her wish came true. The creative writing graduate from Colorado State had her first book, Cell War Notebooks, self-published.

Only Julie wasn’t here to see it.

She didn’t get to hold her book in her hands, like so many of us dream of, because two years earlier, Julie passed away at the age of 37 from cervical cancer.

I’ve worked with a lot of incredible, talented, driven, passionate, creative authors through Duolit in the last three years and upon hearing Julie’s story, I was struck by one thing:

She could have been any one of us.

My fellow indies know how much work it takes to promote a book. It ain’t easy, most of all because the entire workload falls to one person. To find success, we have to bust our tails every day of the week, marketing to the masses while balancing families, day jobs, and some semblance of a social life.

But as much as we might hate it from time to time, we’re truly fortunate just to have the opportunity.

Julie’s story moved me because I feel certain she would have been here in the trenches with us, promoting her book and working on her next project, if fate hadn’t carved out a different path for her.

I wanted to help.

So, Toni and I came up with the idea for IndiesForward – a blog-a-thon to accomplish two important tasks:

  • Share Julie’s book and her story with the world
  • Promote cervical cancer awareness (one of Julie’s biggest wishes — and January just so happens to be Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, so the timing was perfect)

We spread the word to our community of authors at Duolit and it caught like wildfire – stretching across the US and Canada to our friends in England, Ireland, Australia and beyond.

Today is a special day because all those people, all over the world, are talking about Julie.

Below is my official post for the campaign, but I also would encourage you to check out a full list of participants at Duolit.

More importantly, take a moment to check out Cell War Notebooks, Julie’s blog, and ladies, please educate yourself about this very preventable disease through the National Cervical Cancer Coalition.

Life decisions & Daily Choices

At 28, I am very far from being a wise old sage.

But my almost thirty (*gasp*) trips around the sun have taught me a few important things such as:

  • Super glue bonds to skin instantly (like really, really instantly)
  • Families are not exclusively made by genetics
  • Oreos are always (always!!!) better with milk
  • Laughter truly is the best medicine for any ailment

More than those little anecdotes though, the most important lesson I’ve learned is this:

The most important decisions in life have to be reaffirmed every day.

What does that mean?

Sometimes we face tough situations where we have to make a choice to do something and we assume after making that choice one time, we’ll never have to contemplate that same decision again.

Wrong.

A few years ago, I went through a very difficult experience with someone very close to me. A lot of anger passed between us and we reached a point where we had to decide if we could forgive each other and move forward.

I knew I wanted to wipe the slate clean and start over, but wanting that and doing it are two entirely different things. Flames born and fueled by anger are not easy to quash, even when you long for peace in your heart.

What I finally discovered was this: Every morning, as soon as I opened my eyes, I had to make that same choice. I had to decide to truly forgive this person, forgive myself, and put the past behind me.

Over time, it became an easier choice.

I didn’t wrestle with it, I knew it was right, I moved forward. But every once in a while, something would pop up that threatened to re-ignite those old feelings and in that instant, I had to straighten my spine and make my choice known again.

There are other decisions that have to be met in the same manner.

Relationships in particular, whether of the romantic, platonic or familial variety, can be difficult. We are faced with choices – do we forgive, love, forget, accept?

Or is it a situation that calls for the ultimate bravery where we have to walk away?

Whatever your decision, the challenge isn’t making it the first time, it’s making the same choice the next time you open your eyes.

And the time after that.

And the time after that.

As I read the Cell War Notebooks, it struck me that Julie, maybe more than any of us, was familiar with the idea of daily life decisions. She had to get up every morning and decide to live – which in turn meant deciding to fight, to push, to hurt, to cry, and most of all to be unbelievably, undeniably courageous.

In the end, her decision to be brave never wavered, it just changed in definition.

This is from her final blog entry in August 2009:

“It’s time to teach my daughter the beauty and strength in surrender; it’s time to show her the absolute courage it takes to fight with all the power you have and then realize the

Pain is not going to stop until you give it the word.”

Julie made a choice to be brave every day, even when it was difficult – more difficult than any of us could really imagine.

Whether your life has been touched in some way by cancer or not, I promise you will be moved and inspired by Julie’s words.

Please take a moment to check out her book, and if you’d like to join us for IndiesForward, view the details here and download your official prep kit.

Cell War Notebooks on Amazon

Cell War Notebooks Facebook Page

Cell War Notebooks Blog

Comments

  1. jane forward says:

    Shannon, I am so grateful for your beautiful tribute to my daughter, Julie. I only wish you could have known her. She would have loved the description, “indie-ninja-in-spirit”. And she would have been one of you. I am printing each of the blogs promoting her book so when Luka is a bit older she will read how many kind strangers cared about her Mom. You are an angel!

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