The first time

*On a cold winter night in Canberra, I was asked by the ACT Writers Centre to share my story at their Winter Warmer event. An evening all about first times.*

 

As we journey through life we encounter a number of ‘first times.’ Being a mum for the first time and seeing my daughter grow, has given me the opportunity to revisit the many ‘firsts’ of life.

Watching my daughter take her first steps, say her first words, taste ice cream for the first time, meet Santa for the first time, her first tooth, her first smile, all continue to remind me, for better or worse, how special first times really are.

When I felt my daughter kick for the first time, I felt a shift from deep within. This little girl was going to be a force of nature. She was going to change my life and has she ever!

I am an over planner, my daughter instinctively knew this and decided to arrive six weeks early. During a very challenging period, being in and out of the special care nursery, my daughter taught me a great deal about the precious gift of life.

Her boldness and tenacity gave me the inspiration I needed to give more ‘firsts’ a try.

For many years, I held a very audacious dream, I wanted to be an author, I wanted to hold a book with my name on the cover. The only issue with my dream was the sheer fear of sharing anything I had written with anyone outside my very small immediate family.

I am an introvert the very thought of being in the spotlight terrifies me and although I could hide behind the words on a page, it wasn’t enough, those words and thoughts behind them, were completely mine to own. Who would want to know my story and hear my reflections? This crippling fear captured my dream.

Watching my very small daughter bravely try new things for the very first time gave me the encouragement I needed to follow the beat of my heart.

I knew that to realise this dream I would have to challenge myself and move out of my comfort zone.

Becoming a parent shoved me out of my comfort zone. It caused me to evolve, question everything I thought I knew and I needed to “walk the walk”. How could I teach my beautiful girl to dream big and work hard for her dreams if I wouldn’t do it myself? With a touch of courage, a deep breath and my supporters (my family and some incredible friends) I moved out of the safe zone and into the unknown. Wow! What a wondrous place.

My very first children’s story, Charlie Adventures…in Hawaii, fell onto the pages of my notebook. Charlie had been with me for many years, his character was based on my late grandfather, and he was bursting to come out. Soon I was surrounded by a network of very talented, inspiring individuals who were willing to assist me fulfil my incredible dream.

When, for the first time, I held in my hands the advance copies of Charlie’s Adventures…in Hawaii, I shook uncontrollably and did a very shaky happy dance. Charlie looked exactly as he should. My illustrator had done a magnificent job and had captured the beauty and vibrancy of Hawaii on each page. My publisher had made this book and the experience so magical. My first book was out in the world.

Fast forward to two years later and I find myself sitting in front of those in the literary community asked to share my story. In these two years, Charlie’s Adventures…in Hawaii has become the first book in a series of Charlie’s Adventures, with the second book due to be released in a matter of months. My debut book has been nominated for a number of awards both within Australia and in the United States, attracting a global following. I also was fortunate to receive the Anne Edgeworth Fellowship for Young Writers from the ACT Writers Centre, which is enabling me to travel to America and share my books and message of nurturing an inclusive community with an international audience. In addition to this, while I am in America, I will be attending a children’s book conference with speakers that I have looked up to for many, many years.

I still can’t believe how far this journey has taken me.

I owe a lot to my daughter and Ed Sheeran (yes, he played a part)…you are welcome to ask me later about the role he played.

Taking those brave wobbly first steps, just as my daughter had done, set me on a extraordinary path.

It has taught me no matter how daunting first times can be, you need them to push you, challenge you and propel you forward. No matter the outcome, you will learn and grow.

First times are to be treasured and so I ask you to reflect, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

 

ABOUT THE EVENT:

We’ve got the perfect plans for your Friday night at our Winter Warmer! Join us Friday 15 June, for a sneak peek and live recording of ‘The First Time’ podcast with Katherine Collette and Kate Mildenhall, featuring Canberra authors Jack Heath, Karen Viggers and Irma Gold.

Then, settle in for a one-night-only talk from the curator and artists of Canberra Contemporary Art Space’s Obsessive Compulsion exhibitionincluding David Broker in conversation with local artists Jodie Cunningham, Michele England and Ann McMahon.

Of course, the evening’s highlights will also include a wine tasting with winemaker Celine Rousseau from Eden Road Wines, and readings from two of Canberra’s brightest: Rosanna Stevens and Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern.

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