In 2000 when my family moved from California to North Carolina, and I felt like I had been put into a witness protection program. We chose to make a 6-month stay permanent, but this huge change made me feel even isolated as a stay-at-home Mom than I already was. On the one hand, North Carolina was a great place to raise a family, and people were friendly. On the other hand, no one even knew what I had done before. They would see a mom with a toddler and not know that I had been a neuroscientist and teacher. At some parties, few people would even bother to learn more.
At the same time, North Carolina was a great place for reinvention. I like to say that North Carolina is “big enough to serve you, small enough to know you” (that was the motto of the Rancho Center back in Los Altos California, and it stuck with me). And we soon found out that in North Carolina, if you raise your hand, you will be called on! We got involved in public radio and other community causes. And almost right away, I decided this was a great opportunity to work on a young-adult novel I had started a few years before, as a lovely distraction from writing my PhD thesis. I joined the North Carolina Writers’ Network, attending their annual conference in Raleigh just a few weeks after we moved to the state. I signed up for a series of classes through Duke Continuing Education, Writing for Young Adults, Screenwriting, and Improv Comedy. I joined a writer’s group. This led to the publication of my young adult novel, High Water and a finished screenplay, Shadows of Fire. After successfully reinventing myself as a writer, I decided to sit down and write the guide for new Moms I wish I had, and thus Mojo Mom: Nurturing Your Self While Raising a Family was born to help other Gen X mothers get their mojo back by exploring the question, “Who am I, now that I am a Mom?”
How has becoming an author shaped me? I learned that I could set off on a new career path and still apply my teaching and research skills to writing. When I left academic lab research, my motto was “I’m not leaving science, I’m taking it with me.” And that is how I feel about writing. It is a creative outlet to be sure, and I also love sharing ideas, strategies and explorations that will help my readers lead their best lives. In the years since publishing Mojo Mom, I have become more experimental in ways to communicate with readers, including podcasting and more. I would like to start offering webinars to extend the outreach of Doing Right by Our Kids. In 2018, a book feels like a jumping-off point and touchstone for all sorts of outreach.
On a very personal level, now that my awesome kid is launched as a young adult, it is my time to explore the next cycle of renewal in my life. Time for more reinvention!