Years ago, an old friend of mine said to me in her inimitable Southern drawl: "I needed to be hit over the head with a 2x4 to get the message."
As a native New Yorker and someone who barely knew what a 2x4 was, those weren't words I would have used, but I knew what she meant.
I've been known to ignore signs from the universe for umm ... decades?!
Signs that I was gay (really, oh so gay).
That I was a writer.
That I could use my natural gifts as an editor to work with other writers.
Instead, I typically chose the safer, easier-in-the-moment path.
In my 50s, I finally listened to the signs from the universe, which led me to the very different life I am leading today—as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, a first-time dog parent (!), the wife of Wendy, and a book coach dedicated to helping queer folx raise their voices, write their stories, and become published authors.
Whether the universe needs to hit you over the head with a two-by-four or it takes a subtler approach, this is one thing I know to be true:
Now, I'm not saying it's easy to listen to the universe or whatever you call your higher power. The universe I'm acquainted with has an annoying habit of insisting that I show up and put myself out there.
Like when I asked a new colleague to help me spread the word about WRITE YOURSELF OUT, the 12-month mentorship program and community I'm launching for LGBTQ+ writers—and I stumbled a bit when she asked me to articulate exactly why I'm doing the work I'm doing.
It took me a while to find the right words to describe why I've chosen to spend this chapter of my life helping queer writers raise their voices and write their stories.
But when I found those words to express how much this calling means to me, I smiled because it feels damn good to live out loud and show up fully as myself.
Hidden inside metaphorical closets in every corner of this country are throngs of people longing to live more authentically.
LGBTQ+ folx crushed by oppressive religious institutions; women at midlife who have deferred their own dreams; empty nesters who have stayed in unhappy marriages “for the kids”—all desperate to feel alive but terrified to leave the safety of the known. All recognizing they have “one wild and precious life” but asking if the cost of being themselves is too high.
I was once one of those people.
In the early days of questioning my sexuality, I was desperate for stories that spoke to my experience. There weren’t many and I was constantly on the lookout for more. At the time a close friend who had a trans child handed me She's Not There, a memoir by Jennifer Boylan. Your situation is different,” this friend said, “But I think you will relate to it.” And I did. It was as if the author was traveling in my head.
Someone else in the world had words for what I was feeling, which made me feel seen, less alone, and empowered to step into my authentic life.
When you get to be my age, you've lived many lives.
I've been a Harvard-trained lawyer. A stay-at-home mom. An advocate for families navigating the special education system. And now I have the privilege to spend my days mentoring queer writers—young and old—who have a story they are burning to share with the world—and a story the world needs to hear.
Representation matters. Queer stories matter. And queer community matters.
Because queer writers are better together.
Queer peeps: What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Is the universe calling you to raise your voice and write your story?
If yes, I've got a place at the table waiting for you.