Changed by Chance…Champion by Choice » Author, Elizabeth Barker

Masthead header
    April 16, 1986, 9:49 AM

    This moment in my life unraveled years of careful planning. From that day on, I was forever changed. As if I were a pinball, I bounced around haphazardly for five merciless years, from one misfortune to another. I experienced the heartbreak of burying my daughter, the joy of pregnancy with my son, and the terror of discovering a cancer that could terminate my baby and possibly end my life. Despite these adversities, I not only survived, I thrived. I learned many life lessons, but the most valuable, the one I’d like to share with you, is - that you CAN come through dark hardships to find light, love, and happiness, but only if you make the choice to do so.

    My life may have been Changed by Chance, but I became my own Champion by Choice.

I’m still reaching for that Brass Ring – I’m almost there!

I’ve been on my Book Quest Journey for about 2 years now. Yes, it’s been a long road. And, there is so much more to this than merely writing my manuscript. Writing the book was the easy part, I think. The story, the characters, the setting, and the drama – it was all there for the taking to tell. The hard and longer work has been: the editing, the social media, the networking, and finally the pursuit of publishing – which is where I am now.

I’ve spent a few months querying literary agents and traditional publishers and came up empty handed. But I had to try. I was told to expect the rejections. It isn’t uncommon for a first time author. I’ve had face to face conversations with several well known authors: Philadelphia’s own Lisa Scottoline, Elizabeth Gilbert of “Eat, Pray, Love” book & movie fame and TV news person and author, LuAnne Cahn. All of these women forewarned me of the difficulty that a new author faces in trying to obtain a book contract with a traditional publisher. They all advised me to be persistent in reaching for my goals (or the brass ring as they say).

As a result, I have moved on to the self publishing option, which is the logical choice for a new author in the 21st century. I have put Changed by Chance…Champion by Choice out there to a short list of self publishing firms. The feedback from these firms has been entirely different and so positive. Self publishing houses’ goals are to help first time authors get published and out there to tell their stories. I am considering a couple of proposals now and am getting re-energized on my journey knowing that my brass ring will be in sight soon – in other words, that my book will finally be published in a few months.

Here is an excerpt from comments from one of the publishers about my book:

Rationale behind recommendation: “We were immediately and continuously engrossed in your personal narrative. Written in the present tense, with background stories seamlessly woven in, we feel as though we are taking a journey with you, experiencing your profound love, feeling the extent of your loss, and learning life’s lessons by your side. You have successfully created yourself into a well-rounded character and your life into an engaging story. Most importantly, you maintain enough distance from “Liz,” the character in that story, to allow us our own interpretation of the novel’s theme and moral significance.”

Next steps: “We believe your memoir is ready to be proofread and prepared for publication. We’d be excited to continue on this journey with you…”

I am so excited about sharing my personal story with all of you. Many of you will see yourselves in the story. And everyone will understand more about the mystical parts of the past, present and future of this story.

Face the Fear

Most of you know my background – I’m a vibrant 57 year old, thankful to be a 24 year breast cancer survivor. To stay healthy, I took up the practice of yoga about 2 years ago. I love it. Yoga is both a demanding physical workout and it exercises the mind by incorporating the concept of mindful meditation.

When I started practicing, I was enthusiastic to learn and to become better. With this goal in mind and with helpful instructors, I have steadily progressed. I notice positive changes in my physical self with improved posture, energy and strength. Just as important, I feel that my cerebral nature is enhanced too. Yoga connects the mind, body and spirit. I’ve learned that feeling good about my physical self reflects positively in my mental outlook and confidence.

Face the Fear at Sol Yoga StudioLately though, despite my progress, I was hitting a wall. I felt weak and incompetent to try some advances poses like “crow” – where you squat down, rest your knees on the back of your upper arms and float with your feet off of the ground. I also wasn’t confident enough to kick up and do a handstand. I felt handicapped by my past (reconstruction) surgery and my age. Most times, my yoga classmates are lithe 20 and 30 somethings. It’s nice that I can keep up with them throughout most of practice but not when it came to these things. I realized that the only thing holding me back from these advanced poses was fear and a lack of trying.

So, when masterful yoga instructor Kristin Frederick offered a handstand workshop this past weekend at Sol Yoga I decided to sign up and to Face my Fear. As usual, I was the only one there “of a certain age” but I was determined to learn. This was my chance amongst other handstand newbies regardless of age.

It was as hard as I thought that it would be. I clearly lacked the core strength that it took to kick both legs up, even one at a time, and to balance them straight. But I had Kristin or a partner to assist me with getting my legs up and I Did It – several times too (though I fell over once). It was exhilarating to have accomplished this.
Kristin said, in the beginning, 9 times out of 10, you don’t get up fully. Like everything else in life, it takes persistence and patience to master. (Don’t I know those lessons well from my past)? I am determined to practice crow and handstand at home now and to one day feel confident enough to do these in a crowded class without the fear of falling.

When we closed our practice with meditation, Kristin read an encouraging poem that she composed just for this class. When we ended, I shared with her that her poem inspired me to write this blog and to share my workshop experience. Her words are sage advice to live by and are applicable to multiple life situations.

“We are all afraid of something.”

“Fear is a part of life that we all experience.”

“We face our fears because if we don’t, we stop growing in life.”

“And when we stop growing, we stop living”.

This is wise advice from an experienced and wonderful person – Thanks Kristin!

Another famous quote that I love is:

“What would you attempt in your life if you knew that you could not fail?”

Lesson: Don’t let your fears hold you back

Sol Yoga Studio