A shaman once told me that when women no longer have to focus all their energy on creating and nurturing children, they can then turn their attention to living their own dreams. Nicole Walters is doing just that, taking her dreams by the horns and riding them all the way to the heavens.
The path to empowered motherhood certainly is not a straight line from point A to B. For most moms careers choices zig and zag around parenting and work before she's able to land where she will truly shine. Nicole Walters' journey to authoring her first middle-grade book demanded a lifetime of self discover, stops and starts. The result has been a book that will likely speak to the hearts of young girls around the global.
Nicole has always been an artist. I met her in middle school, and I instantly saw that she was using her artistry to make a statement. Nicole was wearing white rainbow-striped pants and "Mork and Mindy" suspenders. Her hair was in braids, at least ten of them, each with a different-colored rubber band at the end. Her style was so distinctive; I thought that she looked like a superhero. That was the beginning of a friendship that would last a lifetime.
In high school, Nicole was a popular banner girl, performing during Carson High's football games and special events. Her boyfriend was the quarterback of the football team, and they were one of the most popular couples on campus. Nicole's life would take a dramatic turn when she became pregnant at sixteen.
At a time when most young women are stepping out of the comfort of their childhood homes and exploring the world around them, Nicole was trying to establish her own home with her young son, Ryan, and new husband, Marc. In the years that followed, a second son, Cole, would come along to complete their family. With the help of their families and support from their communities, Marc and Nicole were able to complete their undergraduate studies. Although it took her ten years to finish school, Nicole graduated cum laude. Marc went on to get his law degree, and he now works for Microsoft.
Fast-forward to the last three years and Nicole's focus has shifted dramatically; she, and not her children, is at the center of it. "All at once everyone was leaving the nest we'd spent twenty-four years building, including Marc and me." The kids had grown and gone, and Nicole and Marc took an opportunity to relocate to Seattle from their home in Denver. "It felt like the ground beneath my feet shifted in every possible way. Change was coming, and I could embrace it or resent it. There were times I did both, simultaneously. Ultimately though, I had to just surrender to a new life. It was hard."
In an effort to fuel her forward momentum, Nicole started writing again. Nicole had always had a way with words. She had been a song writer for years. But blogging was something new, which eventually morphed into a riveting memoir. Finally one day she announced to me she was writing a book for middle-grade tweens. Nicole's first book, Charis: Journey to Pandora's Jar, was published through Booktrope Publishing, a Seattle-based publisher, and it will become available this month. Nicole says:
Writing a book is something I've always wanted to do, but I never felt I had the time, energy or resources to give myself fully over to the endeavor. For one, I was younger and more easily distracted by other things. As an undisciplined, creative type, it didn't take much to set me off chasing the next thing, but writing was a consistent for me. Songs, blogs, magazine submissions. I even wrote "professionally" for different engineering or advertising firms. I've always loved to write and there were times in my younger life that I did it liberally, just not seriously.
As a mom myself, I often encounter other mothers who find themselves lost in the empty nest. There is nothing more painful than looking into the eyes of a mother who believes she has nothing but time now that her children have gone. Watching Nicole become an author showed me that nothing but time can be an opportunity to do something that will add joy to the world not unlike the way being a mother once had. Nicole has become a seasoned, empowered mom, continually birthing creations that tempt the gods and mortals towards a balance between chaos and perfection ... much like in her first book Charis: Journey to Pandora's Jar. She says:
The stage of life my husband and I are in is often referred to as the 'empty nest.' That phrase bums me out just a little; its connotations are so melancholy. Of course, having our boys leave to explore new lives independent of us was bittersweet. And there are times that it still stings more than others. But, I bristle a bit at the notion that the home my husband and I are continuing to create is empty. That's far from true. It's just filled with different intentions now. My nest is far from empty. In fact, it's overflowing with as yet undiscovered possibilities.