Sisterhood of Dirty Laundry

I am so grateful for the women in my life. On Facebook last week, I saw this post: “There is no better friend than a sister. And there is no better sister than you. Happy Sister’s Day.” I reposted, and since I don’t have biological sisters, I dedicated it to my “soul” sisters. At that point I was thinking of my closest friends, the women I consider to be the sisters I never had. Since that moment, I have given it much more thought—and I realize that I have more than a family of sisters. I have an army of sisters—a sisterhood.

Throughout my life, I’ve had strong female role models. Both my grandmothers were intelligent, hard workers. My mother was a bookkeeper, working to support her family and then herself until she was eighty. During my education and training to become a psychologist, my professors, mentors, and supporters were mostly female. And the same has been true in my relatively new career as a writer.

After a quick skim through my acknowledgements in East of Mecca, I’m reminded of all the women (and men!) who were part of the very long journey to get the book written and published. Now that it has been out for a year, I could easily add a hundred new people to that list—mostly women. All three bookstores that have sponsored my readings (Women and Children First, The Book Cellar, and The Book Stall) are women-owned. Women—including family, old friends, new friends, neighbors, patients, acquaintances, and strangers—are reading, reviewing, recommending, and rallying around East of Mecca in so many ways.

I’ve had wonderful endorsements from the Woman’s Club of Evanston, with support from and proceeds going to the YWCA of Evanston. And I’ve felt privileged to be featured as an “author package” for several fundraisers around Chicago. In exchange for donating some books and my time, I’ve been welcomed into the homes of lovely women who are passionate about supporting worthwhile causes. Two women from these fundraisers, Beth and Beverly, have been super-active in spreading the word about my novel, including promoting East of Mecca for a possible award nomination.

Last week, a former high school classmate contacted me to buy a couple of books.Brenda had seen a picture and recommendation about East of Mecca on Facebook that had been posted by another friend, Nellie. I called Brenda to discuss the details and we had a lovely talk. Aside from seeing each other at a high school reunion in 2011, it had been forty-eight years. And now here she is, supporting my book and happy for me.

Saturday afternoon, I stopped by Perennials gift shop in Evanston to drop off flyers for my upcoming reading. There, I got a warm, welcoming hug from Patty, the owner. A year ago, carrying only my proof, I’d gone into her store to buy ribbon to match the colors on the cover because I wanted to give copies as gifts. Patty asked to see my book then asked where she could buy it. The next day I delivered her a copy and within a week she had read it and asked if I would attend her book club meeting after the members had also read it. Not only was Patty the very first person to buy my book who didn’t know me, hers was the very first book club I attended!

One of my greatest joys has been attending book club meetings to discuss my novel. The most recent was last Thursday night on the Chicago Gold Coast. Pam, the hostess, had purchased the author package I’d donated to the Loyola Ramble fundraising event last Spring, and graciously opened her beautiful home to me and all sixteen of her book club members. The lavishly set table was surrounded with vibrant, intelligent, and kind women who are dedicated to promoting good in the world. All were moved by the story and promised to help spread the word.

Between Patty’s and Pam’s, I’ve attended eight other book clubs—including one in Texas that I skyped into. All had lovely, bright, insightful women for whom East of Mecca resonated on many levels. And I so appreciate each and every one of them for taking the time to read my novel and graciously inviting me into their homes to discuss it. The outpouring of love and support I’ve received has made me stronger and braver than I ever thought possible. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

I’ve now met many women from different walks of life and have learned so much from their responses to the book—how they were enlightened, their relatable personal experiences, and what most inspired them. I’ve learned that connections are being made between women as a result of their having read East of Mecca. I’ve heard a chorus of women’s voices joined in protest against abuse of women and girls wherever it occurs. Mostly, I’ve learned that we, as women everywhere, are truly all more alike than we are different.

The power and influence of women is without equal! I am ever grateful to those who are passing along my book and doing all they can do to get the story out into the world—all who have chosen to walk the path with me and help me accomplish my mission by promoting my novel. These women are now part of my “soul” sisterhood—and I am honored to be part of theirs.

*** A note to ALL my many male supporters…I love you, too. Today was about my soul sisters…I will write about you, too!

Finally, I invite you attend a special reading from my novel East of Mecca at The Book Stall in Winnetka, Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 7:00 p.m. More information about the event can be found here.