... Dolores Ayotte
1. Tell me about your book “I’m Not Perfect and It’s Okay ~ Steps to a Happier Self” and where you got your inspiration for it?
Over twenty-five years ago, I went through a very difficult period in my life. I was in my early thirties with a husband, a young family and a full time career as an elementary school teacher when I experienced a bout of severe depression. It totally knocked me off my feet and left me at an utter loss. It was so severe that I was hospitalized for a couple of weeks and I had no idea what the future held for me. At that time, the prognosis was not encouraging. When I returned home from the hospital, one of my first desires after tending to my family was to try to share what I was going through and to try to prevent others from facing a similar experience. My situation was so debilitating and devastating to me that the only positive conclusion I could arrive at was to try to help spare others this kind of ordeal. It was at this time when I initially decided to write my book.
I decided on a baker’s dozen to honor my elderly mother as well as the memory of my late mother-in-law who were avid bakers/cooks in their time. As I tell my story, I share with my readers some personal anecdotes about life’s recipe for more peace and happiness according to my own experiences. Due to this fact, I have chosen to refer to my suggestions as a baker’s dozen. In other words, there are thirteen recommended ingredients to my recipe for a happier life. Like all recipes, these can be adjusted to suit the individual’s tastes or needs. Although I consider depression to be a serious condition, I have used many quotes and much humour in my writing to lighten up the topic and to show my readers the brighter side to life. Usually the sharing or swapping of recipes denotes pleasure or joy. A reader mentioned that she thought my book was what she called a “feel good” book. This has always been my goal, that of encouraging others to feel good about themselves and to have a better self image.
2. Do you prefer blue or black inked pens?
I prefer black pens yet blue is my favorite color…just not in pens. I haven’t figured out why just yet.
3. How did you choose your genre?
I kind of feel like my genre chose me. It felt so natural to write from my own personal experiences and it makes me feel like I have and can make a difference in other people’s lives. The reason I have chosen to reach out to others in this way is to demonstrate where I started in my healing process, what I’ve been through, what I’ve learned, and where I am today. It’s to show how far I’ve come. All those years ago, I thought I had something to say, but I didn’t know quite how to say it or exactly what to say. I just couldn’t seem to find the right words. The biggest and most profound step for me, however, was finding the courage to discuss my depression. In my deepest despair, I never thought this day would come because I was so ashamed of myself and my feelings of failure and inadequacy/inferiority. Today, I am full of joy to have found the inspiration, the strength, and the desire to write so openly about my feelings.
As mentioned in the first question, when I was at a very low point in my life, the first thing I wanted to do when I got back on my feet was to try and prevent someone else from experiencing what I had gone through. For those of you that have suffered from any kind of depression, there is no need to explain why. For those of you living with a depressed person, there is also no need to explain why. The impact on your life and the lives of those around is beyond words. Initially, I wanted to write my recipe for better life coping skills for anyone who would be prepared to read it. As the years went by and my own children got older, married, and eventually started their own families, the reason for writing the recipe shifted to them. Once I completed my first book, it then shifted back to embrace a wider audience, and I ended up where I started off. I decided to return to my original plan and share it with as many people as possible.
4. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or is it all imagination?
I have suffered from depression and still do at times even today. Depression is usually a cyclical disorder and can come back to haunt the individual. In my book I go into full detail explaining the steps I took to better cope with this often misunderstood illness and the debilitating effects it can have on the person suffering from it.
Depression has a long reach and can also affect the people who love the depressed person. To say that a person can “snap out” of this state of despair does a disservice to those that suffer from it. However, I know from personal experience that a depressed person can help themselves if or when they make a conscious decision to do so. This is what my inspirational book is all about…the deep desire to encourage others to get help in order to better cope. I learned to embrace my illness and not to wish it away…it is an intimate part of me and my personal being but it no longer controls me.
5. What would YOU like the reader to know about your book or about you in general?
I feel we basically learn from our own lessons and can only guide and inspire others based on those very lessons if they have the desire to learn from them and embrace what we have to share. Depression has a range of being mild, to moderate, to a more severe form known as a major depression. Some people call this form clinical depression. Many people experience what is considered to be the normal down times in their lives as well as others who suffer from mild to moderate depression. The effects of a major depression usually create a devastation that does not allow you to function within your normal routine. I suffered from the devastation of the latter form because I was unable to continue to work at my teaching career when I was experiencing the depression.
Essentially the message I am trying to give people is that of “hope”. I’m sharing my experiences with as many people as possible in order to be a witness to others so that they can have “hope” as well. Eventually my depression became like a new beginning for me. It gave me the opportunity to learn from my experiences and the desire to share those experiences by becoming an author.
6. What was the point you realised that being an author was no longer a dream but a reality?
I was in my late fifties when I wrote my first book. Over twenty-five years ago I attempted to write I’m Not Perfect And It’s Okay ~ Steps to a Happier Self. At that time, I had neither the experience nor the expertise to realistically offer any steps to a happier self. My book is written in retrospect based on a proven recipe. I have incorporated each and every step into my life on a daily basis over the last several years. Over time, I eventually figured out the steps I suggest for better life coping skills and then decided to put pen to paper and write my book.
In the book itself, I actually explain and go into more depth as to why it took so long for me to complete. I also discuss how I came about revisiting this lifelong dream of mine.
When I first started to write my book, my children were very young so they were not the ones that I was trying to address. I was basically trying to reach my peers. So in essence, it was each and every one of you that I was talking to across my kitchen table over the cup of coffee that you mentioned. I thought that my age group could possibly be the ones who might suffer from the stresses of life and a similar inability to cope. Perhaps, they could identify with what I was trying to share. I hoped that they could learn from my experiences in such a way that they need not drink so fully from the cup of suffering and despair. It is interesting to realize that it is still my peer group who is showing the most interest and pleasure in reading my book but it is from a totally different standpoint than I expected. They can relate to my experiences based on their own lives and they want to share my insights with their children, family or friends. Some see my book as a teaching tool to reach out to others in a healing way. Others feel that it better explains their own personalities or hang ups because they can identify with parts of my story.They then utilize my book by sharing it with their children in the desire to be better understood.
7. What alcoholic beverages do you favour when you hit a wall?
My favorite alcoholic drink is red wine. I enjoy sitting on the backyard swing and just sharing our stories or sitting quietly with my husband as often as possible while sipping my glass of red wine.
8. Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Of the 13 tips that I shared with my readers, the one I feel is of the most value is the very first one, that of learning to love yourself. Admitting this is probably what I “hated” the most, yet I felt the need to come clean with my inner thoughts in order to better explain my healing process. During this very difficult stage of my life I not only suffered from depression. At that time, I could hardly bring myself to look in the mirror and love what I saw in it…my own image. I not only felt self loathing, I felt that others could not find much to love in me either. Thus, first and foremost, I had to relearn to love myself instead of looking at my reflection in such a negative way…that of an utter failure. Due to my illness, I could not return to my teaching career and was at a major turning point in my life. It was necessary for me to figure things out. Therefore, this book is actually being written in retrospect. I needed to live life first and then reflect back to better describe the choices I made along the way in order to have a full and rewarding existence.
As in all recipes, some ingredients are vital to the recipe and cannot be substituted. In my book, I feel that the first step is the most essential in order to make this recipe work. A lot of people are unhappy with themselves. My recipe calls for admitting this fact if it applies and it stresses learning how to be happier with whom you really are rather than what you may want to be. It doesn’t mean to say that a person cannot grow but growth stems from an honest assessment of self. This process requires some self-examination, a dose of truth serum, and the desire to move on from this point. This could possibly be done by incorporating some of my recommendations into daily living. When I have off days, which most of us do, I still refer to my own book and try my best to follow my own advice.
9. How do you handle working with an editor without letting pride get in the way?
In my introduction to, I’m Not Perfect And It’s Okay ~ Steps to a Happier Self, in the first paragraph I quickly admit that I did not know very much about writing a book. At that time, I did not even consider myself to be an author. My need to write far outweighed my literary expertise. As time goes by, I see myself as much more of a philosopher than an author in the sense that I do a lot of thinking and analyzing before I attempt to put pen to paper. My editor once chastised me by saying that “I should think less and write more”. So therefore, on that note I put aside my pride and did just that. My book is what I consider to be a heart book. It is written from my heart to any and all hearts that are open to its message and who are willing to learn from my experiences. To those, I am forever grateful!
10. Do you push the elevator button more than once? Does it really make it go faster?
Usually when I’m alone I pushed the elevator button more than once. I have no idea why and this little habit certainly doesn’t make it come any quicker.
11. What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
My advice to any author just starting out is to be very patient and to ‘not’ be too hard on themselves. I once thought writing my book was the difficult part, I soon learned otherwise. Also, I’ve learned to ask for the help of other authors but only if I’m willing to reciprocate in a similar manner. For instance, I have found it very difficult to get book reviews. In order to turn this frustrating situation around, I review books on a regular basis. I have now reviewed over 350 books on Amazon. In return, I’ve managed to receive many positive reviews on my own books. Another key factor I recommend is to tap into one’s faith. The following quote really touched my life…and encouraged me to plod on in my book writing endeavors.
“That man is perfect in faith who can come to God in the utter dearth of his feelings and desires, without a glow or an aspiration, with the weight of low thoughts, failure, neglects and wandering forgetfulness and say to Him, Thou Art my Refuge.” (George MacDonald)
Although, I never lost my faith, it was necessary for me to revisit some very old teachings and learn to know God in a new and healthier way. By going back into my past to figure things out, I was able to accomplish my goal of overcoming my childhood teachings of fear and guilt. In doing so, I was able to embrace and enhance my own healing process. I discovered a strange kind of strength that one finds in the depth of despair. It is in your darkest moments when you feel the true presence of God. He is true to His word. Most of us know the story of Footprints in the Sand. There is not one ounce of doubt in my mind that God is there for all of us, satisfying our every need. All we must do is admit that need. Yes…without my faith, I would have been nothing but a sinking ship.
From new author Dolores Ayotte comes a bakers dozen of insightful tips to getting through life. In "I'm Not Perfect and It's Okay", Ayotte presents readers with a means to a better life. Ayotte's conversational style makes her feel like an old friend giving advice. With exceptional ease, readers are taken through a recipe for healing, beginning with love for themselves. Readers are reminded to keep life's recipe simple, being sure to add a cup of laughter, two cups of forgiveness, and a dash of silence resulting in several goods sure to make life easier. Each step is personal and easy to incorporate into daily living, made memorable through real-life stories and quotes the author has found helpful on her own journey to happiness. This inspiring collection is truly beneficial to readers young and old as they realize that "I'm Not Perfect and It's Okay".
Dolores is a retired Canadian who spends the majority of her time each year in Canada enjoying her family of three married daughters and nine grandchildren. Her husband of 45 years is also retired and each year they enjoy a few months in Mesa, Arizona during the colder months. She has become a passionate author and book reviewer in the last few years.
Website ~ http://www.doloresayotte.com
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