When is the last time you started a new chapter in life? Or simply turned a new page in an attempt to explore or add another dimension to your story?
While it’s not always the easiest thing to do, it can prove to be quite beneficial.
The problem for many us, however, is that we get too caught up on the fear of the unknown.
What’s on the other side of the page? And am I the author of my story who plays a role in determining how my story unfolds (and ultimately ends), or am I simply living a story with a predetermined ending?
Sidebar: If you’re anything like me chances are you probably managed to find a gray area that exists between those two, but let’s keep it to the black and white for now, loves. 😉
Now, some may have answered the latter question with complete conviction, no pondering required. Others may have experienced some hesitation or needed to give it deeper thought. While the manner in which you view the grand scheme of life and humanity’s role in it [i.e. whether you believe in a higher power, karma, reincarnation, or not] affects your perspective, there is a shared truth no matter what you’ve concluded [or all if we consider the grey area ;)].
We have free will to make decisions regarding the direction of our lives and hopes for the future.
And whether your decisions result in success or failure, your free will is right there to either keep you down or keep you moving onward towards the next “page”. The truth is, despite whatever feelings you may experience (fear included) when preparing to turn the page or start a new chapter, it’s important that you continue to do so in life.
After all, you are here to live (and love), right? To turn the page and when it’s time, start a new chapter?
I think so. Judging by how many of those on this SS journey with me have shown themselves to be go-getters, entrepreneurs, and/or people who simply seek to become better than they once were, plenty others think so too.
Ashley Coleman, a 27-year-old Philly native, recently started a new chapter in her life by, of all things, becoming an author. She’s written songs, produced creative writing pieces and contributed to digital publications such as GRAMMY.com, Philly 360, and ForHarriet.com, but had yet to turn the page to authorship.
Something changed. She changed.
“Getting to know God blew my mind. I learned so much about love that I thought I knew, but I really had no idea. This book is the summation of those lessons that I wanted to share with you, ” she wrote on her blog, WriteLaughDream.com.
Dear Love: A Love Letter to You, was written in hopes of helping “someone think about love just a little bit differently”. Essentially a collection of love notes and narratives to the reader, the book explores the complexity and simplicity of love.
You all know [or rather should know by now!] I believe wholeheartedly in love and salute those who dedicate their lives to being living proof of its power. I briefly chatted with Ashley about this new chapter in life and where she’s headed from here. It’s with great pleasure that I present this interview.
I hope you are inspired to overcome any fear or hesitation in turning a new page or starting a new chapter in life, or at minimum find comfort in the fact that someone out there is at a similar point in their story.
SS: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview, love! Tell us a little about who you are and what you believe your purpose to be at this time in your life.
Ashley Coleman: I started out after graduating from Temple, pursuing a career in music through songwriting. I was fortunate enough to join an organization called GRAMMY U while in school, which was part of The Recording Academy (the organization behind the GRAMMYs) and made tons of connections in the Philly creative scene after that. Though I still do songwriting, I have found my way back to my journalism roots by freelancing for sites like Philly360 and the print magazine JUMP. I also publish two blogs of my own, writelaughdream.com and journeyofanb.com. I have found my stride in encouraging others through my writing and just being a positive voice among what can sometimes seem like a sea of negativity. Most often I am talking about things I struggle with and things I am learning just in life but I looked up and realized there are so many others that feel the same exact way.
SS: We take a similar approach in sharing our story in that, we use what we have: ourselves and our ever-evolving understanding of our life experiences. And you’re a fellow TU owl? You totally rock, haha! So, how and why was Dear Love conceived?
AC: Dear Love is the funniest thing. It randomly started as my own love letters to God that I was posting on Instagram each morning starting in October of 2013. God is love and love manifests in varying forms and in various relationships in our lives. I was initially expressing some feelings about the goodness of God’s love and creating content for my Instagram, which kind of took on a life of its own.
It wasn’t until I was literally encouraged by my followers to create a book out of them that I embarked on this mission. I actually was working on my longer form book Journey of a Non-Believer but felt that I wanted to get them what they wanted. So I took a side track and here we are!
SS: Wow, you never know will the smallest of things will take you. So what has your new journey as a published author been like thus far?
AC: Aw man, so far it has just been somewhat unbelievable. I am in awe that people care so much about what I have to say. It’s humbling too and just makes you think more about your impact on this world. With social media many of us talk so much more than before. In this process of publishing my book, I’ve realized that I want more of my words to have meaning and not just be empty, if that makes any sense. I’m floored by the support I have received.
It’s also a bit of a scary place. For the most part I have been behind the scenes in my career and to take that step out always presents moments of doubt. But at the end of the day, I am who I am and fear and faith can’t co-exist.
SS: So true! How did you go about figuring out the publishing process and what are some key lessons learned about it that may help others?
AC: Yes! My first time and let me tell you that the best invention EVER is GOOGLE! Lol. But before that I received great advice from an awesome friend and inspiration to my career, Alex Elle from the DMV area. She really encouraged me to step out there on my own. She published her own book Words from a Wanderer to much success and I am thankful that she was open enough to share with me.
So first and foremost I learned that formatting a book IS NOT as easy as you think, but it’s doable. I was supposed to hire someone to do it for me, but in planning an event and finishing the content; my resources just wouldn’t allow me to. So I had to do it myself. But Createspace is an amazing platform for publishing. I read all the forums and articles about publishing. I Googled a whole heck of a lot and though it got stressful at times I made it.
The key lesson I would say is [get] an amazing EDITOR! That will make things a lot smoother. Between myself, my mother and colleague Niesha Miller, I was able to feel confident, but even with that I still I noticed some things after I would have changed. Lol. But nothing is perfect and I’m cool with that.
SS: You’re right, nothing is perfect! How has love, in all of its simplicity and complexity, molded you as a woman, creative, and human being?
AC: Love has changed me. Point blank. I feel that love has made me into a woman. I spent a lot of time thinking I knew what love incorporated and realized I [wasn’t] doing as great a job at love as I may have thought. And I want to stress, not even just romantically, but in all different types of relationships, even in my relationships with strangers.
It sounds so whack, but love has made me better. I am so much more confident in the person I have become because of God’s love and what it has taught me about how to treat myself and others. But I am most certainly still a work in progress. In regard to my creativity, it’s been one of my biggest inspirations; in my music, in my writing and even in the BBB Series. Love has become one of the main missions behind that initiative, helping women love themselves and one another.
SS: A mission which I appreciate dearly! If you could get the world to understand and accept one thing about love and its power, what would it be?
AC: That it never fails. People fail all the time. But love, God will NEVER. We make decisions and get involved with situations that will make you believe that love hurts. But it doesn’t and it shouldn’t. The sooner we learn to separate the emotions that come along with love from the action of love… I think that we’ll be better off.
SS: Now that you are a songwriter, creative writer, blogger, brand AND author, what’s up next for you?
AC: I will be putting together a Dear Love Book Chat via Google Hangout, so we can talk about the sentiments in the book and people’s responses to some of the ideas included in it. I am also planning a Bold, Brown & Beautiful Series [in] NY! Stay tuned for details on that and of course, now I am finishing Journey of a Non-Believer, the next book!
SS: All the best to you, Ashley! Continue to turn new pages and in your case especially, write new chapters!
Keep turning those pages loves…
– Sincerely Syreeta