Win a copy of Mary Alice Monroe's new novel: The Summer's End!

**updated** Congratulations, Pam! Please email me your mailing address to get your copy of The Summer's End!

The book just arrived on my doorstep.

Today is the official release day for The Summer's End, the third novel in New York Times Bestselling Author Mary Alice Monroe's Lowcountry Summer Trilogy. Today also marks Mary Alice's 20th year as a published author, and it was an honor to attend the book release party at the South Carolina Aquarium last night. 

Anna Lee, Me, Mary Alice Monroe, Nicole Seitz, Donloyn Gadson and Angela May.

Anna Lee, Me, Mary Alice Monroe, Nicole Seitz, Donloyn Gadson and Angela May.

Mary Alice signed books for two hours!

Mary Alice signed books for two hours!

Mary Alice Monroe is known for her novels set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, and her intimate portrayals of women's lives. In this short video, Mary Alice talks to Angela May about The Summer's End.

Win a copy of The Summer's End!

**The contest is now closed***

To see more books by Mary Alice Monroe visit maryalicemonroe.com/books

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The best way to do nothing

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Donloyn called me and said, "Hey, what are you doing Monday?" 

"Nothing," I replied. "Absolutely nothing. As in, I wrote 'don't do anything this week' on my calendar."

That particular Monday was the day after the Listen To Your Mother show, and I've learned over and over again that shortly after doing something big, I tend to be more emotional, and then all of the sudden, if I'm not careful, I get slammed with fatigue—the effects of the adrenaline and the "high" wearing off. 

I wanted to be more intentional this time around. I wanted to create space to reset. I knew I couldn't completely check out, but I also knew that I needed to pause before I dove into what's next on the list. 

Donloyn replied, "Well, I just wanted to see if you'd like to go to the beach. I could pack a lunch and we could leave right after the kids go to school." 

"Oh!" I said. "That's different! That's the kind of nothing I'm talking about!" 

By 2:30 that day, I was back in reality. But those few hours on the beach and the slow-moving days that followed were exactly what I needed to decompress from a very busy start to 2015.

This week, I'm back to work, prepping for an upcoming speaking engagement. While I'm doing that, I wanted to share some stories I've written over at Best Kept Self recently:

In this post, I have some encouragement and advice for aspiring writers.
And here, I share what Maya Angelou taught me about leaving a legacy. 

I hope springtime inspires you to find ways to fill your well and reconnect with who you are, what you love, and what you offer the world. 

Now, go be awesome. 

~Angie

p.s. - It's not too late to join the virtual Happiness for Beginners book club next week featuring author Katherine Center! Click here for details and sign up.

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Let yourself be seen. Let yourself be heard.

When I stood before the audience of 300+ people at the Charleston Music Hall on Sunday, I said, "We're about to take you on an emotional ride. So brace yourself." 

I heard echoes of agreement coming from those who'd seen last year's Listen To Your Mother show—they knew it was true. Twelve women and one man were about to take the stage to read true stories about motherhood—stories they'd written themselves.

Ninety minutes later, the ride was over. Celebrated by a standing ovation and new perspectives. 

I love what one member of the audience had to say about the show:

"It was a great collective expression of souls intertwined, yet liberated and free; of struggles that have made people stronger and better. We loved the stories...." 

Cast member Tanya Robinson said her castmates provided "a safe haven of compassion, empathy, and openness". The audience did, too.

That got me thinking about our everyday life, and what we choose to reveal about ourselves. Maybe the reason we don't open up and share more of who we really are is because it doesn't feel safe. We're afraid of judgment and ridicule. As I observe the harsh interactions that happen on blogs and social media, and even face-to-face sometimes—I believe the fear of speaking our truth is valid.

But, there was no room for judgment and ridicule on Sunday. The stories ranged from childbirth, teen pregnancy, adoption, alcoholism, suicide, and the day-to-day challenges of being a mom. Some were laugh out loud funny. Through it all, the depth of motherhood and how it shapes us hit home. The audience laughed, cried and said, "Me too."

Telling our stories is always a risk. Sometimes, we'll get the wind knocked out of us when our stories aren't respected or they are used against us. But we need to tell them anyway. We need to let people see us, and know us. Another member of the audience expressed perfectly the reason why:

"It's amazing how looking life straight in the face as it was/is and not exactly as you had thought/planned it would be can be empowering and not as fearful as what you thought. If anyone knew my story, what would they think of me? Most people would think exactly what everyone in the audience thought: 'What a strong person to share their story in front of a large group of people, and say this is my life and who I am and to hear the response, Me too, only I was too afraid to share it.' Thanks for giving us a voice." 

The videos from Charleston's Listen To Your Mother show will be released this summer. I can't wait to share them with you.

Have you ever taken a risk and shared your story, and was surprised—in a good way— by how it was received? 

On a different but related note, my middle child pretty much won Facebook this week when I posted this: 

He makes a hilarious case for keeping it real, don't you think?

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On finding yourself at midlife, and other inspiring things: A conversation with Ann Imig

Ann Imig remembers the time in her life—not that long ago—when each day felt like a decade. She was running after a preschooler and a baby, and her husband was traveling constantly. To keep her sanity, she started a blog. She found the humor in her day and wrote about it, and sharing those stories online provided the comfort and connections she needed. 

Then, Ann got an idea. She quickly pulled together some writer friends and rallied her real-life community of Madison, Wisconsin, and the very first Listen To Your Mother show was born. 

Fast forward five years, and it's 2015. This year, 39 cities across the country are hosting Listen To Your Mother shows.

Listen To Your Mother has become a national movement. From the live local shows that bring communities together to a newly-released book, Ann Imig's at the center of it all. 

As a local director of the Charleston Listen To Your Mother show, I've had so many questions for Ann Imig. I wanted to know the story behind the story. I wanted to know Ann's story. 

I wanted to know about that moment when she realized that Listen To Your Mother was becoming something, something big.

I wanted to know if she has words of encouragement for the amazing, talented, full-of-potential women out there still trying to figure out who and what they want to be when they grow up.

And, I wanted to talk about why Listen To Your Mother is so magical and special. The answer: when we tell our stories, we discover that we're more alike than we are different. (Tweet that). We broaden our perspectives. We feel more connected, more united and more supported in our journey than alone. 

I asked and she answered.

This 16-minute video is loaded with good, candid conversation, and you'll quickly see what makes Ann Imig so compelling. And you may also think, "Hmm. Ann Imig is a lot like me." 

Charleston's Listen To Your Mother show is in 5 days! Get tickets here. You can also learn more about Listen To Your Mother and see if there's a show near you here. Buy the book here. Visit Ann Imig here. 

Join my conversation with Ann by leaving a comment below! And, if you'd like to have new blog posts from me delivered to your inbox, subscribe here.

Grabbing moments

My husband was traveling for work last week and when he got to his destination, he posted a picture on Facebook of himself sitting by the pool.

So, my son and I replied with this:

What the...?

What the...?

If I'm being totally fair, Shawn had just flown across the country, and the conference he was attending hadn't started yet. If it were me, I would have been sitting by the pool, too. Instead, we were in the grocery store parking lot, which we made known with our public display of protest. 

There's no grand meaning to that story, except that my son and I were going for the laughs, and it still makes me smile when I think of it.

The Listen To Your Mother show is in ten days, and I'm in deadline mode.

My assistant and I checking out the venue for the Charleston Listen To Your Mother show on May 3. 

My assistant and I checking out the venue for the Charleston Listen To Your Mother show on May 3. 

Deadline mode means that on some days, we're digging through a pile of clean laundry (at least it's clean) to find something to wear that day. Deadline mode means that I have an "after the show" folder on my laptop, where I'm filing away all of the things that feel important but have to take a backseat right now. 

When I'm in deadline mode, I would stay chained to my phone and computer if I let myself. But I'm making a conscious effort not to do that this time. As I mentioned in a recent post, I'm scheduling time to stop what I'm doing and go to the gym, and I'm grabbing moments when I can—moments to stop, moments to be present, moments to be silly with my kids. 

Yesterday, instead of cooking dinner, Shawn, the kids and I stayed outside until dark. We just decided to embrace the spring afternoon and deviate from the routine. 

And a couple of weeks ago, when Abby volunteered to make Blake's frog costume for a school performance, I let her. And I didn't feel bad about it. I chose gratitude over guilt, because in the end, the child was happy and that's what matters. And knowing that you have a friend who will do something like that is really cool. 

Recently, over at Best Kept Self, I wrote a post about how to reach your goals by doing less. At one point, though, I wondered if I could apply my own advice during this time, when I'm down to the wire, in the midst of planning a major public event. Then, I realized that whenever I feel too busy to slow down is exactly when I need to apply the "do less" advice. It's really all about fine tuning my filter, determining what's a not right now, or not ever. It's about dialing in and keeping my attention and energy moving in the direction of what's essential. 

Be present. Grab moments. Two things that deserve top position on my to-do list every day. (Tweet that).

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If you're wondering what a Listen To Your Mother show is all about, watch this 3 minute video with LTYM Founder Ann Imig. It was recorded in 2013 but still says everything. The Charleston show is on May 3. You can get tickets here.

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