It’s been a little over two weeks since Tell Me The Dream Again was released into the world. Many fellow writers I know call this a "birthing.” Others have described the process of writing, editing, publishing, and launching a book into the world as a marathon. All of it makes sense to me, and yet what’s surprised me the most in this season of release is the choice of celebration.
There have been many small moments of celebration along the way. When I signed the contract for my book deal, my family and I ordered more sushi than we normally would for the five of us, and toasted champagne and juice to the road of writing ahead. When I turned my manuscript in, I sent texts to friends and received my phone’s built-in on-screen confetti.
When it was time to start the pre-book launching activities, I was worried I didn’t have it in me. But my launch team came through and I felt carried by their enthusiasm, belief, lifting and sharing. All of it felt like a celebration of the work - their celebration not only carried me, but carried this book into hands I couldn’t reach on my own. On the day of release, Matt and I toasted champagne and the kids and I laughed in the backyard with confetti poppers (highly recommend).
However, I wanted to cancel my launch party just weeks before release day. There was more than one reason, but the urge to cancel was overwhelming. I wrote this about it on instagram:
I almost cancelled my book launch celebration a few weeks ago. It felt like too much: too much to plan, too much of a need for help, too many things going on, and too much to ask of others. It’s Maycember, after all.
I told a couple of friends I was thinking about canceling and both gently said, “I don’t think you should cancel.” And then my friend Grace FaceTimed me and a little less gently, said, “I know you’d like to run and hide right now, but I’m going to hold you to the celebration of this book.”
She said it firmly, as if my health was in question.
I wrote a whole book about belonging, and still, I’m finding new corners to explore, and more to learn and receive.
Last night at my launch party, I looked at the faces of so many people who are dear to me: people who have created spaces of belonging for me and my family, and I can’t believe I almost canceled that moment before it could come to be.
Celebration is a practice of belonging.
Celebrating declares our belovedness in food, laughter, sweaty photos, and shared stories around the table. It is joyful resistance in a world that so often tries to snuff it out.
What a sweet night of celebration it was.
Is there something you need to choose to celebrate in this season?
How can you allow the practice of celebration to take up more space in your life?
The flip side to all of this, is that choosing to celebrate often means other things will go undone. There’s a cost to everything and that’s not a bad thing - it’s merely something to be measured.
Right now, on the heels of book release, our home is a disaster, I’m behind on everything from laundry to school emails (and guys, today is the last day of school).
In the back of my mind, I’m pushing away thoughts and questions like, “you’re a bad mom,” or “when are you going to get it together?”
Choosing to celebrate doesn’t feel magical all the time. It’s humbling and impossible to do alone.
The choice to create things and celebrate what we’ve worked hard to create, costs us and the cost is something to weigh and consider. It may look different than we first imagined. It might need adjustments to become a reality. It will
likely require help and asking for help. For me, and for my community, it was worth it.
For the launch party itself, my friend Rachel decorated and made a photo backdrop with enthusiasm and skill. I cried when she sent me a text with a little color theme plan. My friend Sarah added music to the night with her beautiful voice (check out her music and buy some for yourself - you won’t regret it). My friends Eugene and Liz made sure we had a playlist and music in the background for the entire evening. Liz also came early and fixed signs, added food labels, and created this Tell Me the Dream Again playlist. My friend Jama came early, helped set the room up, and she and her husband quietly did the dishes and made sure everything was in order throughout the entire night. My friends Sarah and Aundi arranged childcare and drove in from out of town to be there. My fourteen year old chased me around the entire night asking if I had water, brought my unfinished dinner plate to me at least five times, and urged me to eat and eat more, like the best Korean ajumma. And the guests who came (all people who have created spaces of belonging for me and my family) came and brought food that felt like home to them. They filled their plates with everyone else’s expression of home alongside their own and celebrated through tastebuds gathered at tables.
Celebration is communal. It’s a declaration of our belovedness and our belief that we belong to one another.
Celebration is a practice of belonging.
This celebration was a gathering of shalom for my ever-shalomsick heart.
Thank you to all of you who have celebrated with me, near and far, in-person, online, and in a number of ways.
My deepest hope is that this book will continue to meet those who need it most, help others know they aren’t alone, that they are loved, and that belong and that their story and the details that make it matter. I hope Tell Me the Dream Again elevates Asian American stories (it’s still AAPI/AANPI heritage month after all), and helps to encourage and create safer spaces of belonging for those who read it, and the communities that surround them.
If you’d like to help with that, here are a few simple ways:
Order the book for a friend, or consider hosting a simple book club reading this summer. My friend Sarah is hosting one online in June and she’s fabulous.
Request the book at your local library or at a bookstore you love. You can order/request online from your favorite local bookstore through bookshop.
If you’ve read the book, leave a review on Goodreads and wherever you purchased it ( Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, etc)
Snap a photo of yourself with the book and post it online (tag me and use #tellmethedreamagain )
Speaking of celebrations, I have to get a little ice-cream sundae bar in order to celebration the last day of school and this whole school year for my three wild ones. I am so proud of them. There are a number of things they’ve each navigated this year and I think they are looking forward to having a little more time to sleep, play, soak in the sun, be bored, and just be.
Every year the time seems to slip through my fingers quicker than the year prior, so even though I know we’ll be driving each other crazy in a few weeks, I’m looking forward to have more unhurried time with each of them. I hope they will remember these little celebrations as a marker of these important transitions and as a love letter of belonging to hold and carry within.
Celebration is a practice of belonging.
May you and I and those we love know and feel belonging in our bones.
What big or small things are you celebrating in this season?
Comment below or hit reply - I’d love to know and join in the celebration with you. Also if there’s a way I can pray for you, I’d love to join in that too.
Grateful & shalomsick,
I had the joy of writing a prayer of belonging in honor of AANHPI heritage month for Liturgies for Parents and you can listen to it here or read it here.
Check out my conversation with Latasha Morrison on the Be the Bridge Podcast .
Read an excerpt of my book at Christianity Today
Listen to my conversation with Alexis Busetti over at That Makes Sense Podcast .
Love that you celebrated and hope you keep celebrating you!
I’m sitting in the pedicure chair waiting for the color of summer to make my toes look like they belong in this season and catching up on Substack.
I read your words “Celebration is an act of belonging” and literal tears filled my eyes and made me gasp out loud....those words hit squarely in the inner circle of my heart.
I “retired” March 31 from a 23 year career....and the ending has been joyful and painful and complicated (aka human) and belonging or lack thereof has been a consistent companion. I’ve waffled and wrestled back and forth about celebrating my 23 years, turning 50, this massive season of transition and change and honoring the past while standing arms and heart wide open to the future....
I treasure your words and the backstory behind them as I revisit how I might invite celebration and my own belonging.
P.S. I started reading the book yesterday and have already made notes although I’m not yet to chapter 2...I’ll be reading it for the Human Together summer book club.