If you’re new to this blog, my “On the Trail” interviews feature people who follow their dreams and live creative, unique lives. If I had my way, I’d jet around the globe and join these amazing folks on their favorite trails, but for now, cyber hiking will have to do.
Today’s guest is Paige Stirling Fox, a life coach and facilitator of personal growth and spiritual programs and workshops. She believes in the power of circles of women, and has created and led many programs including Women Circling the Earth, a year-long retreat and coaching program, and Breathing Space, circles for women who have survived cancer. In addition to working as an early literacy specialist, Paige is also a reiki master, a certified labyrinth facilitator, and the author of The Flowering House.
Beth: Welcome, Paige! I’m so excited for our hike today. Tell us about this lovely trail you’ve chosen.
Paige: Hi Beth. I’m excited as well for our ‘hike’. This trail is close to home in Whitby, Ontario about an hour east of Toronto. It’s in a conservation area, called Heber Down where I used to do creek study in primary school and now hike regularly with my family. It’s where my children have learned to skip stones, studied beaver dams and whittled sticks with my husband. It’s also where we regularly walked with our black labrador, Pumpkin, shown in the picture, who is now too old for long hikes. So, lots of great memories.
Beth: Congratulations on releasing The Flowering House. Tell us all about it! What prompted you to write this book? And what did it feel like to actually hold the first copy in your hands?
Paige: Thanks Beth. I wrote the initial story of The Flowering House over ten years ago, after I had just gone through a major transformation in my life. In the story, Camilla keeps a perfect facade, but lives with the hidden truth of sealed off rooms and a trashy backyard, until the day she hears a ringing bell behind a closed door. The story is a metaphor for all that we hide away and what happens when we courageously open the door and follow our hearts.
The story was simple and inspiring and I initially thought it was a children’s story, but I was conflicted because it seemed to have so many lessons for adults. My life changed and grew over the past ten years while the story lived in a drawer. About a year and a half ago, my Mom passed away and I had a strong prompting to take this piece of writing out. Then it all became clear – this was my story, but also a story for all women who hear the call to ‘something more’ in their lives. I wrote a guided journal or workbook to accompany the story and decided to publish.
It is a joy to hold it in my hands and now to begin sharing it more widely. There is a deep sense of fulfillment and also an excitement for me about the new connections it is allowing me to form with others.
Beth: Because the story was simmering in your subconscious all those years, did you find that it just flew out once you set pen to paper? What was the process of writing a book like for you? Were there serendipitous or surprising moments along the way?
Paige: Yes, the initial story did just fly out. I like to think that it was a true creative act in that Spirit/Universe/Muse (whatever you like to call that something larger that we tap into) was guiding the story even before I could see the significance and meaning of the metaphor.
Then the real synchronicity is that I was not equipped ten years ago to write the second part of the book. In that time, I deepened my own spirituality, became a life coach, and began creating and facilitating personal growth programs and retreats for women. These women’s lives then informed the book in ways I cannot even fully acknowledge. So when I took to writing the journal workbook it flowed because I had the knowledge, skill and lived experience. This is where I think we are challenged – to really trust in the right timing of our projects. It makes sense to me now that The Flowering House could not have been written ten years ago as I was not yet who I needed to be to be ready for it.
Another wonderful surprise in the bringing The Flowering House to life was affirming how to have intention guide the creation process. So my main intent for the writing and production of the book was “ease and flow” and that anyone who was to touch the project would add more joy and love to what I had already created. Honestly, the greatest joy for me was finding and working with incredible women who added their skill through the illustrations and editing and publishing of the book. And I know that the reader will feel the energy of the illustrations as a perfect complement to the words.
Beth: The community that comes together over the birth of a book is such a gift, and one I never expected to find when I first started writing. The illustrations by Lena Ralston are stunning. How did you find each other? What was it like working with an illustrator?
Paige: Yes, absolutely. It was an unexpected gift for me too. You think of writing as a solitary endeavor and yet there are incredible groups to support you in the writing process and then it is a group effort to publish.
I found Lena online in a portfolio site for children’s illustrators. There were hundreds of portfolios so again I followed my intuition. When the “R’ page opened, Lena’s illustration was at the top of the page and I just knew she was the one for me. I opened her work and saw that she was a symbolic artist as I am a symbolic writer. Of course, it took a little convincing to bring her to take me on as a client – Lena works with traditional publishing houses of children’s books, and here I was a self-publishing author of a book for women.
I got her to agree to just read the story, and that was all that was needed. Lena tells me that the story resonated with her at a deep level and allowed the artwork to just flow for her. And it was so easy to work together – I gave Lena complete freedom because I loved and trusted her work, and she thrived with this freedom which is not always provided when working with other larger clients. Joy for us both.
Beth: Now that the project is complete, I imagine you’re busy with the business side of writing — marketing, book signings, etc. What do you do to satisfy your creative nature? Is there another book in the pipeline? What’s next on your bucket list?
Paige: Yes, it’s interesting… when you’re done with one book, the next one starts to call to you. I do have a series of books in mind about the power of personal story to guide us through transformative life experiences. It’s not just something I will write, but will plan to facilitate workshops for others to learn about the power of their story. So it’s percolating…
I am, however, trying to stay present to all the opportunity to learn from and grow from this experience of bringing The Flowering House into the world. You are right – there are book launches, marketing, promotion, etc. And so far what I’m recognizing is that because this book resonates for so many women, there are opportunities for me to form and deepen connections with women who are telling me about their life transitions and what they are longing to bring into the world more fully.
To satisfy my creative side, I also do soul collage work, and learned yesterday a little bit about felting, so there are some fun things to keep my hands busy as my mind begins to create.
As for bucket lists, I trust new dreams will be born of this experience. I would love to be a Hay House author in the future, and I enjoy public speaking. And it’s a balance of dreaming new dreams while staying grateful for the present. I love my life and I am doing what I love…my family, being a mom, impactful work, great colleagues and friends, lots of women’s groups, yoga etc. I trust that the next part of my life will unfold just as it’s meant to.
Beth: At a conference I recently attended, super-agent and author Donald Maass said that there’s never been a better time to be a writer, in terms of personally connecting with your audience. While Twitter intimidates the crickets out of me, I know that so many great connections can be made there. You’re active on Twitter (@floweringhouse) and Facebook, and I’m sure you’re already experiencing the joy of meeting people who have connected with your writing. How can readers purchase a copy of The Flowering House?
Paige: Yes, Beth, I agree that there has never been a better time to connect with people who are interested in your writing. I too am just at the baby steps of learning about Twitter, but I’ll get there. Facebook is more natural for me.
Anyone interested in learning more about The Flowering House can visit my website at www.thefloweringhouse.com and link directly to my publisher’s website to purchase the book. It will also soon be available widely through online bookstores such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Beth, thanks for the opportunity to chat with you today.
Beth: Congratulations again on fulfilling a wonderful dream, Paige. You’re truly an inspiration! My copy of your book is en route as we speak, and I can’t wait to read it. Thanks so much for sharing your time, and best of luck!