Archive for the ‘My Book’ Category

Happy New Year

December 31, 2010

I can hardly believe that time has gone so quickly. It’s been a strange year for me, with decisions and dreams, and learning to let go. I have not done nearly as much work on my book as I intended, but that is going to change. Now that I have got into the rhythm of my new writing job, I am going to put aside time to finish my book and get it out there. I know it’s been a long wait for everyone. In a way, finishing this book is an important part of my moving forward, and so I need to make it a priority.

Speaking of priorities, I only have one new year resolution. In the words of Cheryl Richardson… EXTREME self care. When I told my father-in-law this, he laughed and asked me why couldn’t I ever do anything in normal measures, why so extreme? 2011 is a year for learning to be kinder to myself, to remember to eat healthy and sleep more. And one more thing. I will publish my book this year, if it’s the last thing I do!

Happy New Year everyone, and may it bring to you everything you need it to.

With gratitude and love

xoxo Leila

Big Dreams

November 2, 2010

It’s a drizzling November night and I sit on my bed with my laptop and write. After a long break from my book, it feels good to get back into it. Five months ago, I was certain about my future. Tonight I am open to all possibilities. I give up any preconceived ideas and release my dreams like tiny stars out into the expansive sky.  I have explained to the girls that although we are not moving to the country right now, we are not giving up our dreams entirely. We are simply releasing them and this opens up endless possibilities. Perhaps my dreams were even too small. The exciting thing, I have told them, is that now anything can happen. And it could even be bigger and better than we could have ever imagined. Maybe I was trying too hard, to make things happen in my time and in my way. Now, there are no limits. They seem to understand this, even at eight and ten years old. My inner voice, which has returned on occasion, keeps saying only one thing – finish your book. So let me get back to it.

Slowing Down

June 5, 2010

“Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.” A quote from John De Paola.

The lights in the whole village have gone off tonight. I sit in darkness on the veranda with only the echo of frogs through the chilly air and the distant chime of church bells sounding eleven. I am on a five week writing retreat in a tiny village in the Western Cape, a village I am considering moving to if I sell my house in Durban. This afternoon I sat on the veranda peeling potatoes and carrots while watching the sun set over the mountains. One of the first things I’ve had to learn here is how to slow down to village pace. A tempo that I now hope will allow me to simply finish writing my story in the best way I can.

Moving and Memories

April 1, 2010

The walls inside my wood and iron house, built in 1890, are tongue and groove wooden panels. When Stuart and I found this house, we fell in love with it right away. We moved in and spent all our spare time painting and fixing the old lady. In the evenings, we would eat garlic spaghetti with spinach and work on the house while listening to music and drinking cheap red wine. One of the first rooms we painted was the toilet and Stuart had the idea to paint stripes on the wooden panels, we chose green and terracotta. Today, twelve years later, I painted the first coat of crisp white paint over those green and terracotta stripes, I am painting the house with the intention to sell her.

I always felt that I’d grow old in this house, at first, with Stuart, then after he died, I thought I’d stay here, in this magical place, forever, where the girls could grow up surrounded by sweet memories of music and dad.

I have spent the three years since Stuart died, writing my story, our story. I am almost finished writing it. There was no plan for the end of my writing about this part of my life to coincide with a possible move. But there is movement. An inner motion that is shifting my ideas. A voice that tells me that it’s time to move on. And so, a few nights ago, I made the difficult decision to put my house on the market and see where that leads.

I have a dream to live in the country with the girls one day. I have made vision boards, filled with pictures of village life, horses, chickens, a vegetable garden and children riding bicycles in the street. I don’t know how the dream will happen, I am only taking the first steps.

I am writing again, after some time off, I want to finish the book in this house, whatever happens. An ending of a chapter, the beginning of something new. Selling my house certainly isn’t going to be easy for me. Leaving everything I know and love behind. Leaving my business and all the physical memories of Stuart. I know we will always have him in our hearts, but it’s still going to be difficult. In some moments during painting, I just stop as it feels like the breath leaves me and a sadness wells up from deep down and hits me in the middle of nowhere, it’s all a part of the grief and the letting go. Sometimes I am terrified that I am not ready to do this. But still, somehow, my heart whispers underneath it all and I know. It’s almost time.

February on the Veranda

February 23, 2010

My morning meditation is the warmth of the sun and the song of the birds on my veranda. I sit crossed legged on a couch with my coffee and notebook and watch the circles of sunlight teasing their way through the canopy of trees overhead. Some mornings I just sit, trying to rid my head of all conscious thoughts and just be. Others I scribble away in my notebook, all the ideas and thoughts that come to me. My veranda, which is a popular spot for coffee and chats, and has a constant stream of visitors, is one of my favourite places in the world. It is here, I feel most at home. In the summertime, monkeys, birds and butterflies frequent the garden. Recently, there have been more butterflies than usual, which delights me, not only for their beauty but also for their obvious reminder of cycles.

This week marks the third anniversary of Stuart’s, passing. He left this world on 24th February 2007. It seems incredible that so much time has passed, in some ways, it feels like yesterday, in others, it is lifetimes ago. In Durban, it rains in February, and as I sit on the veranda and listen to the sound of the rain hammering on the tin roof of my old wood and iron house, I notice Stuart’s absence in the empty wooden rocking chair. Talking to him as I so often do, I thank him for all the things he brought into my life, including the gift of grief which has moved me more in the last three years than anything else probably could.  My hope, as always, is for him to discover the beauty that I see all around me, in himself. And as the rain continues, I hear him say, Tell the girls, I love them more than the sun, the moon, the stars and the sea.

Whisperings from Another World

January 9, 2010

This is an article I wrote for a magazine, that I wanted to share –

Whisperings from Another World: After Death Communications
Can your loved one communicate with you from the other side?
by Leila Summers

I sometimes think I can hear him in the wind or I catch a flicker of movement out the corner of my eye but when I turn, he’s not there. The first time I felt my husband, Stuart, was only a few hours after I had received the news that he had drowned at sea. I was driving when I unexpectedly felt his presence. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end as I nervously looked in my review mirror half expecting to see him. Then an immense calm flooded through me and as I looked across the sky, the clouds had a brilliant golden edging. I knew Stuart was trying to tell me that he was at peace. But this wasn’t my only communication with my dead husband.

The following night, I saw Stuart in a dream.  We were sitting across from each other in two old fashioned armed chairs. He was explaining things to me without actual words and I again had the sense that he was at peace. Months later, I was surprised to read that conversation in a dream visitation is always telepathic and the author described an example of sitting across from each other on two chairs in an empty room.

During those beginning days, black birds and orange butterflies seemed to follow me around. My daughters Jane, aged six, and Rose, aged four, had their own dreams and experiences. One day, Jane casually asked me why dad always runs next to the car when we are driving. I tried not to look surprised and questioned her about it. She explained that his legs move slowly and his feet don’t touch the ground.

I talk to Stuart all the time, but I am never sure if the conversations in my head are figments of my imagination. At times he even warned me of things that were about to happen before they did! Like the night I drove home late and knew that there were burglars in my house.

My most recent experience was a lucid dream. I woke up to the feeling of arms around me. As I leaned into the hug I looked down and recognised Stuart’s arms. I said – it’s you! By thought, he replied – yes, it’s me. I could physically feel the arms. The top of his body was pressed through an invisible veil, as if it was an effort. I said – you managed to get through. He answered – it is difficult. After a long hug, his form was sucked back and suddenly disappeared. I was sitting up in bed, awake and knew it was real. After some time I opened my eyes to find that I was still lying down and slowly it dawned on me that it must have all been a dream.

Skeptics will say that these are all coincidences or imagination. But whether you believe in after death communication or not, there is no doubt that these experiences can be extremely comforting and healing in the grieving process.

After Death Communication or ADC is a term coined by Bill and Judy Guggenheim, authors of the book ‘Hello From Heaven’. They define an ADC as a spiritual experience that occurs when a person is contacted directly and spontaneously by a loved one who has died. These experiences include sensing a presence, hearing a voice, feeling a touch, smelling a fragrance, visions, dreams, physical phenomena and symbols. Typical symbolic ADCs include butterflies, rainbows, flowers, birds and other animals, and any number of inanimate objects. For more information visit www.after-death.com

Leila Summers lives in Durban, South Africa, with her two daughters. She enjoys reading and writing and has a passion for research. She is busy writing her memoir, It Rains In February. Visit www.leilasummers.com

New Year Full Moon

December 31, 2009

Happy New Year! I would like to thank all of my wonderful friends for your endless support and love, without which I could not have come this far. I feel delighted and grateful beyond words! As a special treat, on this last night of 2009, there is a full moon all night long. And tonight it’s a blue moon, the second full moon in a calendar month. May the new year bring new opportunities for all of us.

As for new year affirmations – “My memoir, IT RAINS IN FEBRUARY, will be published in 2010”!

As I look back on my three year writing journey, I am awed by the intuitive guidance I received along the way, gently nudging me to the place I find myself today. Writing my story has been an extremely difficult emotional venture of reliving each moment, many times. I walked through all my fears and questions, my grief and hurt, into a voyage towards discovering myself. Each step has brought a different level of healing. There is still a long road ahead which I will continue to travel with an open heart.

With deep gratitude and love always, Leila

Memoir Book Proposal

October 30, 2009

I have just emailed my memoir book proposal to Hay House Publishers. All the writers who attended the Hay House Writer’s Workshop had the opportunity to send their proposals directly to Hay House by November 1st. The winner will be announced in December 2009 and will be offered a publishing contract. A nonfiction book proposal was much more work than I anticipated. My proposal was forty-two pages and took me two months to research and write. Working on it provided me with clarity and vision and I am grateful for this experience and for the deadline. It’s a strange feeling to have it out in the world but now I can surrender, knowing that wherever things go from here, will be absolutely perfect. I look forward to taking some time off!

This is a short excerpt from the opening section of my proposal, THE OVERVIEW –

It Rains In February: A Wife’s Memoir of Love and Loss is the riveting true story of a husband who is obsessed, not only with another woman, but also with ending his life. In this exceptionally honest and heartfelt narrative, Leila Summers weaves a compelling story of the extraordinary year that led up to Stuart’s suicide, and the grief and profound loss that followed, gently giving a remarkable insider’s view from both the perspective of the victim and the survivor.

One million people die from suicide every year worldwide according to the World Health Organisation. That’s three thousand deaths a day or roughly one death every forty seconds. My forty seconds came on the 24th of February 2007 when my husband drowned himself at sea. I knew it wasn’t an accident, even though the medics and police never suspected suicide. Stuart had been talking about ending his life for a year. His most recent suicide attempt had been three weeks earlier. Afterwards, he explained that day as the most peaceful day of his life. Sitting next to the dam, he smoked his last cigarette. He drank a hundred sleeping pills and did a check to make sure everything would look like an accident. The last thing he remembered was swimming out into the crystal clear water. He said that he was no longer scared of dying, that there was nothing scary about it. Living was the scary thing.

It is estimated that each suicide intimately affects at least six other people. It can therefore be assumed that six million new people are directly touched by suicide each year. The question that occupies anyone impacted by such a death for the rest of his or her life is why? Stuart’s death was unusual in that he went to great lengths to try and explain himself before he died. Although each suicide is unique, this book gives the reader insight from one suicide victim’s perspective.”

Here are some useful links I used on writing a non-fiction book proposal-
How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal 
Author! Author! :: Anne Mini’s Blog
What Is a Book Proposal for Nonfiction Writers
Nonfiction Proposals

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Rainy Day Book Proposal

September 29, 2009

Springtime in South Africa and it’s been raining for a week. I love rainy days. Through my bay windows, I look out into the greenery and contemplate individual raindrops on leaves. How they can hang there for the longest time. The rhythm of the rain on the tin roof drowns out the rest of the world. From under my woven blanket, I’m working hard on my book proposal. I love that my old green wood and iron house is surrounded by a tropical overgrown garden. Surrounding myself in green makes me happy. Green represents heart. And so, in grappling for words to try and explain why I am qualified to write my book and why people would want to buy it, I remember. I just need to be me. Who I am is enough. Let my heart speak. 

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A Weekend in the Mountains

September 14, 2009

Four glorious days in a secluded cottage in the mountains is just what I need. The three hour drive meandering along country roads gives way to unwinding. Each kilometre takes me a little further away from city life, computers, emails, telephones and paperwork. I am searching for editing inspiration and creativity from deep within.

Outside the cottage, violet spring flowers hang down from the rustic terrace and attract bumble bees and memories. This is the cottage where my husband and I stayed just after we met and returned over the years with our girls.

There is something to be said for the silence and the darkness so far away from the city. It brings with it a stillness that I hope to emulate within. From the cottage, it is a short walk to the icy river scattered with pebbles and rocks . Lucid words bubble up inside me and vivid reflections encourage me to speak my clarity, my truth. A gentle reminder that I must stay true to my heart when I get back to the city, back to editing.

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