11th of October 2018. Spring. The perfect time for new beginnings, and coming out of hibernation. Unlike the forest animals emerging from their burrows after the winter, I was emerging from my mum's red Peugeot into the Brisbane rain.
I was emerging from a little bit more than a 2009 french car this evening. I was coming out of the protective shell of privacy that everyone is guilty of maintaining. It was time to launch my first book, "Behind the Smile: An Inspirational Journey from Disability to Ability" AKA my tell all - from hospital excursions to surgeries, highschool to catwalk, insecurity to confidence, thinking I would never be a "functional woman" to losing my virginity (sorry mum). There were many details I wanted to bury at the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean but knew that there would be value in discussing them openly. I have nothing to be ashamed of.
Each struggle and triumph written across each page of BTS was authentically real. Some may be a bitter pill but I didn't want to ruin the genuineness of the journey by sugarcoating.
My heart raced as my heels clicked the footpath in unison before stepping into the elevator.
The lift doors opened up to the perfect event space - 'Up on Constance' dressed in gold candles, fresh blooms, twinkling fairy lights and plastered with books. The finishing touch was already there - the guests - all being captured by talented photographer John Pryke and great videographer Ame Skull.
Champagne glasses clinked as I walked through admiring the hard work of Katrina, the events manager, who had listened to my blurt of instructions as I was running out the door with wet hair from the rain and a makeup appointment due to start 10 minutes before.
It was finally the night. I took snapshots in my mind, moments that I would cherish forever. I would be broken out of my trance every few minutes as a chime would alert me to the lift doors opening and more guests walking out. I couldn't have been more pleased to see so many dear friends - old and new, colleagues, doctors and family join me for such a momentous occasion.
Writing this now I am struggling to come up with the words. Perhaps I am experiencing an inconvenient bout of writers block - thankfully this came after the book was written!
By the time it came to speeches, my best friend Jasmine took the 'stage' first, detailing our friendship together, reducing the audience to laughter and almost making me cry!!
Next to the stage was my mumma! With a typed speech in hand but no reading glasses, she was able to speak from her heart. She gave an emotional speech about my journey, only giving away chapters 1-3 and multiple other snippets. It was beautiful for me to watch my mum tell her side of the story as she walked every step of my journey by my side.
Following this, my book was officially launched by Mary Hecker - my manager, qualified social worker, DQ Magazine Editor and the list never ends!
By the time it was my turn to take the stage,
I described to the audience that I felt it was my 'coming out' party. It took a lot of courage for me to tell my story in such a raw, open and brutally honest way. I had to sweep aside any self doubt in that moment, knowing that sharing my experiences, not only for my sake, were more valuable than any privacy I was ensured to lose.
I spoke about my involvement with the Continence Foundation of Australia and embracing an ambassador role for their new 'Incontinence in Confidence' project targeting adolescents and teenagers with incontinence. With one in 50 teenagers battling incontinence, I hope that my openness about my experiences will help alleviate the shame and embarrassment around the topic.
Then there was time for book signings. I could not believe the line that formed and was happy to have my friends come and sit next to me while I wrote a personalised message in their copy of BTS. I am especially blown away by those who have finished reading the book already and are very grateful for such positive feedback. I still find it difficult to comprehend that you now understand my intricate life so well and loved reading about it!
To every single person that came, and those who were there in spirit - THANK YOU and I love you. I will never have the words to describe how grateful I am that you were there. I couldn't have wished for a more perfect night.
If you were unable to make it to the launch I hope I was able to somewhat capture the essence of the night. If you are yet to buy a book - you are in the right place - you can purchase here.
I'll be back with some exciting news soon - stay tuned for the next episode of 'telling everyone the most intimate details of my life' xx