Butterfly Awakens is an emotional memoir of your life and the grief you went through after losing your mother. Why was this an important book for you to write?
As an empath, someone who can absorb another individual’s mental or emotional state, I am sensitive to the energies in this world. My mother grounded me when the world became too much. She was my safe place. When she died, I felt like my connection to my guide was cut off. I was left alone to navigate the confusing grieving process. Additionally, I burnt out from traveling back and forth from Miami to Orlando to help with her care while managing my own hectic family life, a full-time job as a federal immigration attorney, and raising young children.
I have always had a journaling practice—using writing as a tool to work out so much. So I looked for a way to navigate the grieving process and started to write as a healing tool. I started simply. I would wake in the morning and read from a book that resonated with me. When a quote or a passage spoke to me, I grabbed my journal and channeled at least three pages of longhand about what I felt my mother would want to communicate to me about it. One day led to the next, and this routine led me to complete my guide that I would later call The Magical Guide to Bliss: Daily Keys to Unlock Your Dreams, Spirit & Inner Bliss. I intended to empower myself to figure out how to will myself back to life, step into the unknown, and wake up to life again. In addition to allowing me to feel connected to my mom, it helped me muster the courage to make a career change after 20 years as a federal prosecutor. The writing was the first step towards what helped me trust my transformation; it was my cocoon, a safe place to strengthen my budding wings so that I could imagine metamorphosis into a beautiful butterfly.
I remember thinking how easy it is to get stuck in life, far short of where I wanted to be, and I felt trapped by pain and despaired that the suffering was all that there is; that bliss is just a myth. I started to get intentional with my life. Paying attention to the people, places, and things that would show up every day, I became excited about my present and future again. When I was at an all-time low, I begged the universal divine for assistance. I promised that when I did emerge triumphantly, I would share the vulnerability of my story to inspire others not to lose hope and give up on their dreams if they find themselves in darkness. I wanted my story of transformation through grief to one day be the light for others—the greatest gift is for someone to look at you and say, because of you, I didn’t give up. That helped me fight my way out of my darkness.
And, some of the events that occurred as I learned to love myself unconditionally were truly extraordinary. When Oprah’s “Live the Life You Want 2014” came to Miami, it catapulted me to take the final step and truly live the life I wanted as a published author. One of my long-time dreams was to meet Oprah, one of my spiritual guides, and I was one of the lucky ones to get called up on stage with Oprah in Miami, and as they say, the rest is history; in this case, a trilogy—The Magical Guide to Bliss, Daily Keys to unlock Your Dreams, Spirit & Inner Bliss, Sparkle & Shine: 108 M.A.N.T.R.A.s to Brighten Your Day and Lighten Your Way and finally my memoir, Butterfly Awakens!
“I will never forget Oprah looking me in the eyes, saying to me, “this is your moment, Meg, don’t miss it; it is time to live the life you want!” And so, I have! And the most fantastic thing is that I have brought many others with me.
When I was moving through grief, I promised that I would keep going to share a better story for my life, healing myself and in service to others. The metamorphosis of the butterfly and the guidance of the lighthouse were symbols that stood foremost in my mind. Never giving up in this life, doing the hard things that surround transformation, and in the end embracing your inner beauty—not needing approval or permission from others to be here. I want other people to honestly know that there is always light, even in the darkness and that they are more than enough, just as they are. And, to offer hope to those who are where I was when my mother died, that is the driving force behind sharing my story—inspiring others to keep going and reach out for help when they need it. To ultimately remind others that “we got this” and do not have to go it alone!
I appreciated how candid you were. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
The scariest thing for me was seeing my mother suffer and not being able to help her. And, writing about her final weeks was difficult because I essentially had to relive it again. I tend to be a hypochondriac; while going through it, I started to believe that something terrible would happen to me too. I became very anxious, I began to experience panic attacks where my heart would start racing, and I felt like I would die. Sharing this kind of vulnerability was hard for me, and I had to manage that while sharing what happened all over again.
And, to share with the world, my weakness was a very vulnerable position to be in. I have moments when fear took over, and my overrun nervous system gave way to a ringing in my ears, tinnitus, that was maddening. I tried to numb out on most days; when I returned home from a full day at work and took care of my children, I retreated to my walk-in closet where I felt safe and just cried and cried because I did not know where to begin to move on without her.
However, hiding is exhausting, and I thought sharing my story could help another person feel like they were not the only one going through challenges. On the verge of what felt like a nervous breakdown, I chose to ask for help. I wanted others to know that it was ok to do the same. When I was moving through grief, I promised that I would share the vulnerability of my story in service to others when I healed. I held tight to the metamorphosis of the butterfly and the lighthouse as inspiration on the way to bliss. Choosing to never give up on me, I looked for the positives along the way. Committed to face my fears, I did the hard things that surrounded transformation. In the end, I ended up embracing my inner beauty—not needing approval or permission from others to be here. Now, I want other people to know that there is always light, even in the darkness and that they are more than enough, just as they are. Shifting what happened to me as a catalyst for positive change, I learned to reframe my situation, asking what it was trying to teach me. By sharing my story, I intend to offer hope to another who is experiencing darkness.
What advice do you wish someone had given you when your mother was diagnosed?
Seek help- you do not have to go it alone. Don’t lose sight of your dreams-that was something that helped her too. Breathe deeply again and slow down the pace a little bit. Look for a community–those helpers who are your angels ready and willing to help. I sought groups where I could get intentional, taking in all that life has to offer one day at a time. I joined author cohorts, ran monthly mastermind groups, and volunteered to serve others. And, do not wait for tomorrow to do the things with those you love today. Have those conversations, do something you love, take many photos, record beautiful stories- don’t stop living, laughing, and loving. Ultimately, death is a part of life. We can never know when it is someone’s time, but truly living a life on purpose is essential, and not having regrets.
What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?
That we are all stronger than we think we are as long as we do not give up. While I still experience dark times, especially after the pandemic year, the evidence shows that I can push through. I am still working to overcome pain to varying degrees. I don’t think that pain in life ever ends; my father has said that is the price we pay to be human. However, the key, I believe, is not to unpack and stay there. The root of the word emotion is e-motere, to move through. With all feelings that arise from different circumstances, instead of pushing them down or ignoring them, it is imperative to feel what you feel and trust the process of life to learn thoroughly. On the other side of the coin, this is a welcome bit of advice when you feel joy or happiness, truly embrace that and feel every bit of the good stuff as you can as well. We are here to enjoy the process too!
Butterfly Awakens depicts the story of the extraordinary transformation of a forty-something Italian American attorney as she moves through unimaginable grief and sadness watching her beloved mother lose her battle to breast cancer. This tumultuous life experience shifts her world, causing her to question her life choices and opening her up to her soul’s calling. Nocero brings readers along on her journey through a dark night of the soul as she deals with the grieving process, a toxic work environment, and intense stress that results in depression, anxiety, and an acquired somatic nervous disorder called tinnitus. Through it all, she never gives up, instead looking for the help she needs to start to heal and find her light. In the end, like the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly, this story is a beautiful love letter that honors Nocero’s mother’s legacy while detailing the awakening of her own.
There are many stories about breast cancer and grief, but none are quite like this one. Throughout her tale, Nocero pulls the reader deep into her story through the intensity of her emotions; and in the end, after resigning from her career as a federal prosecutor due to a toxic administration, she searches for the lighthouse she saw in a vision when her mother died. Embarking on a spiritual pilgrimage on El Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain to get to the lighthouse at Cap Finisterre, she sets out to wake up and live again; the butterfly connection and stark honesty of her writing offers readers important lessons learned from moving through grief so that each person can shine their light again.
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What Lurks in the Woods by Nicole Bell is a heart-wrenching, real-life love story that deals with a family’s struggle with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. Nicole Bell and her husband, Russ, are living everyday life in North Carolina with their two toddlers Ryan and Hailey. Life is fast and hectic, with Nicole’s ever-increasing work in her high-tech medical device startup, which she joined when she was six months pregnant with Ryan. The fights and frustration became so frequent and overwhelming that Nicole considered leaving Russ when she saw the first sign. It was nothing big, just an issue with the home security alarm. But once she started noticing, the symptoms became more and more apparent. Placing the bowl in the wrong place, forgetting to pick up the kids. Russ had Alzheimer’s.
The book is a brilliant compilation of detailing various minor incidents and everyday life for a family dealing with a chronic disease. What makes this book stand out from other memoirs written about chronic illness and Alzheimer’s is that it isn’t written from the patient’s perspective. It highlights the struggles that not just the patient faces but how it impacts the people around them. We often forget the impact on the family and their contribution against this fight with fate and how their presence makes everything better and much more bearable. This memoir highlights a wife’s journey of love and dedication to her partner throughout his journey.
What Lurks in the Woods is an inspirational and emotional memoir that I would highly recommend for its heartfelt, raw, and authentic depiction of how a single member’s chronic illness impacts an entire family. This book is perfect for anyone with chronic disease as a significant part of their life, be it firsthand suffering or secondhand experience via a family member or a close friend.
Pages: 222 | ASIN: B09CJWWC9L
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The Retirement Quilt by Dr Ronald Lee Gaudreau takes us to a small town in Australia called Morton, centering around a small group of people hailing from decades of farmers, entrepreneurs, and teachers. This diverse array of people came together with one unifying task: the creation of a quilt.
The Retirement Quilt begins by following the life of Geoffrey Hamilton as he goes through the motions of his last day as a CEO. We dive into the unspoken aspects of his life, like his bittersweet interactions with his driver and secretary. He’s mourning all the time that has passed while trying to feel excited about his coming future in retirement. He reconnects with a woman named Robyn, a dear friend of his deceased wife Margaret. Together they become intertwined in the creation of a memorial quilt, as it brings grieving and loving people together along the way.
I loved the way this inspiring book approached grief and healing. It was a touching look into the aftermath of a loved one’s passing, and how their lingering influence can continue to make the world a better place even after they’re gone. This book emphasizes community and the lengths we go to as people to make lasting connections, and how powerful these connections can truly be. The story has a lasting message—that no matter where you go or who you meet along the way, love is always possible.
While I enjoyed having varied dialogue from different sorts of people throughout the story, I felt that the structure could have been improved. I found that it read like an interview at times because of the dialogue, and I would have rather seen everyone’s conversations blended into the story itself to give it a more narrative driven story feel.
The Retirement Quilt by Dr Ronald Lee Gaudreau is a wistful and impassioned story with an inspirational message. It’s an important reminder that I think everyone can benefit from; even if you feel alone, change is a positive thing.
Pages: 257 | ASIN: B07VLKPQ3G
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James LeVeck takes the reader on a personal journey of loss, healing, moving on, facing loss again, mourning, and learning how to handle bereavement. Life After Losses: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Life is not an emotionally easy book to read; I had to put the book down several times to compose myself. The traumas, emotional turmoil, and agony shared by the author make the reader appreciate life and everything that we go through. James LaVeck is candid about his life, something not many people are able to do. I applaud him for being bold and sharing the most intimate details about himself. Reading this book will help you connect with your inner self and help you go through the grieving process.
There are many lessons shared by the author. My biggest takeaway from this book is that it is okay to be vulnerable no matter your age. Life After Losses is the book you need by your side whenever you are mourning or going through a difficult time in life. James LaVeck’s words are inspiring and give one a sense of belonging. The author will encourage you and motivate you to be yourself. Cry your tears; make the world know that you are grieving. Along with his emotional support the author also provides readers with the lessons he has learned about trying to move on. This book is filled with practical and comforting advice that will help anyone overcome the seemingly insurmountable grief they face when losing a loved one.
James LaVeck’s book is emotional but ultimately uplifting and empowering. I enjoyed his stories about his first and second husband. Though the content is potent, this memoir is short and easy to read. Life After Losses is a sentimental memoir with a powerful message that will stay with you long after you put the book down.
Pages: 170 | ASIN: B08NRMZQM1
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Always Arising: Seeking Solace in an Isolated World is the ultimate book for you if you are looking to live a fulfilling and happy life. Meg Grasmick writes about a range of topics that touch on self love, growth, outside interactions, and facing life’s ups and downs among other things. This book is recommended to readers that enjoy self-help literature that focuses on equilibrium rather than a generic view of happiness. The author is kind with her words and considerate when talking about sensitive topics. I enjoyed reading Meg Grasmick because she does not hide who she is. She does not want to appear perfect nor does she hide difficult truths, and within this unveiled honesty I found authenticity and hope.
One thing this book will make you do is fall in love with yourself. On several pages the author talks about affirming self and getting to understand that we are different from each other. There is beauty in diversity and Meg Grasmick wants her readers to understand that there is nothing wrong with being different. I love how distinct the author is with the counsel she gives. She does not claim to be an expert, and only writes about subjects that she is knowledgeable about. Reading this book gives one the impression of attending a virtual mini therapy session. I thank the author for her charming words and making me hopeful with life again.
Always Arising: Seeking Solace in an Isolated World will help you be a wholesome person. The author gives confidence and encourages us to be kind to ourselves and not rush things. There is time for everything. The language in the book is pleasant and heartening. I love that Meg is not disapproving in her text and makes every reader feel important. This is the kind of book you read more than once because the content will help you arise and face the next day.
Always Arising: Seeking Solace in an Isolated World is an inspirational book that is a fantastic guide for anyone on a personal transformation journey.
Pages: 94 | ASIN: B093Y7J7Q5
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Riding the Light beam by Catherine Silver is a soul-stirring biography of Catherine Silver. It is a unique blend of her wisdom that she has gained through her hardships in life. She has transformed those experiences and lessons into a tale worth reading.
It is apt that a hero lives inside the soul of every woman. But many times, we forget that. We forget our inner strengths. This impassioned biography not only reminds you of the potential you possess, but also makes one question why have they limited themselves. Catherine does this by raising and discussing a variety of topics and issues, all colored perfectly with her experiences.
Catherine talks a lot about the grief and suffering and what it has taught her. It combines well with the professional experiences in helping others and grief counselling. Her story motivates readers, knowing her hardships intricately empowers the reader as well, and makes them face their own problems and reflect on that. The first step in healing, in my opinion, is facing the truth and Catherine’s captivating prose helps you to do that.
“There have been other times when I wanted to believe in magic. From time to time, on my walk in the morning, I would find a feather on the ground, the stairs or stoop. Just when I needed reassurance most over some matter weighing on my mind, there it would be. Of course, I pick it up and usually stick it in my hair’s tight pony tail and continue on my way, all the while thinking that the angels had just left it for me; that’s magic too.”
The paragraph is long, yet it stuck with me because it is simple but potent. I too remember the times when I looked for magic and I found it in odd places. The world is sometimes wonderful and everyone needs a reminder and I am glad I found that in Catherine’s words. The reader will definitely resonate with Catherine’s wisdom in this stirring memoir.
Pages: 226 | ISBN: 1535582529
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Author Halimah Bellows gives hope with her inspiring book and motivates readers to go the extra mile, experiment with new careers, and be confident about the choices we make in the careers that we choose. This book is a gem. The information and knowledge the author has can help someone have a brighter future and achieve much more than they thought they would. Halimah Bellows not only writes like an experienced career coach but you also get to enjoy the prudence she shares in the book and even feel her passion. I love that the author not only wrote about one’s professional life but also touched on other aspects of a person’s image.
The author shares stories of her personal life, her family, the growth she has witnessed, and even adds in a few jokes when sharing life lessons. When writing about a particular topic, the author exhausts all points and even adds more information that you never knew you needed. Halimah Bellows is engaging throughout her book. While reading this practical self-help guide you notice that the author aims to communicate directly with the reader. This is through the short questions she asks and later answers, real-life experiences she narrates about, and her style of writing that makes one reflect on the choices they made.
The first chapter in the book was one of my favorites. It is titled ‘Focus on Your Future’. This chapter is helpful to many because we all think about what the future holds for us. As a young person, senior citizen, or even a student, reading this topic will open your eyes to many things in life. You will understand the importance of planning for your future and learned that the decisions you make today will affect the outcome of things in the future. Every topic in the book is enlightening. Want to change careers? Thinking of trying a new hobby? Want to make more money? Are you considering going back to school? Do you want to change your circle of friends? Does retirement scare you? These and more questions will be answered in the book.
After reading is enlightening book, one feels refreshed and ready to face any challenge they encounter in their career. The gentle tone, relatable stories, informative content in the book, and a little history of the author made the reading experience fun and exciting. Champion Your Career is the kind of book that you keep as reference material because the advice in the book will never go out of fashion.
Pages: 224 | ASIN: B00W4LAMJ2
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
La Florida by James D. Snyder
My Hidden Fear by Luan Nguyen
Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information.
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