Posted by Literary Titan
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.
Posted in Interviews
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Posted by Literary Titan
Butterfly Awakens by Meg Nocero is the moving memoir of Nocero’s life after losing her mother. It starts with a brief description of her childhood and introduces her parents then jumps right to her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis. Apart from narrating the difficult moments fighting the disease, we also get to see the destructive consequences such a loss can have and Meg’s deep grieving.
Nocero writes in a beautiful way that is descriptive and realistic at the same time, making it easy for readers to feel connected and empathetic. Her stages of grief are deeply felt by the reader and when she finally gets to the end of El Camino and finds freedom, every reader will feel happy for her achievements.
I appreciated the effort put into describing what she felt during each important moment of her journey toward recovery. An accurate description of her feelings helps readers impersonate and share the journey with her in an intimate way, which is what makes this book unforgettable.
While I enjoyed the story, I felt a bit of confusion between flashbacks and flash-forwards, at one point in the book it was difficult for me to understand when the action took place. But this is a minor issues in an otherwise tell told and impassioned story.
Butterfly Awakens, by Meg Nocero is an enthralling memoir with plenty of emotional and heartwarming moments that will capture most readers’ hearts. Whether one has already experienced such a loss or has not yet, this story will stir the soul. I would recommend this book to anyone who is dealing with such loss or to anyone who is looking for a book that is emotional but inspiring.
Pages: 395 | ASIN: B08QZCR9FF
Tags: A Memoir of Transformation Through Grief, author, biography, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, Butterfly Awakens, ebook, family saga, goodreads, grief, inspiring, kindle, kobo, literature, Meg Nocero, memoir, nonfiction, nook, novel, read, reader, reading, story, true story, writer, writing