Who doesn’t love a good challenge? Well, most people, actually. But we know you are different, and so are we. That is why we are embracing the challenge by author Erica Bauermeister to do something new, difficult or scary in the next year and the opportunity for one of you to win a copy of her latest book, Joy for Beginners, which is starting to make an appearance on the bestseller lists.
(*Skip to the bottom of the post if you Simply.Cannot.Wait to find out the details of the challenge. We know how you are.)
About the Book
Erica has written a book called Joy for Beginners, which centers around 6 women who have supported their friend Kate through a diagnosis and recovery from cancer. Kate’s daughter has challenged her to take a whitewater rafting trip down the Colorado River as part of her emotional recovery from the process, and her friends all heartily agree.
What they didn’t count on, however, was Kate’s feisty attitude. She said she would do it if they in turn would complete something new, difficult, or scary within the next year. And because she didn’t get to choose her challenge, they won’t either. She proceeds to assign each one of them a challenge that is uniquely suited to them, and the book is about each woman’s journey to complete the challenge and how it changes her life in a profound way.
I was lucky to get Erica on camera for an interview about the book, challenging ourselves in life, and how we distinguish between the life we were given and the one we choose to live. There are two videos below, and I’ve provided a bit of detail for those of you who can’t watch video at work.
After our greetings, we get down to the first question, which is about why she has returned to the subject of dealing with what life gives you and how you can build upon that. We also discuss the variety in ages and backgrounds of her characters, which make the books so appealing to a wide variety of people.
Erica tells a wonderful story of her sister-in-law, who is the inspiration for the book. After years of being in a band, she chose to put on a solo concert on her 50th birthday. Erica was wildly impressed with the nerve it took to do this, and she started thinking about why we stop challenging ourselves as we get settled into life.
We then talk about the importance of a sense of play as we become adults, and how “adults need to have fun so children will want to grow up.”
Fear cropped up in our conversation, and how we let little fears keep us back and possibly even judge others for fears we think of as inconsequential (even though they may think the same thing about us).
Erica then talks about her own desire to write about the “unimportant bits of life” that so beautifully illustrate the important things. She also talks about maturity and how she needed to season as an adult to be able to write some of these things at all.
We also cover the very intriguing plot point of having someone else create the challenges and pose the question: “Do our friends know us better than we know ourselves?”
Next we discuss the advice I was given in my 20s, that it was important to cultivate friendships throughout life because as we got older they would become increasingly important. This is also when Erica told us the line to one of her sister-in-law’s songs: “I don’t need flowers, I don’t need wine, I just want you to read my mind.” Good friends can often do that.
In part II, we chat a little bit about easing into a big challenge, such as when conservative character Marion gets her fingernails painted deep purple as a test for living with a tattoo. She gets stares at the grocery store and quickly goes home to take it off. Can we actually ease into a challenge like that, or do we have to do it feet first?
Erica also lets us in on the character research she did for that particular character at a tattoo convention and tattoo parlor, as well as the character research of traveling down the Colorado River on a raft, which was not by her choice.
We talked about the idea of groups of friends challenging each other and how meaningful it can be to hear that kind of feedback from someone who loves you. We were fortunate to be able to say things to our friends before we left on this trip that we likely wouldn’t have said otherwise, and it is a shame we had to leave in order to feel free to say it. Imagine how great it would be to have a challenge handed to you by someone who knows you – your strengths, weaknesses, and secret ambitions? Maybe it would be more inspiring to complete something you want to do anyway just because it was suggested by someone you respect?
Last, Erica talks about her dream of writing for a living and how it came to pass. She confirms our experience that living the dream is even better than what you can expect, and she talks some about her writing habits and daily life. Then she spills the beans about her last book, The School of Essential Ingredients, being recently optioned for a movie. I can just see someone like Julia Roberts bringing that to life on screen (though I did shamelessly
beg promote myself for a role).
If you want to buy a copy of Erica’s latest book, you can get it just about anywhere in hardcover or on your ebook reader. The title may be slightly different if you live in Australia or the UK, so be sure to search by her last name. You can also click on the links above to find them online.
*Now on to The Challenge
We are of the mind that sometimes our friends do know us better than we know ourselves. And since we’re all friends here, you can see where this is going.
We challenge you to challenge us – something new, different, or scary for us to complete in the next year. If it is location-based you know that we’ll be in Belgium for the month of August and in Thailand beginning in mid-October. If it is personal, then you know our quirks just about as well as anyone. Warren has already gotten naked publicly twice since you’ve known us, so I’m not sure this will be as much of a challenge for him as it will be for me!
The winning challenge will get a free copy of Erica’s book, Joy for Beginners.
There is one teeny-tiny catch, though. hehehe
If your challenge is chosen, we get to choose one for you as well, and you have to report back (anonymously, if you like) to the readers just like we do.
Sound like a deal?
Okay, we’re ready to see what you’ve got. We will select the winner of the book and a new challenge next Friday, July 15th.