This September, on our remote island in the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota, we planned to hike in the regal pine forest, boat on the loon-speckled lake, forage for mushrooms amid the lichens and ferns of the boreal forest and gaze at the silver birch trees as they turned from vibrant green to the blazing orange and golds of autumn.
It was not to be. The sun was distant, lost behind a low and thick curtain of grey clouds. A hard rain fell and the forest vanished into ethereal mist. A deep chill set in and the air plunged to 40 degrees in the damp darkness of night. I awoke to the rapid fire staccato of hail bouncing on the grey cedar decks.
Where was our Indian summer? The lazy afternoons of brilliant sunshine sparkling on the lake and the quick flash of deer bounding through the forest shadows?
I did not want to leave our cosy cabin. I lay listening to the fire crackling in the ancient wood stove, wrapped in a fuzzy blanket on the couch, surrounded by the soft glow of candles. I cradled a mug of steaming blueberry tea and read the Russian classics.
Yet somehow, I could not completely relax. Something was moving restlessly at the edges of my soul. I awoke suddenly at night and knew I had to complete my book.
I felt that nature itself was pushing me to do this. I was forced to lie quietly, so I could hear the voice inside of me insisting, “The time is now! If not now, when?”
I had the material: favourite articles selected from three years of writing my column for The Royal Gazette. Yet, for some reason, I kept putting it off. “There is still time,” I often reassured myself. But at this instant, with the rain drumming on the roof of our cabin in the wilderness, I knew the time was now!
How often we postpone our projects, defer our dreams. We put our lives on hold convinced we will do things later, when it is more convenient, when we have more space, when we are not so pressured, when there is plenty of time.
Dear friends, there is never plenty of time. We wait as if we will live for ever but in our hearts we know this is not the truth. We become experts at ignoring the most obvious fact that our lives are racing by and, to be true to ourselves, we must use every day as if it were our last.
I immediately went on the internet and gathered an international team: a graphic designer from Moscow, photo experts from St Petersburg and Bermuda, a proofreader from New York, a printer in Minneapolis and, of course, my editor and husband, Bill.
I set myself a deadline: three weeks. Bill shook his head, smiling and gazing past me at a flock of geese flying south above the lake. I could tell he thought it was an impossible timetable. There were huge time zone differences, the designer in Moscow spoke no English, the proofreader in New Jersey could only work after midnight, the printer in Minneapolis was overbooked, the photos were not resolution to print. It was like juggling several of my beloved persimmons in the air, day and night. Once, in tears after working for 14 hours straight, I told Bill: “I can’t do it any more, nothing works!”
“It will be beautiful” he said simply.
In my dreams, I vividly saw how I would hold my book in my arms like a baby. It is a very special feeling to hold your own dream, to feel its life as a part of you changing before your eyes. This book is my sixth; four were born in Russia, one in Canada, and this one, such a difficult delivery, Bermuda!
We arrived at the airport hotel in Minneapolis the night before our flight home to Bermuda. I raced into the lobby. “My name is Nina London. Are there four boxes that have been delivered for me?”
I was breathing hard and gripping the edge of the check-in desk.
The manager looked at me curiously. “I’ll say, and are they ever heavy!”
She came back with a hand cart. I was so jumpy I grabbed a pair of scissors and opened a box on my hands and knees right there. I took out a book and screamed with joy. I jumped and danced. The baby was born even more beautiful than I imagined!
A blaze of colours, 239 pages, six chapters, 75 articles, 80 photos! A selection from three years of my favourite work for The Royal Gazette newspaper in Bermuda there in my trembling hands.
I leafed through the colourful pages and cried with happiness. Many moments flashed before my eyes: my homeland of Siberia, my family and friends on my journey, my love story with Bill, my fight against cancer, the amazing people of Bermuda and the island in all its stunning glory.
I wrote these articles every week no matter what country I was in or how I felt. I wrote in the sun on the South Shore beaches, I wrote lying under a blanket during chemotherapy, I wrote in a monastery in the mountains of Thailand, I wrote in our cabin in the wilderness and, most of all, I wrote in our small cottage in Cavello Bay to the sounds of waves and wind and the roar of the turquoise sea I love so much.
My column was an anchor that held me fast and opened my heart to the dreams I held inside. They flew like longtails into the wind and I shared my vision with my neighbours and friends on this incredible island which is like no other in all the world. I sent them out with hope that someone might read my stories and be inspired to change something in their lives for ever, for better.
Dear readers, I cordially invite you to my book signing event on October 18 and 19 from 12pm to 2pm at Brown & Co bookstore in Hamilton. Please come and speak with me. I am always interested in your stories and I am proud to show you the result of our journey here together: Live Love Laugh: From Siberia to Bermuda by Nina London.
• Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at ninalondon.com