Y’all! I have a new book out!
I know this comes as a surprise to most of you. I haven’t talked about it recently so you didn’t know to expect it. And that’s primarily because I didn’t know exactly when it was going to be available. You see, it’s taken six years to get this book out. That’s right: SIX YEARS.
It began in 2009 when my friend, Mark Johnson, whose memoir this is, experienced a call to write a book on love. Good friend that he is, he asked me to help him write it. Now this was just as the whole prayer bead adventure was just getting started, and at that time I had never written a book before. But I knew I wanted to be a writer and jumped at the chance. We spent the first year conducting interviews, doing research, etc. Then I spent the second year writing it. In November 2011, I presented the completed draft to Mark and said, “Congratulations! Here’s your book!” I thought I was done, aside from some editing.
That was four years ago.
Since then, there has been A LOT of this: “Let’s change this. Can you redo this chapter? You know, we haven’t even talked about this.” Edits. And more edits.
To be fair, there were also major life transitions in the midst: funerals, weddings, moves, etc. And there was a moment of doubt or two: “Will people even be interested in my story?”
But we forged on. And now we have a book: I Love Today: A Story of Transformation, published by Westbow Press. I am so pleased and proud of it!
You see, Mark is a longtime, close friend of mine. More than that, he is a nationally-known disability rights activist and community organizer. He currently serves as director of advocacy for the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2007 Henry B. Betts Award, the New Mobility Person of the Year in 2001, and the National Council on Independent Living Distinguished Service Award in 1990.
Here is a little slice of his incredible story:
Growing up, Mark Johnson was smaller than – different from his peers – which made him uncomfortable. After a diving accident left him paralyzed, he was different in a new way.
Living with a disability, Mark struggled with the social attitudes that labeled people with disabilities as inferior. He took the prejudicial treatment personally and decided to do something about it.
In 1983, he had the opportunity to co-found ADAPT, a grassroots network of people with disabilities that played a role in passing the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Confronting—and changing—social attitudes certainly requires boldness and tactics such as civil disobedience; Mark’s arrest record is proof of this. However, Mark is better known for his engaging style that puts people at ease and encourages them to consider the benefits of accepting our differences.
Part spiritual memoir, I Love Today is Mark’s reflection on his life as a son, husband, and father; as a person with a disability; as a community organizer; and as a child of God. It examines the fears behind our social attitudes and offers insights for a more inclusive world. Along the way, it inspires us all to learn to love today.
I am deeply honored to share this book with you. What I love most about it is that it addresses the way we deal with differences in our society, but it does so from a place of deep faith, grace, and humor. It was such a joy to be a part of this amazing project.
The funny thing about this book is that it is the first book I ever wrote . . . and the third to be published! Clearly, a lot has happened in six years! But the timing of this book is perfect as we get ready to celebrate the 25th anniversary of passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in July. I hope you’ll check it out.
The book is available for sale in my Etsy shop. It comes in both softcover and hardcover.