It’s Been A Year!

Dara LevanBlog2 Comments

August. A month for years I’ve dreaded. I’ve lost more than six loved ones in August. The first pivot from sadness to joy occurred on August 17, 2004. My beautiful, baby girl entered our world, and it forever changed for the better.

For a few decades, I’ve been dreaming and yammering about “writing again.” I finally made the difficult decision to bid farewell to speech pathology. Deliberation, self doubt, and conflict popped up like a mischievous jack-in-the-box. I adore children and the profession. But I sensed it was time to reconnect with my life’s passion and purpose.

I spoke with various extraordinary published authors, one of whom is a long-time friend, Brad Meltzer. He’s told me for years “just write.” Rather than taking his simple but brilliant advice, I produced instead every excuse you can imagine.

Laura Duksta, an incredible children’s author and friend, also said repeatedly, “You can do this! Keep shining love!” And dear friends have consistently asked, “Why don’t you start a blog?”

My forever love and best friend is the person who ignited me. One day, about four years ago, he casually said, “You know what? I really don’t think of you as a writer. I only know you as a speech therapist.” For some reason, this hit a nerve. I reacted quite intensely and endless conversations ensued. My husband was surprised (and a bit irritated) by such defensiveness and the uncharacteristic emotional eruption. So was I. 

I’ve visualized and written books in my head. They’re not ready to be birthed just yet. As I now know, there is a season and a time for all things. I will definitely write and publish a book (or several) in the near future.

Blogging has been an option. Fear and fierce protection of my (and my family’s) privacy made this mode of publishing one which I rejected. I resisted taking the plunge, despite hearing again and again that I can reach people and perhaps meet other authors as a blogger. I flapped my wings like a hummingbird  but didn’t fly until last summer.

After speaking with multiple web designers, I met Alejandro Rodriguez. He’s a young, energetic, innovative, and honest human being. Andrew Jacobs suggested I call him, and I am beyond thankful for the introduction.

I liked Alejandro’s vibe and vision immediately. He asked me to read something I’d written. I protested and changed the subject. After he gently nudged me, I finally shared an excerpt of what I felt was “eh.”

Alejandro’s voice changed. The tone turned tender as he said, “Dara. You have a GIFT. You must share this with the world.”

I said, “C’mon. You think I’m a gullible fool? No offense, but you can’t possibly be serious. You just want the business.”

He laughed and retorted, “No. I. Am. Dead. Serious. You must start blogging. Every single week.”

I think the phone fell to the floor. My lower jaw nearly unhinged, and I shrieked, “Are you out of your mind? I mean I know your company name is “Lost Imagination Studios.” Have you LOST your sanity, dude?”

Somehow my candid outburst didn’t scare this diligent dreamer. In July 2017, we spoke for hours and began to brainstorm. I am a bit of a perfectionist, and I’ve also edited five books. So I struggled with leaving my comfort zone. I much prefer perfecting another’s work than creating my own.

Alejandro was patient, positive, and his raw feedback inspired me. As the month ended, I couldn’t sleep. Instead of tired, I was wired and invigorated. This is unusual for a gal who needs at least eight hours of sleep!

I dreamt vividly. I incessantly thought about names for my website and blog. I researched and ruminated. I tweaked the words, colors, images, and more. I doodled, drew (horribly because this is NOT my forte), and daydreamed.

Alejandro endured weeks of texts and emails such as “I don’t care for that shade of purple” and “The font isn’t the right vibe yet.” His kindness, encouragement, and persistence inspired me with every passing hour. I was on fire. 

We were going to launch in July. But I told him about August. I wanted to permanently reframe this formerly melancholy month. I also wanted to write about my husband’s mother on the 18th year of her passing. 18 means “life” in Hebrew, and I felt passionately about honoring Terri and celebrating all she was (and still is for me) to our family. So AWWW-gust became AWE-gust on August 2, 2017. 

I sensed this year may be life changing. But I didn’t know the depth and profound shifts I’d experience. I have learned an insurmountable, invaluable amount about myself and others.

I have healed parts of me that I did not know were yearning for compassion and care. I discovered buried wounds that ripped wide open and oozed painfully. And the deeper I delved, the trust I’d lost somewhere along the way resurfaced.

Here are a few of my “aha” moments this year:

  1. A leap of faith can catapult you into a springboard of creation.
  2. If not now, then when?
  3. Social media commentary/interactions magnifies truths and dissolves facades.
  4. What people say or do reveals who they are. But their absence or inaction does as well.
  5. I am living my life with purpose and conscious intention.
  6. It is ok and human to not be ok.
  7. When you still the mind, your soul will speak softly but clearly.
  8. Alone time is not lonely.
  9. I had to get out of my own way and let go for my writing to flow.
  10. After a winding detour, writing has rerouted me home. My inner compass is recharged!

When we went “live,” I panicked momentarily. Then I walked in the Stowe, VT woods. Towering trees surrounded me. I realized at that moment this wasn’t just a blog. It was the start of a movement to connect with and reach souls.

As it often happens, when I disconnect and ground myself in nature, ideas flow through me like the stream trickling over the river rocks. I found a huge heart-shaped stone in the water about 30 minutes later. It still resides on the table next to my bed. It’s a constant reminder of self love, and just like the composition of this heavy rock, I am strong, resilient, and ready.

I believe words emit energy just as powerfully as people do. I chose the name, “Every Soul Has A Story,” for myriad reasons. My intention is to share others’ stories, too. I much prefer to interview and write about other souls. I almost caved in January. I wanted retreat to my shell, my safe space, and go back to writing about others. 

But my husband emphatically reminded me that I had promised him and the kids to blog weekly, which is highly uncomfortable because I don’t like writing about myself. Humility is something I value and practice. And who the heck wants to read my personal stories anyway?

Apparently you do. If you’re still with me, and I realize this a rather long post, I want to thank you. Each and every one of you. The first few months, after I hit the “published” button, I wondered if I could continue this weekly. Some days I was close to aborting the mission. But because of you all, I did not, and here we are!

I have been gifted sacred and soulful stories since I was a young girl. I’ve kept those stories tucked away to respect the privacy of both those I know and even strangers. I love people and listening to their life experiences. 

It’s time to finally share those moving moments with you! If you have a story you’d like to share, please go to One of the links on my website will bring you to a page. That is a private form, and it will be emailed directly to me. I can then contact you, we’ll meet, and it would be a privilege to write your story.

In a time in which we are so technologically connected, it seems we have lost some relational, rich interpersonal communication. It is my hope that EVERY SOUL HAS A STORY has nurtured and will foster connection. 

Your support, inspiration, love, and interactions have motivated me to honor the commitment I made a year ago. And my what a year it’s been! There aren’t words sufficient enough to express my gratitude. You’ve all been part of my journey, and it’s just begun. I am grateful. I am inspired. And I’m embarking on year two with devoted dedication, excitement, humility, and wonder. The rest is still unwritten. 

2 Comments on “It’s Been A Year!”

  1. Congrats! The year has passed so quickly. I have enjoyed every blog and look forward to another year of wonderful stories that I can relate to. You are passionate and caring about your mission and
    I can’t wait to read the stories others have shared with you. You are an amazing writer.

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