Donna Mae Pasicniak was on a return trip home from Nantucket with a sleeping daughter by her side when she had an epiphany to infuse her life with more joy, purpose and gratitude. Now 64 and an established children's author, her story is one of unwavering focus and endless inspiration - a perfect icon for our own everyday. Enjoy!
You had an epiphany ten years ago that changed your life. Can you share more about that experience, and what the specific epiphany was?
About ten years ago, I was on a return trip home from a Nantucket, Ma. My youngest daughter and I were returning home on the ferry. She had fallen asleep, so in my silence observation of passengers, I think I felt as if my life were missing something. Everyone seemed so outwardly joyous. Was my life missing that abundant joy? Upon exiting the ferry, I felt this overwhelming feeling. I couldn’t wait to get home and make my life work, as though I needed to rearrange it somehow. Whatever the inner realization was for me was now taking over my thought process. The inner joy and peace I now felt was as if my heart had broken open.
The very next day I began writing, out of nowhere. I wrote catchy rhyming poems about love and life. I couldn’t stop writing and my poor husband had to hear every one. A Boston newspaper was looking for Red Sox trivia and I mailed them a poem and they printed it. I mailed another poem to a famous roadside lobster shack in Maine. They hung it in their eatery and then I got a call from the senior writer from Downeast magazine wanting to know if they could print my poem in a novelty book they were publishing.
Looking back, I think I had a realization that fear and self-doubt were now erased from my life. Something had awakened in that silence. I think the epiphany gave me what I felt was missing in my life. I had a newfound joy. When you take fear and self-doubt out of the equation, all things are possible.
The messages from your heart speak clearer than the messages from your mind. I was now listening to the messages from within.
Amen, Donna! Since then, you rearranged your life and started writing children's books. What sort of resistance did you face pursuing this passion later in life than most?
I felt no resistance to pursuing my new found God given talent. I think my writing ability was always there but I needed to awaken it. I looked into getting my book shelved in Barnes & Noble and was told that they only shelve 3% of self-published authors. The old me would have thought, “Oh that isn’t possible for me.” The new me says, “Good, then I will be one of the 3%.” (Editor's note: She is.) Resistance comes from ego and I had to release my ego to live from my true self.
How has your life changed since becoming a children's book author? What life philosophies have you formed as a result?
Since becoming a children’s book author, I am living life to the fullest. I greet each day with gratitude. I spend my days looking for new ways to market my book. I now feel a greater sense of purpose. A year ago I retired and I am now able to write full time. My life has more balance and I have a sense that there are wonderful things in store for me. Being a children’s book author brings a pride that I have never felt before. My greatest wish for my book and for myself is to be able to give back on a large scale. That is what I want to do with my life and my book is hopefully the tool to get me there.
I’ll tell you a little secret: When I was a young mother, I loved reading children’s books to my daughters. It was such a bonding experience full of laughs and giggles and held so much joy. Not only for them, but for me as well. One day I had this thought (it really was more like it was told to me): “One day you will write children’s books!”
I remember that day like it was yesterday. I thought it unusual and put that dream to sleep for another time. But now, the time had come and I was ready to listen. They say, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." I think the epiphany was my teacher.
What are some tried-and-true ways you enjoy a sweeter everyday?
I enjoy a sweeter day because my life has more freedom and balance. Even though I’m retired I still work every day. I love spending time online looking to connect with writers and I love being able to not be on the clock so to speak. I take Fridays off to spend time with my grandchildren. They also help balance my life and keep me present. Looking through the eyes of children is the best gift of all. Every day is sweet because my life is filled with purpose and gratitude. At 64 I can say that I am living my best life!
What can children teach us about life?
Children teach us to live in the present moment. That is where life is. They don’t worry about the past or think about the future. The present moment allows you to be more aware. They show us what is really important. Their innocence is so beautiful and delicate. My grandchild always shows me the truth.
What are you learning right now about balance, passion and embracing imperfections?
Balance is truly the key to happiness. Balance enables us to relax more and not stress out. I let go of stress a while ago. I learned when faced with a situation that might cause me to get upset, I could just step back and breathe. Stress is caused by not being in the present moment. It’s caused by trying to live in the future. Even at work I realized when given much to do that I can only do one thing at a time and it will all work out fine if I just relax into it. It always got done and I was never anxious. Stress is self-inflicted.
We are all on our own paths and we will all get there at different times. Everyone has a different story, each one filled with imperfections. That is what makes us all so wonderful. The lessons of imperfection keep us flexible. I embrace life whatever way it comes to me. At 64, I have finally figured out the way the universe works. I consider myself a late bloomer but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My life has had ups and downs as we all have... but I always realize that I had to go through all I did to get to where I am today. I wouldn’t change one moment.
p.s. Want to hear from another inspired writer? Hear from our resident poet Hannah Stephenson.