Bobbi’s book is waiting in my stash from Future Horizons for review, and then we found each other quite “accidentally” on Twitter! So glad! Get ready for some smiles as you enjoy her sense of humor, and be warned you may need a tissue at the end. And now, here is Bobbi in her own words…
My name is Bobbi Sheahan, and I’m so honored that Jenny has asked me to be Wednesday’s Woman. I never had My Very Own Day before!
I’ll celebrate this honor by telling you a story about dreams and how they can come true in unexpected ways.
Take my dream of becoming a writer, for example.
I raced through college without a thought in my head about what Glamorous Job I would get with my English Literature degree. I was sure that it would involve writing, but I was a bit vague on the details.
At the age of 20, with no real life experience, I realized that, while I might be a talented writer, I had nothing to say. Not yet, at least. I decided that law school was a good alternative to poverty. (Had I understood the realities of student loans, I would have realized that a law degree is a nifty accessory to poverty, at least for a decade or so.)
Fast-forward into my thirties. I was a successful, full-time litigation attorney who mostly ignored the fact that my gentle temperament made me and litigation a bad match. Make that a really bad match. I enjoyed the fact that my job did involve a lot of research, writing and speaking. I was good at that part. Really good at it, actually. Despite the fact that the combat of litigation was not my style, I became a name partner in my law firm at the age of 29, and I published my first book in 1999, when I was in my early thirties.
The book was entitled Texas Automobile Insurance Policy Annotated, and is still a successful book with a strong following (Texas Lawyer Press (a division of American Lawyer Media), 10th Ed. 2011). My co-author/law partner and I got our first publishing contract by taking the editor out to a really great lunch and making our pitch over some really yummy food. It looked like a great way to promote our law practice, but the writer inside me saw it as a step towards the life I really wanted. I was living the cliché of climbing a ladder that’s leaning against the wrong wall, but I wasn’t quite ready to admit it to myself yet. (Remember that part about student loans?)
Around that same time, I was beginning to realize that I was ignoring two very important things: my faith, and the fact that I would like to be married and have children. I did my part on the faith, and God took care of the rest.
In 2000, I met Ben, an adorable man who became my husband, my champion, and my best friend. We got married and I continued practicing full-time until 2003, when I was expecting my second child. Since that time, I have occasionally worked on appeals and as a consulting attorney. With each legal assignment that I’ve done, I’ve realized how far I have traveled from that life. I can succeed at the work, but I’m more of a hugger than a gladiator. Also, my second child, who was born in 2004, has autism. Understanding and caring for her needs has been more than a full-time job.
In the meantime, when I casually suggested to my legal publisher that my new life as a mom had inspired an idea for a book, they went for it. (I didn’t even have to spring for lunch this time, which was good since my four young children aren’t the most genteel dining companions.)
So, in 2010, I was writing again. This time, I was the general editor of All About Texas Law and Kids (Texas Lawyer Press (a division of American Lawyer Media), 2010). I wrote that book, which covers every area of the law from special ed to carseats to custody to juvenile delinquency, with Michelle May O’Neil, Claudia Cano, and Sharon Ramage, three brilliant attorneys who really know their stuff. I am so proud of our work.
Nevertheless, that book was very tough. It involved a lot of editing and research, and it made me see that I didn’t want to drink that much coffee or use my babysitter that much ever again. Still, my desire to write had re-awakened, and this time I had something to say that kept me awake at night. Literally. This year, my daughter’s therapist and I released What I Wish I’d Known About Raising a Child With Autism (Sheahan and DeOrnellas, Future Horizons 2011). The book has been out for just a couple of months, and the reviews are very encouraging; it is off to a strong start. As I have begun to promote the book and speak to other parents who need information and encouragement about their young child who has or may have autism, I see that there are a lot of people who are bright, well-intentioned, and seriously in need of good information about the enormous change that autism has brought to their lives. In other words, they are just like I was.
I truly believe that I have now found my life’s work. All of the streams of my life — my writing, my family, my faith, my parenting, — have come together and it doesn’t feel like a career at all. It feels as natural as breathing. At my first book signing, there was a mom who waited at the end of the line. When she got to me, she just began to cry.
I said, “New diagnosis?”
“Yes, he’s five.”
As we cried together, I told her that, not so long ago, I was in her shoes. I wrote my book because there wasn’t one like it and I felt so alone. Now I know I’m not – with current stats showing that more than 1 in 100 kids are on the autism spectrum, there are a lot of us out there, and we need each other. That scene has played out more than once since then, and I look forward to meeting more parents who need to know that life is going to be okay, that they can do this, that they aren’t alone, that their kid is the same wonderful kid he was before someone pointed at him and said that feared word, “autism.”
That’s why I did it. That’s why I do this.
Wasn’t that great! I feel like I have made a new friend after reading that, and Bobbi and I have some things in common. The great news is the discount offered by Future Horizons to my readers since I’m part of their blogger review team! If you use my referral code HATS, you get 15% off and FREE shipping for those in the continental U.S.! Click here to read more about her book at Future Horizons’ site and use the code if you want. (This discount competes with online retailers like Amazon, and Bobbi gets paid more this way! It does not apply to Temple Grandin conferences since they are already discounted.)
Bobbi is the author, along with Kathy DeOrnellas, Ph.D., of What I Wish I’d Known About Raising a Child With Autism (Future Horizons 2011). It is Bobbi’s third book. She and her husband, Ben, are homeschooling their four children. She invites you to stop by her website at www.bobbisheahan.com.