Many of you know I have been working on a self-help book for the last several years entitled, Firewalk: Embracing Different Abilities. It’s been a very long process and more importantly, a labor of love.  There have been many times when I thought I don’t have the thousands of hours to work on it or that it’s too hard to get anything published today with the head-spinning changes in the industry, but this book has a life of it’s own and it’s so integral to my life, I have no choice but to give birth to it.

The labor process has not been easy, though.  It is very hard to get a literary agent today, let alone a publisher.  Now that the book is done, I am immersed in finding an agent to represent me while also exploring if self-publishing is an viable option.  It’s certainly a daunting task and I am never bored in my pursuits. One of the challenges is literary agents are bombarded on a daily basis by query letters from prospective authors.  Writers need to stand out.   I was discussing this with my wise mentor, Ann Bradney, when she suggested I do a short video for agents so they can actually see me and hear my message.  Why not?  It can’t hurt.

So allow me to run “my pitch” by you.  Any comments, suggestions, and feedback are most welcomed.

I am Kathy O’Connell and I live life embracing having cerebral palsy.

The idea of embracing my disability came to me several years ago as I was going through some intense professional trainings to become a counselor.  In one of these trainings I was invited to participate in a firewalk ceremony, actually walking on a bed of hot coals.  The purpose of this was to demonstrate how crucial our inner knowing is in guiding us through life’s challenges.  Doing the firewalk, stepping on those hot coals with my bare feet, and literally walking on my fear of doing physical activities, was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life.  I was barely aware of the intensity of the heat beneath my feet because of how incredibly alive I felt.

The epiphany I had from doing the firewalk is that living life with a disability is much like walking on a bed of hot coals – there is fear of getting hurt, and you may get burned along the way, but  you do it anyway because you want the experience of fully living life, rather than letting the fear hold you back, no matter what the hardship is.

Having lived with a disability all my life, I began to apply the concept of embracing to living life with a disability.  I have brought this insight into my work as a counselor for people with disabilities with the premise that the key to handling any difficulty in life, including a disability, is to embrace it and allow it to strengthen you, rather than placing your energies into fighting or resisting it.

When we embrace a difficulty, we allow it to work through us as a means of making us stronger, more able to fully realize our potential.  When we embrace our disability or any difference we struggle with, when we can look at all the ways our body is different, when we are able to endure all the struggles involved in the process of living with a disability, and are able to say this is who I am and I love who I am, we can then use our disability or difference as a transformative tool for growth.

Firewalk: Embracing Different Abilities is about helping people do this.  It shows how to:

* View your difference as a valuable gift, teacher, and opportunity for growth
* Move beyond hardship and the “why me” victimization
* Face fear, anger, and frustration head-on so you can access your authentic self
* Stop letting others’ attitudes and perceptions define, limit, and hurt you
* Get in touch with your sexuality and power to attract others to you
* Find your purpose and go after it with new abilities, strength, and focus

I am looking for an agent and publisher who believes in me, my book, and the power of my message. I am a dynamic public speaker who inspires people, both with and without disabilities.  I have the ability to transform how people think about disabilities.

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