Here best selling author, small business owner Soulla Christoudoulou shares, how burn out and that ovewhelm that life can put on us led to an amazing career as a best selling author and sending letters around the world. We just love our Soulla!!!
Mandie invited me to contribute this blog article after I posted a pink book stack for breast cancer on my Facebook account. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month where we are encouraged and supported to check our boobies and talk about our experiences and share our stories.
I became involved in a charity based in California at the beginning of 2016, two months after resigning from my job at a local secondary school, burnt out and frazzled, while also struggling to support my mum through cancer. I was desperate to do something. I’m not a runner or an athlete and while browsing the internet for a charity I could support I came across Girls Love Mail. The founder collects handwritten letters and distributes them to patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. I knew I could do that. I love writing and love the written word and how powerful it is. I have written hundreds of letters, all by hand, and one of my very first letters was selected to be in a special book of letters, Dear Friend.
I love writing these letters, they are grounding and humbling and make me grateful for life, for living, for breathing. At around the same time I began to think about writing my second novel, The Summer Will Come, partly based on my parents’ families’ experiences of leaving Cyprus in the 1950s and moving to start a new life here in the UK.
Mum was still going through her treatment, and we used to spend a lot of time talking about growing up in Cyprus and her fondest, and most painful, memories. The more we talked, and I talked about my next book to others, the more I realised my mum and dad’s stories were reflected in the lives of so many others. And The Summer Will Come was born.
Since 2019 I have also hosted an annual afternoon tea party in support of MacMillan Cancer Support’s Big Coffee Morning and the event has quickly become a highlight on many people’s calendars. It’s always a great joy to see friends, family, neighbours, and past work colleagues come together to share stories, make new friendships, to drink tea and to eat homemade cakes and pastries all while raising money and awareness for the incredible work the charity does for those affected by cancer. This year my three-hour tea party raised £900.00.
This isn’t a sad post. My mum is well again, and I am grateful for each and every day I am able to spend with her and to have the freedom to do what I love; write stories from the heart, stories which look at life in all its messiness, themes of hope and friendship, love and pain, kindness and resilience. It’s what I was always meant to do, and I am grateful for the burnout. If I hadn’t left my job who knows where I might have ended up; likely not just publishing my fifth novel, A Palette of Magpies.
Thank you for reading, remember to self-examine, men and women, and stay well and safe. Big hugs, Soulla x
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