On January 23, Dr. Randy Kamen’s “Finding Fulfillment and Joy in Midlife“ Summit begins. In some ways, this summit can be seen as an outgrowth of Dr. Kamen’s writing a book at midlife, Behind the Therapy Door, and the personal growth tools Dr. Kamen teaches in her book.
In this author interview, you’ll learn about writing a book at midlife, how Dr. Kamen’s self-published book got picked up by a national publisher and how this midlife summit can help you as a writer.
Lisa: You wrote your book at midlife. Why do you think midlife is such a powerful time for writing a book?
Randy: Because by midlife we have acquired a certain amount of wisdom and a body of life experiences that often inspire us to share our story, lessons learned or world view.
Lisa: Did you feel a sense of urgency in writing your book, Behind the Therapy Door? If so, what drove that urgency?
Randy: I felt it was an important developmental milestone for me professionally and personally. I felt I had a message from my years as a psychologist and educator and I wanted to share information that I knew would make a difference in people’s lives. At the same time it helped me to further develop my own thoughts and see another dimension to my work.
Lisa: You mentioned to me once that writing your book helped you systematize the information you had been teaching your clients, and that helped you in bringing those lessons to nurturing retreats as well as seminars with CEOs. That’s a powerful benefit of writing a book that I would not necessarily have thought of. What challenges—if any—did you have to overcome to get your book written and published?
Randy: One of the greatest challenges for me was that of organization. I needed no motivation to write. I felt inspired during most of the writing—but organizing all the material at times felt daunting. The other challenge was learning new technologies, because I knew that I had to build an online presence. There are many platforms and different technologies involved with building lists, learning social media, doing podcast, learning how to do the lighting, the audio and video of interviews, etc.
Lisa: Yes, there is so much to learn and that often intimidates aspiring authors. I think it’s important to take it all one step at a time and not try to do everything at once. I think you did a good job of that—at one point focusing on your newsletter, later writing for the Huffington Post, etc. What vision did you have for what your book would do for your life and your work?
Randy: Writing my book opened so many doors for me—more than I envisioned. I wanted to do more speaking engagements and that came readily. I began writing for my own blog as well as theHuffington Post; Mind, Body, Green; WebMDand so many online and traditional publications. I regularly speak at conferences and retreats around the country now at a wide variety of venues.
Randy: Yes, most recently I developed an online course which can be taught in 8 weeks or expanded out for a year. It’s about retraining the brain and developing more vibrancy and joy in midlife. I’m also about to launch a summit at the end of January, 2017 with leaders from the fields of mind-body-spirit. Although a tremendous amount of work and a huge learning curve this has been one of the most satisfying projects I’ve ever taken on.
Lisa: Anything else that stands out from writing a book at midlife and becoming a published author?
Randy: Meeting leaders in the field and establishing peer to peer relationships with people whose work I truly admire and resonate with.
Lisa: It must have been especially exciting to be personally contacted by Arianna Huffington and asked to join a panel she was leading. And then to be on that panel with Deepak Chopra, Gabrielle Bernstein and others. What are some suprises that came out of becoming a published author—things you didn’t expect?
Randy: One of the biggest surprises was that my agent continued to show my book to publishers after I had self-published and my book eventually got picked up by a medical publishing house. This means that it will be in book stores and libraries all over. The book is currently being edited and updated.
I never thought I would be able to create a virtual business and see patients via Skype and run groups online in the way that I’m doing now. I love that I can be anywhere and operate a business that I love. I had begun to feel burnt out—sitting with patients in my office all day. I had a successful private practice for many years and was blessed with such meaningful work, but I was ready to make a change and create something different and reach a larger audience too. That said, I still maintain a small private practice just to keep myself alive in the field. I enjoy having a small practice that allows me the freedom to do what I want personally and professionally.
Lisa: What’s the most exciting part of being a published author?
Randy: When someone tells me that they read my book and how much they valued the information and strategies, I’m always delighted. I also feel like it’s a milestone for me in a private sort of way. I’ve always liked taking on big projects and seeing them through despite the challenges that inevitably present themselves. I remember feeling the same way when I wrote my dissertation, which was also a book. I still would like to publish that data I discovered doing that research.
Lisa: What are some midlife skills and experiences that made midlife the perfect time to write your book?
Randy: Writing a blog helped to hone my writing skills. I still write just about every day. Also, all of my years as a psychologist gave me so many stories and skills to draw upon. And of course raising my children gave me a greater appreciation for parenting, balancing family and work. After the children were launched a space opened up in which I now really had the time to write and create.
Lisa: I can see how that would create some time! Do you have clients and colleagues who’ve written books at midlife?
Randy: Yes. Many of the people involved in my summit have written books and I’ve developed some friendships with these people. Otherwise I don’t have many friends that are authors. In the town where I live it seems that most women don’t work full time jobs and many have more traditional marriages—though in midlife that seems to be changing somewhat.
Lisa: What are some of the motivations that have driven your colleagues to write a book at midlife and publish?
Randy: The people in my summit are kindred spirits for the most part. Many are on a mission to share their acquired wisdom and make a difference for the greater good.
Finding Fullfillment and Joy in Midlife: The Summit
Lisa: Tell us a bit more about the midlife summit.
Randy: The summit is an awesome collection of women and men coming together to talk about the research and cutting edge strategies for making the most out of these precious years—rather than letting them slip away. This summit will help people take more responsibility in how they choose to lead the coming years and hopefully live with greater sense of purpose.
Lisa: I think one of the things about anything you do is that you always back up your teachings with the research behind it—the evidence that it works. Tell us more about your vision for the midlife summit.
Randy: My vision is to create an annual event in which I draw from leaders around the world to contribute their energy, wisdom and know how with an ever expanding audience. This time in life is so rich and I want to be deeply involved in focusing on the best aspects of midlife—rather than focusing on the negative—the losses—the notion of the midlife crisis. Midlife I’m convinced can be the sweetest time in a person’s life.
Lisa: Wow, that’s an exciting vision and in such contrast to much of what we hear from the media on midlife. I think your vision of making it an annual event really ups the quality of a summit—when you know you want to create more events and attract top talent to the summit year after year. What can we expect?
Randy: Expect an annual event that will tap into the best resources and people coming together. Perhaps even over time creating a live event. But I must say I’m loving doing the interviews from the comfort of my own home or wherever else I may be.
Lisa: You’re a natural at interviewing. It’s fun to experience you in this new role. What are some of the interviews that will be especially relevant to aspiring authors?
Randy: Dr. Joan Borysenko just finished writing her 17th book. Dr. Alice Domar has written seven books and Dr. Rick Hanson has written four so far. Dr. Maria Sirois, and Dr. Reid Wilson also have written beautiful and compelling books. Mirabai Bush has co-authored a book with Ram Dass and is now writing another about the dying process. She is doing this with Ram Dass as he faces his deteriorating health and ultimate death. So many others have messages too that they just had to put together in a coherent way. It’s for them and their audiences. I know the feeling of needing to create and fully express ideas and experience. It can be intoxicating at times.
Lisa: What an inspiring line up! I think my readers will also be very interested in hearing my colleagues Nancy Aronie who is so wonderful about helping writers feel “safe” to write about deeper personal experiences and inspirational publisher Linda Joy. I also have to share that I am so proud that my client and Bring Your Book to Life® Program graduate, Micaela Karlsen, is perhaps the only non-midlifer in the summit. Micaela, author of A Plant Based Life, provides evidence based advice on how to stick with healthy eating, despite all the temptation “out there.”
Anything else you want to share about the midlife summit?
Randy: It’s my first one and I’m blown away by the generosity of the speakers. They have been so honest and willing to share their truth, their frailties and strengths. I am honored that so many people stepped up and contributed to this summit in such beautiful ways.
Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.