It is the beginning of the second day of my sabbatical. I am sitting in a coffee shop overlooking Nicollet Avenue, a big cup of joe at my side and chatter all around me, feeling thankful. 

Thankful that I had the courage to follow my heart. Thankful that the Universe has aligned itself just so, providing me with the opportunity to do so. And thankful, simply, just to be here.

Do you think there is something 'out there,' rooting for us to become the best selves we can become? Something other than our inner selves? Our will? Other than those we've surrounded ourselves with that provide us with the encouragement and motivation to keep moving forward? 

I truly don't know what I believe. It's surely hard to swallow that something could be rooting for those of us who have felt that at one point — at many points — so many somethings had been conspiring against us for uncountable years, it's a miracle that we survived them at all.

Yet some survivors are allowed to flourish, while others do not.

I don't have the answers. But I do have a story. And I hope to tell it — honestly, and without fear. We can't move forward without first facing and then letting go of the past. 

Originally, I intended on titling this memoir "Unbroken." It was a word that spoke to me. It felt good on my tongue, my lips. It invoked images of resiliency and tenacity. Then a good friend brought to my attention an already best-selling novel by the same name, which I hadn't heard of, and jokingly told me that Laura Hillenbrand would sue my ass if I tried to use that title!

She was right, of course. It's strange how things happen sometimes... as attached to that name as I initially was, now that I am immersed in my writing journey, I realize that unbroken isn't as much a title as it is a feeling. A title, in my mind, is the wrapper of what's inside. It should speak to the time and the place and the heart of the story. 

And such was born Cherry Lane — where we lived after fleeing from my father, and where I truly feel I lost the last of my innocence, while unknowingly growing a will as strong as iron to carve my way into this beautiful disaster of a world. Here is where I will face the most painful parts of my past, and then set them onto these pages, freeing myself once and for all. 

I look forward to sharing my journey with you — and thank you for listening.