Giving Up on My Big Life Goal

Last year, I was ready to quit working on my big life goal. I hadn’t been to any writer meetings in months. In fact, I hadn’t even worked on my children’s books. The writing no longer poured out of me.


I had been working on my goal of writing for children for over 17 years. Over that time, whenever I did anything toward writing and publishing, I felt joy. I felt alive. My big life goal was to both write and illustrate children’s picture books. Although I had made progress and had victories, there was no picture book publication in sight.


What had changed? In 2018, I looked death in the eye and it changed me. My mother-in-law, who was also my good friend, was diagnosed with cancer throughout her body.

I stayed beside Dorie on her path to the end of her earthly life. I saw death and despised it. How could the last days be so cruelly painful for such a sweet, loving person?

grief stopped me from my life goal


After that experience I spent much of 2018 stuck in grief. My friend and family member was gone. It all happened so fast. I spent the following months in shock, trying to make sense of it.

At that time, my writing consisted of journaling about Dorie. Of creating a timeline, trying to figure it out. I also needed to get down on paper the holy, majestic, paranormal parts of it. Because God worked in her life, and we were given signs of the afterlife and reuniting with family. I had faith, but was struck down from the path of my life goal by witnessing the bitter starkness of death.


Once my experience and thoughts about Dorie’s death were on paper, I was done writing. I wish I could say that I followed the text book on grieving like some of the tips in this article. Instead I muddled through in my process.

I’d had a go at being a children’s author and illustrator. Except for one article, none of the traditional publishing houses took me up on my submitted manuscripts. It had been long enough. I let go of my dream and stopped working toward my big life goal.

-Jenifer Tull-Gauger

Jenifer Tull-Gauger Kyoshi

Children's picture book author/illustrator. Traditional karate teacher and practitioner. Loves drawing and all kinds of art. Also into animals, plants and Mother Nature.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Ronnie

    I am blown away by the raw courage you’ve shown by opening yourself up the way you have. Losing Dori’s was so unfair and such a shock, but in a way I just realized, you are doing what she also wanted to do herself so good does come from senseless tragedy. You are so lucky to have the determination to let your loss galvanize you into creating a better world for both children and adults. You have written a children’s picture book, but the themes are universal and all people, no matter what age struggle with laziness and procrastination. I can’t wait to continue the journey and see what Makoto and Michi teach next. Thank you for your passion!

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