By Guest Blogger Cassie Edwards Whitlow
It makes no sense that I’m now a published author.
After I was born, I had uncontrollable tremors. The doctors thought I’d never walk or talk. Weeks after my mother participated in an all-night session of prayer, however, I walked and eventually began to form words.
During early childhood, I was diagnosed with dyslexia and severe Attention Deficit Disorder. Unlike most people with dyslexia, I caught on to reading early and enjoyed it. I struggled with writing, reading comprehension and responding verbally, but I was confident enough to read aloud.
One dreadful day in fourth grade, everyone took turns reading a paragraph from the text. When my turn came, I didn’t know where we were. The teacher accused me of being lazy. That was the beginning of self-doubt.
Yet I still had my other passion to rely on: singing. I declared at age 3 that I wanted to sing professionally, and I spent years investing in that. However, when I was 30, doctors discovered a tumor in my throat. It damaged my left vocal cord, ending my dream.
Life as a wife and mother became my focus and where I found my joy. As my children grew, so did the layers of life. My son was diagnosed with autism and ADHD at age 7. Couple that with a toddler daughter who needed me and a career military husband who was gone a lot, and I could barely keep myself together.
I took my mentor’s advice and started journaling. This helped me feel centered, and eventually, I realized it was time to reach for a new dream. I had toyed with the idea of writing a novel off and on for more than 10 years, but after many unsuccessful attempts I let it go.
Yet the more I resumed reading, the more my courage grew. I finally reached out to a few authors for advice and took a few workshops, and within two months, I had completed the first draft of a novella. In June 2016, Temptation was published. My second project, One Wish, was released in December 2016.
I’ve received messages from numerous readers saying how my most recent novella inspired them and helped build their faith. And people who knew me as a child, who’ve always wanted to write a book but didn’t know where to begin, now want to learn from me.
Looking back all those years ago, it was a blow when my elementary school teacher chastised me, and I was devastated when my voice changed.
Now I see things differently. What if the singing was sidelined so I could recognize my writing gift? I’m forced to talk more and I get to help people walk through the writing and publishing process.
Success and happiness happen when we discover our purpose and walk in it.
The attention deficit conditions that both my son and I were diagnosed with still have a stigma. Yet I’ve learned that ADHD and most learning disabilities are not disabilities at all. They’re gifts. ADHD is nothing more than overactive brain. We have a lot of ideas that are difficult to turn off.
Once I figured out how I learn, I no longer saw myself as incompetent or less than. I no longer saw this diagnosis as a barrier and I no longer have to hide in the shadows.
I am free to be who I was created to be and I can help others recognize their gifts as a blessing and not a flaw.
Cassie Edwards Whitlow is the author of two novellas, Temptation and One Wish. She creates relatable characters who grapple with issues she herself has a passion for: women’s mental, intellectual, and physical health issues. A native of Arkansas, wife of an Air Force Sergeant, and mom of two, Cassie currently resides in a small village in England. To learn more, visit Cassie at www.cassieedwardswhitlow.net, Instagram.com/cassieedwardswhitlow and Facebook.com/cassieedwardswhitlow.