None of us are immune to life’s adversities, but the question is how we cope with loss, ill health and the death of a loved one.
In her new book “Free Your Soul,” author Sedona Summer of Harwich takes the reader on her life journey and shows us how she eventually rallied after her husband Geno suddenly died. “The thread throughout is how my spiritual development helped me throughout my life,” she says. In her book, Summer turns to meditation and other contemplative practices for guidance.
“Sedona Summer” is the pseudonym of a woman who grew up in Chatham. She asked that her real name not be used partly because “as you evolve, you become somebody different.”
Summer was one of four siblings. She describes her father as the “bad boy of the town” with a drinking problem. He was later diagnosed as bipolar. As her mother, too, began to drink, her upbringing became one of “neglect and shame.” As a teenager, Summer spent a lot of time in her room listening to The Beatles. It caught her attention when George Harrison turned to a guru in India for spiritual guidance.
Soon after graduating from Chatham High School in 1971, Summer married. She says her husband prevented her from exploring her talents as a painter, so “getting divorced opened me up totally. I just blossomed,” she says. “I was a different person.”
Yet this was not the easiest period of her life. Now a single mother, she raised a son and a daughter on her own. Money was tight, and taking a vacation to Disneyworld meant making sacrifices somewhere else in the family budget.
At age 36, when she was working as a receptionist in a bank, she met a man who ran a local leather shop. They soon began dating. “He was amazing,” she says. “I learned so much so quickly. I grew even more.” Later, when she was 45 and her children had grown, she met Geno on a blind date. (She asked that Geno’s last name not be used.) “I was just a total, full complete woman then. Ready to love with heart and soul,” she remembers. (Today her son Jason is a pilot with United Airlines, after a career in the military. Her daughter Jennifer lives in San Francisco not far from her son.)
Summer and Geno married at Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Ariz., in 1998. After visiting relatives around the country, they returned to a lot they owned in Harwich and began building their house. “It was a labor of love,” she says. “Just a love nest for two is what we were looking for.” The house, which is surrounded by a garden, is decorated with Summer’s cheerful wall paintings, canvases, stained glass windows, mobiles and plants. Summer’s meditation space is set up at the foot of her bed with a view of treetops through the window.
When Geno died in 2011, Summer’s world broke apart. Looking for signs that Geno’s love remained strong, she found them. On one occasion she and her sister-in-law met a man who was a dead ringer for Geno in Corpus Christi, Texas. The kicker? He told them he was a welder.
Yet despite these final tokens of Geno’s love, Summer entered a period of grieving and isolation. After about three years of that, she began writing. “I was struggling to find a new purpose in my life and a way to take care of myself,” she says. She wrote at the local library and at the Harwich Council on Aging in the afternoons. One day a librarian approached her and said, “Are you writing a book?” At home that night she thought: “How weird—he thought I was writing a book.” This morphed into: “Could I write a book? Let’s try it.” She found that structuring and writing her book was “therapeutic.” After editing it extensively, she began showing her manuscript to others who reacted enthusiastically. She also added a workbook section.
Originally Summer wanted to illustrate her book with her own paintings. When the publishing cost turned out to be prohibitive, she decided to illustrate her PowerPoint lectures with the paintings.
The cover painting shows a wise, gray-haired woman who has overcome obstacles. She is “exuding energy into the universe. She can affect people with her energy and her stamina,” Summer says. “It’s amazing. If you focus on the positive in your life it really does come true.”
Summer is already planning a sequel.
Summer will give an illustrated presentation about “Free Your Soul” on Wednesday, June 14 at 2 p.m. at the Royal at 328 Bank St., Harwich. She will sign copies of the book after the talk. She will also sign copies of her book on Saturday, July 15 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Booksmith/Musicsmith in Orleans. Copies of the book are also available at Yellow Umbrella Books in Chatham.