Exactly one month after Release Day, and I’m so happy to be back!
I know I say this all the time, but life has been insane since we let Simon and Tessa’s story out into the world. Splitting myself in half has always been a challenge, but it’s especially difficult when you’re mired in the workload at the office while your publicist is booking all these interviews and sit downs that require your time and attention. You can imagine the difficulty I’ve had just trying to find an empty conference room in an open benching set up. Always before 9 am and always after 5 pm. After all, I’ve always tried my best to separate my two lives – mainly to ensure that I give all I can to the career that supports me. I’ve worked so hard to get from there to here that I still do my best to safeguard the trust I’d been given in my role as the CFO of an increasingly complex business. Lately, it’s gotten harder to distinguish the difference because both sides of my life have equally enriched me, allowed me to take the journey that’s made me who I am today.
But all this has just gotten much more interesting. Because in the month since release, I’ve had one of the most liberating experiences of my life! (If you scroll through my other posts, you will see what the other one was…feels like an eternity ago, but it will live with me forever.) My two lives are finally joining together. In a circle. Or at least holding hands until we figure out how to make things work.
Do you remember the USA Today article that came out on Release Day? It was circulated around our leadership team at the Agency. And so now, everyone knows I’m a romance author!
I feel free. I feel validated. I feel whole.
Two weeks after I was outed, I was asked to speak at the Advertising Women of New York’s annual retreat for women in leadership. I was speaking to an audience of C Suite women who have trailblazed their own paths to success. The panelist started out with the question –
Who is Christine Brae?
I stuttered at first, struggled to find the words that once spoken, will throw me into the middle of all my vulnerabilities. It can be used against me, in a world that still has a stigma about romance authors.
And then with my head held high, I told them:
- she’s a woman who went through a tragic loss and wanted to write about it one day in the summer of 2013. She never, ever expected a following, and ultimately a career as an author
- she’s an executive, a leader, a champion of individuality, diversity, of bringing your whole self to the table
- she’s an advocate of all life’s differences
- she’s a copy girl turned CFO, a mother, a wife, a sister and a daughter
- she’s a true believer that it’s never too late to live your dream, that taking a leap with no regrets is the way to live
The audience’s reception, their applause, their questions. It confirmed to me that all of us, no matter who we are, are searching for a way to live out our passions.
So, dear readers, it’s a new journey, a new road I’ll be taking from hereon. It still feels weird to me, the fact that I can speak openly about it – I’m still feeling my way around. I continue to think there needs to be a separation. Because I believe that my career as a CFO does require a level of professionalism, practicality and purpose that doesn’t necessarily translate into the persona I’ve built as a weaver of words. The respect it commands, although of the same value, is different in many ways.
I may never fully integrate the two paths. But at least, I was given the choice to do so.
And that’s what really matters, don’t you agree?
Stick with me. It’s going to be a very interesting journey.