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LAY cover redMy book has a cover. No biggie.

Please hold a moment while I scour my sweaty palms with a baby wipe and do a little happy dance in my bare feet.

Okay, I am back. Totally calm. Impossibly collected.

Right.

To be perfectly honest (there is no such thing as perfect honesty, but I try), this quest for a cover has dragged on a bit. It has been a wee bit stressful for me. Almost as stressful as coming up with a new title.

But, alas, it seems that the good folks at HarperCollins are happy with this lovely cover.

And so am I.

When my editor sent it along at the end of last week, I delayed opening the attachment. I just sat there staring at her email with the menacing adorable paperclip. I was alone in my study. I started shaking. Finally, I mustered the bravery to click. And open said attachment.

And there it was. Striking. Gorgeous. Intriguing.

I felt those proverbial chills. They were multiplying. I tried calling Husband. And Mom. And sundry sisters. I tried calling my agent. My editor. I remembered that my publicist was on vacation. So then I did the next best thing. I hopped online. Trembling, I wrote the following words and hit that trusty return button scattering them in the odd ether of the Twittersphere:

I am staring at the cover of my book. Shaking. Guess this is really happening.

And there was a flurry of responses. People expressed their congratulations. People told me they couldn't wait to read my book. And though I was alone in that moment, I felt surrounded. Supported.

And then. Today, I met a wonderful group of women for midday fondue in Midtown. (Does it really get better than that? Answer: No.) These are ladies I encountered on one magical September Saturday thanks to the lovely Danielle LaPorte. (Yes, I mention her a fair bit chez ILI. For good reason. Check her out.) What I love most about this group is its incredible diversity. Yes, I savored words and wine with women who spend their days (and nights) coaching creatives and professionals, writing books and blogs, inventing games, decorating homes, designing jewelry, selling art, writing plays, astrologizing (a word?), and trying out for roller derby. For two-plus hours (thanks, Husband!) we talked animatedly about life and love.

About the lives we are all leading. And the ones we hope to lead.

About the things we love. Because each of us is daring to do something we love. Or at least trying to figure out what that something is.

We traded tips and tales. I passed around my phone to show everyone an image of my book cover. There were Ooooohs. And Aaaahhhs. The consensus was that it is beautiful and strong. And yes. I am not 100% naive. (Only 83-96%) I know that it is very likely that people were spouting false praise. But I don't know. The enthusiasm seemed too authentic. I chose to believe.

At the end of our time together, we went around the table and announced our dream for 2010. There were no restrictions. No rules. The dream didn't have to be realistic. It could be wild and crazy.

When it was my turn, my palms grew clammy and I grew sheepish. I looked down as I gripped my glass of water and began to speak.

"My dream is that people buy my book and read my story," I said.

I was met with a chorus of nods and smiles.

"People will. We will."

Reality and dreams can collide. And, sometimes, they do.

If we let them.

And so. I am thrilled and, yes, petrified to be sharing this with you today. The cover for my very first book. Because I do have moments of jagged confidence when I believe and fervently that there will be many books. And many covers. And I have to relish these moments of foolish faith. Because they fade. And quickly.

More than anything, I feel humbled and happy to be doing this. This. Writing. Piecing words together into that impossible puzzle that is prose. May 18 will come and go. My book will sell or it won't. But my words? They are here to stay. Mingling in my mind. Prancing on the page. Settling on your screen.

So, this is it.

I am proud. And scared. And excited. And overwhelmed.

But most of all? Most of all, I am thankful. Thankful that somewhere along the line, I stopped obsessively polishing my resume. That I allowed myself to be improvident. That I indulged in a little dream.

I am thankful to be married to a man who tolerates my permutations, who seems to savor my seriousness and silliness. Thankful to be the harried and happy mother of two tiny creatures who remind me - and daily - of the majesty of something that should not be relegated to our first years: imagination.

Thankful to have friends - who hail from childhood and adulthood and in-betweenhood, from worlds real and virtual and virtureal. Friends with whom I can share my fears and my fondue.

And as I write this, taking that laborious literary plunge into that beckoning self-centered sea, I realize something. In so many ways, in important ways, this is really not about me. This is not about one book I wrote. This is not about that ethereal image of a bride on the cover of my creation.

No.

This is about something bigger. Far bigger. This is about the commingling of hope and happiness. Of dream and reality. Of lust and love and life. This is about asking the big questions. Loudly. Proudly. This is about letting these big questions echo in our heads and our hearts and our homes. This is about giving perfection and prudence only the power they deserve.

This? This is about saying YES. To what we want. To what we need. To who we are.

This is about saying YES. Sometimes even before we know the question.

This about LIFE AFTER YES.

This is about chills. The good kind.

Mine. Yours. All of ours.

(Note To Self: This. Is. Happening.)

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Are you doing what you love? Are you loving what you do? Do you have some sense of what you might love to do? Do you love my book cover so much that you want to pre-order it?

No, there is no giveaway today. I am taking a breather from buying your affection. But Friday's winner of the signed copy of Gretchen Rubin's blazing new book THE HAPPINESS PROJECT was Ron!

[I take that back. Not that Ron was the winner. He is! The part about there being no giveaway. You might not have realized it, but there is a giveaway every day on ILI. I give you my words. My heart. Itty-bitty pieces of my hopes and dreams, my neuroses and insecurities. All for free. Not bad. Not bad at all.]

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