She landed yesterday. This little sleeping ball of feather, which I held in my hands for so long wondering if she would fly, came back down for awhile. I had let her go, not knowing if she’d come back at all, in an old, historic California theater some time ago. She looked like a collection of letters, songs, and stories, but to me she was more like a small bird that I’d been taking care of, unsure if she’d survive. And after I presented her to the audience in that theater, I opened my hands and let her fly.
She took off out the main doors that night and flew across the cold clear winter sky, and along the way she landed in a few people’s hands who’d help her fly even farther.
And yesterday she came back down for awhile.
I’ll let Hay House CEO Reid Tracy explain.
And maybe she’ll land in your hands, too.
“Sometimes a letter is like a prayer; it’s more for the sender than the receiver.”
Whenever I see a copy of For the Sender, I still can’t believe how much impact this one little book has had on so many lives. Let me tell you about how it first landed in my hands.
It was one of our staff members who brought it to me. She said it was written by a friend. Uh-oh. I’m very skeptical when someone brings me a manuscript from “a friend” or an aunt, uncle or cousin. The end product usually has very limited appeal.
I receive quite a few unsolicited books and manuscripts that come to me from unknown authors or without a recommendation from an established author. When they are handed to me, I have a process that I always put into play: I read the first sentence. Then I read the first paragraph. This tells me right off the bat whether the author has a compelling voice.
The first sentences of For the Sender drew me in:
Me and the leaves are barely hanging on when I get the letter. Autumn is painting change everywhere, and I am turning over a season of my own, although the trees are doing a better job of letting go than I am. Leaves and dreams alike are either dying on the limb or already gone. And so is she.
And I kept reading. I read for another hour until I finished. When I sat back in my chair and had an immediate impulse to tell more people about this book, I knew I had something special in my hands.
Publishers usually don’t sign unknown writers, but I knew that Alex Woodard, author of For the Sender, was somehow meant to be with Hay House. Here was a local musician from San Diego who received a handwritten letter from a fan. Her name was Emily and she sent this letter to her favorite guitarist because his songs made her life easier after the love of her life had passed away. Alex was so moved by Emily’s letter that he wrote a song for her, which eventually led to more letters, more songs and his first book.
Emily’s letter did something else that I didn’t realize until later. It started a chain of events that would eventually blossom out of this new relationship we had with For the Sender and its author Alex Woodard. These would include a letter writing contest that germinated more songs for a second book, the addition of live music at our I Can Do It! events, a live concert right in the middle of our Hay House Carlsbad office, tribute songs for a local weatherman and a young boy whose life was cut short in Sandy Hook, and more best-selling books.
I shared For the Sender with a number of our authors and personal friends. Cheryl Richardson read it on her flight home from one of our San Diego events and loved it, even though she tried hard not to cry all the way. Chris Northrup said she couldn’t put it down, and Deepak Chopra called it a “beautiful tribute to the human spirit.”
When I sent a copy to Wayne Dyer, he called me immediately. He was so moved by it, that it inspired him to look back on his life. For the Sender soon became the inspiration for his next book, I Can See Clearly Now. (I’ll save that story for next time along with a very funny story about how I first met Wayne.)
By now, Alex learns that his words have inspired Wayne. He’d like to honor this somehow by writing a song. In his new follow-up book For the Sender: Love Is (Not A Feeling), Alex shares this song, “this gift” along with more songs, stories, letters and special moments that evolved from the writing of his first book.
Alex’s new book, For the Sender: Love Is (Not a Feeling) is another reminder about how truly connected we all are. I hope you’ll agree when you read it.
I’m including an excerpt from For the Sender: Love Is (Not a Feeling) below this column so you can read the remarkable details that led to the creating of the tribute song for Wayne. We’ll also include a link so you can watch Alex and Wayne’s daughter Skye perform the song live.
One more thing, you’ll also hear Alex and Skye perform this song during Wayne’s new Public Television Special in March (watch the video trailer). More on that next time…
My best wishes