Embrace the Blush! A New Book Trailer and A Look at the Other Side of the New Beginnings Screen

Those wonderful folks at MennoMedia called me up this week to announce that the book trailer for Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World is finished!

Writing the copy for this trailer forced me to think hard about two things:

  • what I discovered
  • what readers might discover

I chose the phrase “embrace your blush” as the way to connect the theme of the book — to become big we first have to become small — to what I imagine readers bring to the book. Only after the book is published and I go on tour to talk with people will I know for sure how others will find the book useful.

But, in the meantime, I already knew from the 557 entries in the 100 Day Challenge that others were pushing themselves in some new and wonderful ways. They were striking out on adventures, offering service to others, laughing, singing, praying, eating. Thank you, dear friends, for sharing so much of your lives. And for stretching yourselves. The pattern of starting over, learning new things, always makes us feel smaller (even embarrassed to the point of blushing), but it’s how we grow.

Here’s a sampling of New Beginnings. I made some categories for you to browse and took out names and other identifiers:

Major moments/Celebrations

I’m at the hospital with my daughter who is being induced with her first child. Whoot!

I’m making space in my living room for up to 20 people, to come sing hymns for 60 minutes with me tomorrow, on my 60th birthday.

Tonight I hung out with a man I have a huge crush on, and I’m pretty sure it’s reciprocated. It is the first time in over a year that I’ve spent time with someone that I actually feel has long-term potential. Neither one of us seemed to want it to end. It was a pattern-breaking evening in multiple ways for me, which felt nice.


We went to look for Persieds. Since we live in the city, we see few stars, even on a clear night. We drove about 20 miles to a state park, took the road up to the water tank, and waited for a shower. We took the lantern to the top of the water tank, lay down on a blanket, and waited. How amazing the number of stars visible! We could actually see the Milky Way’s gauzy stripe through the sky! How gorgeous! This was a first for all three of us, and to make it even more memorable, my friend set the camera to photograph us on top of the tank. It’s a special way to get out of the box of Everyday Life.

Tonight I go on a dinner date for the first time since my husband died 3 years ago. I’m scared and excited.

Today I dared to be more honest than I normally am about a difficult topic in conversation with my husband. It actually took us to a new level of helpful understanding.

I ordered my original birth certificate…have been afraid to do this because I don’t know what is actually on it. I found out I was a bastard in 1993, and found my biological mother’s family too late to meet her. I have been trying to find out who my biological father is for 20 years and considering DNA testing. Ordering my OBC, may give me additional information, and is a new step towards resolving adoption issues or finding a new way forward. Thank you for the challenge…I plan on doing something new every day. Something that I’ve been afraid to do or something I’ve put off because of fear.

The beautiful ordinary

Cracked open the score to Rutter Requiem

Today I introduced our 16th month old granddaughter to play dough. So fun to squeeze – both the play dough and Maddy. My delight is the wonder of seeing her discover new things. For a 16th month old every day is a filled with new things and the gift is that it lets me see things anew too.

Today I’m taking 6 boxes of materials to be shredded — clearing out old clutter and documents is always a way to start fresh!

My new beginning for today was to sleep in until I FELT like getting up with no alarm. After two very stressful weeks, this was soul saving!


I wasn’t going to go along to the theme park, but they needed another adult, and I decided I would go. It’s a place filled with rides–a ferris wheel, merry go round, spinning apples, etc. I loved those kinds of rides as a kid.  So my three daughters and I went with a gaggle of grandchildren–seven of them to be exact. Our oldest, almost 13, thinks he is too old for this sort of thing and stayed home with his Opa. Well I went on every ride I possibly could, and I just had a blast. The worst thing was climbing all those stairs to get to the top of the slide, but then sliding down it with a granddaughter in front of me and another beside me was more fun than I’ve had for ages! My new beginning is to never think I’m too old for anything. Enjoy the ride, I’ll never be seventy again!


Tonight I go on a dinner date for the first time since my husband died 3 years ago. I’m scared and excited.

Walked barefoot through an alligator swamp.

My New Beginning? These days I sometimes feel like I too am walking barefoot through an alligator swamp.

It’s time to take a time out in the midst of so much flurry of activity.

I plan to clear my desk, read some poetry, read over these New Beginnings, and pray that all of us keep learning what it means to embrace the blush.


Fifteen days until Blush launches! Oh my. Let’s register our New Beginnings, shall we? Log in here. I’ll be announcing the winner soon!

Shirley Showalter


  1. Tina Barbour on September 4, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Thank you for sharing your book trailer–it’s beautiful! I am anticipating your book coming out even more now. And I’m so excited for you and this special time that you’re enjoying.

  2. shirleyhs on September 4, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Thanks, Tina. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking too, I must say. On my FB author page I have a re-post from Anne Lamott that describes the pre-book jitters perfectly.

    Glad you liked the trailer. It too was nerve-wracking (done in less than 48 hours, including writing, memorizing script, and filming. Grateful to Wayne Gehman, videographer.

  3. Marian Beaman on September 4, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I saw the book trailer first on your FaceBook page and now on your blog and loved viewing it both times. The background music is so familiar to me as is embracing the plain, the simple, — and the blush!

    • shirleyhs on September 4, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      Thank you, Marian, I have been enjoying your own blog so much. I’m sending everyone there who wants another, every so slightly different, story about growing up plain and coming to terms with what that means in later years. BTW, the music comes from the Mennonite Hour Singers. You can do a blog post on them too, I’ll bet. 🙂

      • Marian Beaman on September 4, 2013 at 6:58 pm

        A blog post on The Mennonite Hour Singers? Great idea! Did you know that for a short time after I graduated I dated John Horst, one of the singers, who had also been my astronomy professor?

        Again, the video is magical. Poised and professional, that’s you–and done in a day or two, amazing.

        • shirleyhs on September 4, 2013 at 8:37 pm

          I run into John in my office in the Science Center quite frequently. I’ll have to ask if he remembers you. 🙂

  4. Charles R. Hale on September 4, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Bravo, Shirley.
    Another new beginning. I love the trailer. Only thing…at the end…I was waiting for “The hills are alive…”
    Looking forward to reading “Blush.”
    All the best,

    • shirleyhs on September 4, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      Ha! I know, Charles. My husband took to calling me Julie Andrews after he first saw that last image. BTW, the filming was done just over the fence in our back yard.

  5. Dolores Nice-Siegenthaler on September 4, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    I especially love the music behind your trailer. The words to the music imply we can all be saints and that toil and labor are not to be feared. I’d say that includes the toil and labor involved in embracing our ‘inner blush.’ I’m looking forward to reading the fruit of your labors.

    • shirleyhs on September 4, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      Oh thank you, Dolores. Not just for these true remarks but also for traveling the path with me. I love your companionship. I too love the music. This song was sung at my father’s funeral.

  6. Linda Kline Miller on September 4, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful trailer for your book. I plan on attending your book signing on September 19th. With your sister Linda who is a friend. I cannot wait to read your memoir.

  7. Richard Gilbert on September 4, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Shirley, I love the way you have focused and refined your story—the metaphors alone testify to that—and am looking forward to reading it!

    • shirleyhs on September 4, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      Thank you, Richard. It takes a lot of effort to boil down, boil down, doesn’t it? I think you know better than I do.

  8. Mary McFarland on September 4, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Shirley, as with all things I’m coming to learn about you, “plain” is another word for “plain good.” Your “Blush’s” trailer is so well done, so well executed, and you–as always–are the best spokesperson I know for the goodness of plain. We are often asked to come up with one word for marketing purposes, and “plain” would never have been one I’d choose. But in this context, it’s perfect.

    • shirleyhs on September 4, 2013 at 9:01 pm

      Mary, you certainly know how to give a compliment. Thank you. Maybe we can rescue this term from its association with “vanilla.” 🙂

  9. Kathleen Pooler on September 5, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Dear Shirley,

    This is beautiful! You show us the appealing nature of simplicity and make me want to know more of this “plain” you speak of.I love how your title and theme tie together and how you have brought us into your story not only through this lovely trailer but also through your New Beginnings campaign. I step in line to anxiously await the birth of BLUSH.

    • shirleyhs on September 5, 2013 at 10:13 pm

      Thank you, Kathy. I’m so glad you liked the trailer.

      You have been cheering me, and scores of other writers, over and over again. May all the love you share with us come back to you many times.

      That’s a plain and simple wish!

  10. Sharon Lippincott on September 9, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Shirley, everything you do, simple or splashy, makes me that much more eager to get my eyes on that book! This trailer is at the top of the heap for its combination of heart and class. Beautifully done.

    • shirleyhs on September 11, 2013 at 8:01 pm

      I really appreciate this comment, Sharon. I know you’ve seen a lot of book marketing videos. Heart and class. Those are words that apply to you and your work also!

  11. Barbara McDowell Whitt on September 14, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    Shirley Hershey Showalter: The book trailer for Blush is breathtakingly beautiful – filmed in my husband’s and my nearby Shenandoah Valley (until mid-October when we will return, via the Valley, to Kansas City, Missouri). Like you, I grew up on a family farm. When I see the cover of your book (which I will read) I am reminded of the brown boat neck sweater I always wore with a white turtleneck shirt. In other words, you remind me of myself then. When I learned you were a president of Goshen College, I was reminded that a boy in the new high school I attended as a senior, on whom I had a terrific crush, went to Goshen College from 1961 to 1965. And now back to you, the author of Blush: Your endorsement from Bill Moyers, “I promise: You will be transported.” is much deserved.

    • shirleyhs on September 14, 2013 at 6:55 pm

      Barbara, what a lovely, moving, comment. I wish you joy on your journey as you return to Kansas City, and I do hope you love the book. I can already tell that you will recognize many of its details and themes.

      I loved that brown boat neck sweater too. Now I am off to visit your blog.

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