April Kirkwood's latest book, Working My Way Back to Me is a memoir of awakening, discovery, identity and the struggle to change life’s terms. For this rural Ohio beauty queen, her #MeToo moment came way before the term was coined. She lost her virginity to the middle-aged Frankie Valli at 16. After a decade pursuing a childhood fantasy to be the crooner’s wife, the affair would go on (and off, and on) for decades.
How did you come up with this book?
The writing of the memoir, Working My Way Back To Me, came to life quite by accident, or so I thought at the time. For years I was emotionally asleep when it came to the truth about my romantic life. My heart ruled over any ounce of common sense I had. I never gave a second thought to why I loved someone or what qualities I desired in a mate. I literally flew into the arms of a man by the seat of my pants. It never occurred to me to stop and visualize what the future would be with someone. It became as clear as the nose on my face, to everyone but myself, that I had become stuck in patterns of heart break doomed from the start.
As it happens, the fates intervened. My mind was split wide open one evening in West Palm at the Kravis Center at the Broadway Musical, Jersey Boys. There was no lightening or hurricanes in the humid South Florida air but it sure felt like it to me. Both my daughter, Dana, and myself were dismayed about my dramatic over reaction. I sat there loudly sobbing as the actors played their roles and sang those iconic songs in perfect harmony. Black mascara created a traumatic portrait out of my tears on my face as I wiped my tears away with the “Big Girls Don’t Cry” T-shirt I had bought minutes before. I couldn’t stop this ache from my soul and it affected every ounce of my mind, body, and spirit.
Call it blind wisdom or spiritual intervention, I somehow managed to transcend the moment. This is difficult to explain but I do it now all of the time. Spirituality is a life long practice. Like dance class, the more you do it; the better you get. It was like I was me, watching me, watch the play. I saw mature women who fell apart at the sound of a song, a man, a story. My daughter kept saying, “You were there with him when that happened.” Each act she said shocked, “We know the whole story.” I did. I felt an overwhelming desire to understand myself more.
From then on, I made it my passion to find the answers about my love life. The question was, “What did my past have to do with my present circumstances?” This is how the book evolved. My soul needed to write it.
How does this book relate to the #MeToo moment?
It was a strange coincidence that my story came out at the same time the entire “MeToo Movement” blew up. It still boggles my mind. It was like God was saying, “Miss April, you can take this experience either way.” I chose the path of spiritual awakening and healing for all parties involved. I do not hold Frankie, my mother, nor my Aunt responsible for any doors I walked through. I own it. It is part of who I am. My heart is at peace about these relationships on such a deep level there is no poetry that could describe what I feel for them.
What research did you do?
I previously held two masters in counseling with years of experience as a guidance counselor as well as a social worker helping adolescents and parents. You know, it’s always easier to focus on others, isn’t it! But, once the light bulb goes off in your brain, it’s almost impossible to turn off. So, I took all of my training, my hundreds of books and made myself my number one client. This is bit more difficult as it sounds. Snooping around the emotional cellar and attic of your own life with ghosts and ghouls lingering in secret emotional spaces is gut-wrenching. Some secrets are so well guarded that we don’t even realize they exist.
Since that time I’ve added clinical certification specializing in addiction, trauma, and matters of the heart. I practice holistic therapy uniting Eastern and Western theories in my sessions. I am also furthering my professional career in a specialized treatment of trauma called EMDR.
What did you learn from writing the book? Favorite stories?
I now view life more as a spiritual walk rather than depending on people, places, and things as a measure of success. I believe that much of what happens to us is predestined by ourselves and those in our family tribes travel along with a crazy dash of free will. We each play our parts so that we support and help one another arrive at a higher level of consciousness. That means, the gut-wrenching, crappy events are included in the grand scheme and we are actively involved and responsible. Personal accountability allows freedom to freely forgive both ourselves and others. No room for jealously, anger, or guilt as love takes up all the space.
Empowerment is synonymous with bravery. There are those who think I’m full of shit and a nutcase. I am learning to look past those who don’t get it because behind them is someone who does.
I learned to love with without expectations. This is so freeing. I love just because I do. Like the sun, the moon, and my puppies.
I realized the damage done to a person’s purpose and passion when they follow others and ignore their intuition. No one knows anyone better than themselves and though we sometimes seek out expertise, it’s still best to listen as an observer and filter out what resonates for you at that time in you life.
Yes, the book taught me more than any college class ever could. I’m a better human being. So I check off the book as a success and I gaze into my heart and ask, “What’s next?”
What are you working on next?
By the time this comes out, my Daily Living Tips should be out on Amazon. In addition, there are specialized packets about love, relationships, and spirituality for others to listen to. I’m so excited. I can’t wait. My guide to Living in the Now is a self help manual with many of the very same exercises and beliefs I learned in the process of finding ways to both process the past and reclaim the present. This wonderful manual can be purchased via ayrial.com. I presently offer one on one coaching via ayrial.com for those who want a more personalized program.
I’ve been collaborating with TEDx out of California. I’m doing a lecture series entitled, The Brutal Reality of Believing Your Own Fake News.
I’m also the instagram official Wing Girl where I give love advice for those who have had their hearts broken or just starting out their dating lives. They can take me wherever they go and I’ll give them sisterly, educated advice to help them get out of any jams they happen to find themselves in. We all want love. We all deserve love. I just nudge them that way!
I have a podcast show called The April Kirkwood Show, Soulfully Yours, that debuts July 15 on all major podcast services. It's a show with guests from all walks of life sharing their stories, spiritual beliefs, and healing techniques. The goal is to bring to light to universal spirituality, as well as clinical techniques and guides to encourage inclusivity and understanding about our lives.
My third book, One More Dance, is about Female Empowerment and is a bit lighthearted as I discuss so many of the life changing events and beauty treatments as well as intimate lives women after forty experience.
My goodness, I think it’s naptime
Let me end with:
I love you,
I praise you,
I appreciate you.
You are God’s child.
Nothing can stop it.
And so it is.
I’m so grateful for this experience. I found the true meaning of female empowerment through many lessons arrived out of necessity. There are indeed wolves in the forest of life. Then, I learned a new word: NO. But I never want to be a bitch so I role-played ways to say No with grace and without guilt.
I also learned that female empowerment means guarding your space and energy to stay healthy and whole. Human physical form only has so much energy to expend per day. I want to live without needing six cups of coffee to write or do an interview. It’s definitely a tightrope walk under stress.