On her business card, email signature and websites, Heidi Siefkas describes herself as an author and adventurer.
For the past few years, she has been living her passions for writing and traveling. Each year, she punctuates her split residency in Plantation and Kauai, Hawaii, by leading several international tours lasting one to three weeks. On her downtime, she blogs about her travels and writes books.
Sure, with a talent for writing, with travels under her belt, and as a former Spanish teacher, and marketing and public relations executive within the travel industry, Siefkas had the credentials to live this idyllic life.
But it took an awakening.
In her debut memoir "When All Balls Drop: The Upside of Losing Everything," which she released a year ago this month, she shared the impetus for this awakening.
While walking along a driveway in September 2009, an almost 1,000-pound tree limb fell from about 40 feet in the air, knocking her unconscious and leaving her with a massive concussion, brain bleeding and a broken neck.
Within the subsequent several months, she was forced to resign from her job and divorced her husband, who was being unfaithful.
Earlier this month, Siefkas officially released a 276-page sequel to the first book titled "With New Eyes: The Power of Perspective," published by marketing company and publishing service Wheatmark.
Whereas the first memoir followed Siefkas from fall 2009 to summer 2010, through recovery, the second follows her from summer 2010 to spring 2011, through rebuilding — returning to her childhood home, plunging into the dating world, revisiting old flames, selling her first home, jumping out of a plane and traveling solo to South America.
Siefkas adapted both books from journal entries, so they feature vignettes rather than traditional chapters as well as what she describes as "sassy humor."
Since the time period covered in the books, Siefkas has met "Mr. Right" and has enlisted a company to help turn her first book into a screenplay and shop it around to television networks, with the aim of turning it into a television movie.
In this second book, you talk about "architecting life 2.0." Explain that.
I had real opportunity to redesign a new life, and I call this redesign of a new life "life 2.0." It's very similar to software updates that, in day and age, are flying across our iPhones or our laptops on a daily basis, and just like software, life needs to have these frequent updates to either remove bugs or fix the course that you are on, and in my case, it was a complete overhaul. So the second book talks about "architecting life 2.0," and it's geared for really anyone who is at a crossroads at his or her life. You don't necessarily need to read the first book, as I give a very exciting recap in the first vignette about what has happened.
How else would you describe the book?
"With New Eyes" is a combination of Cheryl Strayed's "Wild" — although I didn't walk a 1,000-plus mile hike, I did travel alone and actively seek adventure to tap into that power of perceptive — and there's also a bit of Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love," because that was a self-discovery journey, where she was looking for clarity.
What do you want people to take away?
The central message of the book is the power of perspective, and that's the subtitle of the book — "With New Eyes: The Power of Perspective" — and what I have carried over from the first book is this mantra that I call "look up." And "look" [and] "up" are two very wise words that I have used not only through recovering from the tremendous loss of three things simultaneously, but also even now to this day, whether I'm going to Costco, I'm in a line at TSA at an airport or I get in a fender-bender.