Local woman achieves dream of authorship through personal journals
Hastings resident Ann Makena has dreamed of being an author since she was a student in high school in her native country, Kenya.
"I always was very good at writing," she recalled.
Through primary school (similar to middle school in the U.S.), she wrote notebooks and notebooks of journal entries, documenting her own life. In her high school years, she did a lot of competitive performance, including poetry and drama, going to nationals events multiple times. But it wasn't until Form 3 (roughly equivalent to 11th grade in the U.S.) that she realized her dream. The boarding school she attended was hosting a parent visit day, and one of her teachers asked her to compose a poem for the day. It was a humbling moment, she said, and she agreed. She and others presented the poem to visiting parents.
"That was the first time that that light went on — I love writing and I can do something (with it)," she said.
Since then, Makena has dreamed of becoming a published author. She kept journaling, but writing wasn't considered a viable career in Kenya. But she didn't let go of the dream.
When she came to America, Makena held onto her passion for writing. She was still journaling but didn't have a plan for how she would turn her passion into published work.
"How this was going to happen was unknown to me," she said.
The path to publishing ended up coming from her own life and experience helping her son, Nate, through a number of medical issues, including 20 brain surgeries.
"He's gone through a tremendous medical journey," Makena said.
What got her through it all was her Christian faith and her journaling. She wrote the things she observed on a daily basis, from medical advice she was given to her own thoughts to the symptoms her son displayed.
"That helped me discover a pattern in what was happening to him," she said.
And, she said, it strengthened her faith that there was something that could be done. When Nate was referred to the Mayo Clinic, Makena and her husband, Steve Daggett, presented what she had discovered through journaling to Nate's new doctors. The data matched the studies Mayo had done. It led the family to a risky treatment option, but because Makena had documented Nate's medical journey so well, she was confident it was the best thing for her son. And she was right.
"(Journaling) saved my son's life," she said.
Later, almost two years ago, Makena left her job to work on registering her nonprofit organization, City's Heart Cry Ministries, in Kenya. The faith based organization works to help orphaned and abandoned children in Kenya, especially girls. While establishing overseas operations for her nonprofit proved to take quite a bit of work, Makena found she still had some spare time. She used it, in part, to publish her first book, "Knowing and Yielding to the Voice that Counts." Due to her extensive journaling, it only took about a month to put together. The book is based on Makena's own life, especially her journey through Nate's medical story.
Just this past November, she published her second book, "Become Whole, Unbreakable, and Unstoppable."
This second book is also based on Makena's experience but focuses on finding oneself. She was inspired to write it by reflecting on her life — being a single mother through some incredibly difficult times — and answering an all-too-common question she's been asked: "How do you do it?" She turned what she learned into a book.
"These are things that have kept me strong through very difficult situations," she said.
The book discusses the process to becoming whole — discovering one's true self beyond the possessions or careers; becoming or remaining unbroken through personal struggles; and learning to be unstoppable and discovering one's purpose.
"When you know your purpose, nothing can beat it out of you," Makena said.
In both books — and those she has yet to publish — Makena said she hopes to inspire others.
"A lot of people are just living," she said. "I think there's a lot more that can be done."
Makena has another book in the works, this one about parenting, she said. She's also working with Nate to see his first book published. And while she has plenty of other books she intends to write, for now, she said, she plans to take some time to market the ones she's already published and return to a more traditional job.
Both her books are available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Westbow Press. Information is also available online at www.makenaministries.com. To learn more about Makena's nonprofit work, go to www.citysheartcryministries.org.