Woman’s search for life path leads to book

Baldrica, Colleen            Stillwater resident Colleen Baldrica’s book, “Tree Spirited Woman,” was a work long in the making.

Printed in 2006, Baldrica’s independently published book has sold more than 12,000 copies since its release.

The small chapter book focuses on topics that women would find important to their life: joy, truth, relationships, marriage, menopause and even death. The book shares wisdom in a story format through two different voices and allows people of all ages to be interested in the topics discussed.

The idea for the book occurred to Baldrica in her 20s after she had a spiritual experience when she was searching for her path.

“I was 27, in college, a single mother, and at this point was struggling with faith, what to do with my life, and I went into the chapel and I prayed. I was struggling with questions of do I go this way or that way on a variety of topics and that’s when I heard ‘You need to let go and trust’,” Baldrica said. “My arms raised like a tree and I felt like all this garbage was being pulled from me and I felt purified. While I was experiencing this I realized that I didn’t have to worry about everything. I had to just trust and know I wasn’t alone.”

After the experience, she ran into her friend Charlie, who was a medicine man. Baldrica, who is a registered member of the Chippewa Tribe, told him about her experience and she was given the Lakota name that translated to Tree-Spirited Woman. She later had a dream that she would write her book that holds the same title.

“The book reads as a memoir with some fictionalized portions but it has so much truth that flows through it. It’s a story that does hold a lot of truth but I did have to make up a little more fiction,” Baldrica said. “The book is a conversation between a young woman and an old woman, like Siddartha and the prophet but after I had my dream about writing the book I knew I had to grow into it.”

An avid reader but not a writer earlier in her life, Baldrica reached the point where she knew writing the book was something that she had to do.

“I believe that it was a gift that was created to work within others,” she said. “It’s not just one thing that I want people to get out of it. I hope that people will get what they need out of the book when they need it. It’s about letting go and trusting and it’s simplistically given.”

Baldrica said reader response has been overwhelming, with a variety of people telling her that the book and the lessons in it were what they needed at the time they read the book.

“The book is full of gentle reminders to slow down and breathe,” Baldrica said. “Life is hustle bustle and the book serves as a sort of reminder to slow down, breathe and just trust. Our minds often times get overwhelmed and go down a negative path. Negativity breeds negativity and sometimes it takes something to stop us and see the good and find the joy in life.”

The book took Baldrica eight years to complete.

“When I was working on the book I didn’t tell anyone I was writing a book because they would all throw out suggestions and I always said. ‘No, no, no. It’s gotta be what it’s gotta be.’ So I’d sit in my office and I’d talk and write it down. It was like Tree-Spirited Woman was talking through me,” she said. “When I was writing the book I wasn’t in a hurry. I have always been that person that hasn’t really known where I was going but I just kind of went with it.”

For Baldrica, the hardest part of writing her book was getting it published.

“My thought as this was being published was that people are going to see this. It’s like being in labor, you know it needs to go out but once it’s out there it’s out of your control, there’s no way to control what people think or whether they like it and that’s been a scary thing even as it’s been a huge success and it’s still selling.” she said.

Since its release, “Tree Spirited Woman” has won many awards including the 2012 favorite book by a Minnesota Female Author in the Minnesota Women’s Press Annual Readers Survey; 2008 Book Award Finalist in the “National Indie Excellence” Spirituality Category; 2007 Bronze Medal Winner in the Annual Independent Publisher Books Awards Mind Body Spirit Category, and a 2006 Book Awards Finalist in the “Best Books 2006” Mind, Body, Spirit Category. Her book is sold in various states across the country and in Stillwater at Valley Bookseller, Yonna’s Hallmark Store and Kowalski’s Market.

“When I started this journey I had no idea that I would be where I am. Like my dad once said I wish I knew then what I know now because it would be very different.”

Baldrica now serves as a mentor for other authors going through the independent publishing process. She has an upcoming book reading with Minnetonka-based mystery author Marilyn Jax from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 20 at Break Time Cafe & Coffeehouse in New Richmond, Wis.