Victoria Lowery's resume includes Mrs. Ohio 2001, about two years as CEO for the Tiffin Area Chamber of Commerce and a position with the Chamber of Commerce of Ohio. Now, the Tiffin resident has begun a new venture in her life.
Divorced and a single mother of three daughters, ages 17, 19 and 20, she is a speaker, life coach and author. Valentine's Day 2012, Lowery released her first book, "Love ... Happily Ever After."
The title is a bit deceiving because it traces the life of a young woman, ready to go out and make a difference in the world, and follows the character through the challenges of parental expectations, love lost, parenthood, an alcoholic spouse, juggling family and career, financial instability and divorce.
Even during her year as Mrs. Ohio, she had to hide her difficulties behind a cheerful facade, as detailed on page 157: "She will get to the Mrs. Ohio appearance, sign autographs and be treated like royalty, but in her purse, there isn't even enough money to buy a granola bar. ..."
The "happily" part comes from surviving the harsh lessons that strengthened her character and led her to new outlooks and endeavors.
On page 181, she writes "... it is in the moments of discomfort that our deepest learning can take place."
"This started as my journal, when I was going through divorce. That was in 2003. ... At the time, it was something really intended for me," Lowery said. "It was way too personal and too much to share with anybody. I kept a lot of what I experienced to myself."
The journal became the vehicle to document events in her life, look at what they meant, and cope with the personal burden she was carrying.
Being a "silver lining kind of person," Lowery said she did not want to focus on the negative aspects of her life, but they were dominating her existence long before the divorce.
On some occasions, she wrote all night as memories, thoughts and emotions poured onto the pages.
Written in first person, the journal remained stored away, out of sight. As she recovered from the crises, Lowery thought about developing her story into a handbook for divorced parents. Instead, the journal entries evolved into a narrative based on her life thus far, but no real names have been used.
Lowery suspected her story could help someone else to avoid the painful "live and learn" technique.
"I was thinking this was something I should share with other people, because if I'd had the knowledge in this book, some decisions I would have made in life would have been very different," she said.
Toward the end of the book, she included some statistics about divorce in the United States and quotes from various experts. One, by motivational speaker Brian Tracy, asserts 85 percent of success comes from social skills rather than training in a given career or occupation.
Another author observes that most happiness in life comes from relationships, and most problems come from unhappy relationships.
Lowery said she thought about all the songs written about love and angst and wondered why schools do not teach more skills in cooperation and tolerance.
"Why don't we study the four Rs in school - reading, writing, 'rithmetic and relationships? I think there's kind of a growing movement that supports the idea," Lowery said.
Even though school curriculums already are packed, perhaps more social skills could be incorporated into existing lessons. Lowery said the high divorce rate indicates the need for more knowledge, and divorced parents are not the best ones to give that instruction to their children.
Interacting with other students offers some experience, but Lowery would like to see more adults passing on what they have discovered in their own lives to younger generations.
"As we get older, we learn more, so why not share those things we have already figured out so someone else doesn't have to making the same mistakes?" Lowery said. "We all want 'happily ever after,' but if we only get it 50 percent of the time, there's a hole somewhere."
Last summer, Lowery traveled to California to attend a writers' conference sponsored by Author House, the company she chose to produce her book. The presentations emphasized that writers without an established name need to establish a platform, or area of expertise, based on their experiences, employment and other connections.
"They kept talking about 'platform, platform, platform.' That's the buzzword ... self-publishing is a way of developing that platform. For me, it's relationships. That's what the book's about," Lowery said.
Before finishing the final draft of the book, Lowery called as many Rotary clubs as she could and offered to speak at their meetings. She explained the contents of her book and conducted short surveys to elicit feedback.
The book concludes with a nine-question yes-or-no test. Lowery said a "no" answer on any question indicates a problem area.
The feedback she has received so far has been rewarding, she said.
Amazon.com has tracked the book at No. 274,527 on its best-seller list. Since the book came out, many of Lowery's classmates have contacted her. Readers have asked her to talk to family members and say they are giving the book to loved ones.
Closer to home, she tries to share observations with her daughters and their friends.
"I think everybody should write their story. It was therapeutic for me at the time I did it, but then I literally put it in a drawer for seven years and just didn't look at it," she said. "In fact, the computer that I typed it on has since blown up. All I had was the manuscript, so I had to totally re-type it all again, and I had to change it from first person into third person."
In doing that, she learned more about the writing process for future writing projects.
The self-published "Love ... Happily Ever After" is available as an e-book and in softcover. Lowery said she has more books in the works, all nonfiction.
"The next four books are already started, already titled, already partially written. I hope to write for the rest of my life. I really like it," she said. "I always knew I'd write a book some day, and it worked out to be right now."
Lowery said she has made a number of contacts in the Chicago area.
Locally, Keith Hodkinson is to interview the author
about the book at 8:10 a.m. Wednesday on Seneca County Radio.
The author's website is www.victorialowery.com.