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Former Alexander City resident and Russell Medical nurse Valarie Thomas published a book detailing her life journey in hopes of helping others face their pain and turn it into purpose.

“A Woman of Purpose” was released May 19 by WestBow Press and has already garnered some local attention.

“My big take home with the book is that it will empower you to tell your story and then when you’ve told it, find freedom in telling it and find purpose in everything you’ve gone through,” Thomas said. “Things didn’t just happen by chance. I am a firm believer your journey is, no matter how painful or exciting, it’s always for someone else behind you to learn a lesson from.”

As a registered nurse, Thomas now teaches nursing at Auburn University to pass along the knowledge she was once given to succeed in a field she adores. She knew she wanted to pursue nursing since she was a child. Thomas was an emergency room nurse in Alex City from 2011 to 2013, when she moved to Opelika where she lives now.

The quick read is a cathartic release encouraging people to pour out their hearts about experiences they’ve buried deep inside by knowing it’s OK to not be OK.

“Because I was able to talk about how I feel about what happened — I couldn’t feed my children, didn’t know if the lights would still be on — it’s really OK to say that I hurt,” Thomas said.

She has taken her personal struggles and turned them into an inspirational guideline for others.

“We can’t receive healing until we let someone know we actually need it,” Thomas said. “Talk to someone else having those same issues and bring those alongside you.”

Thomas was so motivated by her message she wrote the entire book in about a month while working during the day and staying up into the early morning hours to keep writing.

“I’d be eating dinner and the words would come out and I’d just start writing,” she said. “I was so passionate about it, I just couldn’t stop. Life was so painful at one point but when I found freedom, I wanted everyone else to have that too.”

While Thomas lived in Alex City for about only two years, she is well accustomed to the area as a farmer’s daughter from Camp Hill.

“I have a long history with Alex City,” she said. “My father always came there when we were small and would sell at the market every summer all day long.”

Thomas graduated from Edward Bell before it became a technical school and spent a few semesters at Central Alabama Community College, then named Alex City Junior College. She then went on to Chicago State and graduated from the nursing school.

“I would love to be able to do a book signing in the Alex City area, even if it’s a drive-by or something,” Thomas said. 

The book is geared toward women but the significance can translate for men dealing with struggles as well.

“We all have stories to tell,” Thomas said. “ I’ve gotten so much feedback and I’ve been blown away by what others have been through.”

Amy Passaretti is a staff writer with the Alexander City Outlook.