Josee Tom has been running since she was eleven years old.

“I’ve always been running away from something, or running to something,” says Tom.

Tom, of Vankleek Hill, recently published her first book, The Running Girl. She describes the book as a collection of stories, rather than autobiography.

“My book may speak to people who find themselves in a loop of loss,” says Tom. “Whether it’s a loss of resources, or time, or a loss of self.”

Tom understands loss. She has lost several family members to suicide—including both her parents—over the years. But it was the crushing loss of her best friend, who died of what was thought to be treatable cancer last year, that brought Tom’s life to a shuddering halt.

Tom realized she had been wrapped up in her business for far too long. While she had been building up Pottery Lane Imports, a successful wholesale business, everything that really mattered was crumbling around her.

She decided to dismantle the wholesale empire she had meticulously built up and return herself to a state of nothingness.

“If you have nothing, you can’t lose anything,” says Tom. She went looking for peace, for answers, for serenity. Tom knew she needed to ground herself after having been lost in the chaos of living a frenetic global life.

To re-evaluate her life, and rebuild her sense of self, Tom secluded herself in Thailand. There, she was surrounded by an unfamiliar language and a markedly different culture. Being completely alone, Tom found her senses were not disrupted while she sought her truths.

“When you’re largely by yourself, you learn a lot about yourself,” says Tom. She realized she had hidden her real self behind the business, and she made a choice to become a completely different person.

“You compromise yourself to achieve material wealth,” says Tom. She realized she needed freedom, and yet had been imposing structure on her life.

“To be free, I had to write this book,” says Tom. She found the writing to be therapeutic.

Tom hopes her book inspires people to begin their own process of self-discovery. Her book is about hope, courage, and determination, says Tom, and may help people see their way out of “stuck” situations, feeling there is no way out.

“You’re not going to live a perfect life,” says Tom. “It’s guaranteed you’re going to fail. You have to figure out how to pick yourself back up.”

The Running Girl, by Josee Tom, is available through and The Review‘s offices in Vankleek Hill.