Love watching our herons on the Wicomico River from our balcony every day.
I’m so excited! Met with publisher today and my 1st book, The Path Taken, will be out in May or there about!!
As many of you know I have written a memoir, “The Path Taken,” that is about to be published. Some friends and family, upon reading some of it, have questioned timelines and details. I just want to post this so it is clear that a memoir is not, by any means, exact hard factual step by step retelling of one’s life. It’s more like photos where you remember highlights of the moments captured, but not every single detail. I want friends and family to know these are my memories and interpretations. After all a memoir is by definition the author’s memories not necessarily absolute facts. I do not set out to blame or hurt only to tell a story in hope that someone somewhere may benefit from these experiences. These are just a few lines from some of my favorite study guides. I hope this helps people understand……
1) “Memoir isn’t the summary of a life; it’s a window into a life, very much like a photograph in its selective composition. It may look like a casual and even random calling up of bygone events. It’s not; it’s a deliberate construction.” —WILLIAM ZINSSER, ON WRITING WELL”
2) “A memoir is not a collection of cool stories. It is not a chaotic or fascinating adventure. A memoir grows from the wild desire to make sense of what has happened to you. A memoir is, by definition, the story of the author’s memories as he works to understand some aspect of his life”
3) “Mary Karr notes in The Liars’ Club: A Memoir, “Memoir is not an act of history but an act of memory, which is innately corrupt.” So even though a memoir tells the story of a person’s memories, which conceivably are from real-life events that actually happened, not everyone will have experienced the events the same way”
4) “There is no more potentially contentious group than family. We all know that to be true. Holidays with family bring stress. Visits from parents prompt us to unlock the liquor cabinet. The person who grows up to be a writer or artist of another sort is almost always the family member who witnessed her family members at their worst— abuse, horrible fights, alcoholism, and so on. We were the ones who rarely spoke about what we saw, but what we saw ate away at our insides, begging to be told. We were the truth tellers, the light shiners, the ones who were eternally misunderstood. And here we are, finally, before our screens, our fingers”
The Truth of Memoir: How to Write about Yourself and Others with Honesty, Emotion, and Integrity by Cohen, Kerry
“There is no more potentially contentious group than family. We all know that to be true. Holidays with family bring stress. Visits from parents prompt us to unlock the liquor cabinet. The person who grows up to be a writer or artist of another sort is almost always the family member who witnessed her family members at their worst— abuse, horrible fights, alcoholism, and so on. We were the ones who rarely spoke about what we saw, but what we saw ate away at our insides, begging to be told. We were the truth tellers, the light shiners, the ones who were eternally misunderstood. And here we are, finally, before our screens, our fingers”
The Truth of Memoir: How to Write about Yourself and Others with Honesty, Emotion, and Integrity by Cohen, Kerry
I am a non-fiction and fiction writer, although most of my stories are at least based on real events. Even most of my children’s stories have basis on real life experiences. Recently I’ve started my journey to learn the art of public speaking.
I am a survivor of child and domestic sexual violence, I attempted suicide more than one time and I have Rapid Cycling Bipolar disorder. Then there’s the family drama, all gives me unending writing fodder.
My mother’s running joke in our family was that one of us should write a book about our family, but no one would ever believe it is a true story. Well Mom, I’ve done that and more. I’ve written down our dirty and clean laundry for all to see.
My current project is my memoir, “The Path Taken.” I’m trying to find the best way to share my memories but do no harm. I want my friends and family to know these are my memories and interpretations of events. After all a memoir is by definition the author’s memories not necessarily absolute facts. I do not set out to blame or hurt only to tell my story in hopes that someone somewhere may benefit from mine and my family’s experiences.
I have been storytelling most of my life and writing for about forty years. I never let anyone read anything I put on paper, that was for my eyes only.
My first real storytelling started at age nine when my first niece was born. The stories evolved through the years, but the titles and seedlings of them remained. The children I sat for, my own children and grandchildren grew up. They didn’t need my silliness anymore, or so I thought.
Some time ago I was at a family get together and to my surprise was asked to tell my stories. I didn’t realize they had been passed down to the children and grandchildren of the kid’s I made them up for.
Still I gave no thought to writing them down. Until this little cutie pie (about 4 years old) climbed into my lap and wrapped his little arm around my neck. He got all cozy and said “Aunt Nora I can’t find your stories in the library or the book store. Can you please give me some? I want my teacher to read my aunt Nora’s stories to my class.” His little face got so sad when I told him they didn’t exist. He was quiet for a bit then said “That’s ok you can send them to me when you get ink in your printer.”
So from the innocent thought process of a child my desire to be published was born.
I love this invitation. Unfortunately with only residing in one room of of home (until mom’s time to move on to her next chapter) my external clutter situation is contained now. I would love to and will continue the internal declutter journey however. I had been doing that, a pretty good job too, until I let the outside get in the way again. Sometimes moving home to deep generational roots can put a hitch in your giddy up. Being a Nomadic person without deep roots or being transplanted for many years can be good things for physical, emotional and mental packrat prone personalities. Just my randomness ramblings of the day.
This was my comment this morning to today’s assignment
“This is going to take me a pen, pad of paper and some quiet time but I think it’s a good assignment for me today. First it’s up to the 6th floor to help my neighbor.”
Well helping my neighbor actually helped me. She needed someone to help her take pictures of and list some China on eBay. While doing that of course we chatted. I don’t know why but we both did some soul, mind and memory cleaning, maintenance and decluttering. This was an amazing experience and day. She is a local celebrity, does many public speaking engagements and teaches public speaking as well. After hearing some of my “clutter and baggage” and reading a bit of my memoir she wants to groom me for her publisher and teach me public speaking. I’m very flattered but as I told her, I’m not a stand in front of people kind of person. But I write because if by airing my dirty laundry I can help just one person on this earth realize that nothing is so bad that they can’t overcome it and learn something from it. That’s when I will know I have done what I was put on earth to do. I do things and react to things learn from things so I can teach others and hold them close enough to say I overcame that so can you, never quit never give up.
All I was planning was to do my friend and neighbor a favor she did so much more for me. Now to do today’s assignment.
1) The reason I am on planet earth
I given this some thought and searched inside myself. I really believe the reason I am here is to get it right this time. This probably sounds out there to some, but remember feelings and beliefs are personal and unique. My belief is in a higher power we are all connected to. I feel this world we call earth is where we are reborn to live, die and repeat until our individual soul is ready for the next level of existence.
With that being said I think I am here to learn how to love and respect myself as much as I do others. Not to be selfish or conceited but to take the people pleaser self sacrificing behavior and use a little for myself. I have always felt an uncontrollable need to give my everything, down to a draining point, to anyone I thought needed it more. This goes back to early childhood and at times has caused great harm and pain. Until a very few years ago putting myself first was never ever an option for me. So after much thought I think I am here to learn to love, appreciate, put my soul first (not in a selfish way) and to help guide others to learn their path also.
2) What do I think my mission and gifts are?Have I been sharing them with the world or not?
I guess my mission is basically to love my self as much as I do others and teach as many fellow humans as I can the same even if only by example. My gifts are my willingness to be friendly and strike up conversations with anyone. I always try to find common ground to connect with people. I trust until you prove I should not. I have the gift of storytelling and humour. As for sharing them with the world, here lies my hurdle. I think too often I share so much with the world there is nothing left for me.
3) I hide my suffering to make others feel better. How does this apply to questions 1 & 2?
This applies because it is soooo much easier and within my comfort zone to focus on people pleasing and others happiness than putting the effort into mine. But I’m just going to keep coming back until I get this right and will never reach the next level of existence.
This was hard. But I have worked way too hard in past years overcoming mind crap to let it pile in again. As my body is starting to get healthy my mind is racing and I need to regain balance. If we don’t use the tools and exercises we’ve learned to keep our mind, thoughts and essence healthy it will become weak, sloppy and have extra weight (clutter) just like our bodies.
Being a full time caregiver is the most honorable, humbling, exhausting, regretful, saddening, depressing, joyful, loving, heart filling, heart wrenching and every emotion roller coaster ride you will ever go on. I thank God every second of every day that Mom is the only one of our 4 parents that will go through this. The cancer and heart disease were horrific but they stayed who they were and knew who loved them to the very end.
I have worked very hard over the years to let go, unpack, purge, forgive, face and deal with a Crap load of internal baggage. It’s taken therapy (inpatient and out), writing, prayer, a brutally honest compassionate husband and over 30+ years of really flipping hard honesty with myself. Believe me I could have, and wanted to often, given up but I couldn’t go back only forward.
Over this past year I have put on the mask of a brave, loving, selfless daughter in law. Willing to put her life on hold (years if necessary) to move in with her mother in law and become a 24/7 caregiver. This meant giving away most of my 53 years of possessions. My own home, vehicles, furniture, books, plants, home decor items, kitchen stuff, the state we called home for 15 years, our church there, our jobs (income), insurance, stability, one of our dogs (thank God our daughter has him) and really everything that a middle-aged couple has including privacy.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my mother in law and always have. She is an amazing woman and from the moment we met we became more than just friends or in-laws. She and my father in law have always been my second parents and dear friends. There was no hesitation what so ever to make this life changing decision and I would do it again and again but with one exception. I needed to keep the “Stinkin thinkin” from cluttering up my head.
Old habits and mindsets are always lurking in the shadows. Waiting for the chance to get you in their clutches once again.
Over this past year unaware, because my focus was not clear, those “serendipitous organization of mind, body and soul” thieves were slowly sneaking into my mind. My self conscious was hiding this with food, shopping, physical clutter and people pleasing. When my health started to rapidly decline, I gained 75 pounds in less than a year. My breathing was laborious, chest was hurting, my legs, knees, hips and spine were extremely painful. I was eating pain meds like candy. I knew I had to get healthy because my husband and mom need me. So in May 2015 diet and exercise started. As my eating habits and physical health improved the Crap in my head started getting louder. I could feel the anger, resentment, self pity and oh so much “stinkin” crappy self talk filling every spot that it could.
The exterior clutter that was building, mail, clothing, books and other clutter piles kept growing. So I joined this clutter breakthrough group to help clean that up as well as I was cleaning up my physical health. What is most important to me is that I caught a tremendous backslide of emotional clutter at the early stages.
This group with it’s exercises and insights have slapped me awake again, putting me back on track. It helped me remember that feelings and thoughts just are. It’s how you choose to deal with and digest them that counts. If you keep piling them up inside eventually they spill out and affect your outside world. Eventually taking over and swallowing you up. I’m thinking clearer, my creativity is back, I’m taking time to recharge (even if I just sit alone for 5 minutes, clear my mind and breath). I’m journaling my frustrations instead of keeping them bottled by hiding ever growing piles of internal and external clutter.
I want to continue to improve the quality and appreciation of/for myself. I know life will give me hurdles, it always has, but if I was able to deal with and overcome them before, I can continue with whatever the future throws at me.
I am strong, I am intelligent, I am valuable, I am beautiful, I am enough and I can overcome anything especially if it’s my own inner demon.
As we share yearbooks, playbills and other school mementos and take these trips down memory lane. I don’t know about anyone else, but it helps me to reconnect with my roots and remember my blessings. The awesome people I went to school with for 12 years will always be part of who I am. In the end it didn’t matter if we were introverts, nerds, creeps, rich, poor, popular, invisible, a sports star or beauty queen, from the wrong side of town, the bad boy, worse the bad girl, the teacher’s pet, class clown or even the class pain in the ass.
Collectively we have done amazing things, learned valuable lessons, shed our school hierarchy system, roles and reputations. Some of us have remained close through the years, while some have floated in and out of touch. Those that in the days of football games, dances, homework, fun and tears wouldn’t even speak passing in the hall now link on social media and even have get togethers.
With heavy heart I write that we all have lost a few of our classmates. Please cherish your memories of them for they will be forever young, forever missed, but never forgotten.
We are strong amazing people, we are intelligent, valuable, beautiful and part of each other. Without the interaction of each of our classmates, no matter how insignificant it might have seemed, that moment, word, wink, expression, hug or even slap helped mold the people we have become.
Be proud of where you are from, embrace the good and bad, for those are the seedlings from which you have grown.