“When was the last time you told your story?” The question comes from a Native American Medicine Man.
Sometimes we keep telling, sharing or re-writing our story the way I have for so many years. We can’t help the need to release and express that which presses on our heart. People may get tired of hearing about it, but it is only through the telling over and again that we are able to understand it all. Mark Nepo adds that, “It is the sweat and tears of the telling that bring the meaning out of its sleep as if no time has passed. It is the telling that heals.”
I was encouraged by today’s reflective reading to close my eyes and imagine the passages that have brought me to the person I am today. It’s ironic that I come across this right now as I’m re-writing my story. I’ve actually been noticing how many doorways and thresholds I’ve crossed through. The deeper I go into these various places the more I see clearly as if no time has passed. The journey, this time, is not a walk I do alone. I am holding the hand of my younger-self. Something my wonderful therapist once taught me to do. I let her lead the way as she walks me back through each doorway of our story. While it can still be painful at times to live through, I am able to remind my younger-self that it is okay now because we made it all the way through. I’ve learned to thank her this time too. For the strength, perseverance, bravery and the faith it took to get through one thing after another. My hope is that when every doorway has been gone through noted, and the last word is the end. That the child in me will not only see how much she is a part of who I am today, but that she will let go and become as I am.
“Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.” -Gordon B. Hinckley
I got home yesterday from my week of writing in the Poconos. It was wonderful in every way. To top it off I got a lot writing and soul searching done. I think the best thing I came away with was a new understanding of the gift I have now because of the years of cultivating I’ve already done. What I’ve come to realize is that it hasn’t just been my inner child’s need to be validated for the part she played it in making our dream come true. It goes much deeper and beyond that. It’s been her driving forces to tell our story that has made me a better writer. This has given me the opportunity to do what I have a real passion for and that’s inspiring others with my words.
As I was talking with one of the many accomplished writers there, I began to wonder what I’m doing here. The old saboteur started showing its defeating face. I could feel myself getting sucked into the belief that I was an amateur and I always would be. Then this writer started telling me about how he likes to garden and sometimes he just has to go out in his garden and start doing some composting. As you begin to pull this and that out of yourself all the good and bad stuff gets thrown together. Then you let it sit for a while. When you’re ready you start to turn and mix it up, and eventually it becomes the fertilizer that feeds the story’s you sow.
As the quote says above, I’ve learned too that without a lot of hard work, nothing grows but weeds. I think I’ve managed to grow a few beautiful flowers along the way. Now all I have to do is keep pulling the weeds that get in the way.
I was up till 12 last night writing. I was on a roll and didn’t want to stop. Then I got up early to do yoga in the loft of the barn with Didi. She’s a gentle soul that just seemed to have a calming affect on me.
I hung around in the loft after we were done and journaled for a bit until breakfast was ready downstairs. I sat with two other ladies, Liz who took me under her wing the first day I got here. She’s been very encouraging and helpful directing me toward supportive networks and books to read on how to write memoir. Then there’s Carmine who reached out to me introducing herself and always pulling me into the conversation making me feel a part of the people here. All 3 ladies are leaving today. I shall miss them, but they’ve helped to get me off to a good start as I feel more comfortable meeting the new people coming in.
Today will be my 3rd full day here, and I can’t say enough about how at home I feel. They do everything they can to make you comfortable. For instance, I’m short as some of you already know. So, my desk is too high, my chair too low. So we tried a few chairs to on for size. They were all too low. Then we tried some different tables, and they were still too high. Finally we found a chair and it was…just right…as Goldilocks said after trying out all the furniture in the three bears house. Lol
Speaking of bears there’s all kinds of story’s about bears around here. One lady heard something rubbing up against her cabin and was afraid to look out the window.
She later learned from the lady staying next to her that she did indeed see a bear walking between their cabins. Yikes! Maybe staying in the lodge isn’t such a bad thing after all.
I started to go for a walk down a path until it became too enclosed on both sides by the woods. I chickened out and turned around thinking I might look like a plump juicy treat to one of those bears.
The word is that no ones every been attacked by one yet. I think I’ll play it safe anyway and stay close to my surroundings.
I am on a retreat in the Pocono’s for writers. It’s a place that the Highlight Foundation, provides for writers to take workshops or do what I’m doing called an unworkshop. It’s an opportunity for some peace and quiet to concentrate on working on the second draft of my memoir. I’ve only been working this story just about my whole life, at least it feels that way. I need, and want to put it to rest so I can move on to other things.
I was blessed with a beautiful day for driving and the scenery was outstanding as I went up and down the mountains. I love Pennsylvania as much now as I did when I first saw it in 1965. I was 12 years old then. We’d come all the way across the states from California on a greyhound bus. It took 5 days to get to Philadelphia our final destination. Don’t get me wrong. I loved California too, and liked being a California girl. Would have loved to stay there if we could, but Pennsylvania was the place we had to go. Back east where my parent’s original came from. I don’t know maybe it was in my blood or something, but it felt like I was coming home. Anyway, that’s what I came here to write about. The part of me that got from where I was to where I am today. If it wasn’t for the child I was, and what she endured, I wouldn’t have had the full life I’ve had for the past 46 years. I owe it to her to tell our story.
I got here at 4:00pm settled in and at 5:30 went to happy hour at the barn and a fantastic meal at 6:00. I didn’t have much of a chance to take pictures but will do some of that tomorrow as I wonder around the grounds.
I’m so excited to be here!
I read an ancient Chinese story the other day that sounded a lot like the kind of parables Jesus used to teach his lessons.
If you want to trap a monkey, hollow out a cocoanut just big enough for its open hand to reach inside. Place rice in the carved-out fruit, and leave it in the path of the monkey. Sooner or later, a hungry monkey will smell the rice and reach its hand in. But once fisting the rice, its hand will no longer fit back out through the opening. The monkeys that get caught are those who won’t let go of the rice, and as long as the monkey maintains its grip on the rice, it becomes a prisoner of its own making. The trap works because the money’s hunger is the master of its reach.
I’ve been that monkey in many different situations throughout my life. With my hand fisted in the cocoanut I can’t for the life of me figure out why I could reach in, but can’t pull it back out. So, I too have become a prisoner of my own making because I can’t see that what I want the most is holding me back and until I let it go, I won’t be able to see the actual freedom it creates for me.
I keep thinking it has something to do with the story of I’ve been trying to write since I was a teen. And I do feel as if I’m chained to it in a way. No matter how many times I try to let it go the hunger to finish it comes back. So, as I’m thinking of this lesson of the monkey I can’t get the thought out of my mind that maybe it’s trying to tell me something about letting go of this want and desire. Then the clarity comes to me. What lies within my fist are the words of my story and as long as I hold onto them I’ll remain a prisoner of what I actually believe will never be accomplished.
Now I could have never come up with that kind of answer without sieving my thoughts through the spirit of God.
Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”-Chinese Proverb
It’s funny that I read this quote today because I recently pulled my manuscript out to work on my 2nd drift. As I’m reading over it I’m reminded of what every instructor taught me, show don’t tell. My goal in the end product is to involve the reader so much so that they see, feel and understand what I experienced.
This quote also applies to everyday life. I learned better by doing. You certainly can’t learn to type or play instrument or even cook by being told how to do it. Showing helps you to know how, but the real understanding comes when you get involved and do the work.
Politic is the same thing. What people tell you is not necessarily true, and even if someone shows you. How do you know if it’s factual unless you get involved in finding the facts. How will you understand unless you do the research?
How easy it is to talk, and show someone how to walk, but the only way to understand is to get involved with what the talk and walk has to teach us.
“Whether it’s reading or writing, literacy is an outlet to an untouchable world – your imagination.” –InternationalLiteracyDay.org
Today is International Literacy Day. I never even knew it existed. It’s goal is to help communities around the globe act as a united voice in raising awareness for those who cannot read or write.
The fact that you’re reading this most likely means you had the opportunity to go to school and learn these skills. But for some, like myself it wasn’t easy. One of the hardest things is when you have an imagination that craves to be expressed, but doesn’t understanding how to use the tools being taught. I couldn’t grasp phonics, so sounding words out or spelling them correctly was always a problem for me. Reading seemed to go through my eyes, and out my ears before my mind had a chance to catch the words. To have such learning disabilities when I grew up was never addressed in my day and age. It wasn’t until I read something I really enjoyed that found how wonderful reading could be.
To have the desire to write my thoughts was a dream I never thought would come true. But the desire to do what seemed impossible wouldn’t leave me alone. So I learned how to teach myself. Reading, journaling and eventually online classes gave me the ability to work at my own pace with one on one help. The hardest part was learning to accept the critiques as positive way to make me a better writer. Than there was the insecurity I had after all those years of feeling stupid. Why would anybody want to read what I had to write? What else could I do but put it out there, and find out. Now I know it has always been what I was meant to do.
So I’m happy to know there is a special day set aside to encourage the wonderful world literacy opens up for us. For in my life it has taught me to paint the pictures of my imagination with the brush strokes of my words.
I know it’s important to rest and take time out to let my body heal, but I’m not content to waste a day when I could be doing somthing that makes my life feel worthwhile today. Whether I am healthy or sick, there is no guarantee of another day. So I wonder what can I do in my limited state of recovery that would give my life a little meaning and purpose today? Instead of wallowing in my own pain and sorry, I’m reminded of the many people in my life who are sick and suffering right now. So while I sit, I decide to write them a note at my own pace, one person at a time. A simple note of thought and good will. By 3:00 pm I had 3 notes in the mail. Who doesn’t love a personally hand written letter in the mail these days. I have to say, instead of feeling weaker from my small little effort my own spirits have been lifted. Isn’t it funny how the simplistic things that have been forgotten can become some of the most precious gifts we can give of ourselves to others. It doesn’t even cost anything but a little bit of our time and the cost of a stamp.
To my WordPress friends and faithful followers.
God has funny ways of providing the kind of situations that make us have to take a time out or step back to re-evaluate our lives. Tomorrow I go in for some minor surgery. I’m sure I won’t be thinking real clear for the next few days. However, as soon as my mind begins to clear, I’d like to take some time to re-valuate what I am hoping to accomplish in my writing. One thing I know for sure is that I love writing the inspirational thoughts that come from my own question about life. When I am truly writing from the heart it comes through so easily, and I know that it is then that I am in that place of passion that comes from my true self. I love the friends I have made through this site. We, as writers, are so good at inspiring and encouragement each other to keep using the gift we’ve been blessed with, and for that, I thank you.
I look forward to coming back feeling better, more clear headed, and focused.
Peace my friends,
What are your thoughts on how dialogue works in a Memoir? As I work on my true life story the part of me who is telling it keeps slipping into dialogue with the many different characters that played a part in our life. I know the words are not exact how could anyone remember that kind of detail word for word. However the dialogue captures the personality of the characters and what or how I believe they would have responded. In “Angelia’s Ashes” Frank McCourt used dialogue but purposely didn’t put it into quotation because he knew it wasn’t an actual quote out of the mouth of that person. I know how important it is to make my story as believable as it truly is.
I’m simple looking for some constructive input to help me move along in the right direction with my story. Would love to hear your thoughts.