Writing Memoirs

Great article on Memoir writing. Keep reading on Huffington Post to get to the great advice.

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9 Tips for Dealing with the Emotions When Writing a Memoir

Writing a memoir is much like going through your trunk of family treasures and keepsakes. At times the memories may be fuzzy, just like the ink on the pages of that 70-year-old journal your great-grandmother kept. Sometimes the memories may be painful, much like the ring your father gave you before he passed away. And sometimes the memories may be glorious, like the wedding dress you have stored safely, in hopes that your daughter may one day wear the family heirloom.

Due to the emotions that emerge in memoir writing, it is often necessary that the writer understand how to navigate and conquer the writing process, in spite of the added element of being taken for a ride on an emotional roller coaster each time one sits down to write. There are strategies writers can use to help ease…

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Next Steps . . . .

Whale tail


There are an infinite number of paths you can take in this lifetime. Let your life be open and vast like the ocean. While the way may seem unclear, waves create currents that will open up paths in the water. If you let the currents take you on a journey, you will be amazed by the possibilities. Stars reflect on the moonlit water, sprinkling the surface with crystals of hope when the way is murky and you are weary of waiting on the unknown. Have faith! The flame of sunrise will be there when you awaken.


I am the stain on the mustard colored shirt wondering how long I’ve got to live and what will happen when it stops being etiquette Tuesday and causal Friday is a thing of the past. Stains do not belong on formal clothing. They are a mark of slovenly manners, banishing a garment to the closet of items hardly worn and regularly forgotten. In the closet you become an after thought, or worse, the back up of the back up outfit –one step away from the Good Will or the trash. It’s better to be the guy in the mustard colored shirt in a sea of red, blue, and white, not knowing what you’re doing but having the opportunity to clasp your hands together in some form of pseudo-prayer, hoping to join along and feel the rhythm of the beat you can’t quite identify, than to be relegated to the quiet space of gently laid clothes belonging to no one.

How do you escape something imbedded so deeply you believe it’s a part of you?

dog and bacon      I am the dog waiting patiently for the hand that holds the bacon. Hunger lives in my bones. It pulses through me like a heartbeat pumping around all of my emptiness. It’s a black, squishy thing, like a worm that slowly eats you alive.

The worm came to me years ago and said, “I’m going to make you pay.”

I wanted to say no, but it didn’t care what I thought of the offer. Hunger was a get up and go kind of worm. It snuck in when I wasn’t looking and took up root before I had time to notice what was going on. Once I experienced its heaviness, I wanted to run away – just high tail it across a long field until I could shake that vile thing off of me.

How do you escape something imbedded so deeply you believe it’s a part of you?

Getting rid of hunger would feel like an amputation. I am afraid of losing limbs and hobbling along at an invalid’s pace. I do not want to press labels into my fur like unwanted name tags or become the focus of another man’s pity. So I sit with hunger and tell it jokes.

Sometimes we play games like where’s the hotdog, or crank call Dominoes Pizza. We order five pies with everything and send them to the abandoned house down the street.  The deliveryman always scratches his head as he slides out of his slightly dented purple Honda Fit.  He rings a doorbell no one will ever hear and stands on the lonely porch made of gravel and concrete. He counts the large stones that lead up to the chipped red door before walking away.

Hunger howls at the pizza man as he starts his car and drives over to the houses where the lights are on and someone will answer his call.  The howling deepens the ache in my bones and drives me to find yet another master who may or may not have the bacon I seek.

I’ll sit pretty for anyone if they hold out a scrap of food. I’ll even settle for one of those red globs that smells like bacon and tastes like play dough. Just hold it up and see what I’ll do. But no matter how many treats I eat, hunger always seems to have the upper hand, erecting great piles of rot fencing in the things I want most.

When the emptiness lingers like the last sip of wine coating the bottom of the glass, I wonder if I will do it differently next time. Part of me thinks I won’t, but who knows. Hunger has weakened with age and I’ve learned to run a little faster.

So I keep dreaming of that one-day field on the edge of town – the one where the grass is green and the soil underneath has just enough spring to keep you going. I imagine my paws pumping across that long stretch of packed earth and gaining so much speed that the worm loses its grip and plops into the weeds. In the dream I keep on running, even after my bones harden, the skyscrapers of emptiness tumble, and I feel the weight of my presence pressing against my skin.

The Wisdom of Setbacks

file000585494801February 24, 2014

Sometimes life takes us on detours when we long for a straight route to our destination. Thus begins a series of questions .  . . Is there really a destination? Are we planning to “arrive” some day completely well, completely put together, fully understanding everything we need to know?

Unfortunately, we do not have the privilege of the helicopter view. We are stuck in the middle of our own dramas, trying to thresh the fields and find our way when there are no sign posts. We trod through the dark forests looking for light and sometimes wonder if we will ever make it out again.

For the past few weeks a slow creeping sense of my illness has been resurfacing. It was like the tide. It slid in undetected, and then suddenly I noticed the waves lapping at my legs. I have to admit, feeling the old symptoms made me want to give up. I wanted to crash and burn and forget all of my optimism.

One of the sages in my life recently said “if we allow ourselves to simply feel the feelings in the moment, the most intense versions of the feelings last for about 90 seconds.

I can feel anything in 90 second intervals. So I tried it.

Instead of surpressing the disappointment and feeling of being a faded copy of a faded copy of myself, I let it all wash over me. I let myself be angry and see it as unfair until the feeling washed away. I stayed present with how hard it is to have a chronic illness and the constant struggle of finding a new normal when all you want to do is become “your old self.”

One of the sages in my life recently said “if we allow ourselves to simply feel the feelings in the moment, the most intense versions of the feelings last for about 90 seconds.

I can feel anything in ninety second increments – even if it’s disappointment, anger, and self-pity.

After sitting with my feelings I went for a walk. As I ambled through the woods, a great blue heron flew across the path. Her wings spread wide across the sky, flapping gracefully as if carrying a tremendous weight. Instead of falling, she soared.

I meditated on the wisdom of setbacks and began to ask myself this simple question that was given to me by a dear friend:

How is this illness helping you heal?

Right now I don’t have the answer. But settling into the question gives me peace.

What ups are you finding in your downs?



This figure sits in the room where I do most of my writing. It’s a small cast piece my father found at a yard sale. It was still in the original packaging, as if it was merely an after thought. Perhaps, it was just waiting to come to my house where it would be fully appreciated. I love to look at Charlie screaming in mid-air as Lucy snags the ball away yet again.

How often do we end up like Charlie – prone, eyes towards the heavens, bracing for the moment when we will crash into the inevitable disappointment and pain that comes with missed kicks, moments when we did not take a chance, or the time when we did and it sent us to the ground? It’s true, each down contains the pain of missed expectations, but it also contains the possibility that something more is waiting for us. It is an opportunity to stop and see the bluebirds on a sunny February day and have gratitude for the way life provides, even when we believe we are small and alone.

What ups are you finding in your downs?