Morphing Memory

Psychologists believe that memory is fallible. We don’t really remember everything correctly. Every time we take out a memory, we add to it, subtract from it, try to reason with it – which, essentially, changes the memory.

People are highly suggestible. Their memories can suffer from suggestions from others, from pop culture, from their own emotional instability.

We all have those stories when we’re wrapped around the holiday table reminiscing and someone misremembers something – or remembers it differently than others. They swear they are right and the other is wrong.

Remember that scene in Scrooged with Bill Murry when he’s in the taxi and he’s recalling a memory: “I was running down a hill, and there was this beautiful girl in pigtails.” The taxi driver grumbles – “That was Little House on the Prairie!”

I used to know someone like that. Her misremembering took on a life of its own. It’s a wonder she’s not the fiction writer.

I find memoir exciting. Not because of the fictional aspects of the things we fill in. I completely accept that memory, and thereby memoir, is corrupt, but the exploration is enlightening. In memoir, we discover who we are. In my search for my sacred parts, in the healing of my broken parts, I strive for authenticity.

“Days of Remembrance” is an effort for me to come to terms with my brother’s passing. I didn’t get to say goodbye, so this is my goodbye to him. I think he’d appreciate it in the same way he appreciated when others reached out of their comfort zone, as he was trying to do in his last year or so of life.

“Days of Remembrance” was published in MemoryHouse Press. A lovely little journal of which I am proud to be included.

What is Creativity?

My friend believes creativity is a gift direct from the powers that be.

I believe everyone is creative in different ways.

My friend feels when she is ill, she is unable to write. The body, she says, is recreating itself, creating health from illness.

I think of the great minds in our society – Mozart’s last work, although incomplete was powerful, was written on his deathbed. Einstein was working on his next great theorem as he lay dying. Howard Hughes, burned and bleeding, after a plane crash left him near dead, redesigned the bed he lay in, redesigned the plane in which he crashed.

My friend is not completely wrong. When I’m not well, the last thing I’m thinking about is how my character will move forward.

But maybe that’s exactly what we need when our body is focused on healing, that our mind needs to be occupied with our passion in life. Maybe there is something to the creation – the connection between healing and writing – that makes magic.

We know that, already, don’t we? We heal though creativity. We are fully present when involved in our purpose.

I wrote the first draft of Our Gentle Sins during a stressful time. It came out fast and easy. The flow was beautiful and powerful and made me feel better, more in control, and hopeful.

When I think of the book now, the characters hold a special place in my heart. Jack and Valerina are the epitome of hope

Self Care and Writing

This year is a year of self care. The people I’ve met and those I’ve chatted with are seeking self fulfillment, searching for growth; it is a year of healing.

Taking care of yourself is not selfish. We are a well. Empty wells can not serve or help others. We need to refill our wells, take care of ourselves in order to be any good to our children, our spouses, family, or community.

We can heal through writing. We can find ourselves and our purpose through exercises meant to expose our deepest desires and inspire our motivation.

Many years ago, I met a woman who was in so much physical pain, she could barely walk and used a cane to get around. Through our semester together, writing exercises, guest speakers, and the process of opening up, she found what was eating away at her. Once exposed, her physical pain began to resolve. She walked with much more ease and moved with more freedom than she’d felt in years.

We can heal through writing. We can resolve our deeper issues. We can discover our purpose. I’d like to invite you to a group Writing to Wellness . The group is on facebook for the moment as that seems the platform where we can not only post and respond to writing prompts, challenges, and answer each others’ questions, but we can also do live writing groups, which I’d like to do at some point. We can also welcome speakers and post videos there.

Please feel free to join. I invite you to respond to prompts, receive writing feedback, and take part in a community dedicated to healing and wellness. Negative comments, trolling, and other uncivil behavior will not be tolerated.

The Healing Power of Naps

Some mornings are hard. They come too early. They come on too strong and too bright and far too soon. The dogs need to be fed and the work is calling. Time to get up and go.

The very best thing about those mornings is a glimmer of promise of what the afternoon may bring.

And if the clock slows after lunch, your eyes struggle to stay open, you find yourself yawning, and you sit – just for a moment, and then suddenly, you’re wrapped in a momentary hug of sleep. AKA the nap.

I love the sweet touch of sleep at midday. Not everyday, of course, but some days it’s needed. I love the slow opening of the eyes, the sweeping in of a deep breath, and the stretch before I realize that sleep just wrapped me in a midday hug and it felt wonderful!

Naps have superpowers. They offer life-giving energy, a refresh to continue strong for the rest of the day. And… sometimes they stave off illness. When I’m not feeling my best, a nap puts me right! The Mayo clinic states naps increase alertness and relaxation while improving mood and performance.



When my children were young and they got sick, I would give them a cup of secret bear tea and a nap. They thought it was the secret in the tea that made them feel better, but the secret was only the teaspoon of honey. The real secret to their wellness was the extra sleep which inspired their recovery.

Naps are not just for kids! Adults are afraid to admit they take naps or they are afraid to indulge in such childishness. But – when needed – naps are a gift!

Sleep – hugs can inspire, give us more energy to face the rest of the day. Sleep, in general, is healing. Not only for physical illness, but from all sorts of challenges.

Can we be real honest here for a moment?

2020 was traumatizing, yes.

Then the spring culling of faculty was horrifying.

The death of friends and family,

then continued torment by people who are unhappy and unhealthy.

The past 17 months have been horrendous.

We’ve all been in some type of survival mode. We’ve all been hurt and scared and scarred. We haven’t reached out enough or we reached out and didn’t received a response.

We’ve been told over and over, this is the new normal, this is normal, now we’re getting back to normal.

The world is an angry place. Karens rule. Mass shootings. Building collapse.

Nothing is right. Nothing is normal. And it’s okay to be upset, to feel dismayed, confused, unsettled. Nothing about the last year and a half has been comforting.

And you’re not alone.

But

hang in there

we

will

all

be

okay.

The Soul is Sold One Piece at a Time

Do you remember who you were so many years ago when you began this journey so full of dreams? MTV was novel and the world was wide open.

The first pinch might be the hardest. It’s such a small, small thing. A tiny piece of flesh in exchange for what seemed like so much.

What’s another pinch?

Because the world is so big.

The city is made of blocks and on those blocks are neighborhoods, and somewhere in those neighborhoods you stopped feeling the pain,

around the corner is where you began to buy in. You didn’t even realized you had wandered so far from the home of your soul.

The world is four walls with an internet connection. We travel so far without going anywhere at all. It’s safe and warm and full proof. The commercialism of promise. The bindings of success.

Within, that child waits for second life.

The Healing Power of Our Story

Many years ago, I sitting uncomfortably in a hard wooden chair waiting for class to begin. The instructor had just begun speaking when the door squeaked slowly open and a rattling sound was heard, but no one stepped forward. We all turned toward the door wondering. The instructor even stepped to the side of her desk, ready to snap, “Close the door,” when a woman struggled in.

This lovely woman’s posture was bent and crooked, one hip higher than the other, one leg starkly stiff, the other crooked. She used two hand held metal crutches to help her maneuver through life. She huffed and hemmed, the groans of constant pain that the person making the noise no longer notices. Someone offered her a seat, saving her from walking two aisles over and four seats back, which she willingly accepted. Then we went on with class.

With the majority of us in our twenties, this class became a favorite. The teacher was a 40’s woman with a streak of gray in her blunt shoulder length dark hair. She was open and outspoken, persuading us to be the same. Her guest speakers were radical, loud, and insisted we stand up for ourselves and scream to be heard.

Throughout the semester, the woman who wore crutches on the first day, became less twisted, stood taller, began to use only one crutch instead of two. Her silence transformed into sharing, slowly and quietly at first. The mystery illness that had baffled her doctors was spooling away and that, too, left them nonplussed.

She stood and told us her story. She’d been assaulted and abused and afraid to tell anyone. Throughout the semester, the message of speak your story was freeing her body from the unexplainable pain and immobility her mind had trapped it in.

All types of trauma gets trapped within us – we need to get it out to free ourselves.

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*

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The Healer’s Daughter is the first story in How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party. It’s one of my favorites, and it’s been suggested it become a novel in itself.

Healing Through Writing

After hearing some of my story, a woman said to me, “Do you think writing saved you?”

I was looking out the window at the blue sky, avoiding her overstuffed office. Books, photos, and nic-nacs lined the dark wood shelves behind her and a lamp sat, too bright and hot, to one side. She was tall and thin, model like in her own way, and she looked at me earnestly, waiting for a response.

When I turned to her, she answered the question for me. “I think writing saved you.”

Ah, there it was.

Writing did help me toggle to the clearer side of sanity. Believing in something larger than my tiny distressed corner of the world helped me get through some very dark times. The ever present feeling that I had something to add to the world secured me from suicidal tendencies.

Some time ago, I thought to write an autobiography. My writing partner has lived a long life. Her stories rich in detail, tempered with the spiritual, and filled with agonies of another time and another kind. She said she’d write her own but for fear that’d she’d hurt people.

Hurting others is not my intention. Those who pinned my pain are are long gone in both their minds and mine. They don’t read me and they exist only as fodder for stories. Writing is how I survived my world. Now, the others are just players in my story, antagonist, foil, etc.

Bits and pieces of my memoir have been published here and there. Some as fiction. Some not. Sometimes, it’s all shaken up to create something new and wonderful – like how ashes are used in bricks to build a city.

Writing it all out – getting it all out – says it’s real – this happened. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be published. It has to be outside of our bodies, not locked into our psyches.

Too many pains in our bodies, tangles in our thinking, are caused from the unspoken past.

Closure comes in many forms. Sometimes just getting it out from inside of us is enough to begin the healing.

*

*

One of my favorite stories – an early piece that I was thinking about as I walked my dogs in the chilled morning air.

It begins:

BEFORE MY MOTHER drank herself to death, I knew her as a gentle creature who fed wild squirrels from her hand.  On the back patio at mid-day, she’d stand very still, calm, peanuts laced in the fingertips of her outstretched hand. The squirrel, a female, her babies came later, approached with caution, across the railing, onto the windowsill, grab the nut, run to the other side of the patio where the squirrel peeled back the shell, ate the meat, then returned for another and another. For a while, the squirrels became my mother’s greatest pleasure.

What Did You Do?

writing5

I read an article which stated, there’s no need to feel you have to be productive at this time.

WHAT? Then wtf are we going to do?

I heartily disagree. I think during this time we need to set goals. We need to focus on something to keep us sane!

When this is over, I want to have something to show for it.

When this is over, in another month? another two months? giving us a total of 3 months or more alone in our homes, do we walk out with nothing to show but our muffin tops the size of three tiered wedding cakes?

I’m not telling you not to feel stress. I’m not telling you not to stress eat. I am saying – set a goal and focus on something positive while we’re doing the best we can to survive the pandemic.

This is hard. I get it. We’re scared. If you want to stuff your face full of maple bacon donuts, I’m totally with you. If you have a bad day and want to curl yourself into a ball under your flannel sheets and cuddle your cat – that was my Saturday. I’m not superwoman. I’m not asking you to do anything I’m not doing myself.

When someone asks me, what did you do during the pandemic? I want to say I accomplished something.

I’m setting goals.insi

I’m in the process of another draft – hopefully the final – of my novel. I want to finish that.

I have two fully drafted novellas that need work – those are next.

I signed up to take two classes. I may take more.

I painted my patio. No shit. It’s nearly finished.

I’m going to have a hell of a lot of rooted clippings – plant speak.

My yard will look amazing – well, for a week or so after the pandemic ends, then the weeds will be back.

I’ve written two new poems. I think I’ll start reading poetry live.

I have a live online reading scheduled for April 24th, if you’re interested.

If you’ve gotten this far, I’m planning on offering a free writing class to whoever wants to share some writing. I may recruit other writers to offer their opinions. I think we should workshop too.

So – speaking from the future – what did you do during the pandemic?

 

 

KUDOS and LOVE

to those who are serving,

police, fire, grocery clerks, doctors, nurses, volunteers.

You are my HEROES!

 

Writing in the Time of Cholera

journalA number of people have mentioned the book Love in the time of Cholera to me lately. Ron Terranova, fellow writer and Poe lover, reminded me Shakespeare had a very fertile writing period during The Black Plague.

My writer and critique friend, Jo Rousseau, said she’s keeping a journal and thought many people should. It would be interesting, she said, to see the pandemic from different points of view.

There are people who are having trouble focusing on writing. I have to admit, I was one of them.

While others are saying they’ve never gotten more done. Perhaps they are in the minority? Or maybe they write well under pressure?

Just the day before Jo mentioned the journal, I started keeping my own. I’ve been plagued by disturbing dreams.

Our lives are changing, but not forever. We will come out of this, we will get through this, and I, personally, want to have something to show for it.

I started listing the things I’m accomplishing every day. I’ve added some other things, pandemic jokes and memes. Someone else is writing down the use of language, such as “social distancing”, and how those words are changing and shaping our understanding of society. It’ll be interesting how this comes to use after the pandemic.

Beyond all the free things being offered to keep us safe and sane, free yoga classes, free workouts, free virtual tours of national parks and art museums, there are a number of other things to keep us busy.

It’ll help us all to accept that, for a little while, we need to stay home and find alternative ways to sail through our days. 90186249_1912526478878981_330678285262389248_o

I urge all writers to keep a journal. Not to focus on writing to publish, but a personal historical account for your children, your grandchildren, or for the future. How will this time be remembered? Consider how we think of the Plague and The Flu Epidemic of 1918. What do you know about it? Do you know any people, any stories, any personal or family accounts of the day to day life? Encourage your children to keep journals too – in the future, compare them.

Journaling has helped me get back to writing.

Stay well. Stay healthy. Be safe.

Much love and appreciation.