Linda writes about the psychology surrounding writing one's memoir, and the healing that the process can bring. She offers practical advice on ethical issues that may arise if one is writing about sensitive family issues.
The third section of the book is called Writing the Memoir and it was the section that spoke the loudest to me. As Linda shared her process of writing a memoir, I heard that little voice in my head speaking. Memories and ideas for the memoir that I am working on spoke loud and clear.
The Appendix also has useful questions for one to consider as one delves into the past. As I read the questions, things that I had forgotten surfaced and I am certain that as I go back and reread the sections I will find more nuggets that I had forgotten.
If you are writing a memoir this book is a must-read. If your genre is more fictional there is still plenty of information in this book that you will find helpful.
That's it for now. Excuse me, I'm going back to reread the sections that I highlighted in my own autographed copy.
I stand before the mirror and lean forward for a better look at the woman who I am this morning. I am nearsighted and without the help of my contact lenses or glasses all the world is a blurry place. As I gaze into the sleepy eyes of the woman in the mirror I think to myself “where did you come from?” I barely recognize the tired face looking at me. Her skin is blotchy and there is a blemish near her eyebrow. A blemish, for heaven sake, at age fifty! The whites of her eyes are slightly bloodshot and the skin underneath her eyes is dark. The eyelids that seem to droop more with each passing day have the look of crêpe paper. The lips are thin with slight lines fanning out from them like the spikes of dracaena I just planted.
I fill the sink with water and dip my washcloth a few times in the warm water. Some women say that at a certain point in life they see their mother’s face looking at them when they look into the mirror. I never knew my own mother and so if she is there I don’t recognize her. In fact, as I look back at the mirror and find that she reminds me of another woman I once knew.
I see shades of myself at twenty years of age in an unwrinkled face of a young mother. That face has no makeup, save for black mascara and the lips are full and turned up in a hopeful smile.
She is tired from caring for a baby and yet her eyes have a sparkle to them. She feels somewhat trapped by the circumstances that have become her life and yet is always hopeful that circumstances will change. She is proud of the fact that she has been told that she is good for her husband yet she wonders if he is good for her. Be strong, I want to tell her. Make the hard choices now and you will be rewarded in the future. I know she won’t heed my voice though. She thinks she has it all figured out.
I lift the wet cloth to my face and hold it for a few moments. Breathing slowly I take comfort in the warmth of the cloth and the sanctuary that it has made for me. When I finally remove it from my face, my eyes open to another woman in the mirror.
She is me at thirty. Her eyes are clear and I can see strength in them. I know that she has just finished college and landed the job of her dreams. Her life is busy. She is working full time, raising two children, and coping with a heavy drinking husband. She wishes and prays for him to change but deep down inside she is beginning to lose hope. Her sense of fulfillment comes from her children and her work. She is building a career and making plans for the future. It’s not too late, I want to tell her. Don’t let go of your dreams. I can tell that she has heard snippets of my advice and is considering her options.
I take refuge in the warm wet cloth once more inhaling the moist heat deeply and slowly. When I look up a woman who looks similar to the others looks back at me. This time there is something different in her eyes.
She is forty and has come through hard times. She finally mustered the strength to leave her marriage and subsequently endured years of depression, guilt, stress and hopelessness. Her eyes tell the story of pain that she has learned from and that she is now thankful for. She has recently remarried and feels like a young woman again. I’m proud of her because for the first time in her life she did what she wanted to do. Her face is beginning to show a few signs of her age, but she barely notices. She is busy living her life and having fun.
Then she vanishes, lost with the others, and the woman I am today remains. I am fifty and I look haggard in the morning light. It will take some makeup magic to make me presentable to the world. Yet in the eyes that are beginning to disappear under sagging eyelids, I see a glimpse of the future. I see the bright eyes of my baby granddaughter. They say that she has my eyes.
Though I have no mother to compare my aging self with, I have a son and daughter and granddaughter who will likely one day compare their own aging faces with mine. This thought inspires me to go forward and to follow my dreams. I owe it to the younger women who visited me in the mirror, and I owe it to my son, daughter and granddaughter.
Bat wings are those dreaded pieces of skin that hang below your arm and wiggle and jiggle like jello. No one wants 'em....but alas...it sounds like many of us get 'em. Sigh.
I'm visiting with Laurinda and Gord and Makiya for a few days. Just look at that face. Isn't she beautiful!!
As I sat in the airport today I had an opportunity to people watch and began to contemplate the different ways that women choose to age. Some try to hang on to their youth for longer than they should, and others are content to just let the aging process happen. More to come on those airport musings.
Right now I am going to crawl into bed with a good book and think about this beautiful baby that I have the pleasure of spending time with over the next few days.
Then I caught a glimpse of my great-grandmother's picture in the mirror. Katarina Letkeman (nee Janzen) was born in 1847 in Chortitza Colony, Russia. She immigrated with her husband and three children to Canada. Over the years she gave birth to twelve children, only six of whom lived to adulthood. She lived a hard life and died at age 63. In another post I will write more and pay tribute to this strong woman.
What struck me this morning was her dress. If she had bat wings who would have known? Really, in the grand scheme of things, I guess it's silly to be worrying about something as trivial as bat wings. But for just a moment, I was a teeny bit envious of great-grandma Letkeman.
This morning I felt myself waking up, returning to consciousness, slowly. Gerry still slept beside me and his regular breathing was like the sound of peace. The dogs still slept beside me, their little bodies warm next to me. The window was open and fresh, cool morning air filled the bedroom. I opened my eyes and took in the peaceful sight of my room filled with sleeping bodies.
For a while I lay there daydreaming and imagining how wonderful it would be to wake up this way every morning.
Speaking of inspiration, check out Kathleen's post about saying "no". It inspired me to look at the things that I am spending my time on.
This week, I have found inspiration and encouragement in the eyes of my grandson, in my prayer group, and in my blogging friends. If we open our eyes, we can find inspiration all around. The challenge, for me anyway, is to slow down long enough to pay attention to that which inspires.
Where do you find inspiration these days?
There is nothing like holding a grandbaby to help one put things in perspective. I'm off next week to visit with our daughter, son-in-love, and baby Makiya. How blessed I am!
All that changed a few years ago and I was diagnosed with chronic neuropathic pain that, my doctor tells me, will never improve and will more than likely get worse as the years go by.
Prompted by recent increased, almost unbearable, pain I visited my doctor yesterday. He tweaked the dosage of my meds, and I'm optomistic that all will be well.
This week I find myself thankful for that pain.
- I'm thankful that computer work doesn't affect the pain. Frankly I was getting worried about my memoir and other projects on the go, not to mention work.
- I'm thankful for the wisdom of my doctor who helps me keep this under control for the most part.
- I'm thankful that it causes me to step back from my frantic, sometimes obsessive, drive at work, and reminds me to slow down
- Most of all, today I am thankful that tomorrow we are getting a visit from Brandon, Nicole and baby Jaxon. And what perfect timing, the rain has even stopped!
Happy Friday, everyone! Share your gratitude with us as well......
I hope that in August of this year my memoir looks as robust as I expect my flower pot to look! Something tells me that it will take much more hard work and perseverance to get my memoir to bloom the way that I want it to, than it will for my flowers.
I consider them both well worth the effort required.
It's like that with my writing sometimes. I'll toy with an idea for a while in my mind and then just do a brain dump of what I'm thinking. It usually doesn't look like much at first. It will take time, some nourishment, often quite a bit of deadheading, but eventually if I am lucky I will end up with something that makes me happy. Like a flowerpot overflowing with Wave Petunias.
That's my creative process. What's yours?
Virginia Kate, Micah, Andy and Bobby are now living in my head, kept company by generous and loving Rebekha. Grandma Faith inspires me as I start out on the road of "grandma-hood".
It is one of those books that would have been good to read on a hot summer day while sitting on the lawn swing with a cup of iced tea.
I can't wait for the next Virginia Kate book, Kathryn! This time I'll save it for the perfect summer day. I'll try, anyway! Thank you for the gift of this book.
For anyone who doesn't know Virginia Kate, Micah, Andy, Bobby, Rebekha, and Grandma Faith, I strongly encourage you to get this book and fall in love with them the way that I did.
I feel the need to step back and reflect a bit. I feel over-committed (or may I should be committed?!) and need some solitude to get back on track. I am easing up on my committments and trying to make committments to myself. I will walk more; I will eat more sensibly; I will seek to regain the proper focus and perspective in my life.
A few weeks ago our Pastor made the statement that we should all be able to finish this sentence: "The purpose of my life is....". I will find the answer to that question and adjust my priorities accordingly.
Steven Covey said "You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage -- pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically -- to say 'no' to other things." I have these words posted on the wall of my office at work. I will read them more often and act upon them.
This is the, somewhat borrowed, wisdom from the woman who is inside here somewhere. I'll find her, just wait and see......
It occurred to me recently, that some of the happiest memories I have involve crazy and goofy things, they ar not limited to those that have happened since I turned fifty, and most of them, involve my fun-loving husband. Here are a few.
- Having crepes at 3am because we couldn't sleep
- Hearing the Village People and spontaneously doing the Y-M-C-A dance
- Dancing around a swimming pool in Mexico one night - just the two of us
- Having a water fight in the hot tub
What fun and crazy things have you been doing lately?
I snuggle back under the covers trying to hold on to the moment. My mind wanders to my work in progress, and suddenly I am inspired with new ideas and direction in which to take it.
Yesterday I was barely functional. Like a battery run down to it's last bits of energy I went through he motions slowly. The fogginess in my brain and weariness in my body from lack of sleep a recipe for disaster.
The Ambien I took last night enabled me to rest well. I will be stronger today. I will be healthier today.
I rise now, looking forward to what lies ahead today, struggling against the temptation to take on too much.