Life’s Twists and Turns

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” – Don Williams, Jr.

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For the past six weeks, I’ve captured memories and experiences in a workshop with Roger Housden. He shared this insightful advice: “At the heart of all creative writing of non-fiction is the willingness to have an open mind about the event or events you are writing about, acknowledging that a great part of their significance is likely as yet to be still unknown to you. The writing itself, over time, is what can gradually make the unknown known. So the writing of memoir then becomes not merely a recounting of past events, but an exploration of your developing sense of self through time – a journey of self-discovery.”

This is not only a great lesson for writing non-fiction, it’s an invaluable tool helping us navigate and make sense of life’s twists and turns. Sometimes when we feel like we’re trekking through mud, we’re unaware of gifts which will eventually emerge. Looking back gives us a new perception. Understanding unfolds like a lotus flower revealing reasons for our challenges.

I learned painful events become a wise teacher. After losing my first mother, I gained a new mom who turned into my best friend and mentor. Going through a divorce at thirteen instilled independence, maturity, an early awareness of responsibility. When my father died at fifty-two, the devastating loss taught me life is precious and short.
I learned we may lose love then find it again.

Life is a roller coaster – riding high one moment then falling to some unknown depth. The key is growing stronger through adversity. What matters is taking time to sit and listen to our soul so our true path can be revealed.

 

 

Peaceful Places

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”
– Jacques Cousteau

When I’m stressed or struggle to sleep, I take some slow, deep breaths. Then I visualize a relaxing and memorable moment.  My vision is always on a beach. It’s where I go to unwind and rejuvenate. The first place I usually picture is a Caribbean island we visited with a long stretch of white sand and warm water the color of robin’s eggs.  It’s my go-to prescription for a calming effect.

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In a memoir workshop with Roger Housden, he described, “moments of our past that are still alive for us. They shimmer their color – bright or dark. It’s an emotional laden sensation taking you underneath words.” We made lists of “shimmering images” in our lives.  One of my most extraordinary experiences was floating in Maui while listening to humpback whales hum in the water below. Although I’m nervous swimming in the ocean, it’s the most peaceful I ever felt.

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Another captivating image is watching sunlight sparkle on the water or staring out the window (like I’m doing right now) and watching waves roll in to shore. Years ago during chemo treatments, I would sit for the longest time just gazing at the beautiful blue ocean. It was part of my healing process.

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The next time you’re tossing and turning or feeling stressed, take a moment to remember shimmering images from peaceful places.