The Mystery of Metaphors

It’s been a minute since I’ve written a post. I’ve been struggling with my writing and haven’t felt much like admitting it. I’m a butt in the chair, get it done kind of person so editing my memoir feels like a root canal. It’s hard to be motivated when writing feels like a chore.

This month, to shake things loose, I’m taking a memoir class with former Michigan State professor Lev Raphael. He assigned three memoir openings for our first assignment, we were to comment on them and reflect on our own.

White Oleander by Janet Fitch immediately caught my attention and I wanted to read more. I checked out the audiobook from the library and listened as Fitch wove her sad tale of mother drama. Her use of metaphor to bring home a point was masterful, and brought clearly into focus my woeful use of them. I’m still learning to write in the show, don’t tell manner and I struggle with metaphors. It’s much easier to cut to the chase and tell it like it is, but it’s not nearly as interesting to the reader.

This morning I read Marion Roach Smith’s essay on seeing metaphors all around us, then I took a mile-long hike around Trout Lake. I saw what she meant: use what we see to describe something in a different way so the reader can interpret their own meaning.

On my hike I saw an invasive plant species choking the shoreline and seemingly harmless tent caterpillars on tree limbs weaving webs of death, both illustrations of looking below the surface to see the struggle to survive. Even the hike that was easy just a year ago now left me breathless, a metaphor for my editing journey.

In hiking as in writing, the lessons are in the journey. I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other and my butt in the seat, and let the destination take care of itself.

Trusting Your Journey

“Chicken Soup for the Soul: Running for Good” launched six weeks ago. It was a total fluke that I learned of the chance to submit my story so I was thrilled “Semper Fi, Sister” was included. The one hour Twitter virtual launch with the other authors and the publisher was like downing a triple espresso chased with Redbull.

Then came the let down.

I was now a published author, but I couldn’t coordinate a local launch to save my soul. I had filled out the publisher publicity paperwork, but no one seemed interested. Then I lost interest…and it didn’t seem like such a big deal after all.

But it is a big deal.

I’ve never been published. I work a challenging full-time job and write in stolen moments of time. It’s second nature for me to minimize my accomplishments. I compare myself to others then feel inadequate in their wake. But I have to remind myself that this is my journey alone.

Even if I never have another word published, the story of my magical Marathon journey will live on in the pages of Chicken Soup for the Soul. For that, I’m grateful.

What does the future hold? Who knows, but I’ll keep putting my butt in the chair, doing the work, and let the Universe handle the outcome.

Semper Fi, Sister

“Never limit where running can take you.”
Bart Yasso

Listening to Bart Yasso describe his running adventures during the Runner’s Brunch the day before the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon, I felt moved, inspired, and grateful to have made it that far. He described his most memorable Marine Corps Marathon when in 2001, a little more than a month after 9/11, runners solemnly ran past the gaping hole in the Pentagon . “All you could hear were the runners’ footfalls,” Bart reflected.

I’ve never forgotten that story nor his advice about never limiting where running can take you, which brings me to today. The story of that 2015 marathon journey is published in a book called “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Running For Good”.

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First Run Done

I started writing a memoir last November and hadn’t considered submitting any other writing for publication until I read a Facebook post about Chicken Soup for the Soul accepting submissions. I knew both the stories of my half and full marathons fit the theme of “running for good”: I ran the 2012 Detroit Free Press Half Marathon with Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and I ran the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon for the Semper Fi Fund. I submitted both stories in February and in March was notified that among the thousands of stories submitted, “Semper Fi, Sister” had been chosen for their new book.

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Kicking It to the Finish Line

My Marine Corps Marathon journey was deeply personal to me. I had started running again after my divorce in 2011 and after recovering from knee injury that set my training back, I finished the half marathon in 2012. I thought my running days were over until I met my Arctic Annie, who inspired me to reignite that marathon dream.

While my marathon day was a magical mix of serendipity, running is never just about the big events. It’s about enjoying and making the most of life along the training trail. It’s about the journey of life’s changes, and my life has been transformed since that day in 2011 when I took my first Team in Training run after decades of not running. I met my partner, I started an internship that that I’ve now completed in a career that I love…and now, I’m a published author.

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Mission Accomplished!

I am so very grateful to all the coaches, friends, and family who have supported me in achieving both my dream to run the marathon and of being published.

To Arctic Annie, who was with me every step and mile of the way during this journey of life, I Love You and I could not have done any of this without you by my side.

Beating Back the Doubt Demons

Yesterday I became a Medium paid subscriber just to write a comment on a post where the writer was questioning her memoir writing plans. I wrote this comment as much for me as in response to what she had written “I’ve come to understand that when I’ve faced resistance, it was because I was still processing what had happened and wasn’t ready to put it on the page. Be patient with yourself and the process.”

It’s tough writing memoir because a lot of stuff jumps out that you had boxed up and put in the back storage closet of your mind. If we ourselves haven’t processed what’s happened to us and made peace with our past, what spills onto the page is unresolved emotions with no universal lessons for the reader. No wonder it takes some people so long to write to write a memoir.

I find myself questioning whether I can really do this. Only in the last couple of years have I disclosed to friends my mother’s mental illness. Now I’m writing about it for the world to see? It’s scary. But I’m writing my story for others out there who like me was feeling they’re the only ones to bear the pain of loss to mental illness. You are not alone.

 

 

 

 

 

The Allure and Hazard of Thing-Naming

I turned my rental cello in yesterday.

Growing up I didn’t name inanimate objects and I’m not sure I knew people did that until my daughter named her first car. Turns out a lot of people name their possessions.

At one point over the past year and a half, I remember giving her a name. I was attracted to her curvy, voluptuous figure and she seduced me with her deep sexy voice. We began our journey slowly, my fingers unsure and my hands untrained. With practice and discipline, we began to make beautiful music together and my partner called me her Cello Bella.

I turned in my rental cello yesterday and was caught by surprise when tears came to my eyes. I hadn’t expected that. I had made peace with my decision to focus my limited time on writing. As I caressed her one last time and expressed my gratitude for being my musical companion for the past year and a half, I wracked my brain trying to remember what I named her.

“You took good care of it,” the technician said after the inspection.

“Thank you, she was my baby,” I replied.

After finishing up the paperwork, I drove away and was glad I couldn’t remember her name because leaving her would have been that much harder.

Dreaming Bigger Dreams

intentionsHere I am, a month and a half into the new year, and I’m ready to dream bigger dreams.

While I’m still working on my memoir, I’ve connected with two writer’s groups, am trying to establish weekly group to write at a local coffeehouse, and I’m signed up for two local Writer’s Conferences.

It never occurred to me to submit any stories for publication until I read a delightful blog post by Nancy Julien Kopp about having been published in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book and being featured on the cover of her local newspaper. I hadn’t even considered that possibility.

As luck would have it, I had two stories in mind for an upcoming book and submitted them last Friday. Whether or not they are accepted, I feel a great sense of accomplishment in having written and submitted them.

Writing is a solitary gig so I truly appreciate writers who willingly share insights, resources, and wisdom. Thank you Nancy!

Podcast Parade: Super Soul Conversations with Cheryl Strayed

Before I cut the cable cord, one of my go to programs was Super Soul Sunday on OWN. I’ve been thrilled to discover some of my favorite shows are now also podcasts, including 60 Minutes and CBS Sunday Morning.

supersoulWhile searching for Super Soul on my podcast app, I came across a follow-up episode of Super Soul Conversations with author Cheryl Strayed. Cheryl had appeared on Super Soul Sunday in 2012, a year after the release of her bestselling memoir “Wild”. During her 2017 update, Cheryl admitted to Oprah that prior to the interview she had gone to GoodWill to purchase something to wear for $5, and earlier that week her husband called asking her why their rent check had bounced. Wait, what?!

It’s easy to look back in retrospect given all the bestselling success of Wild and the subsequent movie, and believe she was an ‘overnight’ success. Far from it. Like many other writers, Cheryl struggled to make ends meet working, raising her family, and fighting to find time to write. Being a newly committed writer, Cheryl’s story encouraged and inspired me.

Every time I listen to a Super Soul Conversation, I get something from it regardless of the guest. I’m grateful my commute gives me the time to enjoy different podcasts, and Super Soul Conversations is one of my favorites.

New Year, New Intentions

Intentions.jpgI’m at an age where I could retire from my day job, but I am my father’s child and work gives me purpose. I’m hoping to have established myself well enough as a writer so that when I finally leave the day job, I’ll have momentum and works in progress to keep writing and creating.

With the new year, I’ve changed my day job schedule to give me a day off every other week to enjoy 3-day weekends. So 2019 is the year to settle into a writing routine that works for me to avoid burnout, to keep working on my memoir, and explore fiction and new creative ventures.

Recently, I applied to be a driver for Lyft and Uber. My father worked as a shuttle driver until he was 83 and it kept him young. He thoroughly loved meeting and con09-Super Dogs.jpgnecting with new people, finding out what was going in the world outside his door, and exploring different parts of the city. Though it will be a very limited side hustle, I’m hoping it will provide fodder for my fiction exploration.

This year I also intend to connect with a local writer’s group, attend a writer’s conference, and continue expanding my blog. I’m committed to writing five days a week, whether it is just a quick note in the morning, an essay, or a blog post. I want to have more adventures, artist’s dates, walking meditations, and camping, lots of camping with my girl and The Bookends.

Book Look: The INFJ Writer

MTBIAs a Psychology major studying Jungian personality theory back in the day, taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was required. I like to know what makes people tick and the personality test developed by Isabel Myers and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs nailed my type, Introversion iNtuition Feeling Judging (INFJ). I’ve taken the test many times over the years and no matter the circumstances, I’ve always been an INFJ, a rare 1.6% of the population.

41lflrfsfolI explored a lot of paths for personal growth and my bookshelves are lined with writing books, but I never could get back to the page. After Julia Cameron’s nudge at “Creative Reboot“, I began morning pages again. Then in a synchronistic surprise, the next day a new book appeared at the check-out table called “The INFJ Writer“.

Turns out a lot of writers are INFJs. In a brief conversation with author Lauren Sapala, I expressed my struggle to write and she responded that I’d probably have to get my memoir out of my system before I could write anything else. I devoured the book, reading it from cover to cover by the time I got home. Lauren speaks my language.

Soon morning pages morphed into a regular writing habit. I jumped into NaNoWriMo with wild abandon to write a crappy first draft of my memoir. Reading “The INFJ Writer” helped me understand where my potential roadblocks are and what I can do to navigate the emotional writing tides that sometimes threaten to swamp my progress.

I didn’t major in Psychology to practice as a therapist, but the knowledge I gained has served me well throughout my career. While the audience for “The INFJ Writer” seems like a small niche, I’m glad Lauren wrote it. The book inspired me to quit thinking about my writing angst and just start writing. Thank you Lauren.