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Ms. Heddy Through it All Chapter 7 “Any Love”


 

Several days later, I found a brown envelope resting on top of the mailbox. It was from Leon and inside was an 8×10 picture of him in his Air Force uniform. The brim of his hat covered his eyes. He looked handsome just as I remembered him, but without his rose-tinted sunglasses that camouflaged his blue eyes. Boy, talk about a big smile on my face you would’ve thought I received a million dollars in that envelope. I forgot all about what he wanted to ask me and put the picture on my dresser, which I gazed at often.

The following week I got another letter from him asking if I would marry him when he got out of the Air Force in 18 months. I didn’t have to think about it. I was elated! The thought of me and Leon being together for the rest of our lives was like sunshine and gorgeous blue skies year round. “So that was what he wanted to ask me!” I went running into the living room to tell Mama.

“Mama, Leon wants to marry me when he gets out of the Air Force.” I blurted enthusiastically. I felt like an eagle soaring high above the clouds. “Can we get married? Will you sign for us?” Mama just sat there in her chair looking at me; her pretty brown eyes were wide as an owl’s. I didn’t give her a chance to respond. As I thought about it, I realized that in eighteen months I’d be eighteen years old, and I wouldn’t need her permission. I wanted Leon to know my answer right away; I ran up stairs as fast as I could and began writing the letter.

Dearest Darling,

When this letter reaches you I hope it finds you in the best of health. I received your letter today. Yes! I’ll marry you! I can’t wait for you to get out so we can be married. I love you and miss you so much. Thanks for the picture. You look so handsome. I asked Mama if I could marry you, but then I realized that I’ll be eighteen years old by then. We won’t need her permission. Plus I’ll be out of school too. Everything is going fine in school. The principal came looking for me.  He scared me. I wondered what in the world he wanted with me. Did someone tell him I was smoking in the bathroom? Finally, I gathered up enough nerve to go to his office to see what he wanted.

He said: “Congratulations, Heddy! You made the honor roll this mark period.” All that time I thought he had found out about me smoking in the bathroom. Whew! That was a close call!

Everyone here is fine. Write soon!

Love Always,

Heddy

I put the letter on top of the mailbox where the mailman would always pick up our mail and send it off right away. The mailman was a friend of Mama’s.  Some days he would stop at lunchtime and have a cold beer and something to eat.

I told everyone I saw that I was engaged, but no one was as excited as I was. One day, when I came home from school, there was an Air Force Officer standing on our porch talking to Mama. She introduced him to me. I told him about my fiancé being in the Air Force and that we were planning to get married.  The officer smiled, congratulated me, and walked off the porch.

Mama told me that the officer came about Daddy. I thought it a bit strange that he wanted to talk about Daddy, when he had been dead almost five years.

I kept looking for a letter from Leon every day; three weeks had passed since I mailed my acceptance letter. This was the longest time I ever went without hearing from him.  Janet and the kids came home from Akron to visit. They had been living next door with Janet’s father since the break up, but by then had returned to Akron and was home for a visit.

I remember Mama was standing at the kitchen sink taking her usual shot of Seagram’s Seven Crown chased with a small glass of water. I was standing in the dining room when Janet came in and walked straight back to the kitchen. She and Mama talked for a while, and then Janet came back into the dining room where I was. I don’t remember what I was doing, but I was on my knees looking up at her from the floor, still excited about the marriage proposal.

“Janet, Leon asked me to marry him!” I said grinning from cheek to cheek. “We’re going to get married when he gets out of the Air Force.” I could not have imagined her response, not even if I had a hundred years to think about it.

“Heddy, forget about Leon.”

“What? Forget about Leon? Why should I forget about Leon? I thought you liked him! You know he is a nice boy.” Janet threw her hands up in the air.

“Aunt Pauline, I can’t do this!” She covered her mouth and ran out the door. I walked into the kitchen where Mama was still standing at the sink.

“Mama what’s wrong with Janet? Should I go talk to her?”

“No, leave her alone.  She’ll be all right,” she said as she poured a double shot of Seven Crown from the fifth she held securely in her hand.

Janet and the kids returned to Akron. I never got a chance to ask her why she said I should forget about Leon. It didn’t make any sense. He was a great catch for any girl— a handsome, intelligent young man with a bright future ahead of him. I was happy and proud that he chose me to be his wife. I didn’t understand why Janet wasn’t happy for me? Mama was silent, which was unusual she always had something to say.

The weeks flew by like a run-away roller coaster, but for me they dragged by slowly. Weeks passed with no letter from Leon. I kept reading his old letters as I tried to wait patiently for his next letter, though patience was not one of my virtues. Leon suggested that I keep his letters in an old shoe box. I did and I filled to the brim. He always opened with ‘Dear Heddy’ and closed with ‘Love, Leon.’ He used the envelopes that had the red, white, and blue airmail pattern all around the edges. I could always tell when there was a letter from him because that pattern stood out from the plain white envelopes. I got so excited when I saw that pattern in the stack of letters. I shuffled through the rest to get to his quickly. Weeks passed without a single letter.

All communication stopped without warning. I was worried and lonely for him. Each day left me sadder than the day before. He was gone. I had no idea who, what, where, or when—Unknown forces ripped him out of my life. I cried for hours and hours. The weeks turned into months. I wrote dozens of letters. I wrote and I waited, I wrote and I waited, I wrote and I waited. I pleaded and even begged him to write and tell me what happened, but I never heard another word.

 

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The Revision Process: Rewriting with “Know-How”


Cover of "Bird by Bird: Some Instructions...

Cover via Amazon

By Linda Joy Myers

I’m pleased to present a guest blog post by Kathy Pooler. She has been in my workshops and is one of my premier blogger friends.

The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.” Robert Cormier

One of the greatest benefits of a critique group is receiving constructive feedback that enables you to take your writing to the next level. That can only happen if you allow yourself to be open to hearing from others what is working and what is not. I have been participating in Linda Joy’s Spiritual Autobiography and Healing Memoir Teleworkshops since January, 2010, where I have learned that writing is truly rewriting.

Revision is part of the process, as much as we’d like to think we can get it done on the first try.

Let’s face it, we all want our readers to fall in love with our little darlings. Our stories are our babies. We have created them with our own hearts and hands, but sometimes we are so close to our own words that we can’t see the discrepancies, missteps and omissions–the tweaks here and there that will make our stories and our characters become alive on the pages. Learning to self-edit is essential to our growth as writers. Read this excellent post by author, Nicola Morgan, comparing self-editing to weeding a garden.

Jody Hedlund, author of several Christian novels, Preacher Bride and The Doctor’s Lady, has an excellent blog post on her reactions to her own revision process “Getting Feedback That Makes You Cry.” About the “initial sting” of feedback, she states, “You need to give it some time and then come back to the suggestions with humble and objective eyes.” I really appreciate Jody’s honest sharing about the human aspect of receiving feedback.

The point is we have to be able to separate our emotions from the process of revising, and convince ourselves that revising will make our stories stronger.

We have to get over ourselves so we can go on to craft the best story in the best way.

“Writing is rewriting” is a common mantra in writing circles. In his book, Revision and Self-Editing, novelist James Scott Bell, talks about the importance of “rewriting with know-how” and lists the following tips in the revision process:

* Cool -Down …Take a break and walk away when your first draft is done.

* PrepareRead through your first draft completely for the first time.

* Print out and prepare a fresh copy…with red felt pen and notepad handy.

* Get ready to read your manuscript… in a couple of sittings.

* Use outside readers…for objective opinions.

* Analyze… Does my story make sense, is my plot compelling, are my characters believable? Think about the effect on your reader as you write and revise, particularly in the later stages. Then, there’s the idea of deciding when our manuscript is done–after we’ve rewritten, incorporated feedback, deleted, added on, transformed our story and owned it. Perhaps this is another topic for another time.”

It seems to me that it’s essential to accept writing as rewriting, and revising as a natural part of the process. Constructive feedback helps us to see our blind spots, and offers us a chance to see through another reader’s eyes. These steps strengthen our stories and give them every possible chance to get into the hands of readers who will devour them with the same gusto it took for us to write them.

Perhaps the real starting point is when we accept that our first draft is lousy and needs to be rewritten, revised, and reconstructed. In her book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott calls a first draft “a child who is let loose and romps all over.”

I’d love to hear how you feel about revising and editing your work.

Are you rewriting with “know-how?”

Any ideas on how to get through the revision process as painlessly as possible?

Linda Joy Meyers is the founder & president of the National Memoir Writers Association

The Science of Dreaming



Lynne Namka, Ed. D. © 2012

Are you fascinated by the nightly parade of visual images that march across your mind? Working with your dreams in another way to understand the hidden-away parts of yourself. Dreams are direct communication from your unconscious parts of yourself. The images and patterns presented in your dreams have some basis in reality. Your dreams are a gold mine of information for you if you are receptive to taking the time to understand them. Here’s what my friend John Freedom said about dream interpretation to harvest important information about yourself:

“Dreams are direct reflections of what our subconscious minds are thinking and feeling. They are symbolic attempts at representing and problem-solving the deep issues of our lives. Understanding your dreams is a powerful way to understanding and knowing yourself, deeply and intimately. Interpreting your own dreams can be revealing, enlightening and fun. You know your own self best and you can best interpret your own dreams.”

Bob Hoss, another friend of mine, founded the DreamScience Foundation which sponsors research on dreaming. Bob is a former president of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, and is on the faculty of the Haden Institute and a Director with the Soul Medicine Institute. Hoss has many resources for people interested in working with their unconscious mind and their dreams. There are fourteen radio shows on the science of dreaming which can be accessed through his web site athttp://dreamscience.org/.

What Does My Dream Mean?

Hoss’s dream guide worksheet can be downloaded in a pdf file athttp://dreamscience.org/idx_dream_language.htm

Step #1 – Record the Dream: tell or record the dream as if you are re-experiencing it (use first person, present tense). Give the dream a short meaningful name, one that spontaneously comes to you.

Step #2 – Life Situation: record any emotionally significant situation that is going on in your life at the time.

Step #3 – Metaphors in the Dream Story: Look for phrases in your description of the dream, or activities in the dream, that also sound like a figurative description of something going on, or a way you feel, in your life at the time. Describe the situation, who was involved and how you felt at the time. How might this life story relate to the dream story?

Step #4 – Work with the Dream Imagery using the “6 magic questions”:

a) Pick one or more dream images (things or characters) that you are “drawn to”, seem important, curious or emotionally significant to you. You might try picking a colored dream image so that you can work on both the image and the color.

b) Let the Image Speak – Go back into the dream and bring the image (that thing in your dream) to your mind’s eye. Take three deep breaths, bring the image closer and on the 3rd breath imagine yourself as that thing in your dream. Now speak as the dream image would. You can try a simple approach and just state what you are and how you feel in that role in the dream (this will provide some basic associations). A more comprehensive approach is to answer the following 6 questions and record your statements. Speak in the first person present tense, using “I am” statements. If “becoming” the dream image is too difficult then imagine yourself asking the dream image these questions, and imagine what the answer might be.

1. Who or what are you (describe yourself and how you feel): “I am ______”
Alternatively – if the dream character is someone you know, then as that person:
a. describe your personality;
b. in what ways are you like the dreamer;
c. in what ways you are different.
2. What is your purpose or function (what do you do)? “My purpose is to _________”
3. What do you like about being that dream element? “I like ____________”
4. What do you dislike about being that dream element? “I dislike ____________”
5. What do you fear most as that dream element? “I fear _____________”
6. What do you desire most as that dream element? “What I desire most is to _________”

Step #5 – Relate to a Life Situation: Now look at the statements as if it is YOU speaking them about YOUR life. Do one or more of the statements sound like a way you feel or a situation in your waking life? Do the “I am” and “My purpose” statements sound like a role you are playing in waking life? Do the “I like” versus “I dislike” statements sound like a conflict going on within you? Do the “I fear” and “I desire” statements sound like waking life fears and desires, perhaps feeding the conflict? If the dream character is a person you know, do one or more of the personality statements relate to a manner in which you are approaching the waking life situation? Or alternatively, does this dream character have a personality trait that you admire or wish you had more of, in order to better handle this waking life situation? Describe the waking life situation and any new feelings or awareness’s that the dreamwork has revealed.

Hoss also has instructions on how to use color to assess your dreams and how to use your dreams to enhance your life. In addition, he and his wife Lynn, have a technique that combines The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) with finding the meaning of your dream and using tapping to release uncomfortable dream content. See the Energy Psychology link at his website to get these instructions.

Want to understand more about your dreams or the science about dreaming? See Hoss’s book Dream Language: Self-Understanding through Imagery and Color.

Five Reasons Why Your Life Will Improve By Writing Memoir


By Sue William Silverman

Sue William Silverman is an award-winning memoir author, a writing teacher in the MFA Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and the author of Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir.

Five Reasons Why Your Life Will Improve By Writing Memoir

Growing up, I lived a double life. On the face of it, we seemed like a normal, happy family: My father had an important career. We lived in nice houses and wore pretty clothes. But all this seeming perfection was a veneer, masking the reality that my father sexually molested me, a reality never spoken aloud.

Later, as an adult, I continued to live a double life: this time as a sex addict. Again, in public, I appeared normal, with a seemingly good marriage. No one knew that the shiny façade hid dark secrets: I cheated on my husband.

Before I began to write, I didn’t fully understand the effects of the past on the present. Instead, for years, the past appeared in my mind’s eye like faded black-and-white photographs, in which no one, especially me, seemed to be fully alive.

Then I started putting words on the page. Finally, I chose to examine my past.

I encourage you, and you, and you, to explore, through writing, your life, as well. Whether your childhood was traumatic or not, whether your current life is in disarray, chances are you do have a story to tell. Whether, say, you’re figuring out a divorce, taking notes about a recent illness, exploring the disruption caused by a parent in the military, or worrying about a visit with an estranged mother, we write memoir to better understand ourselves, as well as to bring a reader with us on our journeys.

Here are five reasons why your life will be improved by writing a memoir, by telling your own story.

One: Memoir Helps You Understand the Past. I gain much clearer insights about my past when I write, than if I simply sit around thinking about it, in the abstract. What was the relationship between the sex addiction and being molested by my father? How did the past cause such emotional devastation? I discovered the answers to these important questions through the written word.

Writing is a way to interact with—and interpret—the past. It helps us make sense of events, whether they are traumatic, joyful, or maybe just confusing. Writing sharpens our senses so that images and details from the past emerge in a new context, one that illuminates events for ourselves as well as for our readers.

Two: Memoir Organizes Your Life. Just living my life day by day, I never stop long enough to question events. There’re errands to run, meals to cook—to say nothing of emotional clutter! Who has time to stop and think about events swirling around us?

Only when I put my everyday life on hold, so to speak, sit down at my computer and write, can I even begin to see a pattern to the rush-and-tumble of life.

Memoir writing, gathering words onto pieces of paper or on a computer, helps us shape our lives. By discovering plot, arc, theme, and metaphor, we give our lives an organization, a frame, which they would not otherwise have. Memoir creates a narrative, a life story.

Three: Memoir Helps You Discover Your Life Force. Before I wrote, while I kept secrets, I didn’t feel as if I were really living my life. I didn’t have a clear grasp as to who I was. What, and who, was the essence of “me”? There are thousands of other incest survivors. How was my story different?

When writing, if I forge even one good sentence on any given day, I have discovered a kernel of emotional truth. I feel that life force of “me,” as if it’s my pulse. To write is to give birth to a more complete self.

There is only one of you. Your voice is unique. If you don’t express yourself, if you don’t fully explore who you are, that essence of you will be lost.

Four: Memoir Helps Others to Heal. One thing I most love about writing memoir, is that it affords me the opportunity to meet many courageous people, still struggling.

For example, after I completed a reading at a library in Athens, Georgia, one woman waited until everyone else had departed. Approaching me, she was so scared she began to cry. She confided that I was the first person she’d told that her father had molested her. She was too traumatized even to tell a therapist. Why did she confide in me, trust me? Simply because I had written my story. Through this meeting, both of us were empowered.

Five: Confessing, through Memoir, is Good for the Soul. Telling family secrets—any intimate secret—can be scary. Finally, however, I reached a place where not telling the secrets was worse. I felt heavy, weighted down. Finally, then, it was more a relief to write my life, then ignore it. So even though at times I felt scared or uncomfortable, I ultimately felt a sense of release and power.

In short, with every word the pain lessened. It was as if I extracted it, one word at a time.

As you challenge yourself, you’ll feel more courageous every day. Writing memoir energizes your psyche, nourishes your soul.

About the author: Sue William Silverman’s memoir Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction is also a Lifetime TV movie. Her memoir Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You won the AWP Award. Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir won honorable mention from ForeWord Review. Her poetry collection is Hieroglyphics in Neon. She teaches in the MFA Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Please visit www.SueWilliamSilverman.com

and it works like magic


Be thankful for the things you have right here and now. Watch what happens. You may not have much, but start with what you do have and be thankful. You’ll begin to appreciate that which you do have and more will come.

Try making a list of ten things you’re grateful for every day in your journal. Write about those things. A simple cheap notebook can be used as a journal. You can find them for less than a dollar most places.

Benefits of Expressive Writing


Cases of PTSD and Severe Depression Among U.S....

Cases of PTSD and Severe Depression Among U.S. Veterans Deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan Between Oct 2001 and Oct 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Expressive Writing

Expressive writing has long been used as a preventative tool to wellness it has positive and healing effects on an individuals’ physical and mental health. For writing to be therapeutic, participants must be willing to write openly about their thoughts, emotions and experiences. This allows them to bear witness to their story, reflect on their experiences and explore their thoughts and emotions.

Twenty plus years of research have found that expressive writing…

  • Increases the immune system’s functioning
  • Reduces stress levels
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Normalizes sleep and eating habits
  • Reduces symptoms of a chronic illness
  • Improves one’s memory
  • Decreases feelings of anxiety, anger and depression

Writing in a journal is a powerful means for personal growth, self-discovery, life management and creative expression. The Journal to the Self®workshop transforms the traditional journal into a genuine, unique method that offers cost-effective, holistic self-discovery and becomes an ongoing trusted companion and guide.

Multiple studies have found that writing, in the form of story or an expression of emotions (expressive writing), is healing for various conditions and diseases. The act of writing is stress-reducing and translating the emotions, memories, and images into words changes the way the brain understands, and analyzes information. This allows healing to begin.  Dr. James Pennebaker found that a group who wrote for only 20 minutes a day for four consecutive days increased their immunity for six weeks!

Psychologists, counselors and support-group facilitators understand the power of journaling as an adjunct to therapy in the treatment of depression, anxiety, grief, PTSD, anorexia, cancers, smoking cessation, substance abuse as well as many other disorders.