But Are You Happy?

Photo Credits: Dawn Sullivan (follow her @dawnruns100k)

April 5, 2008

The weather was perfect. No stomach issues. No cramping. There was nothing but blue skies and a tail wind. Could it get any better than this? The adrenaline that coursed through my veins was unlike anything I had yet experienced.

Me and the Universe were vibin’ on all the cylinders.

I had been running alongside a pair of brothers since the race began. They became my unofficial pacers telling me when I was going too fast and reminding me to take small steps on the ascents using the balls of my feet.

“Time?” I asked

“3 hours and 35 minutes,”You got this. We’ll see you at the finish,” one of them replied.

I had 1/2 mile to the finish. My goal time? 3 hours and 40 minutes. The Yakima River Marathon was a Boston Qualifier.

I didn’t have a fancy Garmin like the other runners. I relied on the steady beat of my heart to guide me.When my heart felt like it was ready to burst, I knew I was running 7:30 minute mile pace. I let my legs loose and ran hard to the finish.

3 hours and 37 minutes and 40 seconds. Pace. 8:18 minutes per mile. I was going to freaking Boston!!!! I lived in that happy place during the entire marathon and then some.

My thought process when I began running went as follows.

If I can run a 10k, I can run a marathon.

If I run a marathon, I can run a 50k.

If I can run a 50k, I can run a 50 mile race.

If I can run a 100k, I can run a 100 mile.

Did it make me happy?

Hell ya it did. I was very happy come into a race…

until I crossed the finish line.

I used to think of happiness as a destination. I was searching for the elusive “happy” like it was an island where I could set up my treehouse and never leave.

Happy Is…

What is your happy?

Ready? Set? Go.

I’ll give you 30 seconds.

What did you write down? Here’s my 30 second list: sunrises, sunsets, walking on the beach, a cup of coffee in the am, making a recipe because I have all the ingredients, comfy shoes (like Sanuks or Bob’s), listening to Imagine Dragons, not smelling a stinky diaper in the air or reading a book. I know I could have written more, but my mind loves to wander and wonder.

What else makes you happy?

I’ll give you a minute.

On this second round of my happy list, it turns towards moments with my husband and children. Number one is talking at my husband. You read that right. I talk at him and he indulges me by listening to me yammer about everything and nothing.

The deeper I look at what it means to be happy, I realize there is no pattern. Happy is a montage of insignificant and significant events and moments that have occurred, is occurring or will occur. You just have to be more aware of them or you’ll miss out.

The definition of happy is showing pleasure or contentment.

It seems like happy times are intermingled with the sad, the ho-hum, and the no good rotten ones. Think of happy like rainbow sprinkles. They are the highlights of our day-to-day grind.

It is woven into the past, present and gently tied into my hopes for the future. When I see my one year old smothering her daddy with wet open mouth slobbery kisses, my happy meter lights up. My second daughter, Lexi loves to sing, when I hear her singing in the morning. Her happy makes my happy meter light up.

Follow her YouTube channel @ Alexis Sant

Happy is found in the momentary blips that occur everyday. I see it on my Instagram feed. Friends who I met along the way through running have shown me when their happy meter lights up. Some of us have branched off into other passions and interests. Although I no longer take part in races, I’m grateful for the moments I shared with them.

In 2014, I met Sue at a 50 mile race out at Ft. Clinch State Park, Florida. She exuded a certain joie de vivre that was full of fire and spunk. She went on to complete her first 50 mile race and would later complete her first 100 mile race on the same course.

She is full of light from within. Enter Sue’s happy…

Photo Credits: Sue Edwards (follow her @suebehonee)
From left to right: Sue’s fur babies- Juliet and Romeo
Vegan Cake made by the talented Sue
Photo Credits: Sue Edwards (follow her on Instagram @suebeehonee)

While I was putting this post together, it gave me an excuse to catch up with her. I learned that she has Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. There is no cure for this type of cancer. She has left an indelible impression on me and all the other people she has met throughout her life. I pray that her health will allow her to continue to share her light with others.

Sue is a true example of living life well. Her beautiful smile says it all. Life is too short to get stuck on the petty and insignificant. Find your happy everyday.

The Secret to Happy

What is the secret to happy?

There is no secret.

Happy exists all around us and when we aren’t feeling it, like I used to tell my kids, “Sometimes you need to make your own sunshine.”

You are happiness.

Take a look at the list you made. Your happy has always existed. Sometimes you just need a little nudge to remind you where to look.

The Choices We Make

We make choices everyday, some are more complex than others. Press snooze or get up? Eggs or a smoothie? Marry him or wait for the right one? 2 kids or more?

I can’t change the past, but I can choose to live better.

August 4, 2019

The obstetrician stopped me mid push when he noticed that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. He cut the cord. Why isn’t she crying? I searched my husband’s face for answers. He gripped my hand and looked on as the medical personnel worked on our baby.

It felt like time stood still laying in the hospital bed, waiting for a friendly face to provide us with the reassurance that everything was okay. No one was smiling. Minutes later we heard her first cry. Everyone in the room let out a sigh of relief. Brooklyn had arrived.

Brooklyn – August 2019

It’s hard to believe she is now two years old and the loudest. When she hears “No.” she’ll try harder to get her way. She tests the patience of everyone around her. I know her type of fighting spirit will serve her well when she’s older, but for right now we’re teaching her to reign in her tenacious ways. She is quite the little actress.

Brooklyn- October 2021

Brooklyn was four months old when we found out we were expecting another one. I was older than 35 which made this my second geriatric pregnancy. I cringe at the word geriatric, but it is what it is.

Kylie was born June 26, 2020. Zero complications. Thank the powers that be. Another healthy baby girl. My husband is outnumbered 7-1. He has more patience than me, either that or he’s better at ignoring the insignificant moments. I have come to believe that he sees the bigger picture much better than I give him credit for.

Kylie- June 2020

When Kylie hears the faint sounds of a melody her shoulders start to shift up and down and her hips begin to sway. She has an old soul that loves ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” Her two other loves are her thumb and her purple blanket.

Kylie- October 2021

80, 42, 30, 19, 18,  8,  2, 1…

This isn’t a number sequence or a countdown. These are the ages of everyone in the house.

Parenting two children is a challenge, but combine that with a very opinionated mother-in-law and 3 step children is anything but easy. We face a myriad of challenges at home. Different personalities, moods and disagreements pop up everyday.

What’s a day without drama? It’s not a day.

Timeline

Raised Mormon since the age of 12, I bought in the ideal timeline. Go to college, marry a returned missionary in the temple, multiply and replenish (have children) and live happily ever after. During my sophomore year in college, I met my first husband through a mutual friend. Within two months we were engaged and the following July we were sealed (married) in the Salt Lake Temple. My mother said I was too young. What did my mother know about life in America? She knew more than I did, but you can’t tell that to a headstrong 19-year-old.

Experience

I should have listened to my mother.

I am the type of a person that learns from experience. If you tell me don’t, I’ll take your thoughts into consideration and depending on the thing, I will probably do it anyway.

I was taught by my parents that my outward appearance was the most important. I learned through Mormonism that our hearts were even more important. Through my doing, I have learned to judge less (I never said I was perfect). I have been humbled countless times. I don’t have a problem telling my kids I don’t know, but there are days when I wish I had all the answers. My parents didn’t have all the answers. They were just making the best choice they could make based on their collective experience.

In personal essay writing I spend a lot of time reflecting. It is wrought with pain, shame, guilt, and forgiveness. Once I learned how to forgive myself, I could let go of the past. On November 16, 2021, my essay titled Not Me will be published online. I’ll share the link once it goes live. In the essay, I made a choice I NEVER imagined I would experience.

I write about my life experiences to share the things I have learned in hopes that it could lift another up and out.

We have this one life to live. I hope you choose to let go and keep on keepin’ on.

Atacama Extreme 100: Part One

Atacama Desert

May 20-21, 2017

Races in the United States typically begin in the early morning hours and other than getting to the race for pre-race check-in, I had little thought on what time the race was starting. It started at 4pm. I was not ready…mentally.

My hydration pack was filled with the list of required items: red flashers, flashlight, reflective tape, mylar blanket, whistle, compass, rain poncho, hat, neck cover, sunglasses, gloves, batteries, blister kit, mirror, and sunscreen.

I had half the list dangling from my pack and the rest stuffed into my windbreaker that was tied around my waist.

The race begins.

It was still in the 70’s, when the race began. Within the next couple of hours, I slipped the windbreaker on and a pair of gloves.

As the sun went down, the highway appeared like we were in the Twilight Zone. Statues of Virgin Mary kept a vigil over memorials that lined the highway, with most of them giving off a faint blue glow from the lights provided by the living.

Sometime in the middle of the night a light snow coated the ground. I followed another runner, a doctor of psychiatry from Mexico bragging about knowing the race director and his girlfriend. I don’t now where she was going with that. Then again things seem more annoying as a race wears on.

All I was thinking was, “Lady, you still have to finish the race!” Were they going to help her buckle up?

I distanced myself from her. I was in no mood for her antics.

I had a very limited grasp on the language and the aid station volunteers didn’t speak English. After pointing at my aid station fair, they would in turn repeat back, “Patatas fritas?”.

“Si, si…patatas fritas,” I replied. They gave me an understanding smile and a snack sized version of Pringles so I could continue on my merry way.

I had been running for more than 12 hours. I made it to the 50 mile checkpoint and felt like there was little else that could deter me from finishing.

Coming up on the 50-mile checkpoint

But of course there are obstacles.

It occurred with a sand dune, which looks small and unseemly, but If you look really close you’ll see a couple of specks…those are people.

# # #

. Thanks for stopping by! Stay tuned for Part Two.

Hey Jealousy

Can you see the forest through the trees? In my sane mindset, the concept is simple. But like any beautiful mind it can switch real quick. Forget the effing forest.

Here I was blogging about the dangers of FB messenger, when I was confronted with a different situation. My husband is the coach of my stepson’s baseball team and there is a certain someone who will not back down on speaking to my husband through text. I won’t disclose much more, but let’s just say I’ll be glad when baseball season is over. I could say none of this trite stuff matters, but I would be lying. Little things can add up and turn into one big shit show and I was not going to standby and watch.

Jealousy is blinding and when it goes unchecked it can turn into something uglier. I have anger issues that I’m continually working through, so unfortunately with jealousy comes my emotional tidal wave of anger.I shared a little bit of my pettiness in my Red Light, Green Light post, but didn’t realize how bad I had it. Short fuse? I definitely have one of those.

Like all other emotions we get to experience, jealousy can drive you bananas if you allow it to consume you. I didn’t know I had it in me to feel this type of way. So, what did I do? I tried ignoring it, but that was short-lived, then I got angry while voicing my concerns. I knew I shouldn’t waste a second on jealously, but I did. I indulged hard. Love, trust, and loyalty all came into question. I expressed my concern and my husband listened. I was able talk it out and adjustments have been implemented.

Quiet Place

I was raised an only child. My mom shot down any attempt of having an imaginary friend. She would say, “Dais, don’t do that, people will think you’re crazy!” I had quiet all day every day and I hated it. Learning to read and write opened a new world to me. Writing was a therapy I didn’t know I had.

I didn’t mean to have a big family, it just slowly turned into one. My household contains me, my husband, three daughters from my first marriage, our two daughters, sometimes my stepson comes over on the weekends and then there’s my mother. Coexisting with my family can be hell on earth, but there’s no place I’d rather be….yet this mama needs her mind right to be there for her family.

How do you find quiet amid chaos? I close my eyes and breathe, then I take my journal out and write furiously.

Reflection

As I continue to work through my emotions, journal writing helps me find that calm in the storm. I become more self aware of what is causing me to feel and act a certain way.

I have learned that this sort of reflection is beneficial in creating an avenue for communicating my feelings, especially when I’m not sure how to broach the topic. My journal is a place where I get to speak truth about the truth. In this simple act, I can recover my senses and calm the expletives down. Reflection is a powerful thing,

Take a moment to ask yourself these questions in your journal when you start feeling your emotions running away from you.

Why am I feeling this way?

What am I afraid of?

Make sure you chase them down to get the answers you need to keep moving forward in life. Our human minds can get stuck on a loop, but we have a choice to stop it.

Be Honest

Be honest with yourself. If you spend enough time tending your mind, you will be able to see the forest from the trees. Give it a try and let me know how it’s working for you.

The Addiction: Part 2

This is Part 2 of The Addiction. Part 1 is available here on my blog. After leaving Mormonism, I threw myself into the sport of ultra running, got remarried for the 2nd time to another runner. As I said in Part 1, I realized that we had love, but it wasn’t for each other. It was for running. During that time of realization, the man I met at work changed how I understood the meaning of love.

Continue reading “The Addiction: Part 2”

The Addiction: Part 1

The Addiction: I'm not addicted to running. I'm addicted to the way it makes me feel.

For those of you who knew me as Desiree “The Runner,” I started in 2006. I became addicted to running in a short span of time. It began with an easy 3 miles, but of course, like any good addiction, it spiraled out of control into 6 miles and then 9 miles within a month of starting. Not long after, I started running run twice a day, 6 miles in the am and 6 miles in the pm, for months on end. I pushed my limits until those limits broke me physically and mentally.

Yes, it is mind over matter, but only to a certain degree. I have run through the pain, but the numbing effect of the mind cannot fully anesthetize the physical pain I still experienced.

I have been plagued by foot pain on the bridge of my right foot ever since I ran my first marathon, and I have the occasional throbbing pain in my right knee from my first 50-mile race. Those injuries occurred over 10 years ago!

Leaving My Faith

This may come across as trite to my more devout Mormon friends, but I left the church because of my addiction. There are other reasons I left the Mormon church, but I’ll explain that in another post.

In late January 2014, I met with my bishop who told me I was running too much. He told me that my time was better with my children. Innocent statement, right? I didn’t feel that way at the time. I left his office with a deep anger I couldn’t shake and decided I wasn’t coming back.

I should have told him that I felt like running was the only thing holding me together. I was grappling from the fall out of my first husband going to Federal prison for the next six years. I was so angry at him and angry at God for allowing it to happen. My faith was rocked, and with it, I decided to end our 14-year marriage as soon as possible. If I didn’t run, I felt like I would cease to exist altogether.

I left the Mormon Faith in September of 2014. And my 14-year marriage was dissolved a couple of months afterward. After 22 years of living and breathing Mormonism, I was going through something called a faith crisis. I lost some of my Mormon “friends” along the way. It crushed my soul in a way I never could imagine.

A New Tribe

But I found another community that accepted me for who I was. My ultra-running tribe became my crazy running family. Thank you to those with who I remained friends and those I shared time on the trails. You may not have known it, but you helped me through one of the darkest hours of my life. But like any tribe, they can turn on you. They didn’t judge me, but that would come later.

I ran further. Add hip pain after The Keys 100 in 2015. I could run for 6 months solid, but then the depression would set in. I couldn’t understand why? I couldn’t accept that the addiction was diminishing my mental capacity to handle my emotional turmoil. The stuff I didn’t deal with in 2014.

But I kept running in a blind fury. I ran long and blasted the pain away with my favorite 90’s hits. Guess what? It doesn’t work long-term. Well, “Duh,” Desiree, of course, it doesn’t work long term. I was putting a band-aid on my problems. Little did I know, but that band-aid was going to be ripped off.

The End and a New Beginning

In 2018, the Universe hurled someone into my life. I was working at a dead-end job for a title company. I was married for the second time in my life, but the only thing in common between us was ultra running. Our love was centered around the sport of running and weightlifting, not on each other. You can’t build much off of that type of foundation. On top of that, when I wasn’t working, I was running, which meant I hardly saw my children. My husband and I were living a superficial marriage. Our photos gave the impression on FB and Instagram that we were doing effing awesome.

At the end of July of 2018 I ended things with my husband. I started a new life with the man I would eventually marry in January 2019. Yes, for someone like me 3x is a charm and  we would go on to have two babies within 11 mths of each other. I was met with some serious judgements from my FB friends. Sadly, I lost many of my running “friends” because of it. The backlash devastated me. I felt completely abandoned by my so called friends.

The Unrunning

What did I do with my tribe issues? I stopped running races and then I stopped running.

But then came the question, “Who was Desiree if she was no longer a runner? Runner Des was my identity. I deleted FB, I needed a hard reset. I needed to reassess who I would allow my FB friends to be.

I needed to readjust my priorities. Even though I’m no longer Mormon, I learned a lot from that religion, mainly the importance of family.

# # #

This concludes The Addiction: Part 1. Tune in next week, I’ll be sharing Part 2. How my life after ultra running has changed and the lessons I learned along the way. I hope to see you back here soon!

Turning Intentions into Action

A couple of days ago, I typed THE END to my first draft of a novel. I have been working on this particular piece for about 2 years. It’s gone through several revisions before I even wanted to call it a first draft. It is one thing to say you will write a book, and quite another to say THE END.

Good Intentions

We are all filled with good intentions, like when you tell a friend you’re going to drop by but just haven’t had the chance, or you told your child that you would take them to the park only to let the day slip away. It’s in our actions and not by our words that we change those intentions into a reality.

To Finish or Not

Remember that not all things need finishing. There was a time in my life when all I wanted was to speak French fluently. I switched colleges and took a class in beginner/intermediate French. I felt pretty confident until I settled in my seat. In French grammar, I excelled. Conjugate a verb? Sure thing. Translate a sentence from English to French? I’m your gal. Speak so as not to sound like a newbie? Big-time fail. What I didn’t realize was that I signed for a class filled with Mormon return missionaries. They had spent two years in the country fully immersed in the language and culture. The closest I came to French culture was escargot.

Repetez-vous, s’il vous plaît,” and “Je ne comprehend pas,” were my go-to statements. By the end of the week, I concluded that I could not keep up with the class. I could get through the grammar, but the oral portion was graded heavily. I withdrew from the class and still Je parle un peu Français. Yes, of course, I could rekindle the flame to learn French fluently, but it’s no longer a high priority.

*Since this post, I have rekindled the flame to become fluent, thanks to Duolingo.

Redirect and Prioritize

It’s essential to list your intentions and determine what we will or won’t finish. We need to be completely honest with ourselves because if we can’t be honest with ourselves, who else can do that for us?

Turning Intentions into Action- "You are what you do, not what you say you'll do."- Carl Gustov Jung

A TODAY List

My daughter is a list maker. She gets easily frustrated with herself when she can’t finish her TODAY list. My word of caution is not to over-extend yourself. Writing too many things down will have you beating yourself up at the end of the day. Create a list for just TODAY. You can keep track of the things that matter today and not what mattered yesterday. Be intentionally here today, and you will finish.

If you have something high on your list that requires more days to finish, write down what you can do today. Change your intentions into finished goals. I know you can, but most importantly, remind yourself daily that you know you can. 

A Letter to Mia

Memoir writing is filled with the past and the many people I have shared some time with. Every year in October, I silently think about an old childhood friend. Mia Jones became one of my best friends when I lived in West Valley, New York. This month does not only share her birthday but also the month she left us. We only kept in contact through email in our 20’s, so the voice in my memory still reflects that of her 11-year-old self. There are things I wished I would have told her but didn’t. They are nothing earth-changing but have impacted my life nonetheless. This year I felt compelled to write her the following letter.

Dear Mia,

If I could speak to you again, I’d ask you if you were doing okay. We would reminisce about when your brother, Frank, made us watch A Nightmare on Elm Street in the dark. I never told you how that fear stayed with me for months afterward. I took showers facing the showerhead with my eyes wide open. The water and soap would burn my eyes, but at least I was prepared to escape from Freddy Kreuger’s steely grasp. 

You, Laurie, Erin, and Amanda held a going away party for me the day before I moved. We had a water fight in Laurie’s backyard. There’s a picture of us taken that day, drenched from the water balloons. The five of us holding you up like you were in a Broadway show. Your mouth was open mid-laugh. I never told you I thought you would be a comedian. I can still hear your laugh echo in my memory, even after all this time. The four of you signed the back of a shirt with dairy cows on the front and our town name written underneath. I never told you I wore that shirt practically every day my first summer away from all of you. It was washed so many times that the back of the shirt no longer carried all of your names.

I spoke to you through email when we were in our early 20’s. We exchanged short pleasantries, and you told me you were majoring in business. We hadn’t spoken to each other since we were 11. Through a few emails, the gap of time was bridged, and it was as if we had never been apart. 

Not long afterward, I got an email from Laurie, telling me you passed away. I didn’t know you were sick at all. The words became blurred by my tears. My three and four-year-old daughters couldn’t understand why I was so sad. I told them I had lost a special friend, who had gotten very sick.

If you were still here… I should have… would have… could have… asked you more often to tell you how much I missed seeing your face. I would have asked you more questions and checked in with you more often. I never got to tell you how I wished I was a part of your family. Your parents were so good to me. My parents and I never laughed together the way your family did. Even now, I remember how much love I felt within the walls of your home. 

You live on in my memories. Until we meet again, my friend.

Love,

Desiree

Write a Letter

Remember to stay in touch with the people you cherish, especially the once-in-a-lifetime kind of friends. They are the type of friends you haven’t spoken to in years, but you can always pick up where you left off.

The greatest gifts to me have come in the form of a handwritten card or letter. I miss those days. My hope is that you will take a moment and send a letter, e-mail, or text to that person you wished you had kept in touch with. From what I have learned, they will be glad to hear from you.

Red Light, Green Light: A Metaphor

"People love green lights in life. They affirm our way." - Matthew McConaughey

All the Small Things

Have you thought about how much time you spend angry? I’d rather not count the hours awake or asleep. As a teen I would sometimes wake up with with frown lines and a sore jaw after a night of teeth grinding.

After many years, you learn a think or two about yourself. I have learned that it’s easier to relax those frown lines, smile, and unclench my jaw.

It can be as petty as my toddler taking a bite of my food she’s been begging to try…like a cannoli and then she immediately spits it out or when a stranger cuts me off to beat the red light.

Let’s examine the red light, green light scenario a little closer.

Red Light, Green Light

This is the part where I hope the light will turn red and when it does, Oooh-wheeee, my righteous indignation pops up and says a big, “HAH! That’s right,” and there we sit, me behind them, glare smiling at their back windshield, knowing they will not meet my eyes in their rearview. There we sit and wait for the same light to turn green and just for kicks they speed off and we are stuck together once again.

In the alternate version, the stranger speeds off never to be seen again. I can stay mad for at least another minute cursing that individual and then hoping I see them getting pulled over for reckless driving. Another minute passes and I have forgotten all about it. It wasn’t worth the trouble, because In these small pockets of time I just needed to remember to take a deep breath and smile.

The Traffic Light Metaphor

Speaking of traffic lights, this makes for a perfect segue to bring up Matthew McConaughey’s memoir Greenlights. As you can guess from the title, he uses traffic lights as a metaphor for life. The green lights come in each of our lives allowing us to proceed and continue moving along with the AC blasting, belting out our favorite songs, someone or some thing cuts us off and then whammo, the light changes to red and we slam on the brakes. What do we do?

The Reaction

The light makes that quick switch from go to stop and we come to the swift conclusion that life has cheated us. We get angry and frustrated and throw our hands up in the air in frustration shaking our fists in the air saying, “Hey now, why did everyone get to cruise on through while I’m stuck sitting at a red light. It just isn’t fair!”

Reassess the Situation

There are unforeseen reasons why things happen to us that are out of our control. The powers that be have different plans for us, so we can either A) Wait for the red light to change or B) Take a detour and start hitting the green lights again.

Life isn’t an upward projection. It’s more like a party with mystery boxes that sometimes contain a bomb. The bomb blinds us, we become paralyzed and cannot figure out how to go on, but somehow we do manage through it. The smoke clears, we dust ourselves off and continue moving forward. We don’t know how we survived, but we did. We are better for it. I don’t know what you call it, but usually it’s some lesson I needed to learn.

No, no, no, no, na, no, no, no

As in life, writers are faced with challenges. We get rejection letters that come in an e-mail or we get to the end of a book we spent writing for the last two years and decide it’s not the book you wanted to write when you finally finished it.

Nicholas Sparks wrote a novel, his first one, that he never published. Stephen King was rejected 30 times before he was accepted before Carrie was finally published? Was all that time really wasted or did they learn something from those instances? Do you think they felt like it was all just a big fat waste of trees and cross their arms and quit, exclaiming, “How come got it done, but I didn’t. This isn’t fair!”

No way! They continued moving forward and Nicholas Sparks went on to write The Notebook and even got a movie deal. Warner Brothers offered him…ONE MILLION DOLLARS. Say whaaaat?! My jaw dropped when I learned this little tidbit. It’s not a common occurrence, but Sparks is an example of what could happen.

Revise Your Thought Process

Maybe we need to throw out the manuscript, so to speak, or come back to it later. GIve your thoughts some time to cool. In fact, I was ready to submit a short story with only hours to spare before the deadline, but, after my daughter read it, her feedback made me realize I had some gaps that needed filling. She didn’t say anything about the gaps, but asked who a certain character was when I realized I changed the characters name midway.

It’s always good to have another set of eyes look at your work. Merely cosmetic, but I read it again and couldn’t read it all the way through. The flow was missing. For now, I will continue to rewrite and revise and pitch it somewhere else. Sometimes I feel like I’m in this giant rush, clamoring to get it all done, when what I should do is take a breather. Yeah, I haven’t quite learned that lesson yet.

The Human Condition

During that breather, read about others who faced your challenges or something along the same lines. The human condition is one we can all relate to, so experiment with things that make up the human condition (i.e., emotion, mortality, conflict, birth..etc…) Try your hand in a different genre or try flash fiction (500 words). You might find that you like the short story so much that you keep churning out those words into a novel.

What If?

I have this trilogy I’m working on and it started out as a simple love story quandary. Well, it has turned into science fiction. I wasn’t going there, but it did. I went into my what if thinking and it took my story into an exciting direction. It turns out that the first novel I wrote wasn’t a complete waste. I asked, “What if?” with my index finger tapping my chin and then started typing. It’s an incredibly helpful tactic.

The Journey of a 1000 Miles…

You know the rest of the adage. With a determined mind, we persist and move forward taking baby steps and sometimes giant leaps until we get to that part of our journey. Of course it doesn’t end there, so we take another breath or two and continue on to the next thing.

Enjoy those green lights, my friends and if you hit a red one, take a deep breath and smile.

Memoir Writing

Memoir What

I’m sure you have questions, like wondering if you should start at your birth and inch your way up? You can do this for the sake of your timeline/outline, but I have yet to come across a memoir that begins with something to the effect of, “I arrived in this world at 6pm on Sunday, September 21, 1979.” (Yes, that’s my birth day) or “And then I started riding my bike without training wheels when I was 2.”

If you can creatively write your when’s and where’s from point A to point B then do it, but for all of us regular writers, spare your audience all those details. Instead, try a memory that sticks your readers right into a piece of the action. It doesn’t have to be about the time You-should-have-seen-the-other-guy kind of moment. Something low key is a good starting point.

Here’s an example taken from one my earliest memories:

My surroundings became a blur. The sky and the ground swirled into a blur as my body slid across the icy packed snow in an aluminum saucer sled. I sat crosslegged, gripping the sides, but came to an abrupt stop when the sled met the wooden fence, hurling me into a dizzying heap. I was splayed on my back with snowflakes melting on my face. My mother ran to my side and picked me up, brushing the snow off my body, checking for broken bones. My tongue tasted something metallic, and then my lip began to thump and burn.

Reminisce Away

You can start with something unique from your childhood or think of key moments from your life. Try a hilarious moment when you fell flat on your face because your backpack was too heavy, or a sad moment like when your mom told you she had breast cancer for the second time.

Talk to a Family Member

Ask a family member about their memories of you. You can even try to write from their perspective and see where that takes you. It will probably head you straight into memory lane and that my friend is exactly where you want to be.

Tell your Story

Is your story worth telling? Still thinking about it? Your story is worth telling because there is not a single person on this earth who can share the same story of their life. They may relate, but no two lives are alike. What struggles did you face?

I think Priyanka Chopra Jonas said it best, “You’ll definitely learn about how I became me during the in between of what you haven’t seen.” We all have chinks in our armor. Talk about your fears and your doubts. People are far more interested in the unseen.

Memoir Now

I am a believer in self-starting. Do you want to write your life story? What better time than now? Even if you’re not looking to publish, it’s a way to leave something for your posterity. A few of my writings I recently shared with my 18-year-old daughter. She had no idea about the things I shared. She felt like she was finally getting to know me. Her own mother!

How much of your story do your children not know about you? I’m not talking about our deepest darkest secrets. From my own experience, it was as simple as my children learning the origin of my childhood nickname.

Additional Help

You can spend a great deal of time looking for journal prompts to get you writing, or you could try this guided journal. No, I don’t get paid to sell you on a journal, so if you tried this particular one out, let me know what you thought of it. Also, if you have found a guided journal to help write your story, please feel free to leave it in a comment and I’ll be sure to add it.

This is My Life: A Guided Journal

This Is My Life: A Guided Journal: Creative Prompts to Tell Your Story, So Far