“What do you have to write about???” A question I had asked myself over and over; one with enough weight to drag my growing need to write about my life below the surface. And that was before the words slid past another’s lips in response to my casual revelation that I was writing a memoir.
I am a middle aged white woman from a family with two parents and one older and one younger brother. We were poor but not poverty stricken. Both parents worked hard as physical laborers to ensure we were never without shelter, food or appropriate clothing. We even vacationed in tents and make shift campers many a summer weekend. I have never faced the challenge of a major illness or disability. When I look at my life from the outside it feels simple and beige. Nothing special.
I first started writing about my thoughts and feelings with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way by my side, a book I almost didn’t buy (I’m no artist!). But it had been highly recommended and I was looking for an outlet to discharge the growing frustration that seemed to be diming the illusions I had about what my life was supposed to look like. Maybe writing was the answer. So I started. I feel a need to emphasize that I did not just read the book – I worked the book, every exercise and every instruction. I wrote my morning pages each day – three pages of whatever flowed out my pen. I made my way through each week’s readings, quotes and activities. It did not take long before the colors hiding behind the beige façade started to seep through, as if a thousand tiny holes had been pierced with the points of my words. I used those colors to paint the picture of my life with black and white and every hue in between.
The writing continued across the years; mining thoughts, emotions and reactions; digging into the next layer as one became exhausted. I began, slowly, to realize I was special after all. That my specialness was simply the unique way every person and experience touched and changed my life – the exact same thing that makes each of us special. The story I share is not about things that set me apart from the rest you. It is about the emotions we share, the commonalities within the day to day details that send us in directions that we either choose (directly or inadvertently) or have little or no control over. We are each something special. I hope sharing my story with the discoveries that have emerged from my particular heap of humanness will add new shades of color to your brush as you explore the landscapes of your life.
Just a note: All thoughts shared here are based on the truth as remembered and processed in my one little brain! That of course does not eliminate the possibility of different views of the same events observed through different eyes. That is why it is my story. I welcome your input and would love to hear other views and observations!