This weekend, I’m on an amazing retreat with New York Times Best Selling Author, Bridget Cook and 3 other authors. It’s been an amazing collaboration of minds. Each person in this group has so many gifts and talents to share. We’re putting together our BOOK PROPOSALS. Wow, is that quite the feat. What is beautiful about this experience is that when we get stuck in an area, there are all these fabulous minds that put together ideas to get you moving along. It’s fabulous! They push my limits. They help me grow. They expand my thinking. They assist me in dreaming far beyond what I ever thought I could do.
I’m excited about how my message of the miraculous power and possibility of healing families will get out.
I’m also excited about the possibilities of showing how writing can heal my own soul. There are so many cool wicked tools.to help others in learning to transform their own lives.
For now, I’m off to get the hard work done…well, it’s not so hard. THIS GROUP IS REALLY FUN! I’ll post more later.
By the way, Bridget Cook is an AWESOME WRITING COACH and the amazing author of The Witness Who Wore Red…They just did a repeat of a Dateline 2 hour special called “Unbreakable.” An extreme story of courage of an FLDS woman. I attached a link. She is a great speaker on a difficult topic.
And if you want a TOP NOTCH, Intuitive, inspirational writing coach, check out her retreats at “Inspired Leagacy.” It is worth every penny.
My grandson found this picture on my coffee table and said, “Who is this cute baby?” I told him it was me. He said, “Grammy, you were such a cute baby, no wonder you are so pretty now!” My heart melted.
(But there’s so much more to this picture.)
What? Where did this come from? Yes, that’s me, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen this picture, and it’s fifty years old! I found it this summer when I was helping my dad do some cleaning at his house. I was shocked. I have two baby pictures. Two. And those two show a little waif during the summer time in her underwear…in one, I’m carefree in the sprinklers, cooling off from the boiling Texas heat. Cool pictures, but I don’t look like I belong to anyone. Once my friend took out her pile of baby pictures to show me, and I didn’t have one picture at the time to show her. The interesting part about that is that I’m the oldest! (There should be a plethora of pictures!)
But this picture…this picture is special…it’s me..me and my daddy, and what he loved most, cars, especially his Oldsmobile. He does look nervous holding me.
Why is this picture important to me? You see, I’ve been writing my dad’s story. It’s a story of a “vaulted” man who hasn’t talked much more than about the weather and fishing, and occasionally on a good day about cars. When it comes to writing the book, it’s been a challenge because either he doesn’t remember (he has Alzheimer’s) or because he doesn’t give me juicy details or emotion. (There’s not even an essence of a story for me to write from.) Last week, it was time for me to write the portion of my dad’s story of when he first became a dad. This picture gave me the courage to go deeper, and it was a picture my dad could remember.
On the phone, my daddy said, “You want to know about when you were born?” His voice was high pitched and had an excited tone. “Why yes, dad, that would be awesome!” I NEVER heard my dad with this much fervor telling me about something. So, for about ten minutes with full on expression (and I imagine lots of hand gestures) my dad weaved the most elaborate story I’ve EVER heard him tell.
Daddy proceed with giving me descriptive details of his trauma of being a new dad. No one told him how long it would take for mom to deliver me, several days, or most importantly, how ugly I would look with all goo still on me when they plopped me in his hands.
“What happened to my baby?” he asked the nurses. They hadn’t prepared him to see all the blood and ick on me, let alone what the forceps would do in giving a baby an exceptionally elongated alien head. He was sure that baby was not his. I looked nothing like those beautifully cleaned up babies he had seen on television.
Daddy painted the picture of how nervous he was when the nurse handed me to him (with all the goo). “I was so afraid I would drop you because you were so tiny, and I had never held anything so tiny before. I didn’t want to break you.”
To many, this brief telephone interaction may not be much, but I remember smiling ear to ear and being so proud that I got a chance to hear my dad tell a story from his heart all animated. When the call was over, I was terribly disappointed, because of all the calls I’ve recorded, this would be the one I would cherish forever…but alas, on this day, that beautiful conversation would only be between me and daddy, and it will remain near and dear to my heart.
Many years ago, while going assisting a friend of getting out of a toxic relationship, I was inspired to write a poem. You see, when a woman is abused, physically, sexually or emotionally, there are scars that won’t heal, like the ones that tell you that you are less than worthy, and no matter who else talks to her of her beauty, even people who know her inside and out, she won’t believe it. She believes she has brought this disgrace and shame upon herself and that she deserves the treatment. Someday, I want to be that mirror that reminds those women of their beauty and reflect true images. Upon reading this to a friend, he remind me that this could hold true for anyone. *
No, I haven’t gone to the other side. I love my Wordless Wednesdays, and I have enough pictures to fill many Wednesdays to come…especially nature and art. I’ve been truly blessed this summer.
However, along with it, I’d like to start a new tradition. GIVE ME YOUR WORDS!
In Poetry Therapy, I teach using Poetry as a medium to assist others in healing. They don’t have to write poetry…just enjoy it. Writing is part of the therapy, but students only need to be able to write a postcard or a letter to feel the magical healing powers.
There is an exercise we do that has really cool words we might not hear everyday. We might not have heard them in a really long time. Or, we might have heard them from our parents, grandparents, neighbors, or crazy aunts. Words like: bamboozle, gargantuan, whackadoodle.
I NEED THEM for exercises for my clients…HERE’s YOUR CHANCE!
I can’t wait to see what you come up with. PLEASE? Even if it’s only one word.
Now, I get to tell you my favorite moment while I was in Texas interviewing my daddy.
As a prelude to readers who may not know the story, my daddy was a very VAULTED man. He never spoke any emotion. When he chatted on the phone, most conversations were short and spoke of two things, the weather and tractors and sometimes, fishing. But in the last two years, given time and nurturing, the vault has been slowly opening.
While I was in Texas, the vault opened and closed often. I never knew what day, what hour or even what minute my dad would choose to share. I made him my priority. I had some time with siblings, but even they knew my purpose for this trip was to spend time with him. One beautiful moment was when we got lost, Father’s Day Story.
THE BEST PART:
Twenty minutes before people came over for Father’s Day, my dad showed me a paper that had the AA Promise on it. I had seen the paper on the counter, but hadn’t really delved into it. It was brightly colored sunshine orange, and I briefly scanned it. Following intuition, I knew that my dad was showing me this paper for a reason, so I turned the video camera on it and started reading the promises out loud. I read through the entire document so I would have a recording of the paper in case he didn’t want me to have it. Again following my intuition, I was urged to ask him specific questions.
I asked dad what it meant to him when it asked “not to regret the past.” My dad sat back in his chair and began to tell me how the past was a teacher. Upon looking at my dad, he was relaxed and open and telling me straight up how he felt! I wanted to turn the video camera on him, but this action usually caused him to act goofy and uncomfortable and he would make funny faces instead of talking, so I left the camera focused downward so I could at least tape record his words.
On to the next questions: “No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.” Explain this section to me dad. My dad was really engrossed in speaking now and began talking with his hands, which I don’t remember seeing him do…but I use my hands a lot when talking and celebrated that I knew where it came from! Dad was settling in his chair, so I settled back in my chair and began lifting the camera focus up, but still not directly pointing it at dad. He hadn’t noticed too much and was still engrossed in conversation.
Finally, I slouched down in my chair a little more and faced the camera full on and began asking him more questions. Explain the fear you had of people dad? What about your fear of economic security?
My dad didn’t notice the camera because he was fully engaged in answering the question. He understood these questions like the back of his hand. He had lived these questions and knew that his very life depended on him living these principles.
“We suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.” I watched my daddy’s faith and convictions unfold. He had followed his intuition too and knew these promises were vital to keep. And because he kept these promises, we could talk today. I had never heard these promises full on before, though I had attended Al-Anon meetings many times. Someone had told me once that the AA principles weren’t really being used much any more, and many people questioned how much those principles actually helped people in the past. I can tell you from what I’ve witnessed, and that’s more than with my dad, these principles saved some lives and some families, and I’m grateful for them. We continued with our conversations, actually talking and breathing together. So raw. So real. So unpretentious. Me and my daddy.
Then a car pulled in the driveway and the spell was broken. But for these brief twenty minutes which will be a lifetime for me were very beautiful. And I remembered that it was because I was PRESENT in the moment and didn’t judge what happened or how it happened. And I fondly remember, it was just me and my daddy.
What qualifies a person to write another man’s story? For a life is not a life unless it is fully experienced and lived, and the writer can hardly capture the essence, let alone tell a full story.But the one who has done the living is a tired soul and his hands are feeble and in pain, and his heart has been in pieces and it’s difficult for him to sort out. And so it is that the writer must be the one to document whatever he/she can. For once a life goes, so do their libraries of stories.Two years ago, I felt the calling to get to know my dad when I walked in a Hallmark store and found a book called, “My Father’s Legacy.” In the book are “get to know you questions” about family history, not just dates, but celebrations and dreams and memories. There were so many questions I didn’t know the answer to for my family, even basic questions of family tree information. You see, I have always wanted to get to know dad, but his life and his feelings have always been vaulted with at least a hundred locks and a secret code. As I examined the book, I realized there was so much more I didn’t know, and the questions seemed simple enough. So I thought to myself, “Let’s give this a try.”I introduced the book to my dad and told him I’d like to document family history and some traditions for posterity. “Hey Dad, maybe I could ask you some questions?” Dad said, “I think that’d be all right.” When I would visit, I would ask a few questions and then I’d randomly call him and ask him some more. However, if the question became too personal, dad would quickly close up and withdraw and suddenly had to go “feed the critters” or eat, even if he just called me!The next step on our journey, my dad then began to accept that if the question was in the book, then it was legal, and I could ask it. It would make me giggle because he would look in the book to check if the question really was there. What this phase allowed me to do was gain his trust. He would feed me tidbits to see what I would do with the information. Because my intentions were honorable and how I handled his information was honorable, he began to trust me. From there, we could go a little deeper. There were times I would call, and he’d have to get through the roughness of his day, (Alzheimer’s has people living in fear and worry), and then I would get tidbits of information. Other days after finishing his stories he was just done and hung up. It was disappointing, but I knew it was part of the journey. Through patience and diligence and ears bleeding getting through the toughness of dealing with someone who is closed and stubborn and sadly going through mind games of his own, we began to forge a new relationship. He began to look forward to my calls and sometimes called me. The darkness was revealed less and less and the pep in his spirit was back.This week I got to visit him in Texas. I came prepared with a list of questions in various areas, because I never know what he will be open to answer. Needless to say, I didn’t get a lot of the prepared questions answered, but fortunate for me, I was open to the experience and whatever he had to offer me. Because of this, I was pleasantly surprised more than once.We went on an adventure to visit his hometown of Georgewest. He got lost, and I didn’t catch it because I had my head down taking notes…But the best part? GETTING LOST WAS A BEAUTIFUL THING. Because we were in the car seven lovely hours without phones or computers or people clamoring for his attention, we just got to laugh and be ourselves. Sometimes we didn’t talk at all. And we can’t forget the Dairy Queen! We both enjoyed our most favorite treat, icecream just like little kids!Daddy woke up the next day ready to take on the world. He even talked about feeling inspired to write. He said he had a dream that I didn’t just “come to Texas,” that I was “sent to Texas” to inspire him. I got a brilliant idea to create a feast for Father’s day. I used a sheet as a table cloth, because daddy didn’t one, and I picked flowers from his garden and put them in his favorite mason jars. It takes very little. And twenty minutes before people came over, daddy gave me the most real, the most honest that I have ever seen him. He was unafraid, and gave me the advice of a lifetime in regards to alcoholism…but I will save that for another time because it’s a most wonderful story all by itself.The trip wasn’t all peaches and roses, but it was time I treasured and got to know my daddy better. The focus was on being present and noticing. I will never know how much longer I have with him, so I embrace what I have. Smile your silly smile dad and enjoy.