Author Archives: Linda Joy Myers

FREE Memoir Webinar: Truth in Memoir: A Journey of Healing and Transformation

May 19, 2017

Free Day Long event: 10 AM/1PM to 2 PM/5 PM

We’re very excited here at NAMW to offer a day long discussion about truth in memoir–one of the hottest topics memoirists discuss online, in forums, and in running Facebook posts!

As memoirists, we have to struggle with “the truth.” When we write our stories, we search to discover and reveal various angles of the truths in our lives. As complex humans, there are multiple and sometimes paradoxical truths—love and hate, letting go/holding on, attraction/repulsion desire and rejection of intimacy, and countless other opposites that are part of life. In our stories, one scene may highlight one aspect of truth, and then in another we’re someone else. The characters in our stories may have conflicting presentations   and we feel complex emotions about these real people who become our “characters.” In a world that asks for us to have a single opinion or reaction that defines, writing a memoir and facing its complexities can get challenging. Sometimes we’re tempted to give up. As one of my students said, “I keep changing my mind about what I think and feel each time I write my story. I need to know what position I should take. Shouldn’t I have this all sorted out by now?”

The secret to writing a memoir is that it’s more of a journey and a process than a single destination. We are always becoming and learning as we write. In writing a memoir we uncover surprises, some of which we don’t want to know about. As I wrote both Don’t Call Me Mother and my new memoir, Song of the Plains, I encountered bumpy emotional rides. In my new memoir, I tried to pull back even deeper layers of truth that I either couldn’t write about yet in my first one, or I couldn’t bear to share with the world. By investigating our story, new truths were revealed. Today we are going to investigate truth—how to find it, why we try to avoid it, and what to do when it speaks deeply to us, body and soul.

Join this FREE special webinar on May 19 with these deep and engaging presenters who have agreed to spend time with us. The day will be one of exploration and insight, and I hope you will find support and inspiration for your own work through this special event.

 

Mark Matousek

Transformation through Telling Your Truths: Memoir as a Healing Path

10 am PDT  11 am MDT   12 pm CDT  1 pm EDT

When you tell the truth, your story changes. When your story changes, your life is transformed.  Radical truth telling and self-inquiry in writing are incomparable tools for personal healing, creative expansion, and spiritual insight. Over the past 30 years as a memoirist and teacher, I’ve come to see that the narratives we use to describe our lives are frequently more fiction than fact. Once we begin to examine these stories, and tell the whole truth as we know it, these narratives begin to collapse, revealing the falsehoods we’ve carried, and giving us enormous freedom as writers of memoir.

But how to we learn to tell our whole truth? How do we separate fact from fiction? What is the role of imagination in unlocking preverbal experience?  Is it possible to heal personal trauma by changing the story we tell ourselves, as some psychologists suggest? How do we avoid the danger of triggering old trauma when exploring it?  What tools and practices are useful in helping to explore shadow material in memoir?  Finally, how is healing facilitated through the process of radical truth-telling?

These are some of the questions we’ll be exploring together during this thought provoking session. You will come to understand the importance of taking the witness perspective as a memoirist in order to step beyond your personal fiction. This gives you enormous freedom as a writer and demonstrates – beyond any doubt – that you are the storyteller not the story, the mythmaker not the myth.

During this webinar, you will learn:

  • How to use radical truth telling in memoir
  • How to use writing as a path of healing
  • How to explore shadow material
  • How to distinguish your wounds from your gifts
  • How to cultivate witness consciousness
  • How to change your trauma story

www.markmatousek.com

http://www.markmatousek.com/writing-to-awaken-italy-2017/

https://secure.madelineartschool.com/Classes_detail.cfm?recordno=1&Product_CatalogID=517&ProductNumber=WMM091117&ProductCode=49

http://www.markmatousek.com/e-courses-2/

Mark Matousek is the author of two acclaimed memoirs, Sex Death Enlightenment: A True Story (an international bestseller) and The Boy He Left Behind: A Man’s Search For His Lost Father, as well as When You’re Falling, Dive: Lessons in the Art of Living, and Ethical Wisdom: The Search for a Moral Life.. A former editor at Interview Magazine, he is a featured blogger for PsychologyToday.com and the Huffington Post, and has contributed to numerous anthologies and publications, including The New Yorker, O: The Oprah Magazine (contributing editor), Harper’s Bazaar, Yoga Journal, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, and The Saturday Evening Post. A popular speaker and teacher, he offers courses in creativity and spiritual growth in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe, based on his book, Writing To Awaken: A Journey of Truth, Transformation, and Self-Discovery.  He is a founding member of V-Men (with Eve Ensler), an organization devoted to ending violence against women and girls. His new book, Mother of the Unseen World, will be published in November. He lives and works East Hampton, New York.

 

John Evans

11 am PDT  12 pm MDT  1 pm CDT  2 pm EDT

Flourish: Writing for Resilience after Challenging Times

Expressive Writing heals and builds resilience through a process focusing on feelings related to a trauma, by imagining a fresh perspective about that trauma, and by creating a meaningful narrative about the trauma.

John Evans has taught expressive writing for over thirty years and believes that it may provide a ready springboard for memoir writing because it allows for the detailed connection of events with emotions that can be shaped into a complex, coherent story that moves experiences out of the body and mind connections on to the page.

If you have been touched by a life-changing event, diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, job loss, divorce, separation, death of spouse, death of a parent, you know the mind/body connection first hand.  It is never more apparent than when we experience a significant emotional event in the form of such traumas.  We don’t sleep well, we stop eating or we sleep all the time or we eat everything in sight.

In this webinar you will learn how expressive writing leads to helping you:

  1. Create your vision of vibrant wellness,
  2. Set intentions and clarify values
  3. Change perspective and remove obstacles
  4. Build confidence and resilience
  5. Express joy and optimism
  6. Stimulate thinking that leads to insights and understanding.

Flourish is an evidence-based, expressive writing approach and includes seven types of writing to heal: mindful writing, HEALing writing, as well as expressive, transactional, poetic, affirmative, and legacy writing.

Evans works with groups, individuals, and health care professionals, teaching them how to use writing for better physical, emotional, and spiritual health.  He has authored five books and has taught journaling and writing for self-development for over thirty years. With James Pennebaker, Evans co-authored Expressive Writing: Words that Heal (2014). His book, Wellness & Writing Connections: Writing for Better Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Health (2010), is a collection of essays from the Wellness & Writing Connections Conference Series (2007 – 2010).  Evans is a faculty member of 1440 Multiversity in Santa Cruz, CA and is leading a year-long online expressive writing project, Pen My Path, for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society sponsored by Pfizer.  At Duke Integrative Medicine, Evans teaches Transform Your Health: Write to Heal, Leading Patients in Writing for Health, and Writing as a Tool for Integrative Health Coaches.

 

Mark Wolynn

12 noon PDT  1 PM MDT  2 PM CDT  3 PM EDT

It Didn’t Start With You

How Inherited Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle

We’re very excited that ur guest Mark Wolynn, author of the book It Didn’t Start with You, is going to talk with us about how trauma affects the generations, and what to do to create a new legacy. He reveals the science about how we inherit trauma and how we unconsciously are carrying patterns from our parents and grandparents. What has happened in the past lives in the present unconsciously within us, creating pain and problems in our own lives that mirror similar issues that faced the generations before us.

The good news is that there are ways to break these patterns, and it has to do with becoming aware of what they are, and finding ways to dig into the story of your family and understand how it affects you.

We have learned in other seminars about how writing helps to heal, and in this presentation we will learn why and how discovering the family story and using it to unlock generations of trauma and pain is so important to all of us.

You will learn:

– How trauma is passed from a parent to a child.

– The scientific research that supports inherited family trauma in humans and animals.

– How people can tell if they are suffering from inherited family trauma. What are the signs?

– How a person suffering from inherited family trauma can heal.

– Tips on how to break the cycle of inherited family trauma.

 

Mark Wolynn is a leading expert on inherited family trauma. As the director of The Family Constellation Institute in San Francisco, he trains clinicians and treats people struggling with depression, anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive thoughts, self-injury, chronic pain, and persistent symptoms and conditions. A sought-after lecturer, he leads workshops at hospitals, clinics, conferences, and teaching centers around the world. He has taught at the University of Pittsburgh, the Western Psychiatric Institute, Kripalu, The Omega Institute, The New York Open Center, and The California Institute of Integral Studies. His articles have appeared in Psychology Today, Mind Body Green, MariaShriver.com, Elephant Journal, and Psych Central, and his poetry has been published in The New Yorker. www.markwolynn.com

 

Transformation and Forgiveness: How I Uncovered New Truths in My Second Memoir

Linda Joy Myers

Interviewed by Brooke Warner

1 PM PDT  2 PM MDT   3 PM CDT   4 PM EDT

When I wrote my first memoir, Don’t Call Me Mother, I thought I’d cracked my family story. I believed I’d come to understand and forgive my grandmother and mother for the abuse and rejection in my life. I’d written the story that I’d carried since I was a child, and enough time had passed that I felt I had perspective and distance from the daily sting of abandonment and loss that marked my early years. But that story was written and lived before I myself became a grandmother. When they were born, I had new reasons to investigate our family legacy and offer up a well-researched and documented family story. Of course, the deeper reason I wanted to write another memoir was about me.

About three years after I published Don’t Call Me Mother, I started noticing a longing to further explore and research the histories I’d gathered in courthouses and local libraries in Iowa where my mother’s family was from. I got only a few stories from family members—they seemed dedicated to stay silent about a number of important family stories.

These unfinished threads wouldn’t leave me alone, nor would the poetry, stories, and histories of the Great Plains that I’d collected over the years. I noticed the heartache I felt whenever I saw photographs of my mother when she was young. My discovery of Ancestry.com was another huge impetus to explore my story from a new point of view, that of myself as an older adult. From this vantage point, I discovered that the road to healing is not a straight line, and the beckoning of new stories is not a force to ignore, no matter how impractical it might seem.

In this interview with Brooke Warner, my colleague and publisher of She Writes Press, we’ll explore the seeds that led me to dig deeper into my new memoir, the themes that make Song of the Plains a hybrid memoir of sorts, and why I think it’s important to allow the creative process to unravel in its own time.

You will learn:

  1. Why I threw away 85,000 words of my first draft and started over again.
  2. The process—and problems—of writing a second memoir.
  3. How truth has different angles depending on your point of view, and how to find them.
  4. How to write an authentic story about family in their points of view.
  5. The importance of place and poetry in the healing process.

Linda Joy Myers is the author and co-author of several books about memoir, and the founder and president of the National Association of Memoir Writers. Her first memoir, Don’t Call Me Mother, won several awards, and her Power of Memoir has been used to teach writing as healing techniques. Linda Joy grew to love stories in a featherbed with her eighty-year-old great-grandmother, and since then has pursued family history, secrets, and research to understand the lives of her family, and to find the keys to unlocking the past and creating a positive present and future. Her passion for stories drives her love of teaching memoir.  She leads a biannual intensive course, Write Your Memoir in Six Months, with Brooke Warner. She shares her love of reading with her three children and three grandchildren, her two kitties, and her friends. A great day includes reading a book and watching a good movie. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

www.lindajoymyersauthor.com

www.namw.org

www.writeyourmemoirinsixmonths.com

Twitter: @memoirguru

 

Exposure in Writing, My New Memoir, and Finding Freedom from the Past

April flowers

April flowersIn April, the colors are yellow, and green and blue skies, a season of life surging upward toward the sun. When we writers feel this upward movement of energy, we need to catch the wave. After all, there are plenty of times when despite positive energy and sun and the potential for creativity, we can feel blocked or silenced or scared to have our lives exposed—an almost inevitable reaction when writing a memoir.

This spring, I feel this kind of hesitance myself, despite the fact that I’ve published several other books including my first memoir Don’t Call Me Mother. I felt so exposed, lifting the veil from private to public on my family’s craziness—three generations of mothers who abandoned their daughters, mothers who rejected their children until the end of their life. There were wicked adoptive mothers, and molestations, and ongoing emotional abuse. What a mess!  Many of my students bring up the issue of not wanting to hurt other people by what they reveal in their memoir—and I can relate!

Song of the PlainsSo now, I’m finding myself a bit blocked as I prepare for what is truly a joy for me—the release of my new memoir Song of the Plains—A Story of Family, Secrets, and Silence. In this book, I unravel the complicated threads of our generational story in a new way—from the point of view of an adult who has spent over forty years trying to find the layers of truth—what happened, when, where, and who did what to whom. Forty years doing research to uncover where my mother lived as a little girl—I knew nearly nothing about her. And when was it that my grandmother, who ended up raising me, had left my mother as a little girl? I tracked their traumas, and the historical context of their lives as women and girls. Children in those days, and when I was raised as well, were taught, Children should be seen and not heard. Women, too, were supposed to bow to the rules and voices of men. My grandmother was born in the 19th century, and my mother five years before women had the vote. The patriarchal rules were going strong in the fifties when I grew up, when girls were urged to get their MRS degree in college, though it was also the first generation when going to college was an option. In my search, I discovered the key to how my grandmother offered me options that she never had.

I found some of the answers to the past in dusty courthouses, local libraries, and finally, on Ancestry.com. I share with the reader what I find out, and how the shackles of the past are released with each new discovery.

The Truth about Trauma

The other reason I explore these themes in my new memoir has to do with the new research about the intergenerational transmission of trauma. Through my training in family therapy in the eighties, I knew about generational patterns that were psychological in origin, but now DNA research shows that we carry traumas from previous generations with us. All my life I felt this to be true in my body, and as a result, did a lot of body therapy among other kinds of therapy to try to heal. The good news from research and books available now, including the research by John Evans, Dr. James Pennebaker, and Mark Wolynn is that the way the heal is find the family story, and find your own voice. We can use our stories and our writing to heal what was broken.

Whatever stage you are now, just know that word by word and chapter by chapter you are supporting the healing of the generations, and that you are planting seeds of freedom for the legacy you leave behind. You’ll be hearing much more about these topics this spring. On May 19, for our Memoir Telesummit, we have some amazing guests for you on exactly this topic, so stay tuned! We’ll have those details up on the site soon so you can sign up.

April Events

We’re also excited to special guests this month at our April Roundtable webinar April 6—Betsy Graziani Fasbinder on the topic of exposure in memoir and fiction and what to do about it. And Jed Diamond, an expert on the topic of men in family and relationships for our Member Webinar on April 21. Sometimes people ask us if we include men in our programs, and the answer is always yes! NAMW is about helping all voices find their stories and express their truths.

See you at the events this month. Brooke Warner and I are hosting a fantastic All-Day Memoir Conference Turn Up the Dial on Your Memoir on April 28, and our FREE event on Love Warrior on April 17. Be sure to sign up to keep learning and connecting with all things memoir.

The Creative Process

The Creative Process

The Creative ProcessHow do we create something out of nothing? Or perhaps a better question is—how do we create, period? Where does the creative impulse come from, and how can we find it? How do we know when we have “it”?

These circular questions arise with writers and all creative artists, and there is no answer that fits everyone. The “answer” is the process itself. As a writing coach and teacher, it seems important to have us examine the energy and art of being creative, and be able to find ourselves in the flow of it.

What’s interesting is that the process takes focus, yet we need to allow time to be unfocused, which invites the unknown to make its way into our consciousness. Most writers talk about how they find themselves as a channel for a force that moves through them. They are not “trying” to write. Then there are those times when no matter what we try, we can only squeeze out a few lines. And they are bad lines at that. What to do?

Last year, I had to stop writing the memoir I was working on at the 85,000 word mark when I realized that I was coming at it with a theme and voice that wasn’t working out. And worse, I felt that the voice of the narrator was wrong. I began to feel that the writing didn’t fit my inner intention, which wasn’t clear until I had written nearly the whole book. Well, I can say it was a bit disconcerting, but by then, I was relieved to make the decision to stop because the sense that it was not going in the right direction had been niggling at me for some time.

I was not sure that I would find the “right” voice, but I knew that I had to go into silence to discover it. I allowed myself to stop thinking about the book and find silence within, where perhaps something new might be born. I read novels, poetry, and allowed my imagination to flitter about while taking care not to pounce on any particular idea. I didn’t write anything down during that month-long period. I meditated on the idea that my creative process would let me know when there was something interesting to pay attention to, and sure enough it did. About five weeks after the experiment started, a phrase popped into my mind in a voice I felt I could live with. They turned out to be the first lines in the book I’m about to publish.

I learned so much from writing the first version that I abandoned. I knew what I needed to leave out, and I had a clearer sense of my themes and how to carry the project through.

Writing a book is a fraught activity. There is no guarantee that you will get to the end with something you feel good about. It can feel fine then jump off the rails just when you feel you have “arrived.”

The lesson, I believe, is to write with faith and hope, and not get attached to the outcome. To listen and capture what arises, in hopes that we can keep going. It’s important not to worry about the process Worry creates a blockage and that doesn’t help. We want to keep the flow going as much as we can, and enter into the stream where we flow into the next paragraph and chapter, one by one. The book begins to build itself, it begins to become what it’s trying to be.

I hope you can join us on Friday, March 17, when Kay Adams will talk about Writing Your Creative Manifesto!

March Roundtable Webinar- FREE to All- March 9, 2017

Donna Stoneham

Critical Keys for Thriving as a Writer

March 9, 2017

 4 PM PST  5 PM MST  6 PM CST  7 PM EST  

Have you held yourself back from getting a book out into the world because you feared rejection?  Have you ever considered that you might be as afraid to succeed as you are to fail?

In her book, The Thriver’s Edge:  Seven Keys to Transform the Way You Live, Love and Lead, transformational leadership expert and executive coach Dr. Donna Stoneham show readers how to move from surviving to thriving.  Through personal stories, case studies of clients, and sharing what she’s learned over her twenty-five-year coaching and teaching career, Donna discusses why people are as afraid to succeed as they are to fail.  Using her THRIVER model, she creates a path to help readers uncover the beliefs and fears that hold them back from more fully expressing their potential, then provides tools and reflection questions for how to break those obstacles and create the life they yearn to live.  Practical, applicable, and transformative, The Thriver’s Edge is a “coach in a book” that teaches readers to unleash their potential, fulfill their dreams, and offer their best to the world.

In this webinar, Donna will discuss the fears that hold writers back.  She will provide practical tools to break through those fears by applying some of the keys to thriving from her book.  You will learn:

  • About the Jonah Complex and why many of us fear success as much as failure.
  • How to tune into and leverage your inner champion and the soul-tenders in your life, rather than the inner-critic and the doubt-planters that seek to hold you back.
  • Skillful ways to manage your inner critic when it rears its ugly head.
  • What it takes to create and sustain the resilience you need as a writer.
  • Ways to deepen self-trust and follow your inner compass.
  • How to live “at cause” versus “at effect” in your writing career.

Bio:  About Donna Stoneham, Ph.D.

Donna Stoneham, PhD, is a master executive coach, transformational leadership expert, facilitator, author, spiritual activist and speaker.

For the past twenty-five years, Donna has helped several thousand Fortune 1000 and not-for-profit leaders, teams, and organizations unleash their power to thrive™ and create powerful results in their work and lives through her company, Positive Impact, LLC (www.positiveimpacllc.com.)  Donna holds a Ph.D. with a concentration in Learning and Change in Human Systems from the California Institute of Integral Studies and is a certified Integral Coach®.

Donna is the author of the award-winning book, The Thriver’s Edge: Seven Keys to Transform the Way You Live, Love, and Lead (finalist in National Indie Best Book Awards, USA Best Book Awards, and International Book Awards) and named by Buzz Feed as “Nine Awesome Books for Your Kick-Ass Career.” She’s a contributor in two books, The Coaching Code and Ask Coach (October, 2016). (www.donnastoneham.com).  As one of the world’s leading coaches, Donna will be featured in the upcoming full length documentary, Leap! The Coaching Movie (www.coachingmovie.com) (2017).  Donna is working on her next book, 52 Weeks to Thrive (2018) and a book of resistance poetry that will be released in 2017.

Donna has written for the International Journal of Coaches in Organizations, TD Magazine, Conscious Lifestyle Magazine, and The Globe and Mail.  She’s been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, and The Huffington Post and has been a guest on ABC, NBC, and Fox affiliates, Sirius Radio, IHeartRadio and on numerous radio shows throughout the US.

Take Donna’s thriver quiz: http://donnastoneham.com/thrivers-quiz/  or follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DonnaStonehamPhD/ or Twitter @DonnaStoneham.

 

Audio and webinar recording below:

MP3 File

 

 

The Psychological Journey of Memoir Writing

The thrill of our destination spurs us on

The thrill of our destination spurs us onWhen we begin a journey, we’re excited. We pack our suitcase, imagining the moments to come. The thrill of our destination courses through us, spurring us on. We begin with high hopes for what we’ll encounter.

I remember when I prepared for my trip to France not long ago how excited I was go to Paris, then Lyon and the southern mountains where Cezanne and Van Gogh used to paint. It was of course a wonderful trip—the vision of the Eiffel Tower even better than my imagination, but there were challenges—the suitcase was too heavy to lift upstairs, the Metro was stuffed with TONS of people, and I got lost dozens of times on tiny country lanes. There were moments of being exhausted, and others of being exhilarated. But the images I had when I packed my suitcase changed. The real journey was different, and it changed me.

So, it is when we write a memoir. We begin putting in our suitcase the memories, people, and events that we’re eager to celebrate and remember. Even if our story is a dark one, we have a handle on it; we’ve been journaling and we know the basics of the story. We launch into our writing eagerly, capturing images and moments, freely writing, doing research. We even feel brave enough to tell people we’re writing a book!

Then something happens. The doubts creep in, “I’m not sure what I wrote is the real truth. My sister says I made things up.” Or, “Gee, I don’t want to reveal x and y and z. It’s too personal. I don’t want people knowing all these things about me.” Or you read a bunch of other memoirs and think that you can’t write well enough, you feel that it’s really too big a job, this memoir project. You decide to put it away for a while.

There’s another scenario: You’re starting to remember things, memories you thought you’d handled, you begin to reflect on the past in a new way, and start to write about it, but you feel sad, depressed or angry. You try to put it all aside, but you can’t. The writing doesn’t work. You are stuck in the middle of your book, you feel conflicted. You put the project away.

This is all good news. I know, it doesn’t sound like good news to you. You just want to get your memoir done!  You want to brush away the doubts.

The good news is that you are in the middle of your memoir journey, and you’re doing fine. There are three major stages in writing a memoir. The first is the eager beginning, “downloading” as some people call it. Then there’s the Muddy Middle, where themes, stories, and memories begin to build into a larger story, one that you don’t have control of. The muddy middle is the biggest part of the journey, by the way.

The later stage is where you find your stride, the journey has changed you, and you are grateful for the riches it gives you. It’s not the same journey you imagined. You are different. The muddy middle becomes your teacher, your mentor. As Dr. James Pennebaker, says, “Story is a way of knowledge.” He has done hundreds of studies that show how writing helps to heal trauma and create a new story for you

Some tips for your trip:

  1. Accept that writing your memoir is a longer journey than you imagined. Be patient.
  2. Take good care of yourself on the journey. Rest, set a schedule, make a map.
  3. Allow the writing process to guide you, allow in the unwanted stories, images, and memories. They have something to teach you.
  4. Trust in your creative muse, the excitement you felt when you began your journey. Allow it to urge you forward.
  5. Invite your unconscious to help you write and remember.
  6. Know that you will write the same story over and over again, but in a new way. Know that you will find the muddy middle, that you will get stuck and lost, but keep going.
  7. You will find your way out of the muddy middle if you just keep writing!

Testimonials

Myers makes a compelling case for the power of words as a form of healing and growth.

James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D. professor of psychology, The University of Texas at Austin and author, Opening Up and Writing To Heal

...the NAMW memoir classes with Linda Joy Myers are wonderful

Kathy Pooler