Being-with My Friend and Being-with Me

Many years ago, I had a young colleague named Danielle. We worked on isolating virus cultures in a laboratory, side-by-side under sterile hoods; and often our conversation meandered to stories of our respective families. Danielle had recently become engaged and was enjoying the preliminaries to her wedding, which was still some months away. Danielle had one sister, and their elderly parents were happily married, healthy and enjoying their respective retirements in the small rural town where she was born. Mostly, Danielle talked about her fiancé and the plans they were making. 

One afternoon she received a phone call from someone in her hometown. This was before the days of cellular phones, so all of us in the lab were privy to Danielle’s responses on the lab phone. “Yes, this is she.” A pause. “What!? I don’t understand what you are saying. Please speak more clearly and ask me again.” Another pause. Danielle’s pallor and her tone of voice told us something was terribly wrong. “No, I don’t know about this. On the radio? How–? Wh–? Okay. Good-bye. I must call my sister right away.” And she hung up. “No, no, no, no, NO! This can’t be true!” Danielle quickly dug through her purse to find her sister’s phone number at work. “How can this be possible? Please, dear God, let it not be true! My folks’ neighbor says my parents have been in a horrible crash! She heard it on the local radio. This just can’t be true!” I moved to stand close to her. 

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Growing Your Story Organically: Memoir Creation

In my experience as a writer and writing coach, I have learned this: an intuitive guiding voice calls you, the writer, toward your story. The voice may whisper with instructions, shout in impossible-to-ignore ways or plant seeds while you sleep that grow into fruition during waking hours. You may wonder where the words come from or feel as though others watch, nod approvingly or urge you onward as you write. Good author energy gathers momentum from your own experiences of writing, whatever they may be.

Early in my training as a teacher, I was privileged to learn organic writing methods and work with the very youngest reader-writers. They taught me so much as we dialogued about their ever-expanding stories. This was one way they learned to read and write, organically, using their chosen words and themes of their creation. It gave a value to their storied lives that reached far deeper than Dick and Jane, SpongeBob or Cookie Monster ever could. The children looked forward to writing daily, reading to their peer audiences, and listening raptly to the adventures and precious moments of their shared lives. Subtly, gradually and with powerful purpose, they became authors, eager to publish.

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Serendipity and Alignment of Purpose

I often use the word serendipity to describe sequences of events that have occurred in my life in recent years. Defined in my Google search as “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way,” serendipity is usually regarded as a “happy chance, a happy accident or fluke, good luck, good fortune, fortuity, providence, a happy coincidence.”

I might not attach the word “happy” to my own experience of serendipity. I think of it instead as useful tools, knowledge, and the personal connections that provide them, showing up at just the right time for me. At each new turn, the perfect people and mutually aligned purposes serendipitously arrive and lend the support I require.

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