Tag Archives: Memoir

Memoir Monday – October 3rd, 2016


A few weeks ago, I wrote a socialization plan I came up with for my time in Connecticut.  We’re at the halfway point, so here’s an update on where I’m at and where I’m going.

1)      Spend three days a week writing at the library to get me out of the house

Grade: F

Rationale: Although I frequent the library to check out books (ALL THOSE BOOKS ARE FREE FOR ME TO READ AT MY LEISURE!!!!), I have not written a single word while there, nor have I ever headed there with the purpose of doing so.

Reflection:  I’m kind of okay with this fail.  My novel writing has ceased (again), but I seem to have finally gotten into a rhythm with blogging and my short stories keep a comin’.   I also now write about a full-page of stream of consciousness journaling on a daily basis and all of this writing takes place at the kitchen table.  I did 99.9% of my writing in Johnsonville, NY, at a kitchen table, so I seem to be drawn towards writing in big, open spaces with lots of natural sunlight.  I’m also getting out of the house in other ways (see point #5), so I’m not feeling isolated at all.

2)      Volunteer at the library (that is, if they’ll have me for just two months)

Grade: F

Rationale: In addition to not writing at the library, I have not done one lick of volunteer work for them.  I didn’t even ask because as you’ll see in points #3 and #5, other opportunities presented themselves.


Ever heard the expression “you plan; God laughs?”

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what happened here.

3)      Seek other short-term volunteer opportunities as they present themselves

Grade: A-

Rationale:  It’s not short-term, but ya’ll are looking at the newest social media team member for the Young Adult Review Network (YARN)!  YARN is an online literary journal devoted to the young adult genre.  As someone who hopes to someday have YA novels published, this is an excellent opportunity to read some outstanding work in the genre.  Plus, it gets me using twitter, which is necessary in publishing and this is volunteer work I can do anywhere in the world.  So, it fits in perfectly with our wandering lifestyle.

4)      Attend a weekly writers’ group

Grade: A+

Rationale:  Every Wednesday morning, I attend a Creative Writing Group at the Norfolk Church of Christ Congregational UCC.  In addition, twice a month I head to the Simsbury Library to attend a Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators critique group.  What’s fantastic about this group is all the women in it are writing specifically for children and the feedback I’ve gotten has been excellent.   Both writing groups have been incredibly welcoming and I already know I’m going to miss them when we move (much like the other writing groups I’ve been privileged to attend, including the Durham Writers’ Group in NC and the Schenectady NY Public Library Wednesday Afternoon Writing Group – I LOVE AND MISS YA’LL!).

5)      Work at short-term, limited employment jobs where I can see my contributions to society;

Grade: B

Rationale: As I wrote about a few weeks ago, I started work at a café in town. As I’ve never had a service job before, I’m struggling with the in’s and out’s of the job, but I do make up for it with enthusiasm.  I still find great satisfaction in providing lunch for individuals and even simple things like sweeping the floor and doing the dishes feel worthwhile because it’s helping the café owner present our best to the Norfolk community.

I’m also meeting some interesting people.  Just today I met someone who has published two books.  His fiction book is entitled Hypnogogia – A Life of Dreams, and as someone who has had vivid dreams as a symptom of narcolepsy I am intrigued by a story that blends dreams with reality.

He and his wife were two of the loveliest people I’ve met so far and I’m delighted that he asked me to call him with my contact information so he can send me a free copy of the book! 

They also gave me a 30% tip which is AWESOME when you are working at a café lunch counter.

The only downside to this job is that I feel physically exhausted at the end of the work day, so I haven’t been working on my novels when I get home in the afternoons.  I’m still prioritizing losing the post-PA weight gain from my parents’ house with morning cardio and strength training so there goes that writing time.

It also doesn’t help that my husband and I experienced our first and subsequently second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth tastes of apple cider doughnuts, but if you’re in New England for the fall, shouldn’t you experience such a delectable sweet and crunchy treat?  Good thing I was already exercising, but what it comes down to is exercise is still taking precedence over some of my writing (not all; see point #1).

6)      Find a spiritual community that encourages self-reflection and growth.

Grade: C+

Rationale: To quote U2, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” Yet, and I refuse to give up.  One promising community is a health food store up the way in Winsted (about a 15-minute drive) that offers a Restore Your Soul Dancing Yoga Class for the next three weeks.  I’ve never done dancing yoga before, but we’ll see what it’s like.  If anything, what I’ve learned so far in CT is to keep an open mind and try new things.

So there you have it, my mid-CT-term report card.  What do you think?  Have I graded myself too harshly (many of my former students can relate) or do you think I should be more lenient?  And if you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to my blog.  Then I can get an A when I evaluate my blogging endeavors!



Memoir Monday Third Post


A few years ago, I was sitting around a table with a bunch of academics.  There was a general lament about a lack of time many of us were experiencing in order to get all of our professional and personal responsibilities done.  I offered up the meditation I had started practicing for that specific semester: “Every morning when I start my day, I set an intention to get done everything that needs to get done.  And, surprisingly, I find I have more time that I ever thought possible.”

The conversation could have gone one of two ways after that because my comment was jumped on by two people with very different responses.  The first one said, “A-ha; that you need to get done,” but the second person snapped in a much louder voice, “Do you have a disabled spouse or an elderly parent living thousands of miles away?”  This person was referring to my colleague at the table who had just addressed both those concerns as reasons why she was feeling so pressed for time.

A part of me wanted to cry, feeling like my colleague had personally attacked me, while another part of me wanted to retaliate with indignities such as, “No, but I have an autoimmune sleep disorder that is currently not responding to medication,” or “I have a cousin dying of cancer at the age of 43.”  But, instead, I responded with, “Yes, you’re right.  Thank you for that reminder.”  This was, however, two years in to my regular meditation practice and so I chalk up my immediate peaceful response to that.  You go, enlightened Kelly!  Gandhi point for you! (Please note I did not come up with the term Gandhi point.  I heard it in a student play at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and I have been using it ever since.)

When I got home that night, unenlightened Kelly took over and I spent more time than I care to admit crafting responses to my colleague in the event we would have the same exact conversation over again with the same exact people.  In retrospect, however, it was good for me spend some time processing what happened because I later came to the conclusion that what bothered me the most is that I felt like my life was somehow invalidated because I didn’t have an ailing spouse or aging parent I couldn’t see on a regular basis.

This was not the first time I felt this way, nor was it the last.  I do not have children and for most of my academic life I did not have a husband.  So when I would engage in conversations with my colleagues about how “busy” we were and I would mention how I was spending my time, taking my dog on a lovely winter walk or spending the perfect afternoon sitting by the DuPage River, watching the clouds roll by,

I felt judged and ridiculed by my colleagues who rolled their eyes or commented on my single status as the reason why I could indulge in such luxuries.

But then a close friend of mine made this remark when I shared my plan to quit my job: “That’s because you have the privilege to do so,” and I felt the same invalidation of my life.  I had been so excited to share my dream of becoming a writer, but then all of a sudden I felt like a spoiled little girl being reprimanded by someone for indulgence.

I began to question why I had been lucky enough to be born in a financially stable, upper middle class family which afforded me multiple opportunities in my life to further make me financially stable and secure.  Not only was I able to graduate from college and graduate school completely debt free, I was able to find an academic job which compensated me with ample vacation time and decent money.  So much so, that I am now able to invest full time in writing as career without having to worry about a steady source of income for the foreseeable future.

Here’s what I realized, though:

just because I perceived someone to have a certain opinion of me, doesn’t mean that it’s accurate

or taking the words of spiritual guru Wayne Dyer, doesn’t even make it my business.

I feel strongly that writing is a spiritual vocation for me and after decades of not writing, I find myself having a lot to say.  I do believe that stories, writing, and, really, any type of creativity or art, can change the world for the better and I am finally ready to take up my part in this process.  So to entertain others’ opinions of me or to feel guilty about things I have no control over, doesn’t serve me and it certainly doesn’t serve my writing.  Because I envision a world where there are not haves and have-nots, where we all have the privilege of following our dreams no matter what they are, who we are, where we come from, or what our current circumstances are.

So I am going to keep on writing and working on staying true to myself.  It’s not always easy and sometimes I fail miserably.  I do, though, appreciate those of you who are reading my words, even if you disagree with them or question my choices.  Perhaps you may have even rolled your eyes at my ideological vision (in which case MINUS 1 Gandhi point for you).  But for those of you sending me love and support on this journey, I am ever so grateful (and PLUS 1 Gandhi point to you!).