I didn’t realise revising my memoir would be this hard or take this long, but now I see what I’m here to learn.
As I reread one of the though chapters I wondered, was it the abuse, or that fear we all feel when something unacceptable and wrong happens to us at an age before we have the words to describe and share our experience with anyone, that is the center of my story? I’m not taking away from the pain I felt at the time, I see that its real, nor do I dispute the fact that what happened to me was wrong on so many levels, it’s the core of what we have come to know as #metoo.
As children, we love our parents even when they fail us. As we grow into adulthood and recognise their shortcomings, even neglect, love can give way to anger, frustration and hurt over how they failed to protect and comfort us. How they scoffed at our pleads and told us to get on with it – when a comforting hug was all we needed – or when they laughed when we shared our tender teenage feelings. They did not see me for who I was and so started my journey of becoming someone I hoped they could accept. On that journey, I sailed further and further away from my true self. It’s choppy water full of pain as I failed, again and again, at getting the acceptance I craved.
In 2013 a study by the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) found that over 95% of the world’s population has health problems. Lower back pain and major depression ranked among the top ten greatest contributors to disability, causing more health loss than diabetes, chronic lung disease, and asthma combined.
This is a bleak picture, one where illness is more normal than wellness. I’m curious if statistics like these are part of the cause of what, to me, looks like a dis-ease pandemic.
My instinct tells me to focus on solutions and with the 69th World Health Day on April 7, what better time to raise the questions;
What’s the Pain and Where’s the Gain?
Since my teens, I’ve had aches and pains along the sciatica (lower back) nerve. I’ve never thought it serious enough to bring it up with my doctor. I tend to contribute it to either lack off, or to vigorous exercise. If the ache gets too much I pop a painkiller or rub on an ointment. Stretching relieves it for a while, but the fact remains, my aches and pains have become normal and I wonder, -am I part of the 95% GBD statistic?
On this day (April 9) seventeen years ago, the most nurturing and positively influential woman, to me, took her last breath and left this life.
It was Mum who called me early in the morning whit the sad news. I was on my way from Liverpool Street Station to my office in Shoreditch. I lived in the fast lane then, but at that moment, as Mum’s words sank in, “Mormor died this morning,” everything slowed down and as my eyes filled with tear and my heart broke, I noticed, all of London was dressed in black.
Today a huge event was taking place at Westminster Abbey, for The Queen Mother’s funeral. England was in mourning and suddenly, so was I.
Apparently, most new year resolutions have fallen by the wayside by February, so what can March offer us? Is it better to sit back and wait for another year before making a new resolution, a new commitment to move closer to the life we really want? How about making a new resolution just for March?
If you’re still going strong with your commitment for the year, you might know that achieving goals is healthy for your brain. Why is that?
Well, you see it comes down programming our brain neutrons. When we do something daily (like mindfully washing our hands) or once a week (like a class) – every time we achieve the goal our wonderful brain get an injection of dopamine, also known as ‘The Happy Hormone.’ Dopamine instantly gives us a happy feeling in our bodies, mine is a bit like butterflies in my belly or a tingling all over. A feeling of JOY, of achievement, of having done something great.
How brain research helped me be a better parent to my teenage daughter.
This week I had the great fortune to attend a keynote talk in the CAC Theatre by clinical psychologist Dr. David Gleason. In his talk entitled ‘Getting in sync with the teenage brain’ Dr. Gleason drove home the effects performance pressure can have on our adolescent kids. Far from being a wishy-washy psychology speech about taming teenage behavior, Dr. Gleason delivered an engaging introduction to neuroscience and brain development, compassionately told through real-life stories about disorders, self-harm, and suicide amongst teenagers. The audience was stunned as we waited for more.
Whenever I struggle to keep up with my plans I ask myself; – have I broken down the steps into small enough chunks?’
I’ve been writing this book for more than a year and only now do I start to see all the pieces come together, – well, – sort off. Learning to dissect a big goal – like writing to publish a book, have thought me to break my plans into minute – sometimes 10 minute – sessions. It’s a journey that has taken much longer than I thought it would, and it’s been a lot tougher than I ever believed it could be.
You know, when you go to write the ‘homepage’ of your website, the homage of yourself and the light you want to shine in the world, – you can’t just pluck it out of thin air, – right? Or can you?
As a memoirist, I would love to write fiction, to spin my stories into ancient times of myths and fairytales, of deities and gods more powerful than any world-leaders I’ve seen. Sometimes softly spoken though mostly raging against some foreign enemy, like the rising tide of the Nile. – Ohhhh, I feel the creative juices bubbling over the top of my imagination cauldron by the pure imagery of it all.
I think I made a mistake when I promised myself I would finish my memoir before I started a new story.
There is nothing quite so luscious as getting lost in the FLOW, where you forget that you haven’t washed your hair in 3 days and you have a daughter in school, who forgot her lunch money and sent you an SOS email, which you forget to check, and Facebook and Instagram is as far from your mind as the room you’re in, right now, lost in the flow.
There is nothing quite so sumptuous than to feel the tips of my fingers tapping a dance on the smooth Apple keys, notes to a melody uncoiling stories on the page, to the tunes of smooth jazz coming from afar.
There’s nothing quite so delicious as the writer’s flow.
I light a candle, defusing healing incense into the space around me, and settle with my writing. It feels like I’ve been gone forever. I’ve been busy, things needed doing. A Nile Holiday, a video course, parties to go to, friends to meet, a blog to write, tenant turnover in Ireland, and figuring out (baby steps) how to best manage my fathers’ estate in Norway.
It’s been 12 years since the last time we went on holidays, just the two of us, without the Awesome Kid.
We tingle with excitement walking through the school gate at 9 on Sunday morning. It’s the first time since Ruby started Middle School I’ve been let walk her onto campus, and today I get to follow her all the way to her classroom, which is abuzz with even more excitement. I hand her passport to Andy, her advisor, and nearly forget to hug her goodbye, and have a great PRIME Trip before I bounce back to the car. She will be in Luxor with her grade level for five days without any electronics and we’re strongly advised against calling her.
You’re all invited to my next Coffee Break in Maadi 🙂 I know some of you would be here in a heartbeat was it not for the expensive flights and holiday it would take to get here 🙂 So I’m having virtual Coffee Breaks instead 🙂
As you may know, my Dad died in July and I went to Norway for his . . . . . . . – no, I didn’t just go for the funeral or to bury him, I went to find him or to find something I’ve lost. And I did. I write about it in Speak #TRUTH Lies.
‘The Captain’s Island,’ stands out as a good contender for the first chapter of the book. It starts as I arrive at his island on the ferry. My brother, Ruby and I had been driving all day from Ålesund. It was hot and the sea breeze felt cooling.
I hadn’t seen Dad in 14 years, which was the last time I visited Atløy, the island where he lived for 17 years.
I’m reading ‘Some Rain Must Fall’ by my fellow countryman and memoiristKarl Ove Knugsgaard at the moment.
It starts with his student year at the Writing Academy in Bergen. The same year I studied Graphic Design in Stavanger. This is the 5th book and his writing, which dazzled me from the start, hugely improves with each book. I feel like I’m growing as a writer with him. I started with the first book in his ‘My Struggle’ series, which I don’t necessarily think have to be read in chronological order. I couldn’t get book 3 but didn’t feel I had missed anything when I read book 4, which was the book I read on The Captain’s Island.
The surge of fear swells up from my gut like burning indigestion. Halting my breath as if I’m reacting to a tiger about to eat me alive. Striking at my hip and shoulder where I carry my emotions like numb pain.
At first, fear so vivid, I can see the tiger, before I remember to breathe.
Last weekend, having lunch, I saw a good mum feeding her 10 year old daughter. It wasn’t a very healthy lunch and the daughter could do with healthy. I judged her, and I don’t even know her WHY.
A few days ago I went on a field trip with Ruby’s school. The day was extra hot and dry with the sun beating down on us in the desert landscape of Waadi Digla. I was in the back troop as we set out on a big hike. Climbing the steep hill, sand and rocks coursed down the hillside, under our trainers.
I don’t want to write a memoir. It’s too raw and scary. Too ‘laying it all on the line,’ too vulnerable. I’m afraid I won’t find the #TRUTH, I’m afraid my story will be lopsided, with only my point of view. For whatever happened to me, happened because of something else that happened to someone else.
And I don’t know their truth, for if there is one thing I’m learning from writing my memoir, it is that the TRUTH is elusive, it changes and morphs into different forms the closer I get to it.