Monday, March 25, 2019

Spring: Writing Through Life’s Transitions

As many times as I have led a group of women sharing their stories, I am always touched when the writing leads to uncovering the emotions that lie deep within the transitions of a life.

Whether it is the death of a parent, the loss of career, the marriage of a son or daughter, or becoming an “empty nester,” the writing taps into that experience and in doing so, the writer understands where she came from and, hopefully,—eventually—where she is going. The writing offers keys to the “portal”...unlocking the door to the “next chapter” with awareness and confidence.

This, of course, was the theme of my memoir Morning at Wellington Square…a woman searching for passion and renewal after the death of her husband and end of career. It is a memoir about transitions—moving out West, working in the nonprofit sector, finding new friends, until she comes to the conclusion that, ultimately, writing her memoirs and becoming a published author was the "next chapter."

Now, once again, writing leads me through another transition. This time—the woman alone. I write:

I thought of you today when I looked at my hands. The skin wrinkles like wax paper, a reminder since last I saw you of the passing of many years.

I thought of you today when I met Alex for lunch. He is your son in all ways from his gentle and kind disposition, to a man who understands the meaning of honor. If not for you, this wonderful person would not be with me; and in him, you are with me.
I thought of you today when Daniel stood tall in our kitchen. Your son's unsparing eye for what is fair and unfair in life and love brought you home to me.

I thought of you today when the afternoon passed in a haze of sunshine. The forsythia, just last week weighed down with its burden of white, waits patiently. Now, its brown branches are tinged with the first hint of gold.

I thought of you today when spring embraces hope that someday I might see you again. I dreamed of you last night. We were young and made love. I woke up and I thought of you and where the journey ends—with you by my side.

Sometimes when we write, we choke up. Overcome with emotion, we seek, if you’re like me, that quiet space to reflect. We owe it to ourselves to shut out the distractions of the outside world. Let the pen flow, do not censor yourself, don't edit. Save the editing for later.

Sometimes, these moments of awareness that we are on the cusp of transition are read aloud in a writing group. The group’s safety and support promises this: the writer can trust in others. Why? Our journeys are often so similar. We can laugh together, reminisce and remember. Spring, after all, is a time of renewal and rebirth; the perfect season to write through life's transitions.

How about you? Can you share a transition you have written about and how you felt when you wrote it?


kathleen pooler said...

Susan, Thank you fircanother heartfelt and thought-provoking exploration of how writing helps us navigate through expected and unexpected life transitions. The three major life events that prompted my writing were a cancer diagnosis, loving a son who struggled with addiction to alcohol and years later, dealing with home peritoneal dialysis. Writing helped me find clarity and peace through these storms. The first two have become my soon-to-be published second memoir. Writing has definitely been a faithful companion that has kept me moving forward.

Susan G. Weidener said...

Kathy, Well said that writing is a "faithful companion" through life's storms. Thank you for sharing how writing about the transitions in your life made you feel and kept you moving forward. Your challenges have been many and you have shared them with your readers. And it's exciting that your new memoir will offer others your journey.

Unknown said...

Thank you Susan for another wonderful post. Your words resonate with me. Writing in my little blue cloth diary with the broken lock was my salvation as a child living with a mother whose suffering smothered me. Then as an unwed teenage mother forced to relinquish my first born son writing saved me from devastation. My life has taken many turns since then and always books, journals and letters were my salvation. Like all women by the age of 70 I have had many chapters, each central role a different me as I evolved and grew, yet in all of those chapters I was saved by words I wrote trying to come to an understanding with whatever was happening in my life. Presently I am writing my memoir and in doing so I am giving that young girl I was a voice and in doing so coming to know who I am now more than ever before. Love your posts.

Susan G. Weidener said...

Thank you for sharing so much of yourself here in our Women's Writing Circle. I am touched by your poignant testimony to how writing and books offer life-long companionship along a path to healing, self-love, and wisdom.