Thursday, December 14, 2006


Giving is big this time of year; gratitude, the natural response. It’s the giving that thrills me, not the getting. My gifts remain untouched while I watch my family light up with excitement; that is the joy for me. But this year, I am humbled by a gift that I received and continue to receive by a web of kindred spirits.

To be honest, the foundation for this magnificent gift was built by my mother and her mother before her. My mother is a spiritual giant. Her faith moves her to ways of reaching out beyond herself, beyond her loved ones, to total strangers. Her recent “adoption” of a Burmese family began with teaching them English and has moved to a relationship akin to family. Her mother before her, living in extreme poverty with ten children, always found a way to give to those “less fortunate.” It suffices to say that a lineage of giving and gratitude have equipped me with the tools needed for a caring life.

Irish women, at the same time, are self-sacrificing and inherently deny themselves true fulfillment. It was that way with me and writing. It gives me such immense pleasure that my Irish psyche deemed it as indulgence. Perhaps it is, but I was convinced it was an indulgence I should be denied; after all, there are limited hours in a day and much to do. For years now, writing has been the dessert at the end of a meal. If you clear your plate, you may have dessert. My plate was always full.

In August, I was rescued from the doldrums of the life that I had created. Not an empty life, but a busy one filled with work and chores and the idea that I had to get it all ‘done.’ Suzy called me on fire with excitement. It had been a long time since I had heard from her and this person on the phone was newly created. She was exploding with enthusiasm on a journey of writing after attended a workshop in Oregon. Having known Suzy since my childhood, the thought that she hopped a plane and attended a “group” anything was fairly surreal. The author and workshop were coming to our area and she insisted I find my way to it. It had been years since I had written anything. I thought perhaps writing had gone out of me. Suzy was persistent.

Fighting my way to Jennifer Lauck’s workshop was not an easy task. Appraisal classes to study for, my daughter’s eighth birthday that weekend, car trouble, the financial component, and of course the Irish guilt that this was ‘for me.’ I knew one hour into the workshop that I was being infused with magic. I felt like an empty vessel being filled with validation, inspiration, enthusiasm and wisdom. I left committed and directed. I felt connected to this group in attendance; diverse backgrounds, different styles, different motivations, yet all the same in our passion for words.

Until this point, writing was for me and me alone. I shared with my family and in no way minimize their enthusiasm or encouragement. They said things like “You should be a writer!”

Should be a writer.

I didn’t know how to ‘should be a writer’. Their kind words stroked my ego and this was good but lacked credibility. After all, they loved me. They had to say nice things. Moreover, they were not themselves writers.

I began my blog shortly after and was suddenly immersed in a circle of support from the women of that workshop who also entered the blogosphere. Reading and commenting on one another’s works, we stayed alive in the spirit launched at the workshop. Our individual blogs took on definite styles and flavor and each one was like an on-going good book.

I cannot thank Carrie enough for her diligence in reading and supporting us, in spite of the monumental tasks she is called to accomplish each day. Her devotion kept the embers of the workshop fire glowing. The flow of writing seemed to be coming more easily and I still found myself giddy every time I was alerted that a comment was posted. With each comment, I was still in awe that someone, somewhere not related to me found the desire to look to see what I had to say.

In spite of all of this reinforcement, life continued to assault me with too much to do. The pace of my business quickened and deadlines meant giving up writing, and even sleep, to keep up. My blog remained quiet. My visits to others, halted. Old ways took hold.

An email from Terry, an incredible writer from this workshop, with a one line compliment and a request to “link” our blogs sparked renewed determination. I had been quite content on my island blog, floating with an occasional shout from neighboring islands… but a link! This was like a blog bridge from one to another, a tangible connection. Flattered I agreed whole-heartedly and felt this bridge could not be a path to no where, and so I posted.

My enthusiasm was short lived, however, as I could not justify the time for this ego petting. So much work tied to quantified compensation beckoned. My energy zapped from numbers and forms and deadlines. Dead lines. My writing must wait. I really began to slip back into the old routine. No dessert with a full dinner plate.

I was swamped with work and just managing to stay afloat. Sitting down to the monotony of my work, I opened an email from Susan from the workshop, with whom I felt an indefinable connection. She was just ‘checking in’ to see if everything was OK since I had not posted in a while. She told me that she looked forward to my writing and hoped all was well. I cannot explain my amazement. The idea that someone actually visited my site frequently enough to notice I had gone quiet baffled me. Susan, I am sure, did not realize at the time that her email was a life preserver, tossed in at a critical moment. I started treading water and then swimming. Work could wait one hour. In fact, one hour a day would not make or break my business. I felt as if I had been pulled from a riptide.

Channels unblocked and inspiration seemed to be everywhere. One morning, I opened to find a comment from a woman I had never met in Missouri. I ran to my husband like a kid on Christmas morning after seeing evidence of Santa; I have readers!!! Someone I had never met!

And then another.

And another

I soon discovered that Carrie had made a suggestion to her readers that they check out my blog. The circle widened and the gifts of inspiration and support expanded. It is as if a tiny thread connects us in a web that spans from sea to shining sea; Kindred spirits, all on a journey to seek inspiration, to uncover the truth, to share our lives in a meaningful way.

This web of kindred spirits is a gift greater than any I had ever hoped for. If I am never published, I will not be unfulfilled. I am so filled and so grateful to this circle of women who give and give and give. You have given me courage, inspiration and insight. I am blessed and grateful to all of you and this Christmas; need not a thing under my tree.

Thank you, you have given me the best gift ever.


Anonymous said...

I am so happy for you that this writers workshop has turned out to be such a great gift for you. I will without a doubt continue to support you as I do believe you are an excellent writer and deserve to be read by many. How great to hear that the connection to the bigger world has been so powerful for you. Write on and I look forward to being one of the first to read whatever it is that you have published!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Now you just made MY Christmas merry with all your generous words! You know what they say, Nancy, when the student is ready, the master appears. Suzy was ready. You were ready.

Congratulations and love.

Grateful to Know You said...


You probably don't even know but speaking of giving and support, you gave so much to me during the workshop.

I remember reading a piece there and afterwards wanting to bury it in my files forever . . . the voices in my head saying "it's dumb, it's boring, blah blah blah." But you were touched by it and told me so and ONLY because of that I decided to submit it. It's running in May . . .

Thank you!!

Nancy said...

Grateful to know you,

I'm so excited for you and your message confirms my belief that we all connect, sometimes unknowingly, for a purpose. I wish I knew who from the group you are and which piece you have running and in what publication. Please send me an email if you'd like. I'd love to talk about it.


Anonymous said...

Dear Grateful to Know You,

What piece? What publication? Not enough has been made about this!


Anonymous said...

I am that woman from Missouri, and I'm grateful to have found your writing. Reading your posts makes any day better. You ARE a writer.

Those threads are tiny, but they are strong beyond belief. They hold us afloat during tough times, wrap us in support and love during good ones, and connect our souls.

Thanks to you, Nancy. And Blessings Be.

Suzy said...

Nancy, your mom was largely responsible for my surviving my childhood. I will always owe a debt of gratitude to you and your family. I have always been proud of you as a woman, mother, daughter, friend and a writer.
Keep going...