Words have long been my lifeblood, and I believe everyone has a story to tell. Not all of us will make it to the bestseller list, but we still have the right to speak our minds, write our hearts out. Claim our voices.
After dropping out of law school in 1983–a place I should never have been–I enrolled in a graduate program for journalism. I knew I wasn’t tough enough to be a hard news reporter, but the degree made me aware of other avenues for people who care about words. Since that time I’ve cobbled together a professional life that, while it may look haphazard on my resume, has continued to revolve around the importance of language and the absolute necessity for every voice to get an airing. It might be writing for a nonprofit organization to help raise funds, or leading a storytelling group in a retirement community. Crafting an obituary, promoting a cause, or composing a column for a local magazine.
I used to worry a lot about product: bylines, book deals, blog stats. And those things matter in the literary world. I have been published, and there is a huge rush that comes for me in seeing my name in print. I hope to be published again. But even if I’m not, I value the act of writing in and of itself. There is a lot of luck that goes into getting a book deal with a major publishing house, for example, and it’s a numbers game. I don’t want the thing that feeds my soul–writing–to be dependent on luck and numbers.
“It’s the sharing of our stories that saves us.”
In 2013, I worked as an adjunct writing professor and writer-in-residence at the Earlham School of Religion, where I had been the writing fellow some ten years earlier. I’ve co-authored or contributed to eight books, including Bless Your Heart: Saving the World One Covered Dish at a Time, You Be Sweet, and Y’all Come Over (Thomas Nelson), as well as the bestselling Cooking with Friends (Rutledge Hill Press). I compiled and wrote the introductions for Compassion: Thoughts on Cultivating a Good Heart, Forgiveness: Perspectives on Making Peace with Your Past, Hope: It’s More Than Wishful Thinking, and Anger: Minding Your Passion, published by Fresh Air Books. I wrote the “Her Spirit” column and blog for Her Nashville magazine.
My essay “The Guts to Keep Going” aired on NPR’s “This I Believe” and is included in This I Believe II : Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women (Henry Holt, 2008). You can find the essay here.
Along the way, I decided to honor my interest in theology by going back to school. I earned a master’s degree in theological studies in 2007, and I wasn’t even the oldest person the classroom, although it was close. I have come to believe that creativity and spirituality are linked. I’ve also studied creativity coaching with Eric Maisel, and am a trained spiritual director (Haden Institute). In addition, I am a SoulCollage® facilitator.
I’ve had the pleasure of speaking, teaching, and/or leading workshops at various venues. If you’d like to talk about my working with your group or organization, please reach out through the Contact page. Presentations and workshops can be tailored to a variety of themes, such as aging, creativity, grief, personal history, and spirituality. I’d love to hear your stories.