WRITING from the HEART ~ Nancy Slonim Aronie

Four years ago, I read Writing from the Heart – tapping the power of your inner voice expecting to learn effective writing practices.  Instead, I found my voice.

Nancy models what she teaches, using her voice, her own memoir to illustrate how to recognize, hear & tap into your own.  This is a book to love.

How lovely to introduce this book on the day I started writing my first.  Not planned, but certainly lead to the choice  This weekend, a still-astonishing family moment that could have gone horribly wrong instead became a powerful inspiration.  It took that turn because of Nancy; in seeking a way to regain a balance that had gone sideways, I tapped into her under-a-minute description for her life-shifting Rowe workshop, Jump Start Your Memoir as I felt…  lost.

Had never heard it  before, just needed something solid to hold onto & guessed that she’d have just the ticket on YouTube.  In spades!  In 55 seconds, she touched on the importance of safety, the very issue that was causing me pain, and coming from the heart.

Nancy’s words recalled to me the why behind my feeling distressed & drew me to a place of tender compassion toward those who unintentionally triggered the whacked-out spiral.

Reading Nancy’s book feels a lot like taking her workshop – accessible, funny, constructive in always a positive, loving way.  It’s more like we are sharing a cuppa & conversation over warm peach cobbler than simply reading a spot-on book.

While it’s a must-read book for already & wannabe authors, I recommend it to everyone –  it speaks to us all, helping writer & non-writer alike find their voice & the power to share it.

This morning found me writing the opening of my book.  Come March 2018, you’ll find me back up at Rowe, taking Nancy’s build on her basic workshop – – The Next Step.

Right now, am tracking down my well-thumbed copy of Writing from the Heart , looking forward to warming my heart with Nancy’s voice & wisdom!

Dear Michael – Mindwalker1910

Mom wrote the following letter to my brother, Michael, on March 30, 1999 after a bit of a kerfuffle over her working to get a better understanding of her true self.  Born in 1910, she was raised to put everyone else’s interests first, to keep everything on a steady keel, whatever it took.  Although she & Dad had a natural partnership, with deep listening and give & take on both sides, that was not her norm with others, especially with her children.

Background ~  Mike had been upset by a joint communication Mom had sent to all of her children & our spouses, as well as still unhappy with something that had happened two years earlier.  And,  based on their previous experience of Mom, it was genuinely impossible for my sibs or Kerry to get their heads around a respectfully assertive mother seeking greater clarity about what herself tick.


Dear Michael:

Your letter was received.  Here are a few of my thoughts.
Don’t let the fall out of a few heated moments (referring to a ruckus that happened in early summer 1997) taint your life.  Set aside the unintended hurt and the disagreement, and focus on the intentional love.  I find comfort that no one intended to be hurtful.
I have a psychologist counselor,a financial counselor, and spiritual counselors.  John is an influence, Elsa is an influence, and Peter is an influence, along with “Taking Responsibility: Self-Reliance and the Accountable Life” by Nathaniel Branden, Stephen Covey, John Bradshaw and other authors.  I enclose a list of Branden quotations.
The key issue in this quest for self is me, not Elsa, not Kerry.
It is important to ask”Why” rather than lash out if people say or do disturbing things.
 Asking “Why” acknowledges the possibility of  different point of view.  It does not mean agreeing with the response. 
A reply is not necessarily a response.  
Intentional silence is not a neutral response.
Stripped down to basics, life is about loving people for who they are, and not who we want them to be.
Love to all…  Love – Mom
ps – My shoulder is punishing me for (hand)writing this, but it is a necessity.
Reading that for the first time in many years, am struck by how much the last line reflects the very premise of the book I’m writing on the 5th Commandment – loving, honoring, others for who they are, and not who we want them to be.  Spot on!

Reframing the picture

This has been a 36 hours of many blog postings, some shared, many deleted.  Here’s one that it is my pleasure to present.

Once upon a time, many years after Dad died but several before Mom slipped from us, I learned the power of reframing events.  Sort of a “sliding doors” with actual happenings.

Since everything we know about a situation is at heart a made-up story ~ which is how you end up with a Rashomon  situation, where multiple people recount the same event in very different ways ~ why not take a difficult situation & zoom it in a different direction than it apparently took?

I did a lovely reframe a couple years back, inspired by Niece Lumber in Lambertville.  Niece Lumber is big enough to have satisfied Mike & small enough to suit Dad.  Mike could have been in charge of the non-saw dusty parts of that reframed Lockhart Lumber & Kerry, if she’d wanted to, would have been a wow of an executive manager, keeping everything flowing, with the vendors & suppliers & customers devoted to her.

Dad would have kept a hand in with some designing, but slowly would have been weaned to maybe two long-time clients;  the rest of the designing would have been handled by a brilliant team of artists & draftsmen.

In that reframe, Mike gradually took over the reins, leaving the design department in the hands of an experienced craftsman.  It’s totally contrary to what actually happened, but it is a lovely “what if.”

Am doing the same with Mike & Kerry’s visit.   In the reframe, Mike gave us a call as soon as they learned they were visiting Scott & Kimberly, with a bop up to Bryn Athyn.  We would have set up Monday from breakfast, but before then I would have made sure to get over to Sandstrom’s with my cast iron skillet, exquisitely seasoned dredging flour, a couple sticks of butter, milk & a basket of perfectly ripe tomatoes – I would have whipped up a mess o’ fries, which I have to say rival even Mom’s.  Thick slices dredged in the seasoned flour then dropped, hissing when they hit the foaming butter in the hot cast iron skillet, tossing in fresh pats as needed, turning over each slice just before it goes from dark to burnt, cooking up a passel of slices/wedges/end pieces for the luscious pan gravy,  ladled over a plate of the wonders.

We’d get in our catch-up visit at Monday breakfast, because the two of us would be riffing off Lockhart memories as I cooked my way through to nirvana.  They’d still do their thing the rest of the time, but Mike would head home to springtime in Australia with the lingering taste of long-ago summers, courtesy of a heaping plate of fabulously fried tomatoes, under a blanket of gravy, that held memories of Mom in every bite.

If only….



Butt kicked, ready to write!

Today, I chose clarity over depression.  In large part because of reconnecting, on a whim, with Nancy Aronie, via YouTube.  And she joined Tom Kamber & Pete Mangan in giving a swift kick to my butt, sketching out a new path for writing my book.

I wanted to write my book, a musing on the POWer of honoring others rooted in a memoir of my family, I wanted to write it without upsetting any of the surviving people — my brothers, their wives – who will be mentioned in it.

This weekend  reset my intention from hedging my bets to just being open tender honest.

My reality is that I deeply believe the 5th Commandment – to honor our father & our mother – really & truly does mean that we are to honor them as fallible & fabulous human beings, people buffeted by stories they don’t understand any better than I do, theirs or mine.  When we do that with our parents, we can do that with our sibs & with every other person on the earth & with the toughest person of all – ourself.

This past weekend, things happened that might have, in another time, obliterated my sense of worth, ripped my heart out of my chest, really pissed me off, or a combination of all three.

Instead, looking back over the last 36 hours, find that in place of nursing a broken heart, have been presented with one freshly broken open  to raw feelings that just don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone thinks about anything I write.

Butt kicked, on a roll!

Feeling safe

Was just re-reading a July blog post, The Things That Shape Us, by the remarkable Nancy Aronie, who touched my life & shifted my self image at a 2016 Rowe workshop.  woman who did more than she will ever know to shape my self image.

Two core things Nancy taught me:  good writing requires a safe place & it should always come from the heart.

My reality is that I lost any sense of emotional safety around my sister-in-law, Kerry, twenty years ago.  My reality is that from everything she has said or written, I assume that Kerry does not feel safe anywhere near me & has not, as far as I know, for 40+ years.

I learned from John to know what I want & to go for it, and to know what causes harm & to avoid it.  So, coming from my heart, while we appreciate Mike’s invitation to breakfast tomorrow, we will politely decline.