April 7, 8, 9
Podcast introducing Genre Tour Memoirists
listen in here
Laura McHale Holland's intriguing look at Memoir and its hundreds of forms here:
Kathy Pooler on Memoir Genre
Connecting through Our Personal Stories
Jennifer B. Monahan
Since the beginning of time, stories have been used to share ideas, educate each other, and fire the imagination. Stories can break our hearts, help us better relate to another person or culture, or teach us right from wrong.
Memoir writing allows someone to tell his or her story and through that telling, connect with others. We have all had life experiences that we can draw from to see ourselves reflected within the memoir. We can put ourselves into the memoir. We can imagine what we would do in the same situation as the memoirist. We can even invent a different ending if we don’t like the one in the memoir.
In my memoir, This Trip Will Change Your Life: A Shaman’s Story of Spirit Evolution, I tell my journey to becoming a shaman. Now, not everyone wants to become a shaman, but the main purpose of the book was to help people connect with their higher selves and guides so that they themselves could evolve. There were three main messages that readers connected with:
- Each one of us has moments that shape and define our lives…and ask that we take action based on that moment. For me, it was meeting a Mayan shaman. For someone else, it might be a serious illness, or the birth of a child, or the loss of a parent. Regardless, these moments serve as wake up calls in our life and demand some type of response.
- If we choose to ignore a moment, we will get another chance in the future. Sometimes the timing feels off, or we’re not ready to take that big leap, or we don’t have the support system that we feel we need. In my life, when I was first called to become a shaman, I tried to do it on the side while still working my day job. While I was making some progress, I wasn’t taking the big leap into my new life…until I was in a bad accident that made me re-evaluate every aspect of my life. The beauty of life is that if we don’t make the changes that are being asked of us with the moment, for whatever reason, the universe always provides us with another chance.
- And finally, we are not walking this life alone. There are physical and spirit guides with us every step of the way. Even when we feel at our lowest, our guides are working behind the scenes to have things manifest in ways that we could never imagine.
What I’ve found is that through memoir, readers begin to tell their stories as well. So, as I’ve shared my story, I’ve had many readers reach out to me and start sharing their stories. They’ve shared their moments, the times that they didn’t act on a moment, and second chances. Through that sharing, we began to connect, understand each other better, and bridge differences to see the similarities in our lives – and that is the true beauty of a memoir.
Aarti Patel ND on Creating Image and Health
The Price of Image to Health
In our society, which has become more dominated by screens, image is a big deal. It's not just the realm of celebrities, performers, and athletes these days. Image affects all of us in today's world. How we portray our lives and selves to others can become such an influential part of daily living that it can affect how we treat our bodies, health, and those close to us. Image can impact both physical and mental health in ways that can eventually lead to chronic health issues and take us farther away from what we want in life.
What is image? Image is typically what we want others to see despite what we're feeling underneath or what is truly going on in our lives. We all have an image, and that in and of itself is not a bad thing. Image, or persona, can help create healthy boundaries between ourselves and our environments, including other people. That bit of distance helps us have space and privacy where we need it. Everyone doesn't need to know everything. What becomes dangerous is when image evolves into more of a lie that we start believing even when we're alone.
We may want to believe that we're perfect, and try to show that to others instead of facing fears that are surfacing. These days, you may also notice social and media-induced peer pressure to show happiness to ourselves and to the world, even when we're feeling sad, angry, disappointed, or some other feeling instead. The idea of image can then start to encroach on personality and even become who we are to some extent, often to the detriment of our physical and mental health. The pull to be immune and safe in this world using an artificial image is something each person goes through at times.
Image is a tool that can be helpful in the roles we play at work and in life, when it is mostly in tune with who we are already. When it instead plays a more suppressive role in blocking out real emotions, thoughts, and expressions of who we are, it can also harm the natural rhythm of our health, hormones, neurotransmitters, and personalities. It can become a cage in which we live with our unacknowledged fears and emotions.
The price of image overtaking who we are can be costly. Yet, it's okay to admit this and honestly look at what image you're showing to others, and ultimately to yourself. We live in a culture where image too easily becomes everything, and many people are dissatisfied with this way of living. Even when image affects health and stifles life, it can still be an addictive thing to pursue. However, if you remind yourself of what you really want in life, it can become easier to see how the image you're portraying might be blocking that. And then you can ask, what benefit is image really bringing to your life?
What influence do you notice image is having on the world around you, and more importantly in your life? You know who you are inside, so what price are you willing to pay for image?
Introduction to The Art of Health–Excerpt
What is health? Toward one extreme, health can conjure up thoughts of a sterile doctor’s office or hospital, scary medical words and labels, diagnoses such as diabetes and cancer that sound so final, surgery and open-in-the-back gowns, and strange-sounding pharmaceutical drugs. Visiting the other extreme of alternative health, we picture all things natural, tofu sandwiches, endless vitamins and supplements, yoga and spandex, hugging trees and being one with the earth, visiting a shamanic energy healer, and pouring out our feelings for catharsis. Do either of these camps sound like they describe real health to you?
We often turn to outside sources, both through health care systems and in the mainstream media, to have the ultimate say about our health. We figure that these sources know a whole lot more than we do about how to live a long and healthy life. Yet despite the recommendations, health doesn’t always improve like we hope it will. At some point, it’s helpful to ask who is the ultimate authority on your health.
Does a doctor know what health is simply because they are a doctor? Does the answer lie inside a bottle of medication or supplements? Perhaps a vegan diet regimen, CrossFit workout, or yoga philosophy? A health website, blog, or magazine? “The Dr. Oz Show,” or “The Biggest Loser”? Wait, don’t forget that 20/20 piece on health that gave you nightmares. Then there are all those research papers and self-help books out there!
Talk about dizzying amounts of information overload. In reality, health is simpler than that. It can be tempting to search for the answers to health outside yourself. Sure, the sources mentioned above can be useful tools if they’re relevant to your health and who you are. But what is the number one and greatest source for living a long and healthy life?
It’s YOU. That’s right—you have the #1 authority on your health by being the only person who lives in your body, is going through your life, and is facing your own unique challenges. Along the way, you may encounter useful tools in the form of a treatment plan offered by a trusted health care provider, a new diet and exercise routine, or a cool blog post that inspires you to pay more attention to your health. But even these tools will only be useful for the long-term if you develop a real connection with your health, your lifestyle, and what you’re going through.
Health is an art. Think about all the functions the body performs for us on a daily basis without us being consciously aware of them. The body works in a naturally sophisticated and artful way and if we support what it’s already doing for us, we can spark health that best fits who we are as individuals. Each person’s life is a unique expression of art too. The best way to practice the art of health is by staying true to who you are throughout it.
I’ve been practicing naturopathic medicine for eight years. In practice, I treat chronic difficult-to-treat conditions in large part by teaching the keys to artful health I talk about here in this book. Though I treat a variety of chronic complaints from insomnia to digestive issues, my specialties are women’s health, natural hormone balancing, dermatology, homeopathy, and autoimmune conditions.
Throughout appointments and when coming up with treatment plans, I try and help patients pay more attention to what they’re going through and encourage them to take more charge of their health. I know I’ve done my job when someone feels more confident in how they’re approaching health and how they take care of themselves. When a patient can make connections between their health and lifestyle and see the artfulness inherent in their health care, they have real tools they can use for the long-term.