Hello! I wrote a collection of essays in a book titled, “ISSUES: The Opposite of Everything I Was Taught” about, well, issues. We all have them, right?
My issues – at least the ones I’ve focused on in the book – have to do with our ways of thinking, particularly regarding the topics of conversation we are told to avoid in a bar; ergo, slightly extreme opinions about touchy subjects.
It all started with my ballsy idea that my voice meant something. Despite the fact that I was born in the late ‘60s to young parents in Boston, they had very old ideas. At least to me. My environment taught me that children had a place, and if you were a female child that place didn’t change much (outside of potential new ownership).
Writing was my escape, and also my first way of being able to ‘talk to’ my father, since he found it easier to hear what I said when he saw it in black and white, without the validation-stealing age and gender filter he saw me through when he was looking directly at me. Still, it was only so effective. Eventually, he managed to convince me that my writing had no potential to be of any service to me, despite my awards in school. I buried it after that. I continued writing in secret, but for nobody’s eyes but my own.
When you hide anything about yourself that is genuine for the sole purpose of keeping peace with others, your peace gained is situational. You may be able to avoid conflict for a time, but when you go back to your room or your own place the dissatisfaction you have with yourself and the accompanying anger and shame become quite a bed of nails to sleep on. Living under a continued pretense and suppression gives no satisfaction. Whether you feel your life was easy or hard, when you look back you may notice a feeling of unease that begins with a question to yourself that’s along the lines of, “I did everything I was supposed to do; why aren’t I content?”
It’s that idea of ‘what I was supposed to do’ and all the ‘shoulds’ I grew up with that are the basis for this book.
I started a blog at age 39 and wrote through my 40s under the name “The 40-something, wanna-be Solid Gold-dancing Breck Girl”. The blog was supposed to be about nothing, just a way for me to finally write publicly – to be me, without concern for what others thought; like an exercise in ‘authentic living’. Through it, I learned to overcome the fear of other’s perceptions of me, and that I could voice even my more extreme thoughts and ideas with the pride of being my own person. Does everyone agree with me? Of course not. Comments range from ‘polarizing’ to ‘edgy’ – I was even told by a male acquaintance that he would “not want his sons to read my book.” (I think I’m actually quite proud of that!)
The writer writes for him or herself, and then finds later that the honesty in the writing will always resonate with someone.
This book, my first on my own, was a surprise to me – not that I’d publish a book, but that it was nonfiction. I write stories and poetry, mostly; fiction. But it all came about when I turned 50 and wanted to change the name I wrote under – and realized I didn’t want to let the 40-something Breck girl go. I was so very proud of her for what she accomplished in personal growth. That was when I decided to turn that blog into a book, not necessarily the ‘best of’ but the ‘most of’. In pulling it all together, I realized that despite the fact that I wrote about everything and nothing, there was a bit of a cohesive theme to all of it, almost a philosophy, that caused me to rewrite them into essays.
I challenge the shoulds, the ideas that the status quo and the maintenance of it are in everyone’s best interest. I talk about religion and sex from my own personal viewpoint and not with the words I was taught to use. I support every single person’s right to be different, and at the same time point out that it’s our differences that make us the same – and that sameness will be more harmonious than the forcing of people into specific molds. I point out (and play with) the power of words, as well as the powerlessness of them. Yes, I even use a few ‘explosive’ words. I enjoy a healthy debate that causes both sides to think.
The best thing is that I’m not trying to sell anybody anything (other than my book). I found more of myself in my disagreement with what I was taught, rather than the actual lessons. I’m not asking you to believe what I believe – we don’t all have to think the same. Growth and progress come out of different thinking, which makes different thinking necessary. If I hope to accomplish anything here, it is to make you question what and how you think – to see if you truly think for yourself, and are not living an empty life of expectations imposed by something or someone outside of yourself (no matter how well-meaning). I’m not trying to make you think like me but to see how my thinking makes you feel.
I know that I can be me and still be loved for it, even if some people think I’m loud and opinionated.
We learn who we are – and who we are not – in our reflection from others; we are each other’s mirrors. Maybe, I’m a fun-house mirror. Who knows? From the way I’ve learned things, I know there’s even value in that!
Thank you, Authors’ Lounge, for this opportunity to share a little about myself!
For more silly words, check out my book on Amazon: