Why did it hurt so much?

What was the most difficult thing you had to deal with after writing and publishing your personal story or memoir?

To understand what I’m about to reveal, let me explain that in 2008 I was given 6 months to live! I was diagnosed with a heart condition that I didn’t know I had but the symptoms had been with me for at least a year. After months of treatment and absolutely no improvement, the doctors told me to “get my affairs in order”—and they weren’t referring to my love life!

Writing LOVE The Beat Goes On was the most amazing experience for me, and yet, so highly personal and revealing. I cried a lot and laughed too. There’s a great quote I read after I published it: When you write a memoir, there’s no place to hide. I also read a comment about memoirs that said there is rarely truth in a memoir. Two very differing points of view and both equally correct.

The book won medals, and was chosen as a Book of the Month club selection, and read by groups, and sits at 4.5 Stars in the top 25 of Amazon Health, Fitness books. BUT, I got one super hurtful nasty review. The writer compared me to Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat Pray Love which I loved, but the review said basically that I (and Liz) was a woman of passion and privilege. I can’t argue the passion, but what hurt so much was the “privilege.”

My immediate thoughts went to my upbringing. My Dad was a military guy with all the challenges of returning from war. He drank, he smoked and I only recall bad times that ended in arguments between my mom and him. I also remember bearing the brunt of his anger and leaving the supper table daily in tears. But those times helped me become independent and self-sufficient.

We moved every three years—I still have difficulty staying in one place and forming attachments—including marriages. I found out I divorce very well. I had my first job at the age of 11, washing hair in a beauty salon on the weekends. And I worked my butt off my entire life—built businesses, lost them, and kept on going. Hardly a privileged life.

I don’t say these things for pity. I don’t believe in self-pity or blame. I mention them as facts. The same way I might smile when I buy a new pair of shoes. When I was a kid, I got a new pair of shoes when there was a hole in the sole and the cardboard that blocked the hole didn’t work anymore.

This was the only life I knew. And I learned from it. I came away strong and independent and determined to make a place for myself in the world. I brought up my boys, I supported my family, and when fate gave me 6 months to live, I never ever gave up my belief that I could and would heal myself.

It’s okay to dislike my personal story or not feel hope and inspiration for the way I fought through those challenges and defied the doctors’ diagnoses. But the personal attack, that was so painful. It brought back a ton of memories, you know, those deeply buried bad things that you never tell anyone!

When you write about your life, you will always be scrutinized. And let me tell you, it’s really hard not to take it personally. But the good news is, I get emails almost daily from people that have been inspired or are suffering from the same condition as I was, and I know I’ve made a difference in their lives. And for that, I would tell my story over and over again.

Thanks for asking.

Answered in Quora


How to be unforgettable

How did Toni Morrison influence your life?

At this time in my life as I’ve allowed myself to fall in love againI would say her words on love touch my soul in profound ways.

Every great author and some who never achieve world-wide acclaim has affected our lives in a multitude of ways. Toni Morrison’s work is in a class by itself. Maybe right up there with Maya Angelou.

I will let her words speak to you in honor of her memory.

“Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.”

“Something that is loved is never lost.”

“To get to a place where you could love anything you chose, not to need permission for desire, well now that was freedom.”

“Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind.”

It is the courage of authors like Toni that have opened their hearts and bared their souls, that gave me the guts to write the stories that I write. My memoir LOVE The Beat Goes On is so personal and revealing it took me years before I would publish it.

“Make up a story. For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.” Toni Morrison

So I went on and wrote about a 50 year-old-woman and her 20-year-old lover in Target in the Sun. And then I exposed the lives of several male prostitutes in Mexico writing in the first person as Layla, in Lie To Me, again opening myself to major criticism, but also an award for Contemporary Fiction Social Issues.

It’s not easy to reveal yourself because that’s what I do when I write. Yes, my books are “fiction” but as in the current Daniel Silva book The New Girl, our stories are often based on fact. Some hide it better than others.

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  Toni Morrison

This sums it up for me:

Lynda Filler photographer

Answered on Quora

Why am I so scared to say “I love you” to my boyfriend?

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For me, the answer has always been simple. I would be afraid that he is not going to say “I love you” back to me. I wouldn’t want to get hurt if his feelings are not as strong as mine.

However, I think my answer and my thoughts on this issue are stupid! I bet that surprises you. Look how quickly we say we don’t like something or someone. When you get into arguments you might even say you hate someone. So why are we so stingy with the word love?

I’ve worked at getting over this stigma or foolishness I have with this word. There are all kinds of love. Give it freely. It will always come back to you even if it only comes back to you in loving yourself. You will love yourself more because you are not afraid to use the word and share your love unconditionally.

And what do I mean by unconditionally? It took me the loss of a lover to understand what this word meant.

Let me explain. I was involved with a man that I loved and wanted to be with. Instead, he chose a higher calling. He retired from the SEALs and went to Africa to work with orphans. I was devastated. This man and I had an intense emotional relationship and there was no doubt in my mind that he loved me. But he had a calling that was so much bigger than ‘us.’

I remember this event like it happened yesterday. It was the time in my life when I learned what it really means to say “I love you.” It means my love for you surpasses your choices. It is above my need for you to return it back to me. I can love you even if you are not able, or have the same need, to give me back what I want or think I need. I still love you. I had to decide if my love for him was about ME or about HIM.

I value that time in my life. It took me two weeks to understand that this was truly the first time in my life when I really loved someone. I had to let him go physically but I kept my relationship with him. We communicated daily. It was intense and beautiful. He shared his journey, his love for me, photos of the events in the orphanage in South Sudan. His daily challenges were immense. But he was happy doing this work. It fed his heart and his soul. He had spent years in and out of the tunnels in Afghanistan and his soul was fractured and needed to heal. I would never have been enough for him.

And four months after he left to go to Africa, he was dead.

So never ever miss an opportunity to say I love you. You are saying it for yourself. And celebrating your love, vocalizing it is a beautiful thing. And if it’s not returned the way you want, who cares! It’s not about the one you love, it’s about you, how you feel, and how you have shown up in his life. If he loves you back that’s great. But if he understands that there are no conditions attached to your love, I think it will be fine.

Don’t be afraid to show the best emotion that life has to offer. You owe it to yourself.

 

Shared from my answer in Quora 

Read more about Lynda’s philosophy on life in her memoir LOVE The Beat Goes On

Love front with quotes

How do you justify loving someone, when he or she is not interested in you?

A Quora question that I answered today that totally spoke to my heart:

 

I would call that “unconditional love.” I learned unconditional love when I was in a relationship with someone who chose to do Missionary work rather than to be with me. I told myself that he was just not interested enough in me! I was so sad, messed up, disappointed. I cursed him, hated him, for two weeks. (The incidents surrounding our relationship filled a poetry book!)  And then I had a really good talk with myself.

If you love someone unconditionally, you must accept that they may have values, dreams, goals that take precedence over you.

Once I accepted that I loved him “unconditionally’ we continued a relationship by mail, email, letters, and became incredibly close. It was an honor for me to have experienced his heart. I will cherish his communications with me always.

He died 4 months later in South Sudan. After he passed, he’d left someone to stay in touch with me for a year. I called him my bodyguard–and that’s definitely a future book. It seemed my dear friend had left me his journals. Unfortunately for me, my bodyguard refused to turn them over. He said they were too dangerous for those who were still alive. I knew my friend had never married nor had children. But he had saved money and had substantial investments. I discovered he used his money to support 15 orphanages around the world–mostly Africa, the Middle East, and Mexico.

So to answer your question, he gave me far more of his heart than I could ever have experienced if he had given up his life’s’ work to be with me. One day I will write his story.

I (Spy) Love 

Almost There

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Image may be subject to ©

green intense

light of love

heart love

pulsating

tears rolling down

the pale blue window

inside my mind’s eye

the right side, a film playing

over

and over again

 

heart pain silent relentless

take it away I beg

make it go away

 

intense lights bright

smiles and miles of warmth

take me, please

take me there

take me into his arms

let me touch his hair

let my lips brush his cheek

let me smile with him

let me feel his love

 

straw fields break through

electric blue sky

closer, closer I beg

I can feel I’m almost there

 

swirling turquoise water, is that ocean?

is this what your home is like?

will you take me there

 

are those people I see

wait, talk to me, don’t leave yet

I’m almost there

Mom, can you bring me over

yes, I can feel your smile

don’t you love him too?

 

I know my dream is over

the sun is heating up my room

my left side wants to fly

my right, dead weight here

 

I walked with a child

he was sad and sullen

I took his hand

and told him to dance with me

he smiled and twirled

 

and then he was no longer there

 

on an edge of a bathtub

you sat with me

a stranger holding a gun

told us to get inside

our time was up

it was time to die

 

I felt no fear

I was ready to go

I would follow you anywhere

 

© Almost There, I (Spy) Love Lynda Filler Poet

 

Death…can I visit you there?

 

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I Spy Heaven

My dear friend Kristaline sent this note to me after a lover/friend died suddenly in 2011. I included it on the last page of my poetry book I (Spy) Love.

 

by Kristaline Shannon

It’s so awful when someone is afraid and so awesome when you can ease that fear. Your faith is strong; you will be amazing.

For me, for all of us, it is a park drawn out of sidewalk chalk. The colors don’t exist here and cannot be described but are beautiful. All the toys are made with the special chalk and Elijah and Rick guard the entrance from evil. There is no age or time. There is no pain and everyone you have ever loved or missed is there in some form or another. You have access to everything you ever wanted on an emotional level.

Rylee showed me the entrance just after Michael died. We were at the street fair and drawing on the street with chalk. She drew a blue pizza and said it was for Michael and I asked her why did you make it blue; and she said, “Michael likes blue.” I found the entrance next time I meditated.

 

 

more about life/love/death/dying/overcoming a death sentence: LOVE The Beat Goes On, a memoir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Attacks Back … a poem

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Love Attacks Back

 

I try…

it’s my game, you see

minutes, maybe an hour

tick by without thinking

and then all it takes is

a word, a love word, a laugh word

and your face fills my mind

and my heart swells with hope

 

for a brief moment, I allow hope

and then I remember

your pain

 

I think of you walking alone

death denying moments

a game you are losing

 

and I hate them all

and I want to stop 40,000 more at risk

and I don’t know how

 

big boy’s games

murderous filthy games

 

and then stillness comes over me

and love attacks back

 

it’s what you would want, I know

it’s what you would want me to remember

©Lynda Filler, LOVE REHAB

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LOVE REHAB  on Amazon

Cougar Bra … a poem

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it sneaks up on you

 

a thief, yes

a thief of dreams

a thief of life

 

one moment

you are young

vibrant, sexy

 

and life, lacking discretion

demands attention

threatens deletion

for indiscretions

of the bodily kind

without compassion

steals your passion

erases your dreams

sends visions of death

and dreams become night-mares

 

they shoot horses, don’t they?

 

with my red nail polish,

cougar bra

and strawberry suede stilettos,

I will not ride off into the sunset

 

take your death sentence

and shove it!

 

© Cougar Bra, LOVE REHAB 

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LOVE REHAB on AMAZON

Meltdown

Version 2

© Lynda Filler Photography

 

Meltdown

 

Spring

was never waiting for us

it went one step forward

as I longed

for our dance

 

I thought

you would come to me one rainy summer day

instead

you had Dragons to Slay

and orphans to love

and a God to appease

 

my dream

was melting in the dark

someone left my cake

out in the rain

I don’t think that I can make it

cause it took so long to bake it

and I will never have that recipe

again

 

still

I loved you

 

and then you died

 

© I (Spy) Love, Lynda Filler

 

 

 

Mis-Understand

 

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Mis-Understand

 

I don’t try to understand your pain

nor empathize with what you gain

by making choices of denial

waiting for time to pass

all the while forgetting

how

to

live

 

I don’t try to understand

a choice to abstain

from love and passion

intimacy that is a God-given-gift

the closest we can ever come to

Heaven

on

Earth

 

I do understand

death and war

for death is a beginning

and wars are never ending

but Love is eternal

 

and more than that

I must agree

with the Rabbi’s message

sent to me

“the greatest of these is Love”

 

© I (Spy) Love, Lynda Filler