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.