Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Hello All,
Please bear with me today as this will be a lengthy posting. I’m asking you for a response that represents where you’d like to journey with me on this blog.

In my first two postings, written in late May, I laid the groundwork for how and what I’d write. The following is from “The Garage Poltergeist.”

            “Dee, write a memoir,” a Minnesota friend suggests.
            “Why? My life’s so ordinary.”
            “My life’s ordinary,” she counters. “Yours is interesting.” Stunning moment.
            I toss around the idea and even set to writing. But rather quickly I stop. Too much work. And somehow, my life seems boring in the telling.
            Then another friend suggests a blog. Ah. A post whenever a story from the past moseys to the street corner of my mind and announces, “Tell ‘em about me! I’m a humdinger.”
            So that’s what this blog’s going to be—the story of my life as moments present themselves to me. We’ll move together from convent to cats to Meniere’s Disease to edging into the 21st century. Back and forth. No trying to be sequential. Just meandering.

In the following excerpt from “Pieces” I expanded on what my plans were for doing an on-line memoir. 

These memoir memories resemble jigsaw pieces. In the past two years, I’ve emptied the puzzle of my life on a figurative card table. Now you’ve gathered with me around that table. We pick up a piece, examine it, and place it somewhere in the landscape of my life. Lower left corner. Upper right. A border piece. Smack dab in the middle.
            Together, we view that picture as it emerges.
            The individual pieces may seem haphazard. How do convent, Meniere’s, work, growing-up, and cat stories relate?
            —Would I have stayed in the convent if cats had lived there with us? I've wondered about that. Picture a longhaired calico cat like Maggie with whom I now live. Watch her weave her way down the choir-chapel aisle as we chant Compline. The nuns gathered there try to suppress their laughter. It erupts into loud guffaws and we mangle the Latin. Maggie ignores us. She's ambling now for her fleece pillow in the sanctuary. Now that's contentment.—
            I want to alert you that the color of these memoir memories will sometimes be dark; other times, light. I hope many stories will tickle your funny bone. For myself, some are poignant; others just strange. If you stick with me in this venture, you’ll get to read the whole shebang.           
            I hope you’ll gather often with me at this card table. I hope also that you’ll jog my memory by adding comments and asking questions about something I’ve mentioned that bemuses or intrigues you.

Well, your questions and comments on my convent experience have helped me retrieve more memories about life in the novitiate. I still have several novitiate ones I’d like to share with you doing the month of November. Those will end with my making first vows and becoming a scholastic.

         Beyond that, I’m wondering where to go with this blog. That is, so many of you seem to enjoy these convent stories. And truthfully, I enjoy writing them. After first vows there will be stories from the seven years I remained in the convent. These stories will be about—

·      Going on mission to teach and becoming known as someone who could rescue a situation
·      Attending graduate school for three summers
·      Learning what the vows meant in practice
·      Living with many caring, compassionate, fun-loving, gifted nuns
·      Dealing with illness.
·      Becoming known for being a born teacher
·      Praying the Divine Office and becoming enraptured with Gregorian chant and melody
·      Steeping myself deeper and deeper in the possibilities of wholeness
·      Becoming increasing sure that the life was not for me.
Of course, before and after the convent I had a life also. A year after the seeming abandonment when I was five my parents moved us to a farm. The years following were both light and dark as growing up must have been for all of you.
            Years later, my mom may have been right when she said I entered the convent to escape my father’s drinking. But in childhood there was also molestation by a neighbor. This of course exacerbated my belief that no one could love me. That I was unlovable.
            There has also, of course, been life after the convent: experiencing hallucinations for ten years; choosing life; working as an editor and curriculum developer; protesting the Vietnam War; teaching in the inner city and getting involved with the Civil Rights Movement; living with cats; helping men who were HIV-positive or had AIDS; saying good-bye to thirty-five of them before they died; working as a freelancer for seventeen years; undertaking a lifelong spiritual journey that has led me to a belief in the Holy Oneness of All Creation.
            Oh a lot of things have made up my post-convent days, which has stretched for nearly forty-five years.
            So here’s the question for today: Would you like me to continue writing about the convent or are these stories becoming monotonous? Would you like me to return to my early life or tell you stories of my life after the convent?
            You see I’m ready to share all of this with you, but right now I’m at a turning point. I can cover the convent years as they happened, or I can meander back and forth between pre-convent, convent, and post-convent days.
            I’m truly flummoxed about what to do. I don’t want a tediousness to creep in—just one more convent story after another. On the other hand, if you are truly enjoying this taste of a life that wasn’t your experience, then I’m game to continue writing about it.
            Please share your thoughts with me on this. I’m in this blogging business for the long-term, so all the stories will ultimately be told. It’s just the order that’s puzzling me today. Does sequential work best? Or meandering?
            I need help!


  1. My vote is for "meandering". I so enjoy your stories about the convent, but equally interesting are the stories about the rest of your life.

  2. I see my own blogging journey in all that you've said here about meandering. I meander, too. Sometimes my past, sometimes my present, sometimes humorous (I think), sometimes thoughtful or slightly dark. Always, always, always, I want it to lead to our Oneness. I vote for telling whatever story you feel led to tell us on that day. I sometimes feel a divine sense of guidance on these things. We never know what story we feel led to tell on any given day that will reach a person who needs to hear it. And, in that process I discover or rediscover aspects to self that help me move onward.

    I want to hear them all and look forward to seeing what gets called forth each time you post.

  3. I love all your stories. What I have found is that meandering keeps everyone's attention. You never know what is coming next. So if it were me I would go back and forth. Put a humorous one in between the dark ones. This way your reader has a variety in his/her diet and leave feeling contented and full. You have so much to share and so many great stories, my vote is whatever you decided don't quit. You are such a treasure and I have grown to love you as a friend.

  4. I, too, have loved the meandering approach, Dee. Obviously, I think most of us find your convent stories particularly intriguing, since it's a way of life we know nothing about. However, as your friend commented, you've led a most interesting life all round and every story you share is something special and unique and we want to hear them all. You are such a gifted writer and your perceptions of and observations on life in general are remarkable. You have the uncanny ability to hold each of us in the palm of your hand as you paint and weave your way through the canvas and fabric of your life. I do think you should write exactly as you see fit. Whatever story asks to be told at the time you settle down to type, is the one that you should share. If you feel three convent stories in a row are what awakens your spirit, then go for it. Alternatively, if you want to tell us five cat stories, then that's the way to go. If you want to tell one post convent life experience, followed by one early childhood and then another far later life story, we'll be right here, listening intently!
    The important thing is not to put any stress or pressure on yourself. You should not be writing with anyone else's expectations in mind. This is your blog, your life and your story. Tell what you want, when and how you want, OK? It must be a fun experience for you, not a chore enforced upon you by anyone else. By now, you know you have a captive audience who really love and admire you, unconditionally. We're with you for the long haul!
    Big hug xoxo

  5. I think we all have the same questions about our blogs as you do. We start on one theme and then branch out into other aspects of our lives. We have many facets to our lives that may or may not be entertaining to others. Yours is a road that many of us have not traveled and as such, holds great interest for readers. I always believe in going with your heart, what you are feeling that day, what controls your thoughts at that moment. I guess I am not a planner, just a person on a journey wondering where the road will lead me.

    Your life and experiences have been extraordinary. Meandering through the doors you have entered and gone through is one that I think can reach more people. You have so much to tell and to teach.

  6. I vote for meandering too :) I LOVE all of your posts. (I am especially fond of the convent stories.)

  7. I vote for "meandering". Your posts, whether they are about the convent, your health, your kitties or anything else have never disappointed me. You write so beautifully. Write whatever you feel like writing each time. JUST KEEP POSTING!!

  8. I guess I am a lurker - not having a blog of my own. I don't even remember how I found you but I enjoy reading it so much. I am a lifelong Catholic - educated through high school in Catholic Schools.. I spent my last 20 years of teaching in Kansas City. I had 1-3 children enrolled in Catholic schools for 31 consecutive years. I continue to go to church but as a Vatican II Catholic, I am much disenchanted. I am furious at our bishop for covering up child abuse in this diocese. I like hearing all of your memories. Having a sister in 2 different convents in her earlier years, I can relate to your convent years. Personally, I like your meandering through your life. I enjoy your writing so much.

  9. As someone who has only very recently discovered your blog and has spent hours catching up with your story so far, my vote also would go to the meandering approach. The variety and contrast works so well.

  10. I am a just start typing & see where it goes blogger. I do believe you clarify & enhance your entries much more than I do, but you are doing more of a writing exercise(which I admire, but do not emulate). I like the meandering most, but I'll read what you feel most comfortable writing. ~Mary

  11. What a delight you are to read and get to know, Dee. As you have probably now discovered, I'm a bit of a meander myself. I say, if it works for you, then keep doing it.

    You are such a good writer and, as others have said, already have an appreciative audience. Since most of us know little about convent life, including me, it is interesting to hear about your experiences, your journey, your faith, and, yes, the mechanics of becoming a nun. Your cats, Menieres, growing up and all it entails and, I suspect, even more topics are what makes you unique.

    Sometimes, I don't know what to write about or don't have time, and there is a lull for a few days. Other times, I can't stop writing. Those times, I write like mad and save the posts up in a queue for later. You might consider writing your convent posts as they come to you and post them on a given day, or after x many posts. Same with cats. Whatever. Ha! I'm giving advice I won't take myself, but, just thought I'd throw it out there.

    At any rate, Dee, I'm already sitting at that card table you mention, always ready to see what hand your post deals.

  12. I love hearing about any part of your life--past and present. Your life is you. I thoroughly enjoy hearing all about your path and what events and decisions and hurdles helped to form you. I will cast my vote, also, with meandering. You have your labels on the side so that anyone who was interested in a particular time period or subject could find them that way, too. Yes--let the spirit move you. I'm here for the long haul, too.

  13. No one's life is boring or ordinary. Each one is extraordinary in itself, a one of a kind life lived by the only person qualified to do so - you. Meander away!

  14. I vote along with the meandering crowd, Dee. I do find your posts about convent life interesting and intriguing, but it's only a small part of who you are. The dilemma about what to write about plagues every one of us who sits with a blank post and wonders what to write about.

    I have two blogs; one covers my day-to-day life and I try to keep the posts short and concise, since I learned that the posts I most appreciate are not overly long and can be read and digested quickly. But then I began to feel that I wanted to tell my story and started my second blog, with no idea of keeping the stories short. If one were to go back to my earliest "Eye on the Edge" posts, my entire life story is covered there and it's enough for me. I write once a week, Sunday mornings, on that blog, and now that I've gotten to the present time, I sit in the dark wondering what to write about. Usually it's whatever is on my mind at the time, or past adventures. I really never wanted to accumulate followers, although I have, but wanted a venue for my innermost thoughts.

    My other blog is filled with pictures and sometimes things I've read or seen, but it's different. My daily habit is to wake up and read the blogs I follow and make comments (like these) and then read the news, all before getting out of bed. I drink a cup of tea while propped up with pillows and listen to the gentle breathing of my sleeping husband.

    We all have our style, and yours can take us to whatever corner of your world you wish to share. I myself enjoy the person who peeks out from between the words, a gentle and serene soul who has found her way into my heart. Write for yourself, I will read it and take it within as is appropriate for me.

  15. Dear Mary, today I've sent e-mails to thank readers for their comments or gone to their blogs to do so, but because I can't thank you that way, I wanted to do so here. I hope you're reading this.

    Thank you for being a "lurker"! It's a delight to learn that you have been reading this blog of mine. I am touched that you enjoy the convent story but still encourage me to meander. I'm going to do so.

    And yes, it is a scandal that the KC bishop covered up the child abuse done by that photographer priest. Somehow the church as a whole just hasn't gotten the message that priests and bishops and the pope himself serve the People of God. They are meant to be shepherds who cherish us. So many forget that and become hoarders of power. Or so I think.

    I hope you keep reading and that once in a while you let me know what you're especially liking!


  16. As someone who has blogged for nearly five years, I can say a few things about my experience. I began writing the blog as a writing practice, but quickly got caught up in the comments from readers and had a heck of a time worrying about whether my posts would please the reader. I did that for a bit and then went back to blogging about things that spoke to me in the moment and what I noticed was that the posts that spoke most deeply to the readers that commented were the ones that compelled me to write them. I still catch myself trying to tailor posts to readers from time to time, but I say do what you want when you want. Please yourself and the rest will come.

  17. I second Kario's recommendations! I love all your posts, Dee, whether about the convent or about your early life or about your life after the convent. I think it makes sense to take the readers where your heart tells you to go any given day. Something that you have to write will resonate most with the readers. Don't try to tailor the posts simply to reader response. You and I and so many others have spent a lifetime seeking to write what sells. This is your blog and you write what you want, when you want. You know, the wisest advice I ever got from a publisher -- who has now become my agent -- started as a question "Of the books you've had published, how many did you HAVE to write?" I thought back on my twelve books and answered "Two." Then he asked "How did those two do?" I realized that those two -- written from my heart and a deep yearning to reach out -- were by far my most successful. And he said "When you write from your heart, when you write what you absolutely must write, the readers will come." So write from your heart and we'll be there!

  18. I really favor the idea of meandering. I have only recently "found" you so I would enjoy any and all stories. I would encourage to write as often as you can, and write from where you are that day...don't worry about being cohesive. You're a strong writer so even moving between the different spheres of your life will all knit together well. I really look forward to seeing where you will begin! Debra

  19. I bet if you write from your heart you will find yourself meandering....and I think that is perfect.

  20. Write from your heart. Yes, you have an audience, but your audience loves whatever you write. Meandering works for me. I find it more authentic. It will put less pressure on you.

  21. I think part of the power here is in following what your heart needs to say at any given sitting. I love the nun stories, but I am equally captivated by all your others as well. Trust your muse - she hasn't led you wrong yet.