Archive for January, 2013

Guest blog by Diana Densmore


When I find myself looking back on my childhood, feelings of nostalgia wash over me. My family was not perfect or idyllic at the time. Feelings of belonging, safety, family pride and even gratitude to my parents for their devotion to family are, however, conjured up and very often tears will fall.
Why, then, was I always looking for opportunities to go away from the familiarity of home, family and school? From the time I was ten, I was looking forward to a life of independence: a job, an apartment, new friends and traveling to far off places. No parents or siblings were woven into these dreams of my future. I was a single character on the stage of my life, surrounded only by new people in new situations. I was in search of adventure. I believe these dreams were in part born of my own feelings of inferiority. My older brothers were not only smarter, but more driven to succeed in their studies than I was. I was preoccupied with my insecurity in school social groups from elementary school.  As an example, on the days that I walked to school with neighbor kids, I was comfortable and felt a part of a group. My entrance alone, though, to a classroom or schoolyard was accompanied by some level of anxiety. Would anyone talk to me or would I be ignored? 
My confidence was routinely fed by my teachers who praised me for my progress in the classroom. I was bright, brighter than most, but I did not feel in anyway superior to others. I was still an unwanted tag-along to my older brothers and their friends in the neighborhood. 
By the time I was eighteen, I was yearning for a new life for myself. I was surrounded by classmates who were driven, like my brothers had been, to graduate at the top of the class and then to go on to college. I nurtured a different vision: to get out of school and go to work somewhere, anywhere. The summer after my graduation, when a friend was determined to go off and live with extended family in Utah, I was packed and ready to get on a train with her. No job promises, no great plan, just go!  Today, I am shocked by my lack of impulse control. Fortunately for me, her parents talked her out of leaving and I would remain at home for awhile.
When I married at the tender age of 19, I was thrilled to be in an apartment of my own, working at a real job. I didn’t mind scrimping to live within my means. It was a new adventure. When my husband was deployed for seven months on a West-Pac cruise, he asked me to go live with his parents in Texas until he came back. I jumped at the chance to live somewhere new. My family and friends couldn’t comprehend why I didn’t want to remain in my hometown close to all of them while I awaited the return of my young husband. Again, it was an adventure to me and the reason for my first airplane ride.
So, why after all these years, do I so enjoy wallowing in the nostalgia of my yesteryears? All those things I was anxious to leave behind now seem so dear to me. Through the creation of my memoir pages, I am able to revisit who I was and how I have changed. The old feelings of belonging and family pride have a new place in my history. 


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What makes a good memoir writer…

I was thinking of this question during my run…which is usually when I do my best thinking!  What is it that makes someone a good memoir writer.  Or maybe I should even go a step beyond and say a great memoir writer.  I came up with one word…actually several, but I think the number one reason why someone is a good teller of their story is that they are willing to be vulnerable.  You see, I have many students who come and dip their toes in the water of memoir and test it out.  They see the good in the leaving your legacy part of the story, but when it comes to really looking at yourself and holding the mirror up and seeing their true reflection they run away.  Vulnerability is never easy, it is something that I often struggle with.  It is not easy to be the first one to say “I love you,” or “I am hurting right now, will you listen to me.”  When we are vulnerable we are capable of getting wounded.  When I think of being in a vulnerable position I remember back to the family cat we had named Cliff.  He was a huge black furry cat with green eyes.  At the time we had Cliff, my son Kent was around 5 and Kristen was 3, and Kurt was around 18 months old.  Cliff was such a comfortable cat around my kids that he would lay in the middle of the family room on his back and let the kids jump back and forth over him.  Now that is what I would call a vulnerable position!

But bringing back vulnerability to our writing…it means willing to let go of who you thought you should be in order to see your complete authentic self.  As I look at my students who come in each week and share their stories many times I have heard them say…”Wow, I never thought I would ever tell anyone that story.”  As they share and cry and open themselves to the release it is really what makes them so beautiful.

It is necessary to be vulnerable not only on the page but in real life.  Most people walking around numb vulnerability, but what makes it hard is that we live in a vulnerable world.  Whether it is getting called into our bosses office, or waiting for the oncology doctor to give us our report on their findings, we are vulnerable.

We cannot selectively numb.  We may try to, but what happens is that when we try to numb vulnerability, grief, shame, fear and disappointment, we also numb joy, gratitude and happiness.

What happens next is that we are miserable, and then we are looking for purpose and meaning and then we feel vulnerable so we try to numb.  (How do we numb?  Shopping, alcohol, sex, drugs, etc).  This becomes a vicious cycle because the more afraid we are, the more vulnerable, the more vulnerable, the more afraid.

If vulnerability is stopping you short from telling your story, please consider attending my workshops.  You will be nurtured in a safe welcoming atmosphere.  There is no better time than the present to write and leave your legacy!

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The question why…

Any one who has been around 2 year olds very often know very well this simple word: Why…

I think 2 year olds are so full of curiosity and wonder.  It is at this age they want to know everything.

I have been enjoying a short visit with my oldest son, Kent and his fiancee MaryAnn.  Kent has moved to Minnesota last July and is attending Law school there.  Nobody knew the question why better than Kent.  As a little 2 year old he often asked the question why.

By the time Kent was 4 he was reading fluently and would often find the answers himself to the questions that he had in his mind.  Kent used to scour the encyclopedia and would often spend hours sharing what he had learned that day.

I can remember hearing a conversation between Kent and his cousin Tiffany one day.  Kent was probably around age 5 and Tiffany was 6.  Tiffany was talking about a bear and Kent went on to tell her that a bear was a carnivore and he went on to tell her all about which animals were carnivores and what the definition of a carnivore was.

Now as I look at him at the age of 27, he hasn’t changed much.  He is still questioning and wondering all about the world.

I hope he always keeps that wonder of wanting to learn and know.

Turning the subject to writing, why do  you write?  Terry Tempest Williams wrote:

“I write to discover.  I write to uncover.  I write to meet my ghosts…I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words…I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love.

Examine why you write…Tammy1-150x150

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The internal memory…

I always wonder how our internal memory works.  Sunday night I was awakened around 2:30  and could not go back to sleep.  I lay awake pondering…which is something I often do when it finally hit me.  I woke up at just about the exact time 24 years earlier I was giving birth to my third child, my son, Kurt.  I will never forget any of my children’s births, but because Kurt was born at home it was even more special.  (This was not planned, but since I fell asleep during contractions, when I woke up he was ready to be born!) I had already planned on calling him Monday when he got home from work, but I believe my internal memory was remembering.

Sounds crazy, I know…but I really believe it.   Many times I have been awakened by my internal memory.  When my father was passing from this earth nearly 2 years I ago I was again awakened.  It was a feeling.  I knew he was sick and I was going to teach one more class and then the following day I would be leaving to meet up with my brother and sister to visit him.  I felt a heaviness that early morning and I felt as though he had passed.  I was not shocked when my mom called to tell me the news.

Many times when I wake up at night I often meditate and try to see what my internal memory is trying to teach me.  Many times I have had dreams of curriculum or new ideas that have come to me at night.  I have learned that if I don’t write it down immediately, by the morning I can’t remember it anymore.

As the memoir coach I am always fascinated by how our memory works.  Many times things can be hidden in the recesses of our brains for years, even decades and then a smell or a song or a picture can bring it back to our memory.

Each of us has a memory full of associations, ideas and richly remembered experiences.  Dig down deep and see what you can uncover…

My son, Kurt who just celebrated his 24th birthday!

My son, Kurt who just celebrated his 24th birthday!

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Mondays with Melitas – January 7, 2013


MINDING MY MANNERS                               JANUARY 7, 2013


About a month ago, I wrote about the Desert League of Women Golfers having a Surprise Retirement Ceremony for me after the monthly Golf Tournament held at beautiful Escena Golf Club off Vista Chino in CathedralCity.

Desert League was founded in 1964, and I have been a member since 1975 from the Westward Ho Golf Club – now Indian Springs Golf Club in Indio/La Quinta.  During the past 15 years or so, I have served on the Board of Directors as Secretary, a few times as Treasurer and President — then my “Last Hurrah” job as Newsletter Editor.  I haven’t kept track of the years.

Now all this mish-mosh boils down to one thing: “Manners!”  My Mom always taught us to be polite and be sure  to say “Thank You” when required.  This goes to show that I still remember because here is my “Thank You” response to the Desert League Ladies appearing in the current Newsletter now under new Editor, Diane Jackson.  Hope she enjoys the position like I did, and while I’m at it — must include my “Thank You” to her.

I must be having a “Nice Day”  —-  “Thank You” for reading.



MELITAS FORSTER                                   MONDAYS WITH MELITAS




I want everyone to know I had a grand time at my SURPRISE RETIREMENT PARTY at the last Play Day on December 11, 2012.  Except for the cheep-cheep boa with its feathers falling out all over the place, and some even wafting around on the gentle breeze, I think things went rather well.  They let me have the microphone, so it was just a perfect day for me.

No one ever gave me a SURPRISE RETIREMENT PARTY when I retired after 27 years in the restaurant and bar business in 1975.  They didn’t even give me a plain old party.  And then there was no celebration of any kind when I retired in 1997 after 22 years in the Real Estate business.

So now I know that I have been missing out on a lot of fun things in life and didn’t realize it.  It took me a lot of years to finally find out about how a bunch of neat ladies can treat someone who is retiring from the every day scene.  Just give a SURPRISE RETIREMENT PARTY is the simple thing to do.  Make that person happy; give her a life membership even if she is 94, going on 95.  That made me happy, and to top it off to designate the day as MELITAS FORSTER DAY in Desert League, in the CoachellaValley, AND in all of the entire  State of California was almost too much for the old broad.

So, THANK YOU, ALL YOU GREAT LADIES.  You have been a wonderful part of my life.        Love to all, Melitas

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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.

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