A Good Home, Blessings, Memoir-Writing, Writers, Writing, Writing workshops


It’s November, the month when many writers write.

Not me.

I’m not working on the next book, not writing my blog, not even journal-ing every day.


In typical Cynthia fashion, I had a good stretch of days some weeks ago and was so thankful for it, I tried to do too much.

Ignored the warning signs. Committed other rampant acts of mindless-ness.

The bad pain came, then the flu. And throughout it all, the bloody nightmares whenever I slept long enough.

But pushing myself, as my therapist and journals remind me, is how I’ve come this far.

And I’m pushing again.


Twice a week now, I lead very small groups of individuals who are writing their memoirs.

None is a professional or even an experienced writer. But they are bright, interesting, mature people.

Some of their stories are painful to write, I know. But what a joy for me to help them develop as writers.

They’re changing in front of my eyes — and theirs. Blooming.  


At first, I wondered how they’d see me.

It’s obvious I have difficulty walking – sometimes it’s very bad. But I decided to reveal — on the very first day — some of the stuff others don’t immediately see. That I sometimes stutter or speak strangely. That I might struggle to cross-reference or absorb new information and that if voices/sounds come at me from more than one source, it affects me.

Just as well I did.

I’ve come up against my limits repeatedly – and so markedly, twice, that I later went to the washroom and cried.

Then there’s the tiny paycheque.  I earned more money in my early 20’s!

So why am I smiling?

This activity has given me a purpose outside the home. I spend 2 hours, twice a week, with a group of individuals whom I like, respect and marvel at. I can see their progress each week and it delights me. The stories they tell — even the painful ones –are a balm to my soul. 


Blessed am I to have such students.

And blessed am I to have readers who notice when my blogging patterns are ‘off’, and ask why.

Thank you.


106 thoughts on “MIXED BLESSINGS”

  1. Wonderful Cynthia! I wondered why you were MIA. 🙂 I have a much better appreciation for you, your challenges and courage after reading your second book, which by the way is very touching and heart-wrenching at times in it’s authenticity. I’m delighted that you are helping others develop as writers and people. And I’m grateful to know you. hugs my friend. You are a gift to me and many others.

  2. Cynthia, you are an inspiration to all and when I see the smile (even when I know it is hiding pain) I say to myself ‘WOW – that woman inspires me” … please accept this HUGE hug from all of the BOAA but most importantly me!

  3. I really enjoyed this post, Cynthia. You are in a unique position to explore the inner journey. It seems that our bodies, and circumstances provide the opportunity to seek new horizons. Helping others to write their biographies is an amazing gift. In the end, what we will remember is the love that we gave and received in turn. All the very best…

  4. This is a lovely post Cynthia. It is helpful when you explain what could happen and what sets things off. I know I would appreciate an instructor who did that. I would then be aware how to behave to try and help the situation. It sounds like you are truly enjoying teaching the class and that’s a good thing. :o)

  5. I am in awe of you as well as your talent. Good to have another outlet to keep mind and body occupied. Your students are lucky to have you and I’m pleased to have crossed paths with you in the blogging community. ❤ ❤ ❤

      1. No hardship, believe me. I feel uplifted if someone feels a smile or a warmed heart. ❤ I believe we all deserve a little boost when least expected and you are more than welcome. 🙂

  6. You are very brave Cynthia and I am sure your students will be learning a tremendous amount from you. My best friends are ladies I meet doing a writing course. While we now live in different countries we are in near daily contact through email. They are my sisters in writing and I would not be where I am without them.

  7. I have missed you. But get the rest you need whenever you need it. And know that you have a blog-friend in Maine rooting for you, a friend who came to you because of your honest and luminous writing.

  8. I so admire you! Such a courageous thing to do that wouldn’t seem courageous to an idle observer. You have so much knowledge and experience that I cannot imagine anyone not being thrilled to be coached by you. I am so pleased you are getting so much out of the experience yourself though it saddens me to think of you weeping in the washroom. I am also sorry you have been so unwell recently. I have been so caught up with my own affairs that I have not looked about me to see what others are up to. I apologise xx

    1. It’s a busy time of year! Perhaps my body is slowing me down to prepare for the weeks ahead! I went and bought some small Christmas lights to replace the ones that expired in years past. Now I will try to create my own Advent calendar.

  9. Your group gives strength and it goes both ways, I can feel it in your writing. You are an amazing woman of courage and strength – your bad days take you one step closer to having a good day. I’ve not been online much and am sorry that your difficulties take over your life so completely sometimes. Take care my friend.

    1. Well, a good cry is sometimes a good response, and then one carries on as well as possible, right?
      You’re right: The writers’ progress, and their personalities, are an inspiration to me.

  10. The flu on top of chronic pain is a bit more than we should have to bear. I tell myself that it makes me stronger when things like that happen here.
    I’m glad you found the group, or they found you. Sometimes distractions help with the pain and even if it doesn’t it still sounds like fun.

  11. Goodness, Cynthia, the flu is a bad thing (and who could tell chronic pain from flu pain?) and I’m glad you’re back to blogging. A good writing group is a wonder, a pleasure and a stimulus. And I have no doubt you are a perfect guide for new journal writers. Keep up the work and take care of yourself.

    1. What an inspiration you are Cynthia. Despite everything you still manage to keep smiling and helping other people. You are amazing!!!
      Sending love and big hugs,
      Jessica 💕💕

  12. Wow, Cynthia, you’re brave and beautiful in pouring out inspiration despite cracks in the vessel. You’re reminding us, teaching us, not to hold back and wait for perfection. Love is always perfect–as is.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

  13. Go you! But take it easy, right? So easy to say, so hard to do.

    Do you know the spoons theory? It goes like this. You divide what you’re physically and mentally able to do in a day into sections and each one is a spoon. Some things take more spoons than others, and you may have a low spoon day and high spoons days when you have more energy.

    Basically, the idea is that if you have a 10 spoon capacity and you use 7 in a morning or on one thing you are aware, and then you know to make sure you tailor the rest of your day to fit the spoons you have left. Likewise, you might have a certain number of spoons for a week but if you use half in one day, you need to take it easy for the rest of the week and eke out our spoons over the next five days, to let your spoon drawer … um … fill up again? Jeez this sounds so crap when I tell it but the lady who explained it to me made it seem so logical and straightforward.

    Anyway, go easy on your spoons. I have been learning to ski recently, so I have had a bit of a reminder, myself, about the perils of using too many spoons at once or failing to use them wisely and well.

    Although sometimes I think it’s a case of use them and be damned! It sounds as if this teaching is well worth it for the sense of fulfilment it gives you – no matter how many spoons it takes. 😉

    I guess what I mean is, keep pushing those boundaries … but gently.



      1. My Mum is in hospital at the moment, and I am pretty sure it was because she was going through a really good patch, and just pushed it too hard. So yeh. Count your spoons! 😉 Frankly, I am amazed at what you do, at your courage and positivity. Chronic pain is such a massive ball ache, let alone the rest of it. God bless and happy stir up sunday ;-). xxx

  14. I admire your strength and courage, Cynthia, and how you have helped and supported so many others as they pursue their own journeys through life. Progress can be painful, but there is also healing in helping. I know you will keep pushing those boundaries, gently, and continue to make progress. And your community will be here to lift your spirit up when you need it.

  15. Sorry that you have had a tough time lately. It is hard to keep in balance when we are feeling better. It is human nature to push ourselves too much, and then we have to re-group and give ourselves (without guilt!) a bit more T.L.C.

    I agree with the other writers that you have a great deal to give your students. Your influence on them is worth more than you can ever imagine. No matter how badly you may feel some days, at least you try to make the world a better place and reach out to others with caring and love. What better legacy could anyone desire?

    With my very best wishes to you,


  16. Oh, I love the “small” victories. Which are really the large ones. I admire your continued honesty and fortitude in the face of challenges that would make many of us cranky and despondent. Keep going, friend. Keep going. You make a difference.

  17. Hoping you feel much better soon. It’s wonderful that you are able to share your experience and talent with your students, and with the rest of us.

  18. It is not the amount of money one makes or how many people might think of us as one to admire, it is the purpose we strive for each day in our life that we give to ourselves that can truly make us happy. Tomorrow is not a given, live and enjoy each day for the simple pleasures you may receive and be thankful.

  19. What a great idea – not only are these women helped to record their lives and learn to write, but just the chance to remember and share in an environment led by such a caring person as yourself. And you, in turn, can use the wonderful gifts you have and share your talent and experience. Perfect.
    p.s. Louise Penny has popped up again – there is an article written by her about her husband’s dementia and passing in the latest issue of AARP magazine. I’m going to get one of her books from the library soon! Take care .. Jeanne.

  20. Your writing inspires us all. Your challenges force you to show strength that most of us have, but aren’t conscious of it.
    Like you, I teach creative writing and my students always amaze and inspire me also. So great to read your blog post here. XO

  21. What a kind heart you are to give of your time to help others work on their own writing dreams. I admire your courage and tenacity to push on, yet recognize when you feel limited. Lovely to be part of your blogging world. 🙂

  22. A “balm to your soul” – I love that, and I’m grateful that it’s come to you. I’m certain that your group is also as grateful to have you. You’ve an enormous, warm spirit – so very welcoming and encouraging of all storytellers. That I can attest to personally.

  23. I view the creative process as gardening…. lots of compost, seed, water, and the work that most other’s do not notice, then the harvest, which we look forward to sharing with you. I look forward to reading your 2nd memoir soon… First, I am reading Moby Dick (reasons to be revealed in another month or so), which is sort of Melvil’s memoir of his days at sea set in a novel… well, it’s mostly lengthy, 19th century descriptions of ships and whaling techniques and sailor’s behavior, with an occasional bit of plot slipped in here and there. Enjoy your “silent retreat”, under the guiadance of St. J… as you do the labor which will be forth a harvest later.

      1. And, the few great texts of world literature that I read in my youth I had no experience to understand. Of course, I could say the same about relationships… at least I kept the books on the shelf for a future read.

      2. Made me smile! But it is true about reading “great” works of literature when one is young. You need to read them again when you’re older, to get all the meanings. I also don’t think many of those “great” works would even get published today. Too much competition.

  24. My goodness, how far you have come, Cynthia. I actually had tears come to my eyes while reading this. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

  25. Hi Cynthia, hope you are feeling better. Glad to read about the group you are involved in leading…. and inspiring. You do inspire us all and it’s really great to know you have been so amazing in your attitude! Keep up the good work and enjoy your students. Much love 🙂

  26. I am sooooooo far behind in my reading and my own blog. With the negativity with our Presidential election and some political nightmares happening on our Island, it’s an effort to connect to the outer world sometimes. My inside thoughts are negative and I fear if I write, it will be “whining”. But with the Holiday’s coming, I am feel a bit more motivated but lack time!

    I think it’s wonderful you are able to help others write. You may think it’s trivial but I am sure it means the world to the writers being able to work with such a talented, inspiring woman!!

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