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.




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

105 responses to “MIXED BLESSINGS

  1. Liz

    We are blessed to have you in our blogging community, Cynthia – thanks so much for all the sharing in this post 🙂 x

  2. 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.

  3. It sounds like this group is exactly where you need to be right now, Cynthia. They’re lucky to have you and you them. Enjoy and take care of yourself.

  4. I am looking forward to more of your posts and stories.

  5. Angie Darlison

    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!

  6. 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…

  7. 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)

  8. You continue to be an inspiration to me. Thank you for your determination to keep going.

  9. 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. ❤ ❤ ❤

  10. Glad you have this little group and you can all progress together. Look after yourself, miss your blog when it’s not there! 💐

  11. I feel certain you are a good teacher, especially if you are enjoying the process/progress so much. Have fun!

  12. Murtagh's Meadow

    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.

  13. You are brave! When you help others you help yourself. Your students are blessed to have you!

  14. Laurie Graves

    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.

  15. 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

  16. You are an inspiration, Cynthia. Hugs and love to you xxx

  17. The small pay cheques in later life are better than none. I am sure you are a totally underpaid whizz at what you are doing though. C’est la vie, ma chère.

  18. 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.

    • 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. Pingback: MIXED BLESSINGS | J. Hale Turner, Author

  22. Cynthia, you are such an inspiration to us all. Your students are fortunate to have such a compassionate mentor.

  23. I love to read such insightful words. Keep going.

  24. 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

  25. A very open heart-felt post, Cynthia. Your students sound a perfect tonic for you and I am sure in time you will inspire each other. I wish you well. take care. Annika

  26. Take care of yourself while you are taking care of others.

  27. 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.



    • Yes, you are so right, MT. Interesting idea about the spoons.
      Gotta push, but know when to slow down/stop.

      Thank you for your kind suggestions, MT.

      • 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

      • Happy stir up Sunday to you too. My best to your mom.

  28. 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.

  29. Sally Walker

    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,


  30. Mixed blessings…are there any other kind? Take care, Cynthia

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. Cynthia this sounds like a wonderful thing to do, to pass on what you’ve learned and be the person who helps them to bloom. Take care of yourself.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. Oh Cynthia .. There is only one of you, you gorgeous girl .. Bless 😃

  37. I often think that the very best thing we can do for ourselves is to go out and help others. Happy Writing, Cynthia. 🙂

  38. 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

  39. 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. 🙂

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

    • Maybe it’s time I started to re-read all the novels of my youth, too, Oscar. I look forward to hearing more about your reading of Moby Dick.

      • 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.

      • 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.

  42. Kev

    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.

  43. My brave friend – setting us all goals to aim for.

  44. Goals have lines around them and we need to walk the invisible lines and keep our balance so we won’t fall. Hugs to you. Barbara

  45. You are doing such a wonderful job, Cynthia. Writing has a power of healing – painful memories give prospective and strength when put on paper.

  46. 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 🙂

  47. 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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