Grace Notes #7 — Grace Street Homecoming!

Do you have a place, or some places, that just live inside your cells? Places that shaped you or saved you? Let me introduce you to one of the places that lives inside me: the North Adams Public Library, where, as I say in the Grace Street acknowledgements, “I learned to love books and grew up doing homework in the turquoise children’s room.

(And where I also ran up enough overdue fines that I should have my own plaque somewhere.)  Happily, happily I get to go ‘home’ to North Adams this month to read from Grace Street in the parlor of the former Blackinton mansion at the top of Main Street, Wednesday June 29th, from 5:30-7:30 pm.

Can you believe how lovely this building is?

Oh, how I love libraries!

In my professional life, I am currently taking a course called “Working with the Legacy of Loss” with a wonderful mentor, Dr. Janina Fisher, who is one of the leading lights in the field of trauma. At each meeting, there are a number of heartfelt and heart-wrenching comments from those in the class, many of whom are psychotherapists, relating to their own losses. As I’m listening to the class members, I find myself wanting to ask back to the Zoom screen, “Can you write about it?” In my own case, writing to make sense of things started a few years after my homework-in-the-blue-children’s-room phase, and became such an irreplaceable part of me that I can’t conceive of how I would have navigated some passages of my life without the lifeline of pen to paper. I never dreamed that one day some of my journals would become a book, and that it would bring me, full circle, back to the beloved library of my childhood.

Writing your life is such a topic of fascination to me that I am sure to be exploring it more here in the future. But for now, I encourage you to find an old notebook, nothing special or intimidating, grab a pen, pour yourself a cuppa, and sneak off to a corner to begin to hear yourself think on paper. You just do not know where it will take you or what you will glean. Don’t even bother to re-read what you write. Just pour out what you’re thinking about, á la esteemed writing teachers Julia Cameron and Natalie Goldberg. Approach it with curiosity, not seriousness. Think of it more like play, not work. See how you feel afterwards. See if you begin to notice things or think about things differently, as you start taking time to write out your thoughts. File this thread of the newsletter under “TBC…”

Grace Street continues to have some lovely play dates. Earlier this month I joined six other current or former affiliates of Turtle Studios in Newton for a Writers’ Night event as part of their Spring Open Studios. What a feast that was—surrounded by the outpouring of visual art from our buddies, supported by live music, the writers shared their stories long and short, profound and hilarious, dire and enchanting.

I also had the pleasure of reading at the Roasted Granola Café on Mass. Ave in Arlington on Thursday 6/16. It was a lovely gathering of wonderful listeners, many of whom shared their reactions to what I read, which included a section from when we lived on Gray Street in Arlington, where the book’s title comes from. Some participants also shared their own experiences with illness and loss, and so the circle continues.

And our ebook is now OUT, and THANKS to YOU and all the “shares,” it reached #5/100 in Amazon’s Best New Releases in Grief and Bereavement! If immediate gratification is your jam, and/or you just love reading on your Kindle or other device, it’s all set to download, right now. (Plus, the photos look really nice in the ebook!)

We keep getting those notes and letters from readers weekly, and I continue to deeply appreciate the heart-to-heart connections that are growing from the book. Tonight, I received a note from an MGH nurse who cared for our niece recently, in her clinical trial for ALS. Sadly, our feisty firecracker of a niece succumbed to ALS in February, but she had recommended Grace Street to her nurse, who then went to the trouble of tracking me down on the Psychology Today website to write, expressing gratitude and describing how meaningful the story was for her. The notes are beginning to feel like quilt pieces, coming back from readers, reflecting the story back to me in the most individual and heartwarming ways.

Many, many thanks, and sending hopes that one and all are filling up on this luminous midsummer sunlight!

— Maureen

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