Disrupt Now Podcast Episode: Navigating Through and Beyond Trauma

I’ve known for a while that I would participate in a conversation about my personal experience of traumatic events. With access to a variety of communication platforms, I intentionally use that access to speak and share parts of my own story. Even the parts that include less than comfortable experiences…such as being physically assaulted. Listen to: Disrupt Now Episode 44 Navigating Through and Beyond Trauma

While reaching the decision to share this part of my story, I was very aware of even more mass shootings and violent events unfolding. It’s important for me to share my own experience with violence.

It is not just individuals who have a shadow side. And all individuals do. It’s just a matter of how aware of it we are, and how willing we are to witness it. Our country also has a shadow side. One that continues to invite us to witness it.

The United States was founded upon values of violence, aggression, and dehumanization. That is our country’s shadow side. And while never easy or comfortable, witnessing it is the only pathway toward healing.

There are massive systems in this country that are broken, not least of which include the mental health, education, and the prison systems. Twenty years post-Columbine, clearly what we’ve being doing has not been working. But we cannot and will not create a new paradigm; unless and until we are willing to witness the impacts of our country’s shadow side.

I share my personal experience through and beyond trauma, partly because it involves violence that is not gun related. I’m very aware that if the man who assaulted me had a gun, I likely would not be here to tell my story. I’m not diminishing the importance of conversation related to guns and violence. But the epidemic of violence in this country is not limited to gun violence.

It’s a deeper issue than that, and it’s more systemic within in our culture. It is utterly horrifying to hear of, or witness, what humans are capable of doing to one another. Yet there is also opportunity for those of us who have firsthand experience with trauma or violence of any kind; to share our stories and engage in conversation.

While recording podcast episodes, I am intensely focused on the conversation; it never occurs to me who may eventually listen to it. It’s an intimate conversation that is made public, and I think that’s part of what makes it so powerful.

In the time since we recorded this episode, the expansion I mentioned has been making itself even more clear to me. There are some creative projects that are undeniably mine to explore. And while I have no idea where any of it will lead, I am willing to show up and see where it all goes.

Copyright©2019 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Disrupt Now Podcast Episode: Navigating Through and Beyond Trauma”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, connection and creative expression

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A Day Suspended in Time

There are some days and moments that become suspended in time. Like so many people, today is certainly one of those days for me. Grief is a funny thing, and even eighteen years later, it can still show up to visit. In a room full of writers this morning, I had chills listening to a fellow New Yorker share her words about this day. By the time I drove home, I was crying in the car remembering this day all those years ago.

Though I’ve never quite admitted it, today is what brought me to Charlotte, NC, the place I’ve lived since 2002. I’ve heard it said that for those of us living in New York on 9/11/2001, there are those who considered leaving, and those of us who left. On this day, eighteen years ago…I knew I would be one of the ones to leave.

If you ask what I most vividly recall about this day all those years ago, I remember the sky. And I remember the silence.

New York in the fall is stunningly beautiful. Unlike the south (where it’s currently still 9,000 degrees outside) the summer heat has broken, and there’s a crispness to the air that’s almost electric. The sky that morning was a quintessentially New York autumn sky, so vividly blue it almost hurt to look at it. That sky of course became a backdrop to unimaginable horror.

The silence would descend later. Both in the sky itself where the absence of airplanes was jarring. And in the stunned silence among people who simply couldn’t find words to articulate what we were experiencing.

Living on Long Island at the time, I was maybe twenty miles outside of the city, so not close enough to personally witness what was happening. Which made it even more surreal to watch images on the news. I had been inside the World Trade Center Towers, and they were an anchor of the city skyline every time I drove back and forth to my parents’ house north of the city. How could they be gone? And what kind of world am I living in that something like this could happen?

I remember driving from college back to my apartment along the gold coast of Long Island, thinking it couldn’t possibly be true. I hadn’t seen any images yet, and the day was just so idyllic, such horror didn’t seem possible.

On a crystal clear September morning, not only had the world and my city been irrevocably changed, my personal choices were impacted as well. I had never imagined living anywhere other than New York, and I loved where I was living on Long Island.

But this day all those years ago brought me the invitation to consider moving away, and at some level, I knew that I would.  I can’t say that I ever felt unsafe in the following days and months, though driving in front of an armored military vehicle one morning was interesting.

I just sensed that there was a chance to make a different decision for myself than anything I’d ever considered before. I was graduating from college that December, and there was really nothing holding me where I was. I could choose to jump into something totally new.

There wasn’t anything specific about Charlotte, but it was the only place I seriously considered. My reasoning was that I didn’t like Florida, wouldn’t go anywhere near Washington D.C., and wanted to stay on the east coast. After two weekend visits here with my then boyfriend, now ex-husband, I moved to Charlotte, NC in March of 2002. The ex chose to go with me, and we arrived here with no jobs, knowing no one but each other.

Nearly eighteen years later, I do love this city, and I am so in love with my life here…especially since my marital status changed to joyfully divorced. But as much as I love it here, this day does remind me of where I grew up. And for me, there’s an aspect of grief that’s much more personal than the events of that morning. Today is the day that I knew I’d leave the area I loved so much.

I’ve had people suggest that I’m now a Charlotte native, which always makes me laugh. No matter how long I live here, I’ll always be a New Yorker. Growing up in that area certainly influenced the person I am today, and although it’s now from a distance, I still do love New York.

Copyright©2019 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “A Day Suspended in Time”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, connection and creative expression

 

 

New Levels of Awareness and Freedom

Months ago, I could not have predicted just how many new experiences would follow letting go of an old identity. Had I known, I probably wouldn’t have grieved it as much as I did.

I’m now someone who willingly shows up at writer events and writing workshops. Someone who regularly attends entrepreneur events, and connects with new people anywhere and everywhere. I’m now also someone who is seriously considering travel to places I haven’t yet visited…I continue to surprise myself.

Over the weekend, I was even more aware of the fact that I have very deep roots within the Charlotte community. Roots that continue to expand. Any time I attend an event or find myself in familiar places, it’s common for me to run into people that I know. It’s true that Charlotte is a big small town.

One of the recent full moons felt like it was inviting me to look more deeply into what was being illuminated, so I dug out my astrology chart to see how it related; that moon was right next to my midheaven in Aquarius. I’d never researched that particular placement but it influences my professional or vocational life.

Midheaven in Aquarius indicates an unconventional or free-spirited style. In my entire life, I’ve had exactly one “traditional” job and lasted no more than eight months before leaving for a more flexible pathway. That job was pure torture to me and I’ve always leaned toward the unconventional in my work. Recognizing the expansive flexibility of writing has been a very welcome gift this year.

This awareness also reminded me that my writing company is an Aquarius. Which was not in any way consciously intentional on my part, the end of January is just when I finally took the action of creating it.

In all areas of my life, the increase in awareness and freedom continue to feed my capacity for new experiences and deepening connections. Conversations full of possibility and potential are everywhere I turn, but instead of alarming me; they feel like they’re arriving right on time.

Every single piece of art or picture in my home is meaningful to me. Looking at the two most recent additions, I love their complimentary nature. They each look as though they’ve always been there. Estko Creative is behind these latest additions and she’s a local artist I’ve really enjoyed getting to know.

Yin and yang are words I cannot escape from, they seem to follow me everywhere. From these recent art works, to the pendants around my neck…light and dark are constant companions. So are themes of forgiveness, healing, compassion, and creativity. All of which I’ll happily continue to lean into embracing, with new levels of awareness and freedom.

Copyright©2019 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “New Levels of Awareness and Freedom”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, connection and creative expression

 

 

A Powerful Memoir: Once More We Saw Stars

As someone who has written about my own experiences navigating through and beyond grief and trauma, I have a deep appreciation for the work of others sharing their own stories.

Once More We Saw Stars by Jayson Greene is a exquisitely beautiful, genuine, heartbreaking, and hopeful story involving the sudden death of a child. I could not put this book down.

I loved his writing style and from start to finish, this book is powerfully honest. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Grief, loss, and trauma are not experiences we’re taught how to navigate through and beyond. One of the most frustrating aspects of such journeys can often be the fact that there simply is no map.

Memoirs are a favorite genre of mine, and I read a lot of them. This book is by far one of the most exceptionally brilliant memoirs I have ever read. As one who writes from my own life experience, I know how healing and vulnerable it is to share such deeply personal stories.

This book is not simply about grief, loss, or trauma. It is absolutely a much larger message and illumination of  the true nature of courage, resilience, love, and survival; not despite the human experience but within it.

The chapter about the author and his wife’s experience at Kripalu held a personal message for me. In a chapter that mentions being receptive to signs, I received confirmation that it is indeed possible to stay somewhere other than the Kripalu grounds. I’d wondered about that while considering going to an upcoming event there involving Cheryl Strayed, a writer whose work I very much admire. The recommendation at the top of Once More We Saw Stars, was written by….Cheryl Strayed.

The more that I continue to step into my own writing, the more I continue to be inspired by the stories of others.

Copyright©2019 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “A Powerful Memoir: Once More We Saw Stars”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, connection and creative expression

The Beauty of Sacred Spaces

Freedom Park in Charlotte has been one of my favorite places for a long time. Over the years, it’s become very meaningful to me. I’ve spent countless hours there both alone and with others. I have a picture of this park in my dining room, and it’s also part of a piece of art in my bedroom. It’s a place I continue to return to time and again.

Yesterday, instead of walking out the door to run, I drove to Freedom Park and went for a run in that area. I do run along the streets around where I live, but sometimes it’s nice to visit a different location. With a pretty good sense of direction, I don’t ever plan a route. I just go, and figure it out along the way.

The area around Freedom Park has many beautiful houses, streets and landscapes. Running past houses I’ve been inside, navigating sidewalks I’ve walked with friends, retracing steps along the park’s entrance and around the lake; was all somehow healing to me.

I’m very aware that the Charlotte half marathon I’ve signed up for is now two and a half months away. Last year, I intellectually committed to doing it, then failed to physically commit to training. This year is different, so why not intentionally choose to train in some of my favorite places?

Later this month, I’ll be at Freedom Park for the festival in the park event for the first time in twelve years. The last time, I was with my ex husband and some former friends. This year, I’ll be with entirely new people. Some whom I’ve only met and connected with in recent months. New memories are being created in a favorite space on so many levels.

I like having spaces that are sacred to me in some way. Spaces that regardless of whether I’m alone, or with those I love, feel meaningful. There’s something intimate about returning to such a place. They hold a history that is unique to me. My home is very much the same type of sacred space. For both places, regardless of how the people I choose to share them with may change; the constant is me.

Copyright©2019 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “The Beauty of Sacred Spaces”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, connection and creative expression

 

I’ve Always Been On My Way Here

An image I just downloaded for Instagram asks the question: Where have you been all this time? Taking note of all the dark places, detours, pain, and healing, it answers; I was on my way here.

I love that. It’s so beautifully simple, elegant and true. Had I kept a detailed record of all the synchronistic experiences just within the past year, they’d fill an entire book. And such experiences don’t show any signs of slowing down.

From new connections and experiences, to opportunities, conversations, events, and even travel possibilities; magic is everywhere. Turns out there is an active literary community within the Charlotte area. One that I had no awareness of until very recently, thanks to conversations and new friends illuminating its presence. It’s always existed and I’ve simply been on my way here.

Attending an event last weekend reminded me of how much I do love listening to live music. I just bought a ticket to another live music event next month because, why the hell not? Taking myself to a Saturday night event isn’t typical of me, but it was a lot of fun.

It seems that the Asheville, NC area continues to invite me to explore it. Listening to an artist friend describe what it’s like, I have to admit that I really would enjoy that area.  As I continue to add events and meetings to my calendar into November, I’m seriously considering the idea of getting away just to explore a new area.

Recently, I’ve found myself spending quite a lot of time in the Plaza Midwood area of Charlotte, which is a very creative part of town. It seems the more I embrace my own creativity, the more I’m aware of other creative people. I continue to become more and more aware of things that have just been waiting for me to notice them. I have always been on my way here.

No matter how often soul aligned connections show up, it is always stunningly breathtaking. After time connecting with a new friend today it’s clear; she and I have always been on our way to meeting one another. And we both recognize the significance of it.

My text message conversations are full of additional synchronicity and inspiration, one that this new friend just shared is The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. How stunningly beautiful and poignant.

All of this also reminds me of a recent singer/songwriter I could listen to all day, Matt Stell. His most popular one is Prayed for You but he has many other great songs. I’m highly discerning when it comes to lyrics and I love his music.

I cannot explain, nor do I even care, why anything has happened the way that it has up until now. All I know is that I was always on my way here. And here is absolutely enchanting, in so many ways and on so many levels.

Copyright©2019 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “I’ve Always Been On My Way Here”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, connection and creative expression

 

The Unwillingness to Commit

I notice when topics repeatedly arise in conversation, and this one has surfaced in no less than three conversations within the past few days; the deep aversion that some people have to making a commitment.

While millennials don’t have an exclusive hold on this behavior, there is a higher prevalence of it within that generation. To be clear, I have certainly seen this behavior in people over forty. I also have close friends who, while chronologically millennials, don’t exhibit this tendency to avoid commitment.

Watching a recent situation unfold, I saw the red flags accumulating and knew an ending was imminent. I walked away from it wondering if this person will ever reach the realization that there is no perfect house. Even brand new construction isn’t perfect. A perfect house simply doesn’t exist, but a “perfect for you” house can and does.

There’s no such thing as a perfect relationship, a perfect friendship or a perfect piece of art. We all have flaws, scars, and insecurities. Committing to one another isn’t expecting those to disappear, it’s a choice to show up for one another anyway.

In my own life, I’m deeply committed to communication, and the level of brilliant conversation I experience on a daily basis is quite stunning. Listening to the Disrupt Now Program Podcast Episode 43: Sacred Nourishment this morning, I even surprise myself with the things that I say. While recording these podcast episodes as co-host and participant, I show up with no expectations. With many guests, I haven’t met them until that moment. These conversations feel genuine and intimate because they are.

The irony is that commitment isn’t limiting, it’s expansive and creative and can be so much fun. Writing for myself, and for ghostwriting clients, is more joyful and creative than I ever could have imagined. Both involve a commitment as well as willingness to show up and engage with one another.

I don’t enjoy ghostwriting from content alone, I need and want conversation around that content. In the same way, publishing my book involves a mutual commitment and conversation with my editor.

While meeting with a real estate client and some professional consults (all men my age and older) in reference to a specific situation, I summarized it with “millennials won’t make a damn commitment.” In later conversation, my client referenced that statement and shared his own professional observations of the same phenomenon. Fascinating.

With dating, I’ve found that I really don’t enjoy men even just a year or two younger than myself. I have gone on dates with several and there was just a disconnect. Similarly, with professional clients in both writing and real estate, my absolute favorites tend to be around my age or older. There’s a maturity factor that is there, as well as a willingness to commit to whatever the relationship is.

This morning I said yes to a potential writing project without knowing any details about it. The possible project involves someone I already have a collaborative and creative partnership with, and that history of commitment allows me to say yes without reservation or research. I already know we work well together and can commit easily without hesitation.

Commitment isn’t limiting and it’s not scary at all. When it’s with the right-for-you people, experiences, even houses…commitment can be a very beautiful and mutually beneficial experience.

I’m not turning away from an entire generation of people, I do have very close friends who are ten or more years younger. I just know I don’t want to date them, and they may or may not be ideal clients for me. That just depends on the person, as well as how they view commitment.

Copyright©2019 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “The Unwillingness to Commit”

The content of this blog is the original content of Diane McDermott, Between the Lines LLC Ghostwriting Services, founded in heartfelt alignment, connection and creative expression