Category Archives: Books

The Price of Integration

One of the writers that I follow on Instagram has a book that was just released today and in her IG live video this morning, she talked about the price of integration. Jen Hatmaker is the author of multiple books, most recently Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire. I have bought more books in the past year than ever before, but I choose to spend money very intentionally…and that includes supporting other writers.

While I am definitely not religious, I have no problem reading the work of those who are. Because I don’t get stuck on words. I am reading for the intent and message beneath the content. I bought a copy of Jen’s most recent book which is on its way to me now.

So, this morning, while listening to Jen have a conversation about the price of integration….I completely resonated. The price of integration is going to cost you people and connections.

It was right around this same time last year that some unexpected events removed some people and prior connections. Which left me crying on the kitchen floor the entire last weekend of April last year.

The price of coming even more deeply back to myself and integrating even more fully into myself: it was steep. But it’s one that in reflection, I am happy to have paid.

In so many conversations lately, it has come up how crazy it is that we didn’t even know one another a year ago. It turns out that paying the price of integrating more fully into myself cleared a lot of space for new connections to arrive.

Connections that are undeniably aligned with me in highly collaborative and creative ways. I am involved in such a wide variety of creative projects and relationships that did not exist a year ago. I could not have predicted any of these experiences. And I’m proud of myself for showing up for all of them.

It was absolutely awful to experience the loss of some prior identities last year. A year later…I can admit that it did indeed clear space for brilliant new partnerships and opportunities. Partnerships and relationships that I could never have imagined existing.

Copyright©2020 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “The Price of Integration”

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

Book Recommendation: Powerful Memoir of Grief, Trauma, and Healing

I read a lot of memoirs, and I have read some really beautiful ones in the past year (I’ve posted about many of them here under the book recommendation category). The one I just finished, The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Dr. Edith Eva Eger is without question one of the most exquisite memoirs I have ever encountered.

The friend who recommended this book warned me that it is not light reading. At the time, I shrugged, saying “I’m willing to read about heavy topics.” Until the experience of reading this book coincided with my own experience of post-traumatic stress. And I completely lost any tenuous grip on emotional control.

This book is so powerful because it’s a very honest, often raw, account of the author’s life experiences. It is explicit in detail and messy as hell. And yet, that’s part of what I loved about it so much.

Her early experiences include the Holocaust. Her later experiences find her navigating relationship challenges and beginning a career in psychology. So many of us who are drawn to psychology and psychotherapy are motivated by an intense awareness of our own wounds; and an equally intense desire to heal.

This book moved me in ways I did not anticipate, but am so grateful to have experienced. Certainly, it added to my recent moments of crying and feeling my own grief; and I’m good with that. I have cried more in the past two weeks than in the past year. Which was not anticipated…but arrived anyway.

Our stories are so powerful, and it is very healing to share and have them witnessed. This book absolutely made me cry and it broke my heart; it also brought a message of hope and resilience.

This is a beautiful memoir of an extraordinary life that has so much wisdom and insight many of us can relate to; that is the power of choosing to share our stories. There is healing, not just for ourselves but for others as well, in choosing to shed light on the truth of what we have experienced.

Everyone has a story. I am witness to so many people’s stories, and at the same time, I allow others to witness mine as well. Grief and trauma are real and so is the healing power of sharing our stories. Post-traumatic stress looks different for each of us, and we all navigate it in our own ways; it’s not linear, nor is it easy.

I cannot recommend this beautiful book enough. It is not always easy to read, but it is full of hope, resilience, and is more than anything a story of healing. Dr. Eger is right, we cannot choose what we experience, but we always have a choice as to how we respond. That awareness alone is powerful beyond measure.

Copyright©2020 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Book Recommendation: Powerful Memoir of Grief, Trauma, and Healing”

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

Haunted by Words

Without question, I am haunted by words and notice them everywhere. I have no idea what it is with me and Virgo, but I continue to be stunned. The last Virgo new moon found me signing up for an online course that turned out to be exceptional; which led to my recent New Orleans experience. I am definitely the one most surprised by all of those experiences…and the fact that I said “yes” to them.

The current Virgo full moon finds me navigating beyond a trauma anniversary. Some words I’ve received describing the current energies include: Love and Grief, Surrender, and Strength. Which has me thinking: Well. Fuck me. Especially regarding surrender, which is decidedly not my default setting.

Feeling emotions is exhausting on so many levels. Blend that with erratic sleep and no appetite; good times. For a few days, I was so overwhelmed I could not focus enough to read. That alone is an exceptionally rare occurrence.

Juxtaposition is a favorite word that I have a history with and the two latest books I’ve been reading have brought me both laughter and tears; in juxtaposition with one another.

It’s been forever since I’ve read any writing by David Sedaris and I’d forgotten how much I adore his work. One of his latest books Calypso had me laughing throughout, even with regard to the heavier topics he addressed; mortality, suicide, and alcoholism to name a few. It is brilliantly written and includes hilarious essays on life.

The book I just started, The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Dr. Edith Eva Eger had me crying from the start with resonance and recognition. It is not a light read as it’s the author’s very explicit memoir including her experience during the Holocaust; but it’s powerful. In her introduction, she explains that there is no measuring scale or comparison for grief and trauma. I completely agree.

Countless people have prefaced and minimized their own experiences in relation to mine. I always push back with, “It is not a competition.” No one is giving out trophies for experiencing more trauma, and diminishing our experiences dilutes the healing power of sharing our stories. There is no damn scorecard…we are all walking wounded to some degree.

Certainly the words grief and trauma continue to be frequent topics of conversation. Neither are words I shy away from and some of the richest, deepest conversations I’ve experienced have included both. Often with reverence, but just as often with laughter. No one escapes some form of grief and trauma, it’s only a matter of how willing we are to talk about them openly. Clearly, I’m highly willing.

Probably two of my favorite words from the past year were said once again by a guest on a recent podcast recording: yin and yang. This life includes both light and darkness, and no matter where I go lately that theme follows me. Unsure of how I’d feel during that recording, hearing those words was somehow a reassuring touchstone that I was exactly where I needed to be.

Words are powerful and I’ve found that when they continue to show up, they are important indicators. Not always easy indicators to follow, but always important for growth, healing, and change; regardless of what we’re experiencing (or have experienced) in our lives.

Copyright©2020 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Haunted by Words”

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

 

 

Thoughts from Beyond the Book Editing Process

Before beginning the process of editing my first memoir, I had no idea what to expect. Having no expectations was helpful…if I had known how intensely I would dislike it, I probably wouldn’t have started.

Some parts of the journey to publishing a book have been incredibly joyful. Editing was not one of them. Were it not for my brilliant editor, I’m not sure I would have finished. There were so many times I was just so completely sick of that damn book.

The process of editing a book isn’t just non-joyful; I found it to be grueling, arduous and heavy. I didn’t realize how much of my own time and attention it would require. However, my first memoir completed the editing process this week, and some of the absolute sweetest words I’ve ever received came from my editor: “Congratulations, you’re done!”

Perhaps the strange part is that I’ll willingly go through the editing process with my second and third memoirs. Now that I know how much I dislike it, I also have awareness of when I tend to resist, and how to move myself forward through the process.

I do love the story of how I found my book editor. Kristen is also a writer and ghostwriter, and for that reason we were connected by a mutual friend. In our first conversation, I shared how reassuring it is to know there are other people doing this work. It happened to come up as we talked that she also does book editing work.

After one conversation that wasn’t even about finding an editor, I knew she was the one I wanted to hire. I had other recommendations and chose not to pursue any of them.

Trusting my intuition continues to serve me well, and every person who has worked on or touched this memoir has undeniably been the absolute right fit. It has been enchanting to recognize each one as they’ve arrived in my life.

After going through this process of publishing my first memoir, I now have a community of trusted resources for publishing the next one. Sure, it’s my name on each memoir, but none of them will be published without creative collaboration involving other professionals; writing is both solitary and collaborative.

The experience of editing this first memoir has been enlightening, vulnerable, frustrating, and lengthy. It has also resulted in a literary work that is truly an expression of a significant part of my personal story; and I do love that.

Moving beyond the process of editing, I do not have words to adequately describe the immense amount of relief I feel. I can finally see light at the end of this journey; where my second and third memoirs are awaiting their turn.

Kristen L. Weber Writing & Editorial Services is the editor I worked with and below is the testimonial I wrote for her. She is even more detail oriented than I am, which is truly impressive. Her email: kristen.lynne.weber@gmail.com and phone: 617-222-0179

“Kristen effortlessly combines knowledge and insight. Working with her as my book editor was a truly inspiring and creative journey. She is brilliantly skilled with words as well as guiding a writer to polish their message and story. She is responsive, communicative, patient, and inquisitive; all critical qualities in an editor. I highly and thoroughly recommend her for any editing or writing project; she is an absolute joy to have as a project collaborator. My written work has been greatly enhanced by her skill and attention. Diane McDermott, writer and author.”   

Copyright©2020 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Thoughts from Beyond the Book Editing Process”

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

 

 

 

Book Recommendations for Writers

I readily admit that I am currently avoiding my own writing, and using the writing of others to do so; no apology will be forthcoming.

I just finished/devoured Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and it is by far the most exquisite description I’ve ever encountered about what it is really like to be a writer. It left me absolutely breathless and speechless with resonance and yes, yes, YES! That’s exactly what it’s like, all of the damn time.

At one point she writes “There is ecstasy in paying attention.” Oh yes, there is indeed much ecstasy in embodying that way of being in the world. There’s also angst, pain, frustration, and heaviness…but as writers we don’t get to separate the two. One coin, two sides; the duality of life experience.

If you love someone who is a writer, and have ever wondered what life is like for them, I highly recommend this book. It is illuminating.

The other book I’m only about halfway through (but I own it so am reading at a slower pace) is The Universe F*cking Loves Me by Sara Arey. She’s a local Charlotte writer I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. In fact, she and I have some mutual friends in common.

Anyone who knows me at all isn’t surprised that I absolutely adore the book’s title. It first came up in conversations months ago, then while at a recent shopping event, I turned around to find Sara standing in front of me at a table with copies of her book.

Not one to ignore such clear signals, I promptly gave her my credit card to purchase both the book and the deck of cards she created to go along with it. It is an outstanding book and I love being able to promote the work of a fellow local writer. The cards also come with a super cute case which makes it easy to take them anywhere as reminders.

Sara shares very personal life experiences, and I know how much strength it takes to do that. She is a lovely person, a talented writer, and her life experiences may inspire you. They’ve certainly inspired me.

One of the sayings on the cards is “I choose to welcome Divine help and synchronicity.” At this point, synchronicity and I are very well acquainted. And yet, we continue to become more deeply connected. While in New Orleans, one of my Lyft drivers is also a writer and we could have talked all day long. We’ve since been in touch, encouraging one another’s writing. In fact, we had both chosen the same deadline for ourselves, and we’ve both pushed said deadline a little farther out; there’s something cool about the date 2.20.2020. As I write this on 2.2.2020.

Over the course of the past year, one of the most beautifully unexpected gifts has been the discovery of, and connection with, other writers. The ones I connect with are all so wonderfully open, encouraging, collaborative, and supportive. These people and connections who continue to show up in my life are immeasurably priceless to me. I don’t have words to adequately express my appreciation for them.

Writers tend to also be readers and in my experience are one of the richest sources of book recommendations. These two books are ones I cannot recommend highly enough, whether you are a writer or just know someone who is.

Copyright©2020 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Book Recommendations for Writers”

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

Recent Book Recommendations

In the interest of consolidation, I’m sharing some of my recent favorite book recommendations. These are ones I absolutely loved for one reason or another and as a writer/reader, I’m always looking for new books to enjoy.

Over the past several years my reading has shifted noticeably toward more fiction, though I read plenty of memoir, and am as likely to read on a topic such as codependency or depression as one of pure fictional content. My writing is life experience driven as it’s always stranger than fiction. My reading knows no such bounds.

An absolute favorite memoir is Know My Name by Chanel Miller. From reading the back cover, I knew I’d love it; I could have written the exact same words about my own life experience. This book was at times very difficult for me to read and brought up some unexpected memories. The story of sexual assault, the criminal justice system, trauma and healing are beautifully expressed. I have tremendous respect for just how much strength it took for Miller to speak and share her story. If you are a woman, or if you care about a woman, this is a powerful book.

Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo surprised me with how much I liked it. My inner New Yorker appreciates her Jersey girl style and found myself nodding along with so very much that she shared. Including our tendency to reply using “fuck it” as a response. I’ve been on her email list for years and always enjoy her content, this book was no exception. At the time I read it, things were a bit crazy. I ended up reading it while waiting to board a plane: any book I’ll willingly read in an airport is stellar.

11/22/63 by Stephen King. This one really shocked me by how much I loved the story. I don’t think I’ve read any of his other novels and was very skeptical even as I began reading. It was a great story, one that pulled me in and I couldn’t wait to see how it ended. The characters had depth and very quickly became so real. Enjoyed it far more than expected and glad I took a chance on something different..thanks to whoever recommended it.

The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir by Samantha Power took me a while to get into, but a third of the way through loved reading her story and perspective. I don’t follow politics and had no idea who she was, I was most drawn to her personal perspective. Very much related to how she met and connected with fellow ambassadors – it’s what I do every single day; listen to people’s personal stories.

Lastly (for now) We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby absolutely floored me. I love her writing style, her sharp wit, and devoured this book. True: New Yorkers have Chicagoans beat with directness, and we’re not mad just focused. Those Michigan people are definitely different, and don’t get me started on those in the south. Brilliantly written and such honestly authentic expression. Definitely my favorite recent writer discovery.

I read ALL of the time and am always open to recommendations. What have you recently enjoyed?

Copyright©2020 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Recent Book Recommendations”

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

Recent Books: Outlander, Formation and The Silent Patient

Having an intimate relationship with insomnia, while also maintaining a casual acquaintance relationship with sleep lately has been helpful to my reading progress.

Finding myself wide awake in the middle of the night or early morning, I don’t turn on the tv. Instead I stay in bed reading. Sometimes I write, but lately I’ve been reading.

I read quite a lot and constantly have piles of books all over the house. In my bed, on both nightstands, on the dresser, couch and living room table. There are always books around me.

Several I finished within the past week or so have been particularly fascinating, so I’m sharing them here.

A friend has been suggesting that I might enjoy Outlander by Diana Gabaldon for months. Had she framed it as a love story, I’d have likely refused to read it at all. Turns out, I am totally hooked on this story after reading this first book. I liked it a lot more than I expected to; time travel, historical fiction, a part of the world that fascinates me. I’m intrigued to see where the story goes.

I’m a huge fan of memoirs including most recently Formation: A Woman’s Memoir of Stepping Out of Line by Ryan Leigh Dostie. It is without question, one of the most powerful memoirs I have ever read. She unflinchingly shares experiences of rape, combat, navigating the male dominated military culture, as well as PTSD. All in a beautifully written and hauntingly raw personal story. She describes her story as a sword she can choose to wield and share externally, with the potential for meaningful impact, rather than allowing it to simply cut internally. This book is powerfully relevant, timely, and meaningful.

Most recently read The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, a psychological suspense novel that hooked me almost immediately. A fast and highly intriguing read, one of the main characters describes attraction to psychology and psychotherapy as based in a desire to heal ourselves. Well….that’s true in my experience. Loved the pace, depth and layers this story combined. Involving murder, secrets, childhood wounds and surprising twists, it kept me engaged throughout.

While most of my book recommendations come from conversation with friends, Goodreads or my Instagram connections, always open to more suggestions.

Copyright©2019 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Recent Books: Outlander, Formation and The Silent Patient”

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 New List and New Insight: Story and Communication

I write a lot of lists. In fact, the first book I wrote started out as one of those lists. The irony is that I won’t write a grocery list, which is part of how I will often arrive home and realize I’ve forgotten to pick up coffee or some other essential item. Like food for the cats, who stubbornly insist that eating is a daily requirement.

While recently reading a massive book about depression, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, the theme of story and the healing power of sharing our stories came up. Then the concept of story showed up strongly in Chelsea Handler’s memoir, Life Will Be the Death of Me…..and you too. I’m well aware my reading preferences are a bit eclectic to say the least.

The recognition of this element of story led to a new list this morning; a list of words that are relentlessly following me around. Story and communication are two of the most prevalent words around me. They. Are. Everywhere. And of course, they are two words very deeply aligned and related to one another.

Recently I’ve been experiencing some extreme feelings of frustration around an aspect of my own story, wondering exactly how many effing times I have to tell it. The short version (you can read more about the longer version in the linked post): some guy I didn’t know assaulted me which led to a broken/fractured jaw and months of healing, not to mention some ridiculous medical bills.

 Way back in March, I sent some of those bills with an application for crime victim assistance funds it turns out were available. In recent weeks that process has been finally moving forward. But not without my involvement…..which includes me sharing this aspect of my story with lots of new strangers on the phone.

My resistance to doing this stems not from any discomfort with communicating this piece of my story, but the utterly exhausting experience of witnessing others reacting to it. Almost without exception, there’s an energetic drop that I can feel as people realize what I’m saying. The lady I spoke with this morning is praying for me. And that’s not an uncommon response.

It is not my idea of a joyful afternoon to talk with multiple medical providers obtaining copies of receipts, but that is how I spent one day last week. Because this queen of attention to detail neglected to save copies of payments made several months ago.

I suppose I can choose to shift my focus to appreciating that I have the ability to communicate this part of my story, and often do so very directly. Endless opportunities for personal growth and shifts in perspective seem to surround me as well.

So, with a new list of words that refuse to disappear, I have no idea what I’ll do with it. For now, it’s enough just to recognize how strongly certain words and themes continue to show up, both within my own life and the experiences of others.

I absolutely play with words, and find myself effortlessly supplying words for those around me. This happens without me consciously intending to do it, in all kinds of settings and in a wide variety of conversational topics.

Communication and story are currently the front runners on this latest list of awareness, and I rather like how well they pair with one another; beautifully.

Copyright©2019 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “A New List and New Insight: Story and Communication”

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

Love, Passion, Desire and Relationships

I do not believe in coincidence, but even for me, some recent events have been a bit hard to believe. Catching up with a friend, I explained all of the new things unfolding just in the past few months as feeling like I’m living from a place of passion and desire rather than obligation.

And that’s very much true, though the speed and intensity of that transition and shift has honestly felt overwhelming at times. Love, passion, desire and relationships are not topics I’ve really ever focused on before. At least not with any intentional focus, but they’re all certainly a theme right now. And somehow I’m just going with it.

A book called Journey of the Heart: The Path of Conscious Love showed up. I really don’t remember having requested it and it’s not one I’d typically be drawn to, but somehow it was waiting for me at the library. I found it to be a really fascinating perspective on intimate relationships.

Meditation is like running to me – something I routinely pick up and put down. But I’ve done many of the Oprah and Deepak 21 day meditation experiences over the years. The one I’m currently in? It’s called “miraculous relationships.” Because, of course this is what would show up now.

This morning’s meditation highlighted themes that have been running in the background for months, and the centering thought was “I use my energy to heal and transform.”  Damn.

It illuminated and spoke to things that have been arising in all areas of my life at a pace it’s sometimes just breathtaking to witness. The power of intentional focus, desire for meaningful engagement, the dynamic nature of our true selves not focused on “busy-ness” but on presence.

I have zero explanation for any of the events, experiences or insights that have shown up recently. Nor can I explain how or why certain relationships have exponentially deepened or faded. And there’s a part of me that doesn’t care that I can’t explain any of it.

Because truly living, deciding and navigating from a place of deep reverence for and alignment with love, passion, and desire just feels so expansive and creative. Having tasted it, I can’t go back to any other way of being.

I’ve heard love described as a way of being rather than as simply an emotion before, and that perspective also showed up again recently. In being asked to expand something I’d written years ago about love, I realized I have more to say about that topic and can take it to a much deeper level than ever before.

In conversation with a friend recently, we both laughed while talking about the journeys of self-awareness and personal growth as never-ending and not including a graduation or completion. That’s how all of this feels to me; yet another level. And while I’ve never been here before, somehow…I really am ok with that unfamiliarity.

In many ways this embracing of love, passion, and desire seems like what I’ve been working toward for all of these years I’ve been going within and confronting previous beliefs and fears. It feels like another level of freedom. One that’s a whole lot more fun than ever before, certainly one that’s more passionate and joyful.

Copyright©2019 by Diane McDermott, All Rights Reserved, “Love, Passion, Desire and Relationships”

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