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LifeStory Episode 17



"Thanks for so many nice comments. What great publicity for my books."

Elizabeth C.


"Wow, Thanks Marcia, Inspires me."

Gary S.







Blog Host, Marcia Rosen

Author of “My Gangster Father and Me” will be published in 2024. Also, author of 11 books, including My Memoir Workbook, has presented numerous Memoir Writing Programs and Encouraging the Writer Within You Presentations for over 16 years.


A Memoir Detective

A good detective needs to be tenacious, patient, look at the truths of a situation, and ask questions that get to the heart of the matter. Exactly what is needed to write a good memoir. How do you search for clues about your history and their impact on your life? Be your own memoir detective.


My Newest Book, "Murder at the Zoo" is now available



Excerpt: Finding Your Truth by Writing Your Memoir

By

            Jonathan Feinn, Author, “Secrets of Growing Up Gay in the 1950s


Writing my memoir in my eighties has given me the opportunity to view my life from a broader perspective. For so many years, I felt a ’victim’ captured by my fantasies and holding on to a narrow definition of what constitutes a successful life. Given all the energy I devoted to the struggle in accepting I was homosexual, the writing has provided me with a more balanced view of my life which in addition to accepting my disappointments has allowed me to see the many blessings that have come to me. I didn’t achieve my fantasy of marriage and children, I’m appreciative for my career choices and the many students from primary through graduate school whose lives have touched and enriched my life.

 

The ‘truth’ I found in writing my memoir was acceptance that my life has not been a failure. I’m grateful to have been able to shift my perspective and accept myself as I am; a man with both certain strengths and weaknesses which is of course, the truth for all of us. Giving up my harsh self-judgment has freed me and allowed me to see the numerous possibilities and blessings that were open to me throughout my life.  To accept oneself recognizing both one’s successes, failings and limitations is a profound gift.

 

Until I was in my late forties, I felt I had failed in life due to my inability to achieve what I believed was a requirement for a successful life- a meaningful career, marriage to a woman and raising a family. I placed all my energy in fulfilling my career goals but inwardly often felt bereft and exhausted. It was not until my early forties that I was fortunate to meet a Jungian analyst and began a psychological ‘journey’ leading to a greater understanding of the factors that led to my struggles and fantasy life. An unexpected heart attack followed by by-pass surgery and a long recovery proved to be a ‘wake-up’ call. As I was recovering, I decided to resign my position as director of an off-campus high school program and return to Thailand for a year to ponder my future. I had previously visited the country where I felt quite ‘at home’ despite my inability to speak the language. 

 

Quite unexpectedly, on an evening walk on a beautiful evening in December, I met a younger man in Bangkok who happened to be Sri Lankan and not Thai. As we walked, we felt a rather immediate connection with one another that was both physical and emotional. Our caring for one another has endured for thirty-five years. We married in 2014 and my love for Ravi deepens as we age. He has fulfilled my need to be recognized and loved.!


Irving Berlin: "A Letter" by Elizabeth Cooke

Author of 21 Books


It is not a letter from Irving Berlin that I hold in my hand. It is the gilded menu - La Carte - of Maxim’s, the famous Paris restaurant, dated the summer of 1950.


The American musical “Annie Get Your Gun” had just arrived and opened in the City of Light, accompanied, of course, by its brilliant composer, Irving Berlin. Mary Ellin had given my phone number and address on the rue Monsieur to Mr. Berlin and he had called and invited me to dinner.


WELL! I had only recently arrived to test life in Paris after my divorce. For this special night with Mr. Berlin, I dressed in my new black silk suit (tight), from the house of Balmain. It had a flat, narrow velvet orange/amber collar...oh and I sported gold earrings.


An elegant car and driver picked me up just before 8:00 pm. Mr. Berlin was beside me in the back seat. He was at his most eloquent, excited with Paris. The car arrived at Maxim’s on the rue Royale, leading down to La Place de la Concorde.


They played Berlin songs the entire evening. I was presented with this menu that I now hold in my hand. As our dinner proceeded, Mr. Berlin, usually quite close- mouthed, began talking more openly. Suddenly he said, “Buffy, you and Mary Ellin are friends for life!” I laughed, taken by surprise. “I know. We are,” was my reply.


As our desserts arrived, he began to speak of music. “You know, I always found that with lyrics...the more you can use single syllable words the better...the more impact. For instance...”What’ll I do when you are far away...well of course ‘away’ had two syllables... but over all, the song is based on the single. Or ‘God Bless America – of course three – but then ‘land that I love...’ Oh, you get what I mean.”


“I think I do,” I said.


His words brought back the memory of the Berlin’s small retreat in the country, North of New York in the Catskills. It had a tiny pool next to the small, one room house, adjacent to the main villa. This tiny oasis was Mr. Berlin’s studio. It was there that Mary Ellin and I stayed on an occasional weekend.


My biggest discovery was that the piano in the studio had a regular keyboard with a special adjustment panel that could shift the whole keyboard to whatever key he wanted to play. It was there at this studio where he wrote so much.


As we left the banquette that August night in 1950 and walked through the dining room, there were murmurs and side looks, almost claps of hands. “My,” I half-whispered to him, “They surely know you...it must be everywhere you go...” “Ah, no my dear,” he half-whispered back. “Tonight they are wondering who YOU are!”


So now, try to put that menu in your digital world, that cold, not so delicious atmosphere. La Carte exists now as it did so long ago in that elegant ambiance, and is now still here, so close to me, embellishing my hand...and my life.

www.ElizabethCookebooks.com, Author of “A Letter”

                                                                  -----------------           

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 

Maya Angelou



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