Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood - Bearing Witness - Writing and Reading
Saturday, 10 September 2011 18:52

Each summer I've looked forward to attending the New Mexico Conference on Aging. This past August I had the honor to present a workshop. I wanted to combine a reading from my memoir with writing practice, a technique I've been working with for twenty-three years given that name, writing practice by Natalie Goldberg in her book, Writing Down The Bones. The title of the workshop was Making Meaning Out Of Loss and Discrimination Through Memoir Writing. The conference audience is elders from senior centers, pueblos, laypeople, therapists, medical professionals and caregivers, social workers/therapists.

It was a wonderful experience. I presented my memoir, had a great discussion with the elders from Santo Domingo Pueblo, as well as three young adults from Dulce, New Mexico from the reservation. We talked about definitions: Memoir, Loss, and Discrimination. We defined terms. We spoke about secrets and lies. We had an insightful and memorable experience. I read about my personal experiences, about how writing saved/saves my life. About the importance of bearing witness for ourselves and for each other's experiences. Yes they did happen. Yes they are out in the light and can begin to heal.

We all did some process through writing practice, made discoveries about ourselves in relation to others. None of it is age limited. One can begin any time.

Though writing and bearing witness, healing begins. What was underground comes forward into light. That truth is power for each of us to reclaim ourselves. What is missing can be found. What was forgotten becomes present and informs our lives freeing up energy. This way the incision of the pain can be mended.

One elder told me, "I love to write but I'm afraid I will die and someone will find it." Here's the answer I gave her. Tell a close friend, a good and trusted friend where you keep your journal. If you should die, instruct her or him to retrieve it and do with it as you wish. Safe in their keeping as your truths and secrets are sacred and safe with you.

A friend of mine, a brilliant woman, was always afraid to write her life. She called me to tell me her mother had died and that she went out and bought a word processor. She would begin her novel. All these years she had been bound up, inside, fearful of putting her truth on paper. That next week she began and it was beautiful, painful, soulful truth!

And so it is with this magic called writing. Yes it has saved my life and for that and much more, I am thankful and eternally grateful.

Thank you for being part of this process and reading Not Just A Jewish Book Blog