Thursday, June 26, 2014

Changing my shoes

          It's a great time to buy winter footwear at a deep discount and recently I've found a couple pairs of stellar boots around town.  But in a few months, when garden season sets in, I'll be in flip flops.  Here's a repeat of a blog I wrote in 2014 for my friend, Zee, who always reminds me of the power in changing my shoes.


"Changing my shoes"
Originally published on  June 26, 2014

My grandmother used to have a tiny plaque hanging on the kitchen wall that said, Never criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins.  When I was young, I thought the quote meant that before I passed judgment on someone else, I needed to see things from their perspective.  In time I would grow to interpret it another way.
Walking a mile takes me about ten to fifteen minutes, depending on the weather, my energy level, and motivation.  Even if I wore someone else's shoes that were too small, too big, the heels too high, or the soles worn through, I'd be quickly rid of the experience.  No matter what, I can make quick work of 5,280 feet.  But can we ever really re-live a person's past -- the collective experiences that make a person who he or she is today?  And would we be able to move through them in same way as they have?
Each one of us approaches life from our own perceptions.  We often see events unfold as we are -- not necessarily as they truly are.   We may not have all the information before we jump to conclusions.  Or we may wait too long before acting and a door inevitably closes.  We may make the same choices over and over again without regard to the consequences.  Or perhaps we're too careful and over-think every darn thing until we're paralyzed. 
So who's to say that if I try to see someone's life as if I were walking in their shoes that I wouldn't color it with my own interpretation of how they might feel or think or what they embody through their circumstances? 

I can understand what it's like to be single.  To be a yoga instructor.  To be a writer.  If anyone's had similar circumstances, I can certainly imagine what it's like to walk in their shoes.  But I've lived long enough to know that even if I listen with an open heart and strive to empathize with someone, I can't truly know what it's like to be in their skin or to have lived the entirety of their lives and understand how the thread of each experience has woven the tapestry of who they are today.  
We're all going through something...so for me, it's best to practice kindness.
As I delve into publicizing my work this summer, television interviews are in the wings as are infinite possibilities for sharing my novels and memoir with the world.  While I'm more than happy to walk down this road of momentum, I'm also aware that not everyone will resonate with my style...and that's okay with me.  They may read my memoir and make snap judgments about the choices I've made, the stories I've chosen to reveal.  They may be surprised by some of the things I've experienced -- or not experienced -- as I've walked many miles in shoes unfamiliar...even to myself.  
People will judge me no matter what I wear.  What I say.  How I speak.  And that's alright.  After all, I'm working on letting go of my judgments, too.  It takes time.  In starting with myself, in letting go of the criticism I heaped on my head like hot coals for years and years, I've come to understand that we all are a product of where we came from, where we are now, and the choices we're making that will create our future.

A couple of years ago I dreamed that I had just gotten married to Mick Jagger and we were on the way to the reception.  (Get the lyrical drift?)  I was wearing a white gown, but as I looked down,  I saw that I was also wearing a pair of tattered shoes I had donned when I made a dicey decision that haunted me for years afterward.
"I didn't mean to wear these,"  I cried.  "I'm so sorry I dragged that crap into our marriage."
"Don't worry about it, Kate," Mick smiled.  "Just change your shoes."
So I tossed off the faded floral flip flops and slipped into a pair of snazzy red sandals.  Then we headed off to a new life.  Once again I was reminded that I can't always get what I want...but I always get what I need.  Since that time, I've learned that it's never too late to change my shoes, particularly if the old ones are worn and faded.
And these days, I prefer to go barefoot.  



Thursday, June 5, 2014

Jigsaw puzzle -- A READER'S GUIDE TO MY NOVEL SERIES

     It's only been two days since the last two books in my literary fiction series were published and I'm delighted to hear readers ask, "In what order should I read them?"
     When I finished the first three books, I thought, "Well, this is a trilogy.  It should be read from SURFACING to SEVEN GENERATIONS to A TAPESTRY OF TRUTH."  And then when I found an agent who was interested in the third book, I changed my tune.  Wouldn't it be interesting for the reader to go back to the previous books with knowledge that the narrator does not have?  That's always fun.  Then along came the inspiration for COMMON THREADS, and I realized this series may be an ever-expanding one, depending on which character wants their story told.
     In seeing the bigger picture, I realize they come together like a jigsaw puzzle, each story informing the others.  Each one with its own unique shape and color.  Each one a necessary part of the whole.  

     So I encourage you to think of it this way:  the four novels are the corner pieces (when working on a puzzle, I always look for those first).  You've already seen all of the covers, so there you go.  The plot summaries are like the edge pieces (I search for those second to get the framework in place). And finally the story you choose will fill in the missing pieces...kind of like sorting out the colors and choosing the one that looks the most appealing in the moment.  
     You may be challenged a bit along the way, as I often am when working on a real puzzle.  Once when I was really frustrated, I decided to turn the jigsaw upside down and see if I could look at it from a different perspective.  Sure enough I was able to see the shapes come together without my expectation of how quickly I should finish.  Similarly, some of the storylines in the novels might be trigger points for you (I've got another blog in the works that may remedy that).  Some might remind you of your own life or someone you know.  But I encourage you to stay with it if the story appeals to you in some way.  If not...move on to another one.
     
     Here's a brief suggestion list for each book.  Choose the one that best suits what you want and/or need in the moment.  Let it sink in...and enjoy the journey!

You might want to start with SURFACING if:
*You have a brother
*You're a single woman trying to figure out who and where you're supposed to be as an adult
*You have a love/hate relationship with your past

You might want to start with SEVEN GENERATIONS if:
*You have unfinished business with one or both parents
*You have a younger sibling who both delights and challenges you
*You like coming-of-age stories
*You can see common characteristics in your grandmother, your mother, and yourself

You might want to start with A TAPESTRY OF TRUTH if:
*You like dark, twisty plot lines
*You're a fan of Mad Men and love/hate Betty Draper
*You love a story that covers a wide span of time with an American cultural background
*You're a fan of the anti-hero

You might want to start with COMMON THREADS if:
*You like your female narrators smart, smart-mouthed, and determined
*You wish you could start your life all over again
*You've read A TAPESTRY OF TRUTH and think, "I'd like to know more about that minor character, Brynn."
*You like a book that's mostly dialogue and is told through the evolution of relationships

     As always, thank you for your emails, comments, reviews, and your help in spreading the news about my work.  I've often said it takes a village to grow a writer.  Now it's time to enjoy the harvest!