All posts for the month November, 2015

Quote re Writing

Published November 28, 2015 by Nan Mykel

To write is to awaken counter-voices within oneself, and to dare enter into dialogue with them. As consciousness trapped in bodies,  communicating with the imperfect tool of language, we often use stories to convey information to reach toward some sort of truth–and yet because we have no objective access to other consciousnesses, what we are left communicating are stories about ourselves. We are all one self full of countervoices telling stories and seeking truths. (From “Embracing Disgrace: Writing from the Dark Side,”  Paul Williams  New Writing: International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing, 2014 Vol. 11, 2, 250, quoting   Atwell, 1992, quoting J.M. Coetzee.)



Published November 28, 2015 by Nan Mykel

“A pen in one hand is better than two in the bush.”


1. Maintain all your journaling In ONE PLACE
2.Make that journal SPECIAL by decorating or otherwise EMBELLISHING IT.

Because I didn’t, and have lived to sorely regret it. I’m still finding dreams on the back of empty envelopes, with or without dates.
I value dreams, myself, and keep a journal and pencil next to my bed. I have found advice of the experts helpful: Always give the dream a title and write it in the present tense.
Let me get one more recommendation out and then I’ll stop. If you come across a quote you love and include it in your journal, jot down the author and page, at a minimum. You’ll never know when you want to refer to it again. I was grateful I had done so when I included much of my journal in my book.

The Lonely Hour

Published November 27, 2015 by Nan Mykel

Pita hated taking naps. She was always sent up to sleep on the cot in the attic so the household noises wouldn’t keep her awake. It was warm up here beneath the rafters of the old house, and everything seemed so far away. She could still hear the neighbor’s dogs barking and the click of silverware as Mother did the dishes, however. Not that she minded staying awake, mind you.

She hated taking naps because she felt left out of whatever was going on downstairs, because that’s what children have to do and she was seven, and because nap time was a lonely time. Pita took a deep breath and lost herself in the dust particles floating in sunlight from the dormer window.  Her eyelids grew heavy as she watched a lazyu spider in the corner slowly spinning its web ever so slowly, as though in a dance. Her eyelids grew heavy and she closed her eyes.

Suddenly, from behind the cot she heard a giggle. A giggle? Pita raised up on her elbow and looked behind her. She saw a girl about her own age sitting cross-legged on the floor, playing jacks. Seeing Pita raise up, the girl laughed, swinging her long braids from side to side as she did so. “Daddy bear said ‘Somebody’s been sleeping in my bed and she’s still here.’!”

Pita sat up, shocked into silence. She must be dreaming. If so, it was the clearest dream she had ever had. “This is your bed?”

The girl continued bouncing the ball but picking up no jacks, and nodded. “It was.”

The sound of dishes rattling in the sink downstairs cut a swath of reality–or unreality–through Pita’s mind. She felt a twinge of nausea. “What’s your name?”

“My name is Lydia Perkins and I’m one of your great great grandmothers.”

Pita scrunched up her face and blinked hard. “Huh? You don’t look old enough to be one of my grandmothers.”

Lydia responded with a tinkle of laughter. “Oh, I’m not now. Just on the calendar. Right now I’m your age, seven.”

Pita was at a loss for words. Finally she stammered, “Are you a ghost?”

Lydia laughed again. “Yes and no. Yes  I’m  a ghost because I’m here and I’ve died, but no, I’m not a ghost because I just slid sideways through a pocket in time. I got curious and wanted to see who was living on the farm now.”

Pita blinked again, thoughts and questions pinging around inside her head. Finally she managed a “Huunh,” whereupon Lydia broke into peals of laughter again.

“I’ve never done this before, but others have told me how much fun it is.”

Pita studied the girl;. She had a heart-shaped face, brown hair, dark brown eyes and was wearing white cotton stockings and a pale pink pinafore tied with a sash in back. A look of scepticism crept over Pita’s face. “Who were–are–your children?”

Lydia drew in a deep breath and exhaled. “Well, I don’t know it yet at seven, but I’ve been told I had three boys and a girl. Willie died of brain fever as a baby, and Johnny was three when he died of scarlet fever. My daughter Phoebe caught whooping cough when she was five, and we buried her in the family burying ground. They–we–are all in the family cemetery beyond the third pasture. My third son lived to carry the family line all the way down to you.”

Pita placed her hand on her chest and softly said, “me.”

Lydia shrugged. “I don’t really directly remember anything but being seven years old and sleeping on that cot.” She looked around. “Not much has changed up here, after all these years.”

She stepped across the attic floor and rubbed some dust off an old rusted high-backd trunk. “Did you ever look in this trunk?” Pita slowly shook her head and blinked once more. She knew Mother was downstairs in the kitchen, oblivious of Pita’s visitor.

“What’s in it?”

In answer Lydia raised the top of the trunk and sighed with satisfaction as she reached out and ran her finger around the cover of an old scrapbook. Pita glanced toward the attic stairs. Shouldn’t she get Mother? Lydia seemed to read her mind. “It’s got to be our secret,” she cautioned. “That’s the rules, the only way you can have visitors your own age through the time pocket. You can’t tell. Anyone. Ever.

Lydia and Pita sat side by side on the cot, their reflections captured in the old mirror propped against the wall.

To be continued?



For This, I’m Thankful

Published November 27, 2015 by Nan Mykel

Sarah’s list is much more body/senses oriented than my list:

I am thankful for…creativity…..

curiosity and the ability to reason……

sensitivity to beauty, art, music, dance, poetry, ritual,

appreciation of nature……family……


the ability to read and write…..





the observation that our fear of death lessens as we age……

the fact that we faint when physical pain exceeds our bearable limits,  etc.

Breaking Sarah - Bruised, Not Broken

With Thanksgiving almost upon us, I wanted to be aware of and thankful for the little things in life:

  • my husband, of course, my sons, my best friend and my little doggie
  • waking up on the weekend and just laying in bed for a while with my honey
  • the first smell of rain hitting the ground
  • my morning cup of coffee
  • that first taste of something delicious and sinful
  • sipping that perfect glass of wine
  • fresh air and the warm feeling of the sun on my back
  • nature – trees, flowers, creeks and rivers, oceans, amazing landscapes
  • a crisp sunrise or a warm sunset
  • when I actually see the look of love in someones’ eyes
  • a gentle but strong hug
  • watching animals frolick around
  • getting into a nice warm bed on a cold night
  • decorating for the holidays and enjoying holiday music

I am sure there are more but these came to mind…

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Journaling for Survivors

Published November 27, 2015 by Nan Mykel

John Briere (1989) has recognized the healing value of journaling, referring to it as “being her own therapist,” encouraging creativity, and strengthening self-control by analyzing her internal processes.”

He was speaking about the recovery of those who were sexually abused as children. Barbara Hamilton (1997), a survivor herself, writes that “I marvel at the healing process I found in writing my way through despair; how I have been turned around and put back on track by insights from within.”

Also speaking from the survivor’s standpoint, Bass and Davis (1994) write that “there is no such thing as absolute healing. You never erase your history. The abuse happened. It affected you in profound ways. That will never change. But you can reach a place of resolution.”

When I wrote Fallout: A Survivor Talks to Incest Offenders,  I was able to include many entries and drawings from my journal over the years, in an attempt to show incest offenders that incest is indeed harmful.


Published November 25, 2015 by Nan Mykel

imagesThen I spy Elvis himself–fat, paunchy and wearing sunglasses. The only trace of fame that adheres to him is the white-spangled costume which was his trademark. I wish he was singing a hymn from one of his albums, but then I realize that there is not much interaction between those who wait.  He is not in an aisle seat , but I lean over and address . “Mr. Presley?” He looks up nervously, as though he expects an autograph hound, then nods.

“You’re headed for a different life and different lessons. Before you’re all gone would you be kind enough to give us the gift of your ‘Amazing Grace’?”

Elvis blinks, obviously surprised, and then looks all around him as though to assess his potential audience. Apparently satisfied, he stands and faces the main portion of the crowd. His voice is richly beautiful as he sings all seven verses of  “Amazing Grace,” as only he can. He sits down when finished and instead of wild applause there a total, respectful and moved silence, punctuated by quiet sobs.

c.Nan Mykel  2015

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