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Writing Memoir – First Fact

June 28, 2018

This series is the result of working through the exercises of Patti Miller’s book, Writing True Stories, published 2017 by Allen & Unwin

Exercise 2 – First Fact

What is the first thing you want known about yourself? Your date of birth? A character trait? Your appearance? Your ancestry? A strongly held belief? Your moment of glory?

The first thing I would like known about me is how resilient I am. And how proud I am of that resilience. I was not aware of my resilience, until I was in my fifties. Up until then, I hadn’t really needed resilience to cope with life. Life was very good in my first century.

Fresh Start

I married young at age 19, and was married for 33 years. In that time, any decisions I made were joint decisions, even though I was very independent. When my marriage broke down and I found myself almost homeless and single, my resilience was really tested .

At the time, I just did what had to be done, without thinking about it too much, eventually settling in a new city, where I didn’t know anyone. In those early days of being single, I wasn’t sure if I could live alone, as I had never done so.

When I think back on the huge adjustment I had to make, with no support from anyone, I feel very proud of my resilience and the way I adapted to my new life. It definitely wasn’t easy at the time, and there were many breakdowns and worries along the way.

Pilgrimage Walk

I decided to walk 1000k in Spain on The Camino de Santiago, to celebrate my 60th birthday. This epic walk definitely required resilience, even though I didn’t realise it when first making that decision,

The huge amount of training needed when I was working long hours in my cafe, was very difficult, and required a commitment that meant I did much of the walking in the early hours after midnight before starting work at 4am.

The actual walking across Spain is a story in itself, and required another level of resilience altogether.

Coping with Grief

The death of my son in 1995, at age 18, and the subsequent years of coping with grief, requires a resilience that words can’t explain. Due to my resilience, I am able to cope with that grief without it being too debilitating. But I do have my moments when the grief is much too hard to bear. At those times, I tend to go into my shell and ride it out. My resilience allows me to ‘be with’ the way I’m feeling and accept that it is just how it is in that moment.

These are just two examples of where I’ve needed resilience to cope with the challenges life has thrown at me. There are many more situations that I could write about, but perhaps I will save them for a future exercise.

It’s only with hindsight and working through this exercise that my eyes have been opened to my resilience. I feel very proud of that resilience, especially as it was developed in my later years. Without resilience, I’m not sure where I’d be today,

From → Family stories

  1. I’m loving this Jen and getting to know you more. I already knew of your resilience but this writing exercise is very cathartic. Have a beautiful day and it is wonderful to read that you recognise how strong a woman you are 🙂

  2. Another great post Jen, your resilience is clear to others!

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