Journey to the Center of My Heart: Trusting My Inner Voice

The year after my mother died, my father packed up all of my belongings in trash bags and sent me to live with my maternal grandmother. I was seventeen. One day after I’d gotten settled, I confided a feeling I’d had.

“I’m going to write a book,” I said with a smile.

“Oh yeah?” She asked. “About what?”

“About my mother’s death.”

“You think you’re the only whose mother’s died?” She replied.

feedback_opinionI want to share this with you, not to bash my grandmother. Twenty-seven years later, I know that people’s conversations and comments have little to do with me. I’m sharing this with you because I never wrote about my mother. Her response led me to believe that not only was my topic one in a million, but that no one else would want to read it.

So I didn’t write it. In fact, I didn’t write much of anything for the next 25 years.

I became a high-school English teacher, got two more degrees, and became an education professor.

The urge to write crept back around 2014. I asked my little sister friend to create this very WordPress site for me. She did. I took it from there and learned the ins and outs of blogging. I continued to follow my intuition. Blogging gave me more writing confidence. Blogging 101 and 201 gave me more tools and knowledge. Following people like Janice Wald gave me more tips.

2015 rolled around. My dad died. I felt a flurry of emotions and another urge of intuition: Write about it. This time I didn’t tell anyone, not one soul. I sat in my stepmother’s guest bedroom and wrote the entire story of our failed relationship from 1989 to his death in 2015. I included all of the murky, emotional details that people rarely want to discuss or feel. By the last keystroke, I felt satisfied. But it was too long for a blog post (that’s something Janice Wald taught me).

I broke it up into five separate posts and called it a series; that’s something I learned in Blogging 101 or 201. The response was positive and endearing. Once again, this validated a choice I’d made to follow my heart.

A few months later, I had another stroke of intuition: Find a local writers group. I sought out the Florida Writers Association and considered entering their annual writing contest. Mek, a blogging friend I’d written with had been taking writing courses. She read The Transition and offered genuine suggestions.

I entered the contest and won first place for Creative Nonfiction of an unpublished piece. Did I need to win to prove I should follow my heart? Not really. I’d already felt good by simply writing it. But there’s no doubt my choice to write was again validated.

Now I had an “award-winning” piece of literature. It came in handy when the Still I Rise Grant required three writing samples. And although I didn’t win, as some of you remember, Alternating Current/The Coil published that piece during Father’s Day weekend.

Furthermore, Alternating Current then nominated The Transition for Best of the Net.

meditating_1This is just one example of why I’m adamant about listening to your inner voice and tuning others’ out. This is why I almost beg people to follow their hearts. Those feelings, voices, visions, or whatever come to you, they’re not accidental. They are specific nuances sent to guide you towards what you and only you should be doing.

Furthermore, I finally realize my grandmother was right. I’m not the only person whose mother (and father) have died. However, I’ve also recognized my ability to string words together that convey relatable feelings for people who’ve been through similar experiences. Today, I’m glad sharing about my life through writing has not only helped others, but also shaped a clear path for me as I continue to follow my heart.

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79 thoughts on “Journey to the Center of My Heart: Trusting My Inner Voice

  1. You have a gift, and your inner self knows it. The fact that losing a parent is such a common experience (although perhaps not at 17) makes your story more valuable, not less. You can write the book that will release the tears, reveal the hidden pain, heal the heart of another whose skill set is different. You so successfully wrote about marriage, you can explore the topic of death in your own way as well. I’m so glad I’ve gotten to know you and we’ve taken this journey of blogging together. I can’t wait to read your next book — not to mention your next post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so very much Belinda! That’s what I’ve learned over the past few years. It’s always been there, but I got distracted somewhere along the way. And thank you for those compliments! I was so nervous (believe it or not) once TUW was done, but I’ve come to be more confident about what I write and worry less about the outcome.

      I’m also grateful that you’ve stuck around so long reading my posts! I appreciate it for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I get being nervous when your book was done!! I’d be terrified!! So glad you’re one of my blogging buddies. I appreciate all of your honesty and the ability to disagree in an honest, caring manner.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. An inspiring post, Kathy and thank you for sharing your journey to becoming a writer. The road is rarely straight forward and I think the experiences along the way only help to make us better, more mature and informed. I’m sure your grandmother couldn’t understand or imagine the book you would write – and was dealing with her own grief and sudden change of life and responsibilities. Yes, we should all follow our heart and take steps to making that a reality! 😀😀 Congratulations on your writing successes!! ❤️🍾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree on all accounts, and quite honestly, I couldn’t have written the book about the wives until I was a wife for a while. I’m definitely empathetic towards her loss as well, and that experience has taught me to be mindful about the ways in which I communicate with others.

      Thank you!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My heart just cracked open when I read your Grandmother’s response..but you know what? I can’t really blame her, she was a product of her generation. I guess death occurred so often in that realm that it was almost passé.
    I shudder to think….
    Anyway, aren’t we all blessed that you started this spot and kept it going! I love reading your stuff, you always keep us thinking.
    You inspire, you challenge…..Thank you for being you!
    Thanks for sharing your journey 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gwin, you’re absolutely right. She was born in 1921 and she and others of that generation are a bit harsh. Up to that time, she had seen quite a bit. She’d lost two sisters and a host of others, so I’m sure with that, comes some defense mechanisms. You can’t be breaking down every time somebody dies. Nonetheless, I know you understand that it did still hurt :-/

      THANK you so very much for saying that! I do appreciate it! I never would’ve “met” you if I hadn’t 😉 Thanks for riding along on the journey!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a beautiful post! I wish everyone who was toying with the idea of writing their story (or anything else, for that matter) could read it. I think the most important thing we need to learn is how to listen to and trust our own inner voice, and yet it is so hard for so many. I’m just beginning to listen to mine, and like you, have found that blogging helps immensely.
    I’m sorry you never got the chance to write about your mother’s death, but I’m so glad that you did write about your father’s. And just look where listening to your inner voice led! Thanks again….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! It’s never too late to receive encouragement 😉

      In my experience, if you connect with people here on WordPress, then you’re bound to find writers you trust with your writing. That’s how Mek and I met. She lives in Australia and I’m in the States, but if I need someone to look over my writing, I’d go to her in a heartbeat. Finding a mentor? I’m not so sure. Sometimes, you can use professionally known writers’ works as a sort of mentorship. For example, I admire the way Langston Hughes and Richard Wright craft creative nonfiction, but I’ve never met them, of course lol I still use their works as professional models and kind of study how they put words together.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d asked Leslie sometime ago, and she was open and willing to look over my work, so I’m grateful for her. I haven’t given her anything yet, though, because I’m still on the first draft.

        I thought I’d also need a mentor to do all the things that mentors usually do, but not in an official sense. What you said about Hughes and Wright is a great idea. I’ll try it.

        Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m so sorry you lost your mother so young, Kathy – that is life changing. Your grandmother’s comment is typical of grief avoidance. It might have been her way of implying it was best not to delve into your grief. That’s a common belief, unfortunately. Certainly, writing about something many people experience can be an excellent idea because you have a large audience relating to you.
    Your post was very inspiring for me. I was very blessed to become a professional artist. It was interesting because my mother encouraged it and told me, “It’s a great thing to paint at home while you raise your children.” It turned out she was right, but I did have have to get a nanny.
    I told myself that I had no time or interest anymore to create music, which I loved also as a young girl. My inner voice really could have told me that music came from my heart and I was actually not that happy at the time I stopped playing music. But 30 years later, I found my heart again with music and have never been happier.
    So often we are shaped by the beliefs of others and it’s a beautiful thing when we listen to our heart!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for you kindness and empathy Judy. This experience was definitely pivotal in many ways. I know I wouldn’t be who I am today without it.

      In terms of that concept, “grief avoidance,” that sounds pretty accurate. There are more things that she said and did around that time that I haven’t publicly revealed, but they sound like they’d fit in this category. It’s really how I learned to cope with the rest of life, until I woke up and learned to deal with my emotions in a healthy way. So, I’m extremely grateful you mentioned it here. It makes me feel less insane about the events.

      Also, thank you for sharing your own story. I know there’s some grief in there because I’ve read some of your blog posts. It’s funny how people can have very different experiences, but end up in the same position, so to speak, and with similar beliefs 🙂 I definitely agree that life is more beautiful when we learn to listen to our heart ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you. Seriously. If I ever needed encouragement to keep going, even when no one reads my posts :), that was it. I’m not writing for them – I’m writing for me, but ONE DAY something might happen so that I can help people with what I say!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve often wondered why family seems to be the ones to immediately shut down our dreams and aspirations. With me, it must be something about not wanting me to be disappointed when I fail, because they know I will. I know they mean well in a weird sort of way.

    I agree, we must listen to our hearts, that little voice inside that guides us. As someone told me if we fail to write on any subject that moves our hearts, no matter how many times it’s been written about, we’re depriving the world of our voice and that will affect the very fabric of the universe.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think there are a multitude of reasons based on background. Culturally, sometimes we want our offspring to do something “lucrative” or “safe,” so as to “make it.” I think that so-called minorities aren’t always or haven’t always been afforded the opportunity to explore and have fun with life/life’s journey. Another reason not based on cultural background is just FEAR. I think a lot of parents are afraid their children will make a misstep, and then as parents they’ll have to pick up the pieces. Better to be safe than sorry, you know? Either way, I agree that it seems more rooted in family because they are the ones (a lot of times) who are closest to the success/failure.

      Well said about “affecting the fabric of the universe…” well said.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I love granny but it’s exactly because others have lost their mothers or one day will that a story of your/your mother’s experience is important. If you deconstruct most stories, there really isn’t an original chatacter arc as the best stories mirror real human experiences in the characters. Good on you for continuing to follow your intuition. I am so happy to have been a part of that journey, and happy to that you’ve been a part of mine xx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. God, Kathy, I am touched. Thank you for sharing your story. My spiritual mentor John-Roger has written how we can always trust our inner guidance. You just reminded me of that, in such a beautiful way. Thank you. I so send you love, Light and great abundance with your writing and all those whom you serve. Blessings. Debbie I love you

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Good for you for telling your story about your father. Your story is bound to be different from anyone else’s, even if they have experienced a similar event. But your story will be similar enough to theirs to resonate when they read it. Anyone who says your story isn’t original enough or “who cares?” should take note of all the memoirs flying off bookstore shelves. We WANT to hear those stories. We NEED to hear them. Keep writing, KE. And keep encouraging others. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Joan! That’s what I had to learn firsthand (I guess). It doesn’t matter if someone has gone through the situation or not. Some people can relate BECAUSE they’ve gone through it, and others can relate BECAUSE of the underlying/overarching messages. So true about memoirs…people LOVE to read about other people’s lives, so to that one lol Thanks for the encouragement 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for this important message and inspiration. I have certainly heard my version of “You are not the only one” …that too from a person I deem significant. I am unsure how much it is shaping my choices yet I know I am affected by it. I am keeping the intention of clearly being receptive to my intuition and see where it leads.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I think what you’ve said is the idea, right? “Keep the intention” and “be receptive to your own intuition,” for some reason, that’s what I think we’ve all been tasked with.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I think we all don’t listen to our gut intuition sometimes. It really is trying to steer you in the right direction most if the time I believe. Also shows how powerful opinions of the people close to us can be. Always need to try and remember the power your words can have on people especially youth. I’ll never forget my mom telling me don’t be a comic book writer/creator there’s no money in it when I was a kid. just lie you I never got back into writing/creating till I was an adult and can’t be happier. Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Always amazes me how much this particular topic resonates with so many. I’m glad you also learned to tune certain advice out and go with your gut. I suppose the next step is trying not to dissuade others if they decide to share their dreams with us 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you Kathy for sharing this fascinating story about your convictions and your success in writing.
    Always listening to your heart and having the courage to follow that voice.
    It isn’t always so easy to follow that road but it is the only one that will give fulfilment.
    Miriam

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Hey Kathy – I know that this post is about listening to and honoring one’s intuition, but the thing that resonates with me is the need and desire to write about our feelings about our losses. No, writing isn’t the only way to process life’s thickets, but for many of us, it is.

    I’m glad that you “turned that corner” and followed your heart to write about the complexities of your relationship with your dad, that you found community in sharing your story, and garnered professional validation as a writer as well. Congratulations, and may you continue to grow and to flourish in this way😊!
    The part that gets me the most, though, is what you did FOR YOURSELF, first and foremost. Even if your story is “one in a million,” how you feel, what your history is, how you were treated, and the person you’ve become – with your needs, desires, gifts, and contradictions – all of that is unique to you as an individual.
    ….I seem to be getting carried away, here….maybe I need to write my own post about this….😬

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Writers give THE most thoughtful comments 😉 with that said, I understand everything you’ve said here, because yes it’s about following one’s intuition, but it’s also about what you’ve said…writing just because it makes you feel better. And if you/we happen to get published or share publicly, great. If not, then great lol just do it…for yourself.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Now, why doesn’t this surprise me? So happy for you, you found your inner voice and the guts to listen to it. And yes, please keep on writing your marvelous pieces, written from the heart. Wishing you a lovely weekend, big hugs and XxX

    Liked by 1 person

  16. YES indeed indeed! I’m continuously inspired by you and your blog. I know here, there will be nothing but authenticity and that is rare (but oh SO necessary) in this society. Thanks for your contributions. I’m so glad you followed your heart.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Yes! Your Blog post resonates with me. Both my parents are deceased and I have written poems about them. Maybe one day I will write a book. Who Knows except God? Anyway even though many people’s parents have died each experience is unique because both you and they are unique. Each is a different story because of the various types of relationships we have with our parents. Thanks for this most excellent posts.

    Liked by 1 person

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