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Wednesday, February 2, 2022

In Gratitude to A. and J.


It's IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of the amazing and generous  Alex Cavanaugh. Thank you to co-hosts for the February 2 posting of the IWSG: Joylene Nowell Butler, Jacqui Murray, Sandra Cox, and Lee Lowery.

This month’s optional question: Is there someone who supported or influenced you that perhaps isn't around anymore? Anyone you miss?

In a previous life, years into a business relationship with an outside recruitment professional I learned he had been diagnosed with OCD. This explained a lot of things, especially his habit of calling me at the same time every Thursday morning regardless of whether or not we had business to discuss. It was all good. Through those weekly calls we became friends.

In those days, I was a wistful wannabe writer so when he told me his MFA and published author daughter had challenged herself to write 750 words a day via a blog, I became a regular reader. At the time, I was a long-term HR manager and the work was, well—fine. The job was close to home, paid well, and the company was flexible when demands arose related to raising my then-teenage daughter. And, while I did wonder if there could be more to my [work] life, nothing motivated me to think about change—until I started reading that blog.

The author wrote with a luminescence and clarity that more than once brought me to tears. Her posts about family, motherhood, parents, and grandparents, writing and volunteering touched on truths inside me I had yet to admit. I began arriving early to work each morning to read the newest post, commenting on some of them—editing my own thoughts to make sure they read just right. It's no exaggeration to say her words reached into my heart, forced me to FEEL and stirred the writer in me.

Then one afternoon, in a company-wide expense reduction, the job I would have never left on my own left me. I woke the next day unemployed but with a singular recognition that my next phase had to be more than a 40+ hour work week that was simply “fine.” Inspired by my recruiter-friend’s daughter, I created Middle Passages to hold myself accountable to a regular writing schedule. Every word I’ve written since, for this blog or anywhere else traveled a direct path from those days when I couldn’t wait to fire up my computer to read what she had to say.

A year or so after I started Middle Passages, the writer’s blog went dark. Absent Thursday morning phone calls from her dad (which I confess, still happened long after my employment change), I only know she encountered heartbreaking life challenges. I’m afraid she may no longer be writing. The thought touches me beyond loss.

So, this post is a tribute to the woman whose words centered me with a focus I had no idea I was lacking. I write now knowing it’s the one thing that makes me feel whole and accomplished and connected to my core—and with eternal gratitude that so many years ago she triggered my introduction to the me I was always supposed to be.