I’ve always had a thing for stories. As a child and young adult, I read a lot. Like, there was one summer when I think I spent the entire time reading in my bedroom. I don’t remember why I did it–it was like an addiction, but a good one (I think). I got special permission in primary school to borrow books from the “big kids” section of the library. I borrowed more than my fair share of books—and then I took them back and re-borrowed them later.
I’m not sure what it was, but it wasn’t just books I was obsessed with–it was stories. I was a daydreamer and a storyteller too. When my sister and I shared a bedroom, I’d make up stories and tell them to her when we were in bed at night. I manufactured scenarios and stories in my head all the time. I wrote a “book” when I was about 9 or 10—we had gotten a computer, Oregon Trail was becoming boring to play, and I decided I’d start writing. My “book” was 30 pages long by the end of it, and I still have it—it’s pretty awful, but at the same time I really love it.
Once I got to high school, I had to stop being so focused on reading and stories for fun—it was time to be more serious and also focus on other things. I went to college, grad school, and got a Ph.D.—and life was a little crazy during some of those times, so I didn’t really read or write much (correction: I read and wrote A LOT… it was just mostly academically focused).
One of my coolest accomplishments is that I found a way to bring stories into my schooling and into my profession.
I did a qualitative study for my dissertation, and used a methodology of Narrative Inquiry. Basically, instead of testing theories and crunching numbers, I got to interview super healthy women and ask them about their stories of health—how and why they made healthy living a priority and how and why they maintained it over time. I felt sneaky and smart for doing this—it was like I was kind of getting away with something. I gave people a voice for their stories, and we all learned from it in the end.
I love the way the narrative inquiry method allows us to tell stories and then turn them into research—we live in stories, and we tell and re-tell them. Then we interpret our stories in the context of others and their stories in the context of our own experiences. It’s complex and simple all at once.
One of my favorite ways I have used stories in my profession (besides doing wellness coaching—which is ALL about a person’s story), is from when I was teaching a course called Death and Dying. I had the students watch the first two episodes of the show, Weeds, and then analyze the 3 main characters in terms of how they were dealing with the death of their father/husband. My students loved it. And they learned a lot more than if we had just gone over the textbook information. We also followed the story of a man with ALS during that class, and we cried along with his wife as he euthanized himself in a country that allows people to choose to die.
My wellness coaching clients have shared their stories with me, and it has enriched my life more than I could tell you. I remember the emotional moments most, but even the day-to-day stories have made our lives better.
I’ve struggled over time with blogging—going back and forth from wanting to be informative only (see my posts from this past February) to weaving in stories, to posting about my life without holding things back or thinking about what/if/how I should share.
If I’m honest, my gift to the world is the knowledge and information I have about health, wellness, food, fitness, and the mind/body connection. If I’m extra honest, I know that the only way I can share it effectively is to weave it with stories and with my own story.
My friend, Susan, from Knit One Health Too, asked me if I wanted to participate in a Blog Hop, which is kind of like a chain letter where the participants answer certain questions and then pass the torch to more people. It’s a cool idea, and I am so glad she asked me!
What Am I Working On/Writing?
Currently, I am 3 days shy of being 40 weeks pregnant, so my writing is sparse—I teach online, and the only writing I’ve done this week is grading papers and responding to discussion posts. It does not fill me up in the same way as doing my own writing does, but there is a lot of value in it. I help students (some intentionally, some not) transform their understandings of healthy living, food, and wellness. Some people change their lives because of what they learn in my class. I tell them a lot of stories (this is mostly in writing because the classes are online).
I also have several sections of a future book started. The book weaves stories with information—and the end result will be a lifestyle guide to pregnancy. I’m loving the topic because of its extreme relevance to me, but I’m also not doing it to “produce” something or “sell” something or “make a living” on it. I’m just putting my heart into it. (But, like I said before, it’s on pause right now till I regroup after Baby E comes along).
How Does My Work Differ From Other Writers in My Genre?
I don’t know how much my actual writing differs from other people who write about health, wellness, and food—but I know I weave in stories, I don’t talk in absolutes, and I’m known for always putting a positive spin on things (and lifestyle). I believe in feeling good, finding value in our actions, and that quality (of food, lifestyle and life) matters. When it’s all said and done, I want to always return to the knowing that it is the people in our lives, not things or goals or timelines (or weight or money or appearance), that matter.
Why Do I Write What I Do?
I sometimes waffle about this question of “why?” Recently, I read something that reminded me exactly why I do it. One of my favorite writers, Tama Kieves, posted a short blurb on her facebook page that included the line, “Your gifts are not for you.”
This hit me between the eyes, as I remembered that it wasn’t so important for me to figure out exactly how I (or anyone else) would benefit from the information and stories I share. It didn’t matter if I followed a specific structure, or if my blog images all fit a certain standard (or if I even included a picture at all). I didn’t need to micromanage how the universe (or whomever) would give or receive my gifts, or how I’d be compensated or noticed for it.
If I strip away all the things that come with information and story sharing, all that’s left are the words and the audience. Some people will connect, some people will click away in one second. I don’t know the details of this and can’t control it—I can only keep the blind faith that it matters for me to share what I know.
How Does My Writing Process Work?
Sometimes I use a lot of structure, and other times I write randomly with reckless abandon. It depends on the day, my week, my life at the moment, and my goals. I’m hoping when baby and I fall into a pattern, I’ll establish a pattern for writing too. Let’s just say, it has not been my strong point lately.
Next week’s Blog Hopper:
I had one person respond saying she’d like to participate, and I know you’ll love her!
Kirsten McCormick’s Bio: Somewhere along my journey I realized that contrary to my natural inclination, burning the candle at both ends and packing my schedule full did not lead to contentment. The more I try to do at one time, the faster life seems to slip by. I don’t want life to slip by. I don’t want to miss a single moment with my amazing husband or my four precious children. So, I imagined what an ideal day looked like and what I wanted to spend each day doing. Instead of hoping for someday, I called that day, “Today.” That is why I homeschool. Because my perfect day is spent with my kids. That is why I cook wholesome food from scratch. Because I want good health for them right now. That is why I sing, read, walk, swim and write. Because my perfect day has time for those things. Not someday. Today.