My journey to becoming a Writer
My journey to becoming a writer was a radical change from my past life. It wasn’t just a fork in the road. It was a sharp left turn. The change happened as I considered what I wanted to do with my new life in the few months before my life changed on March 7, 2020.
My old life differed from where I am going now in every way. My background is electrical engineering, computer design, project management, education, Ballet Board, School Board, raising a family, and basketball refereeing. I was the numbers guy in our family of five plus animals while our children were growing up. I hated writing during this period and claimed that I only spoke engineer. My wife was the writer, dreamer, Jungian reader, and a viola player for over 50 years.
Retirement to the Northwest
Fast forward to 2015, our children are adults, my wife was struggling with an undiagnosed disease, and we are enjoying life in the Pacific Northwest. We lived in Eugene, Oregon for 10 years. But after 10 years in the rainy northwest, my wife suggested we should return to the southwest where she grew up. She had had enough cloudy days.
We downsized a lot, but not enough, and moved back to Las Cruces, New Mexico where we had met, married, and had our two daughters. Unfortunately, two days before we were to leave, she fell and broke her kneecap. Our daughter came over to help get the move back on track and to help with the 5-day drive to New Mexico. We loaded up the car, put the wife and sore leg in the second seat, and loaded three cats in their carriers in the back of the SUV. Somehow, 5 days later we arrived in Las Cruces. We only got lost once.
Las Cruces is the largest city in Southern New Mexico and the home of New Mexico State University. Contrary to the popular belief of many who live on the east coast and have never been west, we are not a part of Mexico and you don’t need a visa to visit. We have lots of sunny days. Mountains to the east. A lake to the north and a lot of wildlife. But we still didn’t have a diagnosis for my wife.
In 2018, our oldest daughter was visiting from New Zealand, where she practices Medicine with a specialty in rehabilitation medicine. As she watched her mother walk around, she noticed something in her gait and posture and told her she should get an evaluation by a neurologist. After about three visits, the neurologist told us she had ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. There is no cure for ALS. No one can tell you what is coming next or how fast it will progress. As you can imagine our stress and worry levels are going through the roof. What was this going to mean? How long did she have to live?
ALS affects everyone differently. My wife couldn’t use her hands, lost her ability to play her viola (which she had played for 50+ years), and wasn’t able to concentrate on books or videos. In November 2019, we moved into an Assisted Living complex in Las Cruces and sold our home. The disease progressed more rapidly each, and we knew that it wouldn’t be long. She was ok with this since she was sure she would get to see her mother and brother who had predeceased her. She wasn’t afraid of dying, just being a burden to me until she did.
During the next 6 months, I took care of her and tried to make her life as meaningful as possible as I watched her slowly deteriorate. It is extremely frustrating and painful to watch your partner struggle to put on her clothes or eat her food and remain positive. Her spirit was always high, but her neuromuscular system wasn’t cooperating. I was powerless to fix this, as I had tried to do with our problems all our married life. It was the most painful period of my life.
As 2020 started we expected her to pass. I wondered what I would do after she passed. Would I become a couch potato and just let myself die within a year of her passing as many do, or would I do something else? As you would expect, I wasn’t really doing much thinking, mostly worrying and getting by.
Blogging and writing ideas came from various internet authors who I was reading during those last few months.
My wife passed on March 7th, after 54 years of marriage. My daughter was here from New Zealand helped me move that same day into an apartment with our 1 remaining cat. She organized my apartment before she returned to New Zealand and a two-week quarantine. This was the point where I decided I was going to do something I had fought doing all my life, I was going to be a writer and teacher for the rest of my life and I was going to embark on a new journey as a blogger and writer.
I took three online courses that were going to help me in this endeavor: Marie Forleo’s B-School, Tiago Forte’s Building a Second Brain, and David Perrell’s Write of Passage.
Marie Folio’s B-School https://www.marieforleo.com/bschool/ identified the basics of building an online business. The principal thing that I got from this the first time through was the need to build my website. She then talks about identifying your ideal client, etc.
Tiago Forte’s Building a Second Brain course https://www.buildingasecondbrain.com was one foundation of becoming a writer. He taught me how to gather, summarize, and relate ideas so I could create articles. He also taught me the importance of being a part of the world community of people who share ideas.
David Perrell’s course Write of Passage https://www.perell.com/write-of-passage taught me how little I know about writing. He has provided enough fodder to keep me thinking and hopefully improving my writing for several months, if not, years. The community of several hundred writers, always willing to help, has been a real boost to my new direction.
This is my story of becoming a writer!
I was born the day
I was transformed the day
My ego shattered,
And all the superficial, material
Things that mattered
To me before,
I really came into being
The day I no longer cared about
What the world thought of me,
Only on my thoughts for
Changing the world.
― Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem