Which Way Do I Go?

Am I propelled by fear or driven by love?

As we stumble into the sunlight in the wake of our global time out, hoping upon hope that the worst is behind us, some of us wonder if the road we chose pre-pandemic is still the right one. The work terrain has changed. We have a lot more options than we used to.

I know I’ve been turning my own roadmap upside down and sideways trying to determine where the hell I’m going.

Taking the Fear Highway

I’ve explored more than one career path since starting my working life as a teenager selling papasan chairs at the mall. Since then, I’ve made a lot of decisions based on fear. After college I took my share of unfulfilling jobs just to pay the bills. As long as they wanted me and I felt I could do the job, I took it. And then I’d be restless, irritable and discontent about eight months in. After another couple years of faking fulfillment, I’d finally snap out of my stupor, update my resume and move on.

Recently I began heading down that nauseatingly twisted road again. Is writing what I’m supposed to be doing with my life? What if I’m supposed to do something else that brings in more income to add to the household income? I certainly could. I’ve accrued enough years of experience to earn some marketable skills. And while my husband and I can afford to live on his paycheck, a good chunk of me feels guilty about not having a steady salary that adds to the household income—especially on those days when the words don’t make it onto the page. So, while I could find a big-girl job with a big-girl paycheck, isn’t doing so out of guilt ultimately as unproductive as taking one out of fear?

Just asking these questions screams privilege. I know. It’s ringing in my ears, too. 

Exploring More Loving Backroads

What I do want, and am grateful to be able to do right now, is to make a difference using the abilities I’ve been given. Storytelling is what I know. It’s offered ample career opportunities and generated income.

I want to write this story not only out of love for the process, but out of love for the reader, too.

At this stage of my life, I want my work to mean something more than a paycheck. As I write this post, the novel I’m working on is the vehicle driving me to that destination. So my job as its author must be about more than getting the reader to keep turning pages. I want to write this story not only out of love for the process, but out of love for the reader, too. I want to inspire as well as entertain.

I know. I hear the pretention, too. But don’t we all want our work to mean more than the money, if we can?

Using inspiring messages to drive plot came easily before I challenged myself to try writing for adults. My published books up until now are for children [LINK]. For better or worse, my simpler story structures produced character arcs that look more like the top of a paper clip than a footbridge.

In simplest terms, the novel I’m working on is about an ambitious young woman who survives a gruesome attack in the late 1960s. Intriguing? (I’d read it, I’m hoping you will, too.)

But on self-defeating days when I just can’t bring myself to switch from perusing job posts and reading articles about online marketing to the document where my novel lives, I’ve found myself asking why I’m even writing it. To prove to myself that I can? Yeah. To entertain? Why else would I write fiction? To get published? I certainly hope so.

But will my book make the world a better place? Hmm…

Obviously, isolation has given me the opportunity to look out at the available terrain. And after some serious journaling and consultation with a power greater than me and my limited visibility, I’ve decided that it’s not so much a question of what I’m doing with my life. It’s why and how I’m doing it, no matter where I’m investing my time and energy. And whether a full-time job comes my way or not, I’m going to finish my damn book.

I believe looking at my map from this new perspective will keep me on the right road, no matter where it takes me. I’m certainly enjoying the scenery.


I’m currently working on a novel. (I know, isn’t every blogger?) Here’s a little bit about it:

Discovering Joni Mitchell

Prior to stumbling across a recent Rolling Stone article publicizing her new anthology, the only thing I knew about Joni Mitchell was she sang about clouds back in the day. Admittedly, despite (slightly) older friends balking that I, an aspiring novelist writing about a young woman making her way through the music scene of the late 1960s, I stubbornly avoided seeking out information about this legendary female phenom. I accept their mocking. Because after delving into this dynamic artist’s life, I realize I really don’t know life at all.

After reading the article, I bought Reckless Daughter by David Yaffe the book it often references. And I discovered a magnificent artist I had criminally dismissed as a folky wallflower. I couldn’t wait to share my new enthusiasm in this post, however thin it is. So I hope you’ll join me in celebrating this simply awesome lady by adding your own “Joni experience.”

Share your experience in the comments below.

Joni’s Legacy

Joni Mitchell is a powerhouse of raw talent, ingenuity and complexity. While fellow musicians coming up in the industry beside her (mostly men) sang about relationships using simple language like sugar sugar and honey honey, Mitchell was putting deeply personal poetry to music that holds infinite resonance, like a tattoo.

We’re only particles of change I know I know
Orbiting around the sun
But how can I have that point of view
When I’m always bound and tied to someone

Hejira by Joni Mitchell

Joni’s Innovations

Mitchell sang to her own tune–literally. She crafted her own tunings to honor the melodies she carried in her head instead of trying to fit in a pre-made box. The harmonics she created in You Turn Me On I’m a Radio take me back to sitting in a field eating the fresh Michigan blueberries I’d just picked with my little brother. Or riding my bike alongside a Florida waterway. I’m captive to the breezy, expectant feeling her chords create.

Does anyone else find it ironic that guys with guitars still spend time fiddling with their capos to replicate her sound?

Joni’s Provocative Lyrics

And long before Taylor Swift used her music to send scathing messages to former lovers, Mitchell had already made it an art form. Although she married Chuck Mitchell and Leonard Cohen held her heart, she enjoyed liaisons with an enviable list of music legends during a time when virginity was nearly the only virtue about which a woman could boast. David Crosby, José Feliciano and James Taylor could not resist her magnetic sexuality. Yet all admit it was her musicianship that piqued their interest long before they looked into her blue eyes.

Her song A Case of You, inspired by her love for Cohen, is about stubborn longing that anyone who has loved deeply can relate to:

Oh you’re in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet

Oh I could drink a case of you darling
Still I’d be on my feet
oh I would still be on my feet

Or the intensely personal Coyote, inspired by a short affair with Sam Shepard:

Coyote’s in the coffee shop
He’s staring a hole in his scrambled eggs
He picks up my scent on his fingers
While he’s watching the waitresses’ legs

Finally, for anyone who, like me, assumed that it was Mitchell singing on the chart-topping recording of Both Sides Now, it wasn’t. Joni wrote the song, but Judy Collins recorded it first. Personally, I like Joni’s interpretation better.

Share it in the comment section below.

Follow Missy.

A bit about the novel mentioned above…

Celebrating Women Who Rock

April is International Guitar Month, so I thought I’d celebrate some female rockers by providing a curated list of established and upcoming female guitarists across all manner of style who can shred, Carter scratch, slide, mute and more. The only thing they have in common is the respect of the industry and the ability to rock.

This is by no means a complete list. If you’ve got a fave I haven’t mentioned here, help a girl out and list ’em in the comments, K? We could all use some mutual support and admiration.

The Legends

Nancy Wilson

Nancy’s memorable hooks that Heart is known for have stayed with me for decades. And I love the way she combines flamenco and classical to create a rock sound that resonates.

Watch her simply shred while her sister belts out one of the best female hits rock has to offer.

Joan Jett

One of the things I love about Joan is that she’s dedicated to helping up and coming female musicians get through industry doors. And we all know she rules with hits like I Love Rock and Roll and Bad Reputation with her band the Blackhearts, which gave girls everywhere (including me) permission to get off the sidelines and rock. She’s opened for everyone, which is probably why she’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020.

Let’s get nostalgic, shall we?

Maybelle Carter

I love this lady. I watched an interview with her and that is what came across–a Southern, soft spoken lady without an ounce of anything other than plain old humility. And she has a lot to brag about. She is responsible for a style that many musicians use to this day–the thumb-lead technique (aka the Carter scratch). Also, you may not know that she is June Carter Cash’s mother, which makes her Johnny Cash’s MIL. (Oh, to be a fly on the wall for those Carter Family Thanksgivings!)

Let’s take a look at Mother Maybelle.

Bonnie Raitt

Who hasn’t heard I Can’t Make You Love Me? This understated artist has seen me through some very dark days and I will always be grateful for the wisdom she brings through her songwriting and the superb style with which she shares them. Thank you, Bonnie.

Relax and enjoy here.

Joni Mitchell

Joni made Laurel Canyon cool and held her own among in her very, very fine house with the likes of David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash (her “Willy”). She is one of my inspirations as I write my novel.

Let’s listen.

I really could go on and on, mentioning Melissa Etheridge, The Great Kat, Sheryl Crow, Annie Clark and Jennifer Batten, among scads of others, but there simply isn’t time for me to write about them all or for you to read about them here. Again, if you have someone to add to the list, please submit a comment below!

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

This godmother of rock and roll even made gospel cool. Although she left us long ago, she was a trailblazer for which all girls–musicians or not–should be grateful. Perhaps that’s why she is a 2015 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Check out some masterful art in motion.

Established Women Rockers

Nita Strauss

This legendary musician was chosen by Ibanez, a globally recognized guitar company, as its first female signature artist, creating the JIVA10 in her honor. She’s currently touring with Alice Cooper (inasmuch as anyone is touring right now). She also crushes it as a solo artist.

Watch her in action!


This lady has had some serious industry names clamoring for collaboration. Orianthi has toured with Michael Jackson, Richie Sambora and Alice Cooper. (It seems the Shock Rocker is smart enough to hire women to get the job done.)

Check her out.

Ana Popović

This Serbian-born solo musician combines soul, funk and blues with 11 studio albums under her belt. She started out playing in her garage in Belgrade 20 years ago and has since toured the world with more than 2,500 shows.

Here she is onstage.

Lzzy Hale

Guitarist for Halestorm, Lzzy is hailed as one of the hottest musicians around. Not only can she play, she can sing, too. She also has a signature guitar, the Epiphone Signature Explorer.

Here she is in action.

Kaki King

This woman inspires me! Kaki plays like no other artist I’ve seen. Not has she developed her own percussive style, she’s also created imaginative live experiences that just may change the performance landscape.

Check out this true original.

Up & Coming Girl Guitarists

  • Melanie Faye
  • Jackie Venson
  • HER
  • Lexie Rose
  • Lindsay Ell
  • Lydia Night
  • Molly Tuttle
  • Yvette Young
  • Adrianne Lenker

Again, ladies, if you have a fellow sister you love to listen to, please add her name to the comments below so we can all check her out.

Follow Missy.

And, as I mentioned above, I’m writing a novel. Here’s the gist of it:

Victim to Victor: How People Survive Rape

A couple weeks ago I uploaded a post about sexual assault. This week, in honor of Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month, I thought I’d share some resources in the hopes that survivors can find help and validation through fellow survivor’s stories, and successful tools to use on their own paths to healing–including a resource for male victims of sexual assault.

Please share your own recommendations and/or reviews of the following resources in the comments below.

Understanding Sexual Trauma

What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape by Sohaila Abdulali.

Abdulali, a rape survivor, uses interviews with fellow survivors around the globe to share strength and wisdom with a little dash of gentle, healing humor.

The Body Keeps the Score: brain, mind and body in the healing of trauma by Bessel van der Kolk

Explores how the body reacts and holds on to trauma long past the event, and how to use the body’s signals to heal.

Check out this podcast interview with van der Kolk in which he talks about using bodywork and other methods to heal trauma.

Survivor Stories

Lucky by Alice Sebold

An autobiographical account of rape and its effects not only on the survivor on those who love her (or him!).

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

A book of illustrated poetry that reflects on abuse, violence, loss and love.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Anderson offers a raw look at sexual assault from a teenage victim’s point of view. While a work of fiction, a cross-section of reviews indicate that it is a pretty realistic look at our current culture’s interpretation and response to sexual assault. A 2004 film adaptation of the book stars Kristen Stewart.

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

A poetry memoir and call to action for survivors that celebrates resiliency in the wake of dysfunction.

Finding OK podcast

Dedicated entirely to nurturing survivors of sexual abuse with healing and empowerment.

Survivor Help

The Courage to Heal: a guide for women survivors of child sexual abuse by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis

This best-seller offers first-hand accounts of childhood abuse and healing as well as practical suggestions for survivors of childhood trauma. Twentieth anniversary edition introduces more diversity, new bodywork and meditation tools and updated resource guide. There is a companion workbook associated with the book, too.

The Courage to Heal Workbook for Women and Men Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Laura Davis

Abused Boys: The Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse by Mic Hunter

This blockbuster book busts myths and mindsets regarding trauma men and boys suffer from in navigating their own experiences of sexual abuse. 

Survivor Resources

  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

Happily Ever After

When Diana married Charles on July 29, 1981, 750 million people watched.  When William married Kate on April 29, 2011, more than 2 billion people watched.  And when Harry married Meghan on May 19, 2018, 11 million tuned in to ogle the bride and her groom.

Despite a divorce rate that disproves that “happily ever after” exists, fairy tales persist. From the numbers offered above, billions of us love it when a princess finds her prince. But see, these fairy tales never cover the days that play out long after the honeymoon is over.

So, what’s up with our persistent interest in them?

Maybe we shouldn’t read fairy tales.

“Happily ever after fails and we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales.”

Steve Winwood

Journalist Olivia Petter writes in an article for The Independent entitled 5 Reasons to Stop Reading Fairly Tales Now that continuing to promote these stories hurts both sexes. Not only the women, but the men who are expected to be the perfect prince in his pursuit of true love. To be successful, he must rescue her.

Good point.

Now, Petter’s article doesn’t necessarily advocate for banishing Cinderella back to her kingdom or shoving Arielle back into the water. She quotes author and Wayne State University professor Donald Haase, who says parents “can read or tell classical tales in ways that intentionally question or subvert the stereotypes,” In other words, parents can point out that not every relationship ends in marriage, that princesses come in different colors, shapes and sexual orientations, and that women can be more than a good girl or an evil stepsister. There’s plenty in-betweens between the extremes.

But wait! There’s also something to be said in favor of reading fairy tales.

In her article for the National Storytelling Network website, storyteller Laura Packer writes that “Fairy tales endure because they are, at their most basic, the stories of our lives in their most stripped down form.”

“You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

Peter Pan

Packer argues that fairy tales make the world less scary, even the evil stepmothers and jealous, poison-apple bearing queens.

She goes on to say that it’s important to keep sharing these stories no matter how disturbing because “they tell us so much about what it is to be human. They help us understand that yes, there is a woods, and yes, there is a wolf, but if we are wise or kind or clever, we will survive. They offer us unexpected solutions to the oldest problems. They remind us that strangers can offer kindness when we are kind in return. They teach us that we do not need to be alone.”

Maybe she’s on to something, too.

Maybe the answer lies in the how rather than the why.

In Lisa Cron’s article, Tell Don’t Show? What Brain Imaging Reveals About Readers, she writes, “We’re not hooked by what the protagonist is doing; we’re on the hunt for why they’re doing it.

She uses science to back up her claim. She quotes Marcel Just, a psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University who uses brain imagery to study how the brain structures thought. Just says, “One of the biggest contributions of brain imaging is to reveal how intensely social and emotional the human brain is. To me it was a very big surprise. Ask people to read some innocuous little narrative, and the brain activity shows that they’re computing things like the character’s intention and motivation. I think there is a constant tendency to be processing social and emotional information. It’s there, and it’s ubiquitous.”

My Personal Experience: WWCD (What would Cinderella Do?)

The message I received from the princess fairy tales as a young girl was that it paid to be patient and kind in the face of oppression. Now, my idea of oppression at the time was not being allowed to hit my brother when he took my Baby Alive*. And may I just say I did not see my personal payoff for adopting a more Cinderella-esque way to deal with my brother’s invasive behavior as means to land a rich husband. (I wanted to be rich and famous all by myself, thank you very much. And while that didn’t happen, I eventually discovered that patience and kindness are the true rewards that await at the end of the rainbow.)

Also, advocating patience and kindness in the face of oppression doesn’t make me a doormat. I acknowledge that there is a time to stand up for oneself. But patience and kindness can help while you’re sweeping and mopping the floors planning just how best to make your stand. Counterintuitively, these two attributes help the oppressed more than the oppressor. (Stay tuned for more on that nugget in a later post.)

“The purpose of an effective story, Cron writes, “is to change how your audience sees things, to spur them to do something right now. That is what makes all stories a call to action, because once we see things differently, we do things differently. She goes on to say that the goal of story is to help your audience see the benefits for them in the moment, given who they are, and how they see themselves.”

I like that. And more importantly, I like a timeless love story—warts and all.

*The Baby Alive mentioned above is a doll. Not a real baby. 🙂

Markle Matter Sparks More Questions

This past Monday, the Internet celebrated International Women’s Day while also debating whether the woman who had bewitched Prince Harry was a good witch or an evil one. 

Try as I might to keep away from the royal roadshow, I did come across a headline I couldn’t resist. Piers Morgan had stormed off the set of his morning talk show Good Morning Britain over racially charged things Meghan Markle told Oprah.

I took the bait and clicked.  As I watched, what interested me wasn’t so much the racial argument between Morgan and Alex Beresford. That vital conversation will be explored in later posts. What I found intriguing were the many times they dismissed their female colleague Susanna Reid, who, try as she might, wasn’t able to effectively participate in the conversation.

Pretty interesting that two men talking about one woman’s behavior dissed a female colleague on International Women’s Day.

Piers Morgan left the show entirely the next day. But not because he dissed his female co-worker. It was because he pissed off enough people that the network said enough.

Plenty of men say they support women’s equality but act in ways that contradict their words. Why? Are they afraid of disappointing women? Is it just easier to say what they think women want to hear? Or do they really mean it, but then forget out of some primal urge to dominate?

It’s interesting that a Pew Research article states that while the majority of both men and women believe there is more work to be done on equality between the sexes, the gap widens as the poll dives deeper into the obstacles. It’s widest on the issue of power in the workplace. More women see the imbalance of power as more of a problem than do men. Hmmm…

In a Psychology Today article, Ben C. Fletcher writes that when we say one thing and do another there’s a disconnect between what he calls the experiencing self (what we do by habit) and the reflecting self (who we aspire to be). His answer is to do something different to align the two. That takes effort.

So, are men lazy? Or am I just man-bashing at this point?

To be fair, as a woman, I definitely suffer my share of disconnect between what I do and who I want to be. Just ask anyone who has heard about the novel I’m writing for the last decade or so.

The questions this blog poses aren’t going to be answered today. But I think it’s important that we keep asking them.

And in the bigger picture, we are lucky to even have a discussion about this when in large swaths of the world there are women suffering at the hands of men who don’t bother to examine Fletcher’s disconnect between the reflecting self and the experiencing self. They are perfectly aligned. And women are dying, if not physically, then emotionally.

Let’s keep asking the questions. Maybe we’ll have more to celebrate on future Women’s Days.

Did Woody Do It?

The War Between the Sexes

Woody’s in the news again for being accused of more pedaphilic behavior. And who knows if it’s true beyond a shadow of a doubt? Only Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow know what really happened. And even that could be a matter of perspective. Now, if I were a juror, the fact that he married another one of his stepdaughters would make me lean far enough to touch guilty. (So, I probably would be dismissed before the trial event started.) 

However, the conversation around this latest sexual assault scandal got me thinking about how easily a report of a sexual crime tends to set off a war between the sexes, i.e. “He said, she said” and “she asked for it” and “if he’s convicted it will ruin his life!” These alibis of course, tend to work if you’re a white defendant. And, yes, men and people of all sexual orientation are assaulted, too. The pain of assault is universal.

But let’s be fair. Women are sexually assaulted at a staggeringly higher rate than men. And those who fight for justice after being sexually assaulted leave empty handed. They usually wave the white flag well before the war is over. Few of them suit up for battle at all. Why fight when you’re outnumbered and must climb uphill to battle your foe?

Look some of the things women are up against. King David’s daughter Tamar was raped by her stepbrother, and then banished. Harvey Weinstein got away with disgusting behavior for decades before justice intervened. And the “boys will be boys” defense has worked for many a frat boy accused of sexual assault and gang rape. A man who said he could grab a woman by her pussy got elected the President of the United States and has yet to be convicted despite the backlog of sexual assault cases filed against him.

Would you fight?

The next question is, how can we work to make it a fair fight?

Love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Britney’s Battle Axioms

There are principles to be gleaned from The New York Times Presents Framing Britney Spears, a documentary that puts a spotlight on the pop star’s struggle to wrest herself from her father’s legal control and the struggles that led up to her conservatorship.

If you’ve seen the film, maybe you recognize some of the themes below. If you haven’t seen it yet, perhaps the following themes will entice you to check it out on Hulu. And if you’re just not interested in watching it, read on anyway. They’re good principles to live by.

Axiom 1:  What goes around comes around.

Fans interviewed for the film said they wanted to help her because she had helped them. One fan, who grew up as a gay boy in the Virginia suburbs, shared that she gave him permission to be himself. Another fan said she felt more empowered in her fight against mental illness watching Britney fight against hers. Another shaved her head because she didn’t want anybody touching her. They have started a Free Britney movement (#FreeBritney) to help put an end to her conservatorship.

Takeaway: She was there for them when they needed someone. They are here for her now. Inspire others with positivity. It may serve you well when you need it most.

Axiom 2:  The less we do to change things, the more things stay the same.

Newton’s first law says that anything moving at a constant speed in a straight line will continue to move in a straight line at a constant speed unless it is acted upon by a force. It’s universal. Can we agree that sexism hasn’t been acted on with enough force yet?

Calvin Harris can brag about his penis and Adam Levine can bear all but Britney got flogged in the public square for a high hemline and a low-cut sweater.

And when she no longer pleased Justin Timberlake, he accused her of cheating on him. He went on to build a stellar career. The mud he flung on her encouraged others to pile on more, which put her downward motion in play.

Takeaway:  Our culture tends to grant guys a free pass and girls a push down. We’ve been talking about this for decades now. Change takes time, yes. But let’s not let up on the momentum. Call sexism out when you see it. The double standard will remain the standard until we change it.

Axiom 3:  Bullying wounds go deep.

Everybody loves a good story. Maybe that’s why gossip is such a popular pastime. No story is more tantalizing than a good fallen-from-grace story. Britney’s story delivered.

Britney went from mall pop sensation to international pop star to fallen woman in a shockingly short time. In the film, she tells a member of the press interviewing her that she feels totally in control of her career. She answers critics who say her act is too suggestive that “All girls like to feel sexy.” And really, who among us doesn’t?

For all those mothers attacking her for her sexuality, it could be argued that they could have just said no when their not-ready-for-sexy daughters demanded a record or magazine cover. They could have turned the radio and television off when she was on. Why censor the messenger when you can prevent the message from being delivered?

As we watch her unravel over the course of the film, there is a scene in which a paparazzi opportunist pretends to care about Britney’s wellbeing while trying to get a great shot at her through a car window. “I’m concerned about you, okay?” he says while his shutter clicks away. Candid celebrity shots are a million-dollar business.

When she shaves her head, it seems metaphoric.  As if she’s saying, “I quit.” That only fueled more bullying by late night talk show hosts and other members of the media.  She was diminished to a game show question on The Family Feud. So, her dad Jamie, who never seemed concerned about her wellbeing before, swooped in and placed her under a conservatorship with him in charge of her finances. It’s lasted for twelve years now, despite her demonstrating an ability to perform and earn money again. Bullying is even more damaging when it’s your own parent doing it.

Takeaway: If you’ve ever starred in a gossip story yourself, you know how humiliating it feels to be under lingering scrutiny. (Maybe that’s why those who have been gossiped about or bullied tend not to bully or gossip about others.) And once you’re fodder, it’s hard to claw out of the grips of bullies hungry for more.

So why do we do it, then?

Thoughts? Share them below.

Missy Kavanaugh is a Florida-based writer currently working on a debut novel about a heroine’s very public fall from grace. She’s also authored two children’s books.  

Soul Mating

“Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life.” 

Richard Bach

The idea of soul mates raises questions. Can you have more than one soul mate in more than one context?  How do you identify a soul mate? Could he or she be the one who got away and still tugs at you heartstrings in lonely moments?  The one who, when they left, took a bit of your heart with them?  Or is it the one you’re with now? And for the love of God, is it Is it soul mate or soulmate?

Types of Soul Mates

“I used to believe in one true soul mate, but not anymore. I believe you can have a few.”

Paul Walker

The Romantic Soul Mate

“He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began.” 

Leo Tolstoy

If you’re a sucker for love stories, romantic soul mate connections make your juices flow. This is the one you make love with.  Lots of it. With eye contact. For these soul mates, sex isn’t just about orgasm, it’s about connection. And they snuggle afterward.

The Platonic Soul Mate

“Soulmate’” is an overused term, but a true soul connection is very rare and very real.”

Hilary Duff

Not as sexy but still rewarding. A platonic soul mate could be a friend, a co-worker, or an acquaintance you meet on a plane and never see again. The defining element is that the impression they make stays with you. You feel a unique kinship.

Having said that, perhaps you can have more than one soulmate…

The Mentor Soul Mate

“A soulmate is the one person whose love is powerful enough to motivate you to meet your soul, to do the emotional work of self-discovery, of awakening.” 

Kenny Loggins

A mentor may instruct and inspire. A mentor soul mate does all that while connecting on a deeper level. What comes out of their mouth makes you feel like they get you. And what you say back makes them feel like they get you. The give-and-take is mutual because soul mating is a two-way street.

The Familial Soul Mate

“What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined to strengthen each other, to be at one with each other in silent unspeakable memories.” 

George Eliot

This one makes Thanksgiving Dinner much more bearable. A brother or sister with whom you can communicate in complete sentences with nuance in a simple glance may just be your familial soul mate. Same goes for parents. They inspire and challenge you out of love, not fear or judgement. It goes deeper than DNA. They go with you when you go your separate ways.

The Soul Mate Deniers

“There is no such thing as a soulmate…and who would want there to be? I don’t want half of a shared soul. I want my own damn soul.”  Rachel Cohn

Rachel Cohn

In his Psychology Today article Here’s Why You Should Stop Searching for Your Soul Mate, author and professor at Indiana University School of Medicine Bill Sullivan, Ph.D. uses math to disprove the notion that there is a soul mate out there for everyone. Now, I hate math, so I’ll leave it to you to click on the link to find out more.

Rachel and Bill may have a point. But to many, a soulmate-less existence sounds pretty soulless.

What do you think?

Redemption & the Willingness to Let Go

They say to write about what you know. So it’s not a coincidence that I chose redemption as both a blog topic and a book theme.

By redemption I’m not talking about just the religious, throw-yourself-at-the foot-of-the-cross-or-prayer-mat kind of way. Those work, absolutely. But people go after it in all sorts of ways. I did, And my characters are.

To reclaim my self-respect, I had to deal with another R word, as in “are you willing?” For me, I had to be willing to let go of what other people did or did not do to me and instead focus on what I did. Not just to them, but to me, too. Damage is damage. Hurt people hurt people, as they say. And hurting people hurts us.

I wasn’t willing. Holding on to perceived indignities and ill-informed but no less rabid judgments made me feel superior, in a desolately lonely kind of way. Being right felt so wrong. (So does delusion.)

“Redemption comes to those who wait.

Forgiveness is the key.”

tom petty

Nothing was gonna happen to fix my relationships until I’d had enough of feeling like crap. I had to learn to forgive others before I could forgive myself, which is a pretty arrogant thing to say now, considering I’ve since discovered it was almost always me who had caused the mess. A mess for which I condemned them to suffer the absence of my radiant presence. (Epilogue: They celebrated as soon as I left the room.)

But enough about me. This theme is everywhere, across myriad media.

If you’re interested, here’s a few places where the theme of redemption hangs out:

Redemption in Fiction

  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Redemption in Film

  • Just Mercy
  • Unbroken
  • Wonder

Redemption in Visual Art

Road to Redemption by Victor Bregeda

Follow My Blog

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.

%d bloggers like this: