Tag Archives: expectations

Long Ago: Community Entry #10

North Fork of the Flathead River along Glacier National Park. Not a bad evening stroll...

As you may know, I am spending a few months in the dormancy of winter, working on a book. And, like last year at this time, I am offering my blog to you. Last year we looked into our Breaking Points and found community and grace in grief and vulnerability. This year we are looking into our past, and finding the weaving of community that stitches us to our present. I will be posting these pieces at These Here Hills. Their authors will be happy to receive and respond to your comments.  Here is the blog post I wrote about this subject.

Contest submissions closed. Winner will receive a scholarship to one of my upcoming Haven writing retreats in Montana, announced mid-February…

Now I am further stepping into the wilderness of Montana and the wilderness of writing. If you’d like to create haven for your creativity…come to a Haven Writing Retreat here in Montana. June, August, and September retreats are now booking and filling fast.  Email me for more info:  Laura@lauramunsonauthor.com

This powerful piece has been submitted anonymously.  Please feel free to comment.  The author will be responding through me.  I continue to thank you all for creating this on-line mini community of love and support and sharing.  My grand-mother used to sing a song to me at bedtime that ended in:  In this world of darkness, we must shine…you in your small corner and I in mine.  That’s what we are doing here this winter.  I continue to send gratitude from my snowy writing retreat.  Thank you for holding up These Here Hills.

yrs. Laura

Silent Community, by Anonymous

“We are in community each time we find a place where we belong.”

–Peter F. Block

I am known as a cradle Episcopalian. My Southern Baptist family lost hope in their pastor and religion when word spread he had had an affair with one of his devout congregants. A few blocks away loomed an Episcopal church. Out of sheer convenience and at the urgings of my grandmother’s Episcopal friend, a change was made. A seed was planted.

At the same time, my birth family became uprooted. My parents struggled with their marriage from the beginning. After surviving medical school and residency, my dad left. Even my birth did not keep them together. I was four months old when he called it quits. A radiological technologist had caught his eye.

Mom kept returning to her new faith, even when her parents rebounded to their Baptist church. The pastor had been redeemed of his affair. Hope, perhaps, bloomed inside my mom. She remarried when I finished first grade. She and her new husband faithfully dropped my brother and me off for Sunday school each week. My brother and I were regulars.

My Anglican roots took hold. When I heard that the Bishop had come to confirm folks and that my stepfather and step-uncle were to be confirmed, my 12- year-old self begged to join in. My enthusiasm was met with a resounding “Yes” and I knelt at the altar and felt the weight of the Bishop’s hands on my head. I knew I needed all the help I could get.

Oddly, my original dad appeared that same year. He asked my parents if he could meet my brother and me. This mythological man was about to marry his third wife. I was not gracious and clung to my stepfather for comfort. It was easier for me to believe that this biological dad did not exist, but there he was. My involvement in church picked up. I needed stability somewhere. I was an acolyte, a member of the youth group, and did not miss Sunday school. I felt a deep need to belong.

Every week I felt part of a larger family. From the priests to the parishioners, I basked in the love given my way. Meanwhile, I sensed strife between my parents. I did not trust their relationship. I longed for normalcy in my life. Attending Catholic schools did nothing for my confidence. My friends at school had intact families and loads of siblings. I knew their parents. My biological father remained a mystery to me.

Just before I got my driver’s license, my home life dramatically changed. Again. One night we had our family meal as usual and the next day my stepfather was gone. No discussions. No preparations. Nothing but a tearful mother picking me up from school with the news. My mom found refuge in her bedroom and alcohol. Inside my anger burned deeply. My pain lost itself in sports, school activities, and youth events at church as well as drugs and alcohol. I lived a dual life. My coaches, youth leaders, and priests became my surrogate parents.

When considering what career path I should take as an adult, I chose nursing. I knew I would always have a job as a nurse and that I could remain independent. I pushed through life with my church family by my side. Instead of leaving the church, I became more grounded.

Through steady and personal struggles, I became a nurse, bought a house, kept drinking, and lived alone. While planning an eight month trip around the world, I met my amazing future spouse. He came gift-wrapped from God. Mike was a great listener, a beautiful, gentle soul, and a handsome man. We shared a faith life that added to our marriage. He joined my childhood church. Roots stretched deep beneath the soil.

After his residency, we moved to a rural town in Northeast Georgia. The first place we visited was the small Episcopal church. We had discussed visiting different denominations but never got that far. Filled within her walls were friendly, loving people. Our new church family. Our two boys grew up in that church. They have been loved and supported all through their childhood and teenage years. It was an easy transplant to our new church home.

As an adolescent, our younger son told us he was gay. Even though we had suspected he was, we did not know for sure until he claimed his sexuality. Until he was ready to tell his story, we were asked by him to keep his secret. Mike and I honored his wishes.

One night, after a meeting at church, grief overwhelmed me. I was dealing with my expectations for my baby boy. I had not yet grown to understand how love for him trumps those expectations. After all the committee members left, I stayed behind and entered the sacred space in our sanctuary. I wanted to be alone in my sadness. But God had other plans. There sat our quiet, talented choir director. She began playing music in preparation for Sunday. At first I wanted to leave, but then her presence and music comforted me. My tears flowed unbridled. My grief spilled out. She continued to practice all the while. I felt safe. She never interrupted her practice or my bereavement. I felt her silent comfort through the notes she played.

This quiet, soft spoken musician has never inquired about that night. We have a deep affection for each other that words surpass. I have gained a true sense of family from this community of everyday people. We show up, do our best, and keep coming back. The seed planted at my birth now stands as a tree, deeply rooted. The branches are not perfect, nor is the shape of the trunk; what matters for me is that I belong.








Filed under Blog series-- Long Ago: Community, My Posts

Summer Lost (or Summer Gained): It's how you slice it.

I didn’t have a summer this year, and I feel sorry for myself. Maybe you can relate. Here’s what I didn’t do that I usually do:
Visit family
Go anywhere beachy
Ride my horse in the woods (cardinal sin)
Go to the County Fair
Go to the gym
Hike in Glacier National Park (a .6 mile walk to a waterfall and back does not count)
Spend more than a half an hour picking huckleberries
Finish the Bear puzzle on the dining room table with the kids
Read a novel or two ot ten
Watch the meteor shower
Take a night walk with the dogs, or any substantial walk with the dogs for that matter
Go to Canada, which is 60 miles north
Make homemade ice cream
Have long leisurely dinners outside on the patio
Eat lobster

Here’s what I DID do on my summer vacation:
I compiled this list yesterday because I was sick of beating myself up for all the things I DIDN’T do, and it reminded me that when you are launching your life’s dream and starting a business, you might suffer in the “Life in Balance” category. And so what? Sometimes that’s just the way things fly. So yesterday, I took my mind off my NO list and set it on my YES list, and I went to bed by the full moon last night feeling sated.

The below is not shameless self-promotion, it’s just a good exercise. If you feel that you too didn’t have a summer, you might want to write down what you DID do. And that includes just sitting in a room breathing and gazing out the window, if you didn’t have a high performance last few months. Let’s live in YES instead of NO. Let’s live in the SOLUTION, not the PROBLEM. For what it’s worth, feel free to skim the below:

Played tennis with my kids
Started a puzzle with my kids
Took a romantic getaway with my husband to see Michael Franti and Spearhead in Missoula, MT and had a total blast
Went to a three day horse clinic about centered riding and learned so much about how tight I am on a horse when I’m scared
Swam in the lake a lot

…and the following:
Social Media:
Took a hard core stab at understanding Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads, Shewrites, and Blogher which is all mildly terrifying for this techno peasant.

Started “Daily Tips for Writers” on Twitter which I hope to make into a book one day, or use in a memoir about writing.

Regular Blog Contributor:
Became a regular contributer to:
Huffington Post
Parelli Natural Horesmanship Blog

Live Chats:

Awesome Women’s Hub.com on Facebook with Robin Rice

Penguin Watercooler


My Haven Newsletter live blog chat with Life Coach, Rossell Weinstein


Contest:“Think Outside the Barn”– did a photo essay of barns, and their “real life” personae– followed by the “Name This Barn” contest and book giveaway. Winner to be announced Sept 12. People are having a lot of fun with this and so am I.

The Kathleen Show (radio and blog)


SHE Magazine– UK (glossy mag, December publication)

Inspiremetoday.com with Gail Goodwin (pending publication)

NPR interview with Sally Mauk


406 Magazine (Montana)

Q&A: Montana Quarterly Magazine

Guest blogger on:

The Traveling Writer


Drinking Diaries




Huffington Post– Arielle Ford’s Blog


Published Essays:

“Dog Fog”– Huffington Post


“Rain Song”– Huffington Post


New York Times Magazine “Lives” essay:


Author Magazine


Woman’s Day (August issue)

Pending Publication:

Shewrites essay
Parelli Horsemanship blog post (will be a montly deal)
O. Magazine South Africa essay
Life By Me essay http://www.lifebyme.com/ ebook by Sophie Cliche (includes Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Maya Angelou etc.)

Submissions: (waiting to hear)
The New Yorker (fingers, toes, eyes, and nostrils crossed)
Ladies Home Journal
The Sun
NPR essay to read on air

Summer Events:Read at the Whitefish Lake Lodge
Read at three private parties: Ridgewood NY, Millbrook, NY, Short Hills, NJ
Read at the Kent Place School, Summit, NJ
Read at a book group on Flathead Lake

Co-hosting (or just plain being feted at) three private parties/readings: NYC, Hartford, Chicago
Reading at two libraries: Fairfield and Simsbury, CT
Speaking at a major Chicago hospital benefit
Speaking at the kick-off to the reading series at my high school in CT
Speaking at the Winnetka Bookstall– luncheon at a great Chicago restaurant

Fundraiser for a San Francisco school– Burke School
Festival of the Book in Missoula, where I’ll serve on a panel of memoirists and speak seperately
Miami Book Fair

Oh, and I got a book deal in the UK, (Little Brown) which I’m so excited about. Book to be published in April.

So why is it that I feel so guilty that I haven’t been to the gym, taken night walks with my dogs, ridden my horse in the woods, etc? I think we all could learn a lot by looking at our pro list and not our con list. I’m going to work on this. I know it’s not about doing. It’s about being. But sometimes we need to give ourselves a pat on the back for what we’ve done. And who we were doing it.


Filed under A Place For Writers To Share, My book: This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, My Posts

Lower Expectations

Okay, what good is a blog if you don’t tell a dirty secret every so often. Or alot. In my opinion, it’s all about vulnerability and reaching out, so here ya go:

I’ve been wearing these crappy headphone things since 1989 to block out the noise when I write. I even wear them when I’m alone in the house sometimes because they hug my ears so hard I hear my heart beat and it makes writing very embryonic. And often head-achy, but I’m sort of a glutton for punishment that way.

You know when there’s something ridiculous in your life that you’re so used to, you don’t even notice it? Well thanks to my kids busting me with them on the other day and making fun of me (I got them at a hardware store somewhere– see heavy machinery operators, or airport tarmack workers)…I’ve officially asked for those $$$ Bose headphones with the silencer option for my b-day tomorrow. But I’m not sure I really want them. I’m happy with these, truth be told, but God forbid I embarass my kids. At least I don’t wear them on airplanes!

If you see me on an airplane anytime soon sporting $200.00 headphones and typing away on my laptop, feel free to wink at me. Which will be our code for, Yes I know I’m a dork at heart. Maybe I’ll keep them and use them while the kids are at school. Closet dork.



Filed under A Place For Writers To Share, Motherhood, My Posts

Dog Fog

Check out my essay DOG FOG in the Huffington Post. It’s about how I’ve become a junkie for open space, cities, and what gets us to take a walk in the park. It makes me look like a big jerk at first, so here’s an example of allowing yourself to be misunderstood. Of “outing” yourself on the page in hopes of learning something and inspiring others to learn too. See what you think.

When you travel across the country, city-to-city, in my case on a recent book tour, you notice trends. Menus boasting beet/goat cheese/ citrus salad, for instance; a prevalence of duck confit, charcuterie, and mushroom gruyere tarts. The Flashdance look is back, which if you ask me, was a hideosity the first time around. Shoulder pads, which hopefully will last approximately two seconds, women in uncomfortable footwear sporting 1930s Hollywood-plucked eyebrows. Men in pink. Lots of grey. I like to call it the prison warden look, which I’ve spent a lot of money achieving quite by accident.
The truth is, food and fashion trends don’t interest me all that much. Word trends, more so (currently running rampant: authentic, sustainable, relatable, organic, and correct.) But at-the-end-of-the-day (another one) it’s lifestyle trends that get my undivided attention. This one in particular struck me sideways on this recent country crossing: city people are obsessed with their dogs. Scarily so. Either it’s always existed and I just haven’t been paying attention, or there is something amuck in urban America that begs a bit of low brow noodling.

Why dog? Why now?” …..Click here for more


Filed under City Hits, Huffington Post Blog Pieces, Little Hymns to Montana, My Posts