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With a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction degree (Goucher College, August 2014), I am looking at a new phase in my life. From 1992 to 2009, I served as Founding Executive Director of Miriam's House, a residence for homeless women living with AIDS. I left this position when Chronic Migraine Disease overtook my ability to do my job. Now I hope that a writing career will both accommodate the migraines and give me a creative, productive outlet. And soon, September 4, I will launch my Inkshares author page in a bid to hit the 1,000 pre-order goal in 90  days. The book I want to publish is "Nowhere Else I Want to Be," a memoir of ten of my years at Miriam's House.

04 September 2015

My memoir: Nowhere Else I Want to Be

Things have changed since I last posted on this blog.

I have a new blog on my new website.

And I have launched my pre-order bid (for my memoir, see below*) on Inkshares, a hybrid of crowd-sourcing and traditional publisher. If I get 1,000 pre-orders, they will publish my memoir.

To read a chapter, learn more about the book and pre-order: click here.

*Nowhere Else I Want to Be is a memoir about ten of my seventeen years as Founding Executive Director of Miriam's House -- a residence for Washington, DC's homeless women with AIDS.

15 March 2015


I haven't posted in over a month, so I thought I'd write a quick post of explanation. The fact is, I'm not sure where my blogging life is headed right now.

For one thing, I've started a new migraine treatment: botox injections. Thirty-one injections around the forehead, ears, neck and shoulders, every three months. I just had the second treatment a few days ago. The effect is cumulative, so if there is to be a benefit, it won't be apparent until after the second or third treatment. I really want this to work for me. It has proven to help about 80% of the patients on it.

But I'm nervous about becoming hopeful. Spending too much time imagining a freer life and what I could do with it may just give me a harder fall into disappointment if the outcome is negative. So it's hard to know what to post here, and I haven't had the energy lately to figure it out.

Secondly, I'm contemplating discontinuing this blog and beginning a new one more in line with my writing and publication plans. I'm working on my author's website now, and the new blog, if there is one, will come with the launch of that site.

Thirdly, I'm keeping busy writing and polishing several essays, hoping to get published some more. So far, excerpts from my manuscript have been published in the print literary journal, Soundings Review, and in the on-line journal, Jenny Magazine. Another is forthcoming in the on-line literary journal, bioStoriesThe Chronicle for the American Chronic Pain Association published a short article in the December 2014 issue (here -- it's a downloadable pdf,). And I'm looking for an agent, which is time-consuming. In the meanwhile, I have plans to attend three writers workshops and conferences between now and the end of May.
Photo by William Marsh

So life is changing. Much of it is positive -- for that I am grateful. I'll keep you posted as to my next steps.

As always, thank you for reading my blog.


22 January 2015

How One Woman Faces Her Fears -- Lung Leavin' Day 2015

My blog has come to the attention of Cameron and Heather von St. James, whose cause is a cancer caused by asbestos: mesothelioma. Today's post supports their cause.

Heather von St James was diagnosed with pleural (lining of the lung) mesothelioma just after she gave birth to their daughter in 2005. She was given fifteen months to live. Among other treatments for the cancer, she had a lung removed. Her sister dubbed the day of that surgery, Lung Leavin' Day. This year, Heather, Cameron, their daughter, Lily Rose, and numerous family and friends will gather for their ninth annual Lung Leavin' Day celebration. On February 2, 2015, they will participate in a ritual of writing their fears on plates then smashing the plates into a bonfire.

Heather has survived a prognosis of fifteen months by seven-and-a-half years. During those years, she and Cameron have created an informative website/blog about mesothelioma, its causes and treatments. The blog aims to support caregivers and persons with cancer of all forms.

Some great posts:
     Four Tips for Caregivers During the Chaos of Diagnosis
     Cancer and Perspective: Hindsight is 20/20
     The Importance of Support for Cancer patients

I love the idea of writing our fears on a plate and then smashing it into a fire. It makes me wonder: what fears would I choose for the ritual if I were there?

Photo from freedigitalphoto.net
I'd write about the fear I have for a person beloved to me who had a bilateral mastectomy, and for others struggling with mental illness and/or addictions. For myself, I'd cast into the flames a fear I have that the migraines won't ever go away. Though my spiritual journey these past twenty years has been one of gaining peace and relinquishing fear, I have to admit that I'm not completely fear-free. I also know that if a friend or family member were to be diagnosed with cancer, fear would invade my peace and I would have to deal with it.

This ritual of smashing our fear into flames is wonderfully symbolic of what determination it takes to face cancer, other life-threatening diseases, and life itself. Here is a link to Heather's interactive website page on which you can virtually fling your fears into the fire.

Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

19 January 2015

The Power of Distraction

I have read that studies show people with migraine have less pain after they
exercise. So far, I haven't noticed that the pain is less. However, I have noticed that while I'm on the treadmill or the bike or working with my personal trainer, I'm not thinking about the migraine. If I push too hard, I'll get dizzy or have throbbing pain that reminds me I have a headache. But while I'm concentrating, the pain is pretty much forgotten.

When I get home and slow down, the migraine is back, sometimes worse than it was before I exercised. Yet my mood and sense of well-being have improved, so the trade-off seems worth it to me.

I'm lucky that there's now a YMCA three blocks away and I can afford the membership fee. And that I can save up enough to have two personal training sessions a year. For these things, I am so grateful. I don't take them for granted. (When the nearest Y was a bus-ride and ten block walk away and I was paying for tuition, I could neither get there nor afford it.)

All this is just to say that I'm now thinking of some of my pain management tools as distractions -- listening to Seinfeld and The Office DVDs, meditation and deep-muscle relaxation, listening to audio books on my Kindle.

What distracts you from your pain?

Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.

16 January 2015

What The Elderly Woman At the Y Said To Me

Today I was able, for the first time since spilling the beans (post of January 1), to put real clothing on. Naturally, I went to the Y.

I saw a woman this morning I've seen many times before. I guess she's in her seventies, but she's in such good shape she could be ten years older and you'd never know. I admire the vigor of her workouts, the disciplined way she goes about her stretches. She exudes health and well-being.

She happened to be next to me at one point, so I couldn't resist saying, "I really admire how in-shape you are."

She looked at me. "It's just doing what you're doing now, and don't stop."

Photo by William Marsh

She doesn't look like she has any disability like migraines or any of the other hidden diseases some of us have. She doesn't look depressed or anxious, or as though she has a mental or emotional challenge. Perhaps it was easy for her to say, don't stop

But I don't believe she's never had trouble to overcome, so I refuse to slip out of the challenge. I may never have calves that look like they were carved from granite, but by this time next year I am going to be in much better shape than I am now.

Finally, it doesn't have to be about going to the Y and getting in shape. Some of us have jobs and family and obligations. Some cannot afford it. Some have bodily or mental ills that keep us from doing what we want. But somewhere in our lives there is something challenging us to grow, to change, to evolve. It may be physical, mental or spiritual.

Never would I say it's easy. And overly simplified formulas like "don't stop" can make a truly depressed or ill person tear her hair out. I'm grateful I have the energy and mental focus to make the choice. My wish for all my readers is that they are able to find and commit to one thing - whatever it is - that causes them to make a decision not to stop.

Thank you for reading my blog. You can comment below or email me at carold.marsh@gmail.com.