Are Mennonites “gutsy”?
How about memoirists?
My guess is that you may have had more problem answering “yes” to the first question than to the second.
So here’s a Mennonite confession. I’ve always admired gutsy-ness. If you read to the very end of this post, you’ll understand why.
First, let me introduce you to a memoirist who has cornered the market on “gutsy.”
Sonia Marsh can pack her carry-on and move to another country in one day. She inspires her audiences to get out of their comfort zone and take a risk. She says everyone has a “My Gutsy Story®” — some just need a little help to uncover theirs.
Her story, told in her travel memoir Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island, is about chucking it all and uprooting her family—with teenagers— to reconnect on an island in Belize. Her memoir has received seven awards, including 1st Place, in the “Autobiography/Memoir E-Lit Awards 2012/13.
Sonia is the founder of the “My Gutsy Story®” series and has published the first Anthology: My Gutsy Story Anthology: True Stories of Love, Courage and Adventure from Around the World (Volume 1) which has been named a 2013 Benjamin Franklin Award Silver Honoree Winner.
She has lived in many countries – Denmark, Nigeria, France, England, the U.S. and Belize – and considers herself a citizen of the world.
Sonia now offers “gutsy” book marketing and coaching to indie authors. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website: http://soniamarsh.com
How We Connected
We both attended the Santa Barbara Writers Conference in 2008 — six years ago! I told more of that story in this 2012 interview when Sonia’s memoir came out. When we both began blogging, soon after that conference, we stayed in touch. We also wrote and published our memoirs.
Sonia recognized the universal theme of her memoir was courage. Uprooting a family and moving to Belize from Orange County, California, took moxie, guts. As she searched for the right word, the idea of creating a website to help other people tell their gutsy stories occurred to her. I cheered her on!
Sonia invited me to contribute a story to her new website and enticed me (and others) with prizes and a contest. Maybe she already knew that Rosy Cheeks (my high school nickname) loved contests. Yet I didn’t offer a story or enter the contest.
Why Did It Take Me So Long to “Tell My Gutsy Story ©”?
My childhood memoir doesn’t contain the kind of drama we normally think of as being gutsy. I suffered no abuse. I did nothing heroic. Heck, it took me two years to get myself promoted from Blue Bird to Red Bird in elementary school! Who would call such small stories courageous? I had to re-frame my stories to fit Sonia’s lens. Then, when I was reflecting on my life, looking at my photos, this one punched me — right in the gut.
The Fear of Death
“My Gutsy Story®” Shirley Showalter
Behind all our fears, often hidden even to ourselves, lies one big fear.
Yes, you got it. The fear of death.
We can’t become truly gutsy, courageous, until we accept the reality of death and consciously seek to live deeply and fully in its presence.
I first stared death in the face at the age of six.
It happened this way:
On the evening of Dec. 20, 1954, my younger brother Henry and I were playing in a little stack of hay in our barn, making tunnels out of bales and talking about what we hoped for in our Christmas stockings. Cows chewed contentedly next to us. The DeLaval milkers sounded almost like heartbeats—lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub—as they extracted warm milk from each udder.
And then we heard it: a horrible, penetrating, animal-like scream, piercing that night and my life to this day. The terrible sound grew louder as Mother came toward the barn. She ran to Daddy and, still screaming, started pounding him on his chest.
“My baby is dead. Our baby is dead. My baby is dead.” That was all she could say, over and over again. Then she would throw back her head and wail.
I learned a lesson that night that I would have to learn again when my father died at age 55 and when several close friends died in sudden, untimely ways.
We all die.
From then on, life became even more precious. I decided to live twice, once for myself and once for the little sister who lived only 39 days.
Read the rest here on the Gutsy Living page.
I hope you voted in the contest. If not, please click here. It’s easy!
AND, you may have been thinking, “I wonder if I have the guts to write a story?” The answer is “yes!” Sonia has agreed to answer any questions you have about her story and her website. If she accepts your story, it may be included in My Gutsy Story Anthology: Volume II!
Of course, I am here to listen to any responses you may have to the idea in my story also. How have you connected the reality of death and the need for courage in your life?