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Kathy Donchak

Sunday Letter: Documenting Your Life

published3 months ago
2 min read

"The patterns of our lives reveal us. Our habits measure us. Our battles with our habits speak of dreams yet to become real."

~ Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook

I sat in my chair, alongside other parents immersed in their phones and watched as the day turned to night. The sunset, a mere sliver in the distance, of deep red and purple hues, signaled a stolen moment to come into the presence of life, in an otherwise busy week. This awareness is available to us every day. We simply have to notice a moment that reminds us that we are alive, blessed, and grateful.

I have come to treasure my autobiographical writing practice as a meditative act. Nature provides indirect access to life’s lessons and illuminates what needs to be seen. We can believe we don't have time to capture our life, but all we have to do is look up and remember.

Life writing takes many forms. The gift of documenting your life, is in the deepening of your connection to self in a book only you could write.


Be well,


Kathy


Sunday Letter on Bookshop.org

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Deftly woven of excerpts from their correspondence, conversations, journal entries, and email updates, Bird-Bent Grass is a complex and moving exploration of memory, illness, and immigration; friendship, conflict, resilience, and forgiveness; cross-cultural communication, the ethics of international development, and letter-writing as a technology of intimacy. Throughout, it reflects on the imperative and fleeting business of being alive and loving others while they're ours to hold. Learn more on Bookshop.org

Sonja Boon's heritage is complicated. Although she has lived in Canada for more than 30 years, she was born in the UK to a Surinamese mother and a Dutch father. An invitation to join a family tree project inspired a journey to the heart of the histories that have shaped her identity, as she sought to answer two questions that have dogged her over the years: Where does she belong? And who does she belong to?

Deeply informed by archival research and current scholarship, but written as a reflective and intimate memoir, What the Oceans Remember addresses current issues in migration, identity, belonging, and history through an interrogation of race, ethnicity, gender, archives and memory. More importantly, it addresses the relevance of our past to understanding our present. It shows the multiplicity of identities and origins that can shape the way we understand our histories and our own selves. Learn more on Bookshop.org

As a commercial fisher in Nova Scotia in the early 1990s, Raymond Rogers experienced the collapse of Canada's East Coast fishery first-hand. Afterward, while preparing to leave the province to find work elsewhere, Rogers noticed a lone gravestone across the road from his home in Shelburne County that commemorates the life of Donald McDonald, a crofter from the Isle of Lewis in Scotland, who "departed this life" in 1881.

In Rough and Plenty: A Memorial, Rogers explores the parallel processes of dispossession suffered by nineteenth-century Scottish crofters expelled from their ancestral lands during the Highland Clearances, and by the marginalization of coastal fishing communities in Nova Scotia. The book aims to memorialize local ways of life that were destroyed by the forces of industrial production, as well as to convey the experience of dislocation using first-hand narratives, recent and historical. The author makes the case that in a world where capital abhors all communities but itself, remembering becomes a form of advocacy that can challenge dominant structures. Learn more on Bookshop.org