Melody Martin, a close friend and colleague, is a former board member and employee of St.Paul-based Metro Center for Independent Living (MCIL). She recently published a book of life experiences and inspirational thoughts titled, “Lessons on the Journey.” I sat down with Mel recently to ask her a few questions about the book, and how she went about the process of writing it.
DH: Melody, your book is an intimate and thought provoking read. What brought you to write this book?
MM: I want to answer in two ways. I had been wanting to write a book for a long time, but I didn’t quite know the topic. People kept saying, “Well, you should write about your life. Your life has some pretty dramatic experiences in it.” I kind of thought of a couple of things in writing about my life. First, who would be interested? [She laughs.] And [second,] how does one go about capturing this on paper. I wasn’t working at the time… and I thought, “If I am ever going to write this book, I better do it now ….” I decided I could write and reflect on my life experiences and share some of the wisdom I have gained. And, hopefully I would provide a venue that would allow people to reflect on their own life experiences and come to their own wisdom.
DH: I like that…“come to their own wisdom.”
MM: Yeah. We all have our own wisdom, and hopefully this book is a vehicle to [find it].
DH: The stories and inspirational messages relate to or touch on what must be strong personal values. Is there a particular story or a reflection that is included in the book that stands out as your favorite?
MM: A couple things. To get in touch with their own wisdom…I believe at the core of each person is a core of wisdom. And I think that all we need to do is be quiet enough [to] go deep within [and] tap into it. And I hope that when people read the book they will be able to experience that [process].
Secondly, and maybe this will tap into [the value] which is my favorite…. I hope that from reading the book, people will get in touch with their own magnificence.
DH: Tell me more about what you mean by ”their own magnificence.”
MM: Well, Dave, let me ask you a question, “Do you think you are magnificent?”
DH: No, I couldn’t say that I am magnificent.
MM: How do you react when I say, “Dave you are awesome!”
DH: My first reaction would be to decline, and say, “Well I think I am a nice guy, but I wouldn’t say I am awesome.”
MM: Right! Right! Most people would say that, because we have not been taught to be in touch with or recognize [our] personal sense of magnificence. So, hopefully my book will help people identify with this part of themselves.
One of my pieces is called, “I Am Totally Awesome.” Now, growing up with a disability, it has taken [me] more than 40 years to be able to exclaim, “I am totally awesome!”
Let me try to explain it this way. Our personal sense of magnificence is a combination of [three] things. First, our physical being. Our bodies are amazing things. We can cut our finger, and usually it heals pretty quickly…. Sometimes [our bodies] need a little help, but there is a physical need or drive to survive.
Next is our emotional being. As a person with cerebral palsy, I have been wounded by people’s comments, perceptions and expectations throughout my life. And some of these wounds have been deep. But my emotional need to survive [has] enabled me to get beyond these comments and perceptions….
And finally there is our spiritual being. And, it doesn’t matter what religion—if any—you belong to. This is different than a religious sense of spirituality. It is our inner core. This is a spiritual need that lives in each one of us. And it is this spiritual being, along with the physical and emotional being in each of us, that, consciously or subconsciously …creates this essence or sense of magnificence. It is the genuine, fully conscious awareness of these three forces that enables us as individuals to identify or be aware of our sense of magnificence.
I mean, I was [literally] hit by truck! It was an amazing experience. My body was injured in some dramatic ways, and it wiped me out in completely—emotionally, physically and spiritually. I was in a coma for two weeks, but I continued to live. People ask me, “Did you choose to live?” And, I tell them, “I don’t know, I was unconscious for two weeks!” [She chuckles.] But, something inside me did choose…and it is about choice. My spirit chose not to give up, my body chose to heal, and my emotions chose to survive. So, it really is about choice…consciously [making] a choice. You have to choose to believe that you are totally awesome.
DH: Was it difficult to write the book? Revisiting some of these past experiences must have been challenging for you.
MM: No, it wasn’t [difficult to write the book.] I was very disciplined about setting aside time to write. And, once I started writing, this force would take over …and when I would reread what I had written, I thought, “Wow, who wrote that?” I think in writing this I was tapping into my own core of wisdom, and it just flowed.
DH: How or where can people get a copy of this book?
MM: People interested in a copy can go to www.singingriverpublications.com to get more information about how to order a copy. It is not available in major book stores yet. n
The Metropolitan Center for Independent Living will host a reading and book signing with Martin on Thursday, September 6, 2006, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at 1600 University Avenue West, Suite 16, St. Paul