Why I need my shrink right now

betty ming liu Relationships, Writing how-to's 21 Comments

Getting divorced in 2000 destroyed my life. When I walked out of my 18-year marriage and a beautifully furnished home, I was an unemployed stay-at-home mom who relocated to a strange town and moved into an empty house.

Hey, that was the easy part. It’s taken me a solid decade to figure out a new routine, re-invent my career and build a support network. But I did it. And now comes the real challenge…

Can I go on to fulfill my dreams?

Let me phrase that question another way — am I ready to take on some new roles?

  • Stage mom and manager: As you know, my 16-year-old daughter wants to model. The other day, we went on a photo shoot that I set up and coordinated. At the actual shoot, I also served as driver, stylist — as well as the porter who lugged around the makeup bag, shoes and outfit changes from location to location. (Note: In pursuing these roles, my only dream is to help my kid find her own happiness. Ooops, is my maternal martyr complex showing??!)
  • Author and publisher: Seven years ago, I started teaching. Then, two years ago, I got into blogging and social media. Now I have an urge to combine the two: I want to write and self-publish a journalism guidebook. By the way, did I mention that I’ve never written or published a book before?

Thank goodness I have a great shrink. I need help in sorting out how I go about finding my dreams without losing my mind. Maybe saner people don’t need to blab on for hours in therapy. But I wasn’t raised to believe that happiness or true love are possible. Getting over my past continues to be hard work.

Recently, my therapist made an interesting observation. I was explaining that I love blogging, teaching and painting because they put me in the moment. They’re all about being with people on a raw, emotional level. My shrink listened thoughtfully. Then, he said that in an earlier, pre-Internet age, I probably would’ve been an actress.

Hmmm. That made a lot of sense to me…I’m definitely in search of an audience!

So I’m all about wanting to connect. Below are the ways you can join me by clicking on the following links. And please pass along my info…

Maybe you know people who will vibe with my search for fulfillment as a writer, journalist, artist and teacher. Maybe there’s someone rebuilding a life after divorce. Maybe it’s someone who is dealing with childhood scars and/or the immigrant experience. Anyways, I’m here.  :-)

  • Subscribe to my blog: As a subscriber, you’ll get an email alert whenever I have a new blog post. Having you on an email list is precious currency because  it’s tangible proof that I actually have an audience.
  • “Like” my Facebook page: This is my public page, where my inner actress can hang out informally with everyone. I post here several times a week. Right now, 184 people like my page, which feels like being in an Off-Broadway-sized “theater.” To turn the page into a stadium-sized arena, I would need thousands of like-minded people. Wonder if that’s possible.
  • Follow me on Twitter: I tweet moments from my daily life — links to interesting things I’ve read as well as photos and random thoughts. This venue offers instant reaction to my latest material.

Does all this online personal pimpin’ seem crazy? Haha. Yeah. But it’s also incredibly liberating. And, fun.


Comments 21

  1. Post

    thanks for dropping by, shirley! hope tings work out for you. alll i’m hearing these days is about people being super-stressed. as a seasonal worker, this is the worst time for me too — just a few more weeks until the end of the spring semester. my students and i are all pushing ourselves. but, we.can. do. it.

  2. Reinventing ourselves! Creating new avenues for self-expression! Self-publishing! What a great, great world we live in these days…May you find continued success in love, motherhood, and writing.

    All the happiness you desire is yours – for the asking and for the allowing.

  3. You definitely said it best when you went from writing ”fulfill my dreams” to taking on ”new roles.” You are already living dreams (inspiring some of mine!) and after someone fulfills their dreams, they realize that there are more dreams to be had. I think I was raised (maybe you, too) that you should only do one thing in life, have one career, have one routine, all still without joy. Happiness wasn’t expressed to me as an option, but maybe as luck, maybe more rare than luck, an oddity, a fantasy, even.

    I think you’ve come to see it as a choice and a process. I give you a high-five for choosing it and going through that process.

    You’ve got a lot going on at any given moment, but you’ve learned how to make the most of it and your blog shows us how to make the most of it, too.

    (Please take this the right way, I’m finding it hard to word it correctly): For someone over 50, I find you way open with technology and changing times. I think that is so cool, because at 30, I don’t see myself as open. It is great how in-the-know you are about social media and you write so fluidly about it as though you are one of these kids in their dorm rooms inventing this stuff. Being open to the changes in the world around you might just be reflective to how much you desire, express or accept change in your life. Some changes occur because we want it, some because we need it. But you seem to just roll with it, which is cool. Not something I would expect from someone over 50, so maybe that is where I need to change.

    And you’ve only been teaching for 7 years? Really, you’re good! You convinced me that you’ve been doing this as long as being a journalist. Maybe you should be an actress…

  4. Betty,

    You’re so resilient. I just wanted to let you know. And if you published a guidebook to journalism I would absolutely read it. Legume Loyalist and the Stephanie Fisher brand would not be what it is today without Betty :-)


  5. Betty,
    I had no idea you found a good man. After reading your blog about how hard it is to find a man on Match.com I am so happy for you!
    And, I am sure all your other wishes will come true too. Especially because you have such a command over the subject. I definitely think a book is a great idea!

  6. Post

    how thoughtful of you all to check in with me. talking to you about doing a book makes the idea more real. if you have suggestions, i need them! what would you want a guidebook to cover? and what do non-journos want to know about our secrets to writing?

    also, i am thankful every day that i am a 54-year-old woman living in the year 2011. when i think of the way women slogged through social conventions in past decades, i just shrivel up inside of my padded, push-up bra. such unnecessary misery; so much untapped energy. let’s hear it for social media, technology and an ever-expanding world of options. :-)

  7. Thank you so much for this. I was divorced after 18 years of being a stay-home mom, and about at the same time you were going through it. It seems to me that life is so much better when you overcome circumstances like that than it ever would have been without the challenge. I’ll keep up with your blogs for ongoing inspiration!

  8. Hi Betty,

    I agree. I would so buy your book and require it of my own journalism students! You have learned so much about using social media and have so much to offer. I say go for it. As for the man, I can’t speak to a new intimate relationship, but I can say that even in very old relationships you are always taking on new roles because life is always changing…and it changes the people in those relationships in the process. Follow your muse and your dreams!

    Here’s to a New Life,

  9. Betty,

    You are an inspiration. It is rare to find a person who is willing to put all of themselves into their blog posts or maybe I just don’t read enough personal blogs. It’s time to dive deeper into your blog. From the tools you’ve taught us in class I can only imagine how successful your book will be—do it! Thank you for sharing your life in progress.

    See you in class Teach,

  10. Hi Betty,

    I’m all about networking and introducing my friends to one another. Even if someone might not be in the same field as you, I feel like there’s always a possibility of them KNOWING someone IN your field. It’s always great to have a wide network, and I’ll make sure to “like” your Facebook page when I get back home tonight. (My work blocks FB =P )

    Enjoy the weekend!

    -Lee Ann

  11. I think it is unanimous that we would all read your guidebook. I think it is also fair to say that you probably have a few other books to consider writing after this one. Yes, please take it one day at a time, but know that you have so much to say, so much to write, and so much of your wisdom and life stuff that we want to read about.

    In a guidebook, I would particularly want some craft issues covered and tips on how to keep one’s writing fresh and relevant, esp. when you are dealing with assigned topics that you really don’t care about but feel are important to other people. Staying fresh after doing the same thing day in, day out feels like a mystery sometimes.

    Also, definitely include a chapter on networking. You seem to blog about people you’ve met or covered before that you’ve known for years. How do newbie writers move out of the novice stage and develop (and maintain) a strong sense of sources?
    How do you find these people, and what can you do (most likely through social media nowadays) to make them remember you?

    For writers that can multi-task and spread themselves the way you do, how would they segue into other careers and use their journalism skills or connections to do so? For example, how would a journalist like you become a prof or an author? How can they make that transition? How does a feature/community writer like myself make a way for herself in the world of theatre? How does a desk person at The Daily News start her own business? (I’m starting to think maybe this is a lot for a book, how do you feel about a talk show?) Stuff like that. A section about balancing several interests while still wanting to stay in the field or how to use what you’ve learned in the field to branch out or totally away from it.

    I still think you should write a cookbook. You have a relationship with food and your conversations and blogs have made it fun for me. After (definitely after) a guide book, this should be on your ”Books To Write” list. Plus, how about some kind of memoir-ish book. Memoirs are one of my favorite genres. They aren’t just by people who feel they’ve lived their life and have lessons to share anymore, they are written by people of all ages, 20s, 50s, even teens, I guess (didn’t Drew Barrymore write one at 18?), who write about where they are, in the moment, which is so testament to your life perspective and what you put on the blog. The lessons are great to read and so are the moments where a reader sees that the author doesn’t have it all together yet and is still in the process. So a book about where you’ve been, your here-and-now, your where you are going and your what you just don’t know is a great 3rd option. There are interesting books like The Soloist that have stories with the subjects still ongoing… There have been movies that come out of stories like these, the still have more to go subjects. Those can be found from the books ”Eat Pray Love” (which was so popular and I still didn’t enjoy the book or film. I think I only liked the ”Eat” part. Other story) or the ”Julie and Julia” one.
    I loved ”Teacher Man” when we read it in your class and wonder if you have adventures to share from the newsroom or adventures from your classroom, maybe adventures in the kitchen or adventures in child rearing. I think of interest to readers would be a book containing what this blog highlighted, that you re-built a satistfying and still ambitious life for yourself and how you did it. You can go informative, self-help or memoir/storytelling.

    I’m so hyped up you’ve decided to do this. Write! Write! Write!

  12. Post

    aw, you guys are so supportive. thank you for believing in me. at age 54, i am a late bloomer. but that’s just the way it is. and starting late doesn’t mean being second-rate.

    that reminds me of a chelsea art gallery that i visited a few years ago. it was filled with huge paintings. they were made by a guy who first picked up a brush when he was in his 60s. at that point, he was in his 70s or 80s and he had huge recognition from the art world (obviously, if he was exhibiting in chelsea). i can’t remember the name of the artist but i remain inspired. so, never too late for any of us. :)

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