CHQ 2019 final post


This year, when I went to Chautauqua, I took the plunge and enrolled in a special interest course. These courses are not included in the price of your gate pass, so if you want to take one of the many offerings, be prepared to pay an extra $95. When I heard that a 3-day course called “Living Your Best Life through Narrative, I took a deep breath and signed up. Because the title included the words life and narrative, I assumed it would help me with writing memoir pieces. I should have done more research into this course, because that’s way too much money to throw away on an assumption. This course was nothing more than writing short pieces on the spot called prompts. We do this in our TTN writers group for free. In fact, I felt like I was back in Columbus writing prompts. I learned nothing. I was even more depressed about the writings I heard than the money I wasted. This was nothing more than group therapy through writing. I don’t need group therapy. When some of the participants stood to read, they dissolved into tears as they told how they had lost their husbands and didn’t know how they were going to go on. The instructor encouraged these dark and sad writings by giving us prompts such as “What do you fear most and why?” and “When in your life have you said yes when you should have said no.” I believe that he was working through his own problems of dealing with a romantic breakup. He said as much, which was inappropriate. After hearing all these woeful stories, I decided to make mine lighter and even a little humorous. I didn’t read it to the class, but here it is for you.

When I said yes but should have said no:

“Yes please, I’d love a piece of cake. Sure, and ice cream would be great. A sandwich would be much more satisfying than a salad. “Seconds anyone?” Yes please. I used to keep my wedding dress hanging in my guest room closet, and now and then I’d try it on to see if I could still fit into a size 5. When the size 5 became a little too snug, I had it sealed up and stored, for maybe a petite granddaughter. Many years later, when my daughter was married, I searched and searched for the perfect dress, one appropriate for the mother of the bride but not one that looked like a nightgown. I looked stunning in it as I walked proudly down the aisle on the arm of my handsome son. And about once a year for many years, I would slip into that fabulous dress just to make sure I could still zip up the back. The last time I tried, the zipper would not meet, and the dress looked way too tight. Now it too is sealed up and stored for maybe one day I can wear it for my granddaughter’s wedding, but it will take a lot of saying “No thanks.”.”

I’ll close with a caption for the photo summing up my 4th year at CHQ. On the Friday night of the first week, Jeannette, Anna, and I joined our TTN friend Pat for a celebratory drink at the big fancy hotel, the Athenaeum on the porch overlooking the lake. Here’s a photo of us toasting our friendship and CHQ.Here’s to you, CHQ.

Mary Hiland

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261


5 thoughts on “CHQ 2019 final post

  1. An interesting post, all be it rather negative.
    While I can understand that the course you took may not have been for you, to say what went on there was inappropriate seems to me judgmental and closed minded.
    It may not, as I say have worked for you but for many people writing is therapy and is quite necessary.
    I find it rather sad that you always start out so positive in your writing but in the end you bring forth such searing negativity that it ruins your talent.

    • Patty, my readers realize that this is my opinion only, because after all, it’s seeing it my way. And as I said, I must have misinterpreted the description of the course.

      • Hi, of course. I just think you are a very talented writer, and it comes out much more beautifully when you write things like what you did the other day about your memory of the swimming pool. That was a most lovely post. All of your writing is wonderful though. I guess I just lean more toward the positive approach. Even when things are negative, I try to put a positive spin on them. You’re doing a magnificent job all together. Have a wonderful awesome day.

      • Either way, 🙂 I have shared this on to my blog because my followers were keeping up with this and I wanted them to see the outcome.
        We would love to have you pop over and say hello and chat with us. It is always a good idea to visit the blogs of those who take the time to share your work and connect with those followers. You never know who might come over and read other things on your blog. We don’t so love it if you find something in our neck of the woods to have you share it on to your blog. Because it is a wonderful idea when you share of the work of others as they do for you. Anyway, have a wonderful fantastic awesome rest of your day whatever you decide to do.g

  2. Reblogged this on Campbells World and commented:
    I post this here because I’d posted the other two in this series and so out of consideration for those who might have been reading I give you this final post.
    I have commented on the post onto mary’s blog. If you’re interested in my thoughts you’re welcome to click over, read this final post in this series in full and then add your own thoughts.
    Have a good night.
    I close with this thought.
    “There is no right way, no wrong way, only a way.”
    “Just because something doesn’t work for you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work at all.”

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