Blushing In Seattle

Last week Len and I drove to Seattle where my friend, Shirley Hershey Showalter, was speaking about her book, Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World, an engaging memoir that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Having only ever met online, it was a distinct pleasure to listen—in person—to Shirley read one of my favorite chapters from her book to an attentive audience at the ever-popular Third Place Books, and then get to know her a bit better over coffee afterward. It’s abundantly clear that she still has the same ready-grin and twinkle in her eye that’s evident throughout her book.


Laurie Buchanan and Shirley Hershey Showalter

If you were to write a memoir, what would the title be?

© Laurie Buchanan

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79 thoughts on “Blushing In Seattle

  1. I am writing a memoir. Its called Unique, and its about raising my daughter, Carys, who has a rare syndrome. I have to keep stopping, though, as its so personal and painful to write. I haven’t quite found my voice…

    • Good one, Julia! There’s a sense in which all memoirs are incomplete. Even when you publish one, you continue to grow and reflect and have more to say! What a great reminder that all writing is incomplete. I like to think life is also. Maybe that’s one of the most important reasons to write.

  2. I guess when you have nothing else to do, you go a long way to meet someone you never met! I would blush at that too! Oh no! That’s not what this is about, is it?

    Memoir: “I think it is this way?”

  3. I have written a memoir …it’s title is ‘The Last Dance ‘ . It’s about growing up with my poor mum with schizophrenia . She is not around any more , bless her , she suffered, we all did .
    The title is from Engelburt Humperdinck’s 70’s record ‘The last Dance’ because Mum and Dad always used to dance to it at home parties …happy days Laurie .

  4. Laurie, You were with one of my favorite people! Shirley lives just over the mountains from me!

    The title of my upcoming memoir is, ME, MYSELF, AND MOM, A Journey Through Love, Hate and Healing.

  5. I also so enjoyed Shirley Hershey Showalter’s book Blush. What chapter did she read to the group? What question from the audience caught your attention?
    I’ve played with several titles for my memoir. A current working title is “A Thirst for Justice.” It reflects the underlying current in my life related to the values of fairness, equality of
    opportunity as well as awakening positive change at the personal, organizational, and societal levels.
    I have an early draft of a sub-story entitled “The Tapping Spoon” which shares how a childhood experience at a traditional farming family breakfast awakened much of the above.
    Laurie you’ve been a great writing inspiration for me (not to mention in many other ways).

    • Audrey – The chapter that Shirley read out loud to the group was the one where her family got a “Fresh Air” girl from New York City for two whole weeks!

      The question from the audience that caught my attention was how did Shirley handle any parts of her story that might potentially cause conflict among family members.

      I love your working title, “A Thirst for Justice” — it’s perfect for the underlying current that runs boldly through your life and the multitude of positive contributions that you’ve made to humankind, for which I thank you 🙂

    • Audrey, thanks so much for these kind words about Blush. And I think Namaste might be a great name for your memoir. 🙂

      And “The Tapping Spoon” sounds like a fascinating chapter!

  6. Hi, Laurie — I find myself with some unexpected and very much welcome time this Tuesday morning. My memoir title is “Take Two” based on the do-over one gets when serving in tennis and outside force interrupts the normal course of play and the point gets to be played over. I think I should get a do-over in life because it has taken me SO LONG TO FIGURE IT OUT!

    • Barbara, this is a really clever title — I think I’d open the cover to see what “take” you are taking on that phrase, and then you would hook me. You remind me of the wonderful saying, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood!”

  7. I am rewriting my memoir about growing up as an only child of elderly parents in the 1950s and 1960s when your dad is dying of cancer. Working title is You Can Go Home – deconstructing the demons. But I’m looking for a better title. My blog deals with the actual growing up under those conditions and how it has affected me since. Sometimes I rant. I also teach memoir writing workshops and courses and read memoir books. Laurie where can I get your friend’s book?



    • Sharon – On Shirley’s website it says:

      Blush is available for order:
      at Herald Press.
      at Amazon
      at Barnes and Noble
      at an Independent Bookstore Near YOU
      at Powell’s Books

      I know you’re going to enjoy reading it 🙂

      P.S. I really like the title of your memoir. It’s intriguing — makes me want to know more.

    • We had a great time, and now I am doubling and tripling the pleasure by spending time with Laurie’s many other online friends — like you! Your title reminded me of this poem:

      The Tables Turned

      By William Wordsworth

      Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
      Or surely you’ll grow double:
      Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
      Why all this toil and trouble?

      The sun above the mountain’s head,
      A freshening lustre mellow
      Through all the long green fields has spread,
      His first sweet evening yellow.

      Books! ’tis a dull and endless strife:
      Come, hear the woodland linnet,
      How sweet his music! on my life,
      There’s more of wisdom in it.

      And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
      He, too, is no mean preacher:
      Come forth into the light of things,
      Let Nature be your teacher.

      She has a world of ready wealth,
      Our minds and hearts to bless—
      Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
      Truth breathed by cheerfulness.

      One impulse from a vernal wood
      May teach you more of man,
      Of moral evil and of good,
      Than all the sages can.

      Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
      Our meddling intellect
      Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—
      We murder to dissect.

      Enough of Science and of Art;
      Close up those barren leaves;
      Come forth, and bring with you a heart
      That watches and receives.

  8. It isn’t a memoir but… I’m writing a novel loosely based on an episode in my life–a learning disabled teen joins a youth group and works in Newfoundland, Ontario and Quebec. There were challenges but tons of fun, as well. I left home thinking I’d be stuck living with my parents for the rest of my life–came back determined to make a contribution to society. My husband helped me find the title–A Long Way From Her.

    It will be my delight to host Shirley on my blog this August.

    I wished I’d been able to attend Shirley’s reading.

  9. Hi Laurie,

    I have tried hundreds of titles – not too happy with any of them. This morning’s thought:
    “Paddling on the shores of infinity, a journey with the tensions of distinction between scarcity and abundance.”

    • Ted – I like it! My minimalist heart wants to remove just a wee tad. How about:


      And by the way, I can hardly wait to read it 🙂

    • What a lovely visual image you create with that title, Ted. Do I see a kayak or a canoe. I like Laurie’s revised version also. Or do you want from scarcity to abundance??: “PADDLING ON THE SHORES OF INFINITY: A JOURNEY BETWEEN SCARCITY AND ABUNDANCE”

  10. Laurie, I always wondered how tall you are. Now I see: Taller than Shirley. So that means I’m some where in between the two of you – ha!

    My memoir title? (Good question, as always). Well, for now it’s Plain & Fancy as a working title but I’m sure it’ll change. You read my blog faithfully. Any titles for blog to book, Laurie? I’d take you seriously you know.

    • Marian – Barefooted I’m 5 foot 8 inches tall. I think that PLAIN & FANCY exactly captures and conveys everything on your wonderful blog (which points beautifully to your memoir). But I DO have a question about what I think is the current sub-title: FORMER PLAIN GIRL. Instead of using the word “Plain” twice (in both the title and subtitle), are you going to use a different descriptor in the subtitle? If yes, what are your thoughts?

  11. “Former Plain Girl” was a sub-title added by the person who set up the banner for my blog last year. I agree, the sub-title cannot be redundant.

    What are my thoughts? It’s 9:40 EDT now and my brain has shut down, so I have no thoughts on the sub-title at the moment, but when I do you’ll be the first do know, Laurie. 😉

  12. It would be “My Life in Fairview” where I have lived for every day of my 59 years, barring vacations. And I may yet actually do it, as I will be appointed to the town’s historical society in a month or two.

    Your post here is an utterly fabulous one Laurie, and I salute you for being at THIRD PLACE BOOKS in Seattle for a reading of your favorite chapter from Ms. Showalter’s book, which by the way boasts quite a title! I’m sure you and Len has a wonderful day in that beautiful city.

  13. Okay, I thought of one, it must have bounced off of something hard, like my soil, and landed in my brain. ” The Perils Of Red Dirt Gardening (Your Back Will Never Be The Same)”. Sounds like a good opening for a Yoga class.

  14. Probably “One More Time” because I think I’ll always want one more time to do one more thing. Although I don’t have any intention of writing my memoir.

  15. “The Perpetual Positive Pupil” I try to wake up everyday with a positive outlook on things even when life is filled with its major challenges and minor issues. I always try to learn something new from each experience I choose or has chosen me. It would be about all of the lessons that I have learned.

  16. “She truly lived.” That’s the short of it! I want to have lived deeply, with respect and joy and love and awareness. P.S. How nice that you were able to meet Shirley. Nothing better than seeing an on-line friend come to life!

  17. Today has been a tough healing day. My mind can’t go to this question.

    I did have a lovely swim in a lake with my book group last night and that was remarkably healing. Focusing on that right now.

  18. Bill Clinton’s memoir is titled “My Life”. Really creative, eh? I’ve always wanted to interview him with big TV audience and ask “So Mr. President, what’s the book about?” Stupid begets stupid.

  19. Laurie, I thank you again for this delightful honor — to be included in a Tuesdays with Laurie post!!! And that was after you made the effort to travel to Seattle. I hope that karma will repay you, and I am sure that it will. I also hope to pay your kindness forward and backward. Peace to you and all who come here this day and every day. Off to the Art Institute and Millennium Park! Then the Magnificent Mile.

    • Shirley – It was a pleasure to share about you to the Tuesdays With Laurie readers! I had a wonderful time meeting you in person in Seattle.

      Thank you for the heart-based energy you’re sharing in my old stomping grounds as you and Stuart continue on your PALOOZA! 🙂

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