How Telling Your Story Helps You Heal

3 Ways to Tell Your Story

As I watch and read the stories of victims of the recent flooding in Central Texas, I know many are telling their stories over and over. Many volunteers trained in Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) are purposefully spending their time listening and asking questions to help victims tell their stories. 

Survivors of a sudden event like a natural disaster, the unexpected death of a loved one, finding out they have a terminal illness, etc. often struggle to “make sense” of their new reality. Even though these survivors might need long-term care, a part of the immediate (and long-term) care involves them telling their story in a safe environment.

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Trauma upon Trauma

This post is a continuation of excerpts from my new book. A quick note about the progress of the book–My timeline is to publish the book by the first of May  I am enjoying formatting the manuscript. Did I just say enjoy? Can’t say that I am really. But it feels good to move closer to publishing.

 

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copyright www.KennethACamp.com

 

After I agreed to the placement of our first foster child, the CPS case worker knocked on our front door a couple of hours later. I opened the door and staring back at me was an 8 month old little boy in the arms of the case worker. She introduced herself.  I invited her in.

The little boy was quiet.  Did not cry.  He did not show any emotion when the case worker handed him to me.  Now I know that he was in shock.

A few weeks later after his first parent visit, this sweet little boy just stared at his parents as they walked away.  No emotion.  No crying.  Until we got home.  Then he lay on our living floor screaming, hitting his head with one of his toys.  It broke our hearts to see this 8 month old little boy reacting this way.

So, what was causing this extreme behavior?

Trauma.

In my book, I refer to little boys like this one as at risk or vulnerable children. Dr. Karen Purvis refers to them as children from hard places. If you are considering fostering or are doing so now, I highly urge you to check out Dr. Karen Purvis’ material.

Also, classes such as, Separation, Loss and Grief that we took through Arrow helped us understand at least at an elementary level about what was going on with this child.

A person of any age will struggle with processing trauma  Think about how grown people act after experiencing natural disasters. But can you imagine what it is like for a child.  If they are very young, only a few months old, it seems to affect how they process more normal situations.

Their reactions become fear based instead of normal needs based.

  • I am hungry.  Normal need based response–Someone will feed me. Fear based response–I will starve.
  • I am cold.  Normal need based response–Someone will keep me warm. Fear based response–I am alone.
  • I am afraid.  Normal need based response–Someone will comfort me. Fear based response–I will take care of myself.

For a child in foster care, the trauma begins to pile on top of trauma. Fear eventually controls the child’s behavior.

Example of trauma upon trauma for a foster child:

  • Neglect, abuse, or abandonment in family of origin.
  • Removal from family of origin.
  • Placement in the home of complete strangers.
  • Loss of personal items, routine, familiarity.
  • Months of uncertainty, sense of belonging.

The first night that our foster son was in our home, I lay in bed listening to a thunderstorm.  My heart was full of compassion wondering what was going on in his young mind. Did the storm frighten him? Was he sleeping through it? Did he wonder where he was? Did he wonder if he was safe? My intercessory prayer was that God would protect his heart and mind making him whole.

Question for you:  How can you patiently and with compassion embrace an at risk child from a hard place?

 

Author as Entrepreneur

Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson, uses the term, Author as Entrepreneur, in the video below.  He is sharing about WestBow Press, a self publishing division of Thomas Nelson.  Over the past few years, the status of self publishing has risen.

I put a lot of research into self publishing vs. traditional publishing.  Blogs, articles, and author friends of mine had a lot of different advice.  Some said to stay far away from self publishing.  Others said that self publishing is an excellent option.

For me it came down to a few things that helped me make this decision:

  1. The idea of being an author and an entrepreneur is attractive to me.  I like the idea of being in business for myself and ultimately being responsible for my success.
  2. It is also attractive to me to work with a division of Thomas Nelson.  I will be able to use their expertise and name recognition.
  3. I did not want to wait the length of time that it probably would take to go through the traditional publishing process of writing queries, hiring an agent, and finding a publishing house that would accept my manuscript.

Ultimately, the decision was mine to make.  But as I was on the phone with the WestBow representative, I felt very strange.  She even commented about how I did not seem very excited.  Believe me, I am excited!

The strange emotion lasted for most of the day.  Finally, as I was getting ready for bed, I processed with my wife what I thought was going on inside of me.  Why did I feel so strange?

I decided that making this commitment made everything seem more real.  Another thought lingered around the edges of my mind – “Do I really want to take the risk of sharing some of my life, my story, my passions?”

The answer is yes.  But, I do not take what I am doing lightly.

I appreciate everyone’s encouragement to follow my dream of writing.  Will you help me get the word out.  Like me on my FB page – Adopting a Father’s Heart – the book. You can do so by looking to your right on the sidebar.

Follow me on Twitter.  And join me on LinkedIn.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and Google+.  All of these are on the header of my home page.

Enjoy the video!

 

 

 

 

Blogging with a Voice

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I am learning how to blog and write with a voice – a style.  A voice that is my own.  A style that is easily recognizable.

Of course this takes some time.  I began blogging a few months ago.  Up to this point, my blogging has mainly been updates on the progress of my book, “Adopting the Heart of a Father”.

Last week I published my new blog site, www.KennethACamp.com.  My intent on this blog is to speak from my passions.

Just like others, there are some things in life that when I begin to talk about them, my heart rate increases as well as the pace of my speech.  What am I passionate about?

  • Knowing and having the same heart as my heavenly Father.
  • Living or at least have the willingness to live intentionally on mission.
  • Seeing the Bride of Christ awaken to its true identity and calling.

I will be blogging about these topics as I go forward.  Included in these blogs will be postings about what book I am working on.

My current book, “Adopting the Heart of a Father” shares our story of becoming foster parents.  A central theme to the story is how my Father’s heart influenced me.  My heart began to break for the foster children in our community.

I hope that as I continue to blog about what I am passionate about you will be able to hear my voice.

What are you passionate about?  Are you willing to speak out loud and let others hear your voice?

Manuscript in the Hands of my Spouse

Yikes!  My wife, Danielle, is reading the final draft of my manuscript.  I gave it to her late last week.  She began reading it over the weekend.

She read the first half a few months ago when I had completed it.  She provided some excellent content critique.  Now she will be reading my revisions to the first half and the half that she has not yet read.

It is an interesting time for me to hand over my manuscript to her.  I think that we are feeling the stress of being in a constant state of flux for the past five years.  That state of flux only intensified during the first 15 months that our foster son was with us.

When he was placed with us during the summer of 2011, I thought that he would be with us for only a couple of weeks.  Then, as that turned into months, I lived each day thinking that it would be the last day that he was living with us.

It was during this time that I began writing this book.  My first draft expressed through the verb tense my certainty of his soon departure.

Now that we know the outcome, our lives are beginning to settle into a bit of a routine.  That is a good thing for us right now.  At least for a few months it will be a good thing.

But back to how that has worn on our marriage.  Like so many couples who are focused on raising a family, we found ourselves talking to each other more and more about only the logistics of making it through each day.  At first, I thought that we would only have to do that for a short time, like a few weeks or a couple of months at the most.

However, those months turned into a year and a half.  By that time, we found it hard to even talk about logistics without getting frustrated or upset with each other.  Not good!

In the midst of this challenging time I handed over the final draft of my manuscript to my wife!  I am not sure if I am overly trusting or extremely foolish.  I choose trusting.

Seriously, I do trust my wife and her judgement.  In fact, I highly value her input.

As for our relationship – we know what we need to do.  We are committed to each other.  We have resolved to hire babysitters more often, so that we can spend time together without the interruption of a very social two-year old boy.  We have also made it a priority to spend time together in God’s Word and in prayer.

I am confident with His help, we will get our relationship back on track.  She is absolutely worth it!  And, I am looking forward to her feedback on the final draft.

Final Draft

This morning I finished my final draft!  It is a little hard to believe.  I know I still have a lot of work to do before publishing.

First, my wife will read my manuscript while I decide on some professional editing.  I have not decided yet if I will have an editor from a publishing house or a freelance editor do the work.

I will also make a decision on the publishing route.  I have decided that I will contract with a “self publisher”.  I researched many of these options online.  Now, I will make some calls to interview the ones that I am interested in.

While doing that, I will be also putting more time into developing my online presence.  This includes my website, enhancing my blog, and networking through the various social media sites.

My hope is to have a solid following by the time my book is ready to be published.  Not only will this help with marketing of the book, but it also could catch the attention of a traditional publisher.

As I started my morning today, I was thinking about finishing my final draft today.  I had not been confident that this day would ever come.  Even though some had encouraged me over the years to write, I was not sure that I would ever take the time to do so.

I thought about how so many people have a story to share, but in comparison so few take the time to write it.  Just like any endeavor or project, many excuses prevent someone from writing a book.  I am proud of myself for jumping that hurdle and sharing this story.  Hopefully, there will be more to come.

Thanksgiving break

I obviously took a week off from posting a blog.  My extended family spent a week at the Texas coast.  It has become somewhat of a tradition on how to spend our Thanksgivings.  I tend to do my best to disconnect from all that I am working on whenever I take a vacation like this.  It usually helps me to clear my mind.

Last year our son went with us.  But, what a difference a year makes.  One year ago, he was simply our foster son.  We were not even sure that he would still be with us for Thanksgiving.  I for sure thought that he would be back with his family by Christmas.

I could tell that my family was carefully guarding their hearts last year.  No one wanted to get too attached to him.

That is a challenge of fostering.  It not only effects your nuclear family, but also your extended family.  Some jump in with their whole heart, but most do not.

Last year during the holidays, I felt at times that I was just playing house.  Because he had been with us at the time for nearly 6 months, I felt like I was his father.  But, I knew that I was not.

But this year was completely different.  Now that he was our adopted son, I knew that I was not playing house.  I truly was his father.  In fact, we received his new birth certificate in the mail right before we left town.

Now, instead of wondering if our time together was going to be my last memory of him, I knew that we were creating new memories that we could reflect back on as a family in the years to come.

So, our Thanksgiving break is over, but not our thankful hearts.

I will share more about my work on developing an online platform in my next blog.

Personal Branding

I promised in my last blog post that I would share some of what I am learning about marketing which leads me to this title – Personal Branding.

When I began to embrace the idea of being a writer about one year ago after many years of encouragement from others, especially my wife, I had no idea of what all would be entailed.

As I wrote in my last blog about being a little bit overwhelmed by all of the publishing options that are available today for an aspiring author, I also find myself feeling the same way about the whole idea of self marketing.

With the growth of social media, the ability and opportunity to present yourself, your voice, your message in a consistent manner is incredible.

I have had a few factors that caused me to be resistant to the whole social media scene.  First of all, being in my early 50’s , I am used to more of a face to face way of networking.  I want to know who I am talking to just as much as that person probably likes being able to know me as well.  I like to look into the eyes of the person I am talking to.

Secondly, I have been overly protective of my online identity.  A couple of reasons for that.  One is that I have done missionary work in some countries where it was prudent to be “unknown”.  The other reason is that I have not wanted to be naiive about online relationships.  I know that it can be fun and sometimes beneficial to reconnect with old friends and create new friendships.  But, I have chosen to not go there out of respect of my marriage.  I believe it is important for me to build strong hedges.

Thirdly, and not lastly, but all I will share here, is that I have avoided the social media world so that I would not become addicted to it.  I have friends, as I am sure you do too, that spend countless hours on their social media sites.  I know myself too well.  Because I can easily become OCD about things, I made a decision to not even be tempted by it.

All these things were true because I viewed social media mainly as just that, a “social” activity.  I understood that it could be very useful for someone who was networking for business or politics, etc.  But, I had not seen the value for me until now.

Finally, I am getting around to the objective of this blog!  I am learning that I am not just writing a book, or hopefully, books.  I am beginning to form a business around who I am and what I have to say.

Now, I am beginning to see the tremendous value of creating personal brand.  And, social media is a powerful way of getting the word out about that brand.

As I mentioned in the last blog, Michael Hyatt has a lot good information on his blog about this topic.  www.michaelhyatt.com.  He even has taken a lot of his blog posts on the subject and has written a book about it – Platform – Getting Noticed in a Noisy World.

I found a lot good supporting and additional online also about personal branding.  Just a few of the general tips I have learned are:

  • Know who you are.
  • Know what your message is or you want it to be.
  • Be consistent in your message.
  • Know your audience and how to connect to them.

So, this is where I find myself.  I laid in bed the other night processing out loud with my wife about creating my personal brand and platform.  I less overwhelmed and becoming more excited about developing my personal brand.

Stay tuned to see how I roll it out in the weeks to come.

 

More research on publishing options

As I near completion of my manuscript, I continue to research publishing options.  The more I research, the more options I seem to find.  The first decision that I need to make is whether I want to go the traditional publishing house route or the quickly expanding self publishing route.

If I go the traditional publishing route, then I should strongly consider contracting a literary agent.  Someone who understands the publishing world and has the necessary contacts.  Being a beginner author, this relationship would be crucial for me.

Traditional publishing houses understandably receive tons of requests to review new manuscripts.  Because there are only so much time in a day, most manuscripts that are submitted without some kind of relationship already in place get quickly rejected.  It is not that the book is not a good one, it is just not the best way of acquiring a book deal in today’s marketplace.

If I go the self publishing route, I need to decide how much I want to partner with a publisher.  Many of the traditional publishing houses now have developed a division dedicated to self publishers offering them various packages in helping with the process.

My friend, Lance, turned me onto Michael Hyatt’s blog – www.michaelhyatt.com.  Michael Hyatt is the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, one of the largest publishers in North America.  His blog offers tons of great advice for authors, both experienced and novice.

Here is some advice he gave in a blog about deciding if self publishing is for you:

  • You are passionate about your book idea but can’t seem to find a publisher or agent who “gets it.”
  • You are weary of the rejection letters and just want to get your book into print—now!
  • You really don’t care about selling a gazillion copies and becoming famous. You just want something to give to your family and friends.
  • You are a public speaker and need a book to sell at your events.
  • You want a published book to explain your business philosophy and provide a “calling card” for prospective clients.
  • You know that even if a publisher agrees to publish your book, you are probably not going to get A-list treatment. You might as well do it yourself and keep the lion’s share of the profits.
  • You are the pastor of a church and want something to drive your sermon series more deeply into the life of your congregation.

I am not sure if any of these fit my situation exactly, as I have yet to try the traditional publisher route.

Another great piece of advice that Michael Hyatt gives is about the importance of self marketing regardless of the publishing route that I choose.  I will blog more next time about what I am learning about all of that.

Keeping Momentum

Several months ago when I was still writing my first draft, I resolved to spend time each day writing.  I blogged previously that some days the words poured out freely and quickly.  Other days were much more laborious.  The objective, especially on the slow days, was to not get discouraged and allow myself to have days of no writing.

Now that I am in the phase of writing my final draft, I spend some days just reading what I have already written.  If I like what I am reading, I read several pages making only minor edits.

However, on the days where I do not particularly like what I have written, or I do not like the flow, it can feel like I am trying to walk through sludge.  I have to take the same approach and keep working each day on the book.

Then there are days like some that I have had over the past two weeks.  Other important activities put a squeeze on my time to work on the book.

I am on the board of a local non profit, Partners in Hope Lake Travis.  You can learn more about the non profit at www.partnersinhope.laketravis.org.  We had our 2nd annual fundraiser this past Sunday night, so I had a few tasks that needed to be taken care of before and after the fundraiser.

Our family also took a two day trip to Houston to meet with our lawyer to update our will.  We are officially adding our adopted son as a beneficiary to our will!  He has no idea how his inheritance has changed.  I write about this in the book by the way.

Those two important events cut into my time to work on the book.  But, I have to not allow it to slow down my momentum.  So, I am making sure that I am back at it today for a few hours.  Hopefully, I will be able to jump right back into where I left off a couple of days ago.