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Challenge: Follow Your Dreams

Mom Writer Teaches Her Children to Follow Their Dreams

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I started writing during my elementary years in the '60s, utilizing one of those Big Chief writing tablets that are now collectible items on eBay. I was one of the few in my high-school and college classes who actually liked essay tests. And though I became a mostly stay-at-home Mom after I graduated from college, I thought I might go stark-raving mad if I didn't find a way to utilize my innate creativity. I started doing some freelance writing. My first check for a published piece came in January 1989, a month after my fourth baby was born. I’ve never looked back. I’ve been writing ever since, with brief breaks after each of my next four children were born. With over 200 published clips and one published book under my belt, I started a "housewife writer" blog Mary Potter Kenyon in June 2009. I picked up various freelance newspaper column jobs and began teaching writing classes and workshops at community colleges, libraries, and writer’s conferences in 2011.

One thing I’ve heard repeatedly during these classes is the question “How do you find the time?” or the comment “I’ll write when the kids are older.”

That’s when I pull out this picture my husband snapped of me at my typewriter in early 1994.

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Yes, I wrote my way through much of those years of raising a large family, saving my sanity some days. Later, I then wrote my way through caring for my husband during his cancer treatment in 2006, holding his hand with one of mine as he sat through chemotherapy, and writing with the other. (That book became "Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage")

Eventually, I would write my way through loss; mourning a mother in 2010, my husband in 2012, and an eight-year-old grandson in 2013. ("Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace")

With the loss of my husband, my life has changed dramatically. Within two years of his death I had to find gainful employment. I worked as a small-town library director for a while. Last year I got a job as a newspaper reporter, telling other people's stories. I've continue teaching writing workshops. I added public speaking to my roster in late 2012, never feeling more alive than when I am speaking on the topic of finding hope in grief, or when I speak to young mothers on how they can utilize their creativity in their everyday life.

I am proof that it is never to late to follow our dreams. My childhood dream of becoming a writer is now a reality. My husband always believed in my writing, encouraging me, but it was after I lost him that I signed a contract for a book that would end up in the front window of Barnes & Noble. "Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America's Extreme Obsession" was published in July 2013. I've signed four book contracts since then. I'm currently working on a grief journal that goes along with an expressive writing course I've designed. Because I intimately know the saving grace of the writing craft, I want to help others heal through their own grief journey.

My eight children knew a mother who doggedly pursued her autonomy and creativity in the midst of raising a family, a woman who now struggles as a single mother but who is determined to never give up. When anyone asks me what I want for my own children, it is for them to follow their dreams and utilize their natural talents. They've watched me do just that.

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