My mom used to say, “If Maria doesn’t have something to talk about, she’ll tell you a story.”  Apparently I was a little chatterbox in those days, and I have to smile now when I remember the number of times she’d glance at me and say, “Let’s play the quiet game….”

By the age of twelve, I was writing stories every day. I was famous in my family for my “beginnings.” I didn’t want to write something short and manageable. No, I wanted to write…a novel. It wasn’t long before stacks of spiral notebooks gathered dust in my closet.

Then life happened, as it usually does. I went to college, got married, took various jobs, had kids, and no hint of the writer-me peeked out from the whirlwind of my activities. Years passed and as it turned out, a brief trip to Japan became a turning point for our family.

We eventually moved to Japan long-term with the hope of making a difference among the isolation and loneliness of so many Japanese young people. But in the end, I was the one who succumbed to loneliness and isolation. Our volunteer team was small and my children were young, rowdy and difficult to manage. I found myself home alone with them in a foreign country, struggling with the language, struggling to connect, and losing myself. Years went by and I think, looking back, that I was depressed. I didn’t really tell anyone. I have a strong survival instinct, and an unwavering belief in the power of hopeful perseverance.

One evening I started writing. It began with a spontaneous thought and became this huge, unwieldy project and I loved it. Laundry piled up, dinner was late, but I was happy. I had tapped into something powerful—a simple creative outlet—and it was amazing what this unleashed in me.

Today I’m in a very different place. A good place. The journey I’ve been on personally has been deeply meaningful for me. So much more than a writing project, it has trickled into my marriage, my parenting, my faith, and my own sense of self. It has colored everything.

This is why I am writing.

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