At the turn of the millennium, I arrived at a cross-road that brought me to a splendid, if unforeseen place, almost as if I were a traveler on Robert Frost’s The Road Less Traveled. I was single again, my three children were grown and building their lives, I’d experienced a health issue and was working on an improved lifestyle. I also ached to do two other things: (1) change my long human services career in upstate New York’s Catskill Mountains, where winter seemed to be at least seven months out of every year, and (2) move to a warmer place in the universe.

My decision: did I want to continue on the path I’d been following pretty much all my life, or could I gather my then-fragile courage and start life brand new somewhere else? These were scary thoughts for a single woman in her late 50s.

Five hundred miles away, though, I fell in love with a new mountain range, Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, where I knew not a soul except my daughter who was attending college in the Shenandoah Valley, and I moved. I rented a tiny cabin on a mountain in the woods and lived there in solitude for two years, working in a new career by day and, when home, communing with the incredible natural beauty that surrounded me.

There I also began to write my life stories, which were aching for release. I joined the Story Circle Network in early 2001, a rich place in cyberspace for women life writers, where I strengthened my written voice and began sharing my stories. I grew there in so many ways and today I’m a board member with a passion to give workshops that bring women together to share life stories and a reviewer and editor of women’s memoirs for the SCN Book Review site, another unique place in cyberspace. For the past two national conferences, I’ve been honored to be program chair for our Stories from the Heart in Austin, TX.

I have so many loves: first, my three children: my son, Chip and daughter, Polly, both in Virginia; and my youngest daughter, Susan, in California, and also dear family and friends. I must also include my pets: my cat Button for whom I became Mom after discovering him abandoned in my utility wagon at 6 days of age and my rescue beagle-wippet, Beau. Sometimes I foster cats and kittens for the Humane Society, but Button prefers me not to. My hobbies include reading, writing, editing, cooking, gardening, quilting, knitting, biking, and simply being with the profound beauty of the mountains that embrace my small two acres in the Blue Ridge.

The life stories I began writing in 2001 have grown deeper with time, re-writes, and personal growth. Now, all these years later, I believe I’ve sliced through the layers to reach the heart of my story, and am presently working on the final revision of my memoir, Stitching a Patchwork Life.

7 Responses to About

  1. Sue rosher says:

    Would love to read your memoirs, really enjoy your writing


  2. Mary Jo says:

    Hi Sue,
    So sorry I missed you on your recent VA visit. I was away and just got your messages. I’ve completed my book and am about to work with an editor and 30-year published author whose work leaves me breathless: Linda Hasselstrom in South Dakota. I’m going to be posting more stories here on my blog to get it going again. I hope very much to see you the next time you come to Lexington! Let me know…..


    • Melissa Middleswart says:

      I’ve now read my way thru your blog–and I’m sorry it wasn’t longer. Good writing, thanks for sharing. I hope to read your book when you finish it. And this comment really interests me, since I’ve been reading and enjoying Linda’s work since the 1980s, when I bought Windbreak for my library (I was librarian at a public library for 30 years). I enjoyed that book and pushed it with my library patrons, as well as her other books which followed. I have even been fortunate enough to have a sporadic correspondence with Linda that goes back to the 1980s, probably. Our mothers died just a few days apart in 2001.
      Good luck with your writing.


  3. marianbeaman says:

    Your response to Linda Hoye’s post today has prompted me to poke around in your website. I see you enjoy the simple life while charting a meaningful course for the years ahead. I grew up in a Mennonite home in Lancaster County, PA, went to college in the Shenandoah Valley (then EMC) and now live in Florida. Best wishes on polishing your memoir for publication soon. My own story began as blog posts which now have evolved into an early memoir draft.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Jo Doig says:

      Thanks for your visit, Marian. We have common threads, which is always a potential and wonderful side benefit to sharing our stories. Warmest wishes with your memoir. Mine started 15 years ago when I began to write my stories, then five years ago began to thread them together. Let’s keep in touch!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. L says:

    Very well written and interesting blog. I will continue reading…..

    Liked by 1 person

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