Inspiring Stories: Tell Your Story

Picture this: a man is in a hospital bed. Through darkness, he hears a female voice: ‘Sir, please, don’t be alarmed. There was an accident. A bomb in your car…. You lost your right arm.’

IMG_3041The voice disappears, and the man rejoices. ‘It’s only an arm. I’m alive! It’s only one arm.’
As time passes, the joy gives way to pain, especially when he gets a letter from his comrades who pledge to avenge him. ‘Vengeance? How is it supposed to make me feel better? When we all live in peace, roses and lilies will grow out of my arm.’

He recovers, leaves the hospital, and continues his efforts at liberating South Africa.
This man is Albie Sachs, a lawyer, writer, and freedom fighter during the lead up to the overthrow of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

It so happens that one day he meets the man who put the bomb in his car. His name is Henry. Henry craves forgiveness, but the man says ‘I don’t have an arm to shake your hand. Perhaps if you go to the Truth Commission, this may change.’

Meanwhile, this man writes his memoir which is then turned into a movie.  On the premier night of the movie, he enters a room, and someone calls him by name. He turns around and it’s Henry.

‘I did it! I went to the Truth Commission. I told them everything!’ Henry seems lively and transformed by this experience.

The man extends his healthy arm and shakes Henry’s hand.

‘Will Henry be my best friend? No. I wouldn’t call him and say let’s go to the movies tonight. But if he sits next to me on a bus, I may ask him ‘How’s it going, Henry?’’

This is a snippet of a presentation Albie gave to us at a recent academic conference in Ukraine. To be honest, I did not expect to hear this speech. Perhaps other participants didn’t either. I don’t know how long the standing ovation lasted, but you don’t often feel inspired to live to the fullest and serve the world after an academic presentation. This one has changed me. In a good way.

So much so that a few hours later when I was making my presentation, I took a risk. I could have just stuck to the academic side of things and delivered the bare bones of my paper. Instead, I told a personal story which explained my interest in this particular topic. The atmosphere in the room felt electric. I don’t think I could have made a similar impact by just sticking to the analysis of the European Court of Human Rights’ jurisprudence.

Our stories are important.

They bring us alive.

They bring alive what we do.

We are wired to learn through stories.

They help others too.

Stories are medicine for our souls.

So, every time you have an opportunity, tell your story. Not in a random and self-centred way. No. Weave it into what you do. Make connections. Chances are you have personal reasons to do what you do. Oh, and it doesn’t have to be a whole book. It could be just a relevant snippet of your history.

The effect of story-telling on other people is palpable.



Pressing a Pause Button


IMG_2726.JPGSo, I disappeared.


It’s so uncharacteristic of me that one of my readers reached out to check whether I was OK.


About a month ago, I got snowed under marking exams. The task was so large and overwhelming that I didn’t even have time to schedule a post someone sent me for ‘Good Enough’ series. I didn’t even have time to turn on my computer. Working days, evenings and weekends was tough to say the least.


Everything else had to stop.


I’m pleased to say, the marking is behind me, and so is a conference I attended in Ukraine (I hope to write about it sometimes soon). What’s ahead is trips to five countries within the next two months. Yep, I’m teaching in Germany, followed by more teaching in Belgium and Luxembourg. I’m away the last two weeks of June, home for ten days in July before heading to the USA for five days. To round things off, I’m taking kids to Azerbaijan to spend some quality time with my family. I’m in desperate need of some pampering!


Meanwhile, I’m working hard to get ready for my trips.


Oh, and I’m running three different events on writers’ block this weekend. If you are local (Birmingham, England) and interested in attending, please, email me on


Thank you for stopping by. I miss you all. Not sure when I’ll write my next post, but hopefully, it’ll be before too long.


With much love




Good Enough To Eat

One Sunday lunchtime, as an always ravenous pre-teen, I tucked into my mother’s delicious roast. But my enthusiasm apparently caused a minor slip in my table manners, enraging Mum’s new husband.

“If you’re going to eat like a pig, then you can go and eat in the toilet,” he shouted, waving me away with an impatient sweep of his hand.  Raised to respect adults, I did as I was told.

“You’ll never amount to anything with manners like that,” his parting shot followed me as I sat down on the toilet seat of the tiny downstairs cloakroom and closed the door.

Tears of humiliation coursed down my cheeks, splashing onto my lunch plate perched on my knees.  But my tears also burned with rage.  Something snapped inside me that day, but it took me years to understand what it was.

Forcing down the shame of that moment, I nurtured a quiet motivation to succeed. By the time I was twenty-one, I had left my home in England for a new life in California, where I landed my dream job as a trainee paralegal for a law firm in downtown Los Angeles. 

But life had other plans: My dream job, as it turned out, was as mother to my three, now adult children.  Fulfilled and happy as family CEO, it wasn’t until years later when I needed to look for paid employment outside the home, that my confidence nose-dived.

I remembered how thrilled I had been in my younger working life when my electric typewriter – with correcting ribbon no less! – was replaced with a state of the art word processor.  And to think I had once typed great reams of dictated legal notes from shorthand. But as I read the employment ads asking for knowledge of computer office skills, I realised how out of touch I had become, my one-time skills now prehistoric.   

We took the plunge and got our first family computer, but sharing it with three, school-age children with homework needs, and a husband who fast grew obsessed with war games, wasn’t easy. 

When I did get a look in,  I grew frustrated at my limited, self-taught knowledge.  It didn’t help when one of the children offered to ‘help’ by whisking the cursor out of my hand, tapping a few keys and leaving me staring dumbfounded at the screen wondering what on earth they had just done. 

And always, those dreaded words ringing in my ears:  “See Mom, it’s easy!”

With great trepidation and pushing down fears that I would never again qualify for a good job, I registered at the local community college for a Desktop Publishing and Word 2003 computer course. With huge relief, I soon realised I wasn’t the only desperate mother needing a healthy dose of ‘You can do it’.

But when the tutor announced that the end of course exam would be a Power Point presentation in front of the entire class, I froze. No way, I thought. I didn’t even know what Power Point was, never mind use it…and in front of the class?  No way.

But the following spring, I not only presented how to make a Table of Contents in Word using Power Point, I got an ‘A’ for my trouble. Not long after, I found a good job at a dental practice.

After a divorce and moving back to England, I happily remarried; but if I had struggled with a low self-esteem before, it was about to tumble: A couple of years apart, I lost not one, but two jobs, both due to office closure.

I don’t know what sounds worse: being ‘made redundant’ as we say in the UK, or the American expression, ‘laid off’. Either way, it’s hard not to take it personally. Being told you are essentially no longer wanted, no matter the reason, is never a good experience. 

The struggle back was hard.  By then in my late forties, I went through a dark time of feeling utterly useless. But eventually, it changed my life for the better:  Out of that struggle came the hard shove I needed to pursue my life-long writing dream.

But writing isn’t for the faint hearted, I’ve learnt.  Moments of crippling self-doubt taunt me still.  Am I good enough to be the writer I’ve longed to be? But I do it anyway, because it’s not just what I do, but what I am. 

I Am A Writer.

And then I realised what it was that snapped in me that day, forced by somebody to eat my lunch sitting on a toilet:  I am good enough, because I am better than him.

© Sherri Matthews 2017


Sherri.JPGSherri Matthews Bio

Sherri has been writing full time since 2012.  Currently working on her memoir, Stranger in a White Dress, she has been published in magazines, websites and three anthologies.  Sherri raised her children in California, and today lives in England with her husband, Aspie youngest and their pet menagerie fondly called ‘Animal Farm’.



You can connect with Sherri here: (A View From My Summerhouse)

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Am I good enough?


Welcome to our fifth post in the Good Enough Series. Today’s post is by Thomas Ives, the first man who joined our conversation. We are all affected by this feeling, male or female….


Am I good enough?

This was a question that I struggled with for a very long time. I still have my doubts about myself from e to time but I have come a long way. Depression is a horrible mental illness and this question as a child is what I believe got the ball rolling so to speak. There were many aspects of my life that was negatively affected by it and I wanted to share with you just a few of them.


My parents


I truly do love my brother and I will never blame him for how I perceived my worth as a child. I also do not put any blame towards my parents because there is no absolute correct way to raise children. Each child is unique and grow up differently. The most difficult part is trying to help them understand what they are perceiving as children. For me, my parents never knew how I saw my life until I told them about it as an adult.


My brother was taking medication for his ADHD and also had a hard time in school. On the other hand, I did very well in school and was sort of self-sufficient. My brother required a lot more attention, support, and time. He got praises for bringing home C’s and D’s on his report card while I was given a hard time if my grades were less than an A. These are just two examples but they are important ones. From a very young age, I began asking myself….am I good enough?


My family


I am the oldest child in our extended family. With the pressure from my mother about my grades, I also began to feel that I needed to be the best among my cousins. I started to believe that I had to be the first one successful, married, with children, own a house, etc… My mind was slowly being filled with goals and dreams of the future. I started coming up with plans on how I was going to achieve them.


Then my cousins began to achieve before me the very same things I was trying to. Each time it felt like a punch in the gut. After I caught my breath, I was determined again to still try making the goals and dreams possible. One setback and then another and another kept happening. I have finally realized that those dreams and goals were never mine. They were dreams and goals that I thought my family wanted me to accomplish. Even though I did have that realization, the damage from questioning my worth still remains.


My relationships


I have only been in five relationships but there have been plenty of times in them that I had doubted my worth. Whether it was because I felt I had to be better than someone else or worried that I was failing the other person for some reason. Yes I did fail them but not because I was not good enough. It honestly was because I was so caught up in questioning my value, that I was blind to the things causing the relationship to fall apart.


The game of “Am I good enough?” is just as dangerous as the “What if?” game. It takes you down a very dark path that you can get lost in. I know this because I have played both games. I am lucky that my current relationship allows me to ignore those thoughts. It was rough at first but once I accepted what my true worth was in our relationship it has gotten better.


Even though I am adult now, I can’t erase the thoughts, feelings and emotions from my childhood. I actually wouldn’t want to because I know that there is someone out there dealing with the same issues of self worth. They need to know that there is someone in the world that truly understands what they are struggling with and to be reminded that it can be overcome. I am fortunate to have my family because they have helped me progress farther than I could alone. Our life is like a rose, you can’t enjoy the beauty of it without accepting the thorns.


Bio – Thomas Ives is the creator of He writes encouraging blog posts ranging from mental illness to self improvement and everything in between. As someone that lives with depression and anxiety, he understands the real struggles of the ups and downs of life.

VAGINISMUS: What’s Luck Got To Do With It?

Welcome to the fourth post in the ‘Good Enough’ series. Sometimes, we have health conditions which are outside of our control. They can impact how we feel about ourselves. Still, health conditions and all, we are good enough. Please welcome brave Laurel Sparks-Sellers 



            Ugly word, is it not?


            Well, my friend, trust me. It’s an ugly condition.


            It has made certain aspects of my life unpleasant, even unusual.


            Officially, the term vaginismus refers to painful spasmodic involuntary contraction of the outer vaginal walls on the slightest touch (description from a medical dictionary). The condition is also termed “colpospasm.” In layman’s definitions, vagina muscles constrict so tight when stimulated nothing is allowed in.  


            In my case, not penises, tampons, or a physician’s speculum.


            According to The Merck Manual, further explanation offers “…resulting from a woman’s unconscious desire to prevent penetration.”


            With this abnormality, I have never been able to participate in a normal Pap smear or pelvic examination. Yes, you read right … ever. No doctor can go any farther in her examination than a small opening to my vagina, as the surrounding muscles are too clinched.


            Is this rare?


I will let you decide.


            I am clueless to any situation in my past allowing conscious justification for this plight. In other words, no dysfunctional uncles or strange neighbors are to blame.   


            I’ve experienced no early rapes or known injuries.


            Unless I have suppressed a sexual trauma so far deep in my subconscious it hasn’t reared its head yet.


            Could it be from a rigid family attitude toward sex? Perhaps.


            My parents taught me nothing about the nasty except “don’t touch yourself down there.”


            So, have guilt or anxiety archived into my subconscious?




            Or have I not educated my body sufficiently? I do not know.


            Vaginismus has awkwardly loomed over my whole adult life like a subliminal message. In my initial sexual history, I had no knowledge of this condition. When men stated I was tight or frigid, I figured my nature or a nameless fear were reasonable responses.


            I’ve often contemplated whether I’m a freak of nature despite having no desire to bear children.


            Oh, just so you’ll know, I’ve never been on birth control in my life, unless you call condoms a form of birth control. You read right … I have never taken a birth control pill or used any kind of spermicide.




            Unsure of proper statistics on women who fall under the vaginismus peculiarity, I assume it’s very few. Throughout my research, and to my surprise, the malady is not considered rare. In fact, I am the only woman in my arsenal of acquaintances having this plight.  


            However, I do not go around confessing about it and only a few chosen people know of my dilemma. So I may indeed have company.


            In my study of vaginismus, I found little evidence supporting effective treatments.


Through a frustrating myriad of doctors, the ordeals have been not only wearisome, but disappointing, to say the least. Each used a different method of medication, behavioral therapy, suggestion, or desensitization exercises, but to no avail. I can remember one doctor mocking me, saying I should go to The Institute For Sexual Wellness for psychoanalysis.


            Needless to say, I did not return to him.


            For a period of two years, I engaged in psychotherapy/relaxation therapy that helped to a degree, but when the time came for the ultimate examination, I still could not follow through.


            Disillusion took on new meaning.


            Moreover, my gynecologist began treating me like an endangered species.


            For a little more than three decades, I have had many sexual partners. Three-fourths were one-night stands, back in the days when sex was safe. The rest were meaningful relationships, each never lasting more than four to five years.


            To make up for intercourse, I excelled in oral sex. Although this satisfied my partner, naturally, I remained distressed, never knowing the true meaning of orgasm.


            Then, like a miracle had been answered, a relationship came along ten years ago that gave me reason to believe in hope. My partner actually took the time to please me and gave proper attention to my sexual needs. At every encounter, he concentrated on all the correct erroneous zones of my body, never pleasing himself first. The affection was slow, intentional. For once, I was able to respond to stimulation.


            I crossed my threshold and learned the authenticity of orgasm.


            Was this the love I had only heard or read about?


            Surely it was.


            Unfortunately, circumstances being what they were, and I will not confess what they were, he could not, would not, commit to me, and we stopped seeing each other.


            Again, I was back to square one.


            From then on, I would not sexually trust another man.


            Through periods of trial and error, I am happy to report I did discover a female gynecologist who was patient (no pun intended), and worked with me for eight years. In order to perform her examination, I was put under a general anesthesia and the result proved successful.


            I had found the answer to my vaginismus.


            Recently, however, she has been very reluctant and skeptical to the procedure, citing anesthesia consequences, even though I beg and plead for her help. She and I both know I’ll never be able to accept a speculum or natural penetration.


            Little wonder I am discouraged.


            To this day, my doctor still remains hopeful I will find the right mood or my phobia will go away in order for her to complete the pelvic exam and Pap smear.


            I do not share her opinion.


            In addition, my age has become a factor.


            There is a bright side to this darkness. I have always been a free spirit, independent, and a nonconformist. Perhaps the condition worked in my favor.


            Or did it simply contribute to my destiny/fate?


            Periodically, I let it depress me, as I would love to have normal sexual reactions. Yet, I try not to dwell on my disability, learning to live with the consequences and take on my own perspectives. All I know is that sex just is not in the cards for me. And I cannot rely on intimacy in relationships being anything more than a man pleasing himself. Unless I have chosen the wrong men.


            Evidently, a higher power assumes the one past source of pleasure was enough.


            For some reason, I was chosen not to have children yet I have been so blessed and fortunate to enjoy nieces and nephews, grand nieces and grand nephews in quality time together. They are all precious, beautiful … and fun!


            At present, I don’t worry about my health issues. Yes, I realize I should with all the statistics on cancer and other serious complications. But other aspects of my life take priority.


            So, should I have bragging rights to this vaginismus dilemma?


            Who’s to say?


            My best friend’s seventeen-year-old granddaughter just had her first pelvic examination and I’m so envious. At fifty-four, I cannot even imagine carrying through on such an important first step.


            Certain people say I’m privileged because I’ve never been pregnant.


            Have I been lucky?




            Am I sexually dysfunctional?


            Or have I merely learned to live with alternatives?


            I will let you decide.

Sparks-SellersLaurel Sparks-Sellers is a former advertising copywriter and is sole proprietor of the “That’s All She Wrote” writing studio located in Lafayette, Indiana. She is a wordsmith of novels, short stories, poems, and lyrics. Laurel is author of two nostalgic illustrated collection of short stories. Her short story and poem work have been published online in Indiana Voice Journal, Pen There, Our Write Side, and TreeHouse Arts, plus elsewhere in print.


P.S. If you’d like to contribute to the series too, please email me at

P.P.S. By the way, everyone who signs-up to my mailing list will receive a guided compassion meditation to release the feeling of ‘not good enough.’


Not being good enough

Today’s post is the third in the new series on ‘Good Enough’. I read it in one breath and I couldn’t wait to share it. It explains beautifully why we need to feel loved by our mothers; and if not, what a journey of learning to feel good enough for our own sake may look like. It’s by Lorraine Childerstone.

Lorraine Childerstone is a lover of life, seeker of the truth and of a kinder way to be in the world. So many times she has read stories of people who went through challenging times in their lives and came out stronger and wiser. She’s still living the challenge. This is the story so far…

untitledSo I’m driving into the most blissful autumn sunset, and as the sun sinks lower I feel my being soften, as though held in the arms of the universe. I’m heading to an evening of spiritual healing with a wonderful group of likeminded souls. I love the healing path, I have a challenging new job as a teacher, and I feel good enough, at last, good enough to belong, to receive this blessing of life…

…six months later I have split painfully from my healing teacher and community, losing my job in the process.  Both my parents have died, just four weeks apart, one suddenly and unexpectedly, one slowly and quietly.  I have lost my future and my past in a matter of months. Who am I now? And this definitely doesn’t feel good enough…!

…yet I am still alive, I am still breathing. So am I good enough without a teacher, without a path, without the support of a community? All the things it took to make me good enough before? As I am still alive I presume that life is still saying yes to me, even if I am in the middle of it changing rather spectacularly. Can I say yes to a new way of being good enough?

…because quietly my ‘spiritual’ journey has been about making me feel better about myself, my emptiness. And with the end of my ‘spiritual’ journey comes the end of that particular fairy tale – that if I find the right path, I’ll at last feel okay in myself.

The split from my teacher is painful, confusing and sudden.  I feel shocked and cut adrift. Is this something teachers do to their students to test them? And I am not good enough to pass it? Is this all part of the plan?

I decide to get help. A grief counsellor ‘gets’ where I am straight away. Eventually, she ventures that it sounds like my teacher has been emotionally abusive. I look blankly. I can’t feel a response. Really? I’m not sure at all.

So I decide to take a long look at myself, a deep soul searching. And I remember that as the split came there was a vivid moment of clarity, when I was looking at a blaze of light going right through me, and at the root of my spine, dark areas which needed ‘integrating’.

…what now?

Months later I’m sitting opposite a very wise woman, with twinkles in her eyes, and a soft loving heart. I want to integrate – and find a new way forwards. And my mouth drops in amazement as she reels off so many things about me which are true and which I have no idea how she knows. And she gets right to the heart of emotional abuse, to the root of it. She tells me my mother had a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Something in me shifts. Something in me recognises the truth.

…I go to see a psychotherapist. At 50! Shit, aren’t I supposed to have got it all together by now? I tell her what I’ve learned from the wise woman and say I want to explore this new past with Pesso Boyden therapy, which helps repattern the nervous system, replacing trauma with healthy support and protection. I feel like I’ve been run over by several tractors all at once. I need help. Meditation practice stresses the need to live in the present – yet this seems to be taking me very firmly back to the past. Is this helpful? Something in me says yes

We complete a structure – the word for a session in Pesso Boyden– she looks at me. “It was bad,” she says quietly. “I’ve never seen so many protective figures in place before.”

I buy a book, about women whose mothers don’t love them. There’s a list of 24 traits at the start. The more you tick, the more likely your mother was to have NPD. And be emotionally abusive.

imagesT852OMSEI tick 17.

I read. And read. And read. It wasn’t my fault. No matter what I did, it would never, ever be good enough, ever.

Learn to heal, get a good job, have kids, keep a nice house, be a people pleaser, be a doormat, keep quiet, keep the peace, learn to do it all yourself, take all the crap and shit and smile. None of it was ever good enough. Take her behaviour and keep quiet, even though you know something is badly wrong, because ‘that’s just how it is’. And it’s never been spelled out as abusive. Until now.

And the wise woman connects my mother and my teacher in a way that suddenly lights up the darkness and confusion – it really wasn’t my fault!

So I would never be good enough for my mother. But now, how to be good enough just for me? How to find my path with no path? What can be healed, and what do I have to live with.

What have I done to my children?

…am I good enough to be an adult now, to take care of my child inside?

 “You need to grow up” my teacher had once said…  A bit like telling a blind man to see more clearly.  I would have loved to, if only I’d known how.

Of course he left out that bit!

I guess that’s up to me now. Wish me luck!

If you would like to share your own stories about spiritual teachers, narcissistic parents, Pesso Boyden or healing from a painful past, I would love to hear from you. Facebook me Lorraine Childerstone, or email  

P.S. If you’d like to contribute to the series too, please email me at

P.P.S. By the way, everyone who signs-up to my mailing list will receive a guided compassion meditation to release the feeling of ‘not good enough.’

P.P.P.S. There is no post next week – I’m taking a week off to have some family time.

Images: With thanks to google images.

Struggling soprano no more?

Welcome to the second post in ‘Good Enough’ series. As someone who loves singing in a local choir, I resonate with this post a lot. I’m so pleased Anne Goodwin is back.

Underneath 3D CoverUpdating my Twitter bio to accommodate my forthcoming second novel, it was clear that “recovering psychologist” and “struggling soprano” consumed more space than they deserved. But I didn’t want to lose them altogether. I didn’t want to look like the kind of writer who uses social media only to promote her books. Besides, I’d worked hard to achieve both those positions, although, unlike my status as a psychologist, there were no bits of paper to prove my identity as a soprano, struggling or otherwise. Should I scrap that sobriquet completely? Was I a good-enough soprano to claim even the modified title as part of who I am?

Contrary to popular belief, few people are genuinely tone deaf. For most of those who don’t sing in tune, the deficit lies in learning and confidence rather than biology. Perhaps a misguided early teacher instructed us to mime the words at school concerts. Perhaps a more generalised lack of confidence strangled our vocals whenever we ventured into song.

For most of my life, I was a non-singer. Like writing, singing was for professionals, not people like me. Yet before I could read or write, I used to belt out the Latin Mass along with the rest of the congregation at the Catholic Church I attended with my family. Back home, however, my parents had little tolerance for the ordinary noises – from crying to squealing, from screaming to giggling – of normal children. As a good girl, I learned to keep quiet.

Later, of course, I’d sing along to the radio in the car or let it all out in the shower. But that wasn’t real singing. And, no matter how drunk I was, I’d never have dared take the microphone at a karaoke.

I didn’t give my non-singing status much thought until my midlife crisis forced me to take stock of my priorities and redress my work-life balance. Confronted by my long-repressed vulnerability, I faced the challenge of striving for what I wanted, not only what others wanted of me. It was through this painful period that I began to find my voice as a writer. At the same time, I began to search for my singing voice too.

This was a little before community choirs became popular, although I doubt I’d have had the confidence to infiltrate one of those. Instead I found myself a teacher and went for lessons for about a year. He taught me about rhythm, breathing and shaping the vowels (something I’d have found difficult in my youth because singing vowels sound “posh”). I practised scales and classic pop to his accompaniment on the piano. I loved finding my voice, and learnt a lot, but not as much as I wanted. Although I could tell my tone had improved, I still didn’t like singing on my own and, when I asked if we could do some “classical stuff”, he said my voice wasn’t good enough.

Around the time that I completed the first draft of my “practice” (unpublished and unpublishable) first novel, I gave up my singing lessons. Either through too much tension in my singing or too much enthusiasm in my fiction (I use voice-activated software to write), I’d developed a sore throat that refused to go away. When investigations found nothing physical, I was referred for speech therapy which helped to manage the problem. By then, however, intent on becoming an author, I didn’t want to strain my voice with the nonessentials. I reverted back to being a non-singer.

A few years on, redundancy gave me extra time to devote to writing. Thinking I’d need more structure in my life than turning up at my computer every day, I decided to look into joining a choir. Nervously, I went along to a group that met on a Wednesday afternoon. Asked what voice part I sang, I had to confess I didn’t know. “I’ll put you with the sopranos,” said the conductor. I discovered later that, of the four voice-parts in a mixed-voice choir, sopranos usually sing the highest notes, but easiest in terms of melody. As I didn’t read music, this was the right place for me to be.

I was fortunate that I’d stumbled upon an extremely welcoming musical community that’s true to its principles of music for everyone, not just an elite. In addition to the Wednesday afternoon sessions, where each term we learn a range of short pieces from pop to folk and classical, there are a few weekend courses a year which culminate in the performance of a longer work with a full orchestra. The first time I did one of these, I made the mistake of contemplating how thrilled I was to be part of something so wonderful, and lost my place in the musical score.

Since then, I’ve sung choral works by classics like Handel, Mozart, Fauré and Vivaldi, as well as by contemporary composers such as Karl Jenkins, John Rutter and, in a piece written especially for our choir, the up-and-coming Rebecca Dale. I’ve been introduced to beautiful music I’d never have otherwise heard. I’m still a soprano – even on those days I can’t reach the top notes – but am I struggling? Am I good enough?

I still don’t like singing without other, and better, voices to support me, and feel self-conscious if my husband happens to hear me practising at home. Although I’m improving as time goes on, I still find musical notation difficult to decipher, and notes without words (and there can be a lot of amen in a requiem mass) a particular trial. And I prefer to be flanked by people I know won’t judge me harshly when I make a mistake.

Although I’d like to sing better, both for my own pleasure and for other people’s, I’ve learnt not to judge myself harshly either. Large choirs, like mine, can absorb a few dunces. Being part of the amazing sound we make together is good enough for me.


WP_20170318_012 (2)Anne Goodwin’s debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, is scheduled for publication in May 2017. Anne is also a book blogger and author of over 70 published short stories. Catch up on her website: annethology ( or on Twitter @Annecdotist.


He never intended to be a jailer …

After years of travelling, responsible to no-one but himself, Steve has resolved to settle down. He gets a job, buys a house and persuades Liesel to move in with him.

Life’s perfect, until Liesel delivers her ultimatum: if he won’t agree to start a family, she’ll have to leave. He can’t bear to lose her, but how can he face the prospect of fatherhood when he has no idea what being a father means? If he could somehow make her stay, he wouldn’t have to choose … and it would be a shame not to make use of the cellar.

Will this be the solution to his problems, or the catalyst for his own unravelling?

Purchase links

Published internationally 25th May 2017 in e-book and paperback

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Pre-publication Kindle reduced price offer (£1.99 / $2.48)