A Writing Conversation:

Welcome Donna and anyone else reading A Writing Conversation. Today we are creating Episode 1 by interviewing Donna Hall Kater who has just finished publishing her second book. Our discussion begins…

Virginia: The process of thinking about what to ask you about your upcoming book, I Am Still Alive, Now What?!?~How to Survive and Thrive After a Life-Changing Event, set in motion self reflection about my writing. I was talking to another writer last night, Lauri Rose, and we were discussing the urge to publish and the motivation behind publication. What is important about publishing this work at this time?

Donna: I am publishing because I am answering a call inside of me. I have always had a strong desire to help others (by nature and nurture), so this is my next step. I also think there is a big need for people to understand how to reinvent themselves after something major happens to them such as a divorce, a serious illness, or the death of a loved one.

Virginia: What do you really want to share with people who are reading this?

Donna: I want to assist people with re-framing potentially upsetting experiences so that they become empowering experiences. In other words, the event happens. Then there is the story we tell others and ourselves about it, which oftentimes does not serve us in the long run. Retelling the story to include lessons learned and positive aspects can make all the difference.

Virginia: That is so true! Especially since the “retelling” of the event in our heads doesn’t just happen once, we replay it over and over again.

Donna: People who feel stuck don’t realize how much power they can have by changing their thoughts and their story. In my book I share specific in-depth exercises people can work through to examine an event in their life, their story, and how to move forward.

Virginia: When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I dealt with my heartache by attending Zumba classes during my visits to Alaska to see her. The exercise released endorphins which physiologically triggered positive feelings. I even started attending classes where I lived, which eased my sorrow when she died.

Donna: That is an example of a life-changing event being used as a catalyst to propel you onward! You were able to deal with the event and move forward in a positive way. It is possible to change at any age and take charge of what we can take charge of in our lives.

Virginia: My wonderful husband is the original skeptic. When people put a positive spin on past events in which they have some culpability, he calls them historic revisionists. How is your approach different from people just pretending the past didn’t happen.

Donna: There is a difference between pretending the past didn’t happen and taking an in-depth look at it first and then moving forward. I think it is important to look at past events in order to learn from them. Also, looking for the positives can help you find a good direction for moving forward and for avoiding future pitfalls.

Virginia: In LIFE 101 by John-Roger and Peter McWilliams  write, “To the degree we know that we have something to do with what happens to us, we gain authority, influence and control over our lives...In any situation, we have the ability to respond, and our response will make the situation either better or worse.”

Donna: That’s right. If we keep beating ourselves up over the past, it is like a skipping record. It does no one any good. In fact, I think it keeps a person stuck. I’d much rather have people examine the past event and their part in it, gather what I call “the golden nuggets of learning”, forgive themselves, and imagine a brighter future without blame or guilt. It is difficult to be fully alive and contributing to making the world a better place if we are constrained by judgments of ourselves and our past.

Virginia: I agree, Donna, mistakes are a part of life and a crucial component in the learning process. After we learn all we can from them, let go and move on! I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today. I am looking forward to getting my copy of I Am Still Alive, Now What?!?~How to Survive and Thrive After a Life-Changing Event. My friend Tam read it and highly recommends it.

Donna: My book is available on Amazon. Thanks for interviewing me!

Virginia: My pleasure! If you want to hear more from Donna, you can check her website: www.donnakater.com. She will soon be offering some free videos there about how to do a TurboCharged Vision Board. The process she takes people through allows them to be pulled forward into a brighter future. Donna’s book sounds a coach in paper form. If you are looking for inspirational reads, you might try The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. As long as I am recommending books....I recently enjoyed Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande.

Relish the Day!