How I Got a Life

Cherise Wyneken
Guest Author

“If the circumstances are right, suffering can teach and lead to rebirth.”
—Anne  Morrow Lindbergh

We were standing in front of a large window at the Miami Airport watching a plane take off with our last child leaving home. Barely into adulthood, our other three children had been left behind in California when we moved to Florida. What am I going to do with my life now?  I thought. Should I cry or celebrate?  A big black hole had appeared ready to suck me in.

Eventually I realized that I was now free to pursue my long desire to be a writer of children’s stories. I began taking creative writing classes at nearby universities. In the process, I became hooked on poetry and writing stories from my life. In time I sent my work out for publication. Slowly it began to appear in various journals, periodicals, books, and anthologies. The black hole had disappeared – filled with friends and writing projects.

But one doesn’t need to write for publication. Computers make it easy to run off copies of our stories to give to our children. My husband, who grew up in South India, has many interesting tales to tell from his childhood. “Write them down for us, Dad,” our children say.  When our son was reading one of my childhood stories to his daughter, she stopped him and asked, “What’s Johnny cake?’’ She knows it as corn muffins or corn bread.

When we moved back to the San Francisco East Bay, I continued my involvement with writing. Recently I won a prize: the publication of a collection of my nonfiction articles, Stir-Fried Memories, from Whispering Angel Books – a kind of blue ribbon culmination of my years of writing. The black hole has been avoided. I’ve got a life!


Cherise Wyneken, whose story “The Daughter-in-Law” appeared in When Last on the Mountain: The View from Writers over 50, began writing in her early fifties. Now at 83, she is still active with various writing projects, including a poetry column for the Oakland Examiner’s online edition at:  See also, &

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