Cynthia Still, VA
Cynthia penned her first book during childhood, and she’s been writing ever since. Now a published author with Macmillan, she’s ghostwritten four memoirs and co-authored two health books—one with Dr. Seymour Diamond. Although she’s provided writing and editing for six publishers and fifteen book manuscripts, Cynthia’s first love is memoir writing. “Personal memoir is a priceless legacy,” she says, “because every life has a unique storyline worth sharing. So what’s your story?” Cynthia will help you tell it with a one-of-a-kind narrative you can share with family and friends.
As a StoryTerrace writer, Cynthia interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.
I live for love. Not just the chick-flick, bodice-ripping, romantic type, but the real deal in all of its dazzling, life changing permutations. All of love’s various disguises — whether eros, philia, storge, or agape — still fuel my hopes and dreams. These Greek words refer to the different forms of love shared between lovers, friends, family, and community. And all of them are as vital as food and drink—as essential to the human spirit as water and air to the body. An awareness of that simple truth lends crystal clarity to all the fragments of my present and past life experiences. What I did, I did for love.
In the beginning, I searched for it as blindly as any newborn looking for her mother’s breasts, and I found it as a young child rocked to sleep in my mother’s arms. I remember the soft warmth of a blanket tucked around me and the low, melodious sound of her voice singing, Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home . . . As I grew older, the rocking and lullabies were replaced by classical piano music welling up the stairs. Many nights, I drifted off to sleep listening to my mother playing Debussy and Ravel, and the sound of “Claire de Lune,” “Nocturne,” and “Afternoon of a Faun” filled my dreams with a mystical beauty and the yearning for something I couldn’t even name. Although I was still a child, that music awoke in me a spiritual hunger for an agape love without boundaries, a yearning that only intensified as I grew older — even when my connection to my mother and father twisted and turned dark during early adolescence.
As a fourteen-year-old nerd, I tried to avoid ridicule by wearing miniskirts like all the other girls in my Waukesha, Wisconsin high school. “You might as well be a prostitute,” my mother said, forbidding me to wear skirts any higher than my knees. “And nice girls don’t sit in dark cars with boys,” she told me after a friend drove me home from school one winter afternoon. Then they flew to Europe for two weeks and left me alone to navigate teen life in a town we’d only recently moved to. When an acquaintance spread the word my parents were gone, half the high school descended on my parents’ home for an impromptu party that trashed the house and left beer cans, used condoms, and lipstick graffiti scrawled on the mirrors. I was relieved when the police showed up and cleared the place, since I only knew one or two of my unwelcome guests, but my parents were called in Switzerland and had to rush back. Despite my claims of innocence, they assumed drugs were to blame, and my mother had me committed to a psychiatric lockdown unit in Milwaukee. She only had me released because the $10,000 per week price of the place was too costly. Later, she had me live in a boarding house with elderly folk and walk to another high school in rural Virginia. Where was my father all this time? He played the part of lapdog to my mother’s every whim, since “if mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy.”
Although I now know my mother was, and is, a narcissist, I was blessed to have had early memories of maternal love as a young child. It has been my compass-point of reference — one that defined the universe as graceful and good. Even more importantly, that early gift of my mother’s physical affection confirmed that I was worthy of love. I’ve come to understand why that essential message helped keep me sane through all my trials and wanderings. Like all transformative truth, it echoed God’s message to the deepest place of my identity: that I was divinely created to know the joy of perfect relational intimacy with Him. Later, when I was lost in the labyrinth of a self-destructive life, this agape love was like a beacon of light in a welcoming window, flaring in the darkness and leading me home. Really, it’s that beacon for all of us, calling us back to our original human purpose: to love and be loved.
Get in touch today to work with Cynthia!