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Quote of the Week: “Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days” Flannery O’Connor

Writing Exercise of the Week: Write for 10 minutes about someone you loved and were ashamed about it.

Raise your hand if you have a family vacation or get together planned this summer. Now keep your hand up if the very thought and planning of it (much less participating in it) is making you break out in hives.

Yes, yes, I know it’s wonderful to see everyone. I know that it’s nice to get off island from time to time. New experiences, new places. It’s all good.

But there’s also all that family drama. Don’t have any? No need to read any further. For the rest of you, let’s soldier on. There’s a point, I promise.

So back to the family drama. There’s a reason National Lampoon was able to create one of the most successful movie franchises based on the ill-fated family vacation. Families have a way of bringing out the best and worst of us. Our otherwise carefully crafted lives and ideals fall apart within minutes of all those hugs and quick once-overs. No matter that we’re in our 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, or 60s. No matter that we feel pretty good about our lives, our bodies, our jobs or our homes. No matter that we may have a family of our own. No matter that we have interests or hobbies or new passions that our extended family may not even know about. When we all come together, it’s like you’re thrown back to the summer you were 14, all pimply and hormonal with clothes that didn’t fit right.

Families send us all over the emotional map. But guess what? That’s a good thing. That’s right. Being able to find ourselves in the context of what life throws at us helps us define who we are. It’s a constant process of polishing and refining. And nothing does it more efficiently than the family vacation or get together.

Writing it down, either in the moment or after (or, if you want to be really forward thinking, beforehand) helps you take away what you want from that experience. It gives the experience a chance to gel, but with a little re-direction or focus from you. You decide what’s important, what’s worth remembering. Instead of experiencing life by default, what happens to you becomes purposeful or meaningful. And all because you took a few minutes to get it down on paper.

You don’t need to capture every last detail. Find the humor and catalogue the memories that feel best. Write down one thing each person did that was funny, clever, surprising, or kind. It’ll change the way you feel about family vacations, not to mention your family, and most importantly, yourself.

This fall Darien will be teaching memoir, writing and publishing classes through Waimea Community Education. Visit for more information.

Darien Gee is a national bestselling author based in Waimea. Her most recent novel is The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. She also writes under the name Mia King. Visit her at and