Member of the Month
Each month Narcolepsy Network highlights a Member of the Month who makes a difference in the narcolepsy community. If you would like to nominate a Narcolepsy Network member who is helping raise awareness of narcolepsy or doing work to benefit the narcolepsy community, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline to submit a nomination is the 20th of every month for the next month.
Congratulations to our Members of the Month and thank you for all you do!
Meet our Member of the Month, Linda Black
I have always been fascinated by the concept of story, intrigued by the broad scope of it. How we speak, paint, sculpt, reenact, or retell in some tactile way significant events in our own live and those to which we hear witness, and how our stories evolve and become woven into the fabric of our collective history. It seems that the old adage everyone has a story doesn’t quite cover it. We each have many stories and we have many stories and we have cousins of stories – those we may come across that become part of our own lexicon. My love of story has been the impetus for many of my life choices, certainly among them, becoming a journalist.
It’s why, in my early career, I left my Ontario home and got a one-way ticket to the Virgin Islands, where I landed an associate editor job with Portside, an unusual magazine with the niche market of crew of cruise ships with Caribbean ports-of-call. More recently, in 2010, I launched a beautiful world‐culture and lifestyle magazine called AVALON, which I published for three years. Now I’m the editor of a wedding magazine on Martha’s Vineyard called Island Weddings. While it has infused my career as a journalist, my insatiable pursuit of story has also fueled my two lifelong loves of travel and culinary arts. And it inspired exploration of other storytelling forms such as spoken-word poetry and screenwriting. And thanks to narcolepsy, I have a rich and vivid dream life from which I’ve been able to draw every step of the way.
Yep, I’m using thank you and narcolepsy in the same sentence. Navigating life as a person with narcolepsy can be difficult. It’s challenging to fit into the 9-to‐5 box of the working world, for example. And it can be potentially dangerous, like if we slip into a hypnagogic hallucination crossing a busy street. But I have come to believe that narcolepsy is a gift. One that can be burdensome, but a gift nonetheless. I see it as a different way of being in the world, as part of my story. Where we PWNs find some things difficult that others take as a matter of course – like wakefulness – we are also gifted with heightened awareness and other abilities, especially our ability to move easily between the waking world and dream world. Some people spend their lives seeking entry to the deep well of dreams. We come to it naturally.
My dream life infuses every aspect of my waking life, how I think, how I parent, how I heal, how I am in relationships, how I cook, how I work. I believe our dream selves are as valid, as essential as our waking selves and have a lot to offer our more judgmental and rigid waking personas. My dream self is my own higher guide, my teacher. That’s the premise behind every workshop I facilitate, and especially the Dreaming Your Story workshop, where participants are encouraged to explore their dreams, to write them, and to use them to shine a light on their waking lives. I take that premise, too, in the Talking Sticks workshop, where participants are encouraged to value their own stories, and to share them, and to give the gift of listening to others. (I’ll be offering both workshops at our Mile‐High Dreams conference in Denver.)
In honor of one of our fellow PWNs, Sharon Smith, who brought so much to our community and who will always be part of our shared story, 5% of proceeds from all the Dreaming Your Story workshops I facilitate (anywhere, anytime) will go to the Sharon Smith Scholarship. The scholarship was established by Narcolepsy Network to help send financially challenged PWNs to the annual conference. (Dreaming Your Story and Talking Sticks workshops at the conference are, of course, free to all attendees but I’ll have a donation jar out if you’d like to contribute to the Scholarship.)
Please visit www.alltheirlives.com to find out more about my film project and my workshops!