The transformative power of caregiving is rooted in spiritual growth
Sacramento, CA –In Suzanne Marriott’s deeply honest and inspiring memoir, “Watching for Dragonflies: A Caregiver’s Transformative Journey” (She Writes Press, June 6, 2023), she explores how caregiving for her husband throughout his journey with chronic illness allowed her to gain a spiritual awareness that would ultimately help her through her own medical crisis and into a place of healing and contentment.
Amid the many obstacles she and her husband, Michael, face after his diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, Suzanne learns to be a compassionate caregiver both for him and, ultimately, for herself. Through love, psychological insights, and spiritual inquiry, she cultivates her abilities–and gains the courage to confront a medical system that saves her husband multiple times–but at other times threatens his life. Despite Michael’s many hospitalizations, he makes miraculous recoveries that bring fun and adventure back into their lives, including his numinous experience with dragonflies. When Suzanne faces her own medical crisis with cancer, their world is once again shaken–yet throughout it all, love is their bond, one even death cannot sever. Candid and illuminating, Suzanne’s story of growth through caregiving will appeal to anyone facing a life-changing crisis and seeking hard-won wisdom, comfort, and hope.
“Watching for Dragonflies”
Suzanne Marriott | June 6, 2023 | She Writes Press | Nonfiction, Memoir
Paperback | ISBN: 978-1647424367 | $17.95
Ebook | ASIN: B0B8H59GJX | $8.99
SUZANNE MARRIOTT is a memoirist and deep-travel writer who shares her transformative experiences with her readers. She was her husband’s caregiver for the ten years he suffered from multiple sclerosis, and her writings on compassionate caregiving have been published in The Union newspaper’s Healthy You magazine. Writer Advice awarded her the “Scintillating Start Prize” for the first chapter of her memoir, Watching for Dragonflies: A Caregiver’s Transformative Journey. Her personal essay, Indian Summer, won the Fall 2012 Memoir Writing Contest from Women’s Memoirs.com and was included in the eBook anthology Seasons of Our Lives: Autumn. Suzanne’s stories of deep travel have appeared in the award-winning online magazine Your Life is a Trip and in Soul of Travel Magazine.
A native Californian, Suzanne has traveled up and down the coast of her state, exploring as far north as British Columbia and south into Mexico, where she fell in love with the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende and the Maya culture of the lower Yucatan Peninsula. She has been to Europe three times and hopes to continue exploring Europe’s many cultures and natural wonders. Her interests include transcendent experiences, afterlife communication, Jungian psychology, and Tibetan Buddhism.
Suzanne holds a BA in English from UC Berkeley, an MS in education from Cal State University, Hayward (now Cal State University, East Bay), and an MA in transpersonal psychology from The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (now Sophia University). She is a member of The Institute of Noetic Sciences, Sierra Writers, and the National Association of Memoir Writers. She lives in an ecologically conscious cohousing community in the Sierra Nevada foothills. For more information on compassionate caregiving, visit Suzanne at www.suzannemarriottauthor.com
In an interview, Suzanne Marriott can discuss:
- How her relationship with her husband changed after his MS diagnosis
- The benefits and drawbacks of traveling with a disability, and what changes need to be made in order for travel to be truly accessible
- Her advice for caregivers who often take little to no time for themselves
- What she learned from her cancer diagnosis
- Her spiritual journey, and how spiritual inquiry helped her heal
- How she grew from her experiences as a caregiver
Praise for Suzanne Marriott and “Watching for Dragonflies”
“Suzanne Marriott’s touching memoir stays with the reader long after its final present-tense paragraph. This is a book that needs to be read by anyone who wishes to know what it’s like to go through the stages of a chronic illness. Along with Michael, who has MS, and Suzanne, his wife and caretaker, we experience joy in their successful activities and disappointment in the frequent ineptness of their health care providers. We follow the couple through years of health challenges and learn of the events that bond them together and the mishaps that appear to tear them apart. A very moving, true story.”
—Evelyn Kohl LaTorre, author of “Love in Any Language” and “Between Inca Walls”
“In her memoir, Suzanne draws on her background in transpersonal psychology to access the spiritual and psychological resources that guide her growth as a caregiver. Empowered by inner wisdom figures, dream revelations, and shamanic and Tibetan Buddhist practices, she develops the inner resources she needs to support her husband.”
—Marilyn Schlitz, Ph.D., Professor of transpersonal psychology and President of the Academic Faculty at Sofia University and CEO/President Emeritus at the Institute of Noetic Sciences
“Suzanne’s Marriott’s caring memoir of her love, marriage, joy, grief, and spiritual seeking, and of the distresses and challenges of her long caregiving, is stunningly honest and inspiring.”
—Judith Van Herik, Professor Emerita of religious studies at Penn State University
“‘Watching for Dragonflies’ is an inspirational story of personal growth through adversity that will bring comfort and companionship to other caregivers. An intimate and empowering memoir.”
—Rachel Howard, author of “The Lost Night” and “The Risk of Us”
“Suzanne Marriott takes you into a world that is breathtaking in its intimacy, love, and lucidity. She is a deep traveler, a spiritual adventurer, and not only a survivor but a thriver. This is a no-holds-barred memoir by a woman who can lift you out of life’s tight places and help you to breathe, to flow with love, to believe.”
—Judith Fein, award-winning travel journalist, author of “Life is a Trip”
“Services for—and recognition of—family caregivers simply must improve. Honest storytelling like that in ‘Watching for Dragonflies’ will start a revolution.”
—Gretchen Staebler, author of “Mother Lode: Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver”
An Interview with
1. What was your inspiration for writing “Watching for Dragonflies” and what does the title mean to you?
As I worked on my memoir, I gained a sense of purpose. I was inspired to make my story meaningful to other caregivers, encouraging them to believe in themselves, knowing that if I could do it, so could they.
My husband had a numinous experience with dragonflies when he was able to walk almost normally in the cool waters of the Eel River, his legs kept cold and his body temperature down. On the far bank, he stood watching dragonflies flit through the reeds, transfixed as their transparent wings reflected the sunlight, transforming them into prisms of iridescent color. These dragonflies became a powerful symbol of strength and renewal for him–a symbol of being whole.
2. What was your relationship with your husband like, and how did his MS diagnosis change your relationship?
Though we were very much in love, there were times when our relationship was plagued by power struggles and reactive patterns. As we learned to work together to face the many challenges of multiple sclerosis, our love and trust in each other grew and our intimacy increased. We both grew psychologically and spiritually during those ten years when I was my husband’s caregiver.
3. What experiences helped you succeed in caregiving? Do you have any advice for caregivers?
I learned as I went along, doing what needed to be done and stretching my capabilities until I was doing things I never dreamed I could do, even things that an RN usually does. I found wonderful support through my MS Society Caregivers Group where we helped each other by sharing information and experiences. Most of all, I loved my husband and I was open to learning, doing whatever needed to be done as each new challenge arose. Also, I learned from my mistakes and didn’t let them defeat me. I encourage other caregivers to find a support group, do online research, and believe in themselves and their ability to meet whatever challenges they may face. It is of utmost importance for caregivers to take care of themselves, find some free time, do restorative things like yoga or meditation, and spend some time with supportive family and friends. When things become too much, reach out to family and friends for help or, if you can, hire a part-time caregiver to help out.
4. What advice do you have for writers over 50?
Believe in yourself and your ability to write a compelling book and believe in the power of story. Do research to identify your audience, know what benefit your book will bring to others, and make bringing forth that benefit your primary goal. Above all, print out your drafts and read them in hard copy to catch errors, get feedback from trusted beta readers, and revise, revise, revise.
5. What did you learn from your experience with cancer?
I learned the importance and value of taking care of myself and my right to live out my life for myself as well as for my husband. I sought guidance through dreams, spiritual healers, guided meditations, hypnosis, and inspirational writings. Above all else, I maintained a positive attitude, never doubting my ability to heal and to thrive. Through my experience with cancer, I grew in self-confidence and a sense of self-worth as intrinsic, not dependent on what I do for others. Through both my cancer and caregiving, I grew in assertiveness, acceptance of what I could and could not change, compassion, perseverance, and the knowledge that I could survive grief and loss.
6. Can you tell us a bit more about your spiritual journey?
I gained knowledge and guidance through Jungian practices such as dream work, Shamanic drumming and Native American wisdom cards, inner dialogues with my wisdom figure, Tibetan Buddhism, and after-death communication through both dreams and synchronicities. My work with a Jungian-oriented therapist supported me throughout my journey in my spiritual and psychological growth.
7. What’s next for you, writing-wise?
I hope to open a dialogue with other caregivers through my website and Facebook blog. I also look forward to writing personal essays on caregiving for print and online publications, and I will continue to look for new ways to tell my story and connect with other caregivers.
8. What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
If I can do it, so can you. Believe in yourself and your ability to learn from your mistakes. Let love and compassion be your guides, both for your loved-one and for yourself.
A former award-winning journalist with national exposure, Marissa now oversees the day-to-day operation of the Books Forward author branding and book marketing firm, along with our indie publishing support sister company Books Fluent.
Born and bred in Louisiana, currently living in New Orleans, she has lived and developed a strong base for our company and authors in Chicago and Nashville. Her journalism work has appeared in USA Today, National Geographic and other major publications. She is now interviewed by media on best practices for book marketing.