Grief, Poetry, Stories, Writing

Separate Journeys – Why Do We Bury Our Fears?

A short excerpt from my upcoming memoir ‘Cowboys Are Not Supposed To Cry to be published by Christian Faith Publishing in spring of 2021 (emphasis below added).

“I only want her to not be in pain.”

He looked at me with a look of both sadness and resignation, his voice low and measured, “That is what I am focused on.”

I nodded in agreement, and he turned and walked away. I watched him stride down the hall his white lab coat flaying out at his sides. Standing for a moment alone, I collected myself midst the noise of the corridor.

Forcing myself to turn, I slowly walked back into the hospital room. I plastered a smile on my face and buried the fear so far down where I believed it could never be unearthed.

~Mark Wayne ©2020

What have you buried?

What if it were to be found?

Grief, Stories, Writing

I Did A Thing – Recording A Podcast Interview This Week!

And Then Everything Changed – October 28, 2020

Tap the image to visit the website!

I will be interviewed by Ronit Plank for her podcast ‘And Then Everything Changed’ this Wednesday, October 28th. The episode will be aired at a still to be determined date.

In preparation for my interview with Ronit I have binged listened to many past episodes. I encourage you to take a listen to great stories of resilience, courage and hope. Ronit is a skilled host and interviewer. All past and future episodes, including mine when it becomes available, are available on her website and many podcast platforms including:

The conversations Ronit has with her guests are real and vulnerable. Talking about personal history; those pivotal moments of their childhood and adulthood that defined them and the crucial and sometimes painful decisions they made that forever changed the course of their lives.

After listening to many episodes, my biggest takeaway is the all too often similar feelings and emotions that we all experience in life. Despite our often very different circumstances, beliefs, values and life stories the emotional toil often runs deep. Although, my life may often have little in common with many of the guests I feel a connection.

It is not a competition, and yet we all have or will experience pain in this life. #quote

“The Princess Bride”

The question and the test is what will we do with the pain we experience in this life? Listen to some Ronit’s guests tell their stories and you will be inspired by the strength, courage and the resiliency of the human spirit. Thank you Ronit for creating this platform that allows others to share their stories, reminding us each that we are not alone.

Stay tuned to this site and sign up for email updates for the latest and when my conversation with Ronit will air on her podcast!

#LiveYourDreams

Grief, Stories, Writing

Grief and Loss Changes Us, How Could it Not?

The following is taken from the draft introduction to my upcoming memoir ‘Cowboys Are Not Supposed To Cry’ to be published in Spring of 2021.

Reconciling the Past

Embracing the Present

 Redeeming the Future

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

~Matthew 5:4

“When we suffer loss, when it finds us in one form or another we must first reconcile our past. Second, we must embrace the present, our circumstances and play the cards life has dealt us. Thirdly, we must redeem our future, a vision with new dreams for a new life where there is no finish line. Forever changed we must move forward, a different person with a different trajectory we carry the past with us every step of the way.” ©Mark W. Schutter

Grief and loss changes us, how could it not?

Grief and loss changes us, how could it not? #Memoir #UpcomingBook #TrueStory

What are your thoughts? How do you move forward following loss and what helps you?

Leave me a comment below and have a great day. Remember, you are the hero of your story, who else could be?

#LiveYourDreams

Grief, Stories, Writing

“What Do You See?”

“What do you see?

The blue sky is beginning to darken as night approaches and I watch you lying there. Your head on its side resting on the ground. You stare straight ahead past your nose, eyes wide open.

We both stay in the silence of the moment, only a faint rustle of leaves in the trees. Slowly I watch you lift your head and look around before you stop and stare off into the distance. Your dark nose crinkles as you sniff the evening air.

“What do you see?” I want to ask, I open my mouth to speak and the words catch in my throat. I swallow hard, my heart beating loudly within my chest.

I close my mouth and sit silently conjuring images of the unknown that may be floating through your mind. I sit helpless to ease your pain, wanting to comfort you as each second ticks by.

If you could only speak. To tell me what you see, what you are thinking of. For I would do whatever it is you ask or need. The world around me swirls, a strong breeze rustles the leaves, and a voice in my head from long ago breaks my reverie transporting me back.

“Please shove the pillow down lower, closer to my hip here…”

“Oh God!”

Your shrill voice rings loud in the silence of the late evening. I quickly jerk my hands away coming off the pillow as I back pedal a few steps watching your pained expression.

“I am sorry.” I speak slowly in a trembling voice as I slowly move back closer to the chair. Your head is tilted back resting hard against the back of the chair, your breath deep and labored.

“I know, … it’s okay. It just hurts so bad, ya know. I just can’t ever seem to get comfortable where it doesn’t hurt.”

My mind whirls as I stand swaying on unsteady legs unsure what to do next, not wanting to cause you more pain. I stand staring not knowing what to say waiting until you speak.

“Okay, let’s try this. Put that little pillow down behind my lower back. I will hold this one here at my side and we’ll see if that works.”

Okay I say, tentatively moving forward treating you as a fragile porcelain doll instead of the courageous strong woman that you are despite the circumstances. Inside my helplessness screams at the absurdity of it all.

Several minutes later after many machinations and adjustments you are finally somewhat comfortable for now. Breathing a heavy sigh you sink deeper into the chair closing your eyes.

“Okay that will work, thank you love.”

“Your welcome.”

I fall onto the couch next to your chair my own exhaustion overtaking me. Our eyes meet for a brief second as you open your eyes and you faintly smile. Then you turn away from my gaze to look out the window at the darkening sky. I watch as you sit motionless, your pale arms resting on the arms of the recliner.

Your short dark brown hair barely touches your shoulders now as it hangs framing your face. I can still picture your long locks that used to cascade down your back and over your shoulders. I see your eyes gloss over, focused on something that only you can see. I wonder are you seeing beyond the veil that separates the worlds.

“What do you see my love?” my mind asks as I swallow my words.

My head clears, I come back to the present. You are now on your side, head once again laying on the grass, eyes open staring. The dark brown fur of your coat in sharp contrast to the green grass of late summertime.

You seem at peace with whatever may come and I envy you. My mind again asks “What do you see girl? Do you see the end?” I wonder.

A chorus of memories run through my mind of the years together. The joy, the laughter, the adventures we all shared. You completed our family and made it whole. We watched you and her grow alongside one another becoming best friends. You have always been a loyal companion that shepherded her well into her teenage years.

I know your body is now weak and frail. Age or disease catches up with us all and I hope you know I will continue to try whatever that may mean. I truly will, my mind screams into the silence of the ever darkening sky overhead. To spare you and others from what inevitability will come. My helplessness looms large, again a mountain in front of me that I am once again forced to climb.

Your eyes now closed, I watch you breathing slowly, your chest rising and falling as you sleep. There is life left and I will do whatever I can to ease your days. Although I know that option is sometimes not offered. And so we live with the unanswered question of ‘What do you see?’

“Best Friends”

Sharing a little free write essay that compares the feelings I have watching our older dog as she battles lymphoma and the triggers of memories it evokes from long ago. You will be able to read more about those memories in my upcoming memoir to be published in early 2021. You can read about it here and be sure to sign up for email notifications to get the latest updates.

Life, Stories, Writing

What Is It to Have Succeeded?

“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – that is to have succeeded.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson #Quote #Success #Life

As I look back over my life, the questions haunt me, ‘have I succeeded?’ and ‘how do you define a successful life?’

Success by the worlds standards might include the following:

  • He who has the most toys wins!
  • Building wealth and showing it off!
  • Amassing a large social media following!
  • Having a perfect relationship and a trophy companion!
  • Launching a billion-dollar business that changes the world!

I am sure you can think of many others things that might apply as well.

If you don’t define success for your life, someone else will define it for you.

  • What mountain are you climbing?
  • How do you know if it is the right one at the right time?
  • When you reach the summit will you see your mountain off in the distance?

For me the idea of a successful life has shrunk over the years. Not in terms of impact but in terms of grandiosity and self-serving vanity. The Emerson quote has been a favorite of mine since the first time I read it.

To laugh often and much to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others to leave the world a little better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success.

I have stood at the bedside as a last breath was taken and I have no doubt my presence made that breath a little easier. You can read about this in my memoir to be published in 2021 and an update in a previous post here. I pray that I have also helped others breathe a little easier in times of trouble, strife and pain. For what good is a life that offers nothing of value to other human beings, living things and the world around us?

It’s probably not surprising to paraphrase Emerson this is my definition of success >

Now tell me, what is your definition of success?

Grief, Life, Stories, Writing

Memoir Update – Signed Publishing Agreement!

It’s official!

*Note: Working title and not actual cover.

Exciting news!!! I have signed a publishing and distribution agreement with Christian Faith Publishing for my memoir. I submitted my manuscript to their review board, they accepted the draft and want to publish my book. Woo-hoo! 😁

Signing the agreement with my daughter!
  • It has been a long journey for sure to get to this point, never stop chasing your dreams!
  • Expected publication date is still to be determined, sometime in early 2021.
  • Lots to be done before then – editing, proofing, typesetting, cover design etc.

I have been busy drafting my author bio and the book blurb. That is harder than writing the actual book. Who knew? 😳

Book teaser >

When did we come to believe the best thing you can do with death is ride off from it? In Cowboys Are Not Supposed To Cry, Mark Wayne tells his story of living a life with grief beginning in his mid-twenties. #Memoir #AmWriting #UpcomingBook #WritersLife

I hope to post some excerpts from the forthcoming book as I go through the editing process as well as other updates here on the blog. So be sure to hit the follow button and sign up for email notifications to get the latest.

*Note: Working title and not actual cover.

I would love to hear your initial impressions or thoughts. Your feedback is greatly appreciated and will help guide efforts as I move forward in publishing and marketing.

#LiveYourDreams

Adventure, Life, Stories

A Manifesto of Fatherhood – Revisited

Happy Day after Fathers Day to Everyone!

A little different post for Motivation Monday this week. I want to encourage parents, both fathers and mothers. This post is written from my perspective as a father, but it can apply to those moms who are parenting alone and filling both roles.

I hope every father had a great Fathers day. Now that the day set aside to be all about you is over, it’s time to get back to being the father your children need. Your influence and impact will either set them up for success or failure in life. You are their protector, comfort, soft place to land, compass, rock and shelter from the storm.

February 2020

For fathers of daughters, as I am, who you are as a man will influence how they view other men. How you love and treat them, how you love and treat their mother will impact their belief and trust in other men.

Fathers, show your daughters what a real man is, and how a real man treats a lady. #MotivationMonday #FathersDay #EverydayYouAreADad #HappyDayAfterFathersDay

Think of the impact we would have if came alive as fathers. Your children will grow up and affect the lives of countless others and their children will go on and do the same. This ripple effect – this opportunity of compounding influence – has got to overwhelmingly dwarf whatever the majority of us may hope to accomplish at our jobs. Love your kids, men. Teach them to be strong, dedicated, focused, gentle, fierce, loyal.” ​​​​​​​- John Lovell, Warrior Poet Society

Love your kids, men. Teach them to be strong, dedicated, focused, gentle, fierce, loyal.” ​​​​​​​- John Lovell, Warrior Poet Society @johnlovell275

February 2017

The original post below was written back in 2013 when my daughter was 7 1/2 years old. She is now 15 1/2 and the words are as true today as they were then.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Father / Daughter Dance - February 2013"
February 2013

Knowing that, God willing, no matter the circumstances, I will always be a daddy to my little girl;

Knowing that, God willing, my daughter will one day be an adult and leave to follow her own path;

  • I will love my daughter for the gift that she is, not what she does
  • I will cherish every moment we spend together
  • I will strive to give her whatever wisdom I might possess
  • I will teach her the value of relationships & honoring promises
  • I will allow my daughter to soar upon her own wings
  • I will let her go to travel the path God has laid before her

“May the Lord give me the wisdom to parent with love, humility and strength, to give my daughter only and always the best that I can offer.”   ~M

Summer 2010

“Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.” ~C. Everett Koop

I encourage you to now write your own manifesto!

Life, Stories, Writing

Book(s) Update – ‘The Chronicles of Faith’

Please note this is not the actual cover.

I have completed the ‘shitty’ first drafts and edits of each novel of the series – ‘The Chronicles of Faith.’ Each book was completed in 30 days during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November where the goal is write 50,000 words. If nothing else NaNoWriMo motivates you to get a story out of your head onto the paper.

I wrote the first book:

  • ‘The Beauty of the Stars’

Back in 2014 and then let it sit. My wife and daughter both persevered through reading the rough, I mean rough, first draft and encouraged me to continue the story. (Truth be told I didn’t let them read it for a couple of years, it just sat collecting dust.)

Thus, in November of 2018 and 2019 I wrote the next two books in the series:

  • ‘The Stars are Falling’ and,
  • ‘The Judgment of the Stars.’

The title of the series ‘The Chronicles of Faith’ came to me for few reasons. One, I love Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. Second, I have always loved the idea of writing a series myself. Third, the main character’s name is Faith and she, as well as other characters each go through their own journey of faith.

The Chronicles of Faith – book quotes                                                                         

Beauty is all around and our pain distracts us from seeing the truth. (The Beauty of the Stars – Coming soon Book 1 of the series ‘The Chronicles of Faith’ by Mark Wayne)

Falling is inevitable and only fatal if we choose not to get back up. (The Stars are Falling – Coming soon Book 2 of the series ‘The Chronicles of Faith’ by Mark Wayne)

Judgment finds us all, the only question is when and how. (The Judgment of the Stars -Coming soon Book 3 of the series ‘The Chronicles of Faith’ by Mark Wayne)

A Snapshot Teaser

Faith is a loner and she knows she is different. As an evolving drone technology is unleashed on an unsuspecting populace she longs to find connection. Charles Davidson, head of The Group, is intent on building an empire, letting nothing stand in his way. Faith and Charles are both driven and their fates intertwine in ways neither understands.

Supernatural powers are driving an agenda of epic proportions. Forces of good and evil collide inside the human hearts of two people who seem to have nothing in common. Others join Faith in her quest to kill Davidson, while each is forced to answer the questions of who they are and are they good enough? The destiny of each hinges on the challenging choices that each must make, especially Faith, and the consequences of which affects them all.

Please note this is also not the actual cover.

So What’s Next?

I am leaning towards self-publishing the book series in the near future. If you have any advice or resources for me I would welcome that. Please either leave a comment or email me at info@markschutter.com

In the meantime I am hard at work writing, actually editing my memoir. The book captures my experience of grief and loss as a young man. The book will be for anyone who has experienced loss and who hasn’t? Grief will touch us all and changes everything.

Stay tuned for future updates on both my novels and my memoir.

Life, Stories, Writing

“She died. She is dead.” Thoughts and coming to terms with the words.

Widowed and/or bereaved? And does it even really matter when the words don’t change the outcome?

Widowed – verb: past participle: widowed

  1. become a widow or widower; lose one’s spouse through death.
    • Widownounwidow; plural noun: widows
      a woman who has lost her spouse by death and has not remarried.
    1. Widower – nounwidower; plural noun: widowers
      a man who has lost his spouse by death and has not remarried.

Bereaved – verb: past participle: bereaved

  1. be deprived of a loved one through a profound absence, especially due to the loved one’s death.

“She died. She is dead. Is the word so difficult to learn?” ~C.S. Lewis {A Grief Observed}

We use the terms ‘lost’, ‘deprived’ and ‘absence’ when the truth is they died. Their physical mortal body ceased to work and they died. You are widowed until you remarry, then no longer a widow or widower? And are you still bereaved every single moment, day, month, and year after losing a loved one?

The pain and the grief, never goes away even when you commit actions that take you in another direction, such as remarrying. Grief is not something you get over, it is something you carry with you for the rest of your life. It irrevocably changes you, how could it not?

Does the soul live on after death? I believe it does and that’s a topic for another blog post.

“Well, we have nothing if not belief.” ~Reepicheep {The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis}

God, Life, Stories

Belief and Death – are the words so difficult to learn?

“Well, we have nothing if not belief.”

~Reepicheep

“The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (CS Lewis)

A Grief Observed, as well as other books and writings, by CS Lewis have comforted, challenged and confirmed many of my own feelings at different times with their stark emotion and startling honesty. Almost thirty-five years and a vast ocean between two continents separated the experiences of Mr. Lewis and my own. We were at very different points on life’s continuum; Mr. Lewis was in his early sixties when his wife, Joy, died and me in my late twenties when my wife died.

However, the experiences of Mr. Lewis I read about are eerily similar to my own experiences. The feelings of pain, sorrow, guilt and eventually a measure of acceptance and healing that followed. Grief is a solitary road we must walk alone, however the words Mr. Lewis shared have always made me feel not quite so alone, especially during my own time of anguish and the dark night of my soul.

My hope is that my words, the things I share and put into the world can do the same for someone else. We are all sojourners here on earth and sorrow at one time or another will wrap its cold arms around us all and hold us close. In those moments, we need grace and mercy, for if my own experience is any indication in those dark times of guilt and pain there often vows and promises made that we are never meant to keep.