2023 & Me: A Year of Celebrating the DNA of True Stories

Course begins Monday January 2nd

`Use this LINK to Story Circle Network, my partnering organization. Our online class begins via Zoom Monday evening 7:00 – 8:30 pm EST January 2nd.

We meet every other Monday evening, with email support on the weeks in between.

Fee: First month free for SCN members & non-members: $10 per month afterwards. Participants will be responsible for sourcing copies of the selected books. 

Join us to reinvigorate your relationship with the written word! Together we’ll explore the real stories of change in the lives of memoir authors.

Just as deeply as our DNA’s unique chemical code guides our health, growth, and development at the cellular level, so do our reading and writing habits. They influence our life choices. We will decode these sequences to consider the range of possibilities operating in our own stories too.

How do known narratives shape our expectations, assumptions and ambitions?

The meanings we glean from shared stories are as much a part of our common ancestry as the intertwining human genome.

To tap into the universal fundamentals, we will investigate twelve memoirs, one per month.

In January we begin with Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch. Grief drove this former environmental lawyer to return to reading, with a passion. We will look at how this healed her, and what else changed in her life, after she made the commitment to read one book per day.

More details about this program will be emailed to registrants. First month is free for members and non-members. After trial period, cost is $10 per month. This includes two live Zoom sessions and emails in-between meetings. Members are responsible for sourcing their own copies of each featured memoir.

· First Monday of the month, we meet on Zoom to discuss why each book was chosen.
· Second Monday, group emails share participants insights about what they’re reading.
· Third Monday, Zoom meeting covers the DNA questions raised by the book.
· Fourth Monday we share our draft reviews, via email, and next book selection.

The DNA of True Stories explores the qualities of memorable memoirs, their elemental features, impacts, and story telling techniques. What makes them comparable? Which insights make a true story great?

How does a book keep us engaged? Why are memoirs transformative?

Facilitator:Cynthia F. Davidson is a long time faculty member of SCN. She teaches the eight week overview course Would I, Could I, Should I Write a Memoir?

A former CBS News journalist, her memoir The Importance of Paris won an IPPY award.

2023 & Me is a brand new program. We are celebrating the transformational powers of true story telling by reading, writing and reviewing memoirs by, for and about women.

Author & Mystic

A born mystic, Cynthia was raised in Arabia. There she began taking divine dictation at age 10, penning her first poems.

Further expatriate decades led to more world travels and dual careers in journalism and global management development.

After studying the perennial teachings, she developed The Wisdom Wheel, and decided to leave corporate life. She relocated to Rhode Island to create a spiritual retreat center, where she has taught and led ceremonies, for the past 20 years.

The Importance of Paris is the first in her planned series of memoirs. The book won an IPPY (Independent Publishers Award) in 2019. Available on Amazon in eBook, Print and Audio, it recounts her years living in more than one Paris. Cynthia came of age in the former Paris of the Middle East, Beirut, Lebanon. When war erupted there in 1975, her sister was shot and her father kidnapped… Desperate to understand why the country she loved had disintegrated, she went to Paris, France for answers, since Beirut remained too dangerous to return to. Her quest to understand the reasons behind the violence led her to another woman whose husband had been assassinated in Lebanon.

“It took me a long time to tell my own story,” admits this former CBS News journalist. “My focus had been on telling other peoples’ stories.”


Loves, Lies and Resolutions

a memoir

“A richly told memoir that’s steeped in history.– Kirkus Review

‘Davidson’s belief that historical knowledge is the key to understanding contemporary problems results in a well-told, jet-setting memoir that spans decades and continents. The book is rather lengthy, but its seamless digressions will keep readers’ interest as Davidson recalls important years in her journey toward psychological and spiritual well-being. A vibrant parade of people moved in and out of her life, and her stories range in tone from joyful to harrowing. She also offers considerable cultural and political insight, and a little bit of romance, along the way, as well as an intriguing take on Paris as a place of refuge and healing. – Kirkus Review

eBook  |  Print  |  Audio


Paris has a soul and she’ll test yours.
Will you sell out or stay true?

Seekers of transformation have been flocking to the City of Light for centuries: artists, mystics, writers, revolutionaries, royals, and refugees. And twenty-seven million tourists a year were making Paris the most visited place in the world when I went there for a ten day vacation in January 1984. A month later, I put my affairs in order and returned, to become one of the two million who call Paris home.

My home had once been in another Paris, the “Paris of the Middle East” Beirut, Lebanon. Having come of age in that former Levantine colony of France, I believed I belonged there. But shortly after I turned twenty-one, Lebanon devolved into a gaping, bleeding war zone. Those of us who witnessed its demise can hardly believe the Beirut we knew is gone. The promise of its heydays lives on in our memories.

During the two decades of my most formative years, my family made our home in the Middle East, although we had all been born in the US. My American expatriate parents might have stayed in their Beirut apartment if Lebanon had not become another casualty of man’s inhumanity.

The Lebanese Civil War almost finished us: my sister was shot in Beirut, my father kidnapped, our apartment looted, and friends disappeared. Some were tortured and killed. Worse yet, some became torturers, killers, and black market profiteers. While others have the luxury of ignoring what went wrong in Lebanon, we who lost everything familiar there crave a decent explanation for its disappearance.

The nightmare of that faux Paris still had me in its thrall when I moved to France at age twenty-nine, determined to discover what had gone wrong in Lebanon. The ongoing fighting made it too dangerous to return to Beirut for answers. After the invasions of the Syrian and Israeli armies, my parents finally gave up and returned to America in the summer of 1982, after twenty-one years in the Arab world. Each member of my family struggled to readjust to life in the US after being abroad for so long. In addition to what was lost in the fighting, we had also lost our foothold in the world at large, and this wreaked havoc on my sense of belonging and identity.

Thoughts of Lebanon’s ruination preoccupied me. As the war raged on during my twenties, I dreaded having turned my back on a place and a people when they needed their friends the most. I didn’t know my grieving process had a label, and a form of treatment, until years afterward when the term “post-traumatic stress disorder” came into vogue. Desperate to draw conclusions and be done with the torment, I decided the best way to come to terms with the war was to find out what had caused it.

That meant finding someone with deep knowledge of the how and why. Only survivors had any credibility with me. Who else could be trusted to explain the reasons behind such devastating violence? Furthermore, it had to be a Lebanese national who had been there, not some foreign analyst, or a pundit with an agenda. Sure a local person was better qualified to tell the world what had gone wrong in Lebanon. If my country, the US, had fallen apart in a civil war, I would want a fellow citizen to explain the lived truths of our story.

Apart from nationality, I wanted to hear it from another woman. And I chose Georgina Rizk. Not because she had once been Miss Universe, but because the multiple tragedies she had endured since wearing that crown had left her fatefully suited to the task. Her involvement with people from opposing sides of the conflict had transformed her into a cipher, with insights from more than one perspective. So I put my faith in this search for the truth, via another person, without fully realizing the risks of such a plan. Nor did I comprehend the limits of logical, factual quests, which rarely repair our hearts or restore trust, in others or ourselves. My psyche steered me towards a female survivor, and a French city, each with their own experiences of wars and healings. Living in Paris put me through a process as peculiar as it was unexpected. And although my three-year cure in France came close to killing me, this memoir is a testament to how Paris managed my transformation. Vive la difference.

Beautiful, insightful memoir set against a backdrop of Lebanon and Paris

“This is a gorgeously written memoir that features a young American woman who comes to better understand herself and the world, while living and then working abroad. In her desire to write an account of Lebanon, which includes the Arab world’s first and only Miss Universe, the author comes to makes sense of how attachment to people and place can determine the course of our lives. Davidson’s writing beautifully illustrates her own struggle to better understand how history creates and shapes us, and how ultimately—and sometimes bravely—we can shape our own. Plus, it’s set in Paris…”

 ― Irene S

You cannot contribute anything to the ideal condition of mind and heart
however much you preach, posture or agree, unless you live it.

Faith Baldwin, born Oct. 1, 1893-1978, American author of 85 books, including Self-Made Woman (1939)

Subscribe To My Newsletter

*indicates required