Our Marriage in 1971

I was 20 when I married Steve Fiol, the father of my children, and the man with whom I planned to spend the rest of my life.

I was 30 when we divorced.

The divorce hurt like a death, and my mourning process went on for several years. I was adrift in an unfamiliar world. I was afraid, having stepped out of the safest space I’d ever known. (Note: I did not feel safe as a child.) And I was deeply lonely, given that numerous friends sided with Steve and judged me quite harshly.

In short, I was broken.


I’m the baby here — three more children came along after me

April 10 is National Siblings Day, a day to remember and celebrate our brothers and sisters.

I am child number five of eight in my family.

We all grew up with doggedly determined Mennonite missionary parents, who devoted their lives to treating the poor, the sick, and the leprous in Paraguay, South America.

I used to have negative feelings about all of my older siblings. The truth is, I don’t remember much about them during my childhood, except that the three oldest treated me like an annoying non-entity, and I fought incessantly with the one closest to my age.


John and Clara Called to be Medical Missionaries in Paraguay

March 16th is World Social Work Day. It’s when we are invited to celebrate and promote the contributions of social workers to individuals, families, communities and wider society.

This year, World Social Work Day highlights Ubuntu: I am Because We Are. The word ubuntu is part of the Zulu phrase Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu, which literally means that a person is a person through other people. I am who I am through you, through our common humanity, through our oneness.

If we didn’t believe in the interconnectedness of all people and…

My Father with a Patient

It’s easy for me to celebrate the successes of those around me when things are going well in my own life. Like when I recently received a call from friends who had just moved into their dream home in San Antonio. I looked around our own comfortable townhome, built as though it was customed designed for us. Perfect. So happy for you.

But it’s not so easy for me to delight in someone else’s success story when things aren’t going as well for me. …

Photo Source: Andres Vera on Unsplash

February 16, Fat Tuesday, marks the final day of this year’s Mardi Gras, the carnival that precedes the start of Lent.

Most of us associate Mardi Gras with wild parades, masquerade balls and other rowdy public festivities in cities such as Rio, Venice and New Orleans, drawing thousands of tourists and revelers every year.

What you may not know, is that Mardi Gras originated as a popular cultural phenomenon that dates back thousands of years to pagan spring and fertility rites in the Roman empire. When Christianity arrived in Rome, rather than abolish the tradition, religious leaders decided to incorporate…

During the past year I have been fortunate to be quarantining with the love of my life, but I know that many of you have been alone, having to rely on yourselves. Whether alone or with your soulmate, I believe self-love provides an important foundation for ourselves and all of our relationships. Why is self-love so important?

I’ve written extensively about my journey toward reconciliation with my father. Forgiveness and healing between us would have been impossible without my willingness to explore truer versions of myself and without beginning to learn to love all of me, even the dark sides.

Jan 6, 2021

“Wait until 2021.”

It seemed like such a monumental concept when it first started to become clear that the pandemic would carry on into 2021, pending the creation, manufacture, and delivery of a vaccine.

So, we waited. And waited. And then waited a bit more. For many, of you that meant losing almost a year of not just your lives, but also the lives of the people you love most. A year of no hugs or kisses. A year of grandchildren and nieces and nephews getting taller and older, without you being there.

And then, just like…

Trym Nilsen on Unsplash

I have written a lot about brokenness in my life. Even the title of my recently released memoir includes the word ‘brokenness.’

Someone interviewing me on a podcast recently asked, “What does it mean to be broken?”

My response: “A feeling of being so beaten up that even anger and rage finally die. Hopelessness. No fight left.”

I have stumbled a lot and have made many mistakes in my life. My typical responses to my early failures and their consequences were to become angry and to blame others for the problems I was facing, which often fueled further mistakes.


Therapy is supposed to help, right?
Meditation is supposed to help, right?
Being on a spiritual path is supposed to help, right?

Then why am I still so afraid of being judged?

It’s scary to write a memoir that includes my many embarrassing failures as well as my hard-won successes. It’s even scarier to put it out there into the world.

In just the few weeks since my book was released by Mango publishing, I have received many Amazon reviews, Goodreads reviews, and personal notes from readers.

Some of them are humbling:

“I just finished reading your book. It is…

At my Virtual Book Launch Event with Annie Bloom’s Books in Portland

After postponing the launch date three times due to COVID-19, my publisher finally released my memoir on October 27. Yes. Exactly one week before the most controversial and significant election in my lifetime. And right in the midst of a pandemic that has now killed nearly a quarter of a million people in the U.S. alone.

Friends and colleagues have sent notes of condolence. “I’m very sorry that your book is coming out during these challenging times.” “With bookstores closed and events cancelled, it’s so hard for authors right now.”

We’re “invisible in the market,” they say. The world will…

Marlena Fiol

Journeys of Awakening. Storyteller/Spiritual Seeker/ marlenafiol.com

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