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Collection of women’s memoirs draws on the liberating power of writing

For the Journal

Albuquerque author/writing coach Chloe Rachel Gallaway led 10 women through a retreat during which she helped them write their stories.

“I edited the theme of each story and made sure the main messages and points came through before the finer editing process,” Gallaway said.

A spiritual/inspirational theme of hope filters through the stories. They tell of the obstacles the writers faced, their journeys to overcome them. “Not just to survive the obstacles but to move into a life where they are thriving,” she said.

The result of the retreat is a collection of memoirs in short form that are in the

newly published book “Voices: Women Braving It All to Live Their Purpose.”

Gallaway is listed as the book’s co-author and editor. She also wrote the opening

Chloe Rachel Gallaway and some of the other writers in “Voices: Women Braving It All to Live Their Purpose” will read from their memoirs at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, at Bookworks, 4022 Rio Grande NW.


Five of the other 10 co-authors in the volume are from New Mexico.

One is Joan Teagle Brumage, a licensed social worker/author/speaker who lives in southern New Mexico. Four contributors live in Albuquerque: Karen Ann Boise is a life coach; Nicole “Nikki” Bruton-Phillips is an Intuitive Family Champion, helping children and their parents make deeper connections; Connie C. Cox is a social worker/therapist/advocate; and Shelley A. Rael is a registered dietitian/nutritionist.

Rael’s 26-page memoir in the collection (creatively titled “Transcending the Baby Bump in the Road”) is about getting pregnant as a college student, about the slow, arduous development of a love relationship with the boy’s father, himself a student, and, then three years after the child’s birth, marrying the dad.

At one point, she was close to being homeless.

“It was easy to write the facts. What I wrote was more factual, sterile. Chloe encouraged me to get more emotional, to get my emotions out through the written word. The emotions were not as easy to write. (There was the pain of) having to recall how I was feeling through the process,” Rael said.

Initially, she said, it felt scary to put her personal life on paper, and some of her fellow writers said they felt that nervousness for the same reason.

“Now that we have (gone public), we feel comfortable expanding on it. I do want to add more, to put more context to my childhood and the journey to today,” Rael said.

She’s now filled with what she said is “a sense of relief and a feeling of lightness because I’ve put that part out to the world. It wasn’t a secret. … But when people confess something they feel better about it.”

Shortly before “Voices” was released last month, Rael’s “The One-Pot Weight Loss Plan,” a cookbook with 85 recipes to help with weight loss, was published. She also writes the biweekly column “Real World Nutrition” that appears in the Albuquerque Journal.

Gallaway plans for this “Voices” to be part of a series. She started with women because she believes “they have the power, the passion to bring great healing to humanity.”

Not that men don’t have the same power. Gallaway intends to have male writers in future installments of the series.

Her full-length 2017 memoir, “The Soulful Child: Twelve Years in the Wilderness,” was an Amazon best-seller in several categories, she said. It was about growing up in rural northern New Mexico.

Book of the week review

Chloe Rachel Gallaway