Apr 122017

Though poignant, stories of forgiveness can be difficult to write. Stories of Forgiveness graphicThey call for us to reveal the dark times of our relationships with our family, friends, or even faith. Telling heartfelt stories of forgiveness push us even further than the proverbial long honest look in the mirror. They require us to admit to the world what the reflection revealed.

Stories of Forgiveness

Perhaps because of forgiveness’ elusiveness or our own limited ability to harness its power, stories of forgiveness make for compelling reading.  If you doubt their popularity, just do a Google search.  Readers’ Digest, Real Simple, and The Huffington Post all offer compilations of stories of forgiveness, as does The Forgiveness Project. Continue reading »

May 132016
Lost and found story- letters spelling out Lost

What’s your lost and found story. (Letter images by Leo Reynolds. https://is.gd/LU27zB)

“How could we have lost something so precious?” my friend lamented to her husband. Dusk approached. She, her husband, and various friends had searched throughout much of the previous night and all that day for their elderly little dog that had wandered off.  Their story is still unconcluded and it’s hard to watch it unfold.  But it made me think. We all have at least one major lost and found story.

Perhaps it’s a lost object that still sticks in your craw. Perhaps you’ve had an experience analogous to the finding the prodigal son.

Writing about things lost and found

Whether there’s a happy ending or not, stories of things lost or lost and found make compelling narratives.  In fact, such stories are easy to find all over the Internet.

Most of us have been there. For instance, there was the 10 minutes during which my then 5-year old was missing at the Salt Lake City airport. I can still remember the panic I felt and the way that I wanted to strangle the slow-to-take-it seriously airport security guard.

Elements of your lost and found story:

1. What went missing? (duh)
Object, person, pet, or other.  It may have simply disappeared or was stolen.  Wallet, military metal, vacation or wedding pictures all come to mind, but you can take a creative twist on this topic.  One example is Kannaki’s “My Mother’s Shoes.”

2. Why did it matter to you?
This could be obvious, such as in the case of a five year-old, but it isn’t always. Perhaps the crucifix that went missing had been passed down from your grandmother, a life-long devoted Catholic. Perhaps it had brought you comfort on numerous occasions.

3. How did you discover it (he or she) was missing?

4. How did you feel about it at the time? What was your state of mind?
In the case of my friend, her word choices are telling.  The rest of us consider her little dog as “gone missing.” We use a blameless phrase. Repeatedly, I’ve heard her say, “I lost my little dog.” She’s shouldering the responsibility, way more than she should.  What happened in your story? Did you feel responsible? Victimized?

5. What measures did you take? Posters? Letters? Flyers? A reward?

6. Who helped you search? Were they actually helpful?
I can’t help remembering that security guard blithely pointing out every young boy in plain sight.  “Is that him?”  “What about that child?”  Me nearly yelling, “Get on your radio!  None of these children are wearing a dark blue shirt with a rhino on it!”

7. How did the story turn out?
Of course you have to of the outcome. But that doesn’t have to be the way the story ends.  Instead, you can talk about silver linings, what you learned, any insight that might be applicable to the rest of your life.

8. How do you feel looking back?
We can often reconcile ourselves to events only after time has passed.  For instance, after my parents died, my sister and I were never able to locate my father’s wedding ring, which he kept on his key-chain.  It used to keep me up at night, wondering what clever hiding place he thought he’d found shortly before he took his trip. But over time, hope has diminished. After all, it was a material thing. I’ve made an uneasy peace with the loss.  What about you?

Your Turn:

What your lost and found story? How have you told it? How have you shared it?


Sep 282015
Card catalog illustrates vagaries of memories

The vagaries of memory: we think of it acting like a card catalog, but, sadly, it’s not.

The vagaries of memories are well-documented, and sometimes disconcerting. When we remember an odd fact or experience, sometimes researching memory recall can help you understand the situation.

Yesterday, riding in the car with my husband, I observed a young man waiting for the pedestrian light. His profile sparked a memory out of nowhere. “That looks like Terry Michelakis*,” I told my husband. Hubby gave me his famed single raised eyebrow, a feat that only our dog can mimic, implying I would need to fill him in on the inner workings of my brain for that comment to make sense. As I explained that Terry was a kid with whom I grew up and about whom I hadn’t thought about him in at least 30 years, the eyebrow lowered, but hubby still looked a little bewildered. Continue reading »

Jul 162015
A couple trying to remember somethings and not others

Understanding why we remember some things and not others might help facilitate recall.

Have you ever wondered why you remember some things but not others ? Have you ever wondered why some things come back to you seemingly out of the blue? You think to yourself, “That’s funny, I haven’t thought about that in years.”

Actually, it’s better than funny. The science behind how memory works is fascinating and cool.

Obviously, “How Memory Works” is a topic far beyond the scope of a single blog post. But it is fun to take a look at what scientists call episodic or autobiographical memories—the events of our pasts.

The memories we have and are able to recall are critical to how we think of ourselves. Researchers Martin A. Conway and Christophe Pleydell-Pearce explain, “autobiographical memory is of fundamental significance for the self, for emotions, and for the experience of personhood, that is the experience of enduring as an individual, in a culture, over time.” Continue reading »

Oct 022014

forgetful personal historian For someone who is all about preserving stories, my memory sucks.

Just the other week my mother-in-law told me a story about a family ring. Apparently, my husband found the ring in the summer cottage and, assuming it wasn’t valuable, gave it to me to wear. My mother-in-law had to have an awkward conversation with my then boyfriend, telling him that she wanted the ring back.

I was appalled at the fact that this episode rang zero bells of familiarity. However, it never occurred to me to doubt the veracity of her story. She simply wouldn’t make up that type of thing—especially as she was in the process of re-gifting the ring to me. Continue reading »

Aug 072014
Car memories of family fun

Does this VW ad bring back car memories? Image credit: Wikipedia Commons, Bundesarchiv

If there’s something that can come close to cotton candy’s ability to evoke the past, it’s car memories. We love to remember the cars we used to drive. Of course, car memories inevitably include the adventures we had in them.

This comes to mind as my sister is getting her nearly ancient mini-van fixed again. This time it’s the radiator. She’s relieved her mechanic can do it for under $400. That means prayers again go unanswered for her thirteen year old, who would like nothing more than to see that car suffer a horrible, un-ressurrectable death. Me? I’m disappointed the mechanic has decided to throw in fixing her horn. Continue reading »

May 222014
Mixed Emotions Kindergarden

My youngest, 13 1/2 years ago, getting off the bus after his first day of school. Such feelings of mixed emotions can make great stories

We have a family member who likes to ask, “How did that make you feel?” Sometimes his question stops me in my tracks. I want to respond, “Do you have a half an hour?”

We have moments—even months—that evoke a plethora of emotions. This ambivalence, or feeling of mixed emotions, can cause an uproar of feelings. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which emotion is winning out from one minute to the next.

Mixed Emotions

I’m having one of moments right now. My youngest has his last day of high school today. In some ways it feels “right.” I see that he’s ready to move forward in this life. My heart soars for him, watching him come into his own, to see him feeling confident and joyful. I’m proud.

On the flip side, my heart aches for the past. I morosely look at pictures of him as a preschooler and hear a beautiful bass voice in my head singing “Sunrise Sunset.” Yes, there are even violins. Continue reading »

May 152014
Story of my hero.

My hero jumped into the fray without a thought for her own safety. Image credit: Krzysztof Szkurlatowski

I probably owe my life to a woman in Gates, New York. I wish I’d thought to get her name.

We all have heroes in our past. Maybe it was someone who put you on the right path. Perhaps it was someone who literally saved you from a burning building. Alternatively, it could simply be someone who stood up for you at a time when it made all the difference.

Stories of heroes make great reading—as do the stories of needing rescue. Writing and sharing these stories accomplish a triple purpose. You can process the event of your past as you reveal a “road not taken” incident in your life. It also allows your readers to connect with the person that was there for you when it mattered. Continue reading »

May 122014
Jackie Wood Lost Memories

Guest Poster Jackie Wood tells her story of eight years of memories lost.

Nothing brings home the fact that memories matter more than hearing about someone who has lost his or her ability to remember. Today, I’m excited to have Jackie Wood tell her story of eight years of memories lost, a cautionary tale for us all. Her dedication to preserving precious moments is inspirational.

Ordinary everyday moments are what make our lives our own. These moments are what define who we are and what we do. The big moments are grand and exciting, but life happens in the little ordinary moments. These daily routines can blur together and be difficult to remember years, weeks, or even days later in the best of circumstances. For me it was especially difficult.

Two and a half years ago, I woke up to eight years of memories lost. That morning my brain, memories and reality were of our family in 2004 not 2011. In my mind, my daughter was five years old getting ready to start kindergarten. The reality was she was 13 and one year away from high school. Continue reading »

May 062014
Road Trip Memories

Do your road trip memories include going over the hills etc. to grandma’s house?

Hours in a car doesn’t sound like the stuff of great stories. Admittedly, the mind-numbing monotony of the passing miles might not make for interesting reading. Nevertheless, many good stories—if not pleasant memories—grow out of road trips. No doubt when good friends or family members get together, someone is going to bring up a story related to long trips.

Road Trip Memories with Children

Trips with kids are certainly memorable! “Are we there yet?” “Daddy, I have to pee.” “Mom, she’s touching me!” Sound familiar? Continue reading »