Nov 042014
 
Retouching the past

Retouching the past: Is it helping you tell your story or is it changing your story?

We’re in an age of retouched photos. We remove blemishes and correct lighting and exposure. We can even remove wrinkles, whiten teeth, and eliminate extra chins. We can… But should we?

Retouching the Past or Telling Who We Are?

When we write our memories and stories, retouching the past is tempting—maybe even necessary. Retouching stories, just like re-touching photos, can be a way of drawing attention to what really matters and eliminating extraneous details. Unless it’s integral to the story, maybe we can leave out that Miss May had three hairs growing out of the mole at the side of her nose and that each hair grew in a different direction. Continue reading »

Sep 302014
 
Lists are not just for Santa

Lists aren’t just for the big guy with presents. Start making your own.

My scattered brain loves lists. They calm and organize my distractible why-did-I-come-into-this-room brain. When my brain isn’t preoccupied with finding my glasses or coffee cup, lists feed my creativity.

Lists can be the memory-collector’s best friend. To illustrate this point, I found myself making a list about making lists.

Lists help you remember

Lists, if you don’t forget where you put them, are more permanent than memory. They can become an Idea Bank to store your ideas. (Hmmm… That’s a section of Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life. ) Continue reading »

Oct 112013
 
Turning points: Choosing which way

Not all choices are this straight-forward.

You don’t have to be writing a memoir to want to tell about the turning points in your life. In fiction, the turning points are plot changes that keep us turning pages and wondering what will happen next. When you’re sharing your memory episodes, however, it’s more about revealing how you got to the point you are now.

You don’t have to have walked on burning coals to get to where you are for your account of life turning points to matter to your loved ones. They may face similar forks in the road in their own lives. Knowing how you made your choices will strengthen connections. It’s possible that it will help them figure out their own dilemmas. Continue reading »

Oct 012013
 
faded memories of sisters

The sisters don’t remember where the two dressed up sisters were going, but they all remember that the sister in the middle was going on a blind date–with the man she would marry.

Three sisters recall a faded memory from over 50 years ago. Each recalls a slightly different circumstance. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? What’s the truth?

Memories can be ethereal. It can be hard to get all the details right. That doesn’t mean you can’t write about them. Continue reading »

Aug 222013
 
Keeping up appearances don't make for good stories

Keeping up apprearances ?Dignity is overrated

We all want to look our best and present ourselves in a positive light whenever we can. Keeping up appearances and putting your best foot forward is great advice going into a job interview, but it’s not the legacy you want to leave for your loved ones in your writing.

Keeping up Appearances is Boring

Perfection is boring, which is why I avoid it so ardently. All kidding aside, perfection does little to connect you with others. Continue reading »

Aug 172013
 

Measure a small thing A Small Thing: A #FiveMinuteFriday Meditation

I wasn’t sure I felt up to going out until my friend called to say, “I’ll pick you up.” A small thing, but it mattered—a lot.

Buying a souvenir in a tourist shop in New Orleans, a youth wearing a mission trip t-shirt heard the words, “Thank you for not forgetting about us. Thank you for coming to help.”  Just a small thing, normal southern hospitality, but two sentences made an 18-hour trip worthwhile. Continue reading »

Aug 022013
 
Our story

Our story isn’t a book that’s already written

Our Story — A #FiveMinuteFriday Meditation

Telling our story implies narrating a book that is already written—the setting and characters are in place. Everyone is just waiting to see how it ends.

That might be right for a novel or memoir, but when we tell our personal stories, it’s not just about the ending. Every part of our story–our whole story–resonates. Continue reading »

Jul 292013
 

write a letter to a nemesis To encapsulate your past and/or process your feelings, try this: Write a letter to past or future self, past nemesis, or anyone with (or about) whom you have unresolved feelings. Such rhetorical letters are a great way to share and process your past. The “recipient” doesn’t have to be able to receive your letter for it to make sense for you to write—and share. Continue reading »

Jun 212013
 

Scrapbook little traditions When we think about traditions, we think about the big ones, like holidays and family reunions.  Listening to 8 Years Lost,” Paperclipping.com’s Round Table interview with Jackie Wood, I was struck by her yearning to remember the everyday routines and the little traditions. (Read Jackie’s Guest Post Eight Years of Memories Lost. ) Continue reading »

Jun 102013
 
My Mom THings I want to Remember

My mother posed for her mother. The photograph is torn, but the memory is still intact.

In her “Treasure Chest,” my grandmother wrote an essay entitled “Things I Want to Remember.” In it, she briefly dwelt on her memories of each of her children. What makes this such a gem, however, isn’t simply a mother’s descriptions of her growing children, but rather the way in which she allows her readers access to those scenes in her memory as if she were leaving a snapshot in time. Continue reading »