Jun 042016
 
Daddy with childhood dog

Animal stories reveal character. Think about your family members and which animal stories you could tell.

My neighbor Frank likes to say that the way people act around dogs shows what type of person they really are. He’s right. Animal stories reveal character. Frank has never gone so far as to say that if someone doesn’t like dogs, they have questionable friendship potential, but I suspect that thought has crossed his mind.

How Animal Stories Reveal Character

John Grogan’s memoir, Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog is a great example of how animal stories reveal character. In Your Life is a Book: How to Craft & Publish Your Memoir, Brenda Peterson and Sarah Jane Freymann explain the popularity of the yellow lab as a character. “One of the reasons Marley is such a beloved character … is because Grogan reveals his dog’s flaws as well as his joys.” The same holds true for the author. We don’t just love Marley. Continue reading »

Jul 222015
 

pIRATE-lAURAOfficially, Talk Like a Pirate Day won’t come until September 19, but I’ve been saying “Arrrggghhhhh!” a lot this week.

Channel Changing

It’s bad enough that if I leave the room for more than two minutes, my husband finds an Iron Man or Transformers movie to watch for the eighty-fifth time this month. However, the real problem is the channels changing in my brain without my permission. Continue reading »

Jul 092015
 
Cousin once removed by way of staple remover on family tree.

A cousin once removed isn’t what (or who) it sounds like it is.

Why was my cousin once removed? Maybe that’s why my family dispensed with the first cousin, second cousin, and once removed nomenclature when referring to cousins: They knew I’d ask a bunch of questions, most of which would begin with “Why…” Cousins were just “cousins.”

“Once removed” doesn’t sound anything like it means. Unlike its general use in the English vernacular, when it’s used to describe family relationships, removed simply means from a different generation. I now think of it as “more distant in age.” A first cousin once removed might be a first cousin of my parents’ generation or my children’s generation. (See Genealogy.com’s primer.) Continue reading »

Jun 182015
 
crest share surname history

A crest isn’t the only way to share surname history. Share stories too!

Aside from the “cock” part and the inherent playground emotional trauma that comes with bearing it, the Hedgecock name has a lot to be proud of.

Since I only adopted that name after my marriage, I confess to letting a giggle of two escape at some of the Hedgecock name jokes. “Bush-chicken,” for instance. My husband and sons fail to see the humor. Continue reading »

May 192015
 
Laugh at yourself

Whether or not everyone else is laughing at you, “Laugh at yourself” makes for great writing.

That misquote from B.J. Neblett didn’t go over so well with my mom when my Dad said it to her in the mid-sixties. Mom had a great sense of humor, but she didn’t like being teased. I often wonder if it’s because my uncle Joe teased her so much when they were young. Or was it her reaction to teasing that made it so much fun for my uncle to tease her? I digress.

This not-so-gentle nudge to laugh at yourself is good life advice. But, it’s more than that. In my opinion, it borders on a memory writer’s and family historian’s imperative.

The story in question when my dad encouraged my mom to “lighten up” was about the only time (to my knowledge) that Mom received a “ticket,” or traffic citation. Continue reading »

Apr 102015
 
Write about average and it comes alive

When you write about average, others look at the details and see something a lot more compelling than simply “average”.

Average gets a bad rap. Well, not so much a bad rap as not enough rap. We seldom hear about him or her.

For instance, you never see Average’s mom post about his achievements on Facebook. “Congratulations to my son Average who achieved something that most kids achieve.” Instead, we see the parents of Average’s friends posting about their kids achieving all the things Average tried to achieve, but fell just a tad short. “Congratulations to my child Superior who achieved something momentous. My kid is wonderful beyond belief and worked so hard. #mykidisintheroomwithme #Imjustanattentionwhore.”

Okay, the hashtags are imagined, put in my head by a hilarious teenager. (I’m withholding her name to protect the snarky.) But the post isn’t imagined. Its equivalent passes through our news feeds on a regular basis. Continue reading »

Sep 052014
 
Teresa very bad day

Very bad days don’t just happen to hair! When they happen to us as adults, it can be a good idea to write about them.

With my compliments to Judith Viost and her Alexander

Sometimes when a day is over, you want to forget it. Put it behind you. It’s the last thing you want to memorialize in any way whatsoever.

That might be what’s best for you—and the rest of us. However, there are some tantalizing reasons to do the opposite. There are some good reasons to write about no good terrible horrible very bad days.

Very bad days connect you.

Continue reading »

Jul 152014
 
A typical day in your life

Describing a typical day can deepen connections.

Your story does not have to be extraordinary to be worthy of the written word. In fact, memorializing a typical day can be the key to connecting with loved ones.

I remember my younger son’s fourth grade teacher pulling me aside to describe my son’s “spacy” behavior. “Welcome to my world,” I told her. Although I sympathized with her, a part of me was grateful for someone who understood—viscerally understood—life with my son.

We hear “Walk a mile in my shoes!” with good reason. Experiencing the dust around another’s feet and the rhythms of their daily life promotes understanding and empathy. 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 »

Apr 192013
 

Pinterest Logo Already using Pinterest? Skip down to “How to Use Pinterest to Share Memories

New to Pinterest? Keep reading.

What is Pinterest?

It’s hard to know how to use Pinterest if you don’t know what it is. According to about.pinterest.com, Pinterest is a “tool for collecting and organizing things you love.” If that made you think “ehh?” you’re not alone. Like a good accounting statement, that definition is completely accurate but tells you very little. Continue reading »