Apr 142016
 

Bumper sticker covered car

Do you have something to say about yourself? Image by RHoch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

How do you tell people who you are? How would you give them a bumper sticker synopsis of yourself? (Of course, you could ask why you’d want to do that as well. As Rob Walker argues, “…bumper stickers are about declaration, not dialogue.” But let’s put that aside and indulge in the exercise. Consider it a brainstorming activity.)

What Would your Bumper Sticker say?

If you could tell the world who you are in just a few words, what would you say? If you were forced to have a bumper sticker—even if you’re anti-bumper sticker like me– what would you put on it?

Are you such an open book that you’d have something on your bumper sticker that reveals who you really are? Or would it reveal a one-dimensional view of you?

Who or What matters to you

For years my sister has displayed two—not one—“I have a terrific kid” stickers on the back of her mini-van. She only has one kid. She claims her daughter added the second one for emphasis. In her daughter’s defense, she was little back then and who would expect that their mom would be driving the same minivan when she went to high school as when the sheriff’s department was giving out terrific kid stickers to 7 year-olds? Happily, my sister finally gave up her 200,000 mile +, 3 transmissions, re-welded-drivers-seat, and Takata airbag minivan a couple of months ago. She claims she’s on the lookout for the same sticker for the new car. She’ll probably find one.

Who are what matters to you the most? Why is it important to yell that from the rooftops?

What you’re comfortable with sharing

Some of us are more comfortable with sharing than others. Many people are at ease with a public persona, but still have a strong sense of privacy when it comes to their personal life. Many women my age, for instance, are a lot more comfortable sharing their “mom” status than anything else about themselves, even using pictures of their kids as their social media profile picture.

Would your bumper sticker synopsis of yourself be something that takes a stand? Or would it be something less likely to solicit an opposing viewpoint? This is my choice. I’d take the University of Michigan’s “I bleed Maize and Blue” and change it to “My Wallet Bleeds Maize and Blue.” I might even add an asterisk noting that it bleeds for in-state tuition. (We’re not rich, so don’t let that stop you from increasing my household income by buying my book.)

Who you’re not:

When would you like to have a name tag stating who or what you’re not?

When we had children at the same elementary school, people used to confuse me with my friend Kristin. In fact, it happened so often we still refer to each other as “Sis.”

When I was heading up the school science fair, Kristin wore a name tag that read “I’m not Laura Hedgecock.” (Truth be told, I made it for her. Kristin wasn’t looking forward to answering all the earnest little questioners and their parents with “I’m sorry, I’m not Laura Hedgecock.”)

For instance, what about politics? Does that ever make you want to have a name tag or bumper sticker that would distinguish you from the rest of your party?

Your Turn:

This makes a great writing prompt. Not just what you’d do, but why you’d choose to display that part of yourself. Why (or if) the decision would be hard. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Oct 132015
 
Old photos help form emotional connections to family members

Forming emotional connections to family members you can’t remember becomes easier when you view their lives as a narrative.

Are you able to form emotional connections with family members you don’t remember? With ancestors? Or are they stubbornly one-dimensional, lying flat on the page?

Even when you have the basic facts of your relatives’ or ancestors’ lives, emotional connections to them often remain elusive. If you never knew them—have no memories of them—they are simply names, dates, and random facts.

Form Emotional Connections to Family Members via Empathy and Imagination

Luckily, we already have the tools we need to bond with these family members. They are the same tools that allow us to connect with anyone else: empathy and imagination. 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 »

Dec 012014
 
Tethered to the past

Tethered to the past: the ropes can keep us safe or tie us in knots

Tethers or connections? The past is an integral part of our future. When we write memoirs, memories, or histories that create a positive connection with the past, it grounds us. When the past colors our existence to the point that the present and future are drained of reason, it’s a tether to be broken–or at least loosened up a bit.

How are You Tethered to the Past?

There’s an apt German expressions for those times when you are torn about an event: “One eye laughs; the other cries.” Continue reading »

Oct 202014
 
writing about personal facades and the secret centers

Writing about personal facades can give loved ones a taste of your “secret center.”

Writing about personal facades is a great way to connect with loved ones. Plus, it can be therapeutic.

When I lived in Europe and tromped around medieval cities, I marveled at the intact buildings. Buildings remained as beautiful in the 1980s as they had in the 1510s. Yet modern businesses and households were operating out of them. Their trick? Extensive renovations that didn’t touch the street side facade. The buildings themselves were nothing like the original structures, but through the centuries, the historic fronts were maintained.

Large or small, good or bad, we all have them. What’s your facade? How does it function in your world? Such introspective topics aren’t just good things to discuss with your best friend or therapist (assuming those are two distinct individuals). Your legacy of yourself and your past doesn’t have to be limited to narratives. Continue reading »

Oct 102014
 
Aiming and putting down roots

Putting down roots isn’t a random decision.

The place we choose to settle and put down roots has far reaching (no pun intended) consequences. It’s the community our children call home. It’s the environment in which they form their worldviews. Frequently, it becomes the place children and grandchildren choose to start putting down roots. In other words, it’s something that will matter to future generations. But it’s often a story left untold—especially when it comes to our ancestors. Continue reading »

Jun 302014
 

Various Roots Roots by Another Mother…

When we think of roots, we think of family trees. If we’re from a loving, supportive family, we think of those roots supplying stability and nourishment. If we’re from an atypical—or even dysfunctional—family, we think of them as hidden, dirty, cavorting with worms and grubs.

Those roots are great to write about. But, we have other roots. Some of them have nothing to do with family. Bear with me as I beat the metaphor a little longer. Continue reading »

Jun 052014
 
Things you might not know about me

One of the things you might now know about me is that I love being a soccer mom.

I’m preparing an informal workshop for my launch party tomorrow. It’s a fun version of “Things you might not know about me.” It belatedly occurred to me that it might make a good blog post.

Things that Everyone Should Know About Me

I’m not much of a mystery woman. I wear my heart on my sleeve. But, because I tend to start my paragraphs in the middle—even in conversations—it would be helpful for people to know so basic things about me. Continue reading »

Dec 302013
 
Looking forward or backward

Looking forward or looking back?

This is an odd title for me—I spend a lot more time looking backwards than I do looking forward. But, as the calendar turns the proverbial page, it makes sense to look forward—and to write about it.

Looking forward by setting goals

Yep, each New Year’s Eve, I try to set some goals for the coming year. (One year I came up with a suggested list of goals for my kids. That didn’t go over very well.) Often, my list is nearly identical to the previous year’s. That means those ten pounds still sit around my hips. The ambitious exercise program has again been usurped by exercise that’s more fun. In other words, if I’m not chasing a ball, I’m not running. Continue reading »

Oct 312013
 

Who I am Journal When we introduce ourselves, we usually state “I am a/the [blank]…” based on the situation. If it’s a social situation, we explain our relationship to other people present. In a professional setting, we introduce ourselves by our function in the organization we represent.

But is this really what we want people to know about us?

A member of my church recently went so far as to write his own bio for his funeral program. He didn’t want to be remembered by what others thought he might think was important. He took the opportunity to say what had mattered in his life. You don’t have to go that far, however. There are many quick and fun ways to describe yourself. Continue reading »