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.” When we reminisce and remember the events and stories of the past, we often experience that dichotomy. It’s hard to say whether we’re tethered to the past by fond memories or ghosts of better times.

Even the painful memories can be tough to let go of. Added up, they account for a huge chunk of life.

My dear friend and across-the-street neighbor recently decided to sell her house. She agonized over whether or not to leave her home of 27 years. Her house is full of comforting memories. But, it also has a lot of reminders of happier times.

Let’s face it. Looking back isn’t always a joyful sojourn in yesteryear. There are times when we look back and long for the people who are no longer with us, the innocence we possessed, not to mention rolling back the ravages that time has inflicted on our appearances.

I know. I sometimes look at pictures of my parents and feel a tug in my gut. I still miss them. A lot. I long for their advice and companionship. The past, that Never-Never-Land of What-Could-Have-Been, beckons. The memories that warm me on some days push me into melancholy on others. If I don’t shake myself out of my reverie (or if the dog or the kids don’t do it for me), I find myself tethered to the past—at least in an emotional sense. Sadness creeps in, shrouding my day.

Tethered to the past or anchored

Are you tethered to the past by an anchor that drags you down, or one that keeps you from getting lost at sea?

Anchors and Letting Go

There’s a physical exercise that makes the concept of releasing the past very real. You place one foot firmly on a mark on the floor. That mark is the past, and your foot anchors you there. With the rest of your body, you reach to see how far you can get without moving your foot from that mark. Assuming that there is something tempting out of reach, like a cookie or new job, you quickly realize the importance of letting go of that mark.

As much as I like the exercise, I don’t always.

For one thing, anchors aren’t all bad. Although they can’t still the waters, they keep us from being lost at sea. They remind us where we wanted to stay. They help us from getting lost or unintentionally drifting into danger.

On the other hand, anchors have hoists. They’re not constantly schlepped around. They’re dropped when it’s helpful and raised when you need to move on.

What Lies Ahead Means More if You Know What Lies Behind.

Another German word helps the metaphor. Rücksicht, taken literally, means backward sight. But what it actually means is concern or consideration.

We don’t move forward in a vacuum. We move forward from a starting point. If we completely disconnect ourselves from the past, our journey forward has less meaning. It’s like a silhouette instead of a landscape. It’s missing context.

That’s why, for example, old friends are so comfortable to be around. You don’t have to explain back stories or worry that they’ll misconstrue things. They understand you and your history.

Keeping the Anchor and Losing the Ball and Chain.

It’s a balance isn’t it? We want to be tethered to the past, but not haunted by it. Which will take us to Part 2—When and How to Let Go. Stay tuned….

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 »

Oct 042013
 
Family History Month Graphic

Celebrate Family History Month

Family History Month isn’t just for genealogists. With these simple ideas, non-genealogists can honor an ancestor or learn about their family history.

Let’s say you haven’t caught the family history research bug (yet). You’re not into scouring grave yards. All those Ancestry.com commercials haven’t made you grab for the nearest device to “find your story.” That doesn’t mean you can’t join in the spirit of Family History month. 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 062013
 

A Five Minute Friday Meditation: Beautiful

Every Friday, Lisa-Jo Baker, founder of “Five Minute Friday,” broadcasts a writing prompt, challenging writers to writer for five minutes only. In her words, “It’s not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing.

This is a great writing exercise even if you’re not blogging your treasures (memories). Your spontaneous thoughts on a given subject can reveal your personality, daily life, beliefs, etc. If you are blogging, I encourage you to join in! If you want to connect on Twitter, use the hashtag #FiveMinuteFriday.

This week’s prompt: Beautiful

Do you see a beautiful reflectionsBeautiful Reflection

When I look in a mirror, beautiful is the last word that comes to mind. But then, I don’t look in the mirror to see if I’m beautiful. I look in the mirror to gauge how bad the imperfections look today. My mind is closed to a beautiful reflection. Continue reading »