November is a great time to write about gratitude. Although our neighbors to the north (Canadians) celebrate Thanksgiving in October, USA-Americans associate November with gratitude and thankfulness. It’s a great time to stop and think about what we have. Show and share your gratitude by recording your blessings for loved ones and future generations— write about gratitude. Write about the things for which you’re thankful and what they mean to you.
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.
What fall memories are special to you? Chances are that you can revive, if not re-live, a lot of them. Here are some ideas on immersing yourself in fall and fall memories. After all, the more you remember, the easier it is to share. Have fun!
As adults responsible for lawn care and not irritating the neighbors, we forget how much fun it used to be to rake leaves.
NBC’s Today show did a short segment on family fibs. These are stories that parents tell children, probably because reasoning with them is much more cumbersome. The funniest was Carson Daly’s report that his family told him that if the ice cream truck was playing music, it meant they were out of ice cream.
Nearly all, if not all, parents fib at some point in time. Which ones were unique to your family?
John Kingston is guest posting today with his memories of a Gallup (NM) motel. In this post, John illustrates how preserving a memory can allow you to take your readers back in time and space.
Roaches. I open the door to my unit in this dingy “U”-shaped complex just off the highway and they greet me like housekeeping staff; guiding me from bedroom to bathroom like hopeful little home sellers. I do a quick walk-through, turning all the lights on, peeking behind a shower curtain that’s as yellowed and tattered as ancient papyrus. Smelling the air. A man’s Colorado driver’s license has been left inexplicably inside the bathroom vanity. I go to set my bag down onto a table but notice what looks like congealed sweet and sour sauce smeared across its surface.
Outside of therapy centers, writing about depression – or even about sad times – doesn’t come easily. Perhaps it’s because we start out our lives reading fairy-tales that end “happily ever after.” Until we’re sure we’ll reach the story-book ending, we keep our feelings to ourselves. We decide to celebrate our pity parties alone.
However, there’s a big, fat, hairy difference between having a pity party and sharing the difficult times of life.
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.
In the immediate aftermath of a big event (or even a small one), we seldom have the time, energy or presence of mind to record our memories. Generally, we somehow get around to documenting the event itself, but we forget about telling the story of the aftermath. However, when you revisit the moments and days after something happened, poignant memory stories can result.
The Aftermath of Birth
For me these moments are like the old filmstrips—badly spliced and played on a jerky projector. Nevertheless, they are precious. I remember looking down at my son, marveling that the universe had allowed me to join the ranks of parents. The fear of messing it up. The fear of someone else messing it up. Rushes of love like I’d never known. Of course, there was also the absolute exhaustion and the closeness I felt with my husband.
Do you have memories like these? Do you remember who visited and who helped you out? Do you remember what you found difficult (besides sleeping)? Were you on leave from work? How did that affect your perspective of your time with the baby? What role did other siblings play in this aftermath? Were they helpful? Inquisitive? Jealous? Out of sorts?
The Aftermath of other Good News
Often after we get good news, we float on air. Days after an engagement, before Facebook, phone lines would be buzzing. Was there a time like this in your life? Who was the person you told first? How did they react?
In our younger days, it didn’t take much to make us float. Getting a phone call from “that boy,” acing a test, or scoring a touchdown would do it. Can you remember such joyful moments? How did it feel? Did you bask in the glory or take it all in stride.
The Aftermath of Traumatic Event or Tragedy
It’s hard to describe shock and numbness, but writing about tragedy can be healing. How did you cope? On whom did you lean? What gave you strength?
Particularly after traumatic events, so therapists believe that it is important to keep “telling your story.” (See Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing.)Repeating what happened somehow helps us accept the “new normal.” We also often have symptoms that we would have never expected of ourselves.
Until it happens to you, or to someone you love, it’s hard to grasp how terrifying even a small trauma can be. A friend of mine once intervened in a mugging and was beaten up for his trouble. The depth of the anger, fear, and victimization he felt caught him completely unaware. The intellectual part of his mind kept telling him to “get a grip,” but attempts to suppress his feelings left him panic attacks.
I hope you don’t have a story like this, but if you do, writing about it can give your readers (loved ones) great insight. It can help them understand what it might have been like to walk in your shoes.
Aftermath of Injury or Surgery
This comes to mind as my leg is in a huge cast resulting from the repair of a torn tendon. Fortunately this injury came on slowly. In previous soccer injuries, my teammates delivered me into the arms of my bewildered husband, leaving him to cope with a woman who couldn’t walk. In the immediate aftermath of a sudden injury, in addition to the pain, there’s the frustration and the infinite wondering of “how long?”
Surgery often goes hand-in-hand with getting a prognosis. In addition to the grogginess, pain, and bandages, there’s either relief or realization. The first days and hours are often blurred by meds, but perhaps you can remember who comforted you or celebrated with you. Did you have help at home? Did you have good resources to rely on?
Share your story of what happened right after something happened. How did the dust settle?
© Laura Hedgecock 2013
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.
Including personality and character traits when we describe ancestors sounds like a tall order. Sometimes we’re doing good just to figure out what they looked like.
However, too often when we describe ancestors and older family members, we miss what’s important. We let their looks, occupations, or number of children suffice for a record of what they were like. We forget to describe their personalities. We miss the opportunity to share a glimpse of their character.