Weathering the Inevitable

My recent client work in an adult day care setting has calmed me down. Interviews are slower, but answers more honest. Memories are dimmer, so grateful families get involved. My subjects are teaching me patience and acceptance for the frailties a long life may bring. I’m upset when I can’t remember a password, but they have learned to rest assured that loved ones and professionals will step in to help. Still, the frustration is palpable. Some of my favorite responses to questions follow: You think I know? My wife’s marbles are in her head, but mine are all over the floor. My daughter can look that up; she has all my stuff. I think I wrote that down once. I…I just can’t tell you. It’s right here, but I can’t say it. I’m not sure when my husband died, but I miss...

Getting Around to Where You’ve Been

Lately,  I’ve had a series of story inquiries from 90-somethings and those who love them. “Hurry,” I think, “before it’s too late,” and then I learn that the potential subjects are more lucid, healthier and readier than most of us to tell their truths. They feel an urgency to explain their accomplishments and choices. Why? Because they finally have the courage to face their own mortality. In many cases, losing the fear of death leads to losing the fear of life. Living Stories clients have freely explored their abuse, internment, divorce, war service, cancer, alcoholism, poverty, clinical depression, abandonment and many other negative life experiences in full detail through a rear-view mirror. Compassionate listening works magic as it unearths long-buried secrets...

Changes!

They are part of life, aren’t they? We know it, yet always mourn a little for the past; the predictable and the familiar. In my own case, I have moved from Wheaton to West Dundee, IL and am engaged to marry on August 2 of this year. My business telephone number has changed to 630/248-7060, and my website will reflect that as soon as possible. All other activities of LivingStories.us remain the same; writing for life, one story at a time. Happy Summer!

It’s all in the Details

Asking me to help write your life story is like taking your car to a detailer. You will entrust a valued possession to a professional who specializes in presentation. It’s certainly not something you do every day, and each step in the process is a revelation. Detailers and life writers pay attention to myriad items that create great impressions. First, we discover what to keep and what to relocate; organizing storage compartments and memories into logical places for easy access. We want everyone in the car or reading the story to understand where it’s going and why. We also take out the things that need washing, vacuuming and repair such as dusty reminders of trips and relationships past. Together, we find things long forgotten and now relevant to describing a...

Memoir Magic

This year, I have been pleased to facilitate a memoir circle that meets monthly in my home. We learn from each other more about ourselves than we could ever discover alone in front of our journals, pads, tablets or computer screens. That’s because we listen. I’m thankful for the memories of a year filled with new insights, fresh expressions and freedom to explore who we are through writing. It’s one of the few unfettered practices we have; one that starts within and without the aid of electronic devices. What’s finally shared is sometimes amusing, often scary and always helpful.  Last night, Marilyn wondered whether her dad’s sadness at Christmastime was tied to the losses his grandmother bore after the Civil War. Glennette and Patricia described the major roles...

Restoring a Life

My current client’s father is pictured here with his two brothers. The photo was taken in about 1900. When we tried to place it in his story, the client said, “If you can’t brighten it up, leave it out.” I’m taking a course in Photoshop to learn how to restore treasures like these to their former glory. That’s what we do in writing about lives. We coax memories from the shadows, brush off their dust and clarify convictions that have deteriorated from neglect or just the passage of time. Telling a life story involves restoring all the photos of the past; even those that were never taken. Our pictures will never look exactly the same, just as we’ve never felt the same way twice. Experiences change us, and retelling them traces and illustrates who we’ve become. The...