Mother’s Day is coming up in a couple weeks and the advertising tycoons are hard at work trying to convince you that your mom or wife needs a new diamond, luxury car, phone or cruise to the Bahamas to make her life complete.
Here’s a different idea that won’t cost you a thing except the priceless commodity of time. I am Mom to three wonderful adult children– trust me when I say that when your mother responds to your request for gift ideas with “Oh I don’t need anything Sweetie, I just want to spend time with you!” she isn’t kidding. You just cannot buy that.
I’m going to be
nagging, I mean emphasizing this for the next couple weeks to give you some time and skills to implement these ideas so stay tuned.
You can spend an hour doing a brief life history interview with your mom/grandma/mother of your children/or good friend to honor her on this special day. Talk to her about important events in her life, in this case concerning the life-transforming role of parenting.
For Mother’s Day consider getting your mom a big luscious piece of cake in her flavor of choice and a mug of hot coffee, sit her down and just talk.
Keep it positive, it’s not a therapy session. Remember, like you, she is just a human being trying to do her best. Give her grace on the mistake side of the slate.
Warm her up to the fun by sharing some of your favorite childhood memories. Pulling out a few photos can help prime the storytelling session. Then, ask her about:
*Her experience as a child, favorite memories of her own mother or another woman who filled that role in her life
*Her thoughts on parenting
– Special memories of each of her children
– Something funny
– Something touching
*Story or Song that she loved to share with you and why
*What has she tried to pass on to her children in terms of life wisdom and experience?
After you’ve listened, take some time later to put this priceless memory making session into a more permanent format. Think forward to maybe her birthday or Christmas. Type it up, burn it onto a CD, add some photos and voila! Now you have another gift to bless her with and remember your day together.
Oh yeah–and don’t forget to do the dishes!
I am a born optimist and prefer to look for the good but it’s not all butterflies and kittens out there. Some of the saddest, most painful times in our lives are part of the extraordinary creation process of making us who we are. Heat, pressure, pain, grief, loneliness. Don’t ignore those “negative” events when you’re working on your life story, whether you’re well on your way to processing it or it still just doesn’t make sense. Your scars and damaged bits are part of the whole package.
Ernest Hemingway’s ability to cut straight to the point is admirable, and although I’m not a rabid fan (don’t judge), I’ve learned quite a bit from reading his work. For example, take a look at this profound quote.
Just like when a bone is broken, it knits together stronger in that place. Years ago I was turning my horse out to pasture one afternoon; she was young, the granddaughter of a race horse and a bit high strung. In her joy to run free she kicked sideways like a karate boss and caught my forearm. Yes, it broke. This was my first experience with a broken bone and the pain was stunning! However, my arm was across my chest at the time, which means that piston kick with a thousand pounds behind it did not hit my heart. Neither did she connect with my head 12 inches higher.
That bone is stronger now but it also hurts when I overuse it and I’m starting to be able to tell the weather by how it feels, just like Grandpa used to do. It is a reminder to me of the grace that I walked away from that accident. Well, sort of, first I crawled. But—I never let go of the lead rope! It is a reminder that sometimes I need to slow down a little, pay attention and be thankful for the moment.
The broken emotional places that let the light in, as Hemingway noted, are many and varied too. Can you see how these things in your life have grown compassion, mercy and grace in you? I can.
Go sit next to the sadness or the anger. Don’t run away from it. Write about it with honesty and you will take a giant step toward healing and allowing this thing to take its proper place in your history. Try writing the story as just facts. Then, re-write it with the emotion or write what “should” have happened, what you’d do differently. Then—move forward, lighter and wiser.
Have you ever taken the road less traveled? Did something unexpected happen? Changing up your routine can help you see your life and choices in a different context. This can be especially helpful while you’re working on a memoir.
Put yourself in a different place/situation, with different people, eating different food and you will become more aware of your senses. You’ll pay closer attention and notice things you’ve previously raced by in oblivious routine. Each week, during a six week concentrated writing session, do one new thing a week. It might be as simple as taking a different route to or from work each day or wearing something that’s a very different style than your typical clothing choices. Maybe you’ll sit in a different place on the bus, read a different book. Do you see a pattern here? Different. Mix it up a bit and it will focus your senses. Keep a notebook with you and jot short notes about those sensory reactions: smells, taste, touch, sight, and hearing.
Here’s a bit of Mr. Robert Frost to illustrate the point (and because I’m a poetry geek!)
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
…Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Incorporate sensory descriptions from your new experiences into the stories surrounding your old memories. Then, when you sit down to write or record this week re-live the events you’re writing about, but with added texture, using your heightened awareness of sensory perception. It will make your story richer and your memories just come alive.
You know those old letters and journals of awesome adventures you love reading? Well, the authors were once young kids too. Who do you think encouraged and mentored them, gave them not only a sense of adventure, but the desire to write it down?
April 10th is National Encourage a Young Writer Day. But, I’m giving you a head’s up so that you have time to do something about it this weekend.
The act of writing down your experiences helps you to think about them, figure out how they fit into your life, how you’re going to go forward afterwards with that new experience under your belt. What did you learn? What do you think others might learn or value from your experience?
My parents blessed me by encouraging me to write, even really bad poems in second grade. Yes, I still write poetry, but I like to think it’s gotten a bit better. They provided ample opportunities and support to give me confidence to try new things, egging me on to stretch what I thought I was capable of. They also encouraged me to laugh when I was taking things, like myself, too seriously.
The Bible tells the story of an encourager named Barnabas. Barney made it a habit to mentor and encourage others, in particular a young man who needed a second chance, Timothy. Guess what, Timmy grew up and wrote a book!
We’ve created two fun, colorful workbooks to help you encourage the budding writers in your family. One book is geared to elementary level students and the other for mid high and high school. Use them to inspire great conversations and teach life skills like interviewing, listening, research and creative writing. Looking for a unique gift? Order one today and help your favorite young person celebrate a birthday or special event like Grandma Camp during the summer. I can even create customized gift packages. Who knows what might happen with a little inspiration and encouragement for your youngster!