5 Ways Sharing Your Story Will Inspire You

1—Everyone loves a celebration. What better event to celebrate than the basic fact of being alive? Whether you’ve had 70 years on the planet or want to celebrate the life of your 5-year-old, it’s a great time to break out the cake and surprise your loved one with a story all their own. Celebrate the events and people that have made your life experience uniquely your own. Looking back over your life will help remind you of the victories, the accomplishments, the overcoming, the kindnesses great and small that have come together in your unique heart and soul to knit together your life. Your story matters and you are important!

2—Experience personal growth and insight. You may have had years to contemplate the why’s and wherefores’ of your life story. Now is the perfect time to consider what you’ve learned, process it, maybe even re-frame your responses in memory to help you heal and move forward in a healthy way.

Where have you struggled? How did you overcome? What would you want your children and grandchildren to know from your hard-won experience? You have a responsibility to pass it on.

The Rev. Berndt of the Good Samaritan Society says: 

“It is an incredible gift to be the recipient of someone’s legacy. It can be life transforming. However, I have also learned that the opportunity to leave a legacy isn’t something that only other people do. As I grow older, I am more and more convinced of the importance of asking myself, “What legacy from the wisdom of lifelong experience am I …sharing with others?” You see, this is the two-way blessing of legacies. Our lives can be shaped by the legacies that others share with us, but in turn, we have a responsibility and a challenge to share the wisdom …“and experience we have gathered over the years.”

Perhaps other forces shaped your life? Do you have an immigrant story or a war-time experience, poverty or wealth, a disability or just making something precious out of the ordinary?

Science has shown that the health benefits of journaling and sharing your story are enormous

In her blog  ”Heart and Craft of Lifewriting” writer Sharon Lippincott comments on a memoir entitled Growing Old, by Swiss psychoanalyst Danielle Quinodoz:  “The book focuses on the enormous value elderly people derive from reviewing their memories and attaining an integrated overview of their lives, …People who are able to view their lives in this meaningful way experience more joy in living…They tend to approach aging more actively, retaining curiosity and involvement with life and the people around them….”

3—Pass along a lifetime of learned wisdom and life skills. Whether it’s your approach to living on a budget, handling life events, recovering from tragedy, the importance of your faith or simply your best tips for leading the good life, your family needs to know this. Think of the many articles (share link) where elders have been interviewed about what they’ve learned over their life, those in your circle of influence crave this same information.

Think of the inspiration others have poured into your life and how you’ve been able to pay it forward to future generations. Connect the past and the present and be inspired to do good!

4—Share your family’s origin story. Where did you come from? How did you get to where you are now? What traditions, customs, food and wisdom were Handed down by your ancestors? Mentoring, life skills, carpentry, music, jewelry making, craftsmanship, farming, and ranching, your life experience and family history is uniquely your own.

5—We are inspired by photographs of people, places, and events. Dig out those boxes of family pics and put provenance with them. Just the process of asking questions from family members about events and people depicted will unearth a great number of stories you probably haven’t even heard yet. Or will add details to those long familiar events.

Preserve your family’s memories of important family stories. Each photo can be used to prompt the story behind it, what was going on in the world, the people’s lives in the picture. What happened before and after? The stories behind the faces in the photos are precious. It might even illuminate world events, think of collections of pioneer letters that let us know what life was like on a wagon train or collections of WWII letters. Take a look at this example, Dear Sis…WWII Letters:

“…letters were written by ordinary young men who answered the call to duty and honor to protect their country and their families. Compiled into a narrative, the letters give a snapshot of life and events both on the war front and at home.” 

Your life story is a gift from you to the future, from your generation to the next one. It may be one of the most important things you share with those who come after you. Leave a legacy, a life legacy.

Remember, not only is your story a gift, each day of life is also, unwrap daily!

Let me know if you need help sharing your story, I’d love to visit with you!


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Surprisingly Creative Writing About Outstanding Objects

Hello, fellow memoir writers! Today’s inspiration is all about objects. We often hang onto things because of the emotions or memories they trigger. The object becomes an important touchstone that takes you back to a place and time important in your life. Read on for a fun, easy way to draw out the memories in your favorite things (and a mysterious surprise discovered in an old bookshop):

Pretend you’ve never been in your house before. Now, take a walk-through with new eyes, and notice the items you’ve collected. Maybe they’re lovingly displayed in a place of honor, or maybe they’re gathering dust, but you just can’t bear to throw them out. Why? Perhaps it’s a box of childhood mementos stuffed in the top of a closet or a collection of poems you wrote as a teenager.

Pick up the objects, handle them, and notice the lines, the color the texture. What memories are triggered?

Did you inherit this item from a relative? Tell the story, talk about your relationship with them and the day you received this special thing. Maybe it’s an item from your childhood or something one of your children made for you. Is it a book that has impacted you greatly or a piece of art that evokes time and place in a special way? Perhaps it’s a record you and your sweetheart danced to that brings back a flood of memories.

Whatever it is, you’ll know it by the emotions and memories that sneak, tramp, dance, or cartwheel into your mind. Ask yourself questions as if you’ve never seen this object and you’re telling your best friend all about it. Again, no editing, write down everything that comes to mind:

  • Where did you get it—for example, did you bring it back from a trip?
  • When did you get it—was it on that first date with someone special?
  • Who were you with – maybe your grandparents took you fishing?
  • How long have you had it—since your children were young? Maybe you acquired that special rock on a camping trip with your dad when you were 5?

Describe it thoroughly using each of the five senses:

Sight – describe what you see as if you’ve never laid eyes on the object before. Now, describe it again with the eyes of your heart, what else is there

Taste—does it have a taste, or is it associated with something that does, for example, a coveted rolling pin used by your grandmother to make wonderful pies and biscuits over the generations

Hearing– does it make a noise? An old harmonica, dented and scarred with use, a seashell from an ocean trip that stayed in your memory for years

Touch– is it smooth, rough, flat, or bumpy, does it have warmth or coldness to it. Describe everything you can about the way it feels example-an an old saddle passed down, the slight cracking and wear marks from use, and does it bring back to mind a horse or pony that was a special part of your childhood?

Smell – take that same saddle above, can you smell the oiled leather, the saddle soap, maybe you can remember the fresh smell of pasture or the heat on the desert in the cool of an evening’s ride.,

The object could be associated with life, loss, silly or serious. Many people save recipes and baseballs, dog leashes and photographs of all sorts. I have a red leather-bound book that belonged to my great grandfather. The title is Ken Saddles Up, with a 1945 copyright. I imagine him sitting in his beat-up old armchair, stacks of books at his side, reading this children’s book to one of his grandkids by dim lantern light. This is a treasured time of rest and escape after a hard day working in the dairy barns of his Willamette, Oregon farm. Did this start the seeds of love of education, horses, and curiosity about the world in his offspring? I like to think it probably did.

Oh, and the rest of the story? It’s serendipitous, a little sad, and downright cool:

That little red book was signed by my great grandfather. On the same page is a penciled price of $4.50. I found it at my favorite local secondhand bookstore while browsing one day. The book had been in my grandmother’s collection in Corvallis, OR. When she passed away my father brought many items home and shared mementos with his children. Somehow, this book ended up in an overwhelming collection of books that was eventually taken to the bookstore for resale. It was missed but meant to be and I was delighted, thankful, and a bit overwhelmed when I found it.

May your years be sprinkled with the occasional bit of whimsy and full of rich memories.


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Creative Journaling Tips for Your Remarkable Life

Relationships are top of mind right now, emphasized even due to the social distancing we’re experiencing in the pandemic. This is foreign ground for most of us but will become one for the history books. In the scarcity of human contact we long to connect and are finding creative ways to do it. The silver lining may be an increase in family connectedness and deeper friendships. This is one of the good things to come out of this season of pausing, reflection and in some cases deep loss.

So relationships and how they’ve impacted our lives is the theme for this journaling exercise. Think of it as a creative tool to use in developing your memoir, short or long. It all starts with a few words on a page or spoken into a recorder.

Let’s give it a shot! Review the many relationships in your life; most of us are sons and daughters, parents, friends, spouses, employees, aunts or uncles. Think of the connections you’ve had with others over the years, both personal and professional.

Don’t get stuck, just pick two or three that stand out in your memory.

You can always try this technique with others later.

How have these relationships impacted, molded, changed and directed  the course of your life over the years?

Pick one relationship from childhood, one from youth and one from adulthood. Your choice of how close the relationship was; don’t force it or get stuck with expectations, go with what rises to the top of your thoughts. They don’t even have to all be human.

Many people count a dog or horse among their best friends.

It’s perfectly ok to write about these dear friends too.

Now, for each one I want you to try two approaches:

1—How has this relationship affected your life? Did it inspire you, coach in in a positive way, maybe it deflected you down another path? You can go as deep as you like here. Sometimes even fleeting relationships impact us deeply and change the course of our lives. Other times it may be the long faithfulness of a dear family member or friend.

2—How would your life have been different if you hadn’t known that person? Don’t edit, just write down your thoughts and speculate, follow the rabbit trails, this is just for your own use. A well-known example of this, and one that’s been used in many book and movie plots, is the storyline behind It’s a Wonderful Life when George Bailey’s angel gives him the opportunity to see what life in Bedford Falls would have been like without him. As Clarence says, “You’ve been given a gift.”

Bonus Tip:

Another tool to use is to take a sheet of paper for each person you want to write about. Now do a mind map or a bubble outline. Write their name in the middle of the page and then, using a timer set for about three minutes, write down everything you can think of that’s associated with this person. Don’t second guess yourself, get it all down. Write each item or phrase on the page radiating out from the central person.  When the timer dings, stop. You can always add more later but these are the top of mind and semi-conscious ideas that come out when you brainstorm like this.

When you’ve finished this exercise you may realize some interesting side notes or even have a great light bulb moment (epiphany for you fellow word nerds). Jot these reflections down too. You now have the makings of a fine chapter or two for your memoir. In fact, you may have even discovered the theme of your lifestory. See where it goes.

All the best to you in your memory journey!


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Lifecycle of a Memoir

What better way to connect the generations than to start a memoir project together. This can be especially effective right now as we’re isolated and missing friends and family during this pandemic. Let’s close the gap and show we care! It can be short, just seize the opportunity. Set aside an hour, get your recorder or pencil and paper ready and make that phone call. You’ll be so glad you did!

#familyhistory #journaling #genealogy #writing #personalhistory

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Contact Me

Please contact me for more information or to to schedule a free consultation. I look forward to visiting with you.

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    Karen Ray

    Address: 331 Bristol Avenue, Las Cruces, NM, 88001

    Phone: 575-323-1048