No Black Friday sales for this girl! My favorite post-Thanksgiving ritual is a giant slab of pumpkin pie slathered in whipped cream for breakfast. I did the crazy early sale day once as a very pregnant young mom decades ago in Wisconsin because we were b-r-o-k-e. Never. Again. However, no judgment here, if you get a kick out of the shopping frenzy, more power to you, enjoy! I may come watch It’s a Wonderful Life on your new big-screen TV. Promise I’ll bring pie! What kind of post-feast rituals are a tradition at your house?
Here at Remembering the Time you won’t be seeing a crash sale on the one-of-a-kind experience of writing your life story. However, I can promise you that if you choose to set out on this journey, you’ll never regret it. My heart and soul are thrown into these life-affirming projects for you. It will be an amazing experience of great satisfaction and tremendous value to both you and your family.
Here’s an interesting thought on Thanksgiving. The original potluck saw the Native Americans and the pilgrims celebrating a shared thankfulness and humanity while their two very different cultures rubbed shoulders. We are all Americans—in fact, I am a “Heinz 57”—a little bit of everything and proud of it. Bet many of you are too! So, while you’re still gathering with family this weekend, think about the specific culture you hail from – whether it’s your ethnic group or just a different part of the US. Spend an hour filling out your family’s story by asking a few great questions about your heritage and writing down favorite family recipes. Save the story and pay it forward to the next generation.
Here’s heartfelt gratitude to you from me for reading these simple thoughts throughout the year!
The post card had been sitting on my counter for a good two weeks, taunting me, a reminder of the impending doom; Layla’s shots were due. The vaccines weren’t the problem and she loves the vet and her staff. She knows when we leave, McDonalds is approximately 500 feet away and that’s where her “good girl cheeseburger” lives; so she’s totally cool with a vet appointment. The issue lies with the location.
So although Layla is cool with the vet appointment, for my husband and me there is not enough Xanex in the universe to manage our dread and anxiety surrounding taking all three dogs to the vet. Actually, it’s just Layla.
The waiting room is full of all
sorts of other animals waiting for their turn along with a veritable bouquet of
new and interesting smells. Either of us would rather substitute an unsedated
colonoscopy for this experience. Nevertheless, it must be done, and I have
drawn the short straw.
The morning of the appointment
comes. I have readied myself mentally and emotionally; repeating my “taking
Layla to the vet” mantra: “I will stay
calm, all dogs have to start somewhere, she’s gotten a lot better, I will stay
calm when she loses her everlovin’ mind, I will calmly hold her leash as she
throws her epic tantrum as long as I have to until she regains her sanity, I
will stay calm because she senses my anxiety and humiliation, I will stay calm,
I will stand firm, I will not be bullied”, I repeat to myself like a fighter
readying for combat.
I find her sleeping peacefully on
the reading couch in the living room, one of maybe three places in the whole
house she’s not allowed to be. Despite her disobedient location, I melt at the
adorable scene in front of me. “This is why she’s not dead yet,” I think to
myself, “Her cuteness and soft heart have been enough to save her so far.”
I call her name, knowing full-well that she will not wake up and get off the reading couch with just this level of stimulation; yet I continue to dream that someday she will and so I try. As predicted, she doesn’t budge, her snoring stops and I see her eyebrows wiggle a bit, a sure sign that she’s heard me calling her name but is choosing to ignore me completely. Knowing she’s in trouble because of her chosen sleep location, she refuses to acknowledge my presence, secure in her belief that if she doesn’t look at you when she’s done something naughty then surely you will not see her or attempt to scold her.
Long minutes later, I’ll spare you the begging and pleading, she cracks open a reluctant eye. Then, feeling sorry for herself, and looking absolutely pathetic before Jell-O-sliding off her perch, she gives her whole body a mighty ear-flapping shake, and then loudly, with a healthy dose of dramatic flair, collapses in a heap on the floor.
It ain’t my first rodeo, I’ve had lots of practice putting on Layla’s collar and leash when she’s in full pout, so I bend down, ignore her whines and outraged sound effects, get everything situated, and we walk out the door. At the car I open the back hatch. I have seen Layla clear a six foot fence like a reindeer once when she escaped from a friend’s yard, so both my husband and I know without a shadow of a doubt that she can jump the 2.5 feet into the back of the SUV. But she never has.
The ride to the vet is equally as
vocal, as Layla spots other interesting things outside, and smashes her nose
against allllllllll the windows while also drooling on them as she cries and
whines, howl/talks, and paces to and fro in the back.
Pulling into the vet’s parking lot,
I gather my courage and emotional Zen, repeating my mantra a couple more times
and then get out to retrieve The Naughty One. Opening the hatch very slowly, I
grope for the leash before the Kraken is released and makes a run for it. It’s
caught under her massive paw, and she refuses to move so I have to open the
hatch all the way. Distracted, I didn’t notice another person also walking
their small dog across the parking lot. Layla, however, noticed, and leapt out of the car like Superman on a trajectory straight
to the other creature. Flailing wildly in a frantic attempt to grab leash,
collar, ears or anything, I briefly cried out in delight as my fingers closed
around the leash. Satisfaction succumbed to blinding pain has Layla’s rock-hard
bony skull collided with my nose!
Eyes watering my vision blurred, I
couldn’t see anything but could still hear Layla’s urgent song of yelps,
whines, barks, and howls as she was still hell-bent on reaching her new BFF. I
kept a death grip on the leash and braced for the jerk when the obnoxious
torpedo reached the end of her line. I struggled to hold my nose, wipe my eyes,
get my bearings, and regain control of my life all while shouting at my
horribly misbehaving fur terror to STOP IT! Flustered and angry, through
gritted teeth I growled out “HEEL STUPID!” As I extended my free hand to grab
the door, I felt the blood trickling down my face.
Torpedo dog was already bounding
through the door; I had no choice but to follow. I stood, blood trickling down
my face, free hand attempting to wipe the blood away and pinch my nose
simultaneously, eyes still watering from pain and now humiliation, my sweet
doggo clutched by my side. Layla is in full-on drama display, the noise level
escalating by the second. Perfect. What else will go wrong? Experience has
taught me to just wait and that question will be answered quickly. It took less
than 3 minutes.
Layla announced our arrival to
remote villages in the Amazon. The wonderful woman behind the counter rushed
around to hand me a wet paper towel, told me she knew just who I was and had
already signed Layla in, and offered to take her while I cleaned myself up. Hesitant
but ever so grateful, I handed her to the angel and rushed off to attempt to
repair what looked like a five round loss to Tyson.
The nosebleed stopped quickly, but
I would have a beauty of a fat lip for a couple days. Mascara pooled below my
eyes for a trendy, ghoulish look and whatever lipstick I had on was gone. Overall
I was just a dumpster fire. I wiped away what I could, smoothed back my hair,
accepted that the best I could look was Spanish Flu Chic, and hurried back to
save that poor woman from Layla’s reign of terror. Layla was mercifully around
the back of the counter, a bit calmer. Gushing apologies and thanks, I grabbed
Layla’s leash, and proceeded with my walk of shame across the entire lobby to a
remote corner. Layla was quieter but still attempting to flatten herself and
ooze in the direction of the nearby puppy.
Infinite mercy! Layla’s name was called and the techs told me they’d just take her back quickly, and return her to me afterwards. My traitorous canine became the picture of innocence. She stood up calmly, leaned against the tech’s legs for extra cuddles and pets, walked past all the other animals without even making a sound or moving a millimeter in their direction, and sauntered away. “Awwwww, see? You’re a good girl, you just want to talk to all of us and got excited,” cooed the tech as she scratched Layla’s ears and they walked to the back. My mouth hung open like some sort of trophy bass, my blood pressure reached aneurysm levels, and I felt like a steam-blowing cartoon character.
I sat back on the bench, closed my
eyes, and took some calming breaths. She‘s just a dog, surely she can’t plan
things like this? Surely she’s not capable of that level of diabolic
A few minutes later, my name was
called and I walked to the counter to pay, relief flooding through me. In a few
short minutes the three-ring circus of hell would be contained within the car
and not on public display as would my Homeless Cagefighter appearance. The tech
brought Layla, still acting like a perfect angel, around the counter as I gave
my credit card to the receptionist. Absentmindedly, I reached for the leash but
didn’t get my usual death grip. Rookie mistake. Just as I was turning to leave,
Satan took possession of Layla and she lunged at another dog who barked at her.
Growling and howling, my floppy eared demon tried to engage in some sort of
cage fight with this other much smaller, but infinitely meaner dog.
In the ensuing chaos I didn’t
register who was on the other end of the smaller dog; I was focusing on yanking
Layla back and managing my shock. It’s extremely rare that she displays any
hint of aggression! No one was hurt, thank all the gods, and at this point the
distance between my sanity and an all out Jerry Springer White Girl Nuclear
Meltdown was the width of a neutron; I HAD to get out of there! The universe
must have sensed me teetering on the edge just then; because it decided to seal
my fate by just giving me a good hard shove the rest of the way.
Head down, tears of humiliation
threatening to spill down my cheeks, abandoning all sense of decorum as I let
fly a string of words that would make a sailor blush, I drag The Naughty One
toward the freedom waiting just past the door of the clinic. “Come on Missy,
come on now, let’s get away from that awful dog, that’s a good girl,” I heard a
voice say. I stopped dead in my tracks, absolutely certain I know that voice
from somewhere. Risking the last vestiges of self respect and sanity, I turned
around to see who dared insult my Layla when it was their dog that started it
and also to confirm the identity of the owner of The Voice. The little voice in
the back of my head screamed at me, begging me not to turn around, pleading
with me, but I disobeyed. I found myself standing face to face with my old boss.
Now usually this wouldn’t have been
a horrible thing, after all, many people have several old bosses and it
wouldn’t be a big deal to see each other in passing. That was not the case with
this guy; the manner in which I left that particular position and the
subsequent events that unraveled in the following months were less than ideal. In
fact, they were unpleasant and uncivil. So the fact that my first run-in with
this man involved my dog trying to fight his dog while I looked like something drug
from the gutter after a bar room brawl, could NOT have been a worse way for it
all to go down!
Recognition dawned on both of us simultaneously,
and we stood for a split second in extremely awkward silence. Layla, bless her
naughty soul, quickly pulled me from the standoff as she again with a
howl/whine attempted to defend her honor as the other small dog charged her
with teeth bared. With lightening speed, I pivoted, saving everyone from
another incident and escaped into the sunshine.
I won’t lie to you and say that I didn’t call Layla some names on the way to the car that frankly insulted her ancestry and called into question my understanding of how biology actually worked in the context of reproduction. But I also won’t lie to you and tell you that she didn’t get an extra “good girl cheeseburger” on the way home or that I didn’t giggle just a little too much at the fear I witnessed on my former boss’ face. I will however admit that when I got home, I walked straight inside the house without releasing Layla from car jail and sent my dear husband out to deal with her. I didn’t know if I possessed enough self restraint not to kill her if she tried any shenanigans. My dear husband started to question why I was interrupting what he was doing to make him go outside and get her, until he looked at my face. The crazed look in my eye and the slight twitch manifesting above my left eyebrow, and my swelling lip wisely turned him on his heel and sent him outside.
Guest Blog by Nicole Garcia, a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who runs, in what little spare time she has, a growing photography business (NicsPics). (Note: PNP and NicsPics professional contact is Nicole Oswalt.) She’s a wife, a dog mom to three dinosaurs, er, dogs, and considers herself some sort of crazy bad luck magnet. She says, “If something is going to happen or go wrong, it will happen and/or fall apart to/with me; though thankfully the trend seems to be in hilarious (to others) and truly baffling ways versus true tragedies!” As you think about all the ways your pets play a role in your family and consider sharing their stories, welcome to Nicole’s world.
On the Frontlines with Layla, Canine Drama Queen – PART 1
My dogs, though they are
oh-so-very-loved and spoiled rotten to the core, are the source of many of my disaster
stories. This is one of those tales. Sit back, relax, grab a cup of whatever
your poison is at the moment, and enjoy a laugh or ten thousand at my expense.
My dear husband (fiancé at that
time) had been talking about getting a dog for a bit, which really meant I was
begging and pleading to get all the puppies I saw, and yesterday couldn’t have
been soon enough. I have the patience of a four year old on pixie sticks and
the stubbornness and persistence of an ancient mule, so needless to say, the
decision was made to get a puppy!
Layla, a soon-to-be five-year-old
pure bred bloodhound, was a wedding present from great friends of ours. As the
runt of the litter she hadn’t found a forever home by nine months old and was a
surprise to us. That should have been a sign from the universe, a warning that
she might not be the sweet, adorable thing she appeared to be. We were smitten
with this creature made up of feet, skin, and allllllllll the ears. What an
amazing adventure life with her would surely be.
We figured out with lightening
speed that all of our plans for training our new addition; taking her places and
doing all the right things were going up in flames faster than an explosion at
an oxygen tank factory! Our Layla had the body of a bloodhound, temperament of
the ultimate mamma, intellect of a post, attitude of a thousand toddlers,
personality of Cybil, and the willingness to obey or listen of the wind.
In Layla’s world, danger has many forms. Vacuum is her most hated foe, followed very closely by Bath. Blowing leaves, odd noises, a plastic bag that is too near to her bubble, her little brother’s flatulence; all just a few of the many forms of danger that Layla endures regularly. She is the sweetest dog imaginable; if any small human is within a one thousand mile radius, she howls and whines until she can mamma them until they want to throw themselves off a cliff! She does NOT tolerate allowing small humans to cry and gets incredibly upset if she sees them doing anything remotely dangerous, whining and speeding to the nearest larger human to alert them of this danger so that it may be addressed.
However, where her small humans are concerned, danger lurks everywhere; on the sidewalk, on the trampoline, and especially within twenty feet of any stairs. Diaper changes, sitting down unaccompanied, standing unsupervised, eating anything, all first require her quality control efforts to ensure that diapers won’t attack and food isn’t poisoned. Oddly though, she knows no strangers and would happily greet an intruder wielding a bloody machete with a nuzzle, pawing at them for scratches as she dutifully shows them all the good stuff.
Take a moment some time, to peruse Amazon for all of the doggie behavioral tools, sprays, deterrents, leashes, collars, books, etc. There are some amazing inventions to help combat the gamut of issues you may encounter with your fur baby. Trust me, I’ve tried them all! None of them have been bloodhound tested……I assure you……not a single one. Layla does what she wants, when she wants, and though we try our best not to let this happen, she usually finds a way. When she is caught, she looks you dead in the eye with her tongue lolling out of her mouth and her fat alligator tail wagging, and then walks over so that you may pet her. No remorse. No shame. Is there a fresh hole in the yard wide and deep enough that you’re convinced lava will come pouring out any second? Layla. Come home to find the trash, a favorite of that bloodhound nose and terrorist urges, scattered everywhere throughout the house because you dared leave her for over fifteen minutes while it was dark outside? Layla. And I bet you even money, she will be found, still chewing on or eating a treasure from her trash diving mission, with her tail thumping against the floor as you search the house to find her. Then as you’re cleaning up her mess, she will follow you, happily wagging her tail and bumping her head against you to demand cuddles since you’re already on the ground.
Missing dirty socks or underpants? What
about a favorite make up sponge or key chain with something fluffy or soft on
it? Layla. The fluffy will be torn to microscopic shreds. Undergarments and
makeup sponges will usually be found cradled gently in her mouth as she goes to
“hide” in her kennel or on her cushion. Or guarded between her two giant front
paws as she snores peacefully.
When you retrieve the object, she looks at you as if you had truly murdered a child in front of her, but doesn’t growl or nip. If looks could kill, we would all have long ago left this world. She will then, with a mighty and dramatic hrrrrrrrmph, lift her bulk from its resting state of shapeless flesh, and waddle in the sassiest of ways to the nearest human she can find, to tattle on the offending individual.
Many people assume that I, like so
many other crazy dog people, exaggerate the traits and behaviors of my beloved
naughty terror. That I assign to her human actions, emotions, or motivation,
but that she is truly nothing more than a spoiled fur baby who exists as any
other dog does. I understand these assumptions; I don’t fault people for them. After
all, no one could really be expected to believe this dog is as ridiculous as
described, or that she does things like tattle, pout, throw tantrums, give
dirty looks, or dole out a cold shoulder when she’s been scolded. Yet, these
things do happen
A flair for the dramatic is also
something Layla could teach lessons on to even the most skilled of classically
trained actors. She is dramatic in all ways, at all times, and in the worst
possible moments; but all her naughty powers of drama and tantrum are on full
display when she’s wearing a special collar her trainer recommended that’s helping her learn not to pull and there
are other animals around.
The collar did MIRACLES for the
pulling/yanking/dragging problem, and quickly Layla learned to walk nicely on
her leash, comfortable and sassy, while we were no longer in danger of paying
for an Orthopedic Surgeon’s yacht with the shoulder replacements we would
surely need after much longer. But……Layla is not to be thwarted. She has no
manners when it comes to other animals. She’s not aggressive at all, she just
goes from useless lump of sleepy stubborn dog (her normal state), to yelping,
crying, howling desperately, jumping, flailing, alligator rolling on the
ground, shrieking, and lunging toward the unsuspecting creature in her dramatic
attempt to say “hello” and play!
After almost five years of this
struggle, she now agrees to sit much more quickly, but FAR from more quietly! Layla
wails and howls, whines, throws herself on the ground in attempts to melt into
the floor and gain the ability to ooze herself sneakily toward the new creature.
In short, she throws a full-on drama queen toddler tantrum at the top her lungs.
Nothing quiets this display. It can be heard from space! The Naughty One knows
how heartless and cruel her evil owners appear in these moments. She can sense
the def-con 56 level of mortification her girl human is experiencing and the
fact that her boy human lost the will to live in the first twenty seconds of
the fit. She LIVES for this! And it always works. Inevitably, crowds will
surround her, full of coos and baby talk, they will coddle and cuddle, pet and
scratch, all while assuring her that she’s not doing anything wrong and she’s
just guilty of “wanting to make friends”. Another inevitable truth is that in
the midst of the throng, will sit the sassiest most self-satisfied dog to ever
walk the Earth, soaking up all the affection and sympathy. She will turn to
look her humans in the eye with a gloating smile and the thumping of that
alligator tail. Game, set, match. Layla emerges victorious yet again.
This background is necessary so that you can understand the following story… (to be continued) Thanks for hanging with me this long!
Does your family have favorite sayings or expressions? It
might be a funny Mom-ism or “Daddy always said…” that rattles around in your
brain. It may make you laugh (or cry) and think “Oh my gosh, I’ve become my
parent!” Keep your sense of humor and perk up your ears about those
quips/jokes/family expressions. They make fantastic fodder for memory photo
books with a charming mix of serious and humorous.
Quotes are one of my favorite parts about developing personal
histories. I listen for the words and favorite stories clients enjoy recalling.
I’ll watch faces, listen to voices, feel the emotion behind the memories. These
words that are then gathered into marvelous “pull quotes” in their book. These are
the words family members flag, dog-earing the page so they can find it quickly.
They bring laughter, almost always start a “remember when…” session and
sometimes cause a few tears. They stir emotion, the hallmark of a good story.
Working for the second time with a lovely client in Santa Fe, involved finding the perfect bit of text to accent her collection of family letters in Dear Sis…WWII Letters. I love the satisfaction of getting this just right when the author reads their book draft and says, “Oh, how did you know? That’s perfect!”
It’s all about listening with your heart.
Here’s a unique gift idea you can make yourself:
Family quote book—gather the pithy, the goofy, the advice or
unique sayings of your family members. You can craft a handmade version, work
one up on the computer or use an online service like Shutterfly. It’s easy to
find coupons that make them quite affordable and the end product is stunning.
Gather up 20-30 of these memorable quotes, phrases, jokes or expressions; mix it up to really express
the variety that is your unique family or focus in on one person. Select a
photo from your family collection to illustrate each quote. Then, artfully
place the photos and quotes to best showcase each. Probably one image per quote
is a good guideline, but you might do a simple collage on a few pages for
Here’s a few of my favorite partial quotes from some of my
client’s books. (Author’s initials are at the beginning) They make you want to
read the rest of the story, don’t they?
“…a person lives with his memories to a great extent”
DM, Strong Threads:
I had been impacted by the history that flashed across my young life.
He really fell in love with my horse.
BR, This is My Story and I’m Sticking to It:
It was the custom to send the three little boys to the movies on Sunday afternoon. December 7, 1941 was no different.
It was the first time in their life they had electricity for Christmas.
G & C R, Memories:
Forget the Doctor’s office, go to the hospital!
Do Not stick your hand in there, they are very aggressive!
I used to like camping but the Army kind of spoiled me in that.
BH, The First 90 Years
We stacked our mattresses on the truck and sat on top down Highway 66 and we got off in Scottsdale, Arizona.
G, Gallegos por Vida:
All the children went to school barefoot.
Once the shoe went flying it was time to wrap it up.
Quote books make beautifully memorable gifts, try creating
one and give it to someone you love this Christmas or at their next birthday.
Once you make one you’ll be hooked on the idea. You’ll be creating a uniquely
piece of memorable art that they’ll treasure and enjoy.
Coming up next week- a peek behind the scenes on a personal history project!
Ever had to fix a hoe? While tackling this task, my brain was problem solving on a variety of fronts. Yes, the job at hand, but also relishing a connection to generations past. I have to admit, I did not want to take time away from my computer and the creative work done there, however, with an orchard irrigation coming up, I knew every available implement needed to be in working order. We have gophers; therefore we have holes that I’m convinced surface on the other side of the planet. And weeds.
In this disposable era I’m grateful to have the skills and
equipment necessary to do a simple repair on a loose hoe handle. Repair or
replace? That is the question we face on a frequent basis. Our grandparents
often did not have that luxury, as repair was usually the only option.
So, I stepped away from the computer and gathered up the
needed pieces and parts. And—I made a decision to stay in my pretty red
shoes—because they make me happy! Ruby slippers anyone?
I retrieved the hammer, inherited from my grandpa, out of my
toolbox full of tools mostly gleaned from the “extras” belonging to the men in
both my family and my husband’s. Some I’ve bought myself because they’re useful
and I need them, like a ratcheting screwdriver—What a great invention!
Note—I’ve outfitted my daughter with her own tool box, well stocked, because I
think a woman should have her own at hand and not have to borrow. Also avoids
the inevitable—where is my ____ when you use your own tools!
That said—I love working with tools that have a history,
knowing the hands that used them to keep home, farm and autos running smoothly.
Then, I dug through a large, rusty assortment of screws,
washers and nuts, along with highly organized bits of metal flotsam and stuff I
didn’t even recognize, to find the correct length bolt. This collection, which
we’ve since added to, expanded over the decades by men who grew up in the Great
Depression. If you needed to fix something, you went to the barn or garage and
rifled through the coffee cans, baby food or mason jars to find the appropriate
part. In my family we called this “Visiting Grandpa’s Hardware Store.” Odds
were excellent that you could find exactly what was needed. And if you couldn’t,
then asking him would both please him and result in a quick find as he knew
where everything was.
The process of drilling a hole through the handle took some patience and I was thankful for the electric drill. Here’s a hearty shout out to all those adults who took time through the years to show me how to use tools, how to “fix stuff” and basically operate as a resourceful human being. Thank you!
Think back over the skills your parents, grandparents and other relatives and friends have taught you over the years. I bet there’s some old time “life hacks” you rely on regularly. Write about them! And write about the folks that took time to show you how it’s done. Lastly, by all means, pass them on to the next generation—mentor with purpose and keep the generational wisdom tank full.
Remembering the Time will be live at beautiful FARMesilla in Mesilla, New Mexico on Thursday, August 1 from 4 – 6 p.m.. Let’s talk story! Come grab a delicious snack and coffee or a cold drink and let’s chat about your memoir or saving your family history. You’ll love the location! I’ll be set up under the courtyard pavilion, ready to coach, brainstorm and give you resources during this “Ask me anything” session. You may even win a door prize.
Got memories? Need answers to nuts and bolts questions about saving your family’s boxes of photos and letters? You’ve been planning on doing something with these “someday”– now is the perfect time! I can get you started in the right direction. Questions about where to start your story or how to focus? Who to write about-yourself or someone else? Stop by and say hello, get inspired, and grab some free resources to get you started. We even have some fun resources for kids. Looking forward to meeting you!
Summer is all about picnics, family gatherings, road trips and reunions. We take these trips and plan events with our families to create memories and enjoy each other. Need creative ideas to make the most of those events for your memory bank? Following are three areas to focus on to make the most of those memories and share them with others. You can even easily turn these travel tales into wonderful gifts to remember the journey, whether it was across the country or to Grandma’s back yard. Keep reading for a few ideas.
All events have 3 parts that contribute to the fun:
Tell the story not just of the trip itself, what you saw, where
you went, who you visited—take a few minutes to talk about the prep, a snap a
few pics. Perhaps you can get a photo of everyone with the maps laid out on the
kitchen table, or the pile of gear/suitcases assembled for the journey.
For example, one of my favorite before and after photos is
of us with our kids and friends, prior to a backpack trip and then a similar
shot after the trip. The contrast speaks volumes about the fun we had, the rain
and mud, the grubby trail, the fish, the food and the bonding.
Think reactions, questions, closeups, what you thought about
what you’ve seen is much more important than the bald fact that you were there.
Think of the 5 Ws as you tell about your journey: Who, What, When, Where, Why. Since
travel nearly always contains some element of the unexpected, bring this into
your photo and story lineup.
Example 1 Camping Trip:
Did you take a family camping trip? Snap pics all along,
start at the beginning when you’re clean, then get some grubby shots, fish stories,
toddlers in mud, the food, the tents, the campfire tales (share a favorite).
Get that drippy s’more or flaming marshmallow on film. One of my best loved
camping pics is my toddler son discovering dirt and the joy of putting things
in his mouth. What makes it precious is his rambunctious smile, tousled hair
and—- the story that followed immediately after when I discovered his chubby
cheeks hid a mouthful of fat green grub he’d found while exploring.
Example 2-Family Reunion:
Be a Roving Reporter—ask a few questions and snap a photo
to go with at your next reunion or family barbeque. Think outside the standard
group shot and get some candids and close-ups too.
Does Aunt Mary make a killer potato salad or dessert? Take a
photo of her with it, or someone else enjoying it with her. Ask her to share
her secret for making it special. Even if she doesn’t it makes a good anecdote
to get her reaction. How long has she been making this recipe? Where did she
Does your Uncle Manny have a way with BBQ? Snap some shots
of him preparing, if it’s that good I can guarantee he takes it pretty
seriously, talk with him about his technique. Get quotes from the family about
their reactions to his steaks, ribs or brisket. Think messy, closeup, smiling
faces. Get some background on Manny, how and when did he discover a love of
grilling? Did anybody teach him? Is he passing it along to the next
generation—get pics of him with his protégé.
We all turn into natural storytellers when reminiscing about
things we’ve experienced. Make this work for you both during and after the
trip. Capture the faces of young and old both as they listen to and tell stories.
The wonder, the laughter, maybe the spooky campfire tale or the old stories of
“remember when….” As a child my preferred pastime at family gatherings was
sitting among the circle of adults at the campfire, listening to the hunting
stories, the explorations, tales told of childhood adventures, births and
accidents, the uproarious laughter.
Instead of leaving those hundreds of digital photographs on
your phone, there are several inexpensive options to make the most of these
memories and encourage storytelling and enjoying the time you spent together.
Photo book/story book—there are several online services to
create wonderful photo books, some even allow you to download directly from
your phone. A quick internet search will usually turn up a variety of coupons
for these books or graphic services, allowing you to scratch that creative itch
for just a few dollars. Or you can even make your own simple document and make
copies at the local office store. Handmade is still treasured, move those
digital memories into something tangible, it’s easy, inexpensive and will
delight those who receive a copy.
Whatever you decide to create, try making it collaborative—even
the youngest kiddos can draw a picture of something they enjoyed about the trip.
Treat it like fine art. Print it up! Have them tell you what they liked or their
version of an event. This amps up the humor and charm factor, trust me. These story
snippets are sure to elicit lots of love and laugher.
No matter our age, we all feel valued when
others listen and give us the gift of time.
What a great way to show you were paying attention by pulling those memories of your reunion, camping trip or stay-cation into a physical book. Ordinary life events are every bit as important in our memory banks as the weddings, vacations, birthdays and anniversaries. Have fun telling the story of your amazing, one of a kind, ordinary life!