Last summer I had the idea to start a legacy story-telling business that would help capture people’s life stories through video, audio and print. I bought 3 different domain names because I couldn’t come to a final decision, and the name I really wanted (Legacy Storytellers) was already taken. I worked on my web content, read and researched everything related to personal storytelling, met with experts in the industry, interviewed possible videographers, and began making plans to attend “The Association of Personal Historians” annual conference. I talked incessantly about my budding career plans, announcing to family and friends my goals for the year.
And then I took a little sip of air, often referred to as a breath.
And I exhaled for the next several months, wondering if this is the right time to start such an endeavor and feeling kind of embarrassed that I opened my mouth to so many people about it. Continue reading
I love to read about other people’s struggles, especially if they are very different from my own and if they have overcome something unimaginable to me. Whether it’s the personal memoir of an oppressed woman in the Middle East or wise sentiments from a man born with no limbs or a documentary about a wealthy hoarder in New York.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s dramatic, life-altering challenges, though those tend to be the ones that grab my attention, I glean just as much wisdom from writers like Brené Brown and Ann Lamott in their depictions of more common human ailments, such as shame and chemical addiction.
Back when I taught 7th grade, I was the only weirdo English teacher who chose “Life’s Biggest Challenge” as my students’ major narrative essay topic. While other teachers were assigning jovial topics like “What I Did Over Summer Break” in which kids could write about al the fun they had riding Big Thunder Mountain at Disney, I was “that” teacher asking 12-year-olds to think about their deepest struggles in life. And how they overcame them or how they continued to face them. Granted, preteens these days do face incredible challenges, and there were maybe 2 or 3 kids each year who were able to articulate them and put them into any kind of big-picture perspective in a concise essay. But for the most part, I read handfuls of narratives about overcoming skateboarding or gymnastics stunts that the students had attempted to master all of their lives. Continue reading