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Reflect and Project
December 31, 2015
It is not unusual at the end of the calendar year for people to reflect
over the past months and think about the events and experiences. I find
it important to do this so that I get the all important perspective
needed to do what is most important: to live fully each day.
Our lives are made up of many moments. But the only real time is now.
It is something of a paradox to realized that time moves forward and we
always have a past that keeps growing, but the true essentials of
living are timeless.
The Big Picture is outside of time. It always just is.
As a teacher and writer it is inevitable that I do a lot of thinking
about our life journeys. I am tasked with passing along knowledge
coupled with inspiration which hopefully translates to awakening
curiosity in others. When that happens the result is motivation. Quite
often the hardest thing with life writing (memoir, autobiography,
personal hisory) is getting started and keeping at it. Inertia is
But I have discovered what others have told you and I over and over and
over again. Just start. The act of doing creates momentum. Sometimes
when we sit down to write we don't know what words should come first.
Don't worry about that too much. To quote a famous Star Wars character
(Yoda), "You must but learn what you have learned. Do or do not. There is no
I invite you to spend time in preparing to write. The pre-writing
process is very important and it typically happens without doing any
actual writing. Much of my prewriting is done walking the dog or
driving in my car. But you can also use word mapping, sketching,
doodling, outlining and memory lists.
I think it is important to inspect
your past year. It helps if you keep a journal. Then reflect on the
significant events. I have many articles that speak to what I
consider are the key things for life writing. After reflection move on
Both the project work of your story and to pro-ject
out your plans for your story. Don't live in the future on this - stay
in the now. But healthy projecting of your thoughts for your worthy
life story project can keep you motivated.
Best to all, thank you for reading and visiting throughout the year.
Peace, joy and blessings to you in 2016.
End of the
Year Elder Wisdom
December 30 2015
Here we are on the cusp of a new year. With the old year about to end
it is always a time to reflect on living. What can the elderly teach
us? A huge question, for sure. More people are living longer now than
ever before. The New
York Times followed six people age 85 or older through
this past year to discover some of the Wisdom
of the Aged. There is a lot to reflect and
consider from these six New Yorkers.
Many of them are dealing with the afflictions of old age, but for the
most part they are quite optimistic and grateful. They are certainly
not naive and they realize they are in the twilight years. I
the article insightful and another confirmation of the need for us to
honor the elders in our society. More importantly, to pay attention to
the lessons and values they share.
Life story preservation includes writing about our past experiences,
but I think it also should value our present day lives. What use is it
to look back if we aren't living in today with an appreciation of what
our lives have taught and brought?
A Caring We Will Go
December 24, 2015
To care for others is a great gift. The caretakers
of the world do a great service. Anyone can show they care, and do it
in many different ways. I think about how much we appreciate a visit
from a family member or friend. You can read together, laugh and sing,
or just sit quietly. The latter is especially important when someone is
grieving or dying.
One of the most important things is to show that you care by giving of
yourself, sharing your life experiences, your strength and your hope.
At Christmas time it is traditional to sing songs of the season. People
enjoy Christmas caroling and visit friends with songs and good cheer.
Taking a cue from “a-caroling we will go”, consider
how “a carrying we will go” expresses the
importance of showing our love and care for others.
more from the December Newsletter |
Gifts Bring Big Joy
December 15, 2015
The holidays can be a frenzy of shopping and gift giving and I don't
like it when it feels like you have to buy, buy and buy. We are a
consumer oriented society, but gift giving doesn't need a big price tag.
Now that I have been teaching five years in this "second life" career,
I find that the little gifts often pack the biggest pleasure. It is
hard to put a price on a home-made card from a student. Kids usually
live for the moment. 10 and 11 year olds can be a handful, but they
also are a lot of fun. I enjoy it when they give me a candybar or other
fun snacks as a present.
Our school also has a tradition of playing Secret Santa with the
teachers and staff. We draw names and we fill out surveys of our likes
and dislikes. Then for a week we give little gifts each day. The fun is
in just getting something and if you like simple pleasures such as
peppermint patties, goldfish crackers, coffee, a good book and so
forth, then it's a pleasure each day to see what the little gift will
be. Even more fun is giving the presents to the person whose name we've
drawn. We get to play Santa and at the end of the week during our staff
Christmas party we reveal who the Secret Santas are.
These little holiday traditions help us have fun and also enjoy the
holiday season. What similar traditions do you participate in? Write
about it in your journal. Go one step further and think about a
particular giving situation that pulls on the heartstrings and write a
Steve Pender of Family Legacies on the Radio About Video Life
December 10, 2015
I've often suggested Steve Pender of Family
Legacies Videos for video
life story work. He is based in Tucson and does really good
work. He's friendly, knowledgeable and as you can hear from a radio interview he just did with a
Tucson radio station, a fun fellow!
I spent many years in radio and I know a good interview when I hear
one. This short piece (about 8 minutes) has some good information,
especially if you are thinking of doing something with family
stories/personal history over the holidays.
December 7, 2015
Reflecting on life and circumstances, our feelings and experiences, can
be an important thing to do. To me reflecting means looking closely and
thinking in a way that processes your feelings and experiences.
I've used reflection writing in my teaching. I often give my 5th
graders an essential question to consider for a week and then they
write a reflection in their journals about what the question means to
them. Of course we have discussion and I give them guidance as they are
still developing the type of critical thinking that leads to insights.
Currently we are doing a project where they are interviewing an adult
in their family, preferably an elder like a grandparent, to find out
what life was life for them when they were growing up. Where did they
live, what was school like, what did they do for work and why did they
choose their occupation? These were a few of the interview questions
each student asked their family elder. A connected essential question
for writing reflection is "What can we learn from the struggles of
others?" Hopefully that leads to them learning from family members the
importance of not giving up when life gets challenging and difficult.
On a related note, I find myself reflecting on my age as I will turn 60
in about a week. I certainly don't think of myself as that
chronological age. Being around 10-11 year olds as a teacher probably
helps keep me feeling young (or is that immature?). When I look in the
mirror I see me, but it isn't the picture of myself in my head. Has
that happened to you? An interesting photo series by Tom Hussey (Reflections
of The Past) has elderly people looking in
mirrors and seeing their younger reflections. It's definitely worth
viewing - here.
I think it is a nice counterpoint to the self-absorbed "selfie" craze
in our culture.