Dad was born on February 5 so this day is always an emotional one for me. Dad loved his birthday, which usually turned into a birthday week. He saved all his birthday cards and every year around the last week of January, he would start to display them around the house, adding more from the collection each day and looking forward to new greetings. There were always plenty of those; he was much loved. He said not to get him a new one each year but, of course, nobody listened. He would have been disappointed if we had. He hated to get any kind of card with only a quick signature and relished revisiting old wishes. So his collection grew and was much loved.
Those of us who were near, always gathered for his birthday supper and cake. If any of us couldn’t make it home, we always checked in by phone and he anticipated the calls for days. He loved to chat and laugh with family members. In fact, he typically had multiple cakes and meals shared with various friends and extended family.
I miss Dad every day but on his birthday, his loss is especially strong. We’ll toast his name and light a birthday candle for him today.
I was very close to my father, and by all accounts, am very much like him. I made this digital scrapbook page to capture some of the similarities.
Do you have a family member who is very like you – or very different? Challenge yourself today to write a story or do a layout to compare your personalities. You’ll be glad to have the reminder and it will mean a lot to your children or grandchildren as it might help them understand why you (or they) act or look as they do.
How you choose to tell your story can be as individual and unique as you are. Here are 10 resources that might help you to write or record stories that keep people reading or listening.
One of my favourite sources of inspiration these days is Ted.com where there are short (average around 15-16 minutes) but powerful presentations on any topic. There are also playlists to help you get started or choose talks around a particular theme. Here is a good place to start for storytelling: TED Talks Playlist – 6 talks on How to Tell A Story
There is sure to be some inspiration in these entertaining and informative presentations
General writing tips
Want to write fiction? Here is step-by-step process that you could also apply in your own stories.
Writing tips that are helpful whether you want to write biography or fiction.
Quick tips for telling your story – public speaking or otherwise.
Reasons you should tell ALL your stories.
Resources and tips for preserving your life story.
Oral history and digital storytelling
A not for profit organization dedicated to preserving oral histories for Americans of all backgrounds.
Helen Bartlett offers plenty of links to sites with digital storytelling resources.
Center for Oral History and Digital StoryTelling
For an extensive collection of literary resources, you might want to visit the Great Writers Inspire blog.
These are just a few of the wide and seemingly endless variety of inspirational sites and books. Please share your favorites in the comments.
Get rid of stuff
Over the past few months I have resolved to make a more focused effort to reduce the amount of stuff that I have accumulated. I have started this blog to track progress, create accountability and share some strategies.
One of the biggest challenges around reducing collected artifacts is the tendency to attribute too much importance to any one item. I find, for example, that it is difficult to get rid of somethings because they evoke memories of people or places or events or trips or something else that I don’t want to forget.
Why it is so hard to let go
reasons excuses that I have for getting rid of things include:
- “It was a gift.”
- “I might use it — someday.”
- “Maybe I will need that.”
- “I’ve had it for too long.”
- “I haven’t had it long – you never know.”
- “Oh, I remember when I got this because…”
- “But I got this when (or ‘at’, or ‘during’)…”
Sound familiar at all?
Simplify Simplify Simplify
The old way hasn’t work so it is time for a new strategy. Rather than setting multiple goals and making big plans, it is time for a new approach. Simplify. My new mantra and it is all encompassing.
- Too many things complicating your life?
Reduce the clutter to SIMPLIFY.
- Too many projects on the go?
Set priorities and say no to SIMPLIFY
- Too many unfinished crafts or other ‘someday’ projects?
Pass them on to others or get some help to SIMPLIFY
- Too many distractions?
Put down your phone, resist social media, unsubscribe to SIMPLIFY
You get the idea.
And that is the origins for my Keep-the-Stories project. I’m on a quest to record the stories and get rid of the stuff. I’m going to share some of my efforts as well as some prompts and strategies that might help you reduce, declutter and simplify.
I hope you will join my challenge to keep their stories – and reduce the stuff. Today is a perfect time to start.
Are you like me in having trouble letting go of things? What are your biggest hurdles to letting go?
I’m a collector. Some might say pack-rat is more accurate but, to be clear, I don’t keep everything indiscriminately; I am big on recycling, reusing and donating. My problem is that I keep too much because I struggle to part with things that were gifts or that are associated with a trip, event or occasion.
For years, I have most often captured memories pictures and memorabilia. I am able to evoke many wonderful experiences – and some not-so-wonderful ones – by looking through these collected photos and artifacts. This can be nostalgic, even comforting. But there is a huge downside to this approach in that it tends to make it hard to let go of things because they evoke memories of people, places and activities that have been important.
In the past, I would start with the best of intentions to par down the various flotsam and jetsam accumulated through my life, an effort that more often than not ended with me traveling on a trip down memory lane perhaps making, at best, a small reduction in the amount of stuff. Sometimes I convince myself that I might use /display / repair / re-purpose some particular item but usually it just went back in the box. Which inevitably meant that I still needed to keep the box, even when I reduced the number of items it contained. I was eager to get more space and clear the clutter but struggled with letting go.
Recently, it hit me. It is so simple! I don’t know why I didn’t realize this years ago. In fact, I did realize that but didn’t take action on the connection. What I am really collecting is stories. I don’t need the stuff to keep the stories. Instead, I need to make sure that I record the stories so I can release the associated things, hopefully to a new life out of storage and to use as intended.
And from that realization, the origins of my Keep the Stories project.