10 Resources to help you tell your story

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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.

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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

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Want to write fiction? Here is step-by-step process that you could also apply in your own stories.
http://www.storyjumper.com/main/starter

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Writing tips that are helpful whether you want to write biography or fiction.
http://goinswriter.com/writing-tips/

4

Quick tips for telling your story – public speaking or otherwise.
http://csi.gsb.stanford.edu/how-tell-your-story-impact

5

Reasons you should tell ALL your stories.
http://michaelhyatt.com/tell-your-story-the-good-and-the-bad.html

6

Resources and tips for preserving your life story.
http://www.your-life-your-story.com/whatandwhy.html

Oral history and digital storytelling

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A not for profit organization dedicated to preserving oral histories for Americans of all backgrounds.
http://storycorps.org/about/

8

Helen Bartlett offers plenty of links to sites with digital storytelling resources.
http://electronicportfolios.com/digistory/

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Center for Oral History and Digital StoryTelling
http://storytelling.concordia.ca/

10

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.

Preparing to ‘let it go’

Letting go

There are some stories that we need to let go.  Or more accurately, some related baggage that should be discarded.  It’s important to keep the lessons but unproductive, even unhealthy, to cling to all thoughts of would’ve, could’ve or should’ve.

You can't start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.

This is a tough one for me. I’m always reviewing, reliving and reprimanding myself over things that almost certainly are minimal or forgotten by others involved.  My husband, who is much more able to put things behind him, has come to accept that I do not easily move beyond a perceived error. He once told me that the difference between the two of us on that front is that I always think that I can still fix things. Pretty insightful really (he doesn’t have to know I said that). That idea definitely gave me something to think about as I strive to become [more of] a free spirit unfettered by regrets.

Today’s challenge

Strive to let go of stories that hold you back by prompting feelings of anxiety, anger, jealousy, regret, envy or any of a myriad of other draining emotions.

Take what  learning you can from the experience then let go of the rest.  Admittedly easier said than done but start today to find ways to begin that next chapter.

  • Get a realistic picture of the situation that you are reliving, one that is not focused only on what you did / didn’t do and wish you hadn’t / had done.  Name at least one positive outcome or lesson or identify some progress that was made toward a goal.
  • Name the event so you can catalog and let it go (some strategies on how to do that next time)
  • Describe the event / situation. Try to be objective. Use as much or as little detail as you like.  This can be just for you or something that you choose to share.
  • Identify what you did wrong (by your reckoning) AND what you wish you had done differently.  Sometimes you might want to check your perception with others.
  • Try to objectively consider whether it would truly have resulted in a ‘better’ outcome, with ‘better’ meaning one that would not have caused you to have regrets.
  • Consider how other parties would feel about the situation Try to be realistic. How did they react? Would they even still be thinking about it? It is quite possible that they didn’t notice or place the same value on what you said or did.

With practice, you’ll soon be able to do these steps quickly.  Although it might be difficult, try to check your perceptions with others at least occasionally to help develop more realistic assessments.

Next time – strategies for helping move past the lingering negativity.

Organizing digital photos

Growing photo collections

It is increasingly easy to amass huge selections of photos and then find yourself spending long hours flipping through looking for a specific memorable image or trying to find one to illustrate a particular post or article.

I long ago lost count of how many images I’ve shot digitally.  PLUS I am of an age that I also have 20+ years of negatives and prints that I have been scanning to create printed  albums as a supplement to all the online collections.  My thinking is that getting the pictures in albums allows me to reduce the number of negatives and duplicate photos.

Making a system

Not long ago, I took advantage of a sale from a scanning service and had more than 1500 prints scanned, which was a big boost to digitizing my collection of old family photos.  Adding those images to my digital records is a good reason to review and update my filing system.

My own photo filing system is in serious need of review and refinement. Every time that I go to do a layout or gift project, I’m spending way to much time trying to find a certain picture that I have in mind, or waiting to be inspired by the right image for a project idea.  I have set a target to complete 4 of the photo books on my  to publish  list by the end of 2017.  To do that effectively, I need to streamline my process so I can spend time designing books rather than searching for the right photos.

Whatever system that you develop has to include backups.  It is devastating to lose pictures.  I speak from experience as last year I lost the better part of two years worth to a system crash.  I don’t like to think about it.  sniff.

Taming the image monster

Here are a few organizing tips for tackling your digital photo collections:

  • Plan a file naming structure that will make it easy to find images. For example, I used to organize by date but found that filing only by date didn’t work too well for me because I very rarely look for pictures on the basis of date. Consider a date AND a name in a consistent format that works.  If you do use a date format, year-month-day is the most effective way to keep chronological order. I still include the date but now put it at the end of my file name so images sorted by name are grouped by event first.  For example, Cathy1stBirthday-2017-06-02
  • Label all new pictures as soon as you uploaded from the camera.
  • Empty your camera card frequently, depending on the volume of pictures that you take.
  • Avoid edits when first uploading. Do that on separate editing session.  One exception, some people prefer to do simple batch edits on all photos at once.  For example, if the pictures were all in a poorly lit environment, you might want to do an action that corrects light on all photos before you file them.
  • Add keywords / tags to each of the pictures so they can be searched in different ways. Avoid copying the same picture into multiple files.
  • Batch changes – rename groups of files rather than one at a time.
  • Discard duplicates and near duplicates. Pick the best example of a series of similar images and discard the rest. Try setting a limit to a maximum for any venue or event.  Be selective.
  • Save pictures that tell different parts of a story – be sure that there are wide views, close-ups and pictures to provide context. Within reason, of course (see previous tip).
  • Avoid unfiled or miscellaneous photos to help minimize numbers of images ignored or forgotten.  Decide now to file.  You can always change later if it isn’t working but put everything somewhere.
  • Tackle a big organizing project in small bits. For example, work for a defined period of time or number of images sorted. Set a timer and move on when target is reached. If you open a file looking for a picture, label any identified pictures in that folder QUICKLY.  Don’t be sidetracked but do a quick rename with event and date.
  • Do new photos first and work back to the older pictures.
  • Do not feel that you have to work in a particular order if you are doing older pictures.  It is OK to work out of chronological order,

Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely [to the White Rabbit], “and go on till you come to the end then stop.
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

I would love to hear your strategies and tips for photo organization.   Please share any tips or resources.

What are your goals for photo management.

The case for imperfection

Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.
Henry van Dyke

I have been accused of being a perfectionist.   It always makes me bristle.  “Ridiculous!”  I shout.  And, as proof,  I argue that my work isn’t perfect.  Turns out,  That is a classic symptom.  So is my tendency to take waaaay too long to do just about everything,  typically a result of redoing or overthinking or restarting or, worse yet,  not starting.  All in all, strong evidence of a perfectionist – or at very least, perfectionist tendencies.

It is not like I don’t know I’m doing it.  I am aware that that I am taking too long and tell myself to consider it done and move on to the next thing.  And I do to – you know, right after just one last adjustment.  It is time to get that under control.

I need to let it go so I can accomplish more in less time.   And finish more.  Take for example past efforts to keep a journal – or blog for that matter  – to track progress.  Inevitably I miss a day and then feel compelled to ‘catch up’  before moving forward, which obviously somewhat defeats the purpose.

What was my point – oh yeah, not a perfectionist.

Perhaps I could stretch the truth just a little and claim to be a ‘recovering perfectionist’ (read that somewhere at it appeals to me).  I’ve made some progress but not nearly enough.  It is time to again take up the charge and embrace imperfection.

Perfection stifles creativity AND productivity.

Aim for progress, not perfection and just get started

 

 

 

 

Aim for progress.
Aim for excellence.
Be realistic- about time, expectations, and resources.
Don’t wait for the perfect time.
Start today.  TAKE ACTION NOW!!

If you have stories to tell, don’t let perfection be an excuse for getting started. Don’t worry that you have all the details exactly right.  Do not stress over finding the perfect font, the ideal picture the best quote.

Even the biggest failure beats the hell out of not tryingGet it started.  You can always refine or revise – to a point of course.

Progress, not perfection!

 

 

 

Where are you on the perfectionist scale?   Are you a perfectionist and proud of it? A sometimes or situational perfectionist? A denying or recovering perfectionist? Or perhaps you are the polar opposite of a perfectionist – would that be an unperfectionist – or maybe anti-perfectionist?

Share strategies you use to make sure that perfectionism doesn’t become procrastination.

Recording Oral Histories

Capturing stories before they disappear

I have been working on designing a variety of memory quilts.  One that I want to do is a tribute to my Mom and Dad.  Whenever I work on that, I am grateful for the time that I spent with them talking about family pictures and stories but I always wish that I had recorded more of their stories  more formally.  And definitely with some vocal recordings.

Recording history

Do your parents have a box of old photographs with no identifying features?  Does your favorite aunt keep trying to give you memorabilia from her days as a roving reporter?  Does your grandfather regale you with stories and offer you tokens of his adventures?
 
You might value the collections and want to restore them for display and sharing.  Or it might be that you want to learn the stories behind accumulated stuff that has come into your possession.  Or maybe you don’t even want all the treasures but  you  want to be sure that their tales are not lost.  Whatever the reason, now is the time to record some of those details.
  • Sit down with your Mom and Dad and have them tell you about the people, places and events in those old images.
  • Interview your aunt about her days on the beat and have her tell you about the people she met and the meaning of all that memorabilia.
  • Listen to your grandfather retell his stories and hear them with new attention – ask questions, make note and seek details.
Taking the time to do this will ensure that history is not lost.  Start now.  Make a date to connect.  Don’t wait and later regret not asking the questions.
 
It is not really that long ago that the source of much of our family histories were from the oral tradition and reminiscences of people who lived it.  Maintain that tradition and speak to older family members to learn about your family history.

8 Tips for conducting an oral interview

  1. Ask permission to take notes or record the discussion.
  2. Have a list of questions to start the conversation but don’t be too tied to a specific list or order. Be able to change course according to the whims of the speaker.  Ask follow-up questions and be flexible.
  3. Start with brief, biographical questions for context and to help your subject relax.
  4. Use open ended questions that invite a detailed response rather than a yes / no answer.
  5. Give the person time to think and answer.  Be prepared to wait and learn to be comfortable with silence.
  6. Be an active listener and check understanding of words, phrases and references.
  7. Rather than one long marathon session, plan on multiple smaller ones.
  8. Make notes shortly after the conversation while it is fresh in your mind.

Most people welcome the opportunity to share their stories. For you, it can be gift, a chance to spend some time connecting with family and friends.  I remember a few sessions when I encouraged my parents to label pictures and they brought out one of the boxes then went back and forth with stories while I noted details on the backs of the photos they described. Those were fun evenings with lots of laughter. I feel lucky to have shared that time with them and only wish we had done it more often.    Now they have gone and there is still so much I wished that I had asked.

 Time to connect and gather the stories is never wasted. So, you might want to decline the generous offer of a stuffed swordfish but don’t miss the chance to hear its meaning.  Invite Gramps to pose with his trophy fish and tell you again about the day he caught it – and how it fought the good fight.  You’ll be glad that you did!
 

KTS – A Two Part Challenge

I’ve broken my Keep The Stories project to a two part challenge. The first step is to capture the moments so you can tackle the second part and reduce the “stuff”.  It’s a simple idea but not always as simple in practice.

Part 1: Capture the Moments

Find ways to capture the stories of your life – from the everyday routine to the once-in-a-lifetime moments. Express your stories in ways that work for you. Use the same approach or mix it up as the mood strikes you. Use one style or many, in sequence or in combination.   Keep your creation private or share it with the world in print or online.

  • Shoot a photograph
  • Scrapbook (digital or traditional)
  • Write a song, a poem, an essay – or a blog post
  • Make an audio recording or a short movie
  • Stitch a quilt
  • Paint a picture
  • Incorporate the object into a unique piece of art

How will you capture your moments?

Part 2: Reduce the Stuff

Once you have captured the story, it is time to let go of the stuff.  Having a ritual might help.  In my case, I’ve decided to tell the next chapter and include what happens next to finish the story.  I’ve created a worksheet for telling the stories and have a section for the next step for each item. So far I’ve   identified donate, reuse, recycle/freecycle (http://www.freecycle.org/ to find a location near you), trash (sometimes it is the best or only option but I use this as my last resort).

I am accepting that it isn’t necessary to keep the things we associate with memories and finally getting rid of the stuff, though there is a still a way to go.

Take the challenge to keep the stories and lose the stuff.  Reduce the clutter, reorganize and change the way you think about the things. Recycle, repurpose or donate.

Do you have rituals that help you let things go?  Share in the comments.

Rewriting your story.

As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  But before you can begin this process of transformation you have to stop doing the things that have been holding you back….

That is how Marc Chernoff starts his powerful article on 30 Things to Stop Doing To Yourself.  Marc and his partner, Angel Chernoff,  started their popular personal development  Life Hack blog in 2006 and now have more than 130,000 subscribers.

Everyone has days when they want to shake things up and make a new ending.  Sometimes it is hard to find the strength or the direction.  If you are looking for a great resource, pop over and visit Marc and Angel’s extensive library of articles for inspiration and motivation.  You are sure to find something to help you rewrite your own story.

 

Long time listener…

…first time caller.

I heard this on a radio call-in show when I was driving this afternoon.  I don’t often listen to call-in shows but it seems whenever I catch one, at least one person makes this comment to begin their conversation.  Today it occurred to me that is a bit of a rallying call for action – a decision to do something more involved.

Almost two years ago (is it really that long already??), I  decided to cut way back on my time on line.  I was spending much of my working day on the computer for my job at a not-for-profit, and more hours weekly for client work on a small home business.  To find some balance, I wanted to spend more of my own time on other projects so I stepped away from some forums, shut down my blog (no loss as I hadn’t really built much of a following) and drastically reduced my other social media time.  It was not a difficult transition but life changed, as it continues to do.  My work responsibilities evolved and I had less computer time so I renewed some of my online contacts.

I started Keep the Stories to promote an idea that I had had in the back of my mind for some time.  It related to my business and some personal challenges to organize and reduce.  I started with enthusiasm, a growing list of ideas – and the best of intentions.   I did the first few posts and was getting a rhythm, building to more frequent posts but then lost any momentum while I was waiting.

Waiting to resolve some technical issues… waiting for the ‘perfect’ idea …waiting for the right picture for the header… waiting for enough time to write extra posts to catch up on missed days …waiting for the brilliant idea to launch with a bang … waiting for things that were not going to happen.

It is time to stop waiting – time to stop just listening and make that first call.  Time to start with one post and then the next one.  To write when the mood strikes and not wait for some big inspiration.  To tackle the technical issues – or not – as they come and do what can be done.  AND to not worry about gaps in the posts but to plan to write with some regularity and consistency.

It’s a perfect day to start

Long time reader, first time poster?   Well, not exactly first time but first this time.  As the Chinese proverb says “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.  The next best time, is today.”

Fall is here, leaves are changing.  It is a perfect time of year for new beginnings.

Are you ready to make that first call?    Perhaps it will be to literally make a call but maybe your call to action will be to write a letter, take a trip, clean a closet, end a bad relationship, look up an old friend….   How will you take action today?

5 things educators can learn from J.J. Abrams’s TED Talk | EdTech Avenger

This article was from some time ago but it appeared in my social media feed again this week and it still rings true.

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Mystery can be an amazing inspiration for telling and keeping stories.   When J.J. Abrams’ spoke at TED, he talked about how mystery drives his interests – AND his storytelling.

5 things educators can learn from J.J. Abrams’s TED Talk | EdTech Avenger.