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My Father’s Daughter

Missing you on your birthdayDad 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.

My Fathers Daughter layout
My Father’s Daughter is a digital layout created with products from scrapgirls.com

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.

Start a photo project

In recent years, I have tried to have an annual photo project.  In 2009, I successfully completed a 365 day project with a picture a year, a layout a week.   I finished the layouts and published the book in early 2010.  It was rewarding to complete and it is great to look at all the day-to-day moments.  In the years since, I have done weekly collections in a digital format.

ALbum cover for 2009 365
Album cover for 2009 365

I’m planning to do a similar project this year but am still playing with themes or a unique hook.  I want to incorporate my keep-the-stories efforts but still deciding how.  I’ll keep you posted on that one.

Photos are a great way to capture everyday moments.  The routines of your day can be interesting or entertaining in years ahead and I am always amazed at how often I look at photos and think, “Oh, I’d forgotten that I used to do that all the time.”  If you have children, they will look back at the images and marvel at their daily activities.  OK, it might take them awhile to appreciate it but eventually, they’re sure to get there.  A year-long photo project can take as little or as much time as you want and can be focused or random.  The details are up to you.

There are plenty of places to find inspiration for a photo project – 365 days – 52 weeks – 12 months – 4 seasons – or a particular person or object through the year.  Many of related sites have challenges or opportunity for sharing.  Of course, you can start any time of the year -it doesn’t have to begin on New Year’s Day, although that is a favorite launch date for many people – it might even be a resolution – but it is not the only option.  You might prefer to start on a birthday or anniversary, a milestone change or any day when you are expired.

Don’t worry about having a fancy camera or lots of equipment. If you don’t have a DSLR, use a point and shoot or the camera on your phone.  Just get out and take pictures.

If you need inspiration for your own photo project, you might like:

digital-photography-school.com/start-a-personal-photography-project

http://captureyour365.com/

http://content.photojojo.com/tutorials/project-365-take-a-photo-a-day/

Do you plan a 2018 photo project?  What will your project be?  Do you expect to keep the fame form all year or will you change it, for example, making each month slightly different?

Telling your story with social media

Whether you have business or personal stories to share, the best time to reach your audience is when they are active and using the tools.  So many things are posted every hour that a post will quickly get lost in a flood of messages and be missed if people are not active for a long period of time.  Consequently, timing is an important element of social media strategy.

It used to be said that the three most important things in business are Location – Location – Location.  That is not true in the global world of social media and these days it might be said that the most important things are Timing – Timing – Timing.  Below is an interesting graphic with guidelines about when to post in various social media to get the greatest level of engagement.  The source is on the bottom of the graphic.

Share your stories when you can most effectively meet your intended audience.  Of course, these times just offer guidelines and don’t account for different time zones.  You might have to post your message to reach several time zones.  Also, it would make sense to try to asses the validity with your target audience, which might have different usage patterns than the average.

More tomorrow – probably between 1 and 4 pm AST.

 

What do you think of the times indicated?  I was surprised that Twitter traffic fades so early in the afternoon – I would have expected it to be busy late afternoon and early evening.  I seem to get lots of tweets at that time of day.

Do you have favorite times that you have found especially effective for your personal or business messages?  What tips do you have about timing of your social media postings?

10 Resources to help you tell your story

writerquotes_Patterson

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.

1

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

2

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

3

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

7

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/

9

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.

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.

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.

——-

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.

Why tell your stories?

Who is your audience?

There are two possible audiences for your stories – you and others.   The motivations for reaching either of these audiences might vary greatly and probably blend together.  Do you know why you feel compelled to share your story?  The reasons might help you decide what and how you choose to share.

Do you write (or sing or paint or…) primarily for yourself?

Expressing your stories can help you document your experiences, recall pleasant moments, uncover lost memories, release anxiety, put things into perspective, process learning, [re]discover insights, clear your mind, overcome challenges, inspire creativity, drive action or any of a myriad of other emotions and benefits. Whether your story prompts positive or less positive reactions, the process of telling them can help you better understand and appreciate who you are and what makes you one-of-a-kind.

Do you want to share your story with family, friends – or the world at large?

You are unique and your story might help others to better learn about you and maybe even more about themselves.

Your story might:

  • help your children and grandchildren know you better.
  • lead family members to understand more about their personal history and influences.
  • encourage people battling similar challenges or roadblocks that you have met or overcome.
  • inspire new ideas, new approaches or new appreciation.
  • make someone laugh, smile, cry, scream, rage, dance, run, write, share, think …

Why do you tell your stories?

What stories do you want to tell and how will you share them?

Let go for a fresh start

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

The 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?