A new tactic

Sometimes you have to move on

For many years, I have wanted to restore an old trunk.  Several years ago, I picked up one that had be thrown out with the trash.  It was in decent shape and I took it home with the best of intentions to either restore it to a measure of its former glory or create something new and creative with it.  I was sure if I couldn’t find a space and use for it in my home, I could sell it and at least recoup costs – all while learning some new skills.

I didn’t have time or space for that project where we living at the time but we were in the processes of packing for a new home with a planned workshop.  The trunk went into our project pile.  Where it sat.  It was moved several times when we relocated, needed space, even when we had a flooded basement. And still it sat and sat.

I purchased some supplies including a suitable paper liner for the top tray.  I did some research on best strategies.  I even looked at ways and places for selling.

But I had reasons (excuses) that I couldn’t get to it – no room in the shop for the project, lacking the proper tools, not confident about where to start.  And all the while it almost taunted me as an unfinished project that was not progressing.

Last Fall, I decided that I had been keeping this around taking up space for too long.  It was time to let it go and move on to other things.  Two factors that sealed this decision: 

  1. Other projects took priority because they were more interesting or current
  2. I didn’t have an connection or history to that particular trunk and it occurred to me that this was neither my story nor something that I need.

Finally making that decision allowed me to set this aside, albeit with some lingering resistance.  Doing so would give me more space to work on other projects, tell other stories.  I still have an interest in this project  but when and if I decide in the future to finally tackle my goal for a trunk restore, I am sure that I can find another one.

I considered trying to sell as-is but that would have taken time and didn’t want to reradd to my list or have it continue taking up space.  So, I emptied out and took it out to the road on Curbside Give Away Weekend, when people put out furniture, equpiment, toys and more out for free pick-up.  Some time during the weekend, it was taken away to a new home for someone else to use or restore. 

 

Magna Carta as a stitching collaboration

This morning, I received my weekly Inspirations: All Stitched Up newsletter  in my mailbox.  (Issue 222, FEB 21, 2020).  Reading this is always a welcome way to start my day with creative ideas.  If you do – or admire – hand work, you can sign-up for this beautiful newsletter at Inspirations Studios.  If you are so inclined, you can also catch up on the spectacular work in past issues.  Be warned:  that is a exercise almost guaranteed to take you off on a journey of exploration that might well steal hours from your day.  Happily, it is oh, so worth it.

An article that really connected with me this morning was the
story The Magna Carta Reimagined by Nancy Williams.

Ms. Williams described a large piece currently on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Sydney, Australia.  It is a gigantic work of the Magna Carta: An Embroidery created by British artist Cornelia Parker for the 800th Anniversary celebration of the signing of the document in 1215.  In honour of this show, the MCA has posted a conversation with Cornelia Parker and MCA Chief Curator, Rachal Kent.   Ms. Parker describes the

For my piece Magna Carta (An Embroidery) (2015), I took an image of the Wikipedia entry of the Magna Carta on its 800th birthday and had it printed onto fabric. The fabric was 15 metres long by 1.5 metres wide – and was cut into around 50 strips so that all the words were embroidered by many contributors. That’s what I like about Wikipedia; it’s made by hundreds of
people imparting their little bit of knowledge, rather than the definition being written by one authority figure. I liked the idea of multiple authors embroidering the definition of the Magna Carta, from prisoners to judiciary to
lords to MPs to well-known personalities and infamous whistle blowers, like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, who both embroidered for me.

(read more of Cornelia Parker in conversation with Rachel Kent )

This short video gives you some additional insight into the planning, motivation and process of creating a piece of this scope.

If the video doesn’t display, try this link Magna Carta (an Embroidery) on daily motion 

I find this project really exciting in its success at bringing many different people together on one creative expression.  It is especially moving in its success to allow space and encourage individual touches and variations.  It incorporates accidents, stains, errors and variety. Participating embroiderers range from beginners to established professionals and educators and the range of skill is reflected and embraced in the work.

I love that this piece also reflects changes that have taken recording and reporting from a limited few people of means and inherited privilege to a project such as this that reflects people of a wide range of experiences and backgrounds.

Have you taken part in a collaborative work? What was the result?  Did the experience impact your process or style?   Share your experiences, or your thoughts on Magna Carta: An Embroidery in the comments.

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 mid 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 always said we didn’t need to get him a new one each year but, of course, nobody  listened.  He would have been disappointed if we had.  He most cherished cards with a thoughtful note and he relished revisiting old wishes.  On the other hand, he was amused by cards being reused with a new message added – because he appreciated the practical approach.

As my siblings and I grew, we moved away for school or work and were separated by distance.  But those of us who were near, always gathered for Dad’s 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.

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?

Welcome to [the new] Keep The Stories

WELCOME

Welcome to my new – or more accurately new again – blog where I plan to challenge you to keep and share your stories while simplifying life by reducing the amount of stuff.

I originally started this blog a few years ago and was generating content regularly for almost two years when other projects took priority and this was put on the back burner. I continued to integrate the core ideas of Keep the Stories with other projects, always with the thought of turning this idea into a more vibrant entity.  I recently decided that it was time to build on this foundation and get back to this idea that has continued to be a passion.

It is time to take action.

To begin, I have cleared the previous content.   Some of the posts are no longer relevant to my goals for this site.   Others will be archived or used in a different context.  Still others will be revisited, revived and republished with new content.

I’m looking forward to new adventures and learning and I hope you will join me on the journey.

 

Reusing and organizing

Organizing and Reclaiming

Well, despite my best intentions, another long delay between posts here.  I’ve not been very successful in my resolve to stop waiting for a perfect topic or direction – or something with some jaw-dropping insight.

Today, back to the my original goal of getting rid of some stuff.  I have decided it is time to par down on my t-shirt collection, particularly since I rarely wear t-shirts except when I am doing some work in the workshop or around the house.  This has not stopped me from collecting and saving enough of them to overflow the drawers and to fill too large containers in my off-season attic storage.  Needless to say, I’m not going to address that all in one sitting  This weekend, I plan to switch the winter and summer clothes and that is always a good time to pare down and regroup.  In prep for that effort, I thought this would be time to tackle the 3-drawers that are stuffed to overflowing in the guest room.

before_drawer1overfilled drawers

One of the reasons that I keep holding on to the accumulated T-Shirts is that most were collected at an event or for an occasion. Most stand as testament to some affiliation or achievement.  As such, it can be hard to part with them and when I have thought of donating them, I think that they wouldn’t really have meaning for anyone not connected to the same event.  As I was sorting through, however, I realized that some still held strong positive memories but many, not so much.  I dedicated an hour to these three drawers, set an alarm, and determined to work quickly (not my forte) and get a start on the reduction.

Here are the outcomes:

Repurposed materials

I decided to cut the logos/images off the T-Shirts that were valuable memories but no longer worn.  I’ll collect them up and make something of them in the future.  Perhaps a quilt or wall hanging.  In the meantime, I drastically reduce the space required AND still have the reminder of the associated event.  I cut the rest of the shirts into strips for rags for the workshop and garden shed, where they will be put to good use.  An unexpected bonus of this approach is that some of the well worn shirts would not last

much longer and this way the most important part of the story is preserved.  I turned this stack of shirts…

before_TShirts1

 

…. to this collection of images and pile of rags.

after_material-rags

 

Improved Organization

I reduced the number of shirts in the drawers dramatically, leaving only ones that I continue to wear when I exercise or do work around the house or garden.

after_tshirtdrawer1

Donations

I put clothes that no longer fit or suit, as well as a number of T-shirts that I realized didn’t really have an emotional attachment but are still in good shape – in a bag to donate  While I was at it, I collected some items already set aside for that purpose and bagged those up too.

Result – 1 1/2 garbage bags of clothes and a bag of bed clothes taken out to the car to drop at Value Village on my next trip to the city.

Time well spent

In just over an hour, I cleared some space in the drawers for the inevitable seasonal clothing change later in the week.   Maybe I’ll put some unused T-Shirts back in rotation – or I might even take the plunge and cut some up or donate them rather than just putting them back in storage.

What do you do with all those T-Shirts from runs, school events or promotional activities?  Do you wear them?  Use them for night shirts? Donate them?  Discard them?  Share any suggestions in the comments.

Back with new stories

It has been awhile (again). I have been busy with various projects and learning and not keeping up with this blog. Once more caught up in finding a unique or particularly creative and inspirational direction.  perhaps a losing battle and most definitely a recipe for writer`s block.  so, leaving that goal behind to see what happens and what direction evolves –  and whether anyone cares.

Stay tuned.  You know, assuming you got tuned in the first place.

Plans

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.

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!