A STORY OF MOTHERHOOD ON MOTHERS DAY

Happy Mother’s Day to all those women who have beautiful children prancing around the planet.  May you have a beautiful soulful day. I have an app on my phone called Story Corps.  I downloaded it ages ago.  It is an app that helps you document every day life.  It is an app that documents oral […]

AN ORDINARY LIFE: DOCUMENTED

The other day I was driving in the car and on Radio National an interview came on that really peaked my interest: Elizabeth Gilbert was being interviewed live at the Perth Writers Festival (you can listen to the podcast here). In the interview, where she was discussing her book, The Signature of All Things, she […]

Tell Your Story #2 {Where have you lived?}

Where have you lived

Number 2 in our Tell Your Story series.  Yay!

Today we are going to look at where we have lived.

Where we have been very much shapes where we are, and indeed who we are, today and I find that the houses we have lived in elicit immediate memories of days gone by.

I have mentioned this before:  I have lived in 3 countries and 25 houses in my 46 years of life.  That is one house for just under two years of life.  It’s a hefty thing to imagine really, not living in any one place for very long.  As I get older, I am sad that I have moved around so much.  Most of it is through no fault of my own – as children our parents moved a lot and as an adult circumstances or jobs created our rolling stone lifestyle.  But the reality is the rolling stone gathers no moss and I do lament not having a history, a community, a tribe.  A sense of belonging is created when you get to hang around in one place for a length of time, and I am sad I have missed out on that.

On the other hand, I have friends who have never ventured even interstate and envy the travelling that I have done.  Life is what it is.  It happens as it happens and through that process it shapes us.  It shapes our story.

So, here is a little interactive exercise for you to visually tell your housing story.

You may have heard of Google Earth (you can download it here).

Using Google Earth, you can look for every house that you have lived in.  Now, I have only lived in English speaking, westernised countries.  I have not tested it on countries that may have really remote areas.  I would suggest you just plug in that address and see what comes up.  Whilst I remember all 25 houses, I don’t remember all the addresses.  I am sorry for that because I think that it would be awesome to see all the houses I have lived in, in my lifetime.

Once you have found the address, get the street view.  {You can find a Google Earth tutorial here on how to do this}.  Once you have the street view of the property staring at you, take a screen capture (Ctrl-Prt Sc on Windows).  Pop the image to your desktop and save it.  It will be a full screen dump.  Don’t worry, we will crop it later.

Once you have saved all the properties you want, we are going to move onto our next step.

I used Picmonkey for this {you can find that here}, but you are at liberty to use any graphic design software you like, e.g. photoshop.  I opened Picmonkey and chose Collage.  I then created a Collage of all my houses.  I then saved the image and then selected Edit.  This then allowed me to put text on my images.

The end result is this:

Some homesPretty cool, hey?  I would also pop the address onto each image.

Now, print this off and put it into your folder that we discussed last week (or save it to your online folder).  Over coming weeks, I will write a few memories about the houses that we lived in and file it in my folder.  I encourage you to do the same.  That way we build up a story of the movement of our life.

I hope you have enjoyed this and please do send me photos of your properties.  I would love to see them.  Either put them in the comments below, or on my facebook page.

Happy life-story telling,

SHW Signature

 

 

Tell Your Story #1 {5 Things I have learned in life}

So, today is the day we kick off with “Tell Your Story 101”.

Before we get into it, let’s ponder the question of why we NEED to tell our stories.  If you are anything like me, you question if your story is worth telling.  I would counter that with this:

Your story is absolutely worth telling and more than that, there is someone somewhere, be it your children, your spouse, your family, or even a perfect stranger that NEEDS to hear your story. You are an amazing, unique individual with a unique perspective on life.  It is your duty to tell it.

Secondly, we all feel the need to connect.  We yearn for significance and we want our lives to have had meaning.  And we want to be remembered.  Telling your story, in whatever format suits you, ensures that your story, the essence of you, continues long after you are gone.

You may question why this is even important.  Again I would counter with this:

Imagine Anne Frank had not written about her life.  A simple 15 year old girl who was eventually taken by the Nazis and died would have just remained a statistic, one of the estimated 6 million who died in what must be considered as the darkest time in humanity.  Instead, we have Anne’s words, her legacy, to remind us that despite all the evil that us humans are capable of committing, there is always beauty to counterbalance it.

I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.

I imagine that someone, somewhere whilst going through some hardship of some kind would have found great solace in this quote.  Here was Anne, having to hide from the Nazi’s, embroiled in a time when life seemed, and indeed was, hopeless, yet she managed to find light in her day.  It is only one sentence, written 70-odd years ago by a 15 year old, yet it remains a diary of hope and history.

This is why I believe our stories are so important.  REALLY important.  Yours, mine, everyone’s.

So, let’s begin.

I am going to tell you how I do this.  Life is busy, frantic and is becoming more so.  It is important to make it as easy as possible.  I love to write, but finding the time to keep a journal or diary is difficult for me, not least because I love the sound of my own (writing) voice and therefore can write for pages.

First of all, we are going to get a lever arch file and fill it with page protectors.  I opt for this route as opposed to online record keeping as I am a tangible kind of person.  I still prefer to hand write, post actual letters and read actual books.  It also means I can stick in actual things that mean something to me (like say, an autumn leaf that I absolutely love).  However, if you prefer to work online, that is also fine.  It is YOUR story.  It has to have meaning to you.

I am currently writing a book on my life.  It is, sort of, chronological.  I am not going to cover this here.  Each week we will be tackling a subject, building a dossier, in bite size bits to create that which is the essence of you.  Imagine this dossier is a time capsule of your life inside of which contains snippets of you and your story.  Much more fun and interesting, no?

To start us off, I have included for you to download what I call The Skeleton of Me.  It is a one page sheet that contains the basic information of you.  It’s a simple form and a bit boring to fill out, but quite important.  It is your starting point.  You can download this here.  In the coming weeks, we will be building on this information.

Once you have done that, we are going to move onto our first exercise.

I would like you to write down 5 things you have learned in your life.  These can be whatever you are compelled to write at this moment.  Please don’t feel compelled to write anything life shattering or profound.  Just write whatever comes to you.  Don’t forget to date the document.  Once you have written it, pop it into your lever arch file (or online file if that is what you are doing).  Remember it isn’t a definitive list.  We’ve all learned more than five things, feel free to repeat the exercise whenever you want.

Here is my list:

5 Things I have learned in life:

  1. I have learned that life is an ever changing state of being.  Nothing ever stays the same.  Ever.  This is a good thing.  It means that when life gets really difficult, it will pass.  At some point it will pass.  Of course, this also means that the good stuff doesn’t last forever, but that is okay too.  More good stuff is coming around the corner.
  2. I have learned that kindness and compassion are the only things that really matter in life. It is free, and yet the rewards are innumerable.
  3. I have learned that when it comes down to it, all we really want is to feel loved, feel connection and to be somehow remembered.  To have these things we need to love, connect and remember.  No man is an island.  Reach out.  It’s worth it.
  4. I have learned that motherhood is by far the most wonderful and most challenging thing that I have ever encountered and that it’s perfectly okay to find it challenging.  As long as you love your children all will be okay.
  5. I have learned that despite what the media tells us, there is no such thing as perfection.  It is a fabricated construct aimed at making us feel less than we are in order to encourage us to spend money to make us feel better, and closer to said fabricated perfection.  It is an economic paradigm.  Break free from this.  Let us banish the notion of perfection.  You are amazing JUST AS YOU ARE.  Believe me.

And there you have it.  Our first exercise in the telling of our story.  How did you go?  Do let me know.  And feel free to share your 5 lessons, if you feel you want to, either through the comments below or on twitter, facebook or instagram.

Next week we will be working on where we have lived throughout our lives in a fun and interactive way.

Until next time,

SHW Signature

Then, Now and Beyond {Are you telling YOUR story?}

Tell Your Story

I have this belief.  It is a belief that informs and underpins pretty much everything I do.  It goes something like this:

When I imagine Earth, I imagine looking down at Her and seeing a massive patchwork quilt that covers Her.  Each patch on this quilt represents a person.  Not just a person, but their story too.  If a patch is missing then the quilt is incomplete.  I imagine that we are all connected to each other through the thread that holds this quilt together.  No patch is better or more important than the other.  In order for the quilt to succeed, to survive,to thrive, each patch needs to be there and, indeed, has a right to be there.

It is true that some patches are perhaps a bit more old, faded and frayed, whilst others are shiny and new and full of bling. It doesn’t matter, each contributes to the beauty that is the overall quilt and the strength of that quilt is dependent on each piece being there.

What makes the quilt even more spectacular are the stories contained within each patch.  It is my firm belief that in order for the story of humanity to continue these stories need to be told, need to be passed down.  History is important.  It is how we as a species learn, to develop, to grow.  It is also our route to feeling connected, from where we gain our sense of self, both individually and as a whole.

Each patch is important, each story is important.

What is your story?  Are you telling it, documenting it in some way?  Is it too hard? Is your life too busy? I understand.  Do you feel you don’t have a story to tell?  I am here to tell you, my friend, that no matter how boring, how awful or how unremarkable you feel your life is, your story is important, to someone, and to humanity.  Without your story, we are incomplete.  You matter, as does your story, and I am determined to help you realise that.

When my mom passed away, it came as a shock to realise that I didn’t have anything of her life documented.  There were a few photos in a box, a few recipe books she had written in and a china collection, but that was about it.  Her story, her life, her legacy had largely gone.  Of course, I have my memories of her, but the essence of her will almost certainly be lost to my children and grandchildren.  I hated the idea of this.  I felt a massive hole.  We all want to connect, to feel significant in an ever increasing, noisy world.  We don’t want to be forgotten when we are gone.

I am going to start a series on how to tell your story.  I hope that you will play along.  Each week, or maybe more often, I will be posting some way for you to document your story.  It may be a set of short questions for you to answer, perhaps a podcast to create, a simple scrapbook page to do.  Don’t worry, they will be super quick and super easy and mostly free (and who doesn’t love free in this day and age?), but with each week, you will be building and creating your story, your legacy.

It is my hope that through this process you will discover what an amazing person you are, if you don’t know that already, and that you will know that your story is just important as every other story on this patchwork quilt we call humanity.  You count my friend, and I want you to know that.

Tomorrow, I am going to post the first in the series.  Stay tuned.

From my heart to yours,

SHW Signature