What if you wrote a memoir?

October 8, 2008 at 7:30 pm | Posted in Storytelling | 4 Comments
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Memoirs are sizzling hot in the book world just now, and I’ve been devouring them! Real life stories often have the capacity to inspire, encourage, entertain, amaze, and move us even more dramatically than fiction. In the last few months I’ve read:

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou) – The first 11 calamitous years in the well-known poet/activist’s life.

The Glass Castle (Jeannette Walls) – A news journalist’s growing-up years in the midst of extreme poverty and neglect.

Left to Tell (Immaculee Ilibagiza) – A young Rwandan woman’s survival in the midst of the horrific 1994 genocide in her country.

Beautiful Boy (David Sheff) – A father’s perspective of his son’s battle with meth addiction.

Each of these stories is riveting in its own way . . . and each of us has similarly powerful stories to share. I’ve been musing about what aspect of my life I might address, were I to write a memoir — I think I’d explore my relationship with my father, who passed away 10 years ago.

How about you, what if you wrote a memoir? What season of your life would you describe . . . and/or . . . what memoir have you recently read and enjoyed?

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What will your legacy be? (Part 1)

October 10, 2007 at 2:31 pm | Posted in Legacy | 3 Comments
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My mom recently celebrated her 80th birthday with a backyard get-together for about 50 of her closest friends and family. It was a lot of fun for me, my mom, and step-dad (and, I think, for everyone else) to visit with people from the different seasons of my mother’s life, including her church groups, community volunteer activities, and career in college administration.

Clearly, one of the elements that anchors my mother’s life is relational connection; she still has active friendships with people she’s known for nearly 70 years. Her high value for sustained relationship is a legacy my mom has passed on to me, and it’s had a significant impact on my life choices.

What, then, is the legacy I will pass on to those in my influence? It’s definitely a mixed bag, which I’ll explore further in Part 2 of this legacy series.

I heard two stories today that illustrate very different types of legacies. The first came from a friend whose son is currently stationed in Iraq. This father told me his son is now in the habit of gathering his squad in a circle and asking everyone to hold hands so they can pray together before they leave on patrol. I happen to know this is the kind of courageous faith and leadership that’s been modeled by this young man’s father.

The second story came from another friend whose mother was frighteningly abusive. When my friend was a little girl her mother would sometimes rage uncontrollably at her simply because she disturbed her mother’s concentration. One of the legacies left to my friend was that for many years she felt like a non-person. She’s worked for a long time to develop her sense of wholeness and self-worth, to un-do the power of her mother’s legacy.

We have such a precious opportunity to leave a legacy of emotional health and hope for those we influence. While we can seldom select the legacy we inherit, we can choose a great deal of the legacy we leave to others. What will yours be?

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