Take the Time to Share Your Life

There are so many things we can share with one another from our lives and the way we live. It is something we don’t think about. So often we assume that everyone is living like we live. But each of us bring our own customs, traditions, and worldview to the choices we make in life. Each of us have our own stories to tell and our own experiences to share. During this time of physical distancing and quarantine, we could take this opportunity to share our lives with others, especially the next generation.

This week I shared an author interview with my granddaughter in California. She called me by Face-time and I turned the phone toward my computer screen so that she could see and hear the interview sponsored by the Decatur Book Festival. (These events happen every Tuesday, it’s really worth checking out if your are a reader looking for new authors or if you are an author seeking to hone your skills.) While we we chatting about the author’s comments and how we could move forward in our own writing, my granddaughter posed a couple of questions out of left field.

“Do you think I could have grandma’s recipes or cookbooks,” she said. “I don’t know,” I replied, “you’ll have to ask her. She went on to explain that she was trying to make my mom’s bread pudding recipe, but something was missing from the way she did it. She went on to say she wanted all the recipes, and she wanted the special pinches of this and that that her grandmother added to the cookbook recipes to make it her own special concoction. Then she asked about my husbands breakfast recipe. I said, “It’s just potatoes, onions, spinach, and eggs. She laughed. “No! It’s not! He puts in mustard, and pancake syrup, and peanut butter and spices.” Obviously, she had made it with him at some point. This side conversation got me to thinking about the things we could share from our lives and experiences.

My great grandmother was a midwife. She practiced homeopathic medicines long before it was call that. I often wish had written down some of her remedies when I had the chance. One of my first cousins told me about an experience he had when his mother and his grandfather passed. He felt it was supernatural. I really want to get with him to write his story. My mom has been able to recreate herself and her skill set many times over, including now. (Now, she is mass producing masks for college-bound students.) I’d really like to know what motivated her to try so many different things. Many people know my husband as a fine artist, particularly as a painter in oil and acrylics, but he is also a sculptor – a skill that the pandemic has brought back to life. He has signed up with a non-profit to teach art to juveniles in a second chance program. These are just a few examples of things that could be shared from our lives and the lives of others.

Our family has lived communally for many generations. I have learned that this is not typical of all families. We take it for granted that great-grand parents, grandparents, and parents have been there for us, and since they were, we try to be for the next generations. Yet, one of the major differences between us and them is that they shared their stories. We have allowed ourselves to be so bombarded with activities and busyness that we have not taken the time to share our stories. (Especially, before the pandemic.) Why do we do things the way that we do? How did we come to live where we live? Who influenced our decisions, our career, our lifestyle, and hobbies? (Did you have time for hobbies before the pandemic?)

The pandemic has decluttered our lives, so now we have the time to share our experiences and our stories. There are a plethora of ways to share. We can create our own cookbooks. We can record our genealogies and create a family tree. We can sketch family faces or make caricatures of family members. We can write a story explaining how we came to our faith or how we reached our political views. We could can our favorite fruits and vegetables and distribute them as gifts. We could build a memorial bench to place in the family garden or flower bed. We could compile photos of the “good ole days” and label them with the date, the event, and the people present in the photo. We could interview the oldest person in our family, our church, or our special interest group and share that story with everyone.

There is probably an inexhaustible list of things we could do to share a part of ourselves with others. This is not just a plan to keep busy; it’s a way to pass on a legacy. It’s a way to share the things that really matter to us. My husband asked my other granddaughter what would she put on his tombstone when he died. (I know it’s a morbid question; you’d have to see their relationship in action to understand.) She thought for a few moments and then she said, “It was nice knowing you!” I’m convinced that this epitaph would be very appropriate because he has shared so much of himself with her that she can really say she knows him. Now is the time when we can really help someone to fully know us before we are gone or before we resume our busy, cluttered lifestyles in the new normal.

The person from the Decatur Book Festival that was doing the interview I mentioned early asked the author several questions posed by the audience: “What would you say influenced you to become a writer? How do you balance this passion with your work as a doctor? Were there relationships in your life that help you craft your characters? What appeals to you about the historical time you wrote about (time around the Haitian earthquake)? Who, if anyone, did you pattern your life as a writer after? If you could talk about any one thing that we haven’t asked you about, what do you want everyone to know about you or your book?

Here’s a question for you? What is the one thing you would share with your family and friends if given the opportunity? If something came to mind, I encourage you to make a way to share it. Just as the answers to the questions posed by the interviewer were important to us, an audience of strangers, your story will be important to others. I’d love to hear some of your ideas, no doubt so would the people who love you. Take the time to share your life.

Be safe! Stay well!

This is the author and book that was featured in the interview. “Stunning. … Family is at the core of Remembrance, the breathtaking debut novel by Rita Woods.” — The Boston Globe. This breakout historical debut with modern resonance is perfect for the many fans of The Underground Railroad and Orphan Train. Amazon.com
Dad Share Your Life With Me
Mom, Share Your Life With Me

Available at Amazon.com

Silencing the Power of Stress

“Stress is not a silent killer, if you don’t believe me listen to your self-talk.” Several weeks ago I posted this phrase on my personal Facebook page, and I’ve been thinking about it this week. Many medical experts agree, stress will kill you. It causes insomnia, high blood pressure, irritability, digestive issues, and more, depending on the level and intensity of the stress. It also can kill your will to live your best life by casting shadows of doubt and despair over your goals, your relationships, and your creativity.

Stress seems to be quite a dangerous influence over our lives, but is that partly because we give stress more power with negative self-talk? That’s the thing I’ve been thinking about as I look for ways to control my own stress levels. In the same way that negative people can suck the life out of you with their constant diatribe of “what if’s,” and “that will never work,” and the ten thousand bad things that happened when someone they don’t even know tried that. Our own self-talk can have the same effect.

How many times have you said to yourself, “how could I have been so stupid? Or “look at the mess I’ve got myself into!” Or worst yet, “I’m never going to get out of this mess,” followed by a million things that could go wrong. The worry that comes with stress builds an anxiety for the unknown future that’s staggering. Our imagination seems to take that ball and run away with it. If you are like me, you discover that none of the “what if’s” ever really happen. Of course, this is after weeks of sleepless nights. Okay enough of the downside. I discovered one way to turn my stinking thinking around that I would like to share. (Actually it’s an additional way because everything I’ve written before helps too!) It’s called a Gratitude Journal.

A Gratitude Journal forces you to look at and think about all the good things that are happening in your life. This is an easy journal. You don’t write paragraphs; you make lists. For example, if you are feeling sad, try making a list of 25 to 50 things (actual things) that make you happy. Don’t try to find big, extravagant things, just the simple things like playing with your dog, smooching with your boo, a cup of hot chocolate – if it makes you smile it goes on the list.

Another way the Gratitude Journal can change your self-talk and negative thoughts is by making a list of the things you are grateful for. If your life is anything like mine, you have lots of the things to be thankful for that you don’t really take the time to think about. (Partly because you’ve moved some of those things to your bucket list to think about later.) For example: looking at the sky in various stages of light and darkness fills my bucket, I’m really thankful for house with skylights. I’m really thankful for a dog that doesn’t chew on things and doesn’t bark a lot. (I had a dachshund once that literally chewed the baseboard off the wall.) I’m so very thankful for a husband who let’s me be me and loves me.

The more bogged down in stressful thoughts you are, the longer your list should be. Try it! 50 things you are thankful for right now. Then you can take your Gratitude Journal up a notch by adding some pictures (photographs or magazine cut outs). You could also add quotes, perhaps something nice that you heard or read, or maybe something a loved one said to you.

Your Gratitude Journal is a great exercise just before bedtime. It moves your mind to a more joyful place which will help you rest and sleep. We all know that stressful thoughts love to show up when we lay our heard on the pillow. Its really important to replace those thoughts with positive ones and shut the negative down.

Last thing – add a screen shot of one of your Gratitude Journal pages to your phone, tablet, or computer wallpaper as a reminder that everything in your life isn’t difficult. Most of us have a lot more going on that’s good in our lives than bad, but we’re bent toward focusing on the problems. It’s time to focus on the pleasure. Let me know what you think and of keeping a Gratitude Journal. I’d love to know if it helps to make a positive difference in your life.

Hijacked by Your Brain: How to Free Yourself When Stress Takes Over
Good Days Start With Gratitude: A 52 Week Guide To Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude: Gratitude Journal https://amzn.to/36UrTjH