Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Memoir Project is Like Planting a Colorful Flower Garden-3 Essential Steps!



Let’s assume that you already agree that there is tremendous value in writing your life stories to share with future generations. We know that stories that are not preserved are forever lost. So just for fun, we are going to compare memoir writing to planting a vivid flower garden.

Three similar steps are:

1-Start your flower garden with forethought and planning. What do you wish to plant and where?

Photo by Colleen Djajadiredja
In memoir writing, we also need a logical plan. Without one, many memoir projects will never materialize. Your plan needs two elements:

A-Start by making a memoir list. Jot down any pertinent memories that you may wish to include in your project. These are just short memory bytes rather than lengthy tales at this point. It is just enough of a notation to remind you of the memory. It is not necessary to list the memories in chronological order, as you can write your stories in any order and rearrange them later.

Continuing to add the memory list will be an ongoing process and is your best resource for producing stories about your life.

B-Think about the people for whom you are writing your stories--children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews. Write their names on a piece of paper as a perpetual reminder of the importance of sharing your life experiences with them. Think about what you would like for them to know.

As you write your memoirs, give your readers the details they need to know. You want them to feel as though they are seeing what you saw, hearing what you heard, feeling exactly what you felt. Don’t assume that they already know these details, and keep in mind that future generations very likely will not. Your readers need sensory details, but not so overdone that your story bogs down and loses steam because of their inclusion.

2-Prepare the area for planting. You wouldn’t begin to plant your seeds in an area that had not been properly cleaned, weeded and the soil readied for the seeds to be inserted.

Photo by Colleen Djajadiredja
With a memoir project, it is helpful to clear the path for serious reflection of highlights, pertinent incidents, people and places that made a substantial impact on your life or dramatically influenced your path.

How to properly prepare?

A) Clear out a good location for writing--one where you will be undisturbed and undistracted. A designated area that is free of clutter will be beneficial for allowing the memories to flow, or you may choose to relocate to a library, coffee shop, park, lake, beach  or another favorite location in order to achieve complete focus.


B) Bring a few memory joggers with you such as old photos, diaries, journals, letters or calendars. These will assist you in adding to your memory list and generating more stories.

C) Be determined to allow your memory list to grow. Feed it regularly! One memory leads to many others, so keep your memory list handy for the convenience of including additional entries.

D) Skip perfection at this point in the project. The important goal, at this time, is to capture the memories and write the stories. The process of pruning, polishing, shining the product will be accomplished in the final stages.

3-Grow the seeds into beautiful, blossoming flowers-This takes time, water, nurturing and some applications of Miracle-Gro.

Photo by Colleen Djajadiredja
A memoir project typically does not blossom overnight. It is a work-in-progress that requires baby steps over a period of time; however, just remember that each finalized story brings us that much closer to providing a priceless legacy to pass along to loved ones and future generations. It is a commitment that is renewable daily in order to reach the goal. Just like the spectacular flower garden, it requires time, nurturing, attention and substance in order to flourish.

Are you ready to begin planting your memoir garden today?

A special thank you to Colleen Djajadiredja for permission to use her gorgeous photos for this post!


Mary Anne Benedetto

Author of Eyelash, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, Never Say Perfect, From Italy with Love & Limoncello and Write Your Pet's Life Story in 7 Easy Steps!



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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Where Fitness Meets Faith...and More!




I don’t ordinarily struggle with faith, but fitness is another story! That statement is not meant to appear arrogant, but it is flooded with sincerity. Each year requires additional effort for me to keep the pounds from creeping onto my body and clinging like a silk dress to pantyhose.


Back in my younger days, my weight was never an issue. I could eat chocolate cream pie any time I had the urge. I recall that I marched out of the hospital after delivering my son, and I was gloating about wearing the same tight jeans that I wore pre-pregnancy. Okay, I’ll admit that I was only 20 years old at the time, but it was still remarkable.

Accelerate the calendar to a few decades later, and I find that I have to incorporate exercise into my daily routine or my middle becomes…well, I can only describe it as doughy. It’s sort of like a Crescent roll that was taken out of the oven prematurely.

So my friend, Donna, told me about the Fitbit, and I’m in love with it. Although it’s just a fancy pedometer, it syncs with my computer and cell phone so I can always check to see how many steps I’ve taken for the day. On those frequent occasions when I have spent far too many hours at my desk, engaged in writing or researching tasks, I may fall far short of my intended 10,000 step daily goal. That prompts me to set up my jogging trampoline in the living room or jog in place for a while to make up for a sedentary work day.

I also try to practice the inclusion of more fruits and veggies in my diet and exercise portion control--except when I am at a movie theatre and there is a bag of yummy, warm popcorn within my grasp. Because exercising my body and faith are both extremely important to me, I was especially interested in reading Kimberley J. Payne’s book, Where Fitness Meets Faith.


Filled with her thoughts on fitness and sprinkled with Scripture verses to ponder, this book made me mindful of combining walking for fitness with using that alone time for prayer, praise, thanksgiving and just communicating with God.

Our days and evenings are often so hectic, it is easy to skip carving out daily prayer time. Talking silently to God as we appreciate nature and the great outdoors during an exercise routine is the best idea on the planet!

Kimberley is a former fitness trainer, so she knows how anatomy works. I, on the other hand, know very little beyond the basics about the human body; however, one important factor in my experience is that exercise makes me FEEL better. It not only rewards me psychologically because I know I have done something good for me, but I find the more active I am, I strongly crave nutritionally better foods. It’s a simple fact for me. Perhaps it is the idea that I’ve worked so hard during the exercise, I don’t want to waste it and turn around to grab a glazed doughnut.

If you spend long periods of time sitting at the computer, you will appreciate that Kimberley and her daughter produced an "exercise at your desk" video. Great advice for stretching and working out the neck and shoulder knots when tied to the computer! Check it out at:





This book is about so much more than exercise though. It is about having a goal and making progress, whether it be in our fitness lives or our spiritual walks with God.

Kimberley Payne also writes books for children, and her tag line is “raising the next generation in the faith.” Her most recent release, Adam’s Animals - Fun Facts About God’s Creation, is an activity book in Payne’s Science & Faith Matters series--geared to 6 to 9 year olds.



About the Author

Kimberley is a motivational speaker and an award-winning author and a member of The Word Guild and Inscribe Christian Writer’s Fellowship. Her writing relates raising a family, pursuing a healthy lifestyle and everyday experiences to building a relationship with God. Kimberley, who lives near Peterborough, Ontario, offers practical, guilt-free tips on improving spiritual and physical health.

 
Kimberley Payne

Visit http://www.kimberleypayne.com for more information and to sign up for Kimberley’s newsletter!

Also see http://www.scienceandfaithmatters.wordpress.com for more about her children’s book series.

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Blessings until next time,
Mary Anne Benedetto


Author of Eyelash, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, Never Say Perfect, From Italy with Love & Limoncello and Write Your Pet's Life Story in 7 Easy Steps!