Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pearl Harbor Day Thoughts

Photo by Sandi Blood
I stood on the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, overwhelmed with emotion and sadness for those who had died there. Like an errant seagull hitting me right between the eyes, I was struck by the realization that my own dad had been there at Hickam Field on December 7, 1941, stationed at Schofield Barracks, and I knew virtually nothing about what he had experienced that day. I thought of at least twenty questions that I would love to ask him, but it was too late. He had passed away about five years prior to my trip to Hawaii. Why had I never taken the time and interest to sit down with him and ask him everything that I would like to know about his life?

This Pearl Harbor event continued to haunt me. How could I educate others about the importance of sharing our life stories with loved ones? Extensive research brought me to Denis Ledoux and what is now known as The Memoir Network (, where I located a valuable program through which I could learn to teach others how to write their memoirs. In spite of a wildly hectic schedule including a full-time job as a lease administrator/accountant for a commercial property management firm, church volunteer, grandmother of three, officer on the board of a professional organization, a writer inching my way through the birth of my first novel, and involvement in countless activities, I didn’t hesitate to sign up for the program. I was brimming with determination to pursue this new passion.

In teaching memoir workshops, I realized that I needed to simplify the process for those who are undertaking a memoir writing project and feel hopelessly overwhelmed. 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time! was published in 2012 and has guided many eager memoir writers in jump-starting and staying motivated to provide a valuable legacy for loved ones. It is a compact publication that is packed with tips, hints, a logical method, almost 150 questions for generating memories or formulating the stories, and sample stories that were written by a few lovely folks who attended my workshops.

Photo by Lesta Sue Hardee
I never cease to emphasize to anyone who will listen that once we are gone, our memoirs are unobtainable unless we have preserved them. Family history and important stories are forever lost. Our future generations need to know who we were, how we lived, what was important to us, what influenced us and how we navigated life from Point A to Point B.

That sightseeing trip to Pearl Harbor literally changed my life. The experience redirected my energy to spending my remaining productive years helping people write the times of their lives! So Pearl Harbor Day is a special reminder to me each year that honors my dad and refuels the passion. 

I'll be back again soon with more writing tidbits!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all,
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!


Monday, December 1, 2014

A Nation Under Judgment

I love that the Introduction section of this book by Richard Capriola begins with a Scripture verse: Psalm 33:12 that says Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. This appropriately sums up the premise of this book, which is described as “a thought-provoking journey empowering readers to decide if we are moving away from God’s perspective.”

Although our Founding Fathers of this country strongly believed in being “one nation under God,” we have become a nation that those Founders would scarcely recognize relative to this principle.

As Christians, we typically believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. 2 Timothy 4:1 tells us: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (NIV). Studying God’s Holy Word gives us a road map--guideposts on how He wants us to live. We can’t choose some of God’s directives and eliminate others.

We know that this world is not our home, but is a temporary residence where we are designed to open our hearts and lives to Christ and serve the Lord to give glory to Him and to further His kingdom. We are commissioned to spread His Word and help those who are in need.

A Nation Under Judgment points out how far our country has strayed from the knowledge of or even any interest in carrying out these goals. To many, they are a totally foreign concept--something of no significance to the modern world. Reading this book reminded me how easy it is for Christians to become complacent, apathetic and completely tolerant of behavior that clearly opposes what God has ordained.

Capriola suggests that God has judged straying nations in the past and certainly has the power, authority and ability to repeat this practice. Does anyone care? Does anyone fear a national punishment from God?

This captivating book walks us through various topics such as hunger, homelessness, marriage, child abuse and several other categories. It provides God’s point of view as stated in the Bible and presents facts, statistics and narrative on where our country currently stands on these issues.

For me, it was an eye opener that shines a revealing spotlight on how greatly we have compromised many Christian beliefs and values. It is as though these standards never actually weighed in as important or significant. The general attitude today is, “It’s all about me and whatever makes me happy. There are no rules. God’s guidelines were for the olden days--the Biblical times and aren’t relevant today.” This is how people justify ignoring God’s guidelines for behavior.

Does God love everyone? Yes. Has He had a change of heart about how we are to behave? No. One either believes that God is the same yesterday, today and forever or they choose not to believe or allow the principles of the Bible to have an impact on their lives.

Richard Capriola raises the very important question of wondering how long God will stand by as our moral standards crumble to unprecedented levels. He quotes Thomas Jefferson as stating, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and His justice will not sleep forever.” Can you imagine what Thomas Jefferson might say today?

Learn more about A Nation Under Judgment at

About the Author
Richard Capriola
Richard Capriola, currently a Texas resident, has been a hospital chaplain, led a church based outreach ministry and served as a mental health counselor at both a regional crisis center and a psychiatric hospital. He completed his undergraduate training at Western Illinois University and holds two masters degrees from the University of Illinois. 

Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas season! Hoping you will take time to remember the true meaning...

See you soon!
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!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Mini-Memoir Starts the Conversation

As senior citizens (wow, do I hate to admit that!) we can easily become set in our stubborn ways, and flexibility can be challenging for us. I don’t mean being able to slowly and gracefully bend down and touch your toes—but more like adaptability. In a life of ever-changing circumstances, we need to find new ways to adapt and conquer!
The Mini-Memoir© was born from my desire to accomplish a potentially difficult task. I was scheduled to speak at a senior center, and the director advised me in advance that several of their seniors were in various stages of dementia and might not even absorb the message that I would be hoping to convey. How could I adapt?
I thought about the sadness of the situation and pondered how I might be able to develop a one page fill-in-the-blank sheet that could be beneficial to anyone for generating some memories. Voila!  With the Mini-Memoir© copies in hand, I was able to march confidently into the senior center and explain  the importance of preserving our stories for future generations and assist those who needed help in completing the forms. Compiling all finished sheets into a file on my computer, I produced a booklet that each senior could take home and show their family members. Not only were they able to share some of their thoughts about their own lives with loved ones, but an added bonus was that now the seniors knew more about each other and discovered a variety of common experiences. It was a win/win!
The Mini-Memoir© is my gift to individuals and families to be able to learn more about each other. While it doesn’t take the place of a full blown memoir project, it is a beginning and provides a glimpse into a loved one’s life. It facilitates pausing to recall some favorite aspects of our journeys, allows  opportunity to share some words of wisdom with future generations and gives family members a basis for discussion. It could be beneficial for holiday gatherings, family reunions, clubs or church groups, assisted living residences, hospice facilities—actually, the possibilities are endless!
Copies are available for printing without charge as a full page sheet from my Web site, I hope that you’ll share it, use it to its fullest potential, and please let me know if it produces a desired result for you. I love to hear stories of how this innovative tool works to bring families or groups closer together!


Name_________________________________________________       Age _____________       Date_____________

Location where you spent your childhood

Location where you have lived the longest   

Favorite city and state where you have lived

Favorite place that you have ever visited

Favorite song     

Favorite book     

Favorite movie   

Favorite television show   

Favorite sport that you have ever played

Favorite sport that you have liked to watch

Favorite activity from the past 

Favorite activity now

Favorite memory 

Happiest moment from the past  

What gives you the greatest joy today?

What was your funniest experience? 

Describe your most spiritual moment?

What words of wisdom would you like to share with future generations?  

Mary Anne Benedetto, Certified Lifewriting Instructor, A Writer’s Presence, LLC     
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(843) 215-4676 or (518) 441-8107         Helping People Write the Times of Their Lives       Mary Anne Benedetto, Author of Eyelash, Never Say Perfect,  7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!,      From Italy with Love & Limoncello,  and Write Your Pet’s Life Story in 7 Easy Steps!

See you again very soon. Keep writing and capturing those family stories!!
Mary Anne