Friday, September 19, 2008

Storyteller


For close to two years, from Summer 2006 through Spring of this year, as part of the Successful Aging for Women Program (PWSA) provided by University of Nebraska at Omaha, I taught "Writing Your Life Legacy" to a group of six women, residents of an elder adult complex, whose ages ranged from 68 to 98. These women met with me every other week, filled with enthusiasm and commitment, to create the stories of their lives. Their writing skills evolved, as did their courage and willingness to explore new ways to express themselves in this manner.

The months progressed and we formed a bond with each other, forged from trust and openness. We laughed and cried together. The group became more than a vehicle for them to write their stories. It became a support group of women who had traveled through successes and disappointments. All of them had struggled through the challenges of living on low incomes. They had known the joys and pains of falling in, and out, of love. They were mothers and grandmothers. Some had experienced the sorrow of the death of a child. One was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and was reaching out from her heart to remember her stories before she forgot them. Another was legally blind. Some were divorced and some were widows. Together, we created new memories from the re-creation of their previous memories. I am honored to have known them and to have had the gift of being allowed to see into the richness of their lives.

During this time I was able to see, first hand, how important it is for people to tell their stories and to record them. Our stories are legacies that provide credibility to our existence. Our stories honor our experiences, both positive and challenging, and assist us to remember the beauty of the passage of time in which we live on this planet. Our stories can lead us to retrieving memories of love, joy and tenderness we have tucked away into our hearts and have then forgotten where we left them. Our stories sometimes help us to acknowledge memories of sadness that lurk in our consciousness, evolving into disproportionate shame and anger. When we face these memories as words written upon paper and then read them aloud to others in a nurturing environment, they can sometimes be absolved and released. Our stories, recorded from the notes of our Soul Song, are part of the most significant legacy we leave for our families. They illustrate to them, and generations to come, the depth and complexity of who we, and they, are as individuals.

2 comments:

Cheryl A Finley: said...

Oh Kate, I love this mandala and your message here. The beauty and the beast of our stories. They're so important probably in ways I've not yet comprehended. I'd love to take a class like that with you; and I'd love to be inspired to pour my stories out on paper to leave to my daughter. This is the second time this idea has been brought to me in about a 2 year time. So many things I wanna get done - only so many waking hours. I'll have to make a list, prioritize, and live accordingly.

Thank you for all that you give. You are a generous spirit.
love..
CHeryl

kazumiwannabe said...

Wonderful story and job you did! Love your mandala too, it's beautiful and a great illustration for your words - makes me think of an eye, and seeing inside, the adn, the memory... Very cool!