Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Memoir Books and Memory Quilts by Linda Smith

Yesterday, I met with Linda Smith (whose business is also named "Lasting Legacies") to discuss how we can work together to mutually support people creating personal legacies to pass on to future generations. And we talked about ways to avoid confusion in the marketplace about the work we do.

Linda has focused her work on helping people create memoir books and memory quilts. As regular readers of this blog know, my focus has been on ethical and spiritual wills over the past two years. Linda will also help people with ethical wills and provides an excellent article about them on her website.

I'm pleased to have another person locally who is in the business of helping people create their life legacies. I look forward to collaborating with Linda Smith and will refer people to her who want to tell their life story in a personal memoir or create a memory quilt. I love what she says on her business card, "You tell your story. I'll do the work."

You can reach Linda at (541) 505-7376 or email her from her website.
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Friday, March 14, 2008

More Wisdom from Rogue River Journal

Another passage in John Daniel's Rogue River Journal that I connected with (and wanted to post here to share as well as "stay awake" to myself as a journey through the rest of my life):

"Arguing the existence of God has always seemed oddly benighted to me, beside the point, like speculating about the weather while standing in a warm summer rain. The point is here and now. I look out on these trees, this landscape ridged and furrowed by time, and I see not intent but accomplishment, not disarray but order, not insensate matter but spirited meaning. I see such a fullness of being that my heart aches with it. This is the gift, the given world. To accept it, to bear the privilege of being, is to belong to a majesty we can't comprehend. In the end, we can only be grateful."

These seven sentences from John Daniel's "winter alone," his five months of living in a remote cabin on the Rogue River, are a blessing to remember each day of our lives. Thank you, John, for sharing your wisdom from your experience of solitude.
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Feelings of Melancholy (Rogue River Journal)

My bedtime reading over the past month has been John Daniel's Rogue River Journal. "An extraordinary book" says Mary Oliver on the cover. I wholeheartedly agree.

One of the passages in the book has helped me understand a feeling I've had more and more often in recent times -- a feeling that I didn't have a "word" to clearly describe the experience. Here's what John Daniel wrote:

"I wouldn't be surprised if all night writers were melancholics, but not all melancholics are night writers. Thoreau, that quintessential morning person, wrote of melancholy as an indispensable condition: 'There is a certain fertile sadness which I would not avoid, but rather earnestly seek. It is positively joyful to me. It saves my life from being trivial. My life flows with a deeper current, no longer as a shallow and brawling stream ...' I don't have to seek my own sadness, earnestly or otherwise -- it finds me regularly enough, and I bet the same was true of Henry David It goes, it comes, and it is indeed fertile. Depression is barren, denying as it does all feelings other than hopelessness. Joy is unitary, a single intense pitch with small modulations, and unsustainable in any case. Melancholy is a mix of feelings, a melange shaded strongly with sadness but containing happiness too, even glints of joy. It accepts and reflects the wholeness of living even as it laments one's errors and limitations."

Thank you, John, for the gifts your writing has given me and so many others in the world.
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Expressions of Love in Your Ethical Will

I came across a love letter (with a postmark of March 8, 1987) that I wrote 21 years ago to my sweetheart. It concluded with a poem I've decided to include in my ethical will, along with some of my other favorites. The poem by James Haba was titled "The Greeting":

You have been traveling.
I can see it in your eyes -
the unknown roads demanding new belief.
The light of your will in submission
to the pattern bringing us together.

I have been busy waiting,
putting fresh flowers on the table,
filling the lamps with kerosene,
arranging (as well as I could)
everything, so that you might feel
that you had arrived
at the right place
at the right time.

I am so glad that you could come.
And in honor of our being here together
Let us make a scratch on the wall
of the cave.
We could talk.
We could begin with idle chatter.
I'll start.
I'll say, "I love you."

I was touched by "The Greeting" when I first read it and it touches me at an even deeper level today. I wonder how many times we have said "I love you" to each other since I wrote that letter so long ago. But the "number" of times we've said it doesn't really matter. Just that we continue to say "I love you" each day ... and until our last breaths.
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Friday, March 07, 2008

The Legacy Guide: Recommended Book

In their book, The Legacy Guide: Capturing the Facts, Memories, and Meaning of Your Life, co-authors Carol Franco and Kent Lineback offer an excellent process for organizing your life story and gathering information to use in your ethical will.

The essence of their process involves looking at your life's natural stages with an approach they call "facts to memories to meaning". The seven life stages used to look at your past are childhood, adolescence, young adult, adult, middle adult, late adult, and elder. Within each stage, the book offers questions to help you identify the facts of that time of your life; your memories of important places, people, interests, and events; the meanings you ascribe to that time period (defining moments, values -what mattered, loves, learnings and wisdom); and lastly, a "summing up" about that time of your life. The meanings questions, in particular, are superb for gathering information to use for creating your ethical will.

Along with the book, The Legacy Guide website provides helpful tools for using the approach offered by the co-authors. I especially liked the forms they provide for information gathering at each stage. You can download MS Word documents for one or more of the seven life stages and begin writing today! Even though the book contains many, many more questions and suggestions about what to write about, the downloads offer an great way to get started. You may also want to look at my Life Legacy Wiki (and contribute to it) for ideas for your writing process.

Of all the books I've read about creating life legacies, this one can only be described as extraordinary in both its innovative approach and its depth for capturing the facts, memories, and meanings of your life. I highly recommend it (and their website) for writing about your unique life journey (or that of a loved one) to leave for future generations of your family.
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