When I look back at 2015 I am amazed! Who knew? So, what happened in 2015 exactly?
In my personal history work-life there were two big changes. This summer I changed the name of my business from “Legacy Preserves” to “Stories To Tell," because it's not about jam; it’s about stories. Then in September…I got an office! I finally moved my operation out of the house in Hope and into a roomy office in Rockport above some very tempting gourmet food shops. I’ve got all the usual office stuff, plus a kitchen table and few colorful yard sale chairs for happy gatherings with clients. A 1942 RCA radio welcomes guests at the door. I’ve adorned the walls with photos of my ancestors and great quotes like “The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.” – Brandon Sanderson. It’s good to have a place to come to and get down to story work.
I decided to make a list of all the people I taught or helped to save a story this year. There are over 100 people and 8 organizations on that list! Holy Moly! Wow. That makes me feel really good. I heard many incredibly powerful stories this year. Grandmothers, history buffs, and even Hemmingway made an appearance. I was honored to record the memories of a man who wanted to save his personal stories for his kids before his cancer took over. Meanwhile, the art of interviewing has been passed on to a new generation; last spring I taught the 5th graders in Tenant’s Harbor about oral history interviewing and audio recording techniques. In turn, they taught me a few things about what it means to really listen. I was both entertained and humbled as I worked with Alton Lane, an ex-convict and nonviolent communication teacher, on his memoir, Only Human: My Journey From Convict to Mentor. You can look for that on bookshelves and Amazon hopefully in late 2016. Most recently, I won a modest crowd-funded grant via the Steel House Supper to start recording oral histories about Rockland’s working waterfront. And so, the storytelling continues.
2015 was also a good year for my personal life too. I made the best of all that snow last winter by building a snow cave with friends. In response to the earthquake tragedies in Nepal I helped to fundraise over $11,000 last May with a project I called Eat for Nepal. This summer I took a trip to Colorado to see two of my dear friends get married in the mountains. AND I accomplished a bucket-list goal and hiked across the treacherous Knife’s Edge of Katahdin, the mountain at the northern end of the famous Appalachian Trail.
I made lots of great memories, and I even made time to journal about many of them so that I'll have plenty of good memoir material. Plus, I got mom to sit for more oral history interviews and I can put her stories together into a book.
2016 looks like a great year ahead. First up, I have book projects and audio memoirs for clients ready to start rolling. Then, I’ve got some learning to do! I’ll be checking in online for a graduate course about the history of Maine and her Canadian border neighbors. Then I’m hoping to sign up for a crash course in film this summer in Boston. I’ll be collecting oral histories for the Rockland Historical Society throughout the year. A couple of local schools have expressed interest in bringing me in to train students to conduct and record oral history interviews. And I’ll soon be offering free sample memoir sessions in my office in Rockport to people interested in working with me on a memoir or family history project. On my New Year's list of resolutions are two big story projects of my own to accomplish this 2016. Check back in with me next December to see if I did it all!
How about you? Is 2016 going to be the year you finally make that memoir or family history project happen? Do you have a story you just really want to get down on paper? Is there a parent or grandparent in your life? I know they've got a lifetime of stories to save. Have you always wanted to turn your life story into a book so your grandkids will know just how amazing/difficult/adventurous/different/cool life was when you were growing up? Make 2016 the year of your story. (Psst. I can help. Find out how and contact me.)
What a year! Thank you for being a part of it! I am blessed by your presence in my life, and by how much I’ve learned from your stories. I am almost sad to see 2015 end. But I can tell it is going to be an exciting year ahead. 2016, here we come!
Much love & cheer,