I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you,
and that you will work with these stories from your life . . .
water them with your blood and tears
and your laughter till they bloom,
till you yourself burst into bloom.
~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Telling and Listening, Writing and Reading Stories
We all love stories, especially intriguing stories, especially our stories, especially stories of our loved ones. Older adults who write can engage with their world by exchanging stories and encouraging frail elders or those with little confidence to tell or write their stories.
Here are two of my poems – telling stories from my childhood.
Aging and Creativity
Anne Basting, professor of theatre and creator of programs for people with dementia, was recently awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in Aging. She is using her fellowship funding to take her storymaking programs to communities across America.
Everyone Around You Has A Story The World Needs To Hear — StoryCorps Project, Dave Isay
Judith started her professional life as an actor and dancer in the 1960s, then switched gears to author healthcare books and direct copy for pharmaceutical websites at several different ad agencies. When she was laid off at 65, with one hip replacement done and another coming, she decided to return to the world of dance, but in a different role.
Aging in Community
Read over my poem Picking Grapes with Pepere above and then write about an activity you enjoyed with one of your grandparents and relate that to an activity you enjoy nowadays with young people. For example, I have gone from picking grapes and berries with myFrench-speaking grandparents to picking lingonberries with my Swedish grandchildren at their lakehouse. Across the generations, our fingers and faces turn bright with intergenerational happy juice.
Writing to change the world.
Mary Phipher; New York: Riverhead Books, 2006.
Socially conscious writers want authenticity and transparency
to saturate every page of their work.
They strive to teach readers how to think,
not what to think.
~ Mary Pipher
In line with this quotation, Mary Pipher guides the potential writer to identify what she or he alone can say. Our writing will only inspire action if it comes from our authentic self, our unique voice to be “discovered through personal journaling, regular writing, and other forms of inner work.”
Pipher discusses a list of rules for change agents to engage readers. These include respect; calm, reasoned, accepting tone; finding common ground; emphasizing hope; and timing – developing informed intuition on when to write.
She builds on her background as a psychotherapist:
Therapy and writing have a great deal in common. Both are highly disciplined endeavors, involving long hours in small rooms. Both require asking intelligent questions, excavating for emotional truths, and solving complex problems. Often, the work is ambiguous and success elusive. Wise therapists help clients to think more clearly, feel more deeply, and behave more responsibly. Wise writers often want to do these same things. (p. 85)
She not only provides useful guidance on technical and audience-oriented aspects of writing, but also offers many examples of Calls to Action. The most impressive of these is her essay Mr. USA, where she comments on the sad state of the world with metaphoric language and incisive humour.
Click here for the full book review: Ryan17-Pipher06WritingtoChangeWorld
I bid you adieu