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What incredible fun to have my story of coming to Sedona performed by this wonderful group. It was a great evening of laughter and tears, and much thanks to Shaeri and Gary for taking the parts of Roy and me. Awesome!Click here to leave a comment
“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ~Toni MorrisonClick here to leave a comment
My new class is ready to go! If you live in the Sedona, AZ area, register with OLLI for the April 11th start-date.
|Remember the times of your life with scrap book|
|Written by Lu Stitt|
|Friday, 25 March 2011 00:00|
Tom Hood/Larson Newspapers
Preserving memories is something everyone wants to do — to keep those bits and pieces of a life well lived preserved for coming generations. If that is true, then why do most of us just toss the items in a box and stick it under the bed or in the back of the closet? “Oftentimes, people just don’t know how best to put those items together in some type of organization,” Sunny Schlenger said. “There are many ways to create your personal legacy.”
Schlenger teaches a class through Yavapai College’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute to help people create and preserve their life story using the memorabilia, photographs and writings they’ve kept piled together in a box. The first step, she said, is organizing.
“It doesn’t have to be done all at once. You can even start with one photograph and write a description about it and why it is important to you,” Schlenger said.
Schlenger has written two books on organization. After her parents died, she inherited a large number of pictures and collected items from several years of saving.
“Some [organizing skills] I knew and some I didn’t. I started scrapbooking about the same time and found I had to find things first, then organize them,” Schlenger said opening the book she made. “I decided I wouldn’t just pass along a box of unmarked ‘stuff’ to my kids.”
From that decided statement, Schlenger came up with an idea of how to put her life into a book, then the idea for a class began to surface to help others do the same.
“In my class you take one photograph and write about it, focusing on the positive. You ask questions of why and how this item is important. Include what memories and feelings are associated with the photograph and why. If we take it a step further, we can create pages from an era, like the 1960s or one year,” Schlenger said.
Other ideas for organization are by people, family or events. It can be very basic, like a photograph and information about the people pictured. This is done most often with very old photographs of an ancestor. Creating a personal legacy is not just about remembering the past. It’s paying attention to the present and passing the stories along.
“I want my kids to know what life was like for me on March 8, 2011. You can go from very general, like who is my family, to what I did yesterday,” Schlenger said.
She starts by asking the question, “If you were gone tomorrow, what would you want others to know about you and the life you lived?” She said it is like an African proverb she likes to quote: “When an elder dies, it is as if an entire library burned down.”
What Schlenger and the people in the class will do is keep it simple and specific to the individual. Every person’s life is different, even if the experiences are similar. Many people crossing the American plains and prairies in the 1800s to find a better life in the West bore some of the same hardships, but the journals they wrote were all different.
“History books were written from people’s writings, how they saw what was happening. We all have a history that is worth telling. It helps us to see our purpose in life — why we are here,” Schlenger said. “It also helps us revisit those most treasured moments of our lives.”
Creating a personal legacy can be like a treasure hunt to discover those bits and pieces, and why they have been kept as cherished possessions.
“It helps connect us to ourselves and to each other. You can approach this from any angle,” Schlenger said as she opened several books on a table to demonstrate the different approaches she has used with her own legacy project.
“It’s a lifelong process you can start at any age.”
She said virtually everyone who comes to the class walks in the door with a tub full of photographs and collected items, and wants to organize them somehow. “Where should I put this item?” is a big question for most people, Schlenger said.
“I want to help get people where they are and bring them into the perspective of their life as a story. I encourage people to write about their lives and having an item to write about helps,” she said. “I think this is part of my mission, to help people record their own lives.”
The class is also designed to help people understand what is important in their life, what is worth keeping, and how, with a deep breath, to blow the rest away.
“People need to record their lives, and not be just a name on a family tree or three paragraphs in a newspaper obituary. It’s a way to reclaim your life and have something to pass along,” Schlenger said.
Schlenger is the author of “How to Be Organized in Spite of Yourself” and “Organizing for the Spirit.” She received a bachelor’s degree in social and behavioral sciences from Johns Hopkins University and a master’s in counseling from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Schlenger has lived in the Village of Oak Creek since 2007.
Creating Your Personal Legacy will be taught for five weeks beginning Monday, April 11, from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in Room 39 of Yavapai College Sedona Campus, 4215 Arts Village Drive in West Sedona. For more information, call 649-4266.
Saw a good one tonight through the Sedona Film Festival. “Cyrus” is a wonderfully-written psychological comedy about a woman caught between her over-possessive son and her new boyfriend. It should open nation-wide in about a week.
Make sure you catch it!Click here to leave a comment
I am pleased to say that I have joined the iPinion.me Syndicate as a contributing writer. “The iPinion Syndicate is a collective of accomplished and award-winning writers who have come together to share their disparate thoughts, beliefs, humor, world-views, rants, diatribes, useless banter, substanitive insights, ideological b.s., and perhaps sometimes odd outlooks on life…”
Please check out the website and join the Facebook iPinion page!
See www.ipinion.meClick here to leave a comment
In honor of my late mother-in-law’s birthday today, and the 7th anniversary of my dad’s passing, I’d like to share this short final chapter from Organizing for The Spirit:
A man of ritual, routine, and regularity, my father opened my biweekly email newsletters at precisely 11:00 on Saturday mornings. It didn’t matter that he had been up since 5:00 or that I usually sent them before 10:00; his time to check his mail was 11:00. Period.
My dad passed away suddenly on May 7, 2003. Fortunately, I was with him, in town to help my folks out after my mother’s mild stroke three weeks previous. Even though he had survived a massive heart attack twenty-two years before and four subsequent cardiac arrests, it came as a shock that it was finally his time to go.
As I contemplated writing my next newsletter, I didn’t know how to deal with the fact that my father wouldn’t be sitting at his computer, ready to read it, ever again. But a wise friend told me to write it anyway, because my dad would still receive it – he would simply be at another address.
My dad was a complex and stubborn man, and that’s probably what kept him alive for so many extra years. He insisted on things being done his way, and only his way, but after his attack he left an impressive legacy of public service through his twenty-two years of volunteer work for many organizations.
The night before the funeral, I lay awake, wondering what exactly I could contribute for my part of the eulogy. My husband told me not to worry, that somehow my dad would “tell” me what to say. The next morning, my mother came to me with an envelope that she had taken from the back of her desk drawer. It read, “To Be Opened Upon My Demise” and was signed by my father. “I knew this was there,” she told me, “but I have no idea when he wrote it.” We opened the envelope, which contained one sheet of paper, with but a single sentence written on it, summing up what he believed to be the purpose of his life.
As my father demonstrated to me, “Organizing for the Spirit” means to become who you really are – to discover what makes you unique and personally powerful so that you can experience the joy of living and sharing your gifts with others. Organizing for the Spirit is a lifelong process of discovery and self-development, and the ultimate personal adventure. As my dad wrote in his final message: “To leave the world a bit better – to know that a life has been changed because you were there – this is to have succeeded.”
It is never too late to become who you are meant to be.Click here to leave a comment
Interested in memoir and story-telling?
I’ve been enjoying Writing About Your Life: A Journey Into The Past, written by one of the masters, William Zinsser (On Writing Well). He weaves his own life stories into advice on how to write clearly and effectively and the transitions are seamless. Thanks, Colleen, for the recommendation!Click here to leave a comment
My friend Nancy Whitney-Reiter has written another information-packed book (Do What You Love) on the art and science of achieving success — the kind of success that’s “not of a summit you reach after a lifetime of climbing, but a feeling you experience daily when you’re doing what you love.” Utilizing interviews compiled during a seven-year study on successful career change, along with her own experiences, Nancy has demonstrated that change is something to be embraced, not feared, and that the journey toward your dream job is the road you’re truly supposed to be traveling.
This is an excellent book on the subject, and one that I was pleased to have been asked to contribute to.Click here to leave a comment
photo credit Thai Jasmine
What inspires you? How do you inspire others?
I’m honored to have been interviewed for “The Get Inspired Project”.
Check it out!
photo credit nouQraz
I bet you think that what you’re arguing about is what you’re arguing about. Check out my latest article to see if you’re right.Click here to leave a comment
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