by Debbie Hodge

consider yourself: what are the memories that compel you and the stories that you tell over and over?

Whether you recount a funny anecdote about a recent experience or tell a longer tale of a challenge you faced years ago, telling stories is a way to connect with others.When you offer up your stories, you’re holding yourself out for others to know better. When the stories you tell are to and about family you connect current generations to previous generations. The result is a stronger sense of the family as a whole.

How about taking those stories that get told around the dinner table one step farther and putting them onto the scrapbook page? This is what I’ve attempted in “About a Doll.”

JOURNALING: I loved my dolls and my parents made sure I had great ones: like Tiny Tears. One day Mark and I cut Tiny Tears’ hair while Mom was in the kitchen. When she came in the den, we immediately understood this was a mistake. And that’s when Mark said, “Debbie cut her hair. I just held her down.” It’s that remark that gave this story immortality, that ensured it would be told again and again at family gatherings. c 1965

So what are your stories? If you’re having a hard time remembering them right now, consider these aspects of story-telling.

The stories you tell will vary depending upon your audience. What stories do you tell to:

  • yourself?
  • your closest friends?
  • your partner or spouse?
  • a group of acquaintances at a party?
  • your children?
  • your co-workers?
  • . . . other audiences?

The stories you tell change over time. What stories did you tell when you were /are a:

  • child?
  • teen?
  • young adult?
  • worker?
  • parent?
  • now?

priming the engine: ask yourself this

Imagine you’re around a table with a group of family or very close friends.

Who would be at the table?

Pick one of them. What’s a story you could you tell about this person?

When they respond, “Hey! What about the time you  . . . .” what story would they tell about you.

Consider this for several of those people at your imagined table and see if it inspires a scrapbook page.

think about it: quotations

  • To be a person is to have a story to tell. – Isak Dinesen
  • To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward.  ~Margaret Fairless Barber
  • Heirlooms we don’t have in our family. But stories we’ve got.  – Rose Cherin
  • Every man’s memory is his private literature.” – Aldous Huxley
  • We’re all made of stories. When they finally put us underground, the stories are what will go on. Not forever, perhaps, but for a time. It’s a kind of immortality, I suppose, bounded by limits, it’s true, but then so’s everything.” – Charles de Lint
  • Everybody needs his memories.  They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door.  ~Saul Bellow
  • What we remember from childhood we remember forever – permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen.  ~Cynthia Ozick
  • The past is never dead, it is not even past.  ~William Faulkner
  • Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart bigger.– Ben Okri
  • What a story these old walls could tell” – American proverb
  • We are lonesome animals. We spend all of our life trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say-and to feel- ‘Yes, that is the way it is, or at least that is the way I feel it.’ You’re not as alone as you thought. —John Steinbeck
  • There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you. —Maya Angelou
  • Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact. — Robert McKee

write it: journaling/story prompts

write about:

  • an outing or holiday that went much differently than you’d planned
  • a struggle that you faced
  • a story that you or your loved ones repeatedly tell
  • something you did that others found humorous
  • a first — any first — the first time you took a taxi, the first time you ate tofu, the first time you missed an important event . . .
  • a mistake you made
  • a time when you were scolded/praised
  • a logistical problem and how you solved it
  • when you received/lost a treasured possession
  • an event where all eyes were on you
  • a time when you were unexpectedly called on to pitch in and help someone
  • a time when someone showed up at your house and something surprising happened