One of my favorite birthday gifts this year was the one I received about 8 months ago from my daughter. She paid for a subscription for me to something called “Storyworth.”
I received an email that explained the gift I was being given and what was involved. The concept is deceptively simple but I’m finding the experience incredibly rich and rewarding. The idea of writing a memoir is daunting but just like any big project, this one has been broken down into bite size pieces or manageable elements.
Each week on Monday morning I find an email in my inbox with a question. These are “story-starter” questions; they are open ended and thought provoking. The questions were chosen by my daughter so I’m finding it interesting to think about what she wants to know.
The simplicity is that I don’t need to think or prepare or struggle. I only respond to the question with my answer and hit reply and send. Then each of my questions throughout this year are collected and at the end of 12 months a book will be published and mailed to me.
Sometimes I can write an immediate response because the question is easy and brings to mind a story or a situation I can share. Other times I’m stumped and need to think about my answer. A few times I’ve even asked my husband how he might answer the question and it seems that as we talk it through something amazing comes to me.
After I hit “send” the system automatically shares my answer with my daughter in real time. This way she can track my memoir journey with me.
What I love is that I can go back at any time and edit or rewrite my answers and there is a feature where I can add photos to make my memoir more interesting. While I haven’t done this yet, I know that if I take some time to snap some pictures stored in old dusty photo albums I can actually share them in a more meaningful format.
If you are the gift giver you can choose the questions you want to be answered by your recipient. Or if you choose to join on your own and write your own memoir you can make up your own questions or choose from the list they provide.
Some of the questions were thought provoking, others brought back fond memories, still others feel like I’m sharing our family history.
Here are a few examples of some of the questions I’ve already answered.
How did you feel when your first child was born?
Which fads did you embrace while growing up?
What is one of the most selfless things you have done in life?
Describe one of your most memorable birthdays.
At what times in your life were you the happiest, and why?
What is one of your favorite trips that you've taken? What made it great?
What is one of the bravest things you've ever done, and what was the outcome?
Are you more like your father or your mother? In what ways?
What is one of your favorite memories of your mother?
What is some of the best advice your mother ever gave you?
Since I lost my mother to breast cancer over 25 years ago (she was only 57 years old when she died), I have been realizing that by answering these questions and publishing them in a book, she can be better remembered by my children and grandchildren. For that matter, when I pass away, future generations will have the answers to these and many more questions.
I’m enjoying this so much that I’m finding that I don’t want it to end. How often today do we take the time to write things down? In a frantic world of social media, screen time and blaring electronics I think we have lost our ability to tell stories and share our family history. “Storyworth” has been an unexpected delight and a pleasure. How many gifts that cost so much more than $99 ultimately end up in the trash or donated to the thrift store?
This opportunity to write my memoir, during a pandemic in 2021 has been life-changing in many ways. It has caused me to slow down, think and tell my stories in a written format. I have found it relatively easy to do, because after all who doesn’t have time to write an answer to an email?
I’m so grateful for a gift that reminds me how much my daughter loves and me and how much I love her, every single week!
Go to www.storyworth.com if are interested or wish to give an amazing gift this holiday season. I think you'll be happy you did.
Barbara is the new star of the Rock Your Retirement show! For one year, she'll let Kathe Kline tag along as she goes through her retirement journey.