People’s life stories are fascinating. We are all walking chronicles of colorful life legacies that are unique; totally different, totally driven by our experiences, decisions, reactions as well as our hurdles. And so the telling of our stories is filled with a poignant string of memories and reflections that are inherently inspirational and creative.
The inspirational part is a result of the hurdles we have mounted and the courageous road taken to respond with solutions. So what makes your story telling creative? Talking about what we know, and no one knows more about our life story than ourselves, is actually a complex process. We reach for those mental pictures of our past, decide on what we are going to share and then package our thoughts into language that will convey information laced with imagery. Spontaneously we choose words that will convey the meaning of that experience(s)and this sharing of details and events becomes a verbal novel. We select adjectives to describe situations, our voice pitches to accent important parts and our body language adds an extra thrust to the story. We relay our autobiographies like actors playing ourselves. It is truly a creative process and can be made permanent in written form using journaling, novel /play/poetry writing or translated into an art form using a variety of materials such as paints, photography, textured surfaces for collage or in theatre, music and dance projects.
Elders Share the Arts (ESTA; www.elderssharethearts.org) was founded on the premise that we, as elders, benefit from expressing ourselves and because of today’s fragmented society where families live far apart, communities can benefit from being guided to embrace these legacies. To provide an outlet for self expression and enable the healthy aging process, ESTA, focused on New York City, established "Living History Arts -- a synthesis of oral history and the creative arts that engage older adults in a process of drawing on their memories and re-creating them into literary, visual, or dramatic presentations”. These may include live performances such as Pearls of Wisdom, a touring ensemble of storytellers and urban folk artists, traveling exhibitions and workshops to facilitate creative expression.
If you feel the urge to communicate your story and there is no one available at that moment to listen, then you can use a journal type website to help you. Sites such as Story of My Life (http://www.storyofmylife.com) is an online collection of life stories. In addition to your words, you can upload photos and videos to make your memories so much richer. At Mine Your Memories (http://www.mineyourmemories.com), you can write your life story or Dr.Dolly, the site owner is a writer, teacher, consultant, mentor, and she can guide you or even write your story for you if that makes it easier for you to move forward with communicating your memories.
There are many benefits for telling stories in addition to the creative juice that flows. It is a social vehicle and a learning tool. We use our thoughts to reminisce and reflect, expressively share, and also to connect. Sharing our life journey gives us the opportunity to remember and nostalgically look at our past. It also provides a passage of intimacy between you and the listener because you are sharing a personal experience and that can provide a positive link, a connection. The power of connection is integral to our well being and happens naturally by communicating in a personal way. Often times it can create change in attitude from both the story teller and the listener.
So go ahead; share, connect and get creative with telling your life story!
Steven Spielberg, Director: “People have forgotten how to tell a story. Stories don't have a middle or an end any more. They usually have a beginning that never stops beginning.”
Maya Angelou, Poet: There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.