Tuesday, August 23, 2011

G is for “Growth,” By Barbara Goodhue

One of the reasons I love this class so much is that it has helped me to grow as a person, as a writer, and as a teacher. Barbara reminds us that we must be seeking places that nourish our hearts and minds; and when we have found such a place, we need to come back for more. ~ Bonnie

This class has been a place for growth, generosity, goals and good times. It has motivated me to start writing some memoirs. However, I have a long way to go.

People love to be generous with their stories. Everyone has a good time trying to meet their goals. We all enjoy listening to the stories people write, which are very good and about a variety of places and experiences. I think I have grown by being able to write, and I am very grateful to all who have contributed to my growth by allowing me to listen to their stories. Sometimes I am envious of those who are so good at writing. Maybe with time I will grow and get better.

Monday, August 15, 2011

F is for “Fellowship," By Judy Brandemihl

I have already posted this story once on this blog -- it was when we were freshly grieving the loss of our dear friend, Judy Brandemihl. Since I am going through the alphabet stories now, it is time to publish it again. I hope it reminds us to treasure the moments we have with those who mean the most to us. ~ Bonnie

         Where would I have been without the fellowship of my friends from memoir writing class?
        You see, when we get older, friends (true friends) become more and more important. We’re retired for the most part, so we don’t have the daily interaction with co-workers, customers and associates that we once took for granted. Sadly, too, we often outlive our mates and sometimes many family members. Now too many of us live alone and depend on our Senior Center for a social life and the Memoir Writing class is the perfect place to find the very best of it. My husband and I are fortunate enough to still have one another’s companionship. Still, we need outside interests. I joined the memoir writing group several years ago and last year my husband joined me. Now he’s hooked and can’t wait for each Thursday afternoon with our friends there.
        At our memoir writing class we not only exchange the mundane news of our week, we share our memories and our pasts. No, that’s not exactly it; what we share is our lives. Those folks who were once strangers that we might have passed without pause are now some of our closest friends. We freely confess our fears and our faults, knowing we will not be judged or ridiculed. We are among true friends, and they are like family. As in any family, there are some that we’re closer to than others, but they’re all there for you when you need them. They’re happy for you and sad for you. They celebrate with you and pray for you. They’re all a dear part of my life each week, and without them I’d feel as if I had lost my family.
        We write our stories and exercise our brains at the same time. We laugh and we cry. We joke, encourage and give advice. We need and are needed. We’re not only writing our memoirs, we’re creating them.
        In 2004, when I was diagnosed with lung cancer, my friends from class were there for me, giving me their support during the next difficult eight months. Just knowing this was a big part of my recovery.
        Then, earlier this year, they were there for me again, this time to celebrate when I won a memoir-writing contest for the Long Beach Press Telegram. They didn’t allow me to stay shyly in the background. No, not them. They collected copies of the newspaper, asked for my autograph and praised my writing to any who would listen. My victory was their victory.
        They are my classmates, yes, but even more they are my friends. Of course, more than anything, they are my “family,” and I’d hate to think of not spending each Thursday afternoon with them I’d hate to think that I wasn’t able to be there for them when they needed me.

Monday, August 8, 2011

E is for “Encouragement," By Virginia Murrell

This class has been an encouragement for me to write my memoirs. I meet other people who enjoy writing their memoirs and a fellowship has come about in the class.
I found after my grandparents and parents died that I became interested in their lives, but now they were gone and couldn’t answer my questions. So I am writing my memoirs so that at some later date, my children and grandchildren may be interested in my life story. Some of us have found that our families are not that interested in our memoirs at this time.
I get many ideas for my writing by listening to others in the class read their stories. The class provides me a place to read my memoirs. I enjoy sharing my writing with others. When I hear others read their stories, I am touched by their lives. This also encourages me to write more.
Also I get feedback from the teacher, Bonnie, and the other students. Corrections are good feedback to get from the class. I was uneasy about writing. I really struggled to write my papers in college, so I was not comfortable about writing. But with the encouragement in this class, I feel much better about writing. My main focus is to get the memories on paper. If I do a good job, it is an extra bonus.
Having the class to attend helps push me to write my stories. If I didn’t have the class, I would procrastinate. I am so happy with the stories I have written and I have many more in my head waiting to be written. I need the class to continue writing my story.
We all need encouragement from time to time. I love this reminder that our class is one of the places where we can find it. It’s also good to remember that if we don’t write our stories our children and grandchildren may never know what truly mattered to us. Thanks, Virginia, for this word of encouragement! ~ Bonnie

Monday, August 1, 2011

D is for “Delightful,” by Dora Silvers

Dora took the challenge of writing something for the letter “D,” and came up with this “delightful” reminder of how lucky we are to have Dreamy Dora in our class! ~ Bonnie

          In our memoir writing class we share delightful memories of our parents and grandparents. They delight our hearts, but sometimes there is a dash of dreadfulness. There are far away places where our classmates lived or vacationed at various times. Now, we are the grandparents sharing the antics of our dandy grandchildren. Sometimes there is a bit of danger. Photographs made their stories a distinct image in our minds.
        From grandfather clocks to our digital cameras, we have come a long way from our grandparents. Times have changed; our memories can be computerized and recorded for generations to come. We walked in our classmates shoes for awhile and traveled to distant places with their memories.
        The view from Sun Valley Idaho was so breathtaking. It was beyond description. The photographs brought the distant place into direct focus. We were able to travel in our imaginations on Amtrak to Denver, enjoying the dramatic view of the Rocky Mountains. Over the loud speaker on the train came the delightful voice of John Denver, singing “Rocky Mountain High.”
The members of our class have so many different experiences to share. It actually makes a delightful afternoon in our memoir writing class. You can call me “Dreamy Dora,” as their stories are a delightful dream for me.