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Why It’s Vital for Seniors to Share Their Stories

It’s a very different world now since my last entry, but much remains unchanged. In fact, some things are now more important than ever.

A question I was recently asked was “how can younger people encourage and engage the seniors in their lives to write more during this downturn?”

In the COVID-19 era, this question takes on a particular urgency, as the older folks in our lives are especially vulnerable to this virus. When they go, they will take all of their stories with them. Those stories include everything from family origins lost to time, anecdotes and histories that were never written down, creative ideas, and so on.

If anything, convincing a senior to share their story involves mostly the same type of conversation you’d have convincing anyone to share their experiences in writing. You can’t force someone to do something they don’t want to do, especially writing, but if you at least open the possibility for them, they may decide to open up.

Consider the story of my friend’s grandmother. She would always make the best, tastiest meals, but neither my friend’s mom nor her aunt and uncle had bothered to learn how to cook, and so never took the time to sit and teach them how to make.

On the other hand, Grandma didn’t consider what she did important enough to write down (“Oh, why would you want to know a silly thing like how to make my meatloaf?”).

When my friend’s grandma died in 2018, she took her recipes with her, and that knowledge was lost forever.

It’s a common tale. i’m sure you know someone who has (or you yourself have) experienced something similar with a now-dead relative. Whatever they don’t record is gone.

This is the thing: your stories matter to someone, to many people. Certainly not everyone, but that’s not the goal. The idea is to preserve something of yourself in life in a way that you can’t see now. Because the people for whom your stories matter need them, in ways that you can’t appreciate.

Your legacy is incomplete unless you write it down. If writing isn’t our strong suit, or if you need coaching or coaxing along the way, there are people who can help. (I am one of them), but there’s nothing stopping you from starting.

And given that so many of us are now cooped up in our rooms and homes for the foreseeable future, writing your story – whether it’s a full memoir or a book of recipes – is a good way to pass the time, don’t you think?

(Thank you to Jameel for suggesting the question!)

What If Your Audiences Spoke Klingon?

One of my favourite memes of the last few years has been this one:

Image result for stares in Klingon

It’s not just because I’m a Star Trek fan (okay, it’s mostly because I’m a Star Trek fan). I’ve just always found learning other languages different from mine to be incredibly difficult challenges. I’m only fluent in one other language than English (French) but that was after years of immersion training when I was a kid and a few refresher courses as an adult. I can get around in Spanish, and I’ve fiddled around with Italian, Japanese, German, Hindi, and Mandarin on language apps, but retained precisely nothing in my head.

Don’t even get me started with Klingon. Way too many apostrophes.

Speaking for myself, whatever language I learn would need to have some practical use for me, given the time investment required to learn it well.

Still, there are other kinds of ways to look at “language”, even within this klepto-linguistic mutt we call “English”.

When we say that a certain book, song, or story really “speaks to us”, we mean, of course, that we find a deeply emotional connection with that book, song, or story. It’s one of those things where it’s more than just the sum of its parts or the technical constructions. Grammarly won’t necessarily help you touch, move, and inspire someone. In fact, being too technically-correct strips away your distinct writing voice and with it any capacity you have to touch, move, and inspire.

So, how do you inspire with writing?

It depends on who you’re trying to inspire.

What are their dreams and ambitions? What are their fears? What do they care about? What are their histories? What are their desired futures?

Shift some of your focus away from the correctness and accuracy of your writing and towards getting to know your audience’s own emotional language. Then, speak to them in it.

Speak to them in a way that they’ll not only understand, but that will also make their hearts beat faster, draw chuckles at their screens, cause tears to drop down their cheeks, or cause them to take a big long sigh.

Too airy-fairy a tip for your liking? Prefer a more Vulcan-like approach? Then, my logical friend, here’s another way to see it. Humans tend to act more from emotion than logic. Stimulate the emotions of your desired customers in your sales copy even as you explain how to solve their problems, and afterwards, when you ask them to buy from you, they are more likely to say yes. They will feel that good. And you will feel good when they give you money.

This is what I can do, and what I am always learning to do: speak the emotional languages of my audiences and my audience’s audiences.

I said before that I need a useful reason to learn a new language. The truth is, if my audiences, my ideal clients, spoke Klingon, I would be learning Klingon. Right now, as a matter of fact.

To your success.

Or, put another way, Qa’Pla’!

  • Jody (February 23, 2020)

Time Goes Faster In The Shadow…

It’s January 24th as I write this. I can’t quite believe it.

The mornings are brighter earlier. I finally noticed it today as I woke up at 7 o’clock and realized I could take Bella out on the trail for her morning walk and be able to see where I’m going. This isn’t just for convenience or comfort: there are coywolves about, and though they have been harmless (as far as my experiences with them can tell) and beautiful to see, cutting across the escarpment in the dim light, Bella doesn’t much care for them, and I don’t want any trouble.

For the last 66 days as of this writing, when not out networking, serving my clients, or spending time with family and friends, I have been doing inner work, Jungian shadow integration, to be precise. It’s a practice whereby you choose to look at those aspects of yourself and your life that you ordinarily ignore, suppress, or reject out of fear or discomfort.

Neglect has been a common theme in this inquiry: my physical health, what I truly need from the close relationships in my life, and how I’ve been conducting my career.

This website, sure enough, is a symptom of that neglect.

The deal with shadow integration is that once you’ve identified those parts of yourself that you’ve put out of sight and out of mind, you can heal them, integrate them into your life, and then be a much more whole being.

That’s the thing about my relationship with writing: I don’t much like separating the personal from the professional. If, as the marketers say, the way to stand out is to be the most “you” that you can be, then it’s not only easier from a gumption or mental health standpoint for me to just level with you, but it’s ridiculously on brand.

Anyway, I’ve added (or will soon add) the following to my site:

  • A page for my podcast, Ghostwriter and Pup
  • A page for the works I’ve published in my own name, along with links for you to buy them
  • Links to my other sites on Medium, Instagram, and LinkedIn
  • An updated biography
  • A more detailed and focused service listing

This time of year is traditionally when you go into those rooms of your home that you’ve avoided for a long time and clean everything up. For the rest of this last week of January, this is what I’ll be doing.

See you in February. It’ll be around much sooner than you think.

  • Jody