Carrying On a Storytelling Legacy

Once I consider journaling, I believe again to grade college, once I stored a bit crimson diary of my actions, ideas, and wishes. Generally I wrote in pen, generally in pencil and, now and again, in a colourful crayon. In a manner, it was my early try at storytelling and an animated assortment of my very own tales. The journal was mine and mine alone!   

Through the years, I journaled sometimes, however not with any true consistency. However then life took an sudden flip. I misplaced my mother to leukemia once I was 19, and earlier than I even knew how—or had the possibility—to ask her so many questions. 

Once I had kids of my very own—Sara, now 27, and Megan, 26—journaling took on a complete new that means. There have been so many unanswered questions that I wished to ask my mother about my childhood, about what I used to be like as a toddler, a young person. Was I humorous or cranky more often than not? What had been my ambitions? And what had been her ideas about being a mother to me and my two brothers?

When Sara arrived on the scene, I dedicated to capturing her tales for so long as I may and adopted with the identical dedication to Megan, with an finish purpose of a twenty first birthday shock for every of them—the story of their lives, captured in pictures and handwritten letters narrated by me. I wished to make sure that they’d all of their tales and milestones recorded and that they understood my pleasure, pleasure, and so many different feelings that got here with being their mother. Thus started my function because the Sepulveda Household Chief Storyteller. 

I began by holding child books for each women, however I shortly discovered that a one-year assortment of firsts—first tooth, first phrase, first haircut—wouldn’t fulfill the necessity to elaborate on and share their tales, not simply in yr one, however for the many years to observe. So, aspect by aspect with the child books, I began my very own tales: Letters to Sara and the Megan Chronicles. This time, the journals weren’t supposed to be mine, all mine, however slightly a group to sooner or later grow to be the property of my women—and perhaps the generations to come back. Whereas I hadn’t wished anybody studying my little crimson journal, I wished everybody who was to seize some inspiration from “the why” that had impressed me to embark on this new ardour venture. 

At first, I journaled on a regular basis, and the books began to fill with detailed letters. Generally I jotted my ideas down in only a few minutes. Different occasions, I spent longer on an entry. I shared my emotions, my observations, our conversations. I captured the firsts, however in higher element: first go to to the films (which ended with a fast exit as a result of the thunder within the movie was terrifying for little ears); first journeys to the seaside, the place they cherished the water and didn’t just like the sand. I recorded the usually humorous and generally unhappy days, all the pieces from the annual birthday celebrations and all who gathered to bathe the women with love, to tales of loss—great-grandparents departing and world occasions, together with an in depth account of my private 9/11 expertise and the way that day modified all our lives. 

At 47, I used to be recognized with breast most cancers. For me, this was a second to channel pure positivity. Having to share this information with the women, then 15 and 16, required conversations that I knew they’d recognize extra at a later date, and the entry I wrote at the moment was one of the vital significant. All through the highs and lows, I started to understand that the journals weren’t only a present to my darling women however to me as properly. A spot for me to savor our life collectively, recognize all the sweetness round me, revel within the kids’s progress, and treasure our household’s journey.

Sara and Megan’s twenty first birthday celebrations marked the ultimate entry in every of their journal collections. Shortly after their birthdays, I gifted every of them 4 mismatched, largely handwritten journals. The laughter, the tears, the shock and delight, the completely satisfied time studying them collectively introduced us a lot pleasure. I hope that I’ve impressed my women to do one thing related for his or her kids, and I’m fairly sure they are going to, in their very own manner, need to stick with it this magnificent job of storytelling.

Household and buddies typically requested, “How do you discover the time? You have to have 27 hours in your day. You’re making me really feel responsible.” To be sincere, some years I used to be diligent with entries, and different occasions a yr would cross between journal entries. There isn’t any a method to do that. Every individual’s dedication is particular person, will tackle a lifetime of its personal, and can manifest in a manner that feels fulfilling for them. One factor I do know: It’s by no means too late to begin. 


 If the temper takes you, give it a attempt! Listed here are a number of tricks to get began:

  • Preserve it enjoyable. In case you really feel prefer it’s an obligation, you will discover your self dreading the deadline.
  • Contemplate all of the methods to seize tales: pictures, letters, brief tales, video.
  • Sit down to put in writing solely when the temper takes you.
  • Don’t be shy about sharing the exhausting tales alongside the enjoyable and lighter ones.
  • Decide an finish date if you’ll present it to the recipient—the expression on their face will probably be etched in your reminiscence ceaselessly. 


One poignant shock was how this venture gave me a complete new degree of affection and respect for my mother and all she taught us and shared earlier than her passing. And it gave me gas to maneuver ahead once I was sick. It’s been a number of years since I’ve handed the journals on to my women, and they’re now full-on adulting. These days, I’ve been questioning if there may be one other chapter or two for me to chronicle—maybe one much more grand than those earlier than ….

Watch Lisa on the WBI/JCC Constructive Psychology Hour, discussing the ability of writing and storytelling. 

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