So what’s a memoir? It’s simply a tool – and it’s best described by Julia Cameron – who created it:
“The Memoir is a weekly exercise that builds upon itself. You will divide your life into sections; as a rule of thumb, divide your age by twelve, and this is the number of years you will cover each week…you will trigger vivid memories, discover lost dreams, and find unexpected healing and clarity...
Along the way, you will find dreams you wish to return to, ideas you are ready to discard, wounds you are ready to heal, and most of all, an appreciation for the life you have led.”
The book – and the exercises are grounded in the author’s experience of developing this version of her Artist’s Way method for people considering, approaching or already enjoying retirement.
One especially heartbreaking sentence I have heard over and over from my newly retired students is, “Oh, my life wasn’t that interesting.”
My own experience includes dozens of conversations with peers who relate stories of the lives of their friends who have retired – lives they can’t even imagine.
- I hate golf
- What would I do?
- I’d be so bored?
- But my work is who I am!
About the latter – let me assure you – it is not.
In groups over the last three years – men and women between 40 and 70+ have joined me in an exploration of this exercise. “A-ha” moments abound. Not because they ‘figure out’ or ‘dream up’ new ways of being – but rather because they come back into themselves.
What were those passions you discarded in search of “a proper job”? Where were those places you imagined traveling to or schools you really wanted to attend? What did you imagine being when you grew up?
And if you became what you always wanted to be-when exactly did you decide what that was?
If you find you’re resisting the idea of remembering – you’re not alone. I worried – as did participants described in the book – that I’d find I’d made a terrible mistake. That I was to blame for every ‘wrong turn’ or outcome I’d experienced.
But a funny thing happened.
The decision made at 25 – considered in week six – was revisited with the knowledge gleaned from my deep dive into ages 1-4, 5-9, 10-14, 15-19, and 20-24. That choice really was the best one I could have made for that young woman at that time.
The process of remembering is a gentle one.
Embrace it. You’ve got nothing to lose.
If you’d like to learn more or see how it works in action – you’re welcome to join our private Facebook Group where I’ve explored my journey through Weeks 1 to 8.
Not yet ready to pick up the book or start the 12-week process?
Try a baby step toward the process. I encourage you to start gathering photos from your childhood and adolescence – pictures that catapult you back to moments in different places and times.
Who we were, what we imagined, what was encouraged, nurtured, or supported – or wasn’t – impacted our trajectories.
This one taught me all I needed to know about who I am now, why I do the work that I do, and how I know that whatever one does or says on behalf of a young child – it matters!
When you’re ready to make a change – get in touch!
For more information on the book, our groups or the process – click here.