What Makes a Life Letter Different Than Storyworth?Jan 08, 2024
The Benefits of a Premium, Guided Experience
Long before Storyworth was created, I tried multiple times to get my grandmother and dad to write about their lives. I wanted to know what it was like for my maternal grandmother Myrtle to have begun dating my grandpa Bill at the age of 14. He was six years older and studying to become a dentist. There was no money for college, so my grandma went straight from high school to work in the U.S. Senate while grandpa attended dental school at the University of Maryland. Grandma was funny and sharp-tongued, and while she made frugality an art, her self-taught business acumen garnered significant investment returns that served our entire family. As for my dad, I still yearn to know about some of his experiences in the Marine Corps. He served in the late 1950’s in what was called the No Man’s War in Southeast Asia. It was a terrible time that haunts him to this day.
To access my family’s stories, I created my own prompts, cutting and pasting written questions into beautiful journals with enough space in-between to allow for handwritten responses. I gift-wrapped the journals and gave them as birthday gifts.
In my mind’s eye I saw grandma and dad writing for hours. They would feel deep satisfaction and pride in sharing their stories, and I would have keepsake memories for life. I was sure of it.
Sigh. Neither of them got very far. Dad acted pleasantly surprised in the moment, though he never wrote a single page. Grandma scribbled a few benign sentences but when I recently found her journal there are so many unmarked pages that I might as well recycle the entire book. Any takers?
A Story Coach Makes Sharing Stories Easier and More Impactful
Maybe answering one question at a time would have felt less overwhelming to them. I wish I’d thought of that. But still, a lot of us aren’t self-directed enough to write on our own. We think about sharing treasured memories for loved ones, yet we never get around to doing so. Whether it’s fear of revisiting uncomfortable memories, the desire to just keep life simple by not peeling back the layers, or plain old procrastination, the Storyworth model isn’t for everyone. Plus, for some people the idea of “a book” is too large a commitment (I know because I’ve written two books, ghostwritten several others, and coached a few more into existence).
Working with hundreds of clients over the years as a story coach has taught me that many people need and want hands-on guidance when it comes to writing about their lives. They get overwhelmed by the possibilities—where to start, what to write, what to omit, how to keep the material interesting enough so that the intended recipient (s) will want to read their words, and how to convey the essence of who they really are in an authentic way. I guide them every step of the way, holding them accountable while providing the coaching they need to meet their goals. Forget about neglected story prompts, this is a win-win for everyone—including generations to come who will reap the benefits of knowing those who came before them.
The Life Letter Workshop Offers a Curated, Quicker Way to Share Your Stories
I created the Life Letter to meet the needs of the thousands of people who want to share their stories but never get around to doing so. The Life Letter isn’t an entire book, but a curated, distilled process for capturing one’s stories…about family and personal history, life lessons, challenges, triumphs, values, and most treasured stories. It can be two pages, twelve or more (but it’s typically under 15 pages since the idea is to select the moments, scenes, and stories rather than tell every iota about your life. It’s an added bonus that you get to come together with a small group of like-minded individuals for four weeks over Zoom and receive expert, live coaching. You learn from each other.
Sharing stories in the form of a Life Letter workshop leads to greater self-acceptance and purpose in life as well as so many other benefits that improve the aging process.
A Few Important Benefits About Storytelling and Aging Well
The research is widespread. Storytelling leads to:
- higher mental stimulation
- improved memory
- enhanced creativity
- reduced loneliness and social isolation
- meaningful social connections
- heightened empathy (stories help us understand others)
- increased optimism about life
Come 2030, 1 in 6 people in the world will be 60 years old or over, and that number will double by 2050 to include some 2.1 billion people. With the population aging at such rapid levels, there has never been a better to time to share what matters most for our own well-being and those yet to come.
“We don’t grow older, we grow riper,” Pablo Picasso famously said. That’s about right. I mean ripe.
Learn more about writing your Life Letter here.