A Heart Filled With Gratitude

We have been telling Muriel’s story for about nine weeks now. So many of you have been kind enough to leave comments about the things that have made you laugh or caused a tear or simply were of interest to you.  You have no idea how we cherish each and every comment.  It’s better than those gold stars teachers used to put on your paper at school.  It is validation and encouragement and inspiration all wrapped up in a few words of hope. Thank you, by the way, for telling us what you think.

While the blog has only been up for a couple of months, it has been on our minds, our computers, in our dreams, on the storyboards in my office and part of our daily conversations between the three of us for almost a year. Since The Epiphany, we have had brainstorming sessions that have had us experiencing every type of emotion you can imagine; frustration, excitement, laughing, tears (happy and sad), you name it – this process has put us through the paces in so many ways. It has been a cathartic process and one that has released creative wings I didn’t even know I had.

A few of you have asked how I got the idea to tell Muriel’s story in a blog format and where I got my inspiration.  I went in to a lot of detail about that in my previous article, but I thought I would mention some specific blogs and sites and the people that over the past few years have proved to be a creative inspiration.

First of all, I read blogs – most of them are scrapbook or genealogy related, so it is no surprise that photography and telling my family’s stories has long been of interest to me. That being said, telling a life story on a blog format is still something of a novelty in the blogosphere – in fact we haven’t run into anyone else doing what we are doing here – yet, i.e. sharing a memoir in serial format with videos and photographs in a multi-media fashion.

Most days I will check in with my favorite blogs to see what was going on in their world, to check out their new photographs and scrapbook pages.  I like to think of it as the electronic version of sharing coffee over the back yard fence with a neighbor. In the process, I have learned so much about design layout, the importance of sharing my story, and sometimes it’s just been a chance to laugh and share the human experience.

Four writers/bloggers have been a consistent part of that routine and if you were to ask me about where the inspiration for this blog came from, I would have to say – these ladies have been a huge part of my process:

Ali Edwards (aliedwards.com)was the reason why I chose a word of the year for 2010 (storyteller) which literally changed my perspective and why you are reading this blog.  She teaches a class at Big Picture Classes called “One Little Word” that encourages you to pick one word per year that will be your focus. Ali’s willingness to make herself vulnerable and tell her story in a authentic voice has touched the lives of so many people who follow her blog and has provided inspiration to tell not only my story in my memory keeping efforts, but to value and tell Muriel’s story as well.

Cathy Zielske, (cathyzielske.typepad.com) well mostly she makes me laugh because she is so flippin’ funny.  Her clean design philosophy and ability to teach layout design in a user friendly manner has cultivated my own design preferences and when we spent all those hours designing this blog and what we wanted and didn’t want, her voice was continually in my head reminding me that white space was necessary and clean lines made reading easy. She also teaches at Big Picture Classes and I have taken every one she has taught because I learn so much from them.

Becky Higgins (beckyhiggins.com/blog) is the creator of Project Life, a unique concept of telling your life’s story in a weekly format that is conducive to a busy life style. It is a format this is sweeping the country and proving wildly successful all over the world. I have read her column in various scrapbook magazines for years and checked in on her blog to gain the creative and meaningful inspiration she has so generously shared.  This month she offered up ads on her blog to raise money for the child of a friend and we were happy to support the cause and have our ad run on her blog.  (Welcome to those of you who have found your way to Jazz Age Diva through Becky’s blog!)

Pioneer Woman (thepioneerwoman.com) – not much I can say that hasn’t been said.  She is something of a blogging phenomenon.  I started reading Ree Drummond’s daily account about life with four kids and a ranching husband.  She shares recipes and photographs of breathtaking sunsets and horses and calves and her basset hound Charlie.  Two cookbooks, a children’s book, and her own show on Food Network TV are adequate evidence of her incredible popularity.  She started with a blog to share some photos of the kids with the grandparents a few years ago – today she gets over a million hits a month on her blog.  What I learn from her is that there are a lot of people out there who are interested in spending a few minutes a day reading about the life and times of other people. She has a funny and charming way about making you feel you are right there beside her feeling all this kids and cowboys.

I owe a debt of gratitude to these ladies, and a multitude of others who have so generously shared their expertise, their lives and their thoughts on their blogs. I have written them thank you notes, but I wanted to take this space and this opportunity to let them know and to let you know that they have made a difference to me.  And that this blog is a reality because they made me believe that telling our stories is important.

Are you writing your story? Not on a blog maybe, but how about a journal, or simply writing names and dates on the back of those photos you have stuffed in the closet.  Someday, somebody is going to want to know your story. Why don’t you start telling it!