For years, I have been taking the same art class with a group of like minded people. One woman came to class one day and was especially energetic and positive. I wondered what had happened. She said she was in a research study at Stanford University on how to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Her group was doing something called, “Guided autobiography.” I was intrigued. As a facilitator of this well researched and superb opportunity, I now certified to offer guided autobiography groups and do.
Guided Autobiography (GAB) developed by James Birren, PhD, over the past 30 years, is a method for helping people document their life stories. Guided by a trained instructor, participants are led through themes and priming questions that evoke memories of events once known but filed away and seemingly forgotten. Each participant writes a two-page story on a particular theme, brings the story to class and reads it to a small group of receptive classmates. Writing and sharing life stories with others is an ideal way to find new meaning in life and to put life events in to perspective. While connecting with one another on their journeys of self-discovery, participants feel enlivened by the community experience and gain a greater appreciation of their own lives and of the lives of others. GAB can be a powerful catalyst for improved self-esteem and self-confidence
Interested? Let me know and I shall send you an email when I am ready to start the groups! See you soon.
What do you do?
In each session you will be offered experiences to foster you recollections and memories of your life. In between meetings, you will be asked to write 500-1000 words, one to two pages, about a specified theme. You will be given sensitizing questions to help with that writing. In a small group, with confidentiality requested, each participant reads their story aloud. You can write at whatever depth you desire. The comments from the group members are supportive and encouraging. There are no critiques of writing style or content. You will collect your ideas and feelings to begin a book of what matters to you.
“If a picture paints a thousands words, a story paints a thousand pictures.” Terrence L. Gargiulo
For you or your aging parent, friend, mentor or pal, let me write or help you write your own story. There is no legacy better or more meaningful than having the people you care about read your words about what mattered to you.
Perhaps you have a collection of special interests, talents, achievements, memories or stories that has been a part of defining who you are and you want them recorded, in your own way, for any person who is important to you to read, savor and experience. Or, maybe, you have a favorite set of recipes that you want to offer with the story of how you learned to make the mouth watering brisket or the sugar cookies that melt in everyone’s mouth. If you are in the field of technology, my experienced partner/husband can help us find the language to communicate what you have done and how you have contributed in words that we can all understand and appreciate.
Call me and we can talk about what is just right for you!
As an award winning author of a book of stories on living a full life, Bountiful Women, and a long time psychologist, I came to the concept of being a personal historian through learning about Guided Autobiography (guidedautobiography.com) and the Association of Personal Historians (personalhistorians.org). I am giving classes to help people write their own story. However, some people prefer to have their story written for them and with them, stories that can be a treasured gift for their children and other people who care about them.
Living with the awareness of death can give you a better life. Death can be the end of a chapter in your life, a change in something you always believed, a literal physical death and more.
Just before his death in October, 2011, Steve Jobs’s biographer, Mr. Isaacson, asked him why so private a man had consented to the questions of someone writing a book. “I wanted my kids to know me,” Mr. Jobs replied, “I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.” Mr. Jobs had also said, some years before during his Commencement speech in 2005 at Stanford University, “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent.”
What do you want to say or have said and written for you?