My students and I are studying Native American stories right now.  We’ve
been talking a lot about how stories and art are the record of an
entire culture.  A history. 
Proof that people existed.  Proof that they
mattered. 

We also just finished reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
about one boy’s search for connection and answers.  What he finds in
his search is a wild mix of strange and unusual people with equally
strange and unusual stories.  And it is through those stories that he is
healed.

And that’s life, isn’t it?  A collection of stories that intersect, intertwine and sometimes collide?

One
of my students asked me to explain a monologue.  I gave the standard
English teacher response, “A monologue is a prolonged talk or
composition in which a character speaks alone.”  And then I gave the
example of my blog.  I call it a running monologue because it’s pretty
much one long speech that I give about my life and what’s going on with
me.

When I started this blog, so many moons ago, I did it because
I wanted to make myself write on a regular basis.  It was a good way to
hold myself accountable.  I came up with the title because, at the
time, I thought I was going to write about running, and I thought it was
a cute play on words.  But, as often happens with the writing process,
what I thought I was going to write about morphed into something
completely different.  It became about parenting.  And creative living. 
And being outside.  And whatever else was on my mind at the time.

But it IS a monologue and it’s been running for quite a while now.


Harper Lee and Mabel

It became a meandering speech chronicling my life.  It became my story.

My favorite blogs are story blogs.  Those that tell me the ins and outs of someone’s daily life.  Dig This Chick and One Mom in Maine are two of my favorites.

I
guess the main reason I became an English teacher is because I have
always loved a good story.  When I was a kid, I liked to write them and
create little picture books.  I begged my parents and grandparents to
tell me stories about when they were little.  And, Lord, I lived for
those Appalachian storytellers that came every year for Heritage Day. 
Nothing captured my imagination quite like a good story.

And it’s
also why I write.  I just want the opportunity to share my story, my
experience of this world and what I’ve managed to learn along the way.

What
I always tell my students is that everyone has a story.  “Don’t tell me
you don’t know what to write about,” I say.  “Everyone has a story to
tell.”

Life in the country

I came across a website the other day that really intrigued me.  Ali Edwards
is a designer, blogger and mom who specializes in scrapbooking, but not
necessarily in the sense that we probably think of scrapbooking.  When
Harper Lee was born, I went crazy and got all the awesome cardstock and
clever stickers that come with that first baby book because, let’s face
it, it’s a form of art supplies, and I am completely addicted to art
supplies, but also because I wanted to have a record of her first years
here on this planet. 

It lasted for about 3 months.  I was a
terrible scrapbooker.  It took too long, and it quickly became one more
thing that I had fallen behind in.  Besides, when I saw other moms’
books, with all the cute cut-outs and fancy borders and calligraphy, I
felt I just couldn’t compete. 
So I quit.

Fast forward nearly 12
years, and I still have a record of Harper Lee’s first three months and
nothing for poor Isaac.  And then I read Ali’s thoughts on “just getting
it down” in whatever means necessary.  “Just get it down,” is what I
tell my writing students.  It’s what my writing buddy, Lois, lives by. 

Well, heck, I thought, I can just get it down.  In fact, I DO just get it down. 

I
get it down by blogging.  And journaling.  And taking photos.  And
collecting pieces of art in cardboard boxes that I label according to
child and year.  I do it by storing seashells and pine cones and ticket
stubs in Mason jars on the windowsill.  I do it by preserving our
memories.

You know I’m a huge fan of creating memories.
 I was so
blessed to have grandparents who were all about preserving memories
(some people call it being a pack rat) and about creating even more. 

They told stories and kept scraps of paper and had boxes full of junk
all over their house. 
After my grandmother passed away, my aunt cleared
out an old wardrobe in the back bedroom and found piles of my poetry,
drawings, homemade Valentine’s cards, and scraps of unfinished quilts. 

Merdie had kept them all.  Her own little scrapbook.  Of my story.

When we unearthed all that, it was like looking back at who I was, who I had been. 
It was a piece of me.  Proof.

And
that’s how I think of this blog.  Or my artwork.  Or my photos or
poetry or stories.  They are pieces of me, pieces of our story as a
family, proof of our existence.  Proof that we mattered.  That we
mattered so much.

We all do, you know.  We all have stories. 
Keep living your story. 
And make sure you keep a record of those stories for your children. 

It
doesn’t have to be the perfect photo cropped neatly and bordered by
eloquent writing in a fancy font.  All you have to do is get it down. 

Somebody, someday will appreciate it so much.

Take note of the mundane– like a messy art room.  That is the stuff life is made of.
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