War Stories are part of Family History

War Stories are like deep underground rivers of a network of experiences

War experiences are such personal and sensitive stories. Whether they are from recent wars and conflicts such as Afghanistan or Vietnam wars or earlier world wars, the impact on those involved and their families is dramatic and life-changing. Telling your story in whatever way you wish can be a powerful tool to work through emotions and mental health. It is so important to family history that the contribution made by veterans is documented and acknowledged. The life messages that will be generated could make such a difference to younger family members and those of the future. 

A few years ago, an elderly lady contacted me about writing her life story. When we were half-way through, she commenced crying.

Womens Land Army
Source: Australian War Memorial. ARTVO1062

Women’s Land Army

We had reached that part of her life when she enlisted in the Women’s Land Army as her personal contribution to the war effort. Her story poured out through her tears and laughter as she recalled the harshness of the working conditions, the friends she made (and the difficult personalities), the jobs she had to perform and the social activities that the women invented to amuse themselves.

‘This is a wonderful story’ I told her. ‘I expect your family knows all this?’

‘No’ she replied. ‘They were never interested. This is the first time I have told anyone.’

Now it was my turn to cry. This wonderful woman, who was now 81 years old, embarked on this journey when she was 18 years of age, as an act of responsibility to meet the shortage of rural labour in Australia. She was a city girl and embraced farm jobs that would challenge any strong male. She adjusted to the heat and cold, dust and insects, long hours working outside and minimum wage and leave opportunities.

Young Vietnam Soldiers

The project led me to wonder how many others involved in the war effort, talk about their journey. As a young trainee nurse, I worked in Concord Repatriation Hospital in Sydney, during the Vietnam War. We heard many stories as we did back care on the young soldiers when they were bed-bound, or when we were dressing their wounds or just sitting with them in the darkness of the ward after lights out. The psychological support we provided was just as vital to their rehabilitation as the medical and nursing duties that we provided. The stories bubbled out of them like a deep underground river of experiences which had gathered from a network of sources. We were allowing the young soldiers to tell their story however they wished, and we provided no judgment or criticism. We were under 20 years of age ourselves and today, I marvel at the maturity my peers and I displayed. 

Australian Soldier
August 1968.
Australian Soldier. Double amputee.
Concord Hospital
AWM LES/68/0312/BC

I remember one young soldier thanking me for listening. He could not tell his family of his experiences because of guilt and shame that he felt, but also because he wasn’t sure how to control his feelings of anger and confusion. He thought the family didn’t want to know but were happy just to have him back safe.

War Journals

War stories are important. I was contacted last year by an elderly gentleman who had his aunt’s war journals dating back to the 1st World War and wondered what he could do with them. I read some of those articulate entries and realized how powerful and important the stories were and what a roadmap of the aunt’s involvement in the war effort and illustrations of her character and personality.

Don’t lose their stories

These stories are so important to families and send such an important message to young people of today. The courage and commitment of those involved in providing services to their country in whatever format must not be lost.

If you have a family member who would like to tell their story and have it documented in a book, please contact me. The journey will be a wonderful recognition and they will thank you as it may be something they have secretly wanted all these years.

Ring me today and let’s get to work.

 

‘God of our fathers, known of old, Lord of our far-flung battle line, Beneath whose awful hand we hold dominion over palm and pine—Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget—lest we forget!’

Recessional. 1897. Rudyard Kipling.

Another war story that needs to be told

References

Australian War Memorial.  Australian Women’s Land Army.  Accessed online Australian Women’s Land Army

Images

Australian War Memorial.  Sydney NSW August 1968. Liet. Gordon Lyall Simpson (24). and Nursing Sister Kay Worsley. Concord Repatriation Hospital. Accessed online  AWM LES/68/0312/EC

Australian War Memorial.  Australian Women’s Land Army  Accessed Online.  ARTVO1062

Declare your love with a unique Valentine’s Day gift

Valentine’s Day needs a revamp.

Aren’t you tired of giving those flowers and chocolates which are forgotten before the week is up?

Valentine's Day
Valentine’s Day

Declare your love with a gift that will remain forever a beautiful memory that is timeless.

A record of your relationship documented in a beautiful hardcover book with your photos preserved for generations is the perfect gift for those serious about relationships.

Make Valentine’s Day the occasion for an original and creative gift that will express the fullness of your love. If you are serious about your intentions, a love book is the only way to go.

How did it all start?

It started long before commercial enterprises realized that Valentine’s Day is the day to make the biggest profit of the year. It was well before the 14th Century and martyrs and lovers went to their demise for Saint Valentine of Rome. In some countries, it was the Christian Liturgical feast days that empowered young lovers to face imprisonment for marrying their forbidden lovers, but once Geoffrey Chaucer picked up on the tradition of romantic love, the idea flourished. By the 18th Century, the English had added flowers and chocolates to society’s pressures of impress the hearts of young loves and from that, commercial businesses took the concept to its present dazzling heights.

Love is for all

Life Stories are about love and relationships and the celebrating of life journeys. This places them well within the interpretation of Valentine’s Day being about love between people of all ages. In fact, it may be groups of people that want to celebrate their relationships such as families, friends or any group – love is for all. Whether your love is secret or not, you need to find a way to express it once and for all.

I was reminded of the heaviness of secret love one morning when I received an international phone call.

Life Stories of Secret Love and Valentine’s Day gift

Valentine's Day
Valentine’s Day and a Book on your love story

A young man wanted the story of his relationship with his secret lover documented in words that he could not find in time for Valentine’s Day. He said to me he wanted to open his heart to a writer who could express his story to his lover in such a way that she would understand and embrace their secret love.

The journey that I entered with my new client was conducted over SKYPE. It lost none of its potency through this media and at times, I think it enhanced it as my client was able to imagine that he was alone in the room and emptying his heart.

I listened and recorded the story as it had germinated between himself and the young girl when they were 14 years old. The beginnings were innocent, humble and intermittent at first, and only slowly built as innocent connections formed building blocks of a web of friendship and then deep love.

As life goes, the sweet fragrance of young love ran its course and dissipated with events and happenings on their life journey. The young love was no more than a fragile memory of delicacy and regret for what might have been.

It was many years ago, that the couple met again, their gazes catching at a public gathering. To their amazement, the sparks of young love were rekindled, and the secret love of adolescence became the secret love of an intense and mature relationship.

The Journey of a Life Writer

My journey throughout this project was a challenge for me. The task given to me to bring to life on paper the journey of my two lovers amidst cultural barriers and unrest required me to do my own research and explore traditions and rituals that I knew nothing about. I needed to understand to give context that would enhance my client’s love story.

This is the value of a Life Story Professional. The skills and abilities brought to the table to produce a body of work that is of high caliber and worthy of be considered an excellent and timeless document are numerous. Listening and making the client feel comfortable and worthy are essential and after that, the craft unfolds itself.

Contact today

If you would like your love relationship documented, give me a ring today. A Gift Certificate would be a wonderful Valentine Day gift and even better if you both contributed.

 Life Stories

Valentine’s Day – Valentine’s Day – Valentine’s Day
Valentine's Day
Valentine’s Day is a Life Story Opportunity

Member of Life Stories Australia Inc. the Industry Association for Life Writers

Family Stories and Christmas are like Grand Central.

Christmas time and Family Stories belong together as does yummy pudding and custard.

Don’t miss the opportunity

Family Stories
Family Stories and Christmas are warm and fuzzy times

Christmas time is a time when families come together or if they don’t physically, they certainly do mentally and emotionally. Christmas time is a time to rehash all the stories exaggerated or not, of family members’ quirks, strange behaviours or extraordinary life events and experiences.

Everyone has a story and children love to hear them. The stories they love most are the everyday stories we perhaps easily forget, how parents and grandparents met, what happened in the ‘old days’ and of course, they love a bit of ‘naughtiness’ and humour thrown in the mix.

My grandchildren love the stories of when their father at their age, broke the front window of our house, and then a few hours later, the window of his bedroom at the back of the house. They love the story of when he was being particularly naughty and knew he was going to get a smack (as children did in those days); he anticipated his punishment and put a book down the inside of his pants. Of course, I add in that I knew the book was there and let him get away with it anyway, (I think they love this bit best).

Equally, they love hearing of Dad’s successes, claiming the title of Australian Champion of VJ Sailing, his leadership roles in the community and at school. The grandchildren easily relate to all these things and, so they become part of the family story.

Write my life
Daddy’s successes and other funny stories are part of the family history

Families come together because they need a shared past with their kin. People’s identify is strongly tied to the family characteristics and family traits become something to be celebrated and cherished. Even the ‘odd’ people in the family take on a different role when the time is taken to listen to their story and perspectives.

Family stories are part of family culture and tradition and people need family rituals to reinforce their belonging and emotional wellbeing.

Establishing a link between family members and generations through simple stories is one of the most powerful gifts you can give children and Christmas is the ideal time to start your collection.

Recording family stories

Capturing family stories need not be a tedious event. It can be fun and interactive. Smartphones are the magician of the current generation in my view and a very useful tool for capturing life stories.

Older children or adolescents may be thrilled to be asked to approach various people in the family, take them to a quiet spot and record their life stories.  It may be useful to equip the young interviewers with some key questions and leave them to it. Young people are very resourceful once they listen.

Other ways to ignite and record family stories could include:

  • Forming a small circle and starting a conversation by ‘remember when’ will stir up memories that may have lay dormant for decades.
  • Circulating a photo and allowing conversation and memories to explode.

Even if the family Christmas is a small occasion, rekindling memories in the same way and recording them is a warm and fuzzy Christmas day activity.

What happens then

Many families have a tech-savvy member who could collate all the stories and put them on a CD or a family website.

Family stories
Recording family stories and storing them on Family Website or Book – Wonderful

Some families have a writer who could transcribe the stories and put them into a beautiful book for all to share. You could also share any photos from that photo box under the bed that we all have – that would be amazing.

Contact Write My Journey

Alternatively, you could contact Write My Journey and we could write the stories up into a family story album, linking the stories and bring the album to life with much more.

Writing memoir

Writing Memoir doesn’t mean ‘tell all’

Writing memoir about living people does come with some rules and even warning signs.

We live in a litigious society and whilst people may tolerate family jokes about their quirks and rare moments of inappropriate behaviours, they may not like these instances immortalised in a family story album. Words on a page are unforgiving and a reader may set in their mind-stone facts that are incidental and not true to the person’s nature or life story.

Quirky behaviour
Quirky Behaviour makes you unique

Everyone has moments of indiscretion or behaviours outside of their true nature or perhaps their quirky nature is what makes them unique.  A former friend of mine filled his waking hours telling stories of other people’s odd behaviours and life moments, thus ensuring that person earned a reputation for being inappropriate or an odd-ball. This former friend eventually earned himself a poor reputation. Similarly, writing memoir from a disposition of negativity, anger or criticism can lead to your work being dismissed which is not what you intend. It can also leave you vulnerable to legal action.

Telling your Truth

Writing memoir is about telling your truth as you perceive it; however, a wise and responsible writer will firstly explore their perspective with insight and humanity. Writing memoir is often tempered by the unleashing of emotion whether it be anger, joy, grief or happiness. Making a distinction between the expression of words reflecting a focused writer connecting readers to the rich tapestry of their life and family history and the undisciplined drainage of harsh and critical negative views is the hallmark of a quality life story writer and memoirist.Continue Reading