Leaning into Ancient Heritage and Modern Traditions

Leaning into Ancient Heritage and Modern Traditions

Ancient Heritage and Modern Traditions

 

Leaning into Ancient Heritage and Modern Traditions

How one family with eclectic views comes together to celebrate their mutual ties

My mom really enjoys the holiday season. I should say seasons. She likes all the holidays. She loves to go all out in December, though. Which inspires my brother, his family, and myself to really enjoy it, too. We have a unique tradition we celebrate that has become a family favorite over time. It’s our way of honoring our own ancient heritage and modern traditions. It’s a nice mash up for a modern family seeking meaning inside the commercialized societal traditions we are ‘encouraged’ to celebrate. I’ll just leave that one there. You can fill in the blank as to your view on how we’re ‘encouraged.’

For us, it all goes off the rails pretty quickly in regard to fitting with popular culture’s expectations. My brother, his wife, and my niece are practicing Nichiren Buddhists. My niece is Japanese-American, and my sister-in-law is Japanese. My brother has been practicing buddhism for thirty-five years now. I tend to find my own spiritual solace and connection in nature; it’s a large part of my life and deeply important to me. It feeds my soul. My mom hasn’t set foot in a Christian Church service for likely 40 years, but she still reveres the traditions she grew up with. She’s not alone, we enjoy it, too.

Ancient Heritage

Her parents, my grandparents, were of Nordic descent – Danish and Finnish. As a family, we’ve always felt very connected to our Viking and Scandinavian roots. I was lucky enough to know and remember my Finnish great-grandmother, whom we called Mumu. She came to America on her own when she was just 13 years old. She passed away when I was five, but I recall her ‘babushka-like’ presence, and visiting her house in Berkeley that had an ice box for the refrigerator and a stove that was wood burning in her kitchen.

I recall her ‘babushka-like’ presence, and visiting her house in Berkeley that had an ice box for the refrigerator and a stove that was wood burning in her kitchen.

My mom is an artist, and while I was growing up in the ‘70s, she would make our family’s group holiday gift each year with her own two hands. All who received her creations would oooh and ahhh over her creativity. One year she created this really unforgettable framed piece of art. She had to drive all the way to Vallejo to procure her main implement, a large fresh caught fish with its head intact. This fish also had to be of a “pleasing” shape and the right length. With her artist’s implement, the 12 or so inch fish, she applied ink all over one side of its body and then used it as a stamp onto a piece of rectangular tinfoil. What was produced was a really cool and detailed impression of the fish on the foil. You could see each scale, and most cool of all, it’s eye gazing out at you. She then matted and framed it, and that was the gift. She made all kinds of other interesting things over the years, stained glass windows, ceramics, and so on; but that fish sticks out in my mind.

Modern Traditions

Fast forward to more recent years and her artistic holiday creations have morphed to be quite culinary. These days we begin the holiday season by celebrating Santa Lucia Day, which for us, consists of drinking glögg in candlelight, feasting on my mom’s smorgasbord, and listening to Big Band music from the ‘30s and ‘40s while we trim her Christmas tree. This tradition is so layered for all of us, and I believe it’s the favorite party of the season for all.

These days we begin the holiday season by celebrating Santa Lucia Day, which for us, consists of drinking glögg in candlelight, feasting on my mom’s smorgasbord, and listening to Big Band music from the ‘30s and ‘40s.

My mom takes the opportunity to prepare this amazing smorgasbord spread. Center stage is the fish. She leans into old-world traditions as she’s able, while weaving in her own modern touches. She picks up salted herring from Nordic House (sadly closing its brick and mortar doors at the end of 2021) and spends the days leading up to the party making us three kinds of pickled herring. Also served is havarti and gjetost cheeses, pickled cucumbers, smoked salmon salad, rodkal (pickled red cabbage), along with a divine smattering of other bite sized delights. It’s festive and fun, and tasty, too.

It doesn’t stop with the food. She has also collected a wide assortment of Scandinavia themed plates and decor over her lifetime, so the whole candle-lit scene holds a lovely Nordic vibe.

Glögg is mulled wine; spiced, warmed, and delish. The best part is when we all toast our first sips of glögg, strongly pronouncing, “skøl!,” as we make eye-contact with each person. I feel in that moment our ancestors are conjured, as we drink to their memory and to our own health and connection.

I feel in that moment our ancestors are conjured, as we drink to their memory and to our own health and connection.

Santa Lucia Day, which falls on December 13, was the original solstice celebration date and is my chance to reflect on my own ancient heritage and modern traditions. One of the things I love is how this family feast gets me in the mindset of honoring the coming Winter Solstice, the longest night, in the week prior to its actual occurrence. I take the opportunity to go out in nature and reflect on the year prior and ponder what seeds I’d like to plant for the coming year. What ways do you allow yourself to stop and reflect on the previous year? Do you have any of your own rituals or practices? Are there ways in which you weave your own ancient heritage and modern traditions?

What ways do you allow yourself to stop and reflect on the previous year? Do you have any of your own rituals or practices? Are there ways in which you weave your own ancient heritage and modern traditions?

Below is a StoryCatcher® video I made a handful of years ago at our Santa Lucia Day party where you can see the smorgasbord and hear a little more about the tradition 

What meaning or connection do traditions bring to your life?

video made using StoryCatcher® for iPhone

[original text below via Wikipedia]
Santa Lucia Day, also called the Feast of Saint Lucy, is a Christian feast day observed on 13 December. The observance commemorates Lucia of Syracuse, an early-4th-century virgin martyr under the Diocletianic Persecution, who according to legend brought food and aid to Christians hiding in the Roman catacombs, wearing a candle lit wreath on her head to light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible. Her feast day, which coincided with the shortest day of the year prior to calendar reforms, is widely celebrated as a festival of light. Falling within the Advent season, Saint Lucy’s Day is viewed as a precursor of Christmastide, pointing to the arrival of the Light of Christ in the calendar on Christmas Day. 

modern traditions

Saint Lucy’s Day is celebrated most widely in Scandinavia and in Italy, with each emphasizing a different aspect of her story. In Scandinavia, where Lucy is called Santa Lucia, she is represented as a lady in a white dress symbolizing a baptismal robe and a red sash symbolizing the blood of her martyrdom, with a crown or wreath of candles on her head.

Blog Post Author:

April Bell is a Professional Personal Historian and founder at Tree of Life Legacies. She has been operating her storytelling and wisdom keeping project in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the United States since 2008. April utilizes her innate skills as an active listener to connect with others and draw out their stories and authentic, heartfelt values to be preserved and shared for generations to come. Her clients include individuals, families and organizations who value the power of story. In an effort to provide the gift of video storytelling to the world at large via a simple, fun and easy to use tool, she and her business partner, iPhone app coder Urs Brauchli, released StoryCatcher® for iPhone in the Fall of 2013. Available on the Apple App Store.

ancient heritage and modern traditions

Glögg;  a warm, mulled wine.

ancient heritage and modern traditions

Three kinds of pickled herring; curried, fried, and mustard-dill.

ancient heritage and modern traditions

Smoked salmon rolls, and blood oranges marinated in a mixture of grapeseed oil with fresh minced garlic and rosemary.

ancient heritage and modern traditions

Salmon salad, stuffed tomatoes, and pickled cucumbers.

Video:

ancient heritage and modern traditions

A Santa Lucia celebration in Sweden; magical music, singing and traditions; fantastic production. Click on the image to view.

ancient heritage and modern traditions

Similar to Mumu’s wood burning stove.

“My Life in Paragraphs” Card Deck

My Life in Paragraphs card deck
My Life in Paragraphs card deck

Provocative Story Prompts

This legacy story card deck is designed to accompany the “My LIfe in Paragraphs” course, and was created by me, April Bell. The cards may also serve as stand-alone prompts to spark stories that have brought meaning, learning, and purpoose to you life.  Get your cards now.

StoryCatcher for iOS

Get StoryCatcher® on The Apple App Store

Easily create and share personal video stories. Your privacy is number one – once you download the app, you have 100% control over your media and data. My business partner, Urs Brauchli, and I started our co-creation of this app in 2011 to help people like you share more stories.

Fostering Resilience in Children

Fostering Resilience in Children

How Valuable Are Your Loved Ones’ Stories?

 

Fostering Resilience in Children

What if I told you there was a way you could contribute to the happiness and resilience of your children and their children? Would you do it? What would it have meant if someone had done that for you?

StoryCatcher® for iOS is a delightful tool to help families do this.

Recent happiness research says that children who know their family narrative exhibit more resilience, and a stronger sense of love and belonging. Children unaware of their predecessors tend to be more challenged in these areas. It has been proved that our children benefit from knowing not only our triumphs, but also our struggles and how we persevered.

Children who know their family narrative exhibit more resilience, and a stronger sense of love and belonging.

This knowledge has deepened my commitment to reaching more people and making the process of capturing, saving, and sharing one’s personal stories fun, engaging, and something that is enriching to all.

A life story saved in a way that it can be passed on to future generations is the best gift anyone can leave for their children, grandchildren, and generations to come. It’s the most personal gift, the gift with the most meaning, the gift that only the storyteller can give.

A life story saved in a way that it can be passed on to future generations is the best gift

Stories can be saved in print, audio, or video, but what I love about working in video is witnessing the essence of a person, seeing that sparkle in the eye, hearing the inflection of his voice, watching that moment when she recalls a joyful or poignant memory, and the tears begin to well. Seeing that, capturing it on film . . . it’s irreplaceable.

Once those precious life moments are saved for all time and the family receives it—really understands the importance of what we have achieved . . . that’s priceless.

My client Michael Rosa deeply understood the value of the work a personal historian does and wants everyone to know why saving his mom’s story was important to him.

What would this mean to your loved ones to have their lives, their stories, their beliefs and blessings honored in this way? Don’t wait another day. You know how valuable YOUR loved one’s story is . . . don’t you?

S t o r y C a t c h e r | for iOS is a fantastic family history storytelling tool and a way to get started saving and sharing the stories of your life and love.

Blog Post Author:

April Bell is a Professional Personal Historian and founder at Tree of Life Legacies. She has been operating her storytelling and wisdom keeping project in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the United States since 2008. April utilizes her innate skills as an active listener to connect with others and draw out their stories and authentic, heartfelt values to be preserved and shared for generations to come. Her clients include individuals, families and organizations who value the power of story. In an effort to provide the gift of video storytelling to the world at large via a simple, fun and easy to use tool, she and her business partner, iPhone app coder Urs Brauchli, released StoryCatcher® for iPhone in the Fall of 2013. Available on the Apple App Store.

Live & Online Retreats

Join me in engaging retreat experiences to discover your legacy stories, one paragraph at a time. Learn more about My Life in Paragraphs.

“My Life in Paragraphs” Card Deck

My Life in Paragraphs card deck
My Life in Paragraphs card deck

Provocative Story Prompts

This legacy story card deck is designed to accompany the “My LIfe in Paragraphs” course, and was created by me, April Bell. The cards may also serve as stand-alone prompts to spark stories that have brought meaning, learning, and purpose to you life.  Get your cards now.

StoryCatcher for iOS

Get StoryCatcher® on The Apple App Store

Easily create and share personal video stories. Your privacy is number one – once you download the app, you have 100% control over your media and data. My business partner, Urs Brauchli, and I started our co-creation of this app in 2011 to help people like you share more stories.

Your Most Important Gift

Your Most Important Gift

~Your Most Important Gift~

 

You Matter

This is for anyone who has held the honorable place in life of guiding another soul. It’s important to note, you don’t have to be a biological parent to hold that sort of importance in a child’s life ― no matter their age. Consider including those you’ve been a mentor or guide to. You never know how you might touch another with your legacy storytelling.

What greater gift than to give them ourselves, to let them know us and have us, when they’re ready to know, when they are available to receive and understand all that we are always offering.

Our kids are our kids, for all of life. They look to us for guidance, learning, hope and security. What greater gift than to give them ourselves, to let them know us and have us, when they’re ready to know, when they are available to receive and understand all that we are always offering.

I hope you read all of the below article, it’s powerful and important and will potentially inspire you to start collecting little gifts today that they will some day cherish beyond anything else they have in their lives. You may choose to do this in writing; my friend Elizabeth, whom I recorded a video biography with, is further expanding her collection and has embarked on a journey called, “my life in paragraphs.” You might consider using StoryCatcher® and creating a collection of short videos telling about your life, lessons, values and hopes. You may feel most comfortable expressing yourself via an audio only format, which can easily be done any time, any where using a smart phone or mini voice recorder.

Start collecting little gifts (stories) today that they will some day cherish beyond anything else they have in their lives.

Share when you’re inspired to. Create a little collection, or even a big one. Do it on your own or consult a professional for help and guidance. Save your data somewhere you’re sure your loved ones will find it or tell them where it is. It’s the greatest gift you will ever leave them. I promise you that.


 

Slate.com | Dear Kids by John Dickerson, | Published May 8th, 2014

“Mom also kept letters she wrote to me, which prove my point. I don’t remember getting them when they were originally sent…they’re full of wisdom as I reread them…”


 

Enjoy Jorja’s wisdom on having a positive impact:

Live & Online Retreats

Join me in engaging retreat experiences to discover your legacy stories, one paragraph at a time. Learn more about My Life in Paragraphs.

“My Life in Paragraphs” Card Deck

My Life in Paragraphs card deck
My Life in Paragraphs card deck

Provocative Story Prompts

This legacy story card deck is designed to accompany the “My LIfe in Paragraphs” course, and was created by me, April Bell. The cards may also serve as stand-alone prompts to spark stories that have brought meaning, learning, and purpoose to you life.  Get your cards now.
StoryCatcher for iOS

Get StoryCatcher® on The Apple App Store

Easily create and share personal video stories. Your privacy is number one – once you download the app, you have 100% control over your media and data. My business partner, Urs Brauchli, and I started our co-creation of this app in 2011 to help people like you share more stories.

Blog Post Author:

April Bell is a Professional Personal Historian and founder at Tree of Life Legacies. She has been operating her storytelling and wisdom keeping project in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the United States since 2008. April utilizes her innate skills as an active listener to connect with others and draw out their stories and authentic, heartfelt values to be preserved and shared for generations to come. Her clients include individuals, families and organizations who value the power of story. In an effort to provide the gift of video storytelling to the world at large via a simple, fun and easy to use tool, she and her business partner, iPhone app coder Urs Brauchli, released StoryCatcher® for iPhone in the Fall of 2013. Available on the Apple App Store.

Listening Is A Gift

Listening Is A Gift

~ To Listen – A Magical Gift ~

 

Listening; Your Greatest Gift!

In a recent TEDTalkStoryCorps founder David Isay noted, “Every day, people come up to me and say, I wish I had interviewed my father or my grandmother or my brother. But I waited too long. Now no one has to wait anymore.” What Isay is referring to is the launch of StoryCorps’ Android and iOS app earlier this year, made possible by the 2015 one-million dollar TED Prize.

Similar in function to StoryCatcher®, The StoryCorps app allows users to do an oral history interview that can be shared as well as uploaded to the StoryCorps website and archived to the Library of Congress. The beauty of both apps is they give one the chance to seize the moment AND get the story using a device that is all too often right at their fingertips. No longer does one need to regret having “waited too long.” Isay has stated in interviews that, for him, “the soul is contained in the human voice.”

For some (myself included), the human soul, our true essence, resides within the eyes, or within witnessing that mysterious “thing” that animates a person, their mannerisms or way of being. For these folks, StoryCatcher® for iPhone, the app I developed in 2013 with my techie-wizard business partner Urs Brauchli, is their avenue for capturing and preserving family stories. While the StoryCorps app rests on the creation of audio interviews, StoryCatcher®’s function is recording sharable life stories on video.

What both of these apps provide is the invaluable framework for effectively capturing a meaningful family story.

Both apps give a step-by-step guide, including great questions to ask, so that an interviewee or an interviewer might easily capture and share a loved one’s story. Below this post are tips on how to get the most out of recording stories with your smartphone.

Imagine your child could meet their great-grandparents. Through stories they can. These days, with the growing presence of technology as part of our daily lives, there is a profusion of smart phone apps available to assist one in finding a solution to just about any problem. As such, one could postulate that it’s become easier than ever to record a loved one’s stories. Or has it?

One of the things most professional personal historians live for is the profound privilege of assisting others in authentically sharing their family stories and being the steward of this sacred rite.

What we do best is help and guide others in sharing themselves through stories. 

Over the last few years, a myriad of options have become available for recording audio or video, on the fly, with a smartphone. Just do a search on The Apple App Store for “record audio” or “record video,” and you’ll be provided with thousands of apps to choose from. What’s missing in most of these audio/video apps is the guidance on HOW to tell and capture a story. Just as a personal historian helps a narrator shape and tell their story in a compelling way, what’s been missing with these audio/video recording apps is exactly that kind of guidance. Now, with StoryCatcher® adn StoryCorps, that gap has been narrowed.

It would appear the time has surely arrived for us all to embrace the convenience and magic of modern technology in the realm of capturing loved ones personal history. No longer will one have the regret of waiting too long, losing the opportunity to preserve their family stories.

Today we have the ability to capture and share the priceless gifts these stories are, right in our pockets.

   
Tips For Recording With Your iPhone:

FIND A QUIET SPOT: Free of background noise and distractions with flattering light, if you’re recording a video.

SET YOUR INTERVIEWEE AT EASE: Make this time together playful and fun – you can always start over with a “Take 2” or “Take 3” if they have trouble finding the exact words they’d like to start with.

SET THEM UP: Have a little conversation prior to filming or recording to see what story they’re interested in sharing. I always pick one that they have a lot of energy around. You can use StoryCatcher’s “Interview Tips” for help. StoryCorps provides prompts as well. Remember, this time is about honoring them, refrain from the need to tell your own stories until after you’ve finished recording. Please DO share stories and consider taking turns recording each other.

LISTEN: It’s such a gift to be the space of listening for another. Remain present and fully engaged while the person relates their tale, giving positive visual cues along the way, such as nods, smiles or an emphatic facial expression.

GIVE THEM SPACE: Sometimes when people pause while speaking it’s because they are accessing an old memory. Don’t give in to the need to fill that space of silence with a question right away – give them the chance to share what might be there for them. Patience is also a gift. You might be surprised what comes out of that generous space.

Live & Online Retreats

Join me in engaging retreat experiences to discover your legacy stories, one paragraph at a time. Learn more about My Life in Paragraphs.

“My Life in Paragraphs” Card Deck

My Life in Paragraphs card deck
My Life in Paragraphs card deck

Provocative Story Prompts

This legacy story card deck is designed to accompany the “My LIfe in Paragraphs” course, and was created by me, April Bell. The cards may also serve as stand-alone prompts to spark stories that have brought meaning, learning, and purpose to you life.  Get your cards now.

StoryCatcher for iOS

Get StoryCatcher® on The Apple App Store

Easily create and share personal video stories. Your privacy is number one – once you download the app, you have 100% control over your media and data. My business partner, Urs Brauchli, and I started our co-creation of this app in 2011 to help people like you share more stories.

Blog Post Author:

April Bell is a Professional Personal Historian and founder at Tree of Life Legacies. She has been operating her storytelling and wisdom keeping project in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the United States since 2008. April utilizes her innate skills as an active listener to connect with others and draw out their stories and authentic, heartfelt values to be preserved and shared for generations to come. Her clients include individuals, families and organizations who value the power of story. In an effort to provide the gift of video storytelling to the world at large via a simple, fun and easy to use tool, she and her business partner, iPhone app coder Urs Brauchli, released StoryCatcher® for iPhone in the Fall of 2013. Available on the Apple App Store.

The Ethical Will App for Video

The Ethical Will App for Video

~ StoryCatcher® is The Ethical Will App ~

What’s Your Story?

 

The Ethical Will App for Video

An Ethical Will Video allows you to pass on and share your values, beliefs, life lessons and hopes. Easily create and share an Ethical Will Video using StoryCatcher’s great questions to ask in the family theme. Tap Interview Tips to see the questions.

Share: Here is an ethical will video my friend Jon and I created using S t o r y C a t c h e r | for iPhone to share a valuable life lesson with his sons, Fin and Matt. More on Ethical Wills below the video.

In my experience, the term “Ethical Will” trips people up, gets them curious and also a little confused. The way I like to explain it is this:

“A financial planner will help you arrange and organize how to pass on and preserve your material wealth, whereas an Ethical Will serves to help you arrange, organize and pass on the essence of who you are.” ~ April Bell, Personal Historian

Ethical Wills are a centuries old Jewish tradition and are a way to pass on your values, beliefs and philosophies. This can include lessons learned, hopes and even regrets. You can do it in writing, via audio or via video. The format you choose is up to you.

Here’s what excites me about video:

    • We get to see the essence of who the person is, that sparkle in her eye, the sound of his voice, her laughter and the emotion behind his spoken words.
    • With StoryCatcher, we can easily add photos from the past and also screen text to state facts to support the story, such as dates or the full names of people and places referenced
    • We meet the younger generation where they’re at
    • It’s fun and easy to share

To record and share an Ethical Will Video, tap on the “family” theme when creating a New Story and you’ll find great questions to answer or to ask an interviewee.[/caption]

What exactly is an Ethical Will Video?

When I first started capturing people’s values and stories on video in 2008, I never would have imagined that technology would evolve so quickly, allowing anyone to easily record and share life stories or ethical will video on the fly. But here we are and it’s not only possible, I’ve had the honor to co-create an iPhone app to help you do just that!

Creating your own Ethical Will Video:

If you’re the type who likes to jump in and get started right away, refining as you go, download S t o r y C a t c h e r | for iPhone in the Apple App Store and you’ll be off and running. If you’re the type who likes to research, ponder and get ultra clear before expressing yourself, I highly recommend Dr. Barry K. Baines’ book Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values On Paper.

Imagine if you had the chance to hear and experience what hopes. dreams and wisdom your great-grandfather or great-grandmother had to share with you when he or she was your age. You can contribute that, right now, for future generations by creating an ethical will video. What better gift is there than that?


Blog Post Author:

April Bell is a Professional Personal Historian and founder at Tree of Life Legacies. She has been operating her Personal History Film business in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the United States since 2008. April utilizes her innate skills as an active listener to connect with others and draw out their stories and authentic, heartfelt values to be preserved and shared for generations to come. Her clients include individuals, families and organizations who value the power of story. In an effort to provide the gift of video storytelling to the world at large via a simple, fun and easy to use tool she and her business partner, iPhone app coder Urs Brauchli, released StoryCatcher for iPhone in the Fall of 2013.

Live & Online Retreats

Join me in engaging retreat experiences to discover your legacy stories, one paragraph at a time. Learn more about My Life in Paragraphs.

“My Life in Paragraphs” Card Deck

My Life in Paragraphs card deck
My Life in Paragraphs card deck

Provocative Story Prompts

This legacy story card deck is designed to accompany the “My LIfe in Paragraphs” course, and was created by me, April Bell. The cards may also serve as stand-alone prompts to spark stories that have brought meaning, learning, and purpoose to you life.  Get your cards now.

StoryCatcher for iOS

Get StoryCatcher® on The Apple App Store

Easily create and share personal video stories. Your privacy is number one – once you download the app, you have 100% control over your media and data. My business partner, Urs Brauchli, and I started our co-creation of this app in 2011 to help people like you share more stories.

Family Stories: Why We Tell Them

Family Stories: Why We Tell Them

Saving Family Stories – Now and Into the Future

 

Family Stories: Why We Tell Them

family stories

What family stories will you pass on?

What if I told you you could change a child’s life by sharing your family stories?

Would it move you into action?

Would it inspire you to start documenting that which you know about your own life, and the people who came before you?

Why Would You?

Sometimes when I talk to people about life legacy storytelling, the question comes up; why should I share my family stories? As a part of our human make-up, we often don’t know or understand the value of something until it’s gone. In the instance of family stories, “too late” happens all the time. Often because a storyteller is no longer able to impart the tales they’d been spinning and telling anyone who would listen over the years. They pass away or become ill in such a way they’re no longer able to communicate.

Those precious gems that are their stories, forever lost.

Where Do You Start?

How does one go about this activity of documenting family stories? What’s the best medium? When is the best time?

I’ll tell you. Right now.

The beauty of documenting family stories to be shared now, or one day in the future, is that as our children grow and mature, they develop a listening and a context in which they hear our stories in a way they may not be available for when we ourselves are inspired to tell them!

When I was seventeen years old, my mom could have told about me the struggles of raising two kids on her own, working hard at a temporary job she was uncertain she’d have in a month, and how scary that was for her. At seventeen, I would most likely have no idea what she was talking about. No frame of reference to be able to relate to her story.

Hearing that story again, at 35, after having raised a child myself, and having experienced uncertainty in my professional life, it generates an entirely different context for my listening and a new understanding who my mom was when I was growing up. With my own maturing, I could now see how resilient and committed she was to make sure her children had what they needed to get along in this world. I can know her, love her, and admire her in a whole new light.

Getting Help

The people who hire me to help document their family stories have quite often experienced some kind of lost opportunity to record a loved ones’ stories. That original storyteller may be gone, and my client knows they may still capture and share their family stories from those still here, who are able to communicate.

Recent happiness research has proved children who know their family’s narrative are happier and more resilient than children who don’t.

We owe it to our future generations to document their family stories.

Building Foundations

Our children look to us for guidance, learning, hope and security. For the whole of their lives. As they themselves grow into adulthood, they long to know who we really were at their same age. What greater gift than to give them ourselves, to let them know us and have us, when they’re ready to know, when they are available to receive and understand all that we are always offering? To give them the support they need, when they need it most.

Your Greatest Gift

My friend Elizabeth, whom I recorded a video biography with in 2012, is further expanding her collection of stories. She has embarked on a journey called, “My Life In Paragraphs” to tell more stories, on at at a time.

You might consider using the video storytelling app StoryCatcher®, and create a collection of vignette videos telling about your experiences, lessons, values, and hopes. You may feel most comfortable expressing yourself in writing or via an audio only format, which can easily be done any time, any where using a smart phone.

Share when you’re inspired to. Create a little collection, allow it to grow into a big one. Do it on your own or consult a professional for help and guidance.

It’s the greatest gift you will ever leave.

I promise you that.

Live & Online Retreats

Join me in engaging retreat experiences to discover your legacy stories, one paragraph at a time. Learn more about My Life in Paragraphs.

“My Life in Paragraphs” Card Deck

My Life in Paragraphs card deck
My Life in Paragraphs card deck

Provocative Story Prompts

This legacy story card deck is designed to accompany the “My LIfe in Paragraphs” course, and was created by me, April Bell. The cards may also serve as stand-alone prompts to spark stories that have brought meaning, learning, and purpoose to you life.  Get your cards now.
StoryCatcher for iOS

Get StoryCatcher® on The Apple App Store

Easily create and share personal video stories. Your privacy is number one – once you download the app, you have 100% control over your media and data. My business partner, Urs Brauchli, and I started our co-creation of this app in 2011 to help people like you share more stories.