The Skeleton that Leaped Out of My Closet

Leaping Skeletons, Part 1
By Susan McKenzie
"I just don't feel like my life is worth it. I've made so many mistakes and I don't want the whole world to know about them!" exclaimed a local senior citizen, who I will fictitiously name "Dean".  He had just finished sharing one of the most amazing life stories I've heard this month. Dean, like many of us, did not recognize the true value of his life experiences!

As we talked I noticed a couple more senior citizens quietly moving closer to us, their curiosity only thinly veiled. Like most people, once this gentleman began talking about his family and his marriage of 51-years, it was like a dam burst and more and more stories began to pour out. Before long, he was asking questions like, "My wife might feel uncomfortable if we told that part about my step-dad… we don't have to write about that, do we?"

I assured him that he had full control over the content of his life story book. In fact, he would own the copyright!
A smile brightened his sun-burned face… as if a light bulb had just flipped on and he exclaimed, "You know, I'm going to make this a surprise for my wife! We'll make it a tribute to our marriage of 51-years. I'll get my daughter to help me. Oh, she's going to love this!"
The focus suddenly switched off himself and onto his wife and children. Now he understood the purpose of writing a life story!
And that is the source of this man's true wealth… he just hit pay dirt!
The most precious part of his life was his dynamic relationship with his high school sweetheart of 51-years. His grandchildren and his children running a close second…
Having endured a life-threatening illness, Dean knew what was most important. Was it the half-million dollar home, the successful businesses, or the real estate investments? No, his real legacy was written in his heart… in the acts and thoughts of love he treasured for his sweetheart and his family.
Just a few moments before, Dean had shed a couple of tears in sharing some things he confessed he had never confided with anyone else outside his family before… but those few dark threads of his childhood only served to wonderfully contrast and highlight the beautiful mosaic he had created for his family. In fact, this husband and father had turned his whole family around, creating an entirely new legacy!
Sometimes it takes an outsider's perspective to glean those golden nuggets of valuable life experience… to paint us the true picture and to help us fully appreciate the actual value of what we've gained through even life's hardest trials.
From sharing his story, to discussing what Dean did and didn't want included in his life story book, to discovering the real purpose for sharing his story, took only about 2-hours.

How about you? It's your turn now.

What will your grandchildren miss out on if your story isn't written?

Do you feel your life story is too full of pain to write about? Do you feel it’s better to keep those past mistakes, challenges, and even failures under lock and key?

          Maybe you’re like most people and you’ve got a closet full of painful memories that are stuffed away, hopefully to be forgotten! But wait! Before you throw away the key, did you know there is treasure inside each memory?

It’s the times when we’ve tried and failed… the times when we’ve been stolen from or lost what is most dear to our heart… when we’ve reach the end of our rope those pearls of great price are produced!
Isn’t it true that the people we love to be with the most are those who have endured the pain, have matured in the process, and as a result, have a deep, fiery compassion that ignites the flame in our own spirit to keep burning? People like that are worth more than gold!
A life story book is not the complete “beginning to ending” of your life… you are a work in progress, and so is your life story book. If you’re like me, you might be going through the toughest time of your life… a time when everything looks upside down and inside out. You may be tempted to set your life story writing aside. After all, who wants to read a “woe is me pity-party” chapter of your life story? That’s where my “365 Life Story Interview Prompts” help to guide you through recording your life story.
Your children and grandchildren want to know you!
Ponder this life story interview prompt: Describe the most challenging time of your life. What were the circumstances? How did you feel? What did you learn about yourself, about others, and about your God?
Okay, now use your imagination and pretend your own father, mother, or grandparent has been asked this question and they have taken the time to write it in their life story book that you are holding in your hands right now. You are reading their response at this moment.
Check your pulse. Did your heart skip a beat? Your chest might be expanding as your heart swells with love for this loved one. Maybe there is a lump in your throat. Suddenly more pieces of your own life begin falling into place as increased understanding and wisdom form a union – a stronger bond – with the person sharing their story. You see your loved one in a totally different light and your heart swells with love!
We all appreciate honesty and we are grateful for people in our lives that are vulnerable and transparent enough to open their closet and pull out the treasures of their lifetime. Gold is refined in fire. Don’t be afraid of the fires of life… that great “mess” you’re in? It becomes a “message”.
Believe it or not: The greatest and most precious treasures come out of the worst periods of our lives.
Don’t feel bad if you’ve been setting aside your life story writing for “a better time”. It’s not too late. Give it a try. I dare you to answer the life story interview prompt posed above. Pretend you are one of your own great-great grandchildren… a person you have yet to meet and who will only know you by the legacy you leave her via your written word and stories!
Still kinda scared? Okay, I’ll go first!
But first, I don't want you to miss out on getting started with your own life story! Stay tuned for my next article on skeletons leaping out of my closet, part 2! Now go ahead… it's FREE… you'll get instant access to my "All-in-One" Life Story Book Kit by registering to receive this free gift below. Thank you on behalf of your children and grandchildren for giving them a living family legacy!

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan McKenzie April 18, 2012 at 11:02 am

Weeks and months have passed by since I last saw Dean at the pool, but one day I noticed Dean's wife had joined him in the outdoor hot mineral springs pool. I was in a nearby hot tub and had the opportunity to watch this couple of a distance.

Dean used the hot mineral springs pool for medicinal purposes. Although his home is in Nebraska he lives in an RV for several weeks at a time in Thermopolis, and uses the pool for several hours a day to keep the pain from numerous serious injuries and illness at bay. His wife had come from Nebraska to spend a day with him, and it was absolutely stunning to watch this couple walk step-for-step back and forth across the pool with each other.

Absorbed in themselves, but not oblivious to everyone around them… smiling most of the time, this couple were fascinating to watch. It was like a symphony of love and they almost appeared to be dancing in the pool, side-by-side, for hours.

I was too far way to hear their conversation, and I wouldn't have eavesdropped anyway… but I could tell they completely enjoyed each other's company.

I see a lot of couples at this pool every day…. but this couple was definitely set apart in their love for each other. What a love story they have to share!


Solvita October 2, 2011 at 11:58 am

Well…I think my life story would be soooo long and it would need a lot of writing, could someone write it for me please?? Also not sure if I would like to share all the family secrets – they are not perfect – believe me 😉


Susan McKenzie October 2, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Solvita, we all share the same concerns… and look how beautiful your life has become and how inspiring and encouraging you are to so many! Sometimes it does take an objective eye and hand to pen the words… that’s where the “Life Story Portraits” become valuable ( … because your life is a treasure. Only wounded people (translated imperfect) people can help to bring healing, hope, and light to others. We instinctively distrust the ‘perfect’ people because there are none… only those who wear masks. Our scars are beautiful… you are beautiful, Solvita! Thanks so much for sharing!!


denny hagel September 29, 2011 at 7:19 pm

As you know, I am forever blessed to have had the time with my mom to glean her parenting words of wisdom and get them on paper…now fast forward…my granddaughter Kaitlyn is turning 14 this weekend!  She recently  asked me to start writing a "grandma's journal" for her! Of course I immediately thought of you! Glad you are back…missed you and your genuine sweet soul. :))


Susan McKenzie September 29, 2011 at 10:01 pm

With you as her daughter publishing her wisdom, the whole world is now blessed, Denny!!! I’m so glad you took the time to gather her words and compile them at what a treasure chest!!!!


Scarlett Von Gunten September 29, 2011 at 5:13 pm

This is so inspiring! I love how you encourage me to write my life story even if it's painful. I'm working on it now. Thank you! I love how you wrote "In fact, this husband and father had turned his whole family around, creating an entirely new legacy!" That's what I hope I'm doing with mine. 🙂


Susan McKenzie September 29, 2011 at 6:53 pm

I’m so happy, Scarlett…. I know, for certain, you are creating a powerful family legacy! If you want to share some of your chapters here, please let me know… I’d love to have you as a guest blogger!


Carla J Gardiner September 29, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Great story of life and it's lessons, Susan. You have a great gift to give people…one that draws us out of our shells and secrecy and into and onto the pages of our legacy. Thanks for sharing Dean's story…makes me want to continue sharing my own story.



Susan McKenzie September 29, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Carla, I love the story you shared of your grandma and the influence she had on your becoming an entrepreneur… I hope to read more of your stories soon! You are a great life story writer 🙂


Lori Thayer September 29, 2011 at 11:09 am

Great idea. We recorded some of my Grandfather's stories before he passed and they are treasured.


Susan McKenzie September 29, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Lori, you are a very wise woman! Not many people get as far as you have…. I love how you use the word “treasured” – for truly these life stories are precious!


Wil September 29, 2011 at 9:57 am

Susan, This is something I wish my dad had been well enough to leave for us – the story of his life and as many memories as he could pack into it. Now that he's gone, so many of my questions must remain unanswered. Miss him.


Susan McKenzie September 29, 2011 at 10:26 am

I wish my father had left his legacy in written form, as well… there are so many questions I would love to ask of him! But I am helping my mom write hers, and it’s been the most amazing blessing! I hope you will consider writing your own life story so your children won’t have regrets one day…. they will thank you for it…. even the great-great-grandchildren you may not meet on Earth. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!


Carol Giambri September 28, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Great story Susan.  My parents are both deceased.  Thank you for sharing.


Susan McKenzie September 29, 2011 at 10:27 am

Carol, I know there is a wonderful life story in you…. I know your children and grandchildren will be blessed to have your story recorded! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂


Michele September 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm

What a lovely story…I think I'm going to interview my Dad…I am sure I'll learn a few things in the process!
Thanks Susan 😉


Susan McKenzie September 28, 2011 at 11:12 pm

What a great opportunity, Michele… please let me know how it goes! I bet you will learn many things along the way… I wish I could do the same with my dad, who passed away many years ago! 🙂


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