Day 14: Mini Memoir – The Lost Art of Storytelling

The Garden of our Heart

By: Susan Deborah Schiller

From the "Write to Freedom" Mini Memoir E-Course A Call to Adventure!

Since ancient times, families have shared meals, from producing their own food, to preparing it and eating it together. At mealtime, everyone has a chance to share the story of their day. Stories make us feel at home, like we belong. Storytelling, music and bonfires have been a staple of family home entertainment systems for generations, but not so much today.

I see a correlation between the "lost art of storytelling" and the epidemic breakdown in relationships. Like an untended garden, neglect can bring ruin.

If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.  —Barry Lopez, in Crow and Weasel

I will tell you something about stories, (he said) They aren’t just entertainment. Don’t be fooled. They are all we have, you see, All we have to fight off illness and death —Leslie Marmon Silko

Today, it's more common to eat a quick meal on the run. We talk and text, even as we're eating. Social media updates beep from someone's phone every few minutes. It's hard to stay focused in the present, to what is happening around you.

While these devices are seemingly intended to keep us better connected, there's never been a worse time in history for the breakup of the family. And the family is the backbone of society! We need to rediscover human, heart-to-heart connection. Stories are the best medium of connection, and we can revive the lost art of storytelling!

Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact. — Robert McKee

Let's look at what is happening as you tend the garden of your heart, in writing your stories…

  • You're tilling the soil as you work through each activation, turning up the ground and releasing the memories.
  • You're planting seeds. In remembering the truth of what happened in your past, you are sowing more of the same into your future. How we tell our stories is critical to the health of our souls.
  • You're fertilizing by sharing in the stories of others… stories that inspire, encourage, and educate.
  • You're watering by writing these stories, even if only a cupful of words at a time.
  • You're celebrating the sprouts by not being overly critical of what you've written but instead by celebrating what you've recorded, whether you feel it's good, poor, or brilliant.
  • You're pulling weeds by re-framing painful memories so that negatives are turned into positives.
  • You're pruning by having someone else read your story and offer feedback.
  • You're eating its fruit and enjoying the beauty by publishing.

We are returning to a Garden of Eden lifestyle, in writing our memoirs. We dare to become naked and unashamed. We create our world. We chart a path into the future, creating a living family legacy.

You might consider this your "about page". It's not your full memoir. It's simply a page that tells us who and what the author is about.

Your memoir, itself, is not so much about you as about your life message – and the stories that weave that life message into a tapestry your readers need and want, for themselves.

Let's activate:

1.      What is your earliest memory?
2.      What were the circumstances surrounding your birth? Socio-economically, politically, historically…
3.      Did your parents expect you, want you?
4.      What did your family house look like? Describe it room-by-room.
5.      Did your grandparents or extended family members live close by?
6.      What role did your grandparents play in your life?
7.      Did you live in a large city, small town, farm, or other type of environment?
8.      What is the name of the town and state (or province, country) you spent the most time in during childhood?

Put on your 100-year Eye Glasses

Imagine you are sharing your story with your grandchildren's grandchildren. That could be 100 years from now! Think back to 100 years ago: 1914. Transportation, communication, education – everything was much different.

When I tell my story, I try to add a little bit of socio-economic history. You can see my story on my About Page, as an example. Yours doesn't have to look or sound like mine!

Storytelling is bridge-building as we step into each others shoes and walk around in them a bit.

If you tell me, it’s an essay. If you show me, it’s a story. —Barbara Greene

Don’t say the old lady screamed-bring her on and let her scream. — Mark Twain

Storytelling is the art of creating a garden. It's your soul talking. Whether it's been carefully tended or full of weeds – is your choice. Your soul is the place where we connect with each other.

Your story doesn't need to be read by the whole world to change the world. It just needs to be told.

Tell your story! Let's revive our collective soul, strengthening the backbone of society: the family.

Living the adventure and choosing love today,


Susan Schiller knows how it feels to lose everything: marriage and family, church and reputation, finances and businesses, and more. Susan's upcoming, interactive memoir, "On the Way Home," tells the story of how she came to be known as "the most abused woman" her counselors had yet met and how she learned to navigate her way out of hell to a rich and satisfying life. In her lifetime, Susan has served in duties ranging from home school mom – to pastor –  to full-time deliverance minister – and to Midwest regional prayer coordinator for a large international ministry. These days you can usually find Susan soaking in her favorite hot springs pool, reading a book (or several), blogging, baking bread, or hanging out with her family and friends. You can get a free copy of Susan's upcoming book, "On the Way Home" by registering here.

Copyright 2010-2014, Susan Schiller, For reprint permission for any private or    commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Susan Schiller.

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