Memories of Me #bookreview #books

Memories of Me - book cover

Writing about yourself and your memories can be hard, especially if you have endured traumatic events in your life.

I speak from experience when I say this, so I know this to be true. I’ve been raped, I’ve contemplated suicide on numerous occasions, and I nearly died. Fortunately, I’m still here, reaping many benefits of some of the decisions I’ve made, which include making money from writing.

I’ve had a short story included in an anthology, I’ve won a short story contest, and my book of short stories is going to be available soon!

I’m also still working on my two books; my memoirs, and Letters to Julian. Because of this, when I was recently contacted by Laura Hedgecock and asked to write a review of her new book, Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your LifeI was intrigued, and I agreed to writing a review of this book in exchange for a free copy of it.

According to Laura Hedgecock:

Memories of Me taps into the passion of connecting with loved ones through memory narratives. It empowers hobbyists to create a legacy of family stories and memory episodes through prompts, in-depth brainstorming exercises, writing samples, and just enough writing tips for writers to take pride in their projects. 

I also agreed to participate in a blog tour. To see the other participants of this blog hop, check out the Memories of Me official tour post, beginning with this spotlight and this review.

Update: This review was given by another person, who, apparently, reviews books on a regular basis.

My Review

Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life contains a lot of information, brainstorming and other exercises, and encouraging words to help YOU put into perspective your memories, thoughts and experiences so that YOU can write and catalogue your life stories.

Memories of Me uses Laura’s own experiences to show you how to implement the strategies she sets forth. For example, when writing a Christmas letter, Laura gives you specific things to include in it and then shows you how to incorporate all of them by writing a letter of her own. This practice is demonstrated throughout the book, which allows you to get to know her (and, by extension, her family) better while learning how to enhance your writing.

In this guide, worksheets are interspersed with writing tips and exercises and personal stories are shared. My favourite worksheet was the Brainstorming Lessons Learned worksheet, as it prompted me to think about and recall many things that I thought I had forgotten! This particular worksheet involves completing sentences such as “How I learned _____,” with the blank filled in with a specific action or attribute. Laura’s prompts are simply amazing.

From childhood to animals to school days to grandparents to friendships to relatives to religion to regret to conversations from the past to difficult times, Laura guides you, letting you be the decision-maker as she helps you remember and write. She also assists you with things pertaining to the art of writing, such as finding your voice, preserving your language, editing your words, and expressing yourself using humour.

Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life is a true treasure chest of goodness you will benefit from and love!

My Personal Recommendation

Obviously, as someone who is writing her own memoirs (as well as a book titled Letters to Julian), I would not recommend Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life unless I found it to be useful.

I do.

I also plan on using some of the exercises and worksheets as I struggle with my book of memoirs (and dealing with some of my own demons)!

Purchasing Information

Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life is now available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books & Things. You can also buy it from The Marketplace. I’ll leave it up to you to find out where you can get it at the lowest price. 😉

A Free Option

For those of you wanting guidance via a free option, I would recommend using Sue Mitchell’s memoir starter kit, which I also have.

 

 

picture of Laura Hedgecock

Laura Hedgecock is a Michigan-based freelance writer who attended the University of South Carolina. She is the mother of two (three if you count the dog!) and is the author of Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life.

You can connect with Laura via Twitter or Google+, visit her site, Treasure Chest of Memories, and/or read her personal blog, Memories in the Wind.

A Letter To My Son

This image is of a letter to my son.

I have a son. I can’t always talk to him, so I write him letters. I’ve been doing so since he was a baby.

He’s an adult now.

Whether you have a son or daughter, my advice to you is to be honest and bare your soul. Write your child a letter if you are unable to talk. Writing is therapeutic!

My Last Letter to My Son

My TRUE TALE for today is a bit unique, because it involves me writing a letter to my son, whom I re-connected with in 2013 after being estranged from him for about three years.

We are currently – and still – strengthening our relationship (YAY!) and I obtained his permission to publish this on my blog.

FYI, he’s now 26. (I update this post from time to time…) 😉

I have written my son many letters and poems over the years, and I wrote this letter  after reading I Will Never Forget, a memoir by Elaine C. Pereira. Elaine not only guest posted on this blog on a Featured Friday, but let me interview her, too.

She touched me deeply with her book.

In fact, this memoir inspired me in ways that I can’t even begin to explain. It was that moving. (In fact, at the end of this post, I share my review of this book with you.)

So now, I am putting together a book of letters to my son!

My Son Has Given ME Life

As most of you already know, I would not be here on this computer today, were it not for my son. If you haven’t already, you can read about this whole experience here:
Part One: My True Story About How I Nearly Died (this is the story that became part of a memoir anthology)

For now, here’s my most recent letter to my son.

I’m really looking forward to your comments, too.

A Letter To My Son

Dear Julian,

I may not have been a perfect mom, but I tried to be.

I may not have disciplined you enough, or maybe I disciplined you too much. I don’t really know. I know at times, I drove you nuts!

I fed you and bathed you and clothed you. I bought you toys.

I sang to you, read to you, taught you. You were my boy, my precious, baby boy.

I got up with you to send you to school. I stroked your forehead and hair when you were sick. I knew you were not feeling well, because you let me do these things. You were never very cuddly.

I paid for heat to keep you warm. I stared at you for days, after you were born. I didn’t want to miss anything. I adored you.

I kept you safe. I kept you clean. I soothed you when you cried. I let you stay up late and watch TV.

Do you know that you mean the world to me?

I argued with you as you grew. You formed opinions of your own. I tried teaching you right from wrong, and to treat others with respect.

I hugged you and kissed you at least three times a day, every day. You couldn’t leave for school without a hug and kiss. Remember greeting each other after school, or hugging and kissing me good-night? I wanted to correct the behaviours of my parents, who were, and still are, non-demonstrative. I told you “I love you” constantly, daily, always, because I do. I love you.

I love you!

When you were two, I wrote you a song. I made it up on the spot, while brushing your teeth, to distract you. You were always so active and wiggly. Keeping still for those few minutes required drastic measures! I wrote down the lyrics, and eventually put it to music. I now sing it to your little cousins.

I supported you in most of the decisions you made. I encouraged you to be great. When you were thirteen or fourteen and wanted to come home (drunk?) after fighting with your friends one night during a sleepover way across town, I refused to pay for a cab, even though I told you I’d always be there for you, because I wanted to teach you a lesson about consequences. You learned it, too. Remember? You never let yourself get in a predicament like that again.

When you were on the high school football team, I went to your games. Even though I wrapped myself in a blanket, I still froze and felt the freezing effects of the wind whipping through my bones and at my face as I sat on the bleachers, while you worked up a sweat on the field.

I tried to be the best single mother I could be to you, my only child.

I sacrificed aspects of my life to enhance yours. I did this many times, for many years.

I loved you from the moment I felt you inside my belly, flailing your tiny arms.

When you lost your teeth, I became the Tooth Fairy. I was Santa and the Easter Bunny, too. You never knew, until I told you.

I dressed you up on Halloween, and took you out trick-or-treating, because that’s what good moms do. Do you recall our ritual of checking the candy when we got home, to make sure it was safe? I didn’t want anyone to poison you, or slip a razor or another sharp fragment into your goodies. Remember how we avoided the pedophile’s place? You may recall it as “the bad house.” I did everything in my power to protect you.

Each time we had to move from one apartment to another, I made endless preparations to ensure a seamless transition. I explained things to you, preparing you the best that I could for what was to come. I wanted you to feel secure. As an adult, you said you were.

Yet you pretended not to know me one day when we were walking downtown, shopping, until you wanted something. I understood. I was hurt, but I got that it wasn’t cool to be walking with your mom. I forgave you and admired you for exerting some of your independence. You had a fit when I joked around and pretended not to know you! You say you don’t remember that incident, but I do. Clearly. It was your first rejection of me.

At a young age, I taught you to do laundry. You were in charge of socks. You had fun matching them. As you grew, you graduated to facecloths, underwear, and towels. You were a big help, you know. I was surprised when you refused to let me launder your teenage clothes, and was impressed with the excellent care you took, and still take, with your wardrobe. I’ve never seen anyone iron like you! When you trusted me to sew the holes, I felt needed again. I loved those moments, even though I hate sewing!

Because I have eating and weight issues, and have had them all my life, I never wanted you to gain an extra ounce. Ridicule and self-loathing were not things you were going to experience! The healthy habits you formed early on in life have helped you become the strong, young man you are today.

Do you still prefer yogurt over ice cream? Apples over potato chips? Granola bars over chocolate bars? I think you do. You go to the gym enough! You do it faithfully, too, and I’m so proud. You’ve worked long and hard for your muscles, your abs, your rock-hard body, seemingly made of steel.

Remember our little, plastic, red, first-aid kit? My heart swelled when you told me you brought one to the beach and when you went camping (or was it hiking?) with those two girls. Your foresight and sensibility astonishes me.

Maybe I wasn’t perfect, but I tried hard to be the best single mom I could be. I was still a teenager when I had you. I was only twice your age once. I was 18 and in pain, physically, when you were forced into this world. I was 36 and in pain, mentally. You were 18 then. I remember, too, how crazy I was. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I know I put you through hell.

When I almost lost my leg and had to undergo major surgery to save it, our roles were reversed and you took good care of me. Did I ever tell you how grateful I was? Let me remind you, I still am.

When you were six and came home with a “D is for Daddy” father’s day card, you questioned me. After our conversation, I questioned you, asking you what you would rather have: a daddy who always yelled and hurt us or a mommy who loved you with all her heart. “I just want you, Mom,” was your response. I’ll never forget that, as long as live. I just want you, son, too. I just want you.

I love, and always will love, you. You’ll be my baby forever, even though you are a grown man now. I hope I will always recognize your face and your voice. A book I read recently about one woman’s struggles with dementia has prompted me to write and share this. It touched me in explicable ways. The book? “I Will Never Forget.”

I want you to know my feelings and thoughts while I can still communicate them. I never want you to wonder how I felt, or have unanswered questions. You are my single-most biggest achievement. I kept us both alive despite a huge lack of money to do so. I may have gambled, done drugs, and a few other things you hate me for, but I did try to be a good mother to you, and for you, as well as a friend. I’m not perfect, but I love you. Please, always remember that.

Don’t forget me, son, when I am gone. Maybe through my writing, I’ll live on.

Now, it’s your turn to be a good son.

Love always,

Your unsettled Mom.

A Funny Follow-up

Funny story – I now spend most of my Tuesdays with my son.  On one particular Tuesday evening, he showed me a sweater he bought. He had ripped the tag/label out, because it was causing him to itch.
I’m sure you can guess what happened… he was left with two gaping holes as a result.
The shocker, however, is what he said to me. Instead of simply asking me to sew them, he asked me, “Mom, can you teach me how to sew?”
So I did. I demonstrated how to sew and fixed one of the holes. He ended up sewing the other.
I was so proud of him! 🙂
I thought about the part I wrote in the letter to him, about sewing, and how it made me feel needed. I felt a sense of pride, though, after we were done, because I had empowered him with knowledge so that he could solve his own sewing problems in the future.
That I still felt needed was weird, and new, for me; I thought he didn’t need me anymore. As it turns out, he still needs me, but in different ways. It’s great to feel needed and wanted, especially after all of the rough patches we have been through.
The best part is that we’re now in a healthy relationship.
Finally.
And I hope it never changes… (unless it gets even better!)

My Inspiration to Write Letters to Julian Came from A Book

I want to let you know that I’m currently putting together a book of letters to my son, called Letters to Julian. I hope to release it in 2018 (OR SOONER!).
I decided to put this book together after reading I Will Never Forget.
This book had a huge impact on me.
I don’t want to be forgotten. EVER.
I also don’t want to forget, either.

I Will Never Forget

I also want to share my review of I Will Never Forget, which I’ve already posted to Goodreads and Amazon for readers to discover:

I Will Never Forget is Elaine Pereira’s beautiful yet heart-wrenching tribute to her mother. Never before have I read a memoir, and I was impressed with the light manner in which this story was written. Infused with humour, the author makes the most out of a difficult situation, making her book enjoyable to read despite the heartbreaking tale she tells. Keep a box of tissues handy – you’ll need them! I teared up many times while reading the author’s touching words, and was bawling when I read the final one. The poem written by the author, found at the end of the book, warmed my heart. It was lovely!

Through the author, the reader gets to know her family, and is able to identify with them as memories are related and glimpses into the author’s personal struggles are revealed. The style in which this book is written provides pieces of the puzzle that many sufferers of dementia face, and the reader can both commiserate with and find compassion for Elaine, the author, a feisty, spunky woman who truly did all she could for her wonderful mother while she was alive. I’m sure Betty (Elaine’s mom) looking down from heaven on her only daughter with great pride and a smile on her face. I would be, if I were her!

I highly recommend this book. I Will Never Forget will touch you in ways you cannot imagine or fathom. You will definitely not regret reading it. Besides, shedding a few (or more) tears is always good for the soul.

Your Turn:

What is troubling you? Are you trying to change things with your son… or daughter?

Leave me a comment and let me know.

And if you want to read Letters to Julian, GET ON THE LIST NOW TO BE NOTIFIED OF ITS RELEASE!

Buckets And Other Lists: A Guest Post from Award-Winning Memoirist, Elaine Pereira

Please welcome memoir writer Elaine Pereira! She has written today’s post. Currently, I am reading her book, I Will Never Forget. Soon, I will have an interview with Elaine for you – along with my review. For now, get to know Elaine and learn about her struggles — and her achievements!

Buckets And Other Lists: Writing A Book Was NEVER On My Horizon

I’m one of those annoyingly organized people: a multi-tasking extraordinaire who makes lists for practically everything.  When my mental To-Do list tops three items, I grab paper and a pen and scribble away.

Yeah, I know, all of you techno wizards are rolling your eyes:  paper and pen!  How archaic!  I’m trying to convert to using the Note section of my iPhone exclusively, but it’s a work in progress.  In the meantime, there are far more stashes of pencils, pens, markers and an occasional lipstick tube when I’m desperate and just remembered something important than there are iPhones. Read More

Author Christine Cowley Shares Information via A Guest Post and a Video

This post is a combination of a

  1. unique guest post by author, writing coach, and micro-publisher Christine Cowley,
  2. an awesome video about “Simone’s Story”, which demonstrates the importance of writing and creating a memoir for others to have, learn from and enjoy, and
  3. a video of a Google Hangout of the two of us talking about the “makings” of “Simone’s Story”. Read More