Leaving a Legacy in the Printed Word - Telling Your Story with Storyworth

Saturday, August 20, 2022

As we age, particularly as we approach middle age, our “history” becomes more interesting to us. The people who came before us become more intriguing, their stories more fascinating, their legacy more precious. Sometimes by then, these loved ones may have already forgotten some of their own “stories”, and sometimes it is only after these precious loved ones pass that we realize we have not heard their stories. Maybe we were told their stories, but didn’t pay attention. Perhaps we wish we’d listened more intently, asked more questions, been more curious about who they were and what their lives were like. Sure, we’ve all heard the proverbial, “I walked uphill to school in 2 ft of snow”, but I’m not talking about these stories. I’m talking about the nitty gritty stuff, the stuff that makes us who we are – who we played with, what our home was like, our school, etc… By the time we reach middle age, our own mortality begins to stare back at us in the mirror.  It occurred to me that as an only child with only two distant cousins who shared very few common life experiences – the book of “my story” will be closed when I die. My story, my past, the things that shaped me, and may be my legacy, will be gone with me.

I grew up during the time of Sunday dinners, family gathering together regularly, often sitting around the dinner table a meal and sharing stories of the 'olden days'.  My grandparents and my great aunts and uncles were all big on preserving life in photos and loved telling and retelling tales of the past, some that brought lots of laughs, some more serious that told a story of overcoming difficult times.  Those days are long gone for me, and sadly those times and most of the people gone as well.  It occurred to me that my kids and grandkids won't have that gift - the vivid stories, the memories of the laughter that came with hearing those tales.  Without siblings, those stories and my stories will go with me when I leave this earthly place.  So my love of writing prompted me to write my 'memoir' for my offspring - long ago - even before middle age, in fact, even before I had my kids.  I had already written some 100 pages when a year ago, for my birthday, my daughters bought me the gift of Storyworth.  

Storyworth was the brainchild of Nick and Krista Baum in 2013.  It began as a way for Nick to preserve his dad's life in stories. This is how Storyworth works.  Each week, Storyworth emails you a question to answer.  Chosen from hundreds of questions on a variety of topics - childhood, school, career, love, parenthood, marriage, etc... you can either answer that question, choose a different question or make up your own question.  You can write as little or as much as you want.  You can also change the frequency of your questions, making them more frequent or less frequent, and if you don't get around to 'this week's question' this week, it'll be saved, waiting for when you have time later.  You write your 'answer' right in the email you receive the question in.  You are always able to stop and save at any point in the process.  If you choose, your answers can be emailed to your relatives each week, or you can keep them a secret till the end of the year. At the end of the year, you have the opportunity to organize the order of your answers, edit or print your answers and once you're happy with your results, Storyworth prints it all in a beautiful, hard-cover book.  

Now, I will admit that at first I was not excited about this gift. I felt I'd already written my memoir (at least the first 24 years of my life) and wasn't sure I'd have anything new to add. I also felt pressured to 'write on demand' - something I felt uneasy about when John took writing courses and had to write on assigned topics each week. I'm more of a 'write when the inspiration strikes' kind of writer.  But......this was a really thoughtful gift and I decided to give it a go. By the third week, I was so loving the process, I was actually writing more than one story a week. I love the idea that you can choose alternate questions if that week's question didn't strike a cord or elicit any memories. The question prompts helped me to reminisce and think of so many stories I hadn't already written about. You can also upload photos to your book. By mid-year, I was so loving the process, I bought John a subscription for his own book.  This is what your computer screen looks like when using Storyworth.


My subscription ended in July.  I had the option of renewing for another year and briefly considered it except that I was excited to see my 'published' story now.  My 'story' ended up being 343 pages long, with 84 questions answered (that included my preface).  A subscription costs $99 which includes a year's worth of questions and one black and white book with up to 480 pages.  An additional black and white books cost $39.00, a color printed book is $79 (up to 300 pages), especially great if you include photos, and $99 for color over 300 pages.  Books are 6" x 9" and printed in a font that is easy to read.  There is also a Table of Contents so readers can quickly see the contents and read a story at a time, as they choose.  Book covers are personalized by color and font.  I chose a simple white.    From the time I told Storyworth I was finished and my order was placed, I received my books in about two weeks. 

Whether or not you are in the habit of sharing stories of your life with your loved ones, at the end of the day I think we all cherish the people who gave us life. We are the product of our experiences, our joys and our sorrows, our accomplishments and our flaws. In today's busy world, it's not always possible to share these stories, these tales of triumph and tribulations, with our kids. Storyworth gives us an opportunity to not just tell our story, but a vehicle for traveling down memory lane to remember our past and then a beautiful keepsake for sharing our history with those we love. What better gift than to open your world to your children and grandchildren in telling your story in your words, for them to cherish forever? Consider a subscription to Storyworth as a gift to a loved one, or to yourself. So whether you've always wanted to write your memoir but didn't know where to start, or if you've never considered it but this has gotten you thinking....Storyworth's weekly questions (with hundreds to choose from) is exactly the inspiration you need to get started.  If you use the link provided, you'll get $10 off  your purchase.  https://www.storyworth.com/friend/gail-welter
For more information, https://www.storyworth.com/

If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten; Either write things worthy of reading, or do things worthy of writing." Benjamin Franklin

Exploring the World Through the Eyes and Art of Roy Kanwit's Taconic Sculpture Park

Sunday, August 14, 2022

 Art1.the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Taconic Sculpture Park

Whoever created this definition for the Oxford dictionary must have been familiar with the works of self-taught sculptor/artist, Roy Kanwit.  Mr. Kanwit's collection of work, displayed throughout the 3-5 acres of his personal property, can definitely be described as beautiful and evocative.  Influenced by his interest in Roman and Greek mythology, Kanwit has created a stone sanctuary of sorts among the most beautiful, natural environment at his home in Spencertown, NY.   We happened upon the Taconic Sculpture Park this weekend quite by accident and I can honestly say, for someone who's rarely speechless, the work of Mr. Kanwit left me without adequate words to describe out visit.

From the moment we arrived at the entrance to the park, we knew we were in for an adventure. 

Entrance to Taconic Sculpture Park

Admission to the park is probably the best deal in town these days at a modest price of $10 per vehicle.  We were greeted by Mr. Kanwit's grandson who collected our fee, welcomed us to the park and confidently answered our questions.  Not long after, Mr. Kanwit greeted us warmly, offered us bug spray in three varieties - non-toxic, a little toxic and very toxic.  Aside from his hospitality and quiet sense of humor, it was obvious that Mr. Kanwit not only loves his art, he loves sharing his art with the public.  He has created a welcoming, scenic and comfortable place for visitors to step out of the chaos of the world to wander among nature's beauty among the Catskill Mountains where they can commune with sights not typical in more traditional places we frequent.  Trust me, there's not much 'traditional' about this very unique destination.
Mr. Kanwit has been sculpting stone for over 40 years, a talent he first developed carving a bar of Ivory soap, then dabbling in wood carving and now using Vermont marble, limestone and cement.  I'm not sure which I find more impressive - his sculpting talent or his imagination.  Come along as I take you on a little trip through Roy Kanwit's imaginary world....
Roy Kanwit Sculpture Park

Taconic Sculpture Park Eye

No doubt the most impressive sculpture in the park is Gaea, Greek Mother Earth, which I'm told can be seen from the Taconic Parkway.   Post Script: In October on an autumn drive, we did, in fact, spot Gaea from the Taconic.

Gaea, who was completed in 1996, and rises over 19ft tall, has a door just behind her right ear which allows visitors to get an inside view.  From inside, brave visitors can climb the ladder and peer out the opening in the top of her head.  

They say the best things in life are unexpected and finding this treasure on our road trip yesterday was definitely the highlight of our day.  The Taconic Sculpture Park is open seasonally on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:00-5:00 pm.  Oh, in case you saw something you can't live without, all the pieces are for sale!!!  There's even more to see than what I have shared, so plan a visit soon.  I promise you'll be speechless too.  Wear comfortable shoes and take a stroll throughout this wonderland of stone.  Mr. Kanwit has placed chairs and benches throughout the park which is located on Stever Hill Road (a long, gravel, dead end) just off Route 203 in Spencertown, about 40 minutes southeast of Albany.  Thank you Mr. Kanwit for your creativity and for generously sharing it with all of us!!

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