Summer. A time for gearing down. As an experienced multi-tasker this can be as difficult as running a marathon. Throughout my life folks commented on my limitless energy. Was it my personality? My astrological sign? Diet Coke? Or just me? Bob, a lifelong farmer told me one day to ‘gear down’. I loved that. I can hear the gears of his orange Allis Chalmers tractor shift down as he worked in Wisconsin’s corn fields.
My own senior chapter began recently and along with it came an unplanned reduction in speed and activity. I won’t use the ‘r’ word (retirement), but gone is the need to multi-task and as my sister-in-law reminded me, “It, whatever it is, will still be there tomorrow.” But stopping completely is not in my genes. I hope to work at my storied craft until my 90’s maybe stopping long enough to engross myself in that which lies before me like pausing to take in Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher. (Photo by Mattisson Francis Voell, 2004)
But what does multi-tasking have to do with capturing stories. It came to my attention that a growing body of research indicates that multi-tasking in fact takes a toll on at least our short term memory, and in time, our long term memory. The research suggests that even though we think we are accomplishing two or three things at once – the question is, to what end? In 2009 Ruth Pennebaker wrote, “… researchers at Stanford University published a study showing that the most persistent multi-taskers perform badly in a variety of tasks. They don’t focus as well as nonmulti-taskers. This phenomenon is now labeled the “distraction economy.” http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/11/multitasking-takes-toll-on-memory-study-finds | http://www.nyties.com/2009/08/30/weekinreview/30pennebaker.html | http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/25/the-cost-of-multitasking_n_4661761.html.
Giving Memories Time to Surface.
The Legacies mission of capturing and preserving stories takes time. It takes time, attention and focus to help guide the interviewee beyond the episodic over told Kodak stories to explore and discover the layers of life’s experiences and emotions.
Legacies projects vary from a few months to a year or more. We have learned that this is not a venture you rush through over a few weekends or a task on your to-do list. Give your storyteller full attention by turning off technology. Offer your storyteller psychological air helping to breathe life into their tales and narratives. Go beyond the surface and ask the who, what, when, where and why questions. Whether it’s Mondays with Dad, or third Thursdays with Grandma Cora, give the care needed to uncover a life well lived. Gear down.
And as always, let us know how we can help.
Get started ... before it’s too late!
Mary Patricia Voell
And don't forget the many presentations that Legacies has to offer. If you part of a senior living environment, trust attorney or estate planning associations, business groups, funeral homes, senior centers or faith based organizations looking for a program, workshop or keynote speaker, let us know.