Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Celebrating Stories

In my last post, I said that the TV show My Fair Wedding has had a major impact on my life.  Let me explain.

The premise of this reality show is that couples with a small budget and a distinct theme in mind for their weddings get help from world-class event planner, David Tutera.  He comes in three weeks before the wedding and takes over, usually changing everything from the dress to the venue.  What he doesn't do, however, is change the theme, no matter how wacky or tacky it is.

After watching the show for a few episodes, I began to realize why it was so appealing to me.  (Keep in mind that I rarely watch TV, ESPECIALLY reality shows.)  David Tutera has a true gift for taking the ideas and desires people have and ultimately treating them with respect, even if he begins with a little eye-rolling.  He takes it upon himself to understand where his brides are coming from, what it is they truly want, and then making it happen in a way that always far exceeds their expectations. And underneath it all, I realized, his foundational philosophy is that life is meant to be a celebration that we share with our loved ones and ourselves.

I found this very inspiring, and even began to plan a Valentine's Tea Party for my closest woman friends as a result (which actually turned out to be quite lovely.) 

Valentine's Tea Party, with heart-shaped lemon lavender shortbreads and heart-shaped cake

But even more significantly, I made connections between his gifts and my own.  Watching Tutera at work and really observing what he was doing made me realize that I have a similar gift in how I work with people I write about as well as those I teach writing to or do editing for.  I love to tell people's stories; I love to teach people how to find their writing voice.  I love to honor people's truths in these ways and even help them to recognize their own truths in some cases.  And from the wonderful feedback I often get from people I've written about, from my students, and from my clients, I know that this can have a real impact on them.

Around the same time as I was getting into My Fair Wedding, I was also feeling restless, like my life was in need of some new direction.  For a long time, I'd been feeling like even though I love what I do, I was missing out on time for "my own" writing.  But out of the connections I was making between David Tutera's work and my own, I had an epiphany that stopped me in my tracks:  Writing other people's stories IS "my own" writing.  It satisfies me, and I feel called to it.  Realizing this was like coming out from under a huge weight I didn't even know was there.  It gave me permission to stop pressuring myself to do "my" thing, and fully embrace what I was already doing.  And this led me to make the decision to launch a new service in my writing business:  writing personal histories for people.

And so I have reworked my writing business, Illuminated Manuscripts, to reflect this new direction.  Rather than make this post any longer explaining about what it means to be a personal historian, I will simply direct you to my new website,


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