March seems like a very long time ago but I have finally gotten around to writing about March 2016 WiseCafe. We started the afternoon in the Chapel with worship. The where I refreshed folk’s memory about Jane Fonda’s metaphor of aging as a staircase. In her TED Talks on Life’s Third Act, Fonda referred to the staircase as – “the upward ascension of the human spirit; bringing us into: Wisdom, Wholeness, Authenticity”   Those 3 words are big words to wrap our heads around and I was left still wondering about this word – wholeness. What does wholeness mean?? Does moving toward wholeness imply moving away from, or even healing, brokenness?  What does wholeness look like? How do we measure it, in fact, what are we actually measuring?

In her book, Prime Time, Fonda encourages us not to shy away from the difficult times when we are reviewing our lives. She says that, “there are usually no rewards without a price. You can’t learn much that is new by playing it safe.” She goes on to say, “someone once said to me, ‘God doesn’t look for awards and medals, God looks for wounds. God enters us through our wounds.’ Fonda says, “I decided that I would look at my wounds, see what they could teach me, let them help me set my compass and rechart a course for the time that remains.”      

During worship, we took a few minutes to reflect on our wounds.

Macrina Wiederkehr has written a book titled Behold Your Life: A Pilgrimage Through Your Memories. This Pilgrimage is a 40 day personal meditative retreat for which she offers different themes of life to reflect and includes scripture and prayer for each session. The last chapter of her book is titled, Take Up Your Life and Walk. I read an excerpt from her book found on pages 111 -112.  I believe what the author is saying is that we should own each and every part of our story and carry it with us albeit in a redeemed, accepted form. I encourage you to have a look at this book.

As worship ended, participants were invited to gather in the Fellowship Hall to learn an overview of the process I use to help folks write their lifestory. I gave some history as to how I came to be interested in lifestories and set out the memory book that I have created for my mother, who ‘lives’ in the world of dementia, as well as the lifestory book I have created for my father.

Although I’m not going to go into details here, I can say that the lifestory process I offer generally takes place over the course of 7 – 8 weeks and it involves a great deal of personal reflection in the form of in-class exercises as well as weekly assignments. The point of these exercises is to get you thinking about why you want to write your lifestory and who you want to write it for i.e. your audience. The writing exercises also allow you to ease into the grove of writing, if you haven’t done so in a while. However, there is no right or wrong as this is your  story, told in your voice.

Following our snack break, I walked folks through 3 exercises, the first being a quick personal brainstorm as to what they have done in their lives – nothing being too small or insignificant to start with. From there, we focused on 7 Dimensions of Wellness: Emotional, Physical, Social/Cultural, Environmental, Occupational, Spiritual and Intellectual. I asked folks to consider these dimensions in relation to wholeness and challenged them to consider the following questions: What comes to mind when you think about a time in your life where you were