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About This Life of Mine
Share your life’s stories and memories in this thoughtful and easy-to-use keepsake journal. This is a lovely gift to give to a cherished family member, friend, or even to yourself.
This guided journal will inspire people to record the unique details and stories of their lives, both for themselves and for those they will one day leave behind. It includes a mix of fill-in-the-blanks, short answer questions, list-making prompts, and ideas for simple sketches or photos which are all designed to create a nuanced portrait of a person’s life through reflections, memories, and stories. This gorgeously crafted journal features the whimsical work of papercut artist Sarah Trumbauer throughout.
“…a wonderfully guided journal, perfect for adults who want to record their personal history but aren’t sure where to start.” —Vancouver Family Magazine
Q&A with Author Anne Phyfe Palmer
1. What is your goal with this journal? In my forties, I realized that I’d spent the last few decades too busy to stop and get to know my grandmother. I left home at eighteen and hadn’t really spent much quality time with her. She died of cancer when I had just lost a pregnancy, opened another yoga studio, and then had another baby, all in one year. And when she died, all of her stories, her preferences, her experiences, her quirks, were gone. I started to ask my parents more questions but noticed if I didn’t write them down I often forgot what they said, or it felt strange. I started to make a list of questions I’d want to record about my parents for me, and about myself for my kids.
2. Describe any anecdotes about your early writing experiences (e.g. difficulties, triumphs, etc.) or about the process of writing This Life of Mine. The idea for this book came up around a round dinner table with my sisters and parents, shortly after my grandfather’s death in 2013. We realized how many stories we’d forgotten or never heard. I have always loved fill-in-the-blank and prompt-focused workbooks, and it occurred to me that I’d never seen one to record one’s life for one’s children or loved ones, at least not in a playful, quirky way. The idea hung out in my brain until 2016, when I listened to Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert on my headset on a bus in India and she talked about her philosophy on creativity: If a creative idea visits you and you don’t follow it, it will eventually move to someone else. As soon as I returned home from India I started my proposal, while continuing to write a memoir about starting my yoga business.
3. Who would you say is the audience for this journal? The person who enjoys self-reflection and wants to take the time to record their memories, just for the sake of remembering and getting them down on paper. They might have kid(s) to pass the book on to, they might just have it for their bedside table. Also, the parent or grandparent who wants to pass on their stories. This book helps them to remember parts of their lives with easy-to-answer prompts. I think, too, that people with a terminal illness may appreciate the support it gives them in recording their lives for loved ones. The questions can mostly be answered in a few words or sentences.
4. What are some of your favorite questions in the book, and your answers? What makes me feel most calm and centered? Sitting in a quiet room that has a window and simple furnishings and settling in to take deep, smooth breaths. This is most successful when I’ve done something active, like a walk or some yoga poses. What I wear when I want to feel comfortable: My PJ bottoms or sweatpants, a short-sleeved cotton T-shirt, and my light blue plush robe (when it’s chilly).
A significant event in my family’s personal history: My grandparents all had various experiences of WWII. One went to war and came back shell-shocked, or with post-traumatic stress, another flew planes in the Pacific and came back a hero, and another stayed home with the kids and divorced the shell-shocked husband when he came home and then married his pilot. Games my family played together: The board game Parcheesi was a favorite, and Clue, and of course Monopoly. We also played a lot of backgammon and gin rummy (cards). My dreams and aspirations when I was a child: I always wanted to be a writer. Books were my favorite thing, and I just wanted to publish a book. This is my first one, and it’s a dream come true! A teacher who had a great impact on me and why: Mr. Gonzalez was a pipe-smoking Chilean who taught history and coached the boy’s soccer team at Ben Franklin High School, a public magnet school that operated out of a run-down building with portables and no air conditioning (in New Orleans, LA). I took his Russian history class my senior year and it was the best course of my entire academic career. He was rigorous and funny, brilliant and down-to-earth. He really believed in his students and wanted to push us to our edge. He taught me that I thrive when challenged and inspired. My friends would describe me as: Caring, distractible, high-energy, smart, easily worried/concerned, ambitious, physical.
4. What celebrities or people in the limelight do you most want to fill out this book? Beyoncé, Michelle and Barack Obama, Lady Gaga, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Gilbert, Cheryl Strayed, Elizabeth Strout. But, really, anyone who has been through a lot and has become a stable and successful adult! And if Oprah were to fill it out…