Guided Autobiography—GAB—is in the news! Have you seen the article in the New York Times? Powerful stuff.
Over the years, I’ve worked with others to tell their stories. But it didn’t leave much time for my own. I’d take a stab at it between projects, but it never ever added up to anything substantial. It’s kind of crazy. I’m the classic example of The Cobbler’s Children Have No Shoes.
Finally, two years ago, I put my own foot down (ha ha) and made myself pay attention. Took a deep breath and joined with a class of seven other students in an online GAB course, convened by Cheryl Svensson, protégée of the legendary Jim Birren, for whom the Birren Center for Autobiographical Studies is named.
It was the best thing I’ve done in years; a gift to myself and a revelation about others.
We met every week for eight weeks, and I lived for each session. I gave myself the gift of devoting time to think, discover, and write. And then, I couldn’t wait for our class time. I couldn’t wait to read aloud my latest piece of writing. I couldn’t wait to hear what my other classmates wrote.
Everybody wrote about specific topics, and it was amazing to hear how we each interpreted the same theme so differently! We wrote about “branching points” in our lives and many of us discovered that small experiences we’d never thought about had actually changed our lives in huge ways—for worse AND for better. We rediscovered key people in our lives. I accepted and forgave people in my past. I discarded others. I healed; I found peace. I found work I still needed to do.
I found new friends. My wonderful but far-flung classmates (from Colorado to Sweden to California) helped me discover my own life, through the stories THEY told. And if there was any disappointment in my GAB course, it was that I wasn’t sitting with these good folks in person. So I decided that when I did start teaching GAB on my own, we’d all be together in the same room.
I’ll be convening Guided Autobiography classes in the Portland, Maine area each time I assemble a group of interested students (from 6-12 people is the optimum number). Location and time will flex according to what works for everyone. So if you’re interested, please contact me. I’m excited to pass on what I’ve learned.
You’ll love the new shoes you find in your closet!!!
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