The Elemental Press

one-of-a-kind gifts
  Life Legacy Books, Journals, 

and Laminated Bookmarks

Lissa Ann Forbes    


Personal Historian     

Niche Publisher     



Write from the Inside

is an e-zine for writers with heart


Yes, that means YOU!

We  are all writers, we all have heart and there are many forms to practice ...

letter writing, journal writing, story writing, your own "story tale" 

and much, much more.


The intention of this e-zine is to provide inspiration, information and stories to aid in: 




Published by Lissa Ann Forbes

You can look forward to the next issue of Write from the Inside on March 19, 2006


ISSUE #37:  February 26, 2006

Take a Tour of the Attic of Your Mind


  • Imagine your mind is your attic. Does it scare you what you might find there? Is this what stops you from going there? Or do you look forward to the adventure?
  • Are there cobwebs or treasures? Is it possible there are treasures to be found after clearing the cobwebs?
  • Once you blow off the dust, can you imagine a box full of diamonds? Would you go to the attic if you knew you would find riches that would be left undiscovered if you never went there?

As I imagine the attic of my mind, I wander through stacks and stacks of experiences. There’s my best friend, when I was 10, Jayne Catullo. After going swimming one day, we went back to her house and hung our bathing suits in her back yard. Her family dog, Jimmy, a German shepherd, was there and thought he was protecting her. He bit me, literally taking a chunk out of my left arm. We’d been warned, but Jayne and I were inseparable, so I guess I had forgotten. 

In another corner, I find another best friend, Clare Ferry. We took a biology class together in high school. The most noticeable thing about her other than her gorgeous smile and delightful personality was her beautiful, silky, peroxide blonde hair. We connected, and were friends until her early death at 32 years old in 1986. 

In the middle of the room are millions of books. I learned early that I reading was the key to freedom. I could learn anything in those chapters and thus I didn’t need to be dependent on others. That was a valuable lesson that I passed on to my children. 

Against the wall of my mind there is a shelf that houses the music that takes me back to different moments in my life. The Chipmunks … Annandale, Virginia … 10 years old. Glen Campbell … high school … my first crush. Fleetwood Mac … Future Games … my first boyfriend. Dan Fogelberg, Jackson Brown, Rita Coolidge, Janis Ian … college days.  And Johnny Mathis … There’s a Time for Us … there was a time that song always took me to the dream of “living happily ever after,” but in recent times always takes me back to myself and that I must  make time for me and love me. 

  • What do you find in your attic? I contend if you spend some time there, you might find some painful memories, but in the end you will find the stuff of which you are made.
  • Go to a new place, a place you can watch people, or wildlife, or just listen to the quiet. Sit with the sights and sounds and let them take you to the attic. Write it down … the thoughts that flow through, what you think, contemplate how you formulated your judgments, is this really who you are now? Have you changed over time?
  • Write at least three pages … then commit to doing it again at least once a week. Just think … in a year you will have 156 pages. What do you know, folks—that’s a book! A book of your life.



"Life is not a spectator sport. 

If you're going to spend your whole life in the grandstand 

just watching what goes on, 

in my opinion,  you're wasting your life."

Jackie Robinson  

  Football/Baseball player 






Writing Your Life Story is Not a Spectator Sport

by Lissa Ann Forbes


            I am fascinated that we are so interested in others’ lives, and read ravenously about them. Look at all the autobiographies and biographies we read, and the magazines that highlight the latest events in the lives of movie stars, and newspapers focusing on the details of what’s happening in other people’s lives. Isn’t this evidence enough that our stories are important? For two years, I have made suggestions to trigger your memories, written stories from my own life to show by example different ways to capture the events of your life, but I know many of you have yet to get those stories down on paper. I will continue to encourage you because I know there is great value to be gained. Healing. Freedom. Accomplishment. Self-awareness. Confidence.

Now, here’s my question. Why is it we often spend our time watching others and we simply sit on the sidelines as a spectator? Is it really more interesting to be part of someone else’s movie? Is it really more fun to watch the football, basketball, or hockey game from the bleachers rather than play in it? Please consider this—your life story is not a spectator sport. It’s time for you to get down and dirty, play in the mud, splash in the puddles, try your wings, and don’t be afraid to fall. But you must be willing to observe your own life with new eyes. Like this … watch yourself, watch your reactions, document objectively and subjectively.

For example, as I sit writing, there’s the little girl, about four or five years old, walking through the library in her fashion pants covered in red, pink, and white hearts, all the while saying in her regular street voice, “We need to be quiii-eeet.” See how easy it is to get distracted? But think of this, what does it look like to look at me looking at her? Is that as interesting? I suggest that it is … to meander through the winding roads of my mind picking the fruit of my thoughts. I indulge in noticing a beautiful little girl … and chuckling at the discrepancy between her words and actions. 

There’s a reference librarian discussing something with another librarian. The first has beautiful just-past-shoulder-length gray hair. I hope that when I go gray, mine is as lovely.

Then there’s the teenage boy with his mom, dad and younger sister. He’s wearing shorts that are so long they hit his leg mid-calf, shoes that look two sizes too big, and no socks. I always thought wearing shoes with no socks felt really gross and can’t imagine doing so, unless they're sandals.

As I sit in the library, I wonder what happened to the days when all who entered its hallowed doors carried in with them a reverence and respect, not only for the wisdom held there, but for the other visitors, to whisper.  There is little whispering any more … have people forgotten? Have they not learned how to behave in a library? As I write these words, I wonder, who am I to say how things should be, how others should act? But isn’t this what I’m made of? How would I know who I am if I don’t take time to observe? And who shall judge me for these thoughts?

No, my life is not a spectator sport, even if in this passive way, I contemplating who I am, what I think, and what I’m really made of. How do I learn what I love … or don’t … if I don’t take time to contemplate? And even contemplation is not done as a spectator. It is active participation.

Some folks even engage with their children and grandchildren as spectators. Instead of getting down on the floor with them and playing a game or imaging that they are animals in the forest, they sit in a chair and watch. But what they might watch is themselves watching and that would be revealing, wouldn't it? As I sit and write, I realize I can be a spectator and be doing at the same time, but in the end I am active in the process of writing my life. In this case, I capture moments as they are happening, but it makes me think of the bigger things like why do I think what I think, what events and experiences made me who I am, what will it be like for me to grow old, how is it my babies are now 21 and 23, where did the time go and what will I do with the rest of it?

May I suggest that you do it the old fashioned way … write ... pull out a #2 yellow pencil with the tiny eraser on the end … start with a brand new one sharpened to a dangerous point, place that point on the paper … a spiral notebook, a yellow legal pad, a bound journal … and write and write until the tip of your pencil has grown fat … then sharpen it and start again … until your pencil is a short stubby thing. Do you know what this does … it gives you a sense of time and space, the long-distance run, the Olympic figure skating long program. When you’ve spent this time … just one #2 yellow pencil … you will have gained so much … a sense of accomplishment, a feeling of productivity, a gaining of knowledge, a new knowing of someone special … yourself! What can you do that is more fulfilling than that? And what’s better is that you can share that with those you love so they can have some insight into the real you.

Maybe it’s my German-ness that wants all the details with the precision of the surgeon’s scalpel, that wants to have my father’s stories written down so I can revisit them long after he’s gone. Maybe it’s just something inside myself that wants to know that it was a Model T Ford that he learned to drive on at the age of fourteen, not just a Ford. Or was it a Model A? I still get confused. Maybe it’s these questions about my Dad that prompt me to write my own stories so one day my children will know me better and not have to wonder who I was when I’m gone. Or alas, maybe it is because I was adopted and have had to attempt to accept the missing pieces, that has spurred me to want others to make it all more concrete.

Nevertheless, the stories will never get written if you see writing your life as a spectator sport. Yes, you must be a spectator, but you must also suit up, get out there and practice, run the miles, feel exhausted from training, and cross the finish line.  In other words, wander down the cobblestone lane of the events and experiences of your past and present, write bad paragraphs, create pages and pages of graphite on yellow or white or lavender or pink paper, feel the exhaustion of capturing detail after detail in words you never thought you could conjure, and come to a point that you can say, “Yes, I’m finished and I’ve done it well.” Isn’t that what the Olympians say? “I did my best, and if I’ve made mistakes, I now know what I must learn and practice more.” In this case, of writing your life story, you will never be done until you draw your last breath, but you can’t wait until that time to start. You must start now.  Do it for you. Do it for the people you love, the ones who love you.

And if you wonder if I'm following my own advice, the answer is a resounding YES! 



Off the Shelf


Reading Resource:  Writer’s Digest Magazine

From my own archives of magazines, I found a full Writer’s Digest issue (February 1999) on writing the story of your life. It includes articles on writing personal essays, to how to get your readers attention in the first 50 pages, to tips from Homer Hickam, Jr., author of Rocket Boys, on how to write a riveting memoir, and a feature about Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes with suggestions on how to jumpstart your own memoir. 

I really enjoyed this find, a jam-packed volume of tips and tricks from Writer’s Digest. But, to be sure, each issue has wonderful suggestions for the magic of writing that can be translated to the memoir or life storybook. In fact, they periodically touch specifically on this subject. The ideas are easily followed and implemented. It only takes time and practice.



Add a custom journal to the Write from the Inside Booklet and a Can Your Life: The Key to Self-Preservation  audio tape and you get a Catch Your Life Stories Starter Kit. The booklet and tape will help trigger memories, show how to capture the details and entertain and inform, and the journal is a place to get it all down.


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Keith E. Renninson and Michael Conrad Kelley, a dynamic duo, have co-authored the book Zooch the Pooch, My Best Friend.

It's a delightful story about best friends, the dynamics of other relationships, life and loss. It's a tool for adults to help the children in their lives gain understanding about death as well as the value of friendship, portrayed through "dog" characters.

I recently heard them speak in Castle Rock about how the story came about, how they became partners, and their process of self-publishing and what they've learned. Their talk was entertaining and educational. The take-away for me was there are lots of useful resources out there, talk to folks, find out what's worked for them, and check it out yourself.

For more information, or to book a speaking engagement check out the website, or call Keith E. Renninson at 303-973-1643.


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Copyright © 2006 Lissa Ann Forbes. 

All rights reserved.


laf (Lissa Ann Forbes)
Publishing History, One Life at a Time
The Elemental Press
PO Box 49, Lafayette, CO  80026
(B) 303-926-1890, (C) 303-885-0652

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life legacy books and journals
"The possibilities are endless ... you can get what your heart desires."

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Local chapter, Speak with Ease, Lafayette, CO


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