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“The Story of Your Life Workshop” with Cynthia Richmond

We have the distinct pleasure of having Cynthia Richmond back at Tubac Golf Resort & Spa presenting  “The Story of Your Life”  a 3 and 1/2 day workshop, May 28 through May 31, 2014.  Cynthia is an educator, therapist and published author who has written for newspapers, with a longtime column in the Los Angeles Times, and she has worked in media, doing television and radio, where she helped people remember and understand the meaning of their dreams. 

As a therapist, Cynthia regularly met with clients who were sad about the loss of someone in their lives; the loss was tangible and painful.  She also heard about the glorious, happy memories: the fishing trips with Uncle Joe, the learning to sew the prom gown with mom, and so on. One day, a few months after her own grandmother’s passing it became clear to her that she had missed out on her grandmother’s life story, but there were so many, right now, that she could help with the telling of their story. Within a day she had a title: “The Story of Your Life Workshop.”  I’ll let Cynthia tell the rest of the story:

“The Story of Your Life Workshop”
“May 28 through May 31, 2014
Tubac Golf Resort & Spa

 A Letter from Cynthia

 When my grandmother passed sooner than expected, it was devastating for me. She was my favorite person in the world. It didn’t seem fair. Somehow I never even thought of her as not being alive and well. She was the magnet for our family. We were all pulled and attracted to Grammy Rachel for Sunday suppers and holidays.

As we began to heal our grief, I was overwhelmed with another loss. Rachel had been the story keeper of our family. She kept up with the lives of all the generations of our relatives. She loved to share the updates at family get-togethers. My mom was a busy working mother of five and didn’t have a lot of time to keep up with the extended family. So when Rachel Pauline Hoover-Dennis, distant cousin to President Herbert Hoover, died too soon, the stories, my family legacy, largely went with her.

As a therapist, I regularly met with clients who were sad about the loss of someone in their lives, living or gone; runaway, divorce, marital affair, death by accident or illness, the loss was tangible and painful. But, I also heard about the glorious, happy memories: the fishing trips with Uncle Joe, the learning to sew the prom gown with mom, and so on. We went through the grief and anger as needed for a true emotional healing, but focused on the joy, beauty and moving memories.

As an educator and published author, I had written for newspapers, with a longtime column in the Los Angeles Times, and worked in media, doing television and radio, where I helped people remember and understand the meaning of their night dreams.

One day, a few months after Rachel’s passing, it came to me clear as the day. I’d missed out on my grandmother’s life story, but there were so many, right now, I could help with the telling of their story. Within a day, I had a title: “The Story of Your Life Workshop.” It was time for me to coach writers.

That evening I wrote an article about Rachel’s passing. I wrote about how every life story is part of the tapestry of humankind. I submitted the story to our local art and entertainment news publication. They ran it, and the next day I had four students. Since that time I have helped 440 people write their life stories.

 What I know for sure is that writing changes lives, and writing your own story is extremely therapeutic. It is human nature to want your life to be acknowledged. We all hope to make a difference to someone, or for a cause we believe in. If you don’t write your story who will? Will they tell it the way you would? In penning your memoir, you choose what stories to share, and you tell them as you experienced them.

Do you remember the telephone game we played in elementary school? The teacher began by whispering a sentence into a student’s ear. Each remaining student sat side by side in a circle. When the sentence made its way, whispered ear to ear, around and back to the teacher, it was always dramatically changed. Students misheard or heard what they wanted to hear, or said it in a way they felt was better. “Earl is on the telephone.” Became “Early told the phone.”

Much the same, you are the only person on this planet who can tell your story with the thoughts and feelings behind your actions. Your story will be a legacy for your children, grandchildren, friends, other family, and a gift to yourself.

One man who took the workshop 10 years ago, a psychologist, stopped me on his way out one morning. He said, “You know what you’ve created here? It’s not just a memoir writing workshop, it’s a healing circle.” That was so gratifying.

 I have had students in their 20’s who have already lived lives worthy of documenting. Many seniors want to write their memoirs, “While I can still remember them.” I have worked with some who wrote near the end of their lives, and, later, been invited to read a chapter from their life journey at their memorial or celebration of life gathering. One woman began my workshop shortly after the death of her husband. She was mourning and a bit lost; he had been her world. Five years later she is still writing with me, has completed five books, looks a lot younger with a pep in her step, a big smile and sparkles in her eyes. I have attended two of her book signings with the pride of a momma hen.

 Some take the workshop when they want to make a shift in their lives and start a new chapter. It could be after a divorce, career change, or overcoming an addiction. For whatever reason, they want to document what’s happened so far, then let that go and reinvent themselves. Being part of the workshop is an amazing way to accomplish this.

Have you ever had a sleepless night? You tossed and turned in bed thinking over and over about the fender bender, or argument, or worrying that you shared too much at a party. Yet, when you got up and jotted this concern into your journal, knowing it would be there to pick up in the morning, you finally slept. Well, life is much the same, except we sometimes churn for years over our childhoods, traumas, past indiscretions, and guilt over choices. Through a workshop, we learn and grow, as the human desire is to take it up a notch and achieve a new level of being.

 Others need encouragement, support and accountability. They want to give their memoir to their children, grandchildren, nieces & nephews, other family, community members and friends. They wish they knew more about their parents and grandparents, the personal parts of their lives, and would love to have received a memoir from them. Sometimes they come to write the story of their parent’s lives such as Rabbi Alicia Magal who wrote her mother’s story of surviving the holocaust in the workshop. It is now being translated into Polish with feature film interest. Others have thought and thought about writing their story, want to do it, know they should, but getting around to it, well that’s another story. Life gets in the way.

One woman wanted to write her story, but had never written and was intimidated by the thought. Her mother had passed and she missed her. They were best friends. I asked her if she had ever written a letter. “Of course,” she replied. “Why not write your stories as love letters to your mother?” I said. That brought tears of joy, a comfort zone, and the result was beautiful.

Giving yourself the gift of these three and a half days of coaching, technique, writing exercises, sharing for whatever type of support you wish, will empower you. You will find your voice and style, find the essence of your memoir, you’ll learn how to write description, dialog, humor, mystery and cliff hanger. We’ll also spend time on the updated rules of grammar and self-publishing techniques.

Join us for this empowering method of mindful writing, documenting your life with truth and love. I look forward to working with you.  

Cynthia

For more information please contact:

Rob McGrath at Alchemy Retreats – 802.362.0570 – rmcgrath@om-consultants.com