It was a gift slash burden at my high school for graduating seniors to fill a full page of the yearbook with a photograph and a quote.  Choosing the right shot and the right words that you could live with —  forever — was a big deal. That was pressure, man.

My friend Jeremy, who was handy with a camera, took this picture of me in my parent’s backyard, which turned out well. Nice composition and cool lighting. (Thanks, Jeremy!)  But I remember being less worried about the photo, I was 18, after all, than I was about the words. The words really mattered to me.

Reading them now, these lyrics to the Simon & Garfunkel song, “Bookends,” I see a harbinger of personal mission. I seemed to be aware of how I would feel looking at this page in the future. As though I was leaving myself the message that memory was important. That photographs helped us tap into our memories.  Not surprising that I am, and have always been, the keeper of the family photo albums. The one who, at reunions, will stir the memory pot to see what bubbles up.

I think we leave little crumbs of memory for ourselves over our lifetime, to go back to. If we are curious.Scan 1






Scenic Views, Ripe for the Picking

I’ve been sending out print or electronic family new year’s greetings since 1992 when my youngest daughter reached her first birthday. Every year, I struggle with what to say. I have yet to get into the year-in-review highlights letter (but never say never I always say) so I usually stick with one or two lines.

Here are some examples:

2011 family foto

In 2011, under a photo of my husband and two daughters standing in front of a range of Colorado mountains:

May you reach your mountaintop with views that take your breath away in the year to come.


In 2000, under a photo of my husband and two, much younger daughters, bundled up in winter coats in our backyard:

Hoping this season finds you – and keeps you – warm and cozy. ‘Til we see you again…


In 1995, the four of us in an apple orchard:

Wishing you all things colorful, juicy and ripe for the picking this holiday season…

You get the idea.

In each of these, the season, setting and/or  stray details steered the language to link the photograph to the wish.

To help the reader, see.

That’s what we want to do with our writing. Go from the abstract to the concrete and back to the abstract again.

Here’s what I mean by that: Wishing someone a happy new year is in some ways an abstract concept. In what way do you want them  to be happy? What could that look like? There are so many choices!

It’s more concrete to wish them the chance to “reach their mountaintop” or stay “warm and cozy” or the option to pick things “ripe and juicy.” But these are also images that are imbued with multiple meanings. Metaphor.

So think about the abstract-concrete-abstract idea when you are looking to layer your pieces. And let me know how it goes. I’d love to post examples in this space.