You can mentally dig for stories in your own back yard! Or, at least a drawing of your backyard. One exercise that can help with your recall of stories is to draw the floor plan of one of your childhood homes (or even a “map” of the back yard).
For example, when I drew the rough floor plan of my childhood home, it was like I stepped through a time portal as I mentally stepped through the front door. In my mind, I was walking through the house, a house I hadn’t been in for 20 years. I could see the family pictures on the bumpy-textured walls. I could feel the stickiness of the plastic covering on the couch (yes, my mother put plastic on the couch and left the plastic covers on the lampshades, too). I could smell my mother’s oregano-laden spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove. When I arrived at my bedroom, I opened the closet and saw the picture I had drawn of my grandmother when I was a teenager and I remembered how she stood up to Santa Claus when Santa forgot to give me a gift at a family Christmas party.
As I mentally walked from room to room, I was amazed at how arcane details would jump into my memory–like when I was a little girl and I would sit, transfixed at my mother’s transformation as she applied her makeup. She was so beautiful that even my little second grade friends would remark on what a pretty mommy I had. But, I knew the truth. It was work. I can still remember her saying, “It hurts to be beautiful.” She said the same thing when she would make me sleep in the pink sponge curlers to make my thick, stick-straight hair fall in perfect waves around my shoulders. At seven years old, I didn’t care about being beautiful. But, I now could use that story to help make a point. What we see as beautiful, or accomplished might seem to have been effortless, but there often is effort or sacrifice involved. And, some people don’t want to make the sacrifice.
What stories will you rediscover when you mentally walk through your childhood home floor plan?