My Onteejo and I have been making our way through the book “Storyworthy” by Matthew Dicks. He’s a Moth StorySLAM champion, who is utterly fantastic at telling stories. We decided we’d try his methods he explains in the book so we could get better at storytelling, too.
One of the first things Dicks says to do is to start what he calls Homework For Life. (He even did a TEDx talk about it). Homework For Life is a five minute activity at the end of your day where you sit and reflect on your waking hours, then write a few sentences about the most important moment of the day. What makes today different from the last? You log a moment when something changed, or you discovered something for the first time, or find some beauty or import you wouldn’t have found or seen otherwise.
Dicks describes Homework for Life as a way to develop a storytelling lens. He says you realize you have more stories than you can imagine, and when you start to look for stories in your life, stuff will come up from your past. Even if you don’t want to collect stories, amazing things happen from collecting your daily stories.
Thus, me and Onteejo decided to try Homework for Life for at least a week to see if we wanted to subscribe. Once the week was up, I found I wanted to share my moments with my aunt and asked if she’d mind sharing hers, too (I was so curious!).
If you’re curious like me, here’s mine:
9/7: Fun and flirty hike with Dan at Tyler State Park. We got lost at the top of the mountain, stumbling upon a horse farm and large amounts of rusted, abandoned boats, automobiles, and farm equpiment being eaten by trees and vines. Seemed like the beginning of a thriller/horror story.
9/8: Super flustered when I showed up at an OB/GYN appointment, only to discover my old OB/GYN (from 7 years ago) had moved into the same exact building/space as my new OB/GYN. I must have called the old one by accident and made the appointment when they confirmed the same. exact. address. as my new one. Mind-blowing!!! I sat in the waiting room at a total loss, wondering if I should stay, leave, or admit my mistake. I ultimately decided to just stay and get an exam. Whatever.
9/9: Kids first day of virtual first and fourth grade. It was rough since we didn’t know what to expect, and neither of us had owned any responsibility of it. I hated feeling unprepared on a day I wanted to be calm and collected to model for the kids. Ugh.
9/10: Ate with Dan and the kids indoors at a restaurant for the first time since March, then we ran to the beach to enjoy blue hour and the dark beach. Tears filled my eyes as I took deep breaths of ocean air, enjoying the moment of pure joy which on its own felt like it validated our new beach place:. The feeling of freedom, wildness, and the light touch of sea spray and rain while we all lost our minds and ran around like crazies in the darkness. It was perfect. It was a moment I hope to always remember.
9/11: (Thought I lost this day!) Bought candy at the candy shop after school with the kids and ate it on the beach while making sandcastles for a few hours. Charlie now calls all bees “Sweat-Bees” since learning about them on our lake house trip a few weeks ago. The grouping of the two words is hilarious to me.
9/12: Chilly day on the beach as we sat in hoodies, ate lunch, and chased napkins. Long conversation with Dan about our new schedule and who was willing to do what while we snuggled and I drank hot coffee.
9/13: Solo morning yoga on the beach at 8am, not caring who watched as I used AirPods to follow along with a yoga routine. It was relaxing and calming…but mostly glorious.
9/14: After a dinner of American-ized sushi (thick, giant portions and overly sticky rice) in Yardley, me and Dan went on a hunt to find a bakery that was still open, despite our full stomachs. We somehow ended up in a scary area of Trenton, NJ, finding a fantastic little Spanish bakery, complete with Tres Leches and Flan. A man who could’ve played Chewbacca rung us up and towered over the cash register, making it look like a child’s toy. I thought it was hilarious, and Dan thought I was mean. Potato Potahto.
9/15: Did my least favorite thing in the world today: went to the grocery store. Except today for some reason, I didn’t mind it so much and didn’t even listen to a book. It might have been less awful because it was empty, I had a list, it wasn’t raining, and it’d had been like month since I had last been there.
I enjoyed looking back at this list and smiling at the moments. I was surprised to find I could actually remember the past week, despite the busy and not busy moments. I even got upset when I couldn’t remember what happened on the 11th; it felt like I’d lost a whole freaking day! Super disconcerting. (Luckily, a moment from the 11th came back to me a few days later when I saw the lollipop candy one of my kids had picked out that day).
I like this writing/story-generating exercise and am definitely going to add it to my daily Morning Pages routine. (Or yeah, I’ll do it at night. Whatever.)
Dicks says that by doing Homework for Life every day, things will slow down. Life won’t pass you by in a blink. You’ll realize you are not an unimportant person, and that your days are not meaningless and the same. He says if you have commitment and faith, Homework for Life will change your life, though it may not happen instantly. Over time, you’ll discover there are meaningful life-changing moments that are happening to you all the time, and you can touch and read them years later and transport yourself right back into those moments. You can even do it on your death bed. It’s the greatest blessing you’ll ever give yourself.
Don’t lose a day!