Kids on the Line: Beartown

I admittedly came across Fredrik Backman not because his books became popular, but because my church, Grace-Trinity Community,  hosted a talk by him through Magers & Quinn Booksellers.

My reading time is usually filled with local’s Louise Erdrich novels from her Birchbark Books, a selection of Michigan authors from Brilliant Books on our annual pilgrimage to the family cottage, and a long list of social justice/theological books (a few more should be arriving today).

I picked up Backman’s Beartown for the hockey theme.  We’re a #hockeyfamily afterall, with two kids playing September to March, my husband always coaching both teams, and a few other times in between.  Our daughter has now even started playing goalie…something that seems to be in her blood (but neither of us grew up playing the game!).

It took me awhile to get to Beartown.  But when I did, it easily could have easily been located somewhere in northern Minnesota as Scandinavia.  The dynamics of the sport, small towns, families, parenting…ring so close to home.

How the lives of parents and children are so entangled, yet so separate.  How as adults, we underestimate the complexity and abilities of children and teenagers…even when we ourselves have lived through it.  And how, as communities, we as a collective have much more influence over our youth than we like to admit we have.

This is not a book for the faint of heart, for those looking for a beach read.

This is a book for those looking to grow, to reflect, to embrace what is happening in their own community, but need encouragement by looking at it from a different angle.

While this book is a work of fiction, it is also true.

Nothing in Beartown hasn’t happened somewhere else.  Nothing in Beartown hasn’t played out in someone’s life that you know…just maybe not on the ice.

In the midst of snowplow parent scandals and increasing suicide rates for youth & young adults, Beartown provides us with a reflection of us.

When our kids, on the ice or off, approach the line…what do we do?  And how should we do it differently?

Read BeartownPerhaps it will just change your approach to life.



Posted in Book Review, Parenting | 1 Comment

Writing for Your Great-Grandchildren & 5 Ways to Start

This past Christmas my paternal-grandmother did one of the most amazing things…she presented the family with copies of an overview of her life.

As a hobby genealogist, I have a chart of names, dates, and facts.  But to have her life written in her own words, with her unique phrasing and commentary…is something we could never get from official documents.

The pages she gifted to us reveal just how strong, independent and amazing she was and still is as she closes in on 100.  I doubt she had any inclination other than recording her life, but her story provided shape to the history of women in a time much different, but also still similar, to mine.

We live our lives doing what is happening now, planning for tomorrow, worrying about whatever is coming next.  We think about how what we are doing affects the future, while rarely looking at the past as the foundations for today.

Honest family histories expand our understanding of why our lives are the way they are.  We may not have the opportunity to retrieve the stories of the past for ourselves, but we do have the opportunity to leave the stories for the future.

Take the time to write your story before it is forgotten.  Take time to share the journey of your life, so that your descendants – related or not – can know what really happened.

You are living tomorrow’s history, so record it, please.  The future needs it.

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5 Ways to Start Writing Your Story

  • Keep a journal.  Record events – include movies, concerts, coffee dates, trips, etc.  Do not forget to include dates, locations, people included and impressions.  (I loved being able to watch the same movies my grandfather wrote about in his letters during his time at Wright-Patterson during WWII.)
  • Make a list of significant events or situations in your life.  Expand on this list by writing at least a paragraph of why it made this list.
  • Make a list of significant people in your life.  Write about who this person was and their impact on your.  Include a list of activities, situations, or other events that you both were involved in.
  • Create a timeline of your life.  Divide the timeline into periods of time, such as: high school; early parenthood; a particular job; or significant relationships.  Each period can be a different length of years (or months).   Write a summary of each of these periods of time.
  • Dig out old photographs.  Choose photographs of meaningful people, places, and/or times.  Write about what is going on in the pictures, including as much factual information as possible (names, dates, locations, etc.).  Remember to keep a copy of the photograph with your writing.

When you are done, share copies with whomever you choose – keeping in mind that local historical centers love to add personal accounts to their genealogy files and city information.

And a post from the past:  10 Reasons Why You Need to Journal

Posted in Deliberate Living, Parenting, Writing