Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

Story Telling 101 This Saturday!

Not too late to sign up for Story Telling 101 this Saturday. Details below.

 

STORY TELLING 101

It’s Time

A reader dropped me a note recently asking for more information about the work I do in general and, specifically,  my writing memoirs, personal histories and family histories for clients.  The reader said there was just something about fall that made him…once again…think about writing down some of his family stories as well as his own. I agree with the impulse.  More than spring, I associate autumn with beginnings. Maybe all those years of school left an imprint, a Pavlov’s dog reaction: The morning air turns crisp, and I am energized to begin anew.

After we spoke, I reviewed the About section and decided it was time to amp it up a bit. So I did. In case you, too, are giving some thought to taking pen in hand or placing fingers on the computer, or having me do that on your behalf or as a gift to another, I have reprinted part of the revised About section below. “The Universe is made of stories, not atoms,” wrote Muriel Rukeyser. Write your stories. Let me know how I may assist you. I would be honored.

We all have a story to tell. Whether you have lived your life quietly or on a more public stage, writing your memoir, life stories, family stories and family histories offers you the opportunity to observe the past with fresh eyes, reflect on your life’s purpose, clarify your future path and preserve your unique stories. Here is the bonus: When you are open to telling your individual stories in the most authentic, truth seeking way, you will touch the universal truths that have the power to transform both you and the reader.

I teach writing classes privately and for organizations such as the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the Santa Fe retirement community El Castillo, assisting them with shaping their stories and honing their craft. I edit completed manuscripts and assist with development editing when you are not quite sure how to proceed or whether you are on the right track.

I produce memoirs, life stories, family stories and family histories from recorded interviews which I transcribe, edit and develop into a story well told. My clients are from all walks of life, people who have built businesses, raised families, fought in wars, championed a cause, taught school, designed buildings, traveled the world or chose to stay close to the fabric of their communities. While their life stories are unique, they all value their heritage and share a desire to preserve their personal stories and family stories for generations to come. Since each project is unique, I offer a free one hour consultation to discuss the story you wish to tell, outline the process and determine a fee which will fit within your budget. Drop me a note and let’s get started. It’s time.

Santa Feans: Viola Fisher

Saturday brought summer to the Northern Hemisphere and lured me back to the blog. My thanks to the nice people who asked whether I am alive and well. I am, thank you, and I hope you are, too.

At the moment I am thinking about my one year anniversary of  teaching writing at a local retirement community filled with physicists, architects, doctors, senior managers, artists, lawyers, published authors and would be writers picking up a pen in their 70s and beyond for the first time. I could write a book about the last year: Thursdays at The Castle.

Of the original group who walked in the door a year ago, two extraordinary women passed away. When I took the job, I had not factored in the probability of falling in love with my students and losing some of them.

I told you about ninety plus year old Susie. Remember her? On the first day of class, I asked what advice they would give their younger selves and Susie yelled, yelled since she had no idea how to control the volume on her hearing aid or her voice: “First, I would tell her I LOVE YOU. Then I would tell her, DON’T BE AFRAID! JUST GET OUT THERE AND LIVE YOUR LIFE FROM YOUR HEART. AND ONLY GET OLD WHEN YOU HAVE NO OTHER OPTION.” That was a show stopper.

And then there was Viola. Viola walked in the second week of class pushing her cart, stooped over with her head poking out like a turtle with a fluff of white hair and a big smile.  She always came a little early to class to park her cart and take her seat before the others arrived. So I started coming earlier, too, just to chat with her. You see, Viola, at 94, was just about the same age my Mother would have been had Mother not died at 46. I looked at Viola with curiosity and wonder. Curiosity because I envisioned my Mother’s face in hers, and wonder because Viola lived a bodacious  life in an era when that was not an option for women.

Over the weeks I learned from our talks and her writing that she was raised on an apple farm in Post Falls, Idaho, attended a two room school house, walked over three miles to high school and graduated from college with a major in dietetics. During World War II she became a Lieutenant in the Army. After the War, she earned a masters degree from Columbia in public health, and that made all the difference.

In the mid 1950s she went to work in Iran where she set up a dietary department in a hospital. She wrote of one midnight walk through ancient ruins by moonlight.

She worked in East Africa in the 1960s to bolster children’s health. Her next stop was India where she worked with UNICEF to save children from malnutrition. And on and on, until she fell in love with Santa Fe. settled down and worked for the NM Department of Health from 1971-1982. As it turns out, she lived a few  blocks from me at one point. I wish I had known. 

She skied well into her 80s, rafted in North and South America,  loved gardening, and rescued dogs.  And she traveled all over the world on her own. In her last story, Viola told us about the trip to the Himalayans she took with a small group of women. They hired sherpas and trekked the mountain, eating the same food as the sherpas with the exception of the granola they brought with them for breakfast. She wrote of the pure joy she felt when they gathered around the campfire each night, all bundled up in sheep skin coats, sipping Yak butter tea, telling stories.  When I think of her, and I think of her often, she is high in the Himalayans, holding a cup of hot tea, laughing with a toss of that white hair, eyes sparkling with the wonder of it all.

Viola at 77
©Joanne Rijmes 1997

In the News: Frito Pies, Wine and Cheese, and New Classes!

Frito Pies Inside

#1 Frito Pie

Philly has its cheese steaks. Buffalo has those wings. Santa Fe has “World Famous” Frito pies, sold for a gazillion years at the Five & Dime General Store on the Plaza. Don’t know about Frito pies? Take a small bag lunch size bag of Fritos, cut off the top, pour in chili with beans, sprinkle some cheddar cheese and you have a to go lunch for under $5. The Frito pie is its own food group, cherished by locals and tourists. They sell over 30,000 of them a year. Nutritious? Absolutely not. Beloved? You bet. But not by Anthony Bourdain. If you watch his show Parts Unknown tonight on my alma mater CNN, you will see him walk into the Five & Dime, order a Frito pie and declare, “feels like holding warm crap in a bag.” And then he adds, “If you closed your eyes and I put this in your hands, you would be very worried it’s a colostomy pie.” Nice. Real nice.

 

#2 Wine and Cheese

Santa Fe is bouncing off the walls with tourists this sunny weekend because of American Express. As lore has it, about twenty-three years ago someone in charge of marketing for our region noticed a decided drop in the use of the Am Ex card in Santa Fe during the month of October. What to do? This is America! Invent and sponsor an event to increase the use of the Am Ex card. And so the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta was born. All this week about 70 restaurants and 100 wineries have hosted special dinners and tastings. It is a big deal. I have no idea whether Am Ex is still involved, but the event lives on.

 

#3 New Classes

Just when you thought the paid announcements had stopped, I decided to offer 2 new classes. PR and Marketing 101, a new offering, is a 3 hour workshop that will meet Saturday, October 12 from 1-4pm. The workshop is designed for those promoting a book, nonprofits and businesses. In this workshop you will learn how to develop and implement targeted PR plans that generate results; create your all important personal and business narrative; draft lively content, articles and press releases to garner attention; create targeted media lists; use social media to create an audience for your event, product or service. Writing Family Stories and Memoir will meet for 6 weeks beginning Sunday, October 6 from 3-4:30.If interested, contact me using the Contact form above. Feel free to pass the link along. Thanks!

Memoir, Family Memoir and Revision Workshops: Back to School!

 

It’s back to school time! Time to put away the flip flops and get out your pen and paper or computer to work on your writing project. Ask not for whom that school bell tolls. It tolls for you!

The early September date for the six week Write Your Memoir or Family Stories workshop filled in a heart beat, so I am offering a new Write Your Memoir or Family Stories workshop to start Saturday, September 21 from 3-4:30 PM.  In addition, I am offering a six week Revision Workshop to start Friday, September 20, from 3-4:30 PM.

Through writing exercises, discussion and story review, I will provide you the tools you need to capture your stories, one vivid memory at a time. In both workshops we will focus on the basics of good prose writing: structure, voice, narrative, scene, theme, tension, metaphor and setting. No experience required. A sense of humor mandatory. Call me at 505.577.8132 or email me at susan@susantungate.com to sign up or for further details.

I also offer editing services and work with people privately as a writing coach. Heck, I will write your family stories for you. We can work together  in person, via skype or telephone.

So take out your box of photos, story ideas and yellowing manuscript. It is time.

 

Eat, Pray, Write, Relax: A Rejuvenating Weekend in Santa Fe

 

It’s Spring! What better time and what better place than Santa Fe to nurture, center, and revitalize body, mind and spirit than a weekend in April or May immersed in the inspirational beauty of Santa Fe, New Mexico. My friend and Southwest tour guide extraordinaire Patrizia Antonicelli, who owns Seven Directions Tours, is offering this Santa Fe experience in April and May.

Offered the weekends of  April 13-14, April 27-28, May 11-12, and May 25-26, the Seven Directions Tours experience begins on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. with my writing class “Writing Your Memoir: One Vivid Story at a Time.”


Memoir writing offers you the opportunity to observe the past with fresh eyes, reflect on your life purpose, clarify your future path and preserve your unique stories. Always with humor, I promise to demystify the process of memoir writing and provide the simple tools you need to begin. The class will end at noon.

From 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., you will be immersed in Native American culture by spending this afternoon with a Native American healer who will offer a blessing and healing ceremony which is sure to nourish and renew the spirit.

Saturday dinner, held from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., will be a memorable experience. A premiere Native American chef will prepare centuries old traditional dishes for you in her home using organic ingredients. The history of each dish will be explained. To end the evening, her Navajo sous chef will drum and sing for you.

Sunday morning from 10:00 a.m. to noon will be spent writing with me.

The experience will end Sunday afternoon with an herbal massage and flower and mineral essences with the Native American healer. Massage sessions will begin at 2:00 p.m. You will return home with flower and mineral essences as a remembrance of this special weekend.

I urge you to make this peaceful, revitalizing weekend a gift to yourself. Patrizia will not disappoint, and I would love to write with you. Locals are welcome to join in, too.  You may even get to meet the beautiful and talented Georgia the Dog!

You will stay in town at a typical southwestern accommodation. Upon request, for this weekend, Seven Directions Tours will provide ideas and itineraries for anyone wanting also to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and the art and culture for which Santa Fe is famous.

For further information and media inquiries call Patrizia Antonicelli at 505.820.3305 or visit www.sevendirections.net .

Let Your Inner Muse Run Free!

True confession: I have slacked off  writing my posts for Under Santa Fe Skies as I complete my manuscript for Macon: A Memoir, A Murder.  I have never written a bucket list of things I want to accomplish before I pass into the great beyond, but if I did, the only material project on the list would be “finish and publish Macon.” People, it is time. 

For  those of you living in Santa Fe or visiting soon, I present to you today two opportunities to bring forth your very own inner muse in a relaxed, never competitive, always supportive environment. 

First up is my new memoir writing class which begins Wednesday, February 13.  Writing Your Memoir: One Vivid Story at A Time will meet from 3-4:30 for 6 consecutive Wednesdays. Each class has its own personality. This one, so far, has a professional photographer, a bestselling author and a man who has been scribbling down ideas for years and is finally ready to write the book. I have vetted the group and can assure you each has a sense of humor. Please contact me via Contact Susan if you would like to join our merry group starting a week from today. There is still room at the table. 

The second opportunity is a workshop titled “A Pilgrimage Home” which will be held February 26 from 6-8 pm at the O’Keeffe Museum’s Museum Education Annex located on 123 Grant Ave. in Santa Fe. The workshop is offered in conjunction with the new exhibit of Annie Leibowitz photographs from her book Pilgrimage that opens February 15. 

During a challenging time in her life, Annie Leibowitz embarked on her own personal pilgrimage, focusing her camera on objects, rooms, and landscapes which held meaning for her. The resulting collection of photographs in Pilgrimage offer, in her own words,  ”a meditation on how to live.” 

In this workshop you will gain insight into your own vision of the meaning of home and a life well lived. Through writing prompts, art examples, and demonstrations, you will be guided on your own personal pilgrimage to create both a written reflection and a collage-and-mixed-media work of art on panel board. I will co-lead the workshop with Catherine Trapani, visual artist, printmaker, and teacher. The workshop is part of the Museum’s Art & Leadership for Adults. I should add, the workshop is free! To learn more, please click here.

Silence your inner critic. Join a class. Let your little muse run free.

New Memoir Writing Classes Start in February

And now for a bit of shameless self promotion. I am now signing up future memoirists for the new February classes of Writing Your Memoir: One Vivid Story at a Time.

So often people feel called to write their memoir but have no idea how to begin. In these classes,  I will be your guide.

  • With compassion and humor, I will demystify the process of memoir writing.
  • Through writing exercises and discussion,  I will provide the simple tools you need to capture the stories of your life, one small vivid story at a time.
  • While the classes are specifically structured to teach memoir writing, participants will gain helpful information for writing informal family histories as well.
  • Both beginning and seasoned writers are welcome.
  • A sense of humor is mandatory.

We have great fun in the classes, no evil memoir competitors are allowed in the door. Participants begin writing their memoirs and leave the class with the tools they need to complete their manuscript.

For information about new workshops in February, please contact me at 505.577.8132 or email me at susan@susantungate.com.  Workshops meet for 90 minutes one day or evening a week for 6 consecutive weeks. Cost is $150 early bird, with  payment prior to first class,  and $165 thereafter.

A Time Out of Time Weekend to Rejuvenate and Revitalize in Timeless Santa Fe

(My friend and Southwest tour guide extraordinaire Patrizia Antonicelli, who owns Seven Directions Tours, is offering this Santa Fe experience in December. Please consider making this peaceful retreat a gift to yourself or a special friend. Patrizia will not disappoint, and I would love to see you in December. Locals are welcome to join in, too.)

The end of another hectic year is near. The New Year is soon upon us. What better time and what better place to nurture, center, and revitalize body, mind and spirit, than a weekend in December immersed in the inspirational beauty of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Offered the weekends of  December 15-16 and 29-30, the Seven Directions Tours experience begins on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. with the class “Writing Your Memoir: One Vivid Story at a Time” taught by Susan Tungate. Susan is an author, teacher, an inspirational Guide for “Architects of Change” on mariashriver.com, and former attorney with CNN.

Memoir writing offers you the opportunity to observe the past with fresh eyes, reflect on your life purpose, clarify your future path and preserve your unique stories. Always with humor, Susan will demystify the process of memoir writing and provide the simple tools the client needs to begin. The class will end at noon.

From 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., you will be immersed in Native American culture by spending this afternoon with a Native American healer who will offer a blessing and healing ceremony which is sure to nourish and renew the spirit.

Saturday dinner, held from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., will be a memorable experience. A premiere Native American chef will prepare centuries old traditional dishes for you in her home using organic ingredients. The history of each dish will be explained. To end the evening, her Navajo sous chef will drum and sing for you.

Sunday morning from 10:00 a.m. to noon will be spent writing with Susan. The experience will end Sunday afternoon with an herbal massage and flower and mineral essences with the Native American healer. Massage sessions will begin at 2:00 p.m. You will return home with flower and mineral essences as a remembrance of this special weekend.

What better gift to give yourself or a special friend  than the gift of a peaceful retreat, a moment out of time in timeless Santa Fe, to renew the spirit and meet the New Year refreshed and enlivened.

You will stay in town at a typical southwestern accommodation. Upon request, for this weekend, Seven Directions Tours will provide ideas and itineraries for anyone wanting also to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and the art and culture for which Santa Fe is famous.

For further information and media inquiries call Patrizia Antonicelli at 505.820.3305 or visit www.sevendirections.net.