Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

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.

The Season of Transition

Things out there in the world are unsettling at the moment, I think. So much noise—politicians in the Presidential race yapping at each other, gun shots all over the country, road rage, a general sense by some of entitlement coupled with a lack of boundaries.  New Mexico was recently crowned the second most dangerous state to live in the United States. While New Mexico offers the cleanest air to breathe and inspiring vistas, heroin and alcohol mixed with guns, cars, poverty and anger are not a healthy combination.  The good news is that pretty much all of the above is manmade. We created the problems. We can solve them.

And what better time than now, the season of change,  to “be the change that you wish to see in the world,” as Gandhi said. In Santa Fe, nature has signaled the transition from summer to autumn with leggy sunflowers, aspen leaves turning from green to gold and enough ripe tomatoes for each of us to make a year’s worth of salsa or pasta sauce. The kids are back in school. Labor Day is coming up. The boats are stored. These markers of transition urge a pause, a moment of reflection. What do we want in our lives? What must stop? What’s the next step?

And right in the middle of all that pondering we burn Zozobra on Friday night, right  down to his big duck feet. Old Man Gloom will turn to ashes along with our fears and worries! What perfect timing! How great is that!  So I suggest we each have our own little Zozobra ceremony. Write  down all your fears and mistakes and blunders and burn them to smithereens, keeping a bucket of water nearby. Then write down all your hopes and intentions and plans for action.  Keep those. Nurture them, even when it turns cold and dark and snow falls on the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

As The Bombs Are Bursting

For those of you who could use a quiet alternative to all the bombs bursting in air, whether literally or metaphorically,  I offer you David Whyte’s poem.

TO MAKE A PROMISE

Make a place of prayer, no fuss,

just lean into the white brilliance

and say what you needed to say

all along, nothing too much, words

as simple and as yours and as heard

as the bird song above your head

or the river running gently beside you,

let your words join to the world

the way stone nestles on stone

the way water simply leaves

and goes to the sea,

the way your promise

breathes and belongs

with every other promise

the world has ever made.

 

Now, leave them to go on,

let your words alone

to carry their own life,

without you, let the promise

go on with the river.

Have faith. Walk away.

 

David Whyte from “Prayer after Prayer”

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 .

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.

The Tree and Me

Yesterday I saw this tree on the way home. Right before my eyes I saw a visual representation of change: the transition from summer to autumn.

Thankfully unlike the tree, the majority of us don’t face a big transition every four months or so. We often live our lives for years pretty much in the same pattern: we go to work at the same job day after day, we live with the same spouse or partner, we raise our children, we live in the same town. Then, what often feels like out of nowhere, a piece of our lives shifts, and the pattern of our lives crumbles: you lose your job, begin a new one or retire; your business falters; your spouse or partner says it’s over; the kids grow up and leave home; you must move to a new town to take care of a parent or a parent moves in with you; you or a loved one face illness; a loved one dies. Something happens. You have no choice but to transform your life. You do have a choice how you transform your life.

I wrote a piece on transformation which was accepted for publication on Maria Shriver’s web site. It was posted this week. They named it “Living A Fulfilling Life.” It is an edited, truncated version of a few of my more Biblical in scale transformations. I am in the midst of one of them now. I am hopeful I am at least as far along as that tree.

You can find the piece by clicking here: http://mariashriver.com/blog/2012/10/living-a-fulfilling-life-susan-tungate