Imagine that from as far back as you can remember, you were told by the adults in your life that your options were limited, that you were not meant to succeed, that you would forever be relegated to a low rung of society. This was the experience of Emi Nietfeld, who grew up in the broken foster care system, lived with numerous dysfunctional families, was put on heavy medications she didn’t need, and spent time in psych wards and on the street before making it out of her dead end the only way she could imagine: by achieving acceptance into Harvard University. Most recently, Emi is a bestselling memoirist.
May is Foster Care Awareness month. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Emi at a fundraiser for the incredible nonprofit Roots & Wings, whose mission is to “provide safe housing, emotional support, life skills, and educational opportunities for youth aging out of foster care; empowering them to rise toward their greatest potential."
At the fundraiser—which was hosted at the Crystal Plaza where I married my beautiful wife!—Emi spoke about her memoir, Acceptance, and did a Q&A and signing. I loved listening to her brilliant insights about her experiences growing up and then adapting to a new world. For example, she only learned as a young adult in college and visiting her friends’ homes that it is polite and expected to look people in the eyes when speaking with them.
A central theme to her memoir is the fallacy that survival, no matter how grim the situation, can be attained through intelligence, resourcefulness, desire, and the refusal to give up. Emi concedes that her desperation to escape her circumstances, paired with luck and a few advantages, laid the road to her success. But it is an unfair narrative to the many thousands of youth languishing in a broken foster care system.
I encourage you to check out Emi’s book as well as Roots & Wings.
My New Blog
I also want to share that I have a new blog on my website. There are questions that I hear all the time, such as “What is the difference between a memoir and an autobiography?” and "How can I begin my memoir?" My website blog is the perfect place for me to answer these questions and make this information easily accessible to you. It is a place you can visit for resources.
Please check out my first blog, called "What is a Memoir?"
The Book Reveal
Among my favorite aspects of the memoir creation process is the Book Reveal—the very instant my clients first see their completed LifeStory Memoir. They take their story in their hands, gaze for the first time at themselves on the cover, and breathe in the sweetness of knowing their unique story has been captured and that the people who mean everything to them now have it permanently.
The benefits throughout the memoir creation process are many, which I outlined in a previous newsletter. Once the book is complete, my clients and their families continue to enjoy so many more benefits:
Family learns new stories about their elders’ lives, in addition to the stories they’ve been enjoying throughout the years
The younger generations have new questions for the storyteller, based on the memoir content, which encourages family time together
The storyteller can reread their stories again and again, reliving their life’s highlights, time traveling to those milestone moments
Rereading their story is a form of memory and cognitive therapy
Now that the storyteller sees the result of revisiting and sharing their memories, they are more likely to want to continue this activity, which is so beneficial to them and their family
Here’s an example of a recent Book Reveal, with my client and friend Al.
“I didn’t expect anything like this! I thank you so much.” - Al
The stories of your life or a loved one’s are legacies that create a cherished memoir. For more information visit LifeStoryMemoir.com.
Richard Squires, MFA, MA
Author & Publisher
If you would like to subscribe to my newsletter, click here.