Living Stories

Choose Life!

Making the Most of Life Transitions

Living Stories

Please explore the following Living Stories Services:

Legacy Planning
Ethical Wills
Personal History
Mothers’ Living Stories

Banias River

Legacy Planning

In its simplest definition, “legacy” refers to what we leave behind, tangible and intangible, intentional or unintentional. It addresses the questions: If I were to die today, what have I contributed to life so far? What impact has my life had? How will I be remembered?

Although legacy is a term usually reserved for the elderly or those facing death, we would be wise to consider it much earlier. As one young mother with cancer said: We never know what’s going to happen to us at any time. For better or worse, we’re constantly leaving our imprint each day through the choices we make, expressed in words, behaviors, deeds and the energy we exude. Legacy challenges us to consider how we might want to create a different imprint before our story ends. By becoming more mindful of our choices, we can gift those we love, future generations, as well as ourselves.

Choose Life! Legacy Planning offers a guided process for considering your legacy to date and becoming conscious and intentional about shaping one that expresses your deepest values, personal essence and sacred intentions. You are invited to assess your core values, gifts and passions and explore your life’s meaning and purpose through questions, such as: What gifts do I still want to give? What purpose do I want to fulfill? How can I make a lasting impact for future generations? What really matters? Legacy planning and action steps to bequeath gifts both tangible (e.g. photos, furniture, charitable giving, genealogies) and intangible (e.g. love, wisdom, memories, forgiveness) grow naturally out of guided reflection.

Legacy planning may include the creation of an ethical will or legacy letter, which supports the reflective process and becomes a cherished legacy gift in itself.

It’s never too early to begin considering your legacy for it speaks to the very heart of your unique life — its authenticity, meaning and purpose.

For more information: 510.540.8755 or fill out this contact form.

Back to top

“Make of yourself a
light,” said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this
every morning.
Mary Oliver

Ethical Will Preparation

An ethical will or legacy letter is a written or audio-recorded legacy of intangibles that shares your values, beliefs, lessons learned and wishes with children, loved ones or the community. In preparing an ethical will, you go beneath the stories of your life to evaluate your experience to date and harvest your stories for wisdom and meaning. This beautiful and ancient practice has become increasingly popular in recent years. Your ethical will can be freestanding, a part of your financial and estate plan, or woven into your personal history.

At any time in life, preparing an ethical will is a wonderful way to mark a special event or major transition, whether joyous or difficult. It can help open communication with loved ones now or become a codicil to a will, in both cases strengthening memory, understanding and connection. Most important, your ethical will reveals the lights by which you have lived, and the light you hope your life will illuminate for others. It is a gift of the heart benefitting both you and the recipients.


  • Ethical will preparation through recorded, transcribed and edited interviews
  • Do-it-yourself project consultation and mentoring, in person or by telephone
  • Writing or editing a legacy document using your notes and ideas
  • Ethical will writing workshops and classes

Your ethical will expresses your legacy to date. It can be usefully followed by legacy planning sessions to intentionally map out and implement what you hope to bequeath in the future.

For more information: 510.540.8755 or fill out this contact form.

Back to top

Words that emanate
from the heart
enter the heart.
— The Talmud

Personal History Recording

Within each individual and family are unique and meaningful stories to be discovered, shared and passed on. Writing your autobiography or memoir or recording your life story can be valuable, clarifying and revealing. I can guide and coach you through your own writing or recording, or use sensitive questioning and deep listening to facilitate an enjoyable and clarifying storytelling process culminating in a book or set of audio CDs. Recording your stories honors and celebrates past experience, preserves heritage and continuity, and offers an invaluable legacy of living for family and community.


  • Oral history research, interviewing, transcription and editing
  • Coaching, mentoring and editing for do-it-yourself writing projects
  • Consulting and mentoring family members and friends in recording the stories of loved ones, including those in hospice care

  Hospice Stories  

Having recorded the stories of many people at the end of life, I now enjoy mentoring and supporting a designated family member or friend in doing the actual recording. This is a successful and very cost-effective way to capture the precious words of your loved one when time is short.

For more information: 510.540.8755 or fill out this contact form.

Back to top

To be a person is to
have a story to tell.
— Isak Dinesen

Mothers’ Living Stories Project

Between 1995 and 2005, I served as founding director of the Mothers’ Living Stories Project (MLS). A San Francisco Bay Area-based nonprofit, MLS trained Volunteer Listeners to help mothers living with cancer review their lives and record their stories and legacies for their children and loved ones. Story became the heart of our work because of its healing power. Thus, MLS services applied “narrative medicine” to the wounds of the self and soul caused by cancer and other life challenges.

The project culminated with the publication of Another Morning: Voices of Truth and Hope for Mothers Living with Cancer (Seal Press, 2006). The book brings to the greater community the mother’s wisdom and teaching stories about how to go on loving, living and revising life stories in the face of overwhelming adversity.

Consultation, Mentoring, Training

Based on years of piloting and evaluating the MLS methods, I developed a Volunteer Listener Training Program and its accompanying training manual and educational video. The program and manual can be adapted for serving men and women of various ages, states of health and life circumstances. The MLS training manual and educational video are available through participation in a fee-based consultation/mentoring relationship or in a training program.

For more information: 510.540.8755 or fill out this contact form.

To learn more about the Mothers’ Living Stories Project:

Back to top

We never know
how high we are
Till we are asked to rise
And then if we are
true to plan
Our statures
touch the skies —
— Emily Dickinson