Thursday, September 1, 2011

We Heart Our Copy Editors!

Denver, Colorado

Youngstown, Ohio

Hong Kong, China SAR

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Today’s blog post comes to you from all around the country, and better yet, the world.

Our project has never stopped growing since it started just under 2 years ago (9/24 will be its two-year anniversary actually!) Right now as I type this, hopes and dreams and actions plans are being created – hopes and dreams of how to make our project right here last forever and forever, and plans which I am looking forward to sharing with you in the next few months.

Right now as I type this, I am also thinking about what a super class we had today and how the trust in our class is stronger and deeper than ever, just as attendance continues to grow in numbers and diversity of all sorts. No matter how crazy my own life or day is, I know every Thursday when I sit at the table with my favorite group of seniors, I can find peace again and see life clearly again and through their stories collect enough happiness again to carry me through my week.

Right now as I type this, I am also thinking about how happy I am about our 8-week summer storytelling program which was our first public experiment of taking the essence of our original class and turning it into a compact, customizable format. Session 8 was yesterday and it contained nothing but sheer joy. Click Here for the program’s blog to see what a difference 8 weeks can make.

My head is like that, floating from cloud to cloud. I am a dreamer at heart - my blessing and my curse ;) And so it’s with utter respect and admiration that I present to you the bread and butter of our project, the bedrock that allows me to stand here and dream big and reach high: my beautiful copyediting team. Coordinated by the best copyediting coordinator anyone can ever dream of, Tanya Krawchuk, here are the voices of some of the hardworking hands that transmits our seniors handwritings to your computer screens week after week. Thank you copyeditors, you are the reason that our project can choose to dream.

Courtney Polenick, Youngstown, Ohio  
Hello to All!

As a new copy editor (going on a month now!), I am so excited to be a part of The Best Day of My Life So Far, and I can already feel the infectious enthusiasm and dedication of all team members and class participants.  Here is a little bit about me, and why I became involved with this project.

I am a recent graduate of a master’s program in behavior analysis, where my research and practical experience focused on older adults living in residential care settings.  My research interests include assessing the potential benefits of social and creative activities for older individuals.

I first learned about The Best Day of My Life So Far through a chance discovery of the project’s fan page on Facebook.  As I read the seniors’ stories, I was deeply moved by the realization that, even though I don’t know them personally and I may never meet them, they can reach out to me and to other readers through the words that they courageously and graciously share.  At age 29, there are several decades between the senior writers and me.  But I can fully relate to their expressions of humor, grace, and wisdom.

Although I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the stories that I have received as a copy editor, one of my favorites is entitled “Flying Dutchman and Lone Ranger,” by Joe Garrison.  Joe beautifully echoed my sentiment that music, as well as other forms of art, can touch our lives in a way that is timeless and universal.  As a musician and artist, I wholeheartedly believe that engagement in the arts, including storytelling, can positively impact quality of life for individuals of all ages, and can increase feelings of social connectedness across cultural, societal, generational, and even geographical boundaries.

The Best Day of My Life So Far uses modern technology in a way that reminds us of an age-old truth: Everyone has a story to tell.  The writings of older and younger class participants encourage readers to pause for a moment in the frenzy of daily life to partake in this simple, yet powerful aspect of the human experience that unites us all.  Providing an outlet for generations to connect and share their stories and perspectives with each other and with the wider internet community is clearly beneficial for everyone involved.

Again, I am thrilled to be on board, and I have a sincere admiration and appreciation for all who make this project possible. 

Dorothy Leung, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Copy Editor Insight

I used to receive at least two to three letters a week from my dad.  His notes became so frequent and predictable that I neither realized nor appreciated being the recipient of his kind words.  That is, until those letters stopped coming.  A couple of years ago, my dad stopped diligently taking care of himself, and I noticed a decline in his mental and physical health.  When I moved him from California to Philadelphia, my sister and I were worried that he may not have a community of friends, so it was a pleasant surprise when I learned he was attending a "writing club."

When I attended the writing workshop and presentation last year at the Philadelphia Free Library and learned of the depth and breadth of this wonderful class, I knew that I needed to support it in any way I could.  I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be on the copy writing team.  I am able to read about and learn from some remarkable seniors whose stories are touching and honest and so funny!  I love having the chance to "listen" to the lessons from those who have lived through incredible challenges, those who still have little materially but whose hearts are richer than most.  And, I especially love when I am assigned my dad's stories, to know that he is once again lifting that pencil to the paper and expressing himself through words.  I don't think I will ever get him back to the vibrant way he once was, but I do see - through his slanted, all-caps writing - the spirit that still wants to shine.

I don't always know how my dad keeps busy on most days, but I never have to worry about where he is on Thursdays.  I love being able to log onto the blog and see his smiling face among the many people in the class.  It's exciting to see him excited about his friends and the wonderful volunteers who make this possible.  Although he doesn't write as frequently anymore, in many ways the weekly stories are even more meaningful than any letter of the past...and these stories are ones I will surely not take for granted.

- Dorothy Leung, 29
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Director, and New Mom

Mary Ann Krawchuk, Denver, Colorado
Copy Editor Insight

The Senior Stories are often windows into the world of what Tom Brokaw has labeled, the Greatest Generation.  These individuals contributed so much to this country, and their stories are part of their legacy.  It is also a window into the aging process, and the challenges and joys that one faces.  While it is obvious the seniors enjoy sharing their stories, they also allow the rest of us to deepen our understanding and love for the people behind the stories.

Sandra Leung, Hong Kong, China SAR
Copy Editor Insight

Here’s a blurb =)

Been involved for half a year now – heard about the program from my good friend Karla and just wanted to contribute back to society!  Simple =)  Has definitely been a very rewarding experience to give back and have actually been learning a lot from these stories!  It especially feels great when seniors write that the best day of their lives is while writing at The Best Day of My Life (So Far)! =)