|Posted by Sue Swinger-Ellbogen on March 30, 2016 at 10:05 AM||comments (0)|
Many people express an interest in writing family memoirs, but they do not know how to get started. There are many writing classes available, but my advice is very simple: just start writing the first memory you have of your childhood. Write a series of short stories on each memory that pops into your mind. Don't worry about the chronological order; just let your creativity flow making sure to date the stories with the date you create them--not the date you think they occurred. The timeline will come out naturally in your story.
At some point you will have a series of short stories that you can compile to create a book of memoirs, if desired. In the meantime, you have some nice short stories that chronicle your life and allow you to have a history for your children. I call it Creative NonFiction because the stories will be true with some creativity added to fill in the gaps.
For more tips and tools for writing memoirs, see topic Writing Memoirs in list above.
Below are a series of short stories that I have created from my family memories.
The Old Pickup Truck
Grandpa Hodges, my Mom’s father, had an ancient black Chevy pickup truck with standard shift that he crept around town in when no one was watching. Grandpa Hodges was retired ever since I could remember and he liked to drink and chew tobacco a little. Granny Hodges would fuss at Grandpa but he would just smile and ignore her.
He taught my sister Margaret to drive when she was fourteen. Brenda and Sonnie and I watched intently from the wraparound porch of the big white house on Gladys Street in Sikeston, Missouri where my grandparents lived for a while. Margaret ground those gears and squawked the tires as she let out on the clutch too quickly. Grandpa had the patience of Job and finally had Margaret driving down the alley behind the house.
We would run back and forth to report on the progress to Uncle Preston who lived with them giggling as we thought we were keeping everything a secret from Granny. Sonnie was itching to try his hand at driving but Grandpa said he was too young. Sonnie was four years younger than Margaret and was envious of her good luck.
It was not long before Daddy would let Margaret drive his old red Ford pickup to the cotton fields. She would take all of us kids along with a gallon of water where she could babysit us while picking cotton. Brenda and I would run down the cotton row and pick bolls of cotton and pile it up in the middle of the row for Sonnie and Margaret to put in their cotton sack when they caught up. We would run ahead of them and pick a few more bolls before we would get side-tracked by a rabbit or bird that flew over. Soon we would be running across the field getting in the way of the other field hands.
Margaret would let us run and play for a while before she would yell for us to get back on the row and pick cotton. She used to scare us by telling us that the Biscuit Eater would get us. We were terrified of the Biscuit Eater—we never dreamed it was a tall tale. Before you knew it the sun was dropping low in the sky and it was time to all of us to load up in that old red pickup and head for home.
By Sue Swinger-Ellbogen
My Sister and Me
Created August 5, 2013
Dedicated to Virgin and Gertrude Hodges
I never had a special place in the family; I wasn’t the oldest or the youngest. I was a girl and not a boy. Nothing special ever came of being a girl. I was born into a big family and had a young mother although I did not realize that at the time. My dad was much older than my mom and I did realize that. He was 37 when I was born so was well into his 40’s or even 50 by the time I had an understanding of age. He seemed really old to me.
Dad was a farmer; a sharecropper, to be exact. That means he farmed land owned by someone else and gave them a percentage of the profits. He farmed for over 35 years and retired in 1948. Dad farmed during a time when land was being cleared of trees and bushes. Teams of mules and equipment were used to clear the land. We moved to town at Sikeston, Missouri to live after he retired.
Every one of us kids plus my first child were born in a house on Brown Spur Road near Sikeston, MO. My parents raised four children from my Dad’s first wife. Dad married Mary Irene Arnold who gave birth to four children before dying in 1910. Then Dad married Mary Irene’s sister named Minnie who had one child and both died in childbirth in 1912. Then Dad married the third sister named Emma, my Mom, who was fifteen years old. Together they had ten children.
When Mom married Dad her nieces and nephews were ages four to eight years old; the oldest was only seven years younger than Mom. Raising four stepchildren must have seemed like a big job to a young girl even though girls did get married at a very young age during that time. She started having her own children one year later and continued having a baby every year or two after that until she had ten children of her own. There was always someone to play with but also someone to boss me around.
We always had plenty to eat although it was simple fare. Mom and Dad raised some chickens and hogs along with a few head of cattle. We had a big garden that everyone had to work in each spring, summer, and fall. The boys had to feed the chickens and livestock plus milk the cows. We girls all had to take turns pumping the butter churn.
The boys would pump water from the cistern out back and slop half of it out before they got to the kitchen. Mom would scold them and make them hoist the bucket to the sideboard so she could ladle water into the pot of beans that were always on the back burner of the coal stove. The boys didn’t care and would run back outside to try to avoid more house chores. They mostly worked with Daddy on the farm and taking care of the mules and horses.
Mom would have one of us girls peeling potatoes and another pulling green onions and radishes from the garden. All my sister, Gertrude and I got to do was set the table with plates and forks. The older girls were sewing or folding or ironing clothes. Wash day was on Tuesday but even after the clothes were washed in the hand-wringer washing machine that Dad had bought for Mom and hung to dry on the clothesline, it was Wednesday or Thursday before the girls finished folding all the clothes and got started ironing. Gertrude and I were dying to learn how to iron but Mom said we were too little.
Gertrude and I had to take care of the babies too. Mom would make us play with them to keep them occupied. Betty Ruth and Bud (James Samuel) was always under foot and Bill and Preston were just babies. We would put the babies down on a pallet with some beanbags and blocks and they would be fine for a while, but not Betty Ruth and Bud. They were in to everything and we had to keep a close eye on them or they found mischief and then we would get into trouble.
One time Mom laid a quilt on the ground near where the older girls were doing laundry and put the babies on it to play. Gertrude and I took the toddlers out for a walk. We got the bright idea to put them in the hen house so we could be free of them for a while and go play. It seemed like a good idea at the time; we thought they would be safe and would not be able to get out and run off to get in danger.
I guess we forgot about them because our sister Mary came after us with a switch in her hand. Mary’s face always looked pinched when she was mad so one glance at her let us know we were in trouble. We took off running and Gertrude went one direction and I went in the other. We ran screaming into the house letting the screen door slam behind us. Mom thought someone was hurt and hurried to console us. We hid behind her skirts and left her to deal with Mary. We slipped back outside and found Bud and Betty Ruth red-faced and bawling. One of the girls had rescued them and they were on the pallet with the babies. Their squalling made the babies laugh.
We had a lot of cousins that would come to visit. There was someone at our house almost every Sunday after church. My favorite cousins were the Taylors. Uncle Wes and Aunt Nettie were on my Mom’s side of the family and Tom and Allie were about my age. We would play hide and seek and one time I hid so well that no one could find me. When they finally gave up I climbed out of the wringer washing machine. I was the only one small enough to fit in the machine and I fooled everyone because no one thought to look in there.
Time passed and one by one the kids all started leaving home. My Dad retired after farming for over 35 years. Gertrude got married on August 13, 1939 and I married just six weeks later on September 30. We each had our first child less than a year apart, her first daughter was named Patricia Gayle and mine was Margaret Ann.
Gertrude had four daughters and was expecting another child when her young husband, Hurley Stafford, died suddenly. The family banded together to try to help her through this difficult time. When her baby was born five months later it was another girl. We felt so badly that this precious baby would never know her sweet Dad.
Our younger brothers Bill and Preston joined the military. Bill joined the Air Force Special Forces and was sent to Africa and Preston joined the Army and was sent to Korea. We were so relieved when they both came home safely.
We were all so proud of our brothers. Bill went to college and became a schoolteacher –the first in the family to get a college degree. At the same time our brother Bud was an entrepreneur and after working for a chain of grocery stores he bought his own store in East Prairie. Preston worked for Bud for years.
Bill married a vivacious young woman named Joan. It brightened our life to have four more beautiful children in the family.
I loved all my brothers and sisters but Gertrude was special to me. We were just young girls ourselves when we married and we thought we could not live without each other. Along life’s journey we found we could endue more than we ever thought possible.
By Sue Swinger-Ellbogen
|Posted by Sue Swinger-Ellbogen on February 23, 2015 at 11:45 AM||comments (0)|
Giant City State Park located in Southern Illinois near Carbondale.
The road twists and turns with increasing woodlots turning into forests of towering trees with underbrush and fallen limbs and branches covered by snow. The winding road has a beauty that is stark and forlorn with a solitary wild turkey attempting to peck through the deep snow for food. Iccles hanging from the snow-packed roofs, trees coated with sparkling ice, grass covered with shards, bushes bent with hoarfrost, mounds of snow on sides of the road along the massive bluffs that hold evidence of human habitation from 10,000 years ago presents a lonely path through the Giant City State Park on the way to the Park Lodge for their famous Sunday fried chicken dinner.
My daughter and son-in-law always find interesting places to take me when I visit. Usually a remote park where we can hike and spot wildlife but when the temperatures are brutally cold like this month it is difficult to find the ideal hiking spot. I thought the drive would be the most interesting and picturesque part of our trip but not so. The rustic lodge at the center of the park is beautiful with original sandstone and white oak timbers being intact after various remodels since 1927. The lodge is big and airy with wildlife tastefully preserved and hanging from the timbered walls. A life-size mounted buffalo stands in the lobby of the lodge offering an exciting experience for children of all ages. Numerous tall windows on the main floor and on the mezzanine level provide light and shadows on the rough-hewn wood floors and stairs that cast the old lodge as the perfect spot for a mystery novel. The sandstone blocks, arched doorways and behemoth beams provide a medieval feeling that is appropriate given the history of the park and the lodge. How does ‘Mystery in the Old Lodge’ sound?
February 22 will always be a date that our family will remember in sadness but adventures like this one help to remind us that life is for living and exploring and discovering unexpected delights. I can’t wait to go back in the springtime.
|Posted by Sue Swinger-Ellbogen on November 10, 2014 at 9:50 AM||comments (0)|
Tips and Tools for Applying for Jobs
These tips are designed to help the job seeker create a competitive edge in their job search. If
you need help with any of these steps contact me.
Tips: 1. Customize your resumes by job.One resume does not fit all.
2. Print the job description and highlight the buzzwords. If you need help identifying them, let me know.
3. Review your resume and make sure you have most if not all of the buzzwords on the job description.
4. Identify the primary job description i.e. Sales, Marketing, IT, SAP, Supply Chain, etc.
5. Make sure your resume has that primary descriptor multiple times in your executive summary. I can help you reword the summary to expand on this.
6. Track your resumes that are posted or submitted by creating a list and unique name if you have multiple resumes posted to job boards. Very embarrassing to show up at an interview or have a telephone interview with the wrong resume in hand.
7. Be very careful when you fill out an online application. Any mistake could throw your application out.
8. Develop a list of one or two success stories detailing how you accomplished EACH achievement listed on your resume. Make sure each story correlates to a buzzword in the job description. If it does not relate, skip that story.
9. View your resume and success stories as a PowerPoint presentation with the resume being the slideshow and the success stories are your notes backing up the resume. Tell about HOW you would put a process in place, for example, that led to the resulting achievement noted on the resume.
10. Make sure your resume has no typos and no sentimental statements like “Love to work for your company”; keep it strictly professional. Even if your resume is professionally done you have a responsibility to double-check the work and own all the statements.
Sue Swinger-Ellbogen 11-10-2014
|Posted by Sue Swinger-Ellbogen on November 3, 2014 at 10:15 AM||comments (0)|
Tools for Job Seekers
1. Recruiters can see all resumes posted on the Boards like CareerBuilder, Ladders, InDeed, Monster, Craig’s List, LinkedIn, DICE, etc., so make good use of the Boards.
2. Keep your resumes current by doing something every two weeks; any activity, adding a project or changing a date on the resume will result in recruiters viewing again.
3. Take advantage of all social media to connect with one person at each company you are targeting.
4. Check out the company website, look at the size of the company, find the name of the hiring manager, who’s in charge and determine how to approach.
5. Ask your connection for information regarding the hiring manager for the position you are seeking.
6. Important to list on resume and LinkedIn: school, sorority, field of study, function, company size.
7. Make connections on LinkedIn and Tweeter. Recruiters look at number of connections you have.
8. Fill out online applications very carefully; the system will kick you out if not done correctly and with no notification to you.
9. Put months on your resume so recruiter can accurately determine how many months you spent with that job.
10. Put dashes in between the phone number digits.
11. Repeat critical/key words often like non-profit or engineering.
12. Group words together like buyer and procurement /procure, accounts receivable manager and accounting manager, demand planning and inventory management (Boolean search)
13. Searches populate every Sunday on Boards and are pushed to professional recruiters.
14. A typical candidate pool will be 5-10 people high.
15. Recruiters look at Consumer Packaged Goods companies like Nestle, Kraft, Wrigley, etc for people with Walmart experience.
16. ‘Book of Lists’ is the Bible for recruiters and headhunters. The Book of Lists gives you essential information on the leading buyers, businesses and employers in over 60 of the U.S.'s most dynamic markets; a fee is required.
|Posted by Sue Swinger-Ellbogen on November 3, 2014 at 9:50 AM||comments (0)|
Active Job Search
Keeping your resume and LinkedIn Profile is important for all professionals; however, if you
are entering into an active job search you need to do more.
1. Customize your resumes by job. One resume does not fit all.
2. Track your resumes that are posted or submitted. Very embarrassing to show up at an interview or have a telephone interview with the wrong resume in hand.
3. Keep your resume fresh by updating something every two weeks if you are actively looking for a job.. Recruiters do not like to see stale resumes on the boards. Small changes like spelling out December instead of Dec will show that the resume has been recently updated. It’s enough to get a recruiter to take another look.
4. Make sure you are on LinkedIn; the number one resource for recruiters.
5. Keep LinkedIn up-to-date with any new projects or assignments. Recruiters can see when changes have been made.
6. Develop a list of one or two success stories detailing how you accomplished each achievement listed on your resume. This is in preparation for a telephone interview as well as a face-to-face interview.
7. View your resume and success stories as a PowerPoint presentation with the resume being the slideshow and the success stories are your notes backing up the resume. Tell about HOW you would put a process in place, for example, that led to the resulting achievement noted on the resume.
8. Post your resume on all boards including Craigslist; an increasingly important board.
9. Develop a social footprint. Today recruiters are looking at how well connected and influential you are. This includes LinkedIn, Facebook, Tweeter, Instagram, newspaper interviews, any media coverage and Google search.
10. Make sure your resume has no typos and no sentimental statements like “Love to work for your company”; keep it strictly professional.
NOTE: Even if your resume is professionally done you have a responsibility to double-check the work and own all the statements.
|Posted by Sue Swinger-Ellbogen on November 3, 2014 at 9:25 AM||comments (0)|
Career Building Tips and Tools
Research shows that 87% of companies use LinkedIn for recruiting, so if you are not making proper use of your profile you are wasting a valuable asset.
Each segment in LinkedIn can be used strategically to reinforce your brand and expertise.
Start by making sure you have a Header that highlights your primary skills, title, experience and credibility. Your Headline is your most visible branding statement. Aggressively position yourself for relevant job opportunities in your desired field.
See the difference in the two headers below:
Sue Swinger-Ellbogen: Customer Supply Chain | Logistics and Supply Chain
Sue Swinger-Ellbogen: Management Consulting | Customer Supply Chain | Logistics | Process Improvement | Transportation | Retailer Compliance | EDI | Bar Codes | Performance Measures | Logistics and Supply Chain
It is imperative to keep your resume and LinkedIn profile up-to-date in this fast-changing environment.
Upcoming topics: Photograph, Summary, Current Position headline, Activity, Recommendations, Endorsements, Network, Past Positions, Groups, Personal Information, Contact Information and more.
Reminder: I offer a refresher to your resume and LinkedIn profile for all my clients annually. Refresher would mean changing/ a word or line; if your resume needs an overhaul, we will discuss
|Posted by Sue Swinger-Ellbogen on October 2, 2013 at 10:35 AM||comments (0)|
A Winning Resume
You’ve applied for a job and sent in your current resume but are not hearing back from any of the companies. You tweak your resume and send out more but still no response. One month, two months, three months pass and still no calls.
The simple truth is that applying for a job is hard work and has many uncertainties. Whether the company you are targeting is small or large, certain principles hold true.
1. Your first goal is to get a call back / telephone interview.
2. The next goal is to get a face-to-face interview.
3. Last, become a front runner for the position.
You will feel better about yourself and your options if you can start to get responses to your resume. You will know that you are being noticed and have an opportunity to get yourself seen and heard physically.
Every telephone screening call motivates you to keep trying. If the screening call leads to an actual interview, you get really pumped up. If the interview does not lead to a job, you are still motivated because your resume worked once and will again.
One of the best ways to get noticed is to have a professional resume. Simply writing your own resume is not as easy as it used to be, the competition is too great. Additionally, companies do not have the resources to spend time reviewing individual resumes. Many scan them electronically looking for key attributes and dismiss a larger percentage of resumes immediately.
A key mistake that people make in writing their own resume is simply listing skills, experiences and qualifications. Potential employees are looking for more—results, transferrable skills, measurements, or how efficiently you work in a team for example.
A resume is a picture of you in a professional environment and you may need a professional writer to make yourself stand out of the crowd.
The benefit of hiring a writer is that they are skilled at targeting the employer’s interests. They present your skills in a way that the necessary information is quickly visible.
Invest in your future; it will not guarantee a job, but it will increase your odds for success. Remember you have one chance to make a first impression and it starts with your resume.
By Sue Swinger-Ellbogen
|Posted by Sue Swinger-Ellbogen on August 3, 2013 at 12:25 PM||comments (0)|
A good way to encourage kids to write is to conduct interviews and document their answers. Not only will you find their answers amusing but you will have documented some memories for them that they can use to build stories on later. Below is an interview I did with my grandchildren when they were ten and six. You can figure out the questions I asked by their answers.
September 8, 2011, 6:30 pm
Interview with Alison Kayla Duckworth and Dodge Garrett Duckworth regarding their Mother who is turning 40 tomorrow.
Alison: My Mom’s favorite color is green.
Dodge: My Mom told me her favorite color is red.
AKD: My Mom likes to water flowers and being outside.
Dodge: My mom likes to go bowling or swimming at the Jackson swimming pool.
AKD: My mom gets mad when Dodge pees in the bathroom floor.
Dodge: I am not potty trained.
AKD: He is potty trained but not well.
Dodge: My mom gets mad when I break a glass.
AKD: My mom’s favorite song is “Rolling in the Deep”.
Dodge: Yeah, I think so too.
AKD: The artist is Adele—A-D-E-L-E.
Dodge: Yeah, that’s right.
AKD: What I like the best about my mom is her cooking and her helpfulness.
Dodge: What I like best is that mom helped me get potty trained. And I like the shopping too.
AKD: I love it when my mom takes me shopping.
AKD: My mom likes to eat at Shogun and El Torrero
Dodge: My mom likes to go to the ice cream shoppe and the Chinese place.
AKD: I love my Mom.
AKD: 40 is young
Dodge: My Dad is younger than my Mom; he is 42.
AKD: No Mom is the youngest; she is 40.
|Posted by Sue Swinger-Ellbogen on August 3, 2013 at 12:25 PM||comments (0)|
Tools: Paper and Pencil
Five Components of fiction writing:
Start with facts and use your imagination to make up a story about the facts.
1. Character: Who the story is about. The name of your favorite animal for example.
2. Setting: Where the story takes place like ocean, forest, city, country, or desert.
3. Detail: Things that make the character special like color, size, personality, or age.
4. Detail: Things your character can do such as eat, play, run, swim, climb, or fly.
5. Detail: Abilities your character has like strength, speed, gentleness, clever, or funny.
Congratulations! You have everything you need to write your first story.
My favorite animal is a Llama named Rosé. Rosé lives in the country and is very strong. She is tall and is reddish-brown. She likes to take me for a ride on her back. Rosé is very gentle and makes sure I do not fall off.
“I wish I could go to my Nonna’s house,” said Alison. She crossed her arms and sighed dramatically. Alison’s mom stopped putting flowers in the vase and looked at Alison’s sad face. “Would you and Rosé like to walk down the lane to Nonna’s house?”
“Oh, yes,” said Alison. She clapped her hands and danced with her feet. “I would like that very much.” She raced for the door.
When Rosé and Alison started walking down the dusty lane Alison remembered she had forgotten her sandals. She was hopping on first one foot then another because the dirt was burning the bottom of her feet.
Suddenly Alison had an idea. “Rosé, can I get on your back and ride to Nonna’s house?” Rosé was a big, tall animal with shaggy white and brown fur and a very long neck. Rosé was happy for Alison to ride on her back because Rosé is a very strong animal.
However, neither Alison nor Rosé could quite figure out how Alison was going to get up on Rosé’s back. They pondered and pondered while standing on grass in the shade under a big red, oak tree.
“Maybe we can get a ladder,” said Alison. But they did not know where to find one. “What about a big step stool?” But they would have to walk back home on the hot dirt road to find one. “Maybe Grandpa will come by and help us.” But Grandpa did not come by.
All of a sudden Alison had a good idea. “How about if I climb up in the oak tree and crawl out on a branch right above Rosé and drop down on your back. Rosé did not like this idea because Alison might fall out of the tree and get hurt.
Then Rosé had an idea. She walked over to a fence and waited for Alison to climb the fence and get on Rosé’s back. The fence was just high enough to reach Rosé but not too high to be dangerous.
Alison climbed up the fence taking care not to get stuck with the barbed wire on the top row. Rosé stood close to the fence and Alison hopped onto Rosé’s back She twisted Rosé’s fur in her hand to hold on as Rosé started walking.
Soon Alison got tired of the bouncing around on Rosé’s back. Fortunately, Nonna’s driveway was just ahead. Alison slid off Rosé’s back holding onto Rosé’s neck until her toes touched the ground.
Rosé and Alison trotted down the driveway where Nonna was waiting with cookies and milk.
Landon the leopard is my favorite animal. Landon lives in the Kalahari Desert near the Limpopo River in Africa. Landon is a leopard cub and belongs in the wilderness. Landon is white with brown spots all over his body. Landon can run very fast.
Dodge peeked out his window to see if Landon was still hiding in the rose garden. The white roses were a perfect camouflage for Landon.
“Yes! There he is,” said Dodge. He pumped his arm in victory and ran outside.
Landon the Leopard does not belong in Dodge’s backyard. Landon belongs in the Kalahari Desert near the Limpopo River in Africa.
Dodge dug out the piece of steak he saved from dinner and flung it to the leopard cub. Landon gulped the food greedily and looked for more.
“I will find some more food for you,” promised Dodge. He dashed back to the house to get ready for school.
All day Dodge worried about Landon. He knew he had to get more food for the growing cub.
Dodge saved his sandwich and fed Landon as soon as he got off the school bus. Dodge used the water hose to fill Landon’s water bowl. But he was still worried about how to care for the cub.
“What’s wrong, Dodge?” asked his mom. “You seem worried.”
“Well, I do have a little problem,” he confessed. “I don’t think Dad will be happy about a secret I have.” Dodge’s mother stopped stirring the stringy spaghetti.
“Dad has always been fair so I don’t think you need to fret. It is best to not keep secrets that worry you.”
“The other night I heard a noise outside my window,” said Dodge. “I thought I saw a big cat but it was not a cat. Then I thought it was a small puppy, but it was not a puppy.”
“Go on,” urged Dodge’s dad. “What was it?”
“ I looked it up on the Internet and it is a leopard cub.” Dodge waited to see his dad’s reaction.
“Let me take a look at it,” said his dad. “Leopard’s don’t live in backyards.” Dodge’s dad squatted down and looked at the cub intently.
“You are right, Dodge, this is a leopard cub. People need to understand that they should not buy wild animals. A wild animal should always live in the wild.
“What can we do, Dad? Landon does not have a mom or dad to take care of him?” said Dodge.
“We will take Landon to an animal sanctuary where they will let him live until they can find a zoo for him. That will be the most like his natural habitat.”
Dodge was sad to leave Landon at the animal sanctuary but Landon happily scampered over the rocky ground that was just like his home in Africa. Dodge waved goodbye.
|Posted by Sue Swinger-Ellbogen on August 3, 2013 at 9:45 AM||comments (0)|
Hosted by: Sue Mays Swinger-Ellbogen
Home of Heidi Duckworth
125 Tumbleweed Pass
Jackson, MO 63755
RSVP: [email protected]
Please join me in recreating happy memories of chasing fireflies, eating homemade ice cream, and cousins playing together from years past. This is not limited to cousins, please feel free to invite anyone you think might enjoy this gathering.
We will have light refreshments and share pictures and memories. Hope to see you there.