"If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is
present in your body. You are the
continuation of each of these people."
~ Thich Nhat Than
A few years ago, I decided I needed another degree and entered the MFA in Creative Writing program at Murray State University. I decided to study nonfiction since most of what I already wrote – magazine articles and essays – was nonfiction, and I figured my imagination wasn’t good enough to write fiction. I also thought that travel writing sounded delightful since I loved travel and had a number of stories I could tell about my adventures. My mentors at Murray had other ideas, however, and I found myself writing more memoir than travel.
While I really didn’t mind writing memoir, I was, at times, at a loss as to the subject of my stories. Midway through my second semester, I happened upon the Thich Nhat Than quote that introduces this page. I started to think about my grandparents and the sacrifices they made coming to this country so their children and grandchildren would have a better life. Of course, my grandparents were just four of the
millions of immigrants—Italians,
Irish, Slovak, Spanish, Portuguese,
Welsh, French, and all the others—
whohelped make our United States of
America what it is today. Without
them, without the courage that they
showed in traveling to this unknown
land, without the backbreaking labor
that they performed for most of their lives,
without their sacrifices, we would not have
the freedoms and the comforts that we
While doing research for that particular essay, I also realized that, unfortunately, most of our ancestors’ stories are being lost. In this digital age of instant news and gratification, we tend to forget the struggles and way of life from years ago. Even in our own lifetimes, we've lived through and seen sweeping changes in history, culture, art, education and technology as well as in our personal lives. I knew that I could not let those stories die.
I founded The Las Vegas Memoir Project in order to teach people to record and tell their stories. Now in its fifth year, the LVMP has taught people in a variety of venues throughout the valley.
If you are interested in taking classes, click the link below to contact me for our schedule or more information.