I am a former special education teacher who after 25 years in the classroom returned to graduate school to study psychology. After completing the required course of study for a PsyD degree, I worked with marginalized children and their mothers, using play therapy to primarily facilitate the attachment relationship and, thereby, improve the child’s behavior. I am currently working as a volunteer with a former foster child through a non-profit, A Home Within, that pairs foster children with licensed therapists.
In retirement, I was introduced to legacy work though an elder spirituality group. Because I had an intense interest in learning more about the lives of my forebears and discovering there was much that was lost to history, I wanted to pass on to my children what I did know of them, adding the stories from my own life while there is still time to do so. I have found that legacy writing takes on a life of its own, with each piece calling out for the documentation of other memories that are seldom brought to consciousness but which add to the richness of my life.
Upon retiring 10 years ago, I became interested in doing the inner work to age consciously, serenely and joyfully, and in sharing this journey with like-minded seniors. My own journey has involved memoir writing, training as a spiritual director and Stephens Minister and participating in the year long Sage-ing International facilitator certification program (CSL).
I have been facilitating Elder Spirituality Circles for several years now focusing on From Age-ing to Sage-ing’s core modules: Facing our Fears, Life Review, Life Repair, Forgiveness, Mortality, Legacy, Mentoring and Service. Often elders participating in these Circles want more. I am happy to add Legacy Writing retreats and workshops to my work.
I believe that reflecting on our life’s stories through the “sage-ing” process, sharing the lessons learned, and passing on blessings is what Legacy Writing is all about.
In many ways I believe my education, career and faith have led me to becoming a Certified Legacy Facilitator. My undergraduate degree is in psychology, my masters is in counseling and I completed a year of post graduate work in the field of aging. I studied Family Systems for five years with psychiatrist Dr. Roberta Gilbert, a leader and author of several books on Family Systems. I have experience as both a family and group therapist. Additionally I have volunteered as a hospice counselor, Stephen Ministry Leader, Bridgebuilder Facilitator and Healthy Congregation Facilitator in many religious settings.
We all have a story to tell and only you can tell yours. You are the connection between your ancestors, present family and future generations. Helping others recognize the value of their story is a passion of mine. I would be honored to guide you in discovering and sharing your story so you can pass on your life experience, values and love through the writing of legacy wills, legacy letters and blessings. I will guide you in a private or a group setting. Please contact me if you would like to explore what legacy writing could mean for you.
Los Angeles/Santa Monica, CA
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19) Each of us is blessed with an invaluable life-book of wisdom and stories; therein lies the sacred treasure that calls to be shared through heartfelt legacy practice. What a joy to affirm life by discerning blessings and preserving family lore, a gift I'm honored to pass forward.
My mother's sudden death when I was a young adult left me craving missing pieces. Only through legacy, memoir and spiritual writing was I able to rediscover her insight and myself. My mission is to assure that my daughters and other children have the gift of legacy works by their parents and grandparents. No procrastination or regrets! As a founding president of the nonprofit Families with Children from China-Southern California, adopted children and their parents hold a special place in my heart.
A Certified Amherst Writers & Artists Affiliate workshop leader, progressive Certified Lay Servant of the United Methodist Church, UCLA Writers Program member, and former media attorney, I offer a safe, creative and inclusive space (all faith traditions and LGBTQI) where youth, adults and seniors realize their voice on the page and generations connect through our stories and humanity.
Mary’s passion is to teach women to value their life experience through legacy and story. She believes the most important legacy we leave is the wisdom we gain from the stories of our lives. She has been listening to her own life story through self-revelatory writing for decades. This powerful experience has led her to a deep trust in her calling to facilitate legacy work.
Mary has learned through experience that when women gather to share their lives, something magical happens. She provides a safe, creative, healing environment free of criticism and shame. Together women learn to value their struggles, celebrate their strengths, and comprehend their pain. They learn the value of the legacy inherent in the wisdom and richness of their lives.
Mary is a transformative leader who inspires women through her insightful and gentle guidance. Her distinctive services are offered in the San Francisco Bay Area and throughout the country, including an annual retreat on the Big Island of Hawaii. Mary has a Master’s degree in Spirituality and Culture and is an Adjunct Faculty member at John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, CA. She is the founder of Voiceflame Writers. She is trained in the Amherst Writers and Artists methodology and is internationally certified (Malawi) as a legacy facilitator.
Melanie Vetter is the founder of Wellfleet Circle, a company dedicated to creating a more meaningful way to preserve and share your Legacy. Melanie’s expertise as a Legacy Advisor, Certified Senior Advisor® and health advocate allows her to enhance traditional estate and financial planning and preserve her clients’ intangible assets, such as traditions, wisdom, values and love.
Melanie’s life’s work is dedicated to teaching and empowering others to create a purposeful life for themselves. She leads and facilitates writing workshops on legacy letters, memoir and guided autobiography. She offers non-clinical health advocacy services for families to empower their relationships with their health care professionals and create meaningful advanced directives and living wills.
Melanie brings a breadth of experience, and a blend of left and right-brained strengths to her passions. As a Harvard-trained attorney and business professional, Melanie has the hard skills required to understand and work along side of legal and financial professionals. In addition to being a Legacy Advisor, she holds a certificate in Guided Autobiography Instruction from the Birren Center for Autobiographical Studies and studied Health Advocacy at UC Berkeley.
Melanie feels immensely grateful for the life experience she’s had thus far, and the wonderful support she has received from her clients.
I come to legacy writing both as a personal healing and a professional vocation. I have a passion for helping people find meaning to their life’s journey and to this end I have spent over 25 years providing counseling services to individuals and families. I have come to appreciate and honor the significance of one’s personal healing journey and I believe now that legacy writing can add a deeper component to the healing process.
In my personal life I became fascinated with legacy work while caring for my mother. It intrigued me to learn how to capture heartfelt messages, blessings and significant life moments as I watched her struggle with cognitive decline through dementia. As part of my own healing I journaled and started doing legacy writing. I chose to become certified as a legacy writing facilitator so that I may bring this very sacred work to others. This significance of speaking your personal message to your loved ones is immeasurable at any phase or transition in life. Doing legacy work has opened my heart and allowed me to find my voice and the means of expressing words that sometimes can be left unsaid.
After a number of years, Rachael renewed her commitment in 2015 to train and certify legacy facilitators. Training to increase the guild of North American Certified Facilitators occurs twice yearly, spring and fall, via interactive webinar. For more information and an application, contact LifeLegacies1@gmail.com
You may join a multitude of people using all published legacy materials (including information on this website) to share the purpose and practice of legacy writing with others without certification training.
Refer to the index in Your Legacy Matters, Women’s Lives, Women’s Legacies and The Legacy Workbook for the Busy Woman to find writing ideas, reflections, and writing exercises for the populations you choose to serve.
Rachael consults with legacy facilitators worldwide to mentor and support their work with people with diverse needs and interests. Contact her for more information and to schedule appointments: LifeLegacies1@gmail.com
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