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Memory map exercise

Here is an exercise to dig down deep.

Choose a picture of a place where you spent a lot of time as a child. Perhaps this was your old family home that you moved from. Or a family friend’s house. Or your elementary school playground. It is important that this be a place that you have a lot of memories about.

Make a color copy of the picture and paste it into your journal. Don’t use an original picture or you won’t feel free to work with it like you need to.
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You might be able to find a picture online of this place if you no longer have a photograph (you moved, for instance). Use Google image search and put in the address in question. You might be surprised what you can find, as real estate agents often take many pictures and leave them up even after the house has sold.

Write a map grid around the edges – evenly space letters on one side and numbers on the other side.
map1

Use this grid to refer to elements in the picture. What happened in each place? What does that remind you of? You can go as deep as you want, and as off subject as you want. Nobody has to see this. Keep writing about what happened in that one area until you wind down. Move on to another area. Repeat. You can use different colors to help keep track of your wanderings – first thoughts, tangents off of that, for instance.

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You don’t have to start at the top and work your way down. You can write about whatever catches your fancy first and go from there.

Many different things will come up while you do this – memories that you’d long forgotten. This is a time to cherish the beautiful ones and heal the hard ones. You are older now, and stronger, and better able to work with them. Events are tricky things when we are younger – they might be too heavy for us to carry. When we get older, we have more tools at our disposal. This is a special time that you have to work on them, a second chance.

At the end, thank yourself for giving yourself permission to do this work.

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