Getting Started with the DOABLE approach to telling your family’s tales

the doable approach to getting started telling your family's tales

The thought of trying to put together a family history is daunting and few of us will ever carry out that task. But there are better ways to share your family’s history and that is through stories. Few other than genealogist will sit down and read facts about an ancestor but every one loves a good story. It is the stories that connect us to other members of our family. It is the stories that make them real. It is the stories that give us insights that have a positive impact on our own lives and the lives of our families.

So I’m here to help you tell your own family tales in engaging ways that everyone will enjoy. You can do it in small projects that won’t take hundreds of hours and years to complete. Projects that won’t make you feel overwhelmed and want to give up. If that sounds like what you want then you are in the right place. I’ll help you every step of the way. Here is an overview of the DOABLE approach:

Step One: Decide
First you need to decided that now is the time to commit to doing a story project. If you have done that then it is time to decide on a specific story project. There are so many options that it is easy to get overwhelmed. But don’t worry I’ll help you to narrow it down.

Step Two: Organize
Now that you’ve picked a focus for your story project it is time to gather what you already have that might help you to complete this project. Find any photos, documents, letters, etc. that you or your family already have.

Step Three: Analyze
Once you have your resources gather you can really take a close look at what you have. Is it enough to complete your project or do you need to gather more from other sources? In this step you plan your project, breaking it down into small steps with deadlines for each step.

Step Four: Build
This is an exciting step, to actually start building your project, to follow your plan. Keep moving forward and make adjustments to your plan as needed.

Step Five: Link
Now for the rewarding part, share your project with your family and anyone else who might enjoy hearing your story. Be creative in the ways you share it. This is an opportunity to strengthen those family connection and even make new links to extended family.

Step Six: Evaluate
Once your story project is complete it is good to look at how things went. What turned out well, what not so good. What would you do differently next time. Armed with this knowledge you are ready to go back to step one and pick a new family story project.

Are you still with me? Then it is time to get started with step one!


Step 4: BUILD revamping my blog – sidebars

As you can see the left sidebar is in place with images for “getting started” and all six steps of the DOABLE approach to telling your family’s tales. Right now the images just link to blank pages but the content will be coming soon as part of revamping my blog.

Surprisingly it seemed logical to rearrange the right sidebar while I was adding the widgets for the left sidebar. So I’m actually a day ahead of schedule now. Yeah!

Joy Jar


What a difference a week can make. Last week was a mess and I got very little done beyond taking care of myself. This past week has been so much better. It feels good to be back at it.

  • Zodiac and Tiffany
  • making the 6:30 train
  • warmer days ahead
  • comfortable spring breeze
  • sunny afternoon
  • spring bulbs
  • Bill setting up the watering system for the garden
  • spring colors
  • warm sun on my face
  • tulips
  • the Gentle Leader
  • Zodiac and Dune laying calmly on the train
  • my eye all back to normal
  • a good day
  • figuring out my DOABLE approach
  • a nap with Gandy
  • message from Sue & Apex
  • Eagle with the kids at church
  • new blog theme
  • a lovely walk with Dune
  • the hope of warmer days
  • a double dog walk
  • a good day with my sister
  • 70+ degrees
  • another puppy tooth
  • planting my garden
  • watching Dune and Eagle chewing side by side
  • strawberries and yogurt

Pupdate – Zodiac’s Book

Zodiac - puppy in training - January 2013


A few weeks ago I made a goal to get two words done each week on Zodiac’s book. You probably aren’t keeping track but I haven’t posted any pages from is book in the past two weeks. So much for that plan. I have done some work on his book. Last week I gathered all the photos I have of him in one place. Some of the photos where tough to know if it was Yakira or Zodiac. I need to do better at adding information to the photos in the metadata when I take them. That is one of those things on my long-term to do list but that hasn’t come close to seeing the light of day.

I also took some time and decided what I would focus on with each of Zodiac’s “Z” words. Lots of them have similar meanings but I’m happy with the topics I’ve come up with. I also have all the “Z” words in the book with their definitions. Now it is just a matter of finding or taking good photos for each word and writing some text.

Today I thought I’d get to work on a few pages and place some photos too. But instead I got text written for 8 spreads but no photos placed. So here is what I got done today:

  • zaftigfull-bodied; well-proportioned: Most puppy raisers think their dog is the cutest, but of course they are wrong, Zodiac is really the cutest puppy ever! He was a very solidly built. At 13 months he was 65 lbs. even though he isn’t a very tall dog. He has the cutest way of looking up at you with the whites of his eyes showing. Zodiac has matured into a very handsome nicely put together dog.
  • zany – comically wild or eccentric: One of the Zaniest things that Zodiac loves to do is dig in his empty dog dish. I usually take it to mean that he would like some ice cubes. Zodiac loves ice cubes! He will grab an ice-cube or two and dash into the living room to munch down on them or chase them around the kitchen. It could be that he is really trying to say that he wants more dog food but he never gets that. He hasn’t ever done this before a meal. Well, he has me pretty well-trained to the ice-cube thing.
  • zap – strike suddenly and forcefully: Jumping is probably my least favorite thing about Zodiac. Sometimes it comes so unexpectedly when I’m sitting at my desk working on my computer and “zap” his paws land abruptly on my arm and shoulder. I sure hope that his future handler loves this trait because I think it is just part of who he is. We have been able to moderate it but not stop it all together.
  • zax – a hatchetlike tool for roofing slate: Once in a while Zodiac uses his paws like a zax and punches you. The most memorable time was when my friend Lisa, and I along with Zodiac and a career change dog name Osaka where driving through the night to a Guide Dog for the Blind graduation. We both too tired to drive so the four of us slept in the car. At some point Zodiac punched out with one of his paws and caught Lisa in the eye. Boy did that ever hurt. I’m pretty sure her eye got scratched but it healed up fine. Of course Zodiac wasn’t trying to hurt her, she just got in the way of a powerful paw stretch.
  • zealous – ardently active, devoted, diligent: Zodiac is very zealous about life and what it likes to do. Sometimes it comes across as stubbornness. I’ll never forget our first day together. He was exploring his new house and decided he wanted to go it the spare bedroom. This is our cats territory and off-limits to the dogs, so I picked up his puppy leash and stopped him. He did like that and pulled harder to go into the room. I think we spent 10 minutes with Zodiac trying to go forward into the room and me preventing him. To his credit he learned his lesson and we never had that battle again.
  • zeek out – (slang) to lose control of oneself: Zodiac has always been attracted to sounds and somewhere along the way he learned that the doorbell usually meant something interesting was about to happen. When Zodiac hears the ding-dong, he gets all excited, barks a couple of times and runs to the door.  I then ask him to step back from the door and wait calmly for me to answer it. Sometimes he does better at this than others.
  • zenith – highest point or state, culmination: (this is for his graduation day or whatever his career of choice)
  • zephyr – thing of fine, light quality: The only thing about Zodiac that  is fine and light is his hair. He is a lab so he has plenty of hair. It is the thickest and scruffiest of all our puppies. Though as he has grown up it doesn’t seem so scruffy.
  • zero hour – a decisive or critical time: (this is for recall day)
  • zesty – energetic; active: Zodiac has always had a zest for life. He is a fun-loving boy and loves to be out doing things, going new places and making new friends. Zodiac is sure that everyone he meets is just as happy to meet him. He is ever the optimist that something fun is just around the corner. I love the happy light that is typically in Zodiac’s eyes.

Even though that wasn’t how I planned to go ahead, in the end, I think it just matters that I’m making progress and not that I follow my previous plan exactly. To my way of thinking, plans are to help us move forward. I don’t always get a project broken up in a way that really works in real life. Then, I think it is important to just go with the flow and feel good about your progress. Does that ever happen to you? How do you handle it when your plans and reality don’t work together?



Step 4: BUILD revamping my blog – new theme

So how do you like my new theme? I think it is going to work just fine. Someday I plan to customize my layout but it isn’t time for that yet. There were several other themes I liked but the text color just didn’t work for me and I couldn’t change it. I am excited about this revamp and I can’t wait to get everything all set up. Too bad I have other things that need doing or I’d spend the next several days focused on it and get it done for next week. But I have a plan and I will get it done. Here are my goals for next week:

  • left side bar: Monday, 29 April
  • reevaluate right bar: Tuesday, 30 April
  • getting started with the DOABLE approach post: Wednesday, 1 May
  • DECIDE basics post: Thursday, 2 May

I hope to get a pupdate post done tomorrow and a Joy Jar post on Saturday. I’ve got a quickly approaching deadline for a chapter of my dad’s Navy history. He is going to an Underwater Swimmer School reunion next month and would love to take as much as I can get together about the history of the school. He was one of the original instructors in 1954.

If you could drop all your other responsibilities, what would you work on this weekend?

Step 3: ANALYZE: revamping my blog

The biggest thing that my revamped blog will need is a side bar on the left side. I want to put several widgets there, one on getting started and then a widget for each step of the DOABLE approach. This means I will need a new theme for my blog. My current theme doesn’t support a left side bar.I also want to look at my right side bar and consider changing what is over there too.

The other big area of this project is to look at my content plan and make sure that the posts I’m writing are helping to fill out all the steps of DOABLE family story project. First I’ll do one post for each step and then decide if it would be better to focus one each step for a week or a month or rotate around. I’m leaning toward focusing on each step in turn for about a month so I can really fill out the content for that step. I’ll plan on that for now and reevaluate if needed.

After I’ve picked a new theme and put the structure in place I’ll need to work on moving my old posts into the new structure. I think this should be worked on after I get the basics in place for the six steps in the DOABLE approach.

It is important at this stage to keep the LINK step in mind. I think it is time to venture out into social media and that would be a good way to share my revamped blog. I will probably start with Google+ and Pintrest.

Now for some deadlines:

  • pick new theme: Thursday, 25
  • left side bar: Monday, 29 April
  • reevaluate right bar: Tuesday, 30 April
  • getting started with the DOABLE approach post: Wednesday, 1 May
  • DECIDE basics post: Thursday, 2 May
  • ORGANIZE basics post: Monday, 6 May
  • ANALYZE basics post: Tuesday, 7 May
  • BUILD basics post: Wednesday, 8 May
  • LINK basics post: Thursday 9 May
  • EVALUATE basics post: Monday 13 May
  • move old content to new structure: Thursday, 16 May
  • start sharing with Google+: Monday, 3 June
  • start sharing with Pintrest: Monday, 1 July
  • check revamp so far and adjust content plan if needed: Tuesday 14 May
  • move forward with new content plan: Monday, 20 May

I’m not sure that my deadlines are realistic but it gives me something to shoot for and I can adjust them if I need to. I really like the idea of having the new look if not the content in place by May 1st. It sound like a great way to start a new month.

How about you? Do you have a plan in place for your next family story project?



Step 2: ORGANIZE: revamping my blog

Since I’m following the DOABLE approach on revamping my blog today it is time for step two: organize. Yesterday I decided that it was time to refocus. I want it to be easy and clear for anyone to get started or complete a family story project and my current blog isn’t doing that. So that is step one complete.

Step two: Organize: I have over a years worth of content on my blog but it doesn’t automatically fit into the new DOABLE structure. The Ideas & Inspiration posts should work in the decide phase. When I’m decided what to do for a new project, I like to look at ideas and hope for inspiration and a vision of how I want a new project to be like. The How To post should fit nicely into the build step of the DOABLE approach. My Projects post could go lots of different places but I think I will also keep them together and keep a My Projects tab at the top along with My Life and My Puppies. I think I’ll combine the About Me tab with the My Life tab. I think the Mary Taylor tab will become My Grandma Mary. When that book becomes generally available there will be some content for the book that I want to keep in one place and easy to find.

Now I can see that I have lots of area of the DOABLE approach that won’t have any or at least not much content to start with, namely, Organize, Analyze, Link and Evaluate. Next step is Analyze: the planning stage where I will figure out all that this blog revamping will need to carry out my vision.

Did you decide on a new family story project? If so take the next step and organize. Gather together the information and resources you already have and see where you stand. Haven’t decided yet? It isn’t to late to get started.

a DOABLE approach to sharing your family stories

As I’ve contemplated ways to improve my blog it occurred to me that if you are coming here for the first time there isn’t really any help in getting started. Since my goal is to help everyone (including me) to tell their own family stories that situation isn’t a good one. Over the past year or so I’ve written posts about my story projects and other things I’ve come across. While all of that is good I think I’ve missed the mark. Since my rather chaotic brain craves order I decided I’d come up with some sort of system anyone can follow to help them share their family stories. It is still a work in progress but I think it is a good start.

D – decide

O – organize

A – analyze

B – build

L – link

E – evaluate

Decide: the very first step is to decide you want to do a story project and the decide who you want to do it about or what story you want to develop and share. What do you want to do with this project?

Organize: the next step is to organize. This step will focus on the what you already know and what you already have in the way of documents and images etc. that might help you will the story project you are working on.

Analyze: in this step you want to really look hard at your goal. What do you need to do? Do you have all the information you need? What else do you need and where might you find it? What do you need to learn to complete this project? Plan your project out in as much detail as you can and give yourself deadlines along the way.

Build: do the work, follow the plan, keep on moving forward. Keep your purpose in mind and work past any obstacles that get in your way.

Link: share your story project with as many people as you can in as many ways as you can.

Evaluate: the good, the bad and the ugly. What would you do the same if you had to do it all again, what would you do different. Then armed with your new knowledge start the process over with a new story project.


So what does this all mean? I’ll need to restructure my blog to show the DOABLE approach with the goal in mind that anyone can come here and find what they need to get started or keep moving forward with their own family story projects. Hey, I think this whole DOABLE approach might work for this too. I’ve decided on a new vision for my blog. Next step is to organize what I already have on here with the DOABLE approach in mind. Then I will  analyze what is missing and make a plan for how to fill it in. While I’m working through the DOABLE steps I can learn more about how to improve it too! I’m really excited about my new goal.

How about join me on this journey? Start with step one, decide on a family story project (or even something else) that you want to do and we can test out my DOABLE approach together.

What a Week!

So life has conspired against me this week. It happens but even though post haven’t happened I have thought about things and I’ve decided it is time to get more focused on how to do a family story project. So that no matter what stage of telling your family tales you are in you can find help here on what to do next. That is my dream and my desire. I’m not sure that my posts are doing that. The foundation is missing and it is time to get it put in before I get more clutter on the site. So stop in next week for a DOABLE approach to telling your family’s tales. I’m really excited about this.

In the meantime, if you don’t have a current family story project it is time to choose one, or at least choose a person or a time frame to start focusing on.