Sheila photo @dinner
Sheila turns 70!

Welcome to Sheila’s site, “GiveVoice.” Although this is a blogging site, I regard it as a convenient place to post a few of my writings and particularly to share with you my interest in writing family stories, biography, and memoir.  Here you’ll find a few pieces which demonstrate my work.

I do believe the life we have lived is changed somehow when it becomes a story.  In the telling or writing of our life, in our re-creation of it, we give it coherence and meaning that perhaps we couldn’t see while in the midst of living.  In interpreting our life, we assume greater power over it.  We invest it with significance.

When people tell me their story, often they downplay it, believing it to be unimportant or unworthy of note.  But I disagree. The true, nonfiction story which our life (or our family’s life) has become is empowering.  In telling it, in hearing ourselves render it, we become able to acknowledge our place in the world and to recognize our uniqueness.  We share, not our perfection, but our crazy, all too human, imperfect attempts to survive and to live meaningfully. 

Giving voice to one’s experience is undeniably healthy and creative.  I see my role as helping you to do that, either by listening to you and writing your words (“As Told To . . . Sheila Bartle”) or by helping you write your words yourself.

Click on the “As Told To . . . Sheila Bartle” bar in the menu above for information. If you’d like to contact me, you’re welcome to write a comment here, or email me at bartlesheila@gmail.com, or call my cell at 773.682.5743.

Thank you,

Sheila Bartle  


Legacy Letter

A Legacy Letter

You’ve probably already put your affairs in order. You may have made out your will and bequeathed your worldly goods to children, grandchildren, or special people in your life.

But have you considered leaving your loved ones a clear, strong statement of your values? I am referring to those “valuables” that are not material, those values that have guided your life.

The Legacy Letter is a letter to an individual – perhaps a grandchild or a special young person – in which you identify one or two values — such as kindness, creativity, faith in God, love of nature, hard work — which you have lived by all your life, and you formally bequeath those values to the recipient. In this letter, you may provide a story that demonstrates the role of the value in your life; you may recall a time when your living that value proved challenging; perhaps you note that the person you are writing to has also demonstrated this value.

This highly personal but succinct letter will provide others with an unmistakable sense of who you are and what has guided your life, expressed in your voice. I will provide a suggested template that you can modify, and will “coach” you to uncover your stories and to express yourself authentically and vividly. Finally, I can edit the document for strong and accurate expression.

The result: a one to three page letter that captures something that too often remains unspoken and elusive – the principles we tried to live by. This is a true gift to someone dear to you.

In a morning or an afternoon, you can accomplish this Legacy Letter with Sheila Bartle’s support and coaching. Later, you may wish additional coaching or editing for a separate hourly fee.

A four-part paradigm follows, but may be modified in any way you wish.

July 5, 2013

 Dear John,

         This letter expresses my legacy to you, not an inheritance of material wealth but of my values, of those ethical principles that I have held to be meaningful. In my life I have, above all, valued kindness, or compassion for others. [Your definition of “kindness” here.]

      When I think of kindness and the role it’s played in my life, I remember. . . [people, stories, events.]

      I recognize that the “shadow side” of kindness is . . . (or “Practicing compassion is challenging.” or “I know that I didn’t always demonstrate kindness; still, . . . “) [Stories that show your recognition of the implications of trying to live this value.]

      I see this value in you as well when . . . [A shared story, some inclusion of the recipient.]

      And, so, to you, John, I bequeath my lifelong commitment to kindness and compassion for others. Remember me as you practice this. (or May you take this value with you into your life, John. May you hold it in your heart and may it give meaning to your life as it has to mine.”)  

Love, Grandma