It was only after attending my second series of  Guided Autobiography class (GAB) that I realised my Chinese name had foretold quite accurately my life journey.

When my grandfather named me ‘‘家莹’ (pronounced as ‘Jia Ying’), I had no idea his wishes for me would come true.

I interpret the Chinese character of ‘莹’ (‘Ying’) to be like a ‘firefly’ that ‘shines like a light’ in a place one regards as ‘home’ and as one grows older, this can range from where we have stayed with immediate family to staying in a community home for an elderly within a larger group.

My journey with GAB started many years ago in my early forties. I was at a crossroads in my life, with my major life work (mother-ing) almost completed as my younger of two was in her adolescence. Hence, an adjustment of work-life roles was in order.

I was teaching and training in part-time work roles. I considered my life work well-balanced as I also had the time to volunteer actively in the community. Together with caregiving duties, building a home and maintaining familial relationships, my life seemed assimilated.

When I attended GAB, I was seeking to build on a more incisive life identity. I also wanted to optimise my skills and contribute positively to my community.

As I look back at my notes and responses to the different priming questions given during GAB training, I am grateful and pleased with the memories I had conjured up, due to the accepting and affirming support given by my instructor and my group mates. A GAB group is certainly not just for older participants to write a memoir (though it can most certainly be the main goal). It is also a gathering of like-minded individuals who want to write out and talk about what they have gone through and for most, this can be an extremely therapeutic, restorative and life-enhancing personal development.

If this brief testimony bears resonance with you, fill in a form here to make enquiries and know more about RDM’s supportive and multigenerational Life Writing Circles.

(Updated 27 December 2022)

Grandpa and me at our home garden in Serangoon Gardens Estate (Singapore), 1978

Article revised on Tuesday, 27 December 2022