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A Glimpse Into Wisdom Writing

Updated January 29, 2024

Leacey Brown

SDSU Extension Gerontology Field Specialist


A blank notebook sitting by eye glasses and photos.
Courtesy: Pixabay

Heirlooms: Creative Life Story Writing was developed by Molly Barari, EdD, South Dakota Humanities Scholar. These interactive workshops help attendees develop skills for life story, obituary, and ancestor story writing. Throughout these workshops, participants of all ages and skill levels have the opportunity to write and share, as well as give and receive feedback. Participants are encouraged to attend multiple workshops, as each one features unique activities designed to enhance writing and reflection skills. Participants will leave with a myriad of ideas and strategies for how to craft their life stories and honor their heritage.

About the Creators of This Workshop

Barari began collaborating with Leacey E. Brown, MS, SDSU Extension Gerontology Field Specialist, to expand the reach of these programs by offering them virtually in 2021. After great success with the virtual series, Brown and Barari decided to pilot a workshop that included content about positive mental and emotional development in aging. Heirlooms: Wisdom Writing Workshop is the result of their collaborative efforts.

Heirlooms: Wisdom Writing Workshop

Glasses and pocket watch beside an open journal.
(Pixabay photo)

Explore the wisdom you have gained.

This workshop will provide the opportunity for you to use writing to explore your own mental and emotional development as you have gotten older. During this workshop, we will discuss the theory of gerotranscendence. Gerotranscendence was developed by a Swedish social gerontologist named Dr. Lars Tornstam. This theory describes positive changes that may occur in the thinking of adults as they age, reconcile their life, and face loss. Adults who exhibit signs of gerotranscendence experience greater life satisfaction (Tornstam, 2005).

After discussing gerotranscendence, you will have the opportunity to respond to writing prompts that exemplify the signs adults might show if they experience gerotranscendence. For example, one sign that adults may experience is the ability to recall memories with acute detail. Another sign is the inclination to downsize one’s belongings. Signs of gerotranscendence can vary depending on the individual, which is why it’s beneficial to explore your experience through writing. You will be invited to share what you write during the workshop if you feel comfortable doing so. Through the process of writing and sharing, you may discover the wisdom you have gained as you have grown older.

Sample Writing Prompts

  • Write about how you have developed new freedom to express yourself as you have gotten older.
  • Write about a time when you felt spiritually connected to something beyond yourself.


Tornstam, L. (2005). Gerotranscendence: A developmental theory of positive aging. Springer Publishing Company, Inc.

Related Topics

Aging Well