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Meet the Team – Jessica Burbank

More than three years ago, a longtime Florida friend called me to ask a favor: “With my new baby at home, would you take on a few work tasks for me? I’m stretched a little thin.” Since that day back in March 2014, she has added two more babies to her now family of six, and I have completely taken over her former role as Patricia’s assistant.

I was eager to accept the job that day because I was instantly taken with the Writing Your Life mission to help people write their life stories. Memoir and personal documentation have always been dear to me. I graduated from Stetson University with a degree in Humanities and Creative Writing in which I focused particularly on creative nonfiction, winning the Best Creative Nonfiction award my senior year. An avid journaler, scrapbooker and note-taker, I have always cherished making memories and documenting them.

My journaling journey started back in eighth-grade English class when Mrs. Hortman had everyone in her class keep a journal. We could put a paper clip on any page we didn’t want her to read, and we could write about anything we wanted, but we had to turn it in to her for a grade. Decades later, I now have quite a collection of cardboard moving boxes laden with scrapbooks and journals filled with written memories, photographs, ticket stubs, and pamphlets.

Some of these books cover my youth where I rode horses, sang in choirs, and played flute at an arts school in Fort Myers, Florida. Others document my precious years in Deland at Stetson and my early travels through Europe, Israel, Japan, Central America, and beyond. Those books then traveled with me from Florida to Chicago and from Chicago to the California Bay Area where I currently live right outside of Oakland.

I have scrapbooks from my cliffside wedding in Southern California to my husband of twelve years and journals that tell my eight-year-old son’s and my nearly six-year-old daughter’s beautiful birth stories. They document my time working in the education department at the Orlando Museum of Art, the fun I had managing a paint-your-own-pottery business, and the experience of opening a gelato shop making frozen ice cream for restaurants across Central Florida with my friend, Melanie, who introduced me to Patricia in the first place.

The last few moves have taught me that the heavy books full of memories may need to go digital. I have since switched to writing on the computer, where I focused on my crafting blog in which I document the crocheted creations I make and sell, as well as some of the art projects I love to do with my kids. My digital photographs now feature the beautiful California sights my family and I regularly enjoy.

I am honored to share my story with you, just as I have been honored to read your stories over the years as I help to set up and manage the writing challenges, coaching programs, webinars, and workshops that Patricia offers to help us all preserve our stories for ourselves, our families, and future generations.

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