Celeste Frances Scott – Founder “Button Jar Stories”
When you’re dead Mum, we’re going to forget what you looked like!”
My children complain because I hate having my photo taken. I blame my Dad!
I have a number of idiosyncrasies. The urge to straighten a wonky picture frame no matter where it’s hanging. Being cursed with perfectionist tendencies (obsessive ‘neat freak’ my kids would say). And to this day the sight of dates (the plant variety), horrify me. Growing up I had countless nightmares my bedroom walls, covered in dates, were closing in on me. YES… checked Dream Decoder – no explanation on that one!! And I am yet to see a belly button that doesn’t make my skin crawl.
So there you go. Now you know those things about me. Did you guess that from my photo? Of course not.
A photograph won’t tell your secrets or your stories. Your words do!
Do you know what my number one fear really is? Writing! It terrifies me!
I fear being judged on how I write and what I write. But I do it because I have stories to tell and every time I write, I tell a story. I love that.
Storytelling is powerful. We do it many times a day. Type a text message on your phone…. you tell a story. Send an email…. you tell a story. Answer a question …. you tell a story. Embellish a juicy piece of gossip and you tell a story. We’re all storytellers one way or another. No story we tell is defined by any set of rules or word count. How we write or spell our stories is irrelevant, because WE are the ‘Storyteller’ telling OUR story OUR way.
So why ‘Button Jar Stories’?
Because the people we love will one day die.
Their stories still inside.
I WANT to change that – one story at a time!
The buried truth!
Life is too bloody short!
Go to a funeral and you’ll see the ‘story’ of that person’s life depicted by a wall full of old photographs.
“But what is their story?” “Where are their words?”
It’s the stories of that person that have been lost, not their inability to have more photos taken!
Don’t get me wrong. Photos have their place and bring great joy into our life. I know that so well. But leaving this world shouldn’t we have the LAST word on OUR own life. Don’t we at least owe it to ourselves to tell our own stories in our own words?
At your final ‘shindig’, when the entirety of your life is being celebrated; do you really want to depend on the recollection of work mates, neighbours or distraught family members to tell your story? The story of YOU pieced together from snippets of your past they thought they knew? What about all the things, they didn’t know? The things you really wanted to be remembered for!!!
If the important stories in your life are never written and never preserved, then how can they ever be told?
This is what ‘Button Jar Stories’ is all about.
Life can be a crazy incredible ride. At the end we will all slide out one way or another having lived a life that has shaped and molded each one of us to the person we have become. It’s those AMAZING stories gathered along the way that should be told to pass to the generations to follow and leave to those we love. To leave just a photograph, and not those stories… is just wrong.
Storytelling honors a life…especially yours. My passion with ‘Button Jar Stories’ was to create a special place for anyone to preserve precious memories and incredible stories. I look at the importance of storytelling from the perspective of being a Daughter whose parents died quite young with so many stories left untold. Yes we have the photographs, but my children and their children will never know the incredible people my parents were, yet they share the same DNA.
I also look at ‘Button Jar Stories’ from the perspective of having an extraordinary life BEFORE I had children …a life my children know little of.
In the late 80’s when I was working for a major newspaper company, I was picked up in a government limo and taken to lunch by a very prominent Politician of the day. The purpose of the lunch was to invite me to move to Canberra to become his Parliamentary Speechwriter. It was all above board having developed a professional relationship with this person over some months. I will never regret the choice I made at the time being young and feeling far too inexperienced to take on such an important role, but I can imagine the path my life may have taken had I of accepted that incredible opportunity. Yet my children don’t know that remarkable young woman I now in reflection see her to be. My children only know that woman as Mum, who tends to waffle on in a Facebook post!
My storytelling comes from my love of words. Throw a handful of words on a blank screen or a piece of paper and watch a person stand up and take notice; or drop to their knees in forgiveness. Words can bring on a spontaneous belly laugh; turn the most hardened heart to mush; or bring tears to the eyes of a child as instantly as they would a seventy-year-old. Words begin wars and words begin peace. Our written words, like our finger print is that unique part of us that remains long after we’ve gone.
‘Button Jar Stories’ is all about our words.
The Tricky Questions
In developing the concept of ‘Button Jar Stories’, it was important to me to create a nurturing place for anyone to bring the stories out that have been carried around for so long. I did not want to make this a vehicle for only Writers, Wordsmiths or budding Authors. This is about the ‘average Joe’ sitting at home, or at a favourite café, opening up the iPad or laptop, logging on and becoming a Storyteller. There should be no feelings of being judged for his or her ability to correctly punctuate a sentence.
‘Button Jar Stories’ needed to be a safe place without judgement. A place that needed no one’s permission to express the important stuff in life. A place to journal thoughts, tell a yarn, become a hero or unravel the struggles faced in LIFE, LOVE or FAMILY. To be able to simply begin by just typing one memory or one experience at a time in totally privacy. ‘Button Jar Stories’ needed to be simple with no time frame attached. I confidently feel you are now looking at that place.
What has seemed for me, to be a life time in the making, ‘Button Jar Stories’ grew almost organically as over many months the workings of the website came together to the point the training wheels are almost off. I’m nervous, as I feel like that Mum standing at the gates again on the first day of school, sending my baby out into the big wide world and hoping for acceptance, patience and guidance. It’s absolutely terrifying taking that leap of faith. But leaping into the unknown has been the story of my life on many occasions.
Trust is a big thing in this process. As much as your ‘Button Jar Stories’ will remain as private as you wish, there will come a point when you need to trust the process in allowing me to print your stories off and return them to you bound, wrapped and packaged with the utmost respect and care. Trust and judgement has to work both ways and in you getting to know me, I feel it only fair I share some of the stories that have greatly impacted upon my life.
When you begin to write your ‘Button Jar Stories’ you will see I ask a lot of information in the context of each question. Without giving too much away, here’s a very brief example of a couple of questions you may come across in your storytelling journey.
Who are you – really? What is the greatest challenge you faced in your life? What aspect of your life do you feel most proud of? What makes your blood boil?
Here I answered exactly those same questions. The stories I’ve shared below are a little wordy but that is the beauty of ‘Button Jar Stories.’ Never hold back on your words. Tell the whole story. You have YOUR permission to do so. Let the thoughts flow. Believe me…the book you will hold at the end of this, will be so worth it.
Ok. So if you haven’t nodded off to sleep with all my waffling….go put the kettle on, or top up the wine glass. Buckle up and let me take you on a journey down my ‘Memory Lane’. Let me show you why, a photograph will never tell your story.
X and why
I was named after the ghost ship the ‘Marie Celeste’ found adrift in the Bermuda Triangle in 1872. She became one of the most famous riddles of the sea. Dad loved the story. Frances, my middle name, was my Father’s birth name ‘Francis’, and his Father before him. I’ve continued the tradition giving ‘Frances’ to my Daughter as her middle name.
I was the first baby born in Queensland just after the tick of midnight on Mother’s Day 1959. Over the next decade I would become the eldest of 5 and along with our parents, we lived in a modest home in the big country town of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. We were very much a traditional family. Dad worked to provide for his family; and Mum stayed at home, cooking, sewing and tending to the place we lovingly called home. Sunday’s we all trotted off to church with handkerchiefs on our heads. There was never any question…we had a very blessed upbringing in a home where boundaries were set, and values and respect acknowledged and not questioned.
Right now I’m 57 years old but I swear I only feel 37. I wish I was thinner, taller, and owned a time machine with a big red REVERSE button – but I don’t and I’m ok with that. I’m a Mum of two and we all live on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland in Australia. ‘Heaven on a stick’ would best describe this gorgeous piece of earth we call home. I have a Daughter and a Son. Both are now incredible young adults and despite all the Mum guilt stuff every parent feels in trying to raise normal well-adjusted children, I’m proud to say…. I really think I’ve done ok so far.
I’m single and I’m really ok with that too. As hard as it is for some people to understand, my best friend to this very day is still my ex hubby, Mr. X, the kid’s Dad. Despite the fact we’ve been separated for 14 years, he’s always had my back. He’s a great Father and a really good person. Raising two independent young people has been our greatest challenge and our finest achievement even if it has been mostly under two separate roofs. I met Mr. X the night my Father died.
He was on duty covering a shift for a colleague. First job for the evening was at the local hospital to talk to a family (mine) in regards to a DOA (Dad).
My unforgettable first words to Mr. X were….
“Why the hell are you here? Do you think my Mother murdered my Father?” Yeahhhh not a good start in hindsight!
They say timing is everything.
Dad died instantly at the dinner table. He was 59, one month short of his 60th Birthday.
It was quickly determined Dad had suffered a fatal aneurysm and didn’t die as a result of Mum’s seafood bisque; which she later froze (just in case) in an empty tub of Pauls’ Blue Ribbon Ice-cream, writing on the lid… “Max’s last meal!” It remained there until the day she died.
Our family was shattered beyond belief at the sudden death of a man who was the absolute pillar of our family. Mum and Dad had only just retired to the Coast. They had raised 5 children and been married for 35 years. Long story short…one thing leads to another and 3 years later Mr. X and I welcomed our Daughter into the world just after our first wedding anniversary…which happens to be on April Fool’s Day (just so he’d remember!!!).
Another three years on, and our Son was born in a hospital just 30 minutes from my parents’ home. In that very same hour on that same rainy February afternoon, just down the road, my Mum lost her 75-day battle with Pancreatic Cancer. She was 68. It was the most incredibly emotional day of my life. I remember feeling numb sitting there in the hospital bed nursing this brand new beautiful baby boy who would sadly never know his grandparents; whilst on the phone to the Parish Priest organising mum’s funeral.
On a lighter note, we did manage to totally confuse the local florist, as beautiful bunches of flowers began arriving to the house with notes of ‘Condolences’ and notes of ‘Congratulations’. However; once again, despite welcoming a new addition to our family, we were shattered beyond loss. Cancer had now spread its sinewy talons into my immediate family.
Mum’s death stirred in me a real need to find answers. I wanted to know how illness and state of mind affected the body. I knew Mum was so angry that the love of her life had been taken from her so suddenly. I also knew the pancreas was the anger center of the body. I felt there had to be some correlation. My parent’s adventures as a couple of grey nomads was only just beginning. They had ticked all the right boxes of providing a loving home, raising a family and setting us off confident in the people we had become. It was now their time! It all seemed so unfair for it to end at precisely 6:13pm on a Tuesday night at the family dinner table over a warm dish of seafood soup!
Smartest Coffee on the Coast
With Mum’s passing still very close to heart, I began information coffee mornings for women on the Sunshine Coast. These get togethers’ quickly grew to 4 mornings a month spanning the Coast with hundreds of women attending listening to an array of credible speakers bringing wisdom and experience into our lives.
These mornings changed lives and continued for almost a decade. Twice ‘The Woman I Am Seminar Series’ was honoured as a Finalist in the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network Awards. I then stepped away from the seminars to become a Registered Marriage Celebrant.
Lots of Love Birds
Being the self-confessed hopeless romantic I was born to be; let me tell you, my work as a Celebrant put me smack bang in the middle of Love Bliss Central. If I couldn’t find that classic love story in my own life, then I was determined to embrace it through others with every fiber of my being.
It was here my writing really found its voice. Having attended far too many booooooring weddings to mention, I was determined something had to change. So I set about reinventing the ‘ho-hum bring on the reception’, wedding ceremony. Whilst other Celebrants were printing off tried and true ceremonies changing the names accordingly…. I found a niche in the market and began to write entirely original wedding ceremonies celebrating the couple’s own unique love story.
Word quickly spread
Before long I was writing and officiating up to 5 weddings a week. I was in my element.
With wedding guests hanging off every word, the real story of how ‘Harry met Sally’ was embraced and became the focus of this often hilarious and somewhat emotional celebration. No two ceremonies were ever alike and in my mind…. that is EXACTLY how a wedding should be!
I can tell you, the power of the written word was never more evident than witnessing grown men openly cry in front of me at hearing the touching love story of a work mate who had managed to snag this stunning woman who had well and truly won everyone’s heart. It was always such an honour to play a part in their ongoing love stories.
During the decade I was a Celebrant I was thrilled one year to be voted the top Female Celebrant in Queensland at the Annual Bridal Industry Awards. I also ticked something else off my bucket list that year; I became an Author with my published first book… ‘The Ten Second Kiss: The Do’s and Don’ts before you say I Do’.
Getting down and dirty with the big boys!
I then stepped away from weddings. I saved every penny I could and began a love affair with ‘Bart’….a big yellow 12 gear Truck.
I was taking that leap of faith obtaining my Heavy Rig License and heading West. My goal was to pay off my mortgage to give the kids a better start in their lives. I landed a job working on a remote, barren island known as Barrow. In 43 degree heat, 3863.69 klms (as the crow flies) from my home I became a FIFO worker, working a 28/7 roster. I was willing to start anywhere and on the end of a mop was where my story began.
Welcome to the ‘Gorgon Project’. The biggest and most expensive natural resource project ever undertaken in Australian history. I can confidently say I have physically cried from one side of this great nation to the other. Saying goodbye to the kids became harder and harder but I believed the sacrifice would be worth it.
Exactly twelve months to day of strapping on my steel cap boots, I had a fall. A faulty piece of equipment I was using on shift gave way, seeing my hopes and dreams and goal….come tumbling down. I was unable to work for 2 years due to my injuries. It became the classic David and Goliath battle. I had now stepped into the boots of a worker injured on the job and the wrath of ‘how dare you’ was experienced almost instantly at the hands of that ‘chain of command’ put in place to protect my workers rights. The very same people I had given the last year of my life too – my employer!
The 5 Golden Rules in that Employee Handbook handed out by the HR Manager at induction, I came to realise was nothing more than a collection of words to meet accreditation in the eyes of the law. I was smart going into that job, but soon became a whole lot smarter because of it. Lost man hours and multi-million dollar contracts I soon discovered came before the duty of care of any worker and loyalty and work ethic played no part of this calculated game. Anyway….I think I’ll save that particular story for another day, as it’s a doozy and it still to this day makes my blood boil. Needless to say, this ‘David’, refused to play their game giving them a fair run for their money!
I wonder if….
For now, my passion is to keep moving forward and I’m doing that by guiding others through their storytelling experiences.
I want to ensure the stories that have changed a life, honour a life. That’s important! I want someday for someone to read your words and mine, and learn a little more of who we are. Showing a bunch of old photos at a persons’ funeral really doesn’t tell the story of the life that shaped that person into becoming who they were. Our words do! I am always hopeful those we love and those we leave our words too, will get a true glimpse of that person we see looking back at us in the mirror every morning.
We have all faced challenges in our life which have defined us and found ways to work through that. For me, I write. That is my healing tool. It gives me strength and clarity. I cannot advocate enough the power of the written word. I firmly believe ‘Button Jar Stories’ will become that ‘go to’ place for many to process, embrace, journal and preserve the pathways and stories wandered through life.
I was so fortunate when growing up, as then, we were a close and loving family. Dad was a huge influence on all our lives, especially mine. He was also a Storyteller through his love of photography. Our family home had a darkroom underneath where Dad would spend hours developing his photos and hanging them from the ceiling to dry. So many amazing images of people and places he loved. If the red light bulb over the darkroom door was on, we kids knew not to go in.
All the beautiful photos you see on this website are largely from the old box of black and white photos I still have of Dads. He was instrumental in taking many of them. For most of my childhood I remember Dad lining us up and taking a photo at every opportunity. As kids we’d always complain…”Dad enough already!!!” It was always something that was done with love, perfection and absolute timing…many times over.
I am now 2 years younger than the age my Father was when he died. I know the day Dad died he still had a head full of ideas and a heart full of dreams of the things he wanted to do but sadly would never achieve. The day he died he was cleaning the windows of the new photographic studio my Brother had just built him in the back yard.
Like many of us, I woke up this morning with still so much living to do. It was my last birthday that became my light-bulb moment in wanting to create THIS special place for everyone regardless of age, colour, religion or education to preserve their written stories before they too only have a box of old photos to tell them.
I wonder if Dad could ever have imagined how those precious photos I had watched as a child, drying from the darkroom ceiling, have impacted my life. Like my Dad, I now feel I too have truly become a Storyteller.
So tell me…..Who’s telling yours?
Thank you for taking the time to look around ‘Button Jar Stories’. I feel so proud of what has been achieved here and sincerely thank the dedicated people who through their wisdom and know how….have made ‘Button Jar Stories’ my reality. Mark for his patience and persistence in creating this incredible website concept; Nereida for her tireless editing and unwavering emotional support; and Shona for bringing to life my logo designs. You will all forever now be a part of this ‘Button Jar Story’.