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Ruth Anne Uhl

Founder & Personal Historian

Ruth Anne is a seasoned writer and in-demand public speaker on topics relating to personal history, aging, and entrepreneurship. On any given day, you can find her listening to people’s stories everywhere from the local church pew, to the pub, and coffee shop. Ruth Anne’s career has mostly consisted of business consulting in the training and development field, all the while writing articles to support family caregivers and managing a dozen, remotely-located medical editors, publishing over 600 abstracts per week.

As a caregiver for her own mother, Ruth Anne was encouraged to look beyond her own exhaustion and preserve the stories of her mom, Betty Tuskey. After publishing two short, but powerful memoir books, she was encouraged to provide this service to others as a professional, starting The Cheerful Word, one of the first brick and mortar personal history businesses in the profession.

Ruth Anne has taught dozens of professional workshops at conferences, to online worldwide audiences, and locally. She offers a series of free workshops to educate her community on the importance of preserving personal history and the different ways to go about it, especially for non-writers and others who are daunted by the idea. Ruth Anne has so far produced fourteen paperback books, three Kindle ebooks, one audio book, and four Conversational Memoir audio recorded legacies.

The mission of The Cheerful Word is to honor, encourage, and inspire individuals and their families by preserving your legacies and connecting us across the generations. She accomplishes her mission as a ghost writer, coach, and publisher by delivering books for private family libraries and for sale on Amazon.com.

Ruth Anne is a seasoned writer and in-demand public speaker on topics relating to personal history, aging, and entrepreneurship. On any given day, you can find her listening to people’s stories everywhere from the local church pew, to the pub, and coffee shop.

Ruth Anne served as vice president of APH in 2013. APH is a worldwide group of professionals who help preserve and share the important stories of people, families, communities and organizations.

Ruth Anne served as vice president of APH in 2013. APH is a worldwide group of professionals who help preserve and share the important stories of people, families, communities and organizations.

Ruth Anne is a certified autobiographical instructor with the Birren Institute.

Ruth Anne is a certified autobiographical instructor with the Birren Institute.

Testimonials 

Testimonial: "My Life Stories" Guided Memoir Writing Workshop

Here's what our clients say about the "My Life Stories Guided Memoir Workshops"

"I loved being part of an intimate creative space, meeting terrific like (and different) minded people and getting the impetus to begin writing again."

"Ruth Anne's enthusiasm, experience and willingness to share wisdom gained from personal practice."

"I love Ruth Anne's approachable style, specific ideas and invitation to share personal experiences."

"Every week I take away ideas I implement in my writing."

"She is inspirational and offers practical examples and suggestions that have already improved my memoir tremendously."

"'Sam' (Ruth Anne) is always prepared, providing expert advice, plus the worksheets and creative writing exercises are very useful."

 
 

"I loved being part of an intimate creative space, meeting terrific like (and different) minded people and getting the impetus to begin writing again."

In an interview with Caring Connections on 97.9FM WCHL Chapel Hill, Ruth Anne discuses how she used Facebook and other social media to cope while her mother was in hospice. Aired April 23, 2013.

“It was wonderful to have the scheduled routine and a safe environment in which to make my dreams comes true, actively on an ongoing basis…”


In the News

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Residents write their life stories at new studio

MIKE DIRKS/TIMES-NEWS

By Charli Kerns
Times-News Staff Writer

Published: Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 4:30 a.m.

Merriam-Webster defines a historian as a student or writer of past events, especially for a scholarly article. Historians can be general or focus on geography, period, biography, historical viewpoint or world history.

Then there is the outlier, what Ruth Anne Uhl calls a personal historian.

“The focus here is asking where individuals have come from, who they are now and where they think they're going,” said Uhl, founder of The Cheerful Word studio.

The business, which opened at 318 N. Main St. in Hendersonville last month, provides services for people to learn how to share, write and publish their life stories.

Uhl got started in her career as a personal historian in Buffalo, N.Y., decades before her first official paycheck. Her mother worked in a nursing home and, as a child, Uhl spent hours listening to the residents recount their experiences. Inspired by the stories, Uhl kept listening into her teens and through college as a home health aide for the terminally ill.

“I started to write snippets of their stories and leave them on the nightstands,” Uhl said.

Families would find notes that revealed the personalities and experiences of individuals before they became Dad or Grandma.

“The families often discovered this huge connection to the past,” Uhl added.

Over the years, she expanded the patients' tales during her dwindling spare time. Finally, a friend suggested she turn her hobby into a career. Despite initial reservations and perhaps a little guilt about charging, Uhl pitched her services at a women's networking meeting in Cary. Two of the women wrote checks after Uhl finished.

“That's the day it turned from a hobby into a business,” Uhl said.

Read more at BlueRidgeNow

photo by Chuck Hill

photo by Chuck Hill

Downtown studio helps people tell their story

By Bill Moss, Published: March 29, 2015

On Harley-Davidson rides to the North Carolina mountains, Ruth Anne Uhl often thought that "if I could ever move here I should."

When her daughter, Meghan, married a Henderson County native, Christian McDonald, the dream came true. Ruth Anne moved from Cary to Hendersonville.

"The opportunity came up for me to plant our business and it has taken off," she said.
The business, called the Cheerful Word, would seem to be a perfect fit in an area that is home to many retirees with interesting lives and rich a Southern Appalachian culture that natives fear is fading from memory.

"So we now have Cheerful Word Life Stories Studio and the whole goal is to preserve people's life stories, and we do that in many ways," she said. "My favorite is books, because those can last forever and can be re-created and added to. We have a recording studio and we'll be encouraging people to come in, two at a time or three at a time and talk about their lives. They will always leave with a downloadable mp3 file or a USB file."
 

Read more at HendersonvilleLightning

Honorable Mentions

In the Winter issue of Perspectives, the trade journal for personal historians, Ruth Anne Uhl has a great piece titled “Flex Your Business Muscles: Circuit Training for Personal Historians.” She mentions both charging appropriately and having small step offers. [Members should have received a print version of the issue or can access it in the members’ area of the APH website.] Check out Ruth Anne’s Conversational Memoirs offering. Notice this minimum package still provides the essence of what she offers: it's low-cost, low-risk with plenty of up-selling potential. While you’re there, check out the rest of her website, www.cheerfulword.com which is beautifully designed, both conceptually and graphically.