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Gadanke’s Story


Howdy! I’m Katie Clemons—storycatcher and award-winning journal crafter. Welcome to Gadanke (guh-dawn-kuh), my friend!

I help folks—like you and me!—celebrate our life stories and nurture deeper bonds with our families while finding greater joy and gratitude..

Gadanke all began on a dark and stormy night.

Actually my grandma would tell you, “It was hotter than Hades that day!” My mission to celebrate story truly began on a sizzling July afternoon in the old mining town of Butte, Montana. My grandma was about to turn 90 years old when NPR’s StoryCorps was in town. They invited Montana folks to share stories, so we signed up. The plan was simple: I’d ask my grandma questions about her life, and she’d answer.

I should step back and just tell you: if you’re thinking I was always beautiful, prolific journal keeper—I wasn’t. Like most people, my natural tendency was to capture everything that was wrong with my world. I had a whole shoebox of half-filled, uninspired journals I’d attempted since elementary school. I craved a beautifully imperfect way of recording my life that I could reminisce about on my 90th birthday.

In an attempt to crack the storycatching code, I studied personal essays and poetry at The University of Montana and Hollins University, two of the best creative writing universities. I experimented with all sorts of blank journals and read everything I could find on the topic of journal writing. Yet I couldn’t find a consistent, fun way to record my stories.

It wasn’t until that hotter than Hades day when everything connected.

90th birthday party!

I created a list of prompts and thoughtful questions for my grandma to tell her best stories. We ate ice cream sundaes (not just cardboard ones) and headed to the recording bus, ready to dive in!

My grandma sighed as she realized, “I don’t remember this stuff, Katie. I should have written it down.” We were both so crushed.

When something wonderful happens in our lives, all of us think, “I’ll never forget this moment!” Then so many other events—both good and bad—come up. We don’t mean to shut out precious memories. In fact, we’re wired to keep carrying them, filed deep inside our brains because that’s where gratitude, joy, and deeper bonds—basically the things that make life rich—all begin. The challenge is finding a way to trigger those memories and bring them back to the surface of our minds.

Realizing this, I knew I needed to take the prompts I was crafting for my grandma and transform them into something that could celebrate more lives, more relationships, and even more stories. I know why I kept trying to write a great journal all those years: A written record is one of the most beautiful gifts we can craft for our current selves and our future selves.

Time Capsule journal

Today my responsibility as a storycatcher is to lean into the milestone moments and everyday experiences of life and ask a lot of questions. I’m unearthing ways we can record our happenings and how we view them at any age—both in the moment and while looking back over time. Any of us can pull out a history book to read about bygone days, but we can’t see those experiences through our own lens unless we write.

Wander around with me.

This site is constantly growing as I study the depth and width of storycatching and share my findings and fun projects with you. These resources are for you, no matter your story or storycatching experience. I’ll teach you! Or I’ll give you tools to expand.

What are you craving?

Start your story