The Top Six Summer Vacation Memoirs


This week you happily reminisced, sharing tales of summers lost and summers past. From exhilarating adventures to helping hands, our community did it all during the summer months. Yet, only six can claim the top spots. Here are our favorites from SixContest #34:

6. “Hiking, delirious somewhere around 4,000 feet.” -@Lori Romero (via Facebook)

5. “Orlando for volleyball. California for love.” -macdad

4. “Please, just one more lobster roll.” -NancyWriterNYC_fromtwitter

3. “Working hard to encourage young lives.” –georgiahelper

2. “Saw some abs you wouldn’t believe.” -TeaTopper

And the top summer Memoir is…

1. “Farmhouse porch. Chateau miraval. Paradise found.” –JanAlexander

Congrats to JanAlexander and thanks to everyone who joined in the fun! Whether in our Caption Contests, on FacebookTwitterTumblr or at—keep on Sixing!

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“Treating sick day like golden ticket.” The Best Six-Word Memoirs of the Week

Best Six (Aug 23-29)-01A poet sits silently within each Sixer. Every so often, he or she will share a seductive simile. It’s outstanding how a simple “like,” showing similarities by comparison, can produce the most splendid lines and images. Some memoirs use similes to capture one’s spirit (“Seeps into souls like rain drops”); others remind us to live in the moment (“Ride like it’s your last ride”). Each one of this week’s best is as sweet as a summer song. -Gilmarie Brioso

Best Essence: “Seeps into souls like rain drops.” -tk13

Most Childlike: “Treating sick day like golden ticket.” -illuminatrix

Most Nourishing: “Mom loves me like a BLT.” -Loon

Best Advice: “Ride like it’s your last ride.” -hiitstaylorlane

Most Growth: “Miracles sprout like mushrooms from faith.” -Picaboo

Best Imagery: “Soars like bird, sinks like stone.” -likemeimlonely

Plus! Don’t miss this week’s SixContest #34! Share your wild stories or new encounters from this summer. The contest ends today, 8/29 at 3:00PM ET.

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Site Maintenance & New, improved Teens site

Six Teens_LogoIn 2013, we introduced our newly designed Six-Word Memoir “parent” site,, with a fresh look and new features. Now, we’re ready to share those exciting enhancements with the SMITHTeens community—more then 400,000 Sixes and counting—which we’re renaming (drumroll!)…Six Teens. Coming soon, teens will have a new place to call home on our Six Words site:

As we make this switch, we’ll be experiencing a few tech glitches, so please be patient. Among them: the “All Topics” Editor’s Picks list isn’t updating correctly, so those looking for today’s Editor’s Picks should click on the Life topic and then the tab Editor’s Picks.

The new Teens section of will be finished up this first week of September—we hope you like it and invite the teens in your life to come in and play.

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“I have money. Please come back.” The Best Six-Word Memoirs of the Week

Best Six (Aug 16-22)-01 (1)There have been numerous debates on money and happiness; while money may not guarantee joy, it certainly is an important factor in our lives. This week’s Sixes involve money and outcomes. Our Sixers shared stories in which money affects relationships (“Getting a dishwasher saved our marriage.”) and defines eras (“My previous life relied on payphones.”). Sometimes our happiness comes without breaking the bank (“Every ride has its own payoff.”). They proved that money is more than those green bills we carry around. Money can bring us happiness, but it does not define our happiness. –Gilmarie Brioso

Best Judgment: ”Every ride has its own payoff.” -G_Austin

Best Request: “I have money. Please come back.” -Echochan79

Most Incidental: “Having ADHD means occasionally ‘finding’ money.” –ADHDean

Most Cherished: “Broke banks. Stole hearts. Treasured memories.” –ctgoods2

Toughest Narrative Arc: “Getting a dishwasher saved our marriage.” -MNorway

Most Quarters & Dimes: My previous life relied on payphones.” -BanjoDan

Plus! See how Six Words joined the powerful storytelling that took place at TEDx: Marion Correctional Institution.

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Six Words at TEDx: Marion Correctional Institution


Rusty chained

Rusty Tarbet, co-emcee, TEDxMarionCorrectional

My wife, Piper Kerman, author of Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, and I are in the same business: starting conversations. I created Six-Word Memoirs as a simple way for anyone and everyone to express themselves. When anyone shares six words—on, in a classroom, at speed-dating event or To Write Love on Her Arms meetups—what often happens next is someone else responds with three more words: “Tell me more.” Piper wrote her book in hopes that her story, and those of the women she served time with, would spark conversations about the U.S. criminal justice system and lead many people to also want to explore this issue more deeply.

I love those moments when our work intersects. Such was the case at a recent TEDx event at Marion Correctional Institution, a men’s medium security prison in Marion, Ohio, bringing together speakers from both inside and outside the prison walls, including members of the administration, to talk about the theme “Refolding The Box?”

TEDxMarionCorrectional was the first TEDx held inside an adult male prison. It’s since held three events at Marion Correctional, each co-curated by inmates. Speakers included inmates, correctional officers, and local community members who have worked with the prison population.

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Top Memoirs about the Full Moon

shutterstock_104092787The supermoon inspired many of you these past two weeks. In SixContest #33, we saw the wicked, the scary, the unusual, and the magical. All shared a fantastical essence, but only six can shine under the moonlight. Here are our favorites:

6. “…his dark side is looking good.” -TeaTopper

5. “Cows are jumping; silverware is running.” -Bevvie

4. “My emotions surfaced; this stone cried.” -Jo1454

3. “The stars are wearing their tiaras.” -Solstice22

2. “My boss actually said, ‘Thank You.’” -cuzinvin

And our top moonstruck memoir is…

1. “Everyone is tiptoeing around the asylum.” -catsmeow

Congrats to catsmeow and thanks to everyone who joined in the fun! Whether in our Caption Contests, on FacebookTwitterTumblr or at—keep on Sixing!

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“My son is my promised land.” The Best Six-Word Memoirs of the Week

Best Six (Aug 9 - Aug 15) #2-01 (1)Early nomads traveled in tribes. Each group was like an extended family, with brothers, daughters, wives, and grandchildren all playing an important role for their community. These roles and connections kept them strong and protected. As our Sixers have shown this week, some of those nomadic values remain prevalent today. Their memoirs underscore bonds you want to embrace (“My sister, my friend with context.”) and realities that are tough to swallow (“Parents getting older. Time won’t stop”). They all play a part in the Six-Word tribe, making our family stronger than ever. –Gilmarie Brioso

Best Affection: “My son is my promised land.” –Steve_Anthony

Most Sorrow: “Distant cousins, grief never met relief.” –BanjoDan

Strongest Duality: “My sister, my friend with context.” –sherre

Best Reality: “Sleep: ancient memory to new parent.” –b-sting

Most Honest: “Parents getting older. Time won’t stop.” –cheesehead1976

Most Whimsical: “Son became little sister’s tooth fairy.” –AmyMarieLove

Plus! Today’s the final day! There’s still time to enter this week’s SixContest: “It must be a full moon because…“ Get your responses in by Friday, 8/15 – 3pm ET.

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Six-Word Tributes About Robin Williams


shutterstock_152762195 (1)There is no finer way to connect than through laughter and Robin Williams was a master at indulging this human delight. As people immediately reeled from the shock of his untimely death at age 63, reportedly a suicide, our community turned to Six-Word Memoirs to grapple with the unbelievable news and share their personal responses. Many quickly got to the heart of what made his death so shocking—that depression seemingly led to that point of no return.

It’s almost inconceivable that the man who delivered humor with such intensity, and who conveyed passion like no other, could not maintain that zest for life when he needed it most. But, as Sixer marymc was quick to tell us, “Depression doesn’t care who you are.”

The memoirs shared have expressed sorrow over his passing, gratitude for his legacy, and honor a man who touched us all. Here are a handful of the incredible Six-Word tributes to Robin Williams, many with touching backstories and comments. May he forever rest in peace.

And all of Ork silently mourns.“ –Steve__Anthony 

Robin’s song became a sob. RIP.“ –favepeep

Lights along the Hudson, dimmed again.“ –Honesthead 

No genie could grant his wish.“ –lillybrook

The world is less funny today.“ –DukeRaider

Robin Williams was my Princess Di.“ –JohnBigJohn

Oh captain, my captain, stay funny.“ –notjustagirlintheworld 

Robin made us laugh, now cry.“ –zsuzsa

Expired; stars glow for eons; still.“ –MissUnderstood

My farewell: Robin was a genius.“ –NumbrOneAunt

Dead Poets inspired me to teach.“ –jrmiller 

Now Robin Williams joins the list…“ –LetTheWolfin 

Fame’s difficult. Shame’s even more so.“ –Contemplative

Cronauer said it, Williams owned it.“ –steelponypoet

Laughter is universal. Depression is personal.” –Dawn Bernstein‏ (@dawnbe1229 via Twitter)

The vulnerability of genius is paper-thin.“ –canadafreeze

And you will contribute a verse.“ –Believe

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“My ouija board only uses emoticons.” The Best Six-Word Memoirs Of The Week

Best Six (Today)-01-2

We are incredibly visual creatures. As writers, our words leap off the page to fill that need and images propel those words even further. Not only do our Sixers fashion fantastic images through words, they understand the power images bring to their memoirs. This week’s best memoirs are flooded with imagery. Some of our Sixers’ photos make their words abundantly vivid (“Growing hops for privacy, not beer.”); others add interesting twists to their tales (“Strands of pain tangled in happiness.”). These images create another layer of meaning, making the memoirs more scintillating and profound. —Gilmarie Brioso

Most Modern:My ouija board only uses emoticons.” —JohnBigJohn

Best Green Thumb:Growing hops for privacy, not beer.” —canadafreeze

Most Foreign:Sketching unfamiliar faces of unfamiliar people.” —SmokeForScience

Toughest Narrative Arc:Strands of pain tangled in happiness.” —MissUnderstood

Most Honest:I’m not fat. I’m just McAmerican.” —spelly78_fromtwitter

Most Turbulent:On stormy seas. Need a lighthouse.” —alipie

Plus! Check out the wonderful memoirs from the fifth grade class at Riverdale Country School, whose students paired their words with images to reflect on their year.

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Classroom Of The Month: Fifth Grade Class at Riverdale Country School

When you fall down the rabbit hole of Twitter, you find some amazing tips and projects. As Meg Krause traversed through tweets and replies, she discovered Six-Word Memoirs and shared the project with her fifth grade students. Krause teaches at Riverdale Country School, a K-12 independent school in New York City that honors the whole child. She explains: “I thought they would be intrigued by the concept and indeed they were!”

Krause used Six-Word Memoirs to help her students understand the strength of well-chosen words. “It was also a great lesson in the power of revision as the students wrote and rewrote based on peer feedback,” she adds. Taking the project a step further, Krause asked students to pair their carefully crafted words to powerful visuals: “They loved matching words to images.” Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 2.24.00 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 2.24.12 PM Six-Word Memoirs came to these students during a very special time—fifth grade is the final year of Lower School at Riverdale. The activity gave students a chance to reflect on themselves as learners and their growth throughout the year. As an end-of-year celebration, a video was created to share with parents and faculty. Music accompanied the student’s words and images; the kids singing their graduation song, known at Riverdale as their “moving-up song,” can be heard in the background.

Now Six-Word Memoirs has found a home at Riverdale. “My students loved the activity of creating and sharing their Six-Word Memoirs. It was an especially gratifying experience for my struggling writers,” says Krause. “Six-Word Memoirs is an easy entry point for all students and ​[allows] many ways for students to push themselves.”

We are honored to be part of the Riverdale students’ educational path and hope they carry Six-Word Memoirs with them as their journey proceeds.

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