By Maria Wyllie
Explore Big Sky Staff Writer

LIVINGSTON – Gadanke.com owner Katie Clemons is a self-proclaimed “story catcher.” She’s helped women around the world find meaning in their lives through journal prompts encouraging them to share their stories.

The popularity of these handmade journals, which combine journal and scrapbook elements, landed Clemons as a speaker for a TEDx event in Minot, N.D., in September.

In Clemons’ speech, titled “Story Matters: Empowering Our Community and Lives Through Shared Narrative,” she explains the importance of sharing stories and how gadanke.com came to be.

“TEDx events are a fascinating way for people to share ideas,” Clemons said. “One thing that it’s done for me is connect me with a lot of people who have realized they were kind of like my grandmother and didn’t realize their story mattered.”

Originally from Butte, Clemons was back home in 2007 for her grandmother’s 90th birthday. NPR’s StoryCorps was in town, looking to collect interesting stories from local residents, so Clemons and her grandmother hopped aboard the recording bus. Clemons created a series of prompts for her grandmother, but unfortunately, she couldn’t remember any stories from her past that the prompts beckoned.

It was then that Clemons realized how important journaling is for recording and celebrating one’s life.

Clemons created her first prompt journal while living in Berlin, Germany, with her husband. She was taking German classes full time and realized a lot more people shared the same dilemma as her grandmother. The writing prompts given to the class were key to helping people open up.

Thus she created her blog “Gadanke,” which means “idea” in German. Soon the blog developed into the online journal store it is today.

“My initial goal was to start helping women,” said Clemons, who now lives in Livingston. “I think it was because I often see the average woman as having low self-esteem, and it was really prevalent in my class where women were coming from places like Israel and Pakistan [where] women aren’t [seen] as equals with men.”

Gadanke journals are designed to get at the heart of who you are, unlocking the extraordinary in your life, Clemons noted in her speech.

“When we share our successes and our weaknesses, the power of story is incredible…your life and your story is worthy of celebrating,” she said to the hundred-plus audience.

Gadanke.com’s most popular journal is the “She Journal,” which invites the writer to explore herself and find self-love.

However, although the site began with the goal of empowering women, Gadanke journals are used by both genders.

Clemons’ TEDx talk further delves into the significance of storytelling and can be viewed on YouTube or via the gadanke.com homepage.