Oct 282014
 
How family will react to your stories and generations

Predicting how family will react to your stories is crucial to making thoughtful decisions about sharing.

When you’re writing about your past, how do you predict how family will react to your stories? Anticipating loved ones reactions can help you decide what to share and with whom you want to share it.

Sunny Morton recently brought up this point as we were recording a podcast for Genealogy Gems (link coming soon). Some people write what they view as innocuous stories. They’re surprised to find their memories raise family members’ hackles. Continue reading »

Oct 202014
 
writing about personal facades and the secret centers

Writing about personal facades can give loved ones a taste of your “secret center.”

Writing about personal facades is a great way to connect with loved ones. Plus, it can be therapeutic.

When I lived in Europe and tromped around medieval cities, I marveled at the intact buildings. Buildings remained as beautiful in the 1980s as they had in the 1510s. Yet modern businesses and households were operating out of them. Their trick? Extensive renovations that didn’t touch the street side facade. The buildings themselves were nothing like the original structures, but through the centuries, the historic fronts were maintained.

Large or small, good or bad, we all have them. What’s your facade? How does it function in your world? Such introspective topics aren’t just good things to discuss with your best friend or therapist (assuming those are two distinct individuals). Your legacy of yourself and your past doesn’t have to be limited to narratives. Continue reading »

Oct 162014
 
man plans god laughs Laura Stay at home mom

I imagine God got quite a giggle from my plans, which didn’t include becoming a stay at home mom.

Recently, I published a post about writing about Things You Didn’t Know, particularly those things that you never dreamed of happening. You know, The Road Less Expected… Following my own advice, here’s my explanation of how I became a stay at home mom instead of a wildly successful female executive.

Up until I had my first child, I thought of myself as a career woman. I wanted to be a mom too, but I scoffed at the idea of becoming a stay at home mom. My dream was to have perfect kids who’d play contentedly while I clambered up the corporate ladder. However, I was unprepared for love and corporate politics. Continue reading »

Oct 132014
 
oral histories versus gossip

Are oral histories less reliable than playground gossip?

As much as we (okay, I) love technology, we sometimes wonder if it isn’t stabbing us in the back. Just as we wonder if access to calculators is undermining our math skills, a case can be made that technology is to blame for the decline of the art of oral histories.

Josh Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, doesn’t point a finger at the Internet. He argues that the Gutenberg Press bears responsibility for the decline of oral histories and the faculty of individual memory. As books became available, people didn’t have to remember everything. They no longer had to pass down stories with great attention to detail and nuance. Continue reading »

Oct 102014
 
Aiming and putting down roots

Putting down roots isn’t a random decision.

The place we choose to settle and put down roots has far reaching (no pun intended) consequences. It’s the community our children call home. It’s the environment in which they form their worldviews. Frequently, it becomes the place children and grandchildren choose to start putting down roots. In other words, it’s something that will matter to future generations. But it’s often a story left untold—especially when it comes to our ancestors. Continue reading »

Oct 062014
 
Things you didn't know

It bears thinking about– things you didn’t know versus what you know now.

Telling your stories means sharing your journey. Every time you write about a memory of something you learned you’re sharing your wisdom. Writing about things you didn’t know lets you address the whole process of becoming older and hopefully wiser. Whether you write a list, essay, journal entry, or even a letter to your younger self, this introspective topic makes great reading.

Imparting Wisdom

You can share the lessons you’ve learned at the school of hard knocks. Juxtapose things you didn’t know against things you now understand:

  • Things you wish you could have relaxed about.
  • Things you wish you had been more careful about
  • Things you wish you had understood more fully
  • Your advice to younger friends and family members

Continue reading »

Oct 022014
 

forgetful personal historian For someone who is all about preserving stories, my memory sucks.

Just the other week my mother-in-law told me a story about a family ring. Apparently, my husband found the ring in the summer cottage and, assuming it wasn’t valuable, gave it to me to wear. My mother-in-law had to have an awkward conversation with my then boyfriend, telling him that she wanted the ring back.

I was appalled at the fact that this episode rang zero bells of familiarity. However, it never occurred to me to doubt the veracity of her story. She simply wouldn’t make up that type of thing—especially as she was in the process of re-gifting the ring to me. Continue reading »

Sep 302014
 
Lists are not just for Santa

Lists aren’t just for the big guy with presents. Start making your own.

My scattered brain loves lists. They calm and organize my distractible why-did-I-come-into-this-room brain. When my brain isn’t preoccupied with finding my glasses or coffee cup, lists feed my creativity.

Lists can be the memory-collector’s best friend. To illustrate this point, I found myself making a list about making lists.

Lists help you remember

Lists, if you don’t forget where you put them, are more permanent than memory. They can become an Idea Bank to store your ideas. (Hmmm… That’s a section of Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life. ) Continue reading »

Sep 252014
 
Family Mysteries

Don’t know what to write about? Write about what you don’t know — like family mysteries.

Why limit yourself to writing about what you know? Everyone loves a good mystery. Things you don’t know make for compelling reading too, especially when it comes to family mysteries.

Family Mysteries Passed Down

In my grandmother’s “Treasure Chest of Memories,” she wrote about a cousin who was found dead in a creek. Although malice was suspected, no one ever solved the mystery.

Is there an unsolved mystery in your family tree—or closet? Ferret out the details so the rest of the family can cogitate over it too. As you write, document what you know, but also articulate what you wish you knew. Continue reading »

Sep 192014
 
writing down memories and stories a blueprint

Just as it’s fun to look at the plans for a house, writing down memories and stories can help you see how a family was built.

It’s not just me. Other bloggers have some great advice when it comes to preserving and sharing  memories and telling family stories and why it matters.

Here are two that give a poignant personal perspective:

Writing Down Memories and Stories: a Blueprint for Life

In Speak Easy: Sometimes memories can make you feel blue, Julie Stroebel writes about remembering playing with her contractor dad’s old blueprints. The feelings that accompanied the rush of recall surprised her. Continue reading »