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 »

Sep 172014
Rites of Passage Confirmation

Childhood rites of passage aren’t just the big things, like this confirmation. They’re also the tiny moments.

We think of childhood rites of passage as the big things, the things that are widely celebrated and photographed. Such rites include the first day of school, riding a bike without training wheels, and confirmation or bar or bat mitzvahs. These biggies help the child and families (and community) accept the child’s changing role.

However, we all know that maturation takes place on a continuum. As wonderful as the celebrations and acknowledgements are, they’re not the only moments that matter. If we think about it, we all had moments that marked an achievement for us that weren’t celebrated—or even acknowledged. Often we couldn’t even articulate or share them. Continue reading »

Sep 112014
Connect using social media

Using social media you can connect with family around the world–or you can ignore family in your own living room.

There’s a lot of debate on whether social media does more to isolate us than it does to connect us with others as well as a few disturbing studies.

Of course, it depends on how you use it. Here are seven ways to connect using social media.

Using Social Media to Reach Out

Using social media can allow you to “be there” when you’re far away. The danger is when you ignore actual relationships in favor of virtual ones. Here’s a case in point: Continue reading »

Sep 092014

Crymes Family Grave Marker There’s no question that grave markers are an invaluable resource for birth and death dates, full names, and family connections. However, when we try to tell a person’s story, we often over look them or give them only passing attention. We look for something more dynamic than a cold stone to illustrate someone’s personal history.

But grave markers are more than a resource. They’re a memorial to a life that has passed. And many times, if you listen and observe closely, they also tell a story. Continue reading »

Sep 052014
Teresa very bad day

Like Alexander in the book, my niece had some very bad days. When they happen to us as adults, it can be a good idea to write about them.

With my compliments to Judith Viost and her Alexander

Sometimes when a day is over, you want to forget it. Put it behind you. It’s the last thing you want to memorialize in any way whatsoever.

That might be what’s best for you—and the rest of us. However, there are some tantalizing reasons to do the opposite. There are some good reasons to write about no good terrible horrible very bad days.

Very bad days connect you.

Continue reading »

Sep 022014
Remember September indian summer

As the season and calendar changes, it’s a great time to remember Septembers past.

Ah, September. It’s the month that marks the end of summer. It’s when school goes back into full swing. Kids go to college. Here in the northern hemisphere, the days become noticeably shorter.

As a child, September was a time to look forward. I was usually excited to go back to school. Having a September birthday, I’d start making my lists as soon as the calendar changed. In fact, I was a little confused by Tom Jone’s crooning on the radio about trying to remember Septembers that were mellow.

Now I get those lyrics. September lends itself to retrospection. Trees start turning, or in the case of the cottonwood at the edge of my yard (notice I’m not admitting ownership), throwing down clumps of leaves. At the lake where my in-laws live, Labor Day weekend is marked by frenetic action followed by complete quiet. Families pull in their docks and boat covers and batten down the hatches for the coming Michigan winter. There’s a sense of transition, if not ending. Continue reading »

Aug 262014
Preserve memories before they change - zoo shots

To preserve memories before things changed, I took photos of the kids at their favorite spots at the zoo.

Usually we focus on recalling—and sharing—events from the past. Sometimes, however, we have the opportunity to preserve memories before things change. In fact, that’s why we keep travel journals and scrapbook about our children.

Life Transitions

Times where we sense that we’re on the precipice of change are bittersweet. We know the moments are special and we want to live in the moment. On the other hand, we know the moments are fleeting. The latter makes the former difficult. Continue reading »

Aug 212014
Throw back Thursday

Throw back Thursday: My boys and I

I keep seeing my life—well at least the last eighteen to twenty years of it—flash before my eyes.

It’s probably because my nest is emptying next week, as my youngest heads off to college. Everywhere I go, sweet memories creep into my peripheral vision, denying me focus. Part of me is sad that they’re just memories, that times have changed and the kids are grown. Part of me is grateful for their presence, however ephemeral. I like playing the old filmstrips.

Passing a soccer field reminds me of all the practices and games. As I ride my bike through a park, I remember countless days on the hiking trails, looking at bugs, running from bees, and ending up on the play structures. I remember watching my kids and their playmates swing and slide while talking to the other moms. Continue reading »

Aug 192014
Reminders of home sheets

Reminders of home can include soft sheets. Of course there’s a risk they’ll be used for a toga party.

As kids embark for college, we want to provide them some reminders of home for their dorm rooms. It’s not only for their benefit. As much as we want them to be happy and successful, we also want them to think fondly of the home we’ve provided them for the last 18+ years.

When I was a college freshman, my mom helped my roommate and I set up our dorm room. After her bargain hunting, we not only had matching comforters, but matching curtains as well. I don’t know what happened to my comforter, but twenty-years later, my roommate’s dachshund had possession of hers. Continue reading »

Aug 142014
where to start telling your stories

Where to start is a personal question–the answer varies from person to person.

Interviewers frequently ask me, “Where should people start if they want to write down their memories?” Although I sense a little disappointment with my “It depends…” there’s no pat answer on where to start. It is—and should be in my opinion—a personal decision.

That said, it’s easier to start some places than others. Here’s a list of good ways to start

Start with what comes easy.

This is actually the underlying logic of my book, Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life. It progresses from the easy to more difficult. Continue reading »