Can you give the gift of hope? My pastor would probably say no. He recently gave a sermon in which he argued that hope doesn’t come as a gift, neatly wrapped up. It requires discipline and endurance.
Finding your tribe, the group of people that supports you, or supports a cause you’re invested in, can make all the difference. Knowing you can let your hair down and be yourself is comforting and exhilarating. When it happens, it’s worth writing about.
I experienced this during the last two weeks. A group of family historians came together, interested in maintaining the blogging resources at Geneabloggers.com as curator Thomas MacEntee moved on to other endeavors.
In the hyper-awareness that comes with loss, quite a few bittersweet moments have embossed themselves on my heart and memory. Snapshots of love, grief, and faith, gathered over the last two weeks.
I thought the dearly departed would have enjoyed some of them, were he watching. Perhaps he was. My insights aren’t unique, I’m sure. Such bittersweet moments happen in families all the time. But I found comfort in writing them down. Considering them together, I realize that they tell a story that is as much about the departed as those he left behind.
I hope that by my sharing them, you’ll record a few of your own.
Though poignant, stories of forgiveness can be difficult to write. They call for us to reveal the dark times of our relationships with our family, friends, or even faith. Telling heartfelt stories of forgiveness push us even further than the proverbial long honest look in the mirror. They require us to admit to the world what the reflection revealed.
Stories of Forgiveness
Perhaps because of forgiveness’ elusiveness or our own limited ability to harness its power, stories of forgiveness make for compelling reading. If you doubt their popularity, just do a Google search. Readers’ Digest, Real Simple, and The Huffington Post all offer compilations of stories of forgiveness, as does The Forgiveness Project.
As a newly minted Legacy Republic consultant, I seized on the opportunity at RootsTech 2017 to get to know the company’s leadership better. (Disclosure: I’m a Legacy Maker or consultant. As such I receive financial compensation from orders placed through me or my personal Legacy Republic site. That said, I believe in Legacy Republic’s mission and services. They are the reason I joined.)
During Rootstech2016, Legacy Republic’s president Brian Knapp was busy unveiling their new Studio scanner, the 2nd place winner in the Innovator Summit. This year, things were a little less hectic. However, Brian was no less enthusiastic about the company’s mission. In addition, he had time to explain Legacy Republic’s commitment to helping family historians tell stories.
View the interview below to hear more about how Legacy Republic helps family storytellers highlight the moments that matter.
Legacy Republic and Storytelling
Sharleen Reyes, the company’s VP of Marketing impressed me as well. She took time to sit with me and give me insight into how Legacy Republic translates their mission into a marketing strategy. Sharleen isn’t what my former life in international business would have lead me to expect out of a VP of Marketing. She’s unpretentious, open to new ideas, and has a mile-wide creative streak.
She doesn’t believe in scare tactics. Though it’s true that media is degrading, particularly VHS media, Legacy Republic frowns on scaring customers into getting every linear foot of video and film in the house digitized. The mission is to get important memories out of closets and to share them with family.
Which is why, Sharleen explains, Legacy Republic prefers the person-to-person relationship model rather than a traditional sales force. In fact, Legacy Republic trains their Legacy Makers to back away from “selling.” Instead, they are coached to simply help customers and trust that sales opportunities will develop organically—or not—out of trusted relationships.
Choosing the Moments that Matter
Sharleen and Brian gave a presentation at RootsTech on choosing those moments that matter. In it, they stressed that the moments that matter are not necessarily the ones in which everyone wears in coordinated outfits and stands in front of an attractive backdrop. It might not even be the one with perfect focus and composition. Rather, they’re the ones that express a moment of personalities and relationships. The ones that give rise to stories. That’s a valuable takeaway for storytellers.
There are stories lurking in your closets. Look back at media—still or film or video—and choose a couple of ones that have stories which flow from them. Now go tell those stories!
Who’s your personal hero? Who’s protected you physically? Who inspires you to be a better version of yourself? One of my heroes has never been in a situation to do the former, although I’m sure she would. I can’t count the times my personal hero inspired me and taught me that love always wins.
I met Gail in 1998, on the day before my parents’ funeral. The daughter-in-law of my mom’s best friend, she didn’t know my parents well, but wanted to help. Her two boys were the same ages as my boys, two and four. She offered to provide childcare, whenever we needed it.
Many times, taking a step back from stories allows us to truly understand them. Until we separate ourselves from events, we see them only through our own eyes. We know what happened, but we don’t know what it really means. We don’t realize all the implications.
Taking a step back can also help us see how our stories connect to each other and how they continue to influence our lives.
If you didn’t read Do Memoir and Research Belong Together? you might wonder why’d I compile a list of genealogy resources for memoirists and memory writers. Before you yell, “BAHHHH Research” and run (or click) away, stay with me. This list of genealogy resources for memoirists will help you incorporate historical details that bring your memories to life. The facts you gleam make a great way to “show, not tell” the settings of your stories, increasing your readers’ understanding of your past.
Update: This contest is now closed. The lucky winner is Kim S.
Want to attend RootsTech 2017? RootsTech has some promotional pricing, but here’s the best deal: Win a Free RootsTech Pass right here.
Full disclosure: It’s not on my dime. All RootsTech Ambassadors get one 4-day pass ($299 value) to give away to one of their followers. We also get a complimentary pass for ourselves, but, like whoever wins this free RootsTech Pass, we pay for our own travel and hotel accommodations.
The pass includes keynote and general sessions, over 200 classes, including Getting Started classes, the Innovator Summit, and evening cultural events.
If you’re not familiar with RootsTech, here’s the skinny:
It’s hard to know where to start writing your ancestor stories. Sometimes it helps to look at potential stories from different perspective. Instead of looking at the plethora of facts and deciding what to write, look at the following first lines for story ideas.
Which relative or ancestor do they remind you of? What stories could you tell about them? Choose a few prompts and try writing a vignette or two. If you were born before 1950, many of these will also work for your own memories.