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.
Our minds record touching, bittersweet moments more vividly than a camera could.
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.
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
A case in point of posed versus un-posed photos. Of course, on the left is the question of why my mom would have cut my bangs so short before a formal portrait. However, the photo on the right portrays a more typical story of how my sister entertained herself sticking her finger in my ear. And why I didn’t seem to mind.
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!
When we’re writing our family’s history, we tend to skip over the family health stories.
Have you written about your own or family health stories? Image adapted from “EKG Komplex” by Shizhao, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 Germany
With the exceptions of gory accidents or war injuries, health—or lack of it—gets a subtle billing. It often only rates a simple note of what the attending physician scrawled on a death certificate.
I get it. War stories, including injuries, inspire the imagination. Plus, they possess a certain valor. We’re far removed from a society in which all able-bodied men were expected to serve. And, train-wreck stories rivet us. We’re wired that way. Maybe it’s so we have that “I’m so glad it didn’t happen to me” feeling.Continue reading »
A keynote speaker at RootsTech’s first-ever African Heritage Day, LeVar Burton taught us about storytelling and reaching hearts and minds. By the end, he also had us all reaching for tissues.
During his keynote address at RootsTech, LeVar Burton taught us about storytelling. Photo courtesy of Edgar Gomez
This isn’t another report on my fabulous time at the RootsTech genealogy conference. It’s a testimony on how great storytelling can change perspectives. I just hope I can do it justice.Continue reading »
I recently attended a lecture on telling ancestors’ stories. I found myself stopped short when I heard the speaker say, “We must be proud of our roots.” Although he was trying to make the point that ancestors’ stories can invoke family pride, he lost me. My brain was screaming, “Oh, no, we don’t.” If I limited my ancestors’ stories to those I could be proud of, I’d leave a bunch of folks out.Continue reading »
Does your family story include issues which divided households?
Throughout time, people have disagreed with the people they love. Issues of childrearing, money, faith, culture, religious practices and politics have, on occasion, divided households and hardened hearts. You might immediately think of the present political environment, but this isn’t the first time in history that issues have created emotional schisms among family members and friends
Sometimes, if the animosity has been put to rest, it’s best to leave the story alone like the proverbial sleeping dog. There’s nothing to be gained from revisiting and possibly re-igniting tensions.Continue reading »
The popular TV show Who Do You Think You Are? provides some valuable storytelling insight that we can apply to the narratives of our ancestors. Despite the professional genealogists, unlimited travel budget and celebrities, the show also has some practical storytelling wisdom for memory and family history writers.Continue reading »
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.Continue reading »
Whether it’s online or in the library stacks, research and memoir belong together.
Do research and memoir belong together? Counter intuitive as it sounds, the answer is yes. Though it is true that memoir involves writing about the episodes of your past that already exist in your memory, research can enhance your story. Adding researched details from the past can bring your story alive for your readers.
Working with family historians writing their ancestor’s stories brings this home. They not only provide the meticulously researched (and cited) facts for readers. When they write about their ancestors, they often include a rich background of historical and social context. They don’t do this to fill in the gaps between facts. They use their research to help their readers visualize the events of the past.Continue reading »
The “Dance of Death” stained glass windows in the Bern, Switzerland Munster give a graphic illustration of the fears our ancestors faced.
Understanding the fears our ancestors faced can help us understand their lives. That, in turn, can help us tell their stories. Although it’s hard to know from the meager records we unearth whether an ancestor was an introvert or adventurer, we can form some theories based on historical context. We can also get a better grasp on their everyday lives.Continue reading »