Story and Why
Visit our Blog
for news - views -
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
quality family history and life story news, views, methods, products,
...and whatever else catches our fancy
blog archive index
The "point and click" of a mouse with computer is something we all were
amazed at when it was new. Just wait until multi-touch interface becoms
standard with computers. You will be able to use your hands and fingers
to "sculpt" designs or photo-edit and much, much more.
Check out this mind-blowing demonstration by Jeff Han - here.
It is the Memorial Day weekend. This is the traditional start
of summer with many people heading out to lakes, mountains, camping,
fishing and other vacation getaways. Or gathering together for backyard
cookouts (which is what my family and I are doing today). And that is
all fine and good.
It is also a weekend to remember our veterans, particularly those who
died in service to our country (United States). Over this
weekend you might want to visit this link to find out more
Hong Kingston and her latest book, Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace.
She was interviewed by Bill Moyers for his PBS program Bill Moyers Journal.
This book by Kingston is the culmination of her work the past
15 years with veterans of World War II, Vietnam and even Iraq.
She has coaxed out of them written stories and poems that she
believes will help them cope and survive. This is good work -
life story reminiscing with the power to heal and to move us to a place
of greater appreciation for what soldiers go through in war.
If we are honest we discover that the story of our lives is colored by
how we personally see it. We all have "our version" of our
life story. That's not bad, but it may not be the complete
story, or the one that others see. Of course, everyone has
an opinion, so the version of our life that others see isn't always the
complete picture either.
An article in the New
explores what researchers are
discovering about people who have composed narratives of their life.
What psychologists are apparently finding from their
research is that the human brain has a natural affinity for narrative
structure. It also appears your personality and how you view your
experiences makes a big difference in the nature of your life stories.
An example given, "Those with mood problems have many good memories,
but these scenes are usually tainted by some dark detail. A note of
disappointment seems to close each narrative phrase. By contrast,
so-called generative adults — those who
score highly on tests measuring
civic-mindedness, and who are likely to be energetic and involved
— tend to see many of the events in their life as
linked by themes of redemption."
No real surprise there, but I found some good insight from reading this
article. You can find the article, This
Is Your Life (And How You Tell It), here.
I just saw more press about the growth of memoir writing with the help
of professional personal historians. It's an article in the Business Edge
from Ontario, Canada. The article quotes Association of
Personal Historians (APH)
President Jeanne Archer about the growing trend of personal history
Two other personal historians, Jennifer Campbell and Samantha Reynolds,
are also mentioned. Each of them got into the field initially
motivated by the desire to preserve family member's history.
It is so important to not wait, because things can happen,
health issues can affect memories and, of course, we all have a finite
number of days for our lives and we usually don't know what that number
Reynolds business, Echo Memoirs, has really taken off
and about half of her work is for corporate histories.
Businesses who truly care about their heritage and want to
pay tribute to their hard workers (past and present) can find great
benefit in a corporate history. Her fees are not inexpensive,
but she reinforces the same points I make to prospects, that the number
of hours of intensive interviewing, transcribing, writing and editing
are necessary to create a lasting legacy.
Here's the link to this article.
May is a month when the warmer weather kicks in, new things grow and we
have holidays like Mother's Day and Memorial Day.
For personal historians we also consider May to be Personal History Month.
What can that mean for you? Why not seriously consider starting a
family or life story project? There are many ways to preserve
your story (and this website gives you
many ideas). There are also many ways to get started.
A very valuable, and practical, first step is to start a "memory list".
Start by creating a list of all the various memories from
your life (or the person whose story you are preserving) that you
consider significant. Use
phrases that give enough information so that when you refer back to the
list you remember what you meant. Playing baseball as a kid
is not as good as my
first little league game.
You might want to read an article I wrote three years ago - Memories for the Merry Month of
There is something special about a Mother's love for her children.
I think we all know that. Not everyone had a good
childhood and some people have unfortunately not had the benefit of a
good relationship with their mom, or even know who she was.
However, the special call of motherhood is prevalent among
many women and I'm grateful that many women pass that special love on
to others including those who perhaps have been missing a mother's love.
I am sure I gave my mom a few gray hairs as a teenager and young man,
but after I "settled down" we enjoyed a rich and rewarding
relationship, even if we were separated my the many miles between
Kansas City and the various place I have lived. Today is the
first Mother's Day since she passed away last June and I certainly feel
bittersweet. I miss her. But I am grateful for her
lessons, care, patience and unconditional love.
I'm thinking today, too, about other women I know that are answering
the call of motherhood. My sister, my relatives, my
sister-in-law, mother-in-law and various friends - we men don't show
our appreciation as much as we should, but we have gratitude
for all your do.
If you are curious about the origin of Mother's Day check visit Wikipedia and read about Julia Ward Howe and
her 1870 Mother's
Are you still scrambling for a Mother's Day gift? Why not
give your Mum a "Memory Jar"? This is an idea I saw from APH
member Annie Payne (of Perth, Australia - www.historyfromtheheart.com.au).
This lasting Mother's Day gift idea is relatively simple and easy to
assemble. Select a jar with a lid – a coffee jar will do.
Purchase some ribbon and a loose-leaved note book. Write out your list
of questions for Mum to answer on to a sheet of paper and cut them into
strips. Fold the strips and place them into the Memory
Jar. Seal the Memory Jar and tie a ribbon bow on
it. On the cover of the note book, write
‘Mum’s Memory Jar 2007’.
On Mother’s Day, give the Memory Jar and notebook to your mom
ask her if she would spend 10 minutes a day/week/month selecting a
question from the jar, sticking the question onto a page in the
notebook and writing her response to the question.
Some suggested questions are:
Where/when did you first meet Dad and what was your first impression?
Describe your childhood home, inside and out?
How would you describe your mother to someone who had never met her?
What is your favorite work? What is your least favorite work?
What is the hardest part of being a parent?
What was the best time of your life? Why?
Once your mother has completed the questions, tear the pages out of the
and, in consultation with her, put them into a sequence before writing
the answers into a memoir type of format, which can be accompanied by
relevant photos or memorabilia. That's a gift that will keep both you
and your mother engaged for a whole year and preserve some valuable
Thanks to Annie Payne for the idea!
It is always a pleasure to discover other passionate life-story
providers, especially fellow APH
(Association of Personal Historians) members. Areille Nobile
of Family Legacy
Productions is passionate about life-story work and her
company creates very professional video documentaries. You
can find out more about the services she provides, as well as her
interesting background (do check at the about the artist section!) at the Family Legacy Productions website.
I love to get heartfelt letters and emails from friends and family.
But there is also the wonderful times when I get to hear
their voices. Sometimes it is on the phone that we can share
our lives. It's better in person, but when the miles separate
you then the phone is a good option.
Whatever way you like to preserve memories and share your story is fine
with me. There is no one right
way. So, you might want to explore what Voice Quilt
offers. I haven't tried it yet, but it is an interesting
idea. Through their website they offer a service where you
and your group of friends can purchase phone time and record your
greetings, best wishes and memories. The finished product is
packaged in an heirloom-quality keepsake (they have different options,
like a very nice music box) or your can download the audio.
could work well for special occasions (such as birthdays and
anniversaries) or as a way to collect memories for an oral history.