Have you ever thought about trying to tell your own story? Or that of a loved one? Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share some tips to help you get started.
Lists. The first step is to make lists. Why?
Lists help you organize your life story. Don’t worry about the sequence or even the contents of your lists. Just brainstorm. You can edit down the road, way down the road. Just get your thoughts down on paper, or in the computer.
Lists will help you get your facts and dates straight. When did we move into the new house? Oh, I was in sixth grade and I had Mrs. McNamara for my teacher. Who was there when we moved? Mary, Jane, and Sue? No, not Sue. She wasn’t born yet.
Lists will help resurrect old memories. Oh, yeah, I remember in Mrs. McNamara’s class when we . . .
Making lists may help you identify a theme or focus for your project. Perhaps as you make a list of all the schools you went to, you’ll realize that you were often the new kid in school. Maybe that’s why you like to usher at church. And you’re the first one in the neighborhood to greet newcomers. People say for you, there are no strangers, just friends you haven’t met yet.
Lists can be key in preparing a timeline for your experiences. What kind of lists will you want to make? Here are a few ideas: Stories you want to tell
- Stories you grew up hearing
- Family members, Friends, Schools
- Romantic relationships
- Jobs, Places you lived
- Important events
- Travels, Pets, Hobbies, Cars
- and more
So, if you’ve ever thought about telling your stories or helping someone else tell theirs, start with lists. They will motivate you to keep going. And if you get stuck, remember you can always engage the help of a professional personal historian.
A personal historian can help you from the beginning of your journey or pick it up when your story is coming along but you need assistance. Or if you have stories written but need help putting them together. Or maybe you need someone to edit what you’ve done. Or to assemble your story into a keepsake book.
However you decide to proceed, be sure to capture those treasured stories while you can. There is a Native American proverb: the spirit lives as long as someone who lives, remembers you. How long do you want your loved ones to be remembered?
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