Memories Across Time

Helping to preserve and keepsake special people & moments in your life.


Leave a comment

Writing Your Life Story – Where to Begin

Some people decide they want to write their entire life story without thinking about what this might entail. While this can be an overwhelming and challenging undertaking, it can also be one of your proudest moments as you hold the finished product in your hand – a document of your life, on paper.

Determining where and how to start can be overwhelming. After all, the mere thought of documenting decades of your memories, events, challenges and joys is enough to make anyone put down their pen and give up. “Do not despair! For those of you wishing to document your life across the decades, here are a few easy tips to help simplify the process of getting started:

  1. Consider why you are writing your story. Is it for your children? Your grandchildren? Do you want to give them a look at who you were or who currently are? Do you want to document some great, significant life accomplishments or events from your life? Or are you writing this for your own sense of self-satisfaction?
  2. Think about what and when you want to focus on. Do you want your story to start from your earliest memory, or perhaps a specific time period in your life – perhaps one of challenge or a fork in the road that brought you to where you are today? There is no set rule to what span of time or events you should focus on. The choice is up to you.
  3. Get organized. Before sitting down to write, make a list of what you want to write about. You might even create an outline to help you along. Spark your memory for story prompts. Look through photos, saved greeting cards, children’s drawings – any papers you might have at home, or at relative’s homes, that will generate a memory for a story you might like to write.
  4. Think about if you will follow a theme through your story. Do you want to focus on your accomplishments? Your family? Community? Most likely your story or stories will revolve around a main theme however, you might find that as you compile your stories, a major theme unfolds, one that your memoir can wrap itself around as the theme, or even title, of your book.  Remember, your life story can focus on just one part of your life or be a comprehensive book that spans your lifetime. Regardless of what you decide upon, choosing a central theme for your story is a way to maintain cohesiveness throughout your storytelling.
  5. Consider how you want to be remembered. As you write your stories, consider how you want to be known and remembered. After all, these stories are about you, good and well, or perhaps not so good! Think about how you want your readers to know and remember you and be sure to let them know this in the stories you write. Show some emotion. Let the reader connect with you on a personal level. Often, some of the best life stories are those where the reader feels he is living your life with you, complete with good times and challenging ones.

And most importantly, write, and keep writing. Don’t be afraid to start or think you don’t have enough stories to start writing. Just write. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling right away. The important thing is to get your thoughts on paper. Editing can come later. And if you don’t feel like writing one day, not to worry. Write when the mood strikes. Writing your stories should come from your heart rather than a place of “I must” or “I should”.

We’ll talk more about details with writing your lifestory, writing other lifestories, and how to publish your stories, in future posts. In the meantime, you might want to read this article which gives a great way to organize and think more about your life story when you are just starting out:

10 Themes of Legacy Writing

Happy writing!


Leave a comment

7 Simple Ways to Create Memories

Many memories are created when you least expect it. They’re not forced nor are they planned. They come from the experience and feeling of the event. They can be made at large family events, or during the smallest moments – like baking cookies with your kids, taking a walk with your parents, playing a board game with your family, the laughter of a moment, or the tears of another. They can be based on traditions, rituals, or every day life, and often happen when we find ourselves breaking out of our daily routines and experiencing something new.

If the idea of breaking your routine sends chills down your spine, I, too, know this feeling. And the more I think of it, the harder it becomes. What I’ve learned is that breaking out of a routine doesn’t have to be challenging.  The simpler you keep it, the easier it is, both to do AND to experience.

Here are 7 simple, low stress ways to break out of your routine and hopefully create new memories:

  1. Try something new. We all have hobbies and things we love to do. Most likely, we don’t share all our same interests with our kids, our spouse or our friends and families. Why not try something you’ve never done before and see what happens? If your spouse loves playing video games to relax, try playing one with him. If your kids play soccer every evening in your yard, try joining them one night for some family fun. If one of your friends loves hosting parties and cooking new foods, offer to host and cook for a future party. You might find you enjoy these new experiences so much that they start to become part of your ‘new’ routine.
  2. Take a walk. Being in nature can refresh your mind, body and spirit. Taking a walk and getting fresh air can turn a bad mood into a good one. A walk by yourself can allow you to be more present in your life.  You can also walk with others. For those of you with children, a short walk can be the perfect time to hunt for treasures, identify different types of cars, flowers and trees along your stroll. With your partner, it can be some quiet ‘we’ time.
  3. Go on a trip. Whether it be a three hour or weekend get away, taking a trip can be a good way to get out of your routine and have new experiences. Even a one hour trip to a new playground, park, beach, or even shopping mall or thrift store – being in a new environment can open you up to new experiences to take home as new memories.
  4. Be creative. When my oldest son was three years old, he was painting on some paper. He decided to take it a step further and see what would happen if he painted himself. The next thing I knew, his entire arm was painted red and blue.  He told me he was Spiderman! Despite my anxiety at the thought of cleaning him up, I couldn’t help but laugh at his imagination and creativity. You don’t have to be an artist or a crafty person to create. All you need is imagination. Whether it’s colored pencils, paint, stickers or a sheet of paper, you have easy tools at your fingertips. Sit down by yourself and give yourself permission to have fun. No masterpieces allowed! Just the feeling of freedom and experience that comes from the simple act of creating that allows for a new memory.
  5. Find a cause and volunteer. Do you have time on your hands and are feeling bored? Consider volunteering for an event. There are plenty of options as organizations are always looking for volunteers.  Take part in a charity walk, write letters to soldiers, sick children or adults in the hospital, or walk dogs at your local animal shelter. If you have children, enlist them in volunteering as well.
  6. Be spontaneous! As a planner, I love and need routine. Oftentimes, it’s hard from me to stray from what I’ve planned out in my mind, and my written planner. But, I’m learning to be more spontaneous, if only for a half hour or an hour … even a day. I’m learning to take one day a week to just go with the flow of the day. I guarantee you, you’ll have new experiences and from this and new feelings and memories to consider. And finally….
  7. Let your kids make the plans…and be present with them. If you have children, why not let them plan the day? Let them take the reigns on how to spend a few hours or even an entire day. Maybe they want to play with Legos, color, bake cookies, or just watch movies all day.  Or maybe they want to do a variety of things, inside and outside. Whatever the day brings, document it with photos. You might even want to capture some of their comments in writing for future use. Be present with your children, play with them – experiencing and helping to make memories with them, for them and for you, but also give them their own alone time, time that also assists them in memory making.

 

Getting our of our daily routine can open new doors to create and welcome fresh memories for yourself and loved ones. What could be more wonderful than this?


Leave a comment

Catch a Memory, Pass It On

Memories fade, traditions change, people grow apart, and once we’ve passed on, our memories pass on too. But words and photos can live on, if well preserved.

So often people tell me they wished they’d taken a picture of an event, a person, or a celebration. They say this because they regret not having a visual image of a moment in time they wished they had captured. Today, in the days of Smart phones with built-in instant camera access, it’s not hard to take photos of daily life or special events. But to some, taking photos, or jotting down notes to capture these moments doesn’t come naturally.

I’ve always had an instinctual passion to preserve my memories. Whether it’s been through photo books, quote books, journals, or keepsakes, it’s been important for me to physically record people and events in my life so that it’s captured for the future. Certainly it’s easy to take thousands of pictures over a span of time but when you look back at these pictures what will you remember about them? Will you remember why you were crying in one, or why you saved a photo of a cardinal on the tree in your backyard? What about the photo of your child laughing so hysterically he had tears running down his cheeks or a smile on his face? What was happening that prompted you to take that picture? For some, they want to capture the moment in photos and words. They want others who see the photo and written memory to feel as though they are living the moment itself.

Capturing photos and written memories is key in being able to memorialize a moment for future reflection. A photo memory can remind one of how things were and how they’ve changed. They can elicit an emotion of the past or current. This blog is one way I can preserve the stories of my life and the people in it. One day I’ll gather all these stories together and preserve them in printed book form for each of my children. Hopefully through this type of memoir they’ll get to know me more deeply and perhaps more meaningfully.

If you’re interested in preserving some of your memories but don’t know where to start, the best thing I can tell you to do is start simple and small. Take pictures, print them and put them in a small photo album with a scribbled note about what you wish to remember. Be sure to date the photo and note or identify any people in the photo as there’s nothing worse than looking at a picture sometime in the future and not knowing who the people are or when the photo was taken. For you digital people reading this, you might want to keep a Word document with your notes and photo insertion, saving the document as you finish a page. I’ll be writing future blog posts about ways to preserve memories but for now, I hope you find this a good start.

It really doesn’t matter how you choose to preserve your memories. The important part is that you do so in a way that keeps these memories from fading over time. We have the opportunity to tell our stories such that they stand the span of time. When and how will you begin?


Leave a comment

Importance of Memory Preservation

What is family memory preservation and why is it important?

Memory preservation is a way of telling our stories, saving our stories and leaving our marks in the world – with our family, our friends, even the people at our places of work and in our social lives.  What we preserve of our stories becomes placeholders in time, knitting and bridging the memories and tines of our lives with the lives of others.

We and the events in our lives take their place in the larger history of our community…even world history!  Our stories can even become part of a larger sociological and archaeological history.  Can you imagine one of your photos or stories, a torn page of a photo album or journal being unearthed generations from now? What would the person who discovered this think? What would they want to know about you, your life, and what this shard of history meant in the microcosm and macrocosm of life?

Memory preservation is about remembering, documenting and putting into form the people and events that have occurred in your life.  Memory preservation provides the means by which to tell and share life stories, in a variety of ways:

  • Autobiographical writing (life story writing, life story books, scrapbooks/journals)
  • Photo preservation, scrapbooks memory books, photo albums, digitized photos, memory calendars, and quilts
  • Heirloom and letter preservation
  • Oral histories
  • Video biographies
  • Genealogy

When we think of the importance of memory preservation, we think about how we’d like to be remembered.  We think about the legacy we want to leave behind.

Many people who write life stories like to write them about the places they’ve been, the people they’ve met and the things that have happened to them … funny, sad and everything in between. They like to write about family, hoping their children will know how much they’re thought about and loved, and how important they are in their parent’s lives.  Grandparents often write life stores to remember the events in their lives and leave a legacy for their children and grandchildren.

People often want to contribute to their larger world in this lifetime and the next. Our life stories can give context to our lives as they were. Perhaps too, whomever finds this part of you will be interested enough to search out greater pieces of your life and try to connect a photo to a story … a reunion of sorts.

Memory preservation is about the future as much as it is about the present and the past. Our lives are important; our stories are unique.  Consider how you can contribute to making memory preservation a part of your life.


Leave a comment

C is for Cookie

Food seems to spark a lot of memories for people. It can bring back emotions and memories of holiday meals, bonding over cooking campfire food, and special family “secret recipe” dishes. For me, one of my earliest memories involving food was going to my gramma’s house.

Eatingatgrammas1988a copy

My brothers and me after a breakfast of lumpy cream of wheat.

I remember always looking forward to trips to her house. Once we got through the VERY long hour and a half car ride to her house, I knew a lot of fun times were waiting for me. My gramma and I had a lot of fun together. I’d hide under this tiny little table in her living room and wait for her to find me. We’d play Old Maid together and watch tv shows before falling asleep. She’d cook me “lumpy” cream of wheat for breakfast every morning and we’d hang out in her basement playing ping pong. But the best thing I remember about going to gramma’s house is the chocolate chip cookies she baked for my brothers and me. These were not just any chocolate chip cookie. These were chocolate chip cookies times 10!

Gramma’s chocolate chip cookies were so big that we needed two hands to carry them. And, they took us a couple of days to finish. AND, they had the initial of our first name spelled out in the middle of them with these tiny, delicious, chocolate chips. But, the very best thing about them was before we could eat them, we had to find them as they were hidden in her house!

Gramma would hide them anywhere they would fit. My brothers and I would run around the house searching for the cookie with our initial on it. And no, if you found someone else’s you couldn’t tell them! I remember finding one in the bathtub, under the bed, and in the closet.

It’s been 13 years since we lost my gramma but the memory of her and the chocolate chip cookie lives on. I have yet to make a giant cookie for my boys but I will soon. Hopefully, it will become one of our traditions and a wonderful memory for each of them. My oldest son already loves baking with me, especially licking the spoon. I’m sure he’ll enjoy running through the house looking for his cookie (with his initial on it?) and I might have to make some dog cookies for our two little food snatchers to keep them away from the real ones. Maybe too, I’ll even change the game into a scavenger hunt or plant clues in various places in order to find the hidden cookies.So many possibilities to start OUR new tradition!

Tell me, what is your earliest and most happy memory involving food?

743229-R1-32-32_033

My gramma, Ruth.


Leave a comment

Doggy Love

I love my dogs. I mean, I realllllllllllllly love my dogs.

The year I turned 11, I opened one of my Hanukkah presents from my parents. It was a stuffed poodle. I looked at them with a confused expression – why would an 11 year old want a stuffed poodle? Then I read the card. It said something along the lines of “this was a substitute until we got a real one next summer.” I was ecstatic! We were getting a dog!!!

The following summer, my mom brought home a six month old cocker spaniel named Lady. The first day I met her I was terrified. I tried to hold her but she was squirming around in my arms so much that I ended up dropping her on her back. I was so upset that I ran into the house and wouldn’t come out.

Over the years though, Lady and I became best buds. My siblings and I would dressher up as an astronaut by putting tinfoil over her paws. We’d take her rollerblading (she ran while we held onto the leash and she pulled us) and, we’d sneak her animal crackers when my parents weren’t looking.

Lady2003b

My beloved Lady.

We lost Lady when she was just shy of 13 years. I had never felt a loss like this before.

It took five years before I was ready to get another dog. I was dating Ben, who would later become my husband. After a year of dating, he took a job opportunity in New Jersey with the plan that I’d move there six months later. Before he moved, we went looking for a dog, another cocker spaniel of course, and a few hours later I was on the phone with my mom shedding tears of joy and shouting “We got a puppy!!! We named him Jasper!!!”

I documented Jasper’s every move much like a new mom would her newborn. I took photos of his first bath, his first time walking up the stairs by himself, his first trip to the vet, the first time he lost one of his teeth, his first birthday, and the first time he

FullSizeRender-4 copy

Jasper, the night I brought him home.

played with his ball. I was hopelessly in love. Jasper and I moved to New Jersey six months later where we were happily reunited with Ben.

Then came Frou (pronounced “Froo”), a companion for Jasper. I was taking Jasper over to our new pet sitter who, unbeknownst to me, was fostering a beautiful female cocker spaniel. I never thought about getting a second dog but when I saw how Jasper and Frou interacted together, it was like they were dog soulmates. I bounced back home and begged Ben to get a second dog. He was hesitant, saying it would be a lot of work and expense but in the end, he agreed to let Frou come over on a trial basis. Eight years later she’s still a part of our family and we now refer to our dogs simply as “Frousper”.

Jasper and Frou have helped make our home joyful. However, since our kids were born, Jasper and Frou’s outside playtime has been shorter and they often get shushed when they are barking while the baby is sleeping. There are moments though, in the middle of the night when I’ve just put Cameron back to sleep and I’m the only one awake, that I’ll sit on the couch and Jasper will jump up, curl on my lap, and we snuggle, taking me back to the days when it was just the two of us.

If we are fortunate enough, Frousper will be with us for many years. I often think about how we will all cope the day we lose them. I know I will be heartbroken, but I also know there will be so many happy memories to reflect upon. Hopefully, my children will have wonderful memories of them too, regardless of how old they are.

To preserve my memories of them, I created a dedicated photo journal of our moments together. I also took one of my favorite photos of each of them and after two months, and 10,000 stitches per photo, turned them into decorative pillows that grace our couch today.

If you have pets, how do your preserve your moments and memories of them?


Leave a comment

Meeting Little Brother

“Mommy, you have a baby in your belly,” my 3-yr old son told me one day when I picked him up from school. I laughed and told him how cute he was. A few days later, I found out we were expecting our second child.

Logan was so excited at the thought of being a big brother. He couldn’t wait to meet the new baby, share his toys, and have someone at home to play with. I told him how awesome it was to have siblings, sharing growing up stories with him about my sisters and brothers. I couldn’t wait to see the memories they would build throughout the years.

Honestly though, I wasn’t sure how he would transition once his new brother arrived. I’d read and heard about regression that might happen when you bring home a new baby and new feelings of confusion, jealousy, and even anger that may arise. So I did what I could to prepare him to meet this new person who would soon be filling our home with laughter, cries, screams and smiles. We read books about being a big brother, sorted through old clothes that were once his that now his brother would soon wear, and talked about what it would be like to have a brother.

Shortly before my due date, I took Logan shopping to choose a toy to give his new brother when he arrived. He chose a small car rattle that made noises when shaken. We found a little bag, placed the toy inside, and then put the bag in the car to have at the hospital when the time came.

I also wanted to do something special for Logan for after the baby arrived. I researched the Internet for ideas about ways to introduce new babies to their siblings and found a great one for a ‘Big Brother Bag’ – a bag that the new baby “gives” to their sibling after they are born.

I filled this bag with lots of goodies – a coloring book, new cars, a book about being a big brother, snacks, a puzzle, and a small art kit I’d sewn – all things to keep him busy at the hospital. I hid the bag in our closet for a few weeks hoping Logan wouldn’t find it before it was time. Fortunately, he didn’t!

IMG_0236

All the goodies in the bag!

Once Cameron arrived, Logan was the first one (after Daddy of course) tomeet him. He quietly walked into the hospital room, unsure of what was going on or why he was there. He curled in my lap and seemed to finally make the connection that the little baby that used to be in my belly was now sleeping in a tiny little bed next to mine. A few minutes later,he leaned over to see the baby and I could see excitement and love shine through his eyes and in his smile. He took the bag with the little car toy in it and showed it to Cameron and then tucked it away for when Cameron got a little bigger and could play with it. I told him Cameron also brought him a little gift and handed him the bag. He quickly ripped everything open and busily occupied himself with all the fun gifts his new little brother had brought him.

What a fun way this was to make an older sibling feel special during this very memorable family moment. If you have more than one child, what are some things you did that made your older child(ren) feel special when you had a baby?

IMG_1124

Logan meeting little brother, Cameron.