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Personal Life History Project and Memory Joggers

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I haven’t mentioned it here in the blog, but over the past 22 days I’ve been working on a very special project.  For the first time ever, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo.  Now, I’m not writing an original fiction novel like a lot of people are – I am trudging through the challenge of learning to write my own personal life history into a book.   I was inspired to take on this project because I have realized more and more lately that I don’t have a lot of childhood memories left.  I know that the only way to combat my awful memory is to record the memories that I do have NOW.  I’m really sad that I can’t remember a lot of details of my own life, but it is not only that.  Since my parents passed away, I have no way of knowing much about their childhood, how things were when they grew up, their life dreams.  Back when I was a child, I wasn’t too interested in hearing these sorts of things, and now I wish so much that I would have been.  So I find myself needing lots of creative memory joggers to help me out.

I can’t stop thinking about how cool it would be to have a book that my mother, or my father, or my grandma, or even my great great great grandmother wrote about their lives!  Wouldn’t that be so cool?  I mean, it wouldn’t have to be a book even, but just some diary or journal entries.  Anything to give a glimpse into what life was really like.  I don’t want to go any further without recording what I’ve experienced so that in the future, my kiddos, my grandkids, and further down the line can go back and read and get a glimpse into my life and my kids’ early lives.

So that is the motivation behind my craziness of late.  I’m not limiting this new philosophy of mine to just the NaNoWriMo project either – I am extending it into my scrapbooking and homeschooling too.  I’m going to try to do a better job at organizing and keeping mementos for my kids.  I’m going to try to be more consistent about doing “faves” pages for my kids’ scrapbooks.  During homeschooling, I’m going to have a 5-10 minute slot each day during writing time to have the kids do a journal entry about whatever they want.  I will have a list of prompts available for them in case they don’t know what to write about.

I wanted to write this post to give you a few ideas for memory joggers that can help you remember some events from your past.  I know for me, it has been a challenge to say the least.  As quickly as I will remember a memory, if I don’t write it down right away, I will forget it.  Here are some ideas:

  1. Keep a section of a notebook for writing down a few words that will remind you of a certain thing.  I have a notebook I always have on my desk for a variety of lists and other purposes, so I just started a section for this.  While I’m working, browsing facebook or scrapbooking, sometimes I will randomly think of a memory from childhood.  I will quickly flip to that section and write a few words to remind me of it later when I can do a journal entry, scrapbook page, or write about it in my book.
  2. Take voice notes.  When you are talking to family members or old friends about the past, you will often bring up lots of great memories.  If you are like me though, those too will be lost soon after if not recorded.  You can always pop out that cell phone and just do a quick voice note about what you talked about.
  3. Sometimes I will be totally stuck on memories – I can’t think of anything!  One thing that has helped me is to write categorized lists.  Here are ideas of lists to create that will sometimes help job specific memories more easily:
    1. List of people – relatives, friends, coworkers, teachers, neighbors, mentors, people you don’t like, teammates, etc.
    2. Places you’ve lived – include street names, cities.
    3. Favorites – you can break this down further to favorite foods, hobbies, sayings, leisure activities, vacation spots, etc.
    4. Accomplishments
    5. Life lessons you’ve learned from others
    6. List of classes you took, schools you attended, career goals you had at different stages of life.
    7. Family vacations or trips you took.
    8. Traditions and what you did regularly for different holidays.

So those are just a few ideas to help you remember and jog some memories, and also ways to help you get them down on paper.  That way when you want to do a scrapbook page, journal entry, or start writing your personal history book, you will have some material.

Do you have any other ideas for ways to record your life history or for memory joggers?  Please, share them with me!!