Thursday, July 30, 2009

4 the Record

I was reading Becky Higgin's blog today, and read that she had done a personal history project with the Young Women at Girl's Camp in her area. She has posted a beautiful starting point for your own story on her website. It got me all excited about writing my own!

I am all about keeping a history. I've found that the things that make me the happiest, and the things that make me feel the most fulfilled are all related to record keeping.

A couple of years ago, I was asked to develop a class on personal and family histories for our church. Mom and I brainstormed ideas, and had so many that we couldn't include them all in the class schedule! We called the class "This is your Life" (I was really into the Switchfoot song at the time!), and our teaser was, "Bring your history to life, and Life to your history!"

Each month, we met as a class and talked about some aspect of journaling or histories. Each month, we had an in class exercise, and then if we were willing, we shared these writings. It was so wonderful to hear the things that others wrote about their lives! We got to know one another better, learned things that we would never have heard in other situations, and inspired one another to get writing! I also issued a monthly challenge to be completed prior to the following month's class.

While the classes were not always huge...normal for our area, as we are a small branch and not a full sized ward, and our area covers a great deal of mileage...we always had a good time and left feeling good about our stories.

I'll include some of the information here over the next few weeks. I'd love to hear about your experiences, if you try some of the techniques!

4 the Record - Month One

"Every person should keep a journal and every person can keep a journal."Everyone has a story to tell, so why don’t we rush to tell it? Are we caught up in the rules and ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ that we don’t even start? Is it intimidating...or do we just think it will be boring?Let’s change all of that today!>Why keep a journal or write your life story? Well, for starters, it’s theraputic! It allows you to record your life for posterity. It can help others by offering a view of how we handled the trials and joys along the way. There are many reasons, but the main one being : it’s a commandment! We have been counseled by many latter day prophets to keep our records.

And there are so many ways to keep your personal records that surely you will be able to find a way that suits your style and time frame!

Here are some ideas:

· Your Standards: Journals, diaries, and notebooks are the age-old standard for journal keeping and history writing. Feel free to DOODLE a bit, or add embellishments, ephemera (Ephemera is transitory written and printed matter, not intended to be retained or preserved, such as receipts, brochures, letters, tickets, etc), or whatever strikes your mood. Make it FUN!

· The Technology Savvy — If you are good with a computer, you might want to try computer journaling. You can use a word processing program, or a program specifically written for journal keeping. See\products\idailydiary.htm, or examples The advantages here are that they take up little room (burn them on CD!) and can be searched electronically, as well as copied, easily read, and edited as you wish.

· The Shortcuts — Use your day to day correspondence! Save letters, emails, or online posts to tell your story. You are already writing it anyway! Just be sure to write often.

· Be Scrappy — If you are creative and like visuals, scrapbooking may be for you. Try your hand at scrapbooking your memories - -with or without your photos!

· A/V Cool — The very technologically gifted might opt for a video or audio journal. How exciting for future generations to hear your story directly FROM YOU!

· Specialty Journals — Use separate books for special memories, such as spiritual experiences, gratitude, happiness stories, etc.

— at the very least, everyone can take a minute at the end of the day to jot down important events, feelings, etc on a calendar, date book, or desk planner. Quick, easy, but effective!

· Blog It — The new craze is “Blogging”! (A blog — a portmanteau of web log — is a website where entries are written in chronological order and displayed in reverse chronological order. ) See,, or other sites that will host your blog for free. The advantage is that you could develop an audience, which would encourage your daily entries! Friends and family can keep up on your daily comings and goings. This is especially effective if you are dealing with something that will help others, such as an illness or condition.

· Fill in the Blank — Find a book or questions that allow you to just fill in the blanks to record your life. See any bookseller online, and search for “memoirs” or “personal memoirs”.

Now, let’s get started! The challenge for the month of July is to find a way that works for YOU...something that is exciting, easy, efficient, and will inspire you to write often! In future months, we will be talking more about what to put into our personal history and journals, but here are a few ‘ground rules’.

1 There are no rules!

2 There’s no journal police.

3 You don’t have to have perfect grammar.

4 You don’t have to have lovely handwriting

5 It doesn’t have to be fancy

6 It doesn’t have to be in story form

7 It helps if you use archivally safe materials, but something is better than nothing!

8 It doesn’t have to be a travelogue. Write from your heart, not your schedule.

That being said, here are some things that you should do:

1 If you miss a few days...or a month...or years...just start again! Don’t beat yourself up about it, but get back on that horse!

2 Write it now, while it’s fresh!

3 Be true to yourself. Don’t paint a rosy picture, hoping that your posterity will believe your tall tale. Let them get to know the real you. They’ll be much more pleased!

4 Be complete. Include full names, dates, places, and any other pertinent information that the reader might not know inherently.

President Kimball said, "People often use the excuse that their lives are uneventful and nobody would be interested in what they have done. But I promise you that if you will keep your journals and records, they will indeed be a source of great inspiration to your families, to your children, your grandchildren, and others, on through the generations. Each of us is important to those who are near and dear to us—and as our posterity read of our life's experiences, they, too, will come to know and love us. And in that glorious day when our families are together in the eternities, we will already be acquainted."

Next month: “It’s the little things...”

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