Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Journal your Personal History

Soon after my mother and father married in 1945, they left for a tour of duty in England. My mother had a hard time adjusting to life overseas and missed her mother and brothers. The old manor house they rented was cold and drafty. She craved the sunshine and warmth of Alabama, where she had spent her entire life to this point. The rationing of sugar was a challenge for a mother of two little girls who wanted their bread pudding sweet! Two years there broadened her in ways that would never have been possible had she lived her whole life in the deep south, and she made many good friends with whom she stayed in touch her entire life.

Even though I was born over a decade after my parents returned to the US, I know all the England stories because my mother faithfully recorded her life in a series of many journals and letters spread over more than forty years. She passed away from Alzheimer’s disease in 2000, and we now cherish a drawer full of daily journals that chronicle important milestones, as well as the small comings and goings, of the precious but ordinary life of a woman that we love.

Will the next generation remember your stories? May is Personal History Month and the perfect time to start journaling your memories for those who come after. Here are some tips to get you started:
  • Write in the first person, but try not to use the word "I" in every sentence.
  • Record your early memories as you recall them. Don’t worry about getting every detail right.
  • While you definitely need to include the big events of your life, such as college graduation, marriage and the births of your children, be sure to include small personal stories and events that give flavor to your everyday life.
  • Include as many details of places you lived and people that were important to you as possible.
  • Let your readers hear your voice! Don't try to write like someone else.
  • Look at old photos and talk to siblings and long-time friends to jog your memory.

Personal memoirs are not only for the likes of Winston Churchill and Ulysses S. Grant. Make journaling your personal history a regular part of your life.

by Cindy Leaders, UsefulBooks


Kristin said...

I love this! Great post :)

Useful Books said...

Thanks, Kristin. My first! I appreciate the encouragement.

TheFancyLamb said...

Great tips. I think journaling is so important!