You’ve been reflecting on your life in the quiet of this new reality. Time to think, time to remember. The stories are there. But where to begin?
You could start with photos — and look for the stories behind them. If you’re like me, you have boxes or albums full of photos from when your now-adult kids were little. I admit that most of my old photos haven’t seen the light of day in years. Perhaps you also have a treasure trove of photos from your parents. And don’t forget the hundreds of photos that already live on your phone and computer.
It may seem overwhelming, but it won’t be if you break it down into manageable tasks. Give yourself an hour here and there to organize and document your photos. Scan old photos and organize them with the ones already on your phone and computer. Have old slides and movies converted to digital files. And be sure to record the who, what and where in the file name, if possible.
Stories you already have
If you’re a writer or you keep a journal, start with existing writing. Some folks have volumes written from a lifetime spent observing and expressing. Go through your old journals, papers and random musings. If they tell a story you want to preserve and share, keep them. If not, toss them — with no regrets. If you don’t do it now, your kids will have to do it later.
Once you’ve decided what to keep, start organizing your writings according to theme and/or a linear timeline of your life, depending upon content.
You can also focus on the stories that haven’t been written yet and capture them now. Tell the stories of your ancestors (if you know them), your childhood, your education and career, the loves you’ve had in your life, and your experiences raising your family. Expand on the stories behind your photos — and include as much detail (dates, places, people) as you can.
If your parents or other ancestors are still around, now is the time to ask them to share the stories you don’t already know. You could even gather them on a Zoom meeting to share stories together and help each other remember — and record them on your phone.
Write down your thoughts about who you are and what’s important to you. Think about how you’d like to be remembered — your legacy for future generations. Is your legacy about accomplishments or contributions?
And don’t be afraid to write about how you felt along the way. The best stories are the ones that share more than just the facts. Stories that share how you felt about things in your life, even your fears and sorrows, will serve to inspire those who come after you.
OK, I’ve gathered, reflected and written. Now what?
Stay tuned for Part 3 in our series for baby boomers (and anyone else with time to stop and reflect).
If you missed it, check out Part 1 of our blog series!