Tell Your Story Now

Scarlett O’Hara is Irish spunk personified. She has the chutzpah to color way outside the lines. And when life doesn’t turn out the way she hopes, does Scarlett give up? Nope. After all, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Just think: Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone With the Wind, a Pulitzer Prize winning, 1,000 page story, in 1936, without the delete key on a word processor.

The lesson here us Margaret Mitchell DID IT. Over 80 years later (and counting) people still  learn from Miss Scarlett. They still talk about her legacy. As a professional personal historian, time and time again, I hear, “I want to tell my story.”

Then the clincher, “Someday.”

Although three-quarters of Americans intend to tell their stories, they don’t. The project is scribbled on the “Someday List,” but way too often before the Someday calendar page turns, it’s too late. The story and the legacy are lost forever.

I call it the “Someday List Syndrome.” You never know what might happen next year, next month, next week, or even tomorrow. Please don’t play roulette with the universe.

Tell your story now. 

Your descendants deserve to know your story.

They deserve to inherit your legacy. 

Tried and True

Time and time again, I hear, “I WANT to tell my story.”

Time and time again, I hear, “I WANT to tell my story.”

Then the “Someday List Syndrome” swings by and disrupts good intentions.
Way too often before the Someday calendar page turns it’s too late.

Why? The answer is universal: It is hard to get started.

Help has arrived. The following memory joggers are tried and true. They are guaranteed to turn “Someday” into “Today.”

Enjoy . . .

  • What is your first memory?
  • When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How did that turn out?
  • Do you have a “road not taken?” What? Why?
  • What do you remember about mealtime when you were growing up? Who sat around the table? What was your favorite meal?
  • If you had all the time in the world and money was not object, what you would do?
  • What is the best gift you ever gave? Received?
  • Who or what is the true love of your life? Why do you say that?
  • Tell a story about a happy time in your life—a sad time.
  • Pretend you are going away on a long trip. What will you write on the note you leave behind on the kitchen table?
  • Tell a story about your childhood home—your childhood neighborhood.
  • Tell a story about your first date—who was it with, what did you do, and where did you go? Did it end with a goodnight kiss? Why or why not?
  • Share a secret.
  • How do you hope you will be remembered?
  • Tell a story about a recurring dream. What has that dream come to mean to you?
  • Tell a story about facing a huge challenge. What did you learn?
  • What is your favorite tradition—holiday or otherwise?
  • When you’re feeling down, what makes you smile?
  • If you ruled the world, what changes would you make?
  • Pretend you are creating a time capsule that will be opened 100 years from now. What will you put in it to represent your life and your lifetime? Why?
  • Tell a story about a time and place where you felt truly with yourself and your life.

The Olden Days

Sam is our two-year-old grandson. His vocabulary is expanding rapidly—Sam is VERY smart—still, his favorite word is, “NO!!!”

Sam is our two-year-old grandson. His vocabulary is expanding rapidly—Sam is VERY smart—still, his favorite word is, “NO!!!”

Last week my husband and I were in Atlanta waiting for our delayed flight.
From the next terminal over, we heard, “NO!!!”

Our heads whipped around. We both said, “SAM???”

Of course, the child wasn’t Sam. Too bad. Sam lives in Michigan.
We Skype every week, and I send him a “little something” every month. Still, I don’t get to hug on him nearly enough.

Do you have a Sam in your life—a treasured child who deserves to know your story?

Buy a small tape recorder or a loose-leaf notebook and record your answers to the following questions. You know—what was life like in the “olden days?”

  • Where were you born?
  • What is your first memory?
  • Describe your childhood home.
  • Describe your childhood neighborhood.
  • What games did you play when you were a child?
  • What was your life like before you had a car—TV — microwave— cell phone?
  • What do you remember about elementary school—high school—or perhaps college?
  • What did you want to be when you grew up? How did that turn out?
  • What do you remember about your first job?
  • How did you meet Grandpa (or Grandma)?
  • What do you remember about your wedding—your honeymoon?
  • What do you remember about a happy time—a sad time?
  • What do you remember about the first time you saw ME?
  • What do you hope for YOUR future?
  • What do you hope for MY future?

I Told You So

“MY life isn’t all that interesting. Nobody wants to read MY story.”
WRONG.

“MY life isn’t all that interesting. Nobody wants to read MY story.”
WRONG.

Mark Twain once said. “There is no such thing as an uninteresting life.”

Stories—YOURS included—are powerful.
They:

    • Record and celebrate history
    • Confer and confirm love
    • Pass on values, traditions, and culture
    • Bestow knowledge and wisdom
    • Teach hard-learned life lessons
    • Offer advice and guidance
    • Create a sense of longing, loyalty, and pride
    • Document medical histories
    • Point out connections between seemingly haphazard events
    • Preserve philanthropic traditions
    • Build and sustain meaningful relationship
    • Give meaning to the human experience
    • Guarantee a lasting legacy.

I hate to say, “I told you so.” But I did.