Family Stories and Christmas are like Grand Central.

Christmas time and Family Stories belong together as does yummy pudding and custard.

Don’t miss the opportunity

Family Stories
Family Stories and Christmas are warm and fuzzy times

Christmas time is a time when families come together or if they don’t physically, they certainly do mentally and emotionally. Christmas time is a time to rehash, all the stories exaggerated or not, of family members’ quirks, strange behaviours or extraordinary life events and experiences.

Everyone has a story and children love to hear them. The stories they love most are the everyday stories we perhaps easily forget, how parents and grandparents met, what happened in the ‘old days’ and at school, and of course, they love a bit of ‘naughtiness’ and humour thrown in the mix.

My grandchildren love the stories of when their father at their age, broke the front window of our house, and then a few hours later, the window of his bedroom at the back of the house. They love the story of when he was being particularly naughty and knew he was going to get a smack (as children did in those days); he anticipated his punishment and put a book down the inside of his pants. Of course, I add in that I knew the book was there and let him get away with it anyway, (I think they love this bit best).

Equally, they love hearing of Dad’s successes, claiming the title of Australian Champion of VJ Sailing, his leadership roles in the community and at school. The grandchildren easily relate to all these things and, so they become part of the family story.

Write my life
Daddy’s successes and other funny stories are part of the family history

Families come together because they need a shared past with their kin. People’s identify is strongly tied to the family characteristics and family traits become something to be celebrated and cherished. Even the ‘odd’ people in the family take on a different role when the time is taken to listen to their story and perspectives.

Family stories are part of the family culture and tradition and people need family rituals to reinforce their belonging and emotional wellbeing.

Establishing a link between family members and generations through simple stories is one of the most powerful gifts you can give children and Christmas is the ideal time to start your collection.

Recording family stories

Capturing family stories need not be a tedious event. It can be fun and interactive. Smartphones are the magician of the current generation in my view and a very useful tool for capturing life stories.

Older children or adolescents may be thrilled to be asked to approach various people in the family, take them to a quiet spot and record their life stories.  It may be useful to equip the young interviewers with some key questions and leave them to it. Young people are very resourceful once they listen.

Other ways to ignite and record family stories could include:

  • Forming a small circle and starting a conversation by ‘remember when’ will stir up memories that may have lay dormant for decades.
  • Circulating a photo and allowing conversation and memories to explode.

Even if the family Christmas is a small occasion, rekindling memories in the same way and recording them is a warm and fuzzy Christmas day activity.

What happens then

Many families have a tech-savvy member who could collate all the stories and put them on a CD or a family website.

Family stories
Recording family stories and storing them on Family Website or Book – Wonderful

Some families have a writer who could transcribe the stories and put them into a beautiful book for all to share. You could also share any photos from that photo box under the bed that we all have – that would be amazing.

Contact Write My Journey

Alternatively, you could contact Write My Journey and we could write the stories up into a family story album, linking the stories and bring the album to life with much more.

Writing memoir

Writing Memoir doesn’t mean ‘tell all’

Writing memoir about living people does come with some rules and even warning signs.

We live in a litigious society and whilst people may tolerate family jokes about their quirks and rare moments of inappropriate behaviours, they may not like these instances immortalised in a family story album. Words on a page are unforgiving and a reader may set in their mind-stone facts that are incidental and not true to the person’s nature or life story.

Quirky behaviour
Quirky Behaviour makes you unique

Everyone has moments of indiscretion or behaviours outside of their true nature or perhaps their quirky nature is what makes them unique.  A former friend of mine filled his waking hours telling stories of other people’s odd behaviours and life moments, thus ensuring that person earned a reputation for being inappropriate or an odd-ball. This former friend eventually earned himself a poor reputation. Similarly, writing memoir from a disposition of negativity, anger or criticism can lead to your work being dismissed which is not what you intend. It can also leave you vulnerable to legal action.

Telling your Truth

Writing memoir is about telling your truth as you perceive it; however, a wise and responsible writer will firstly explore their perspective with insight and humanity. Writing memoir is often tempered by the unleashing of emotion whether it be anger, joy, grief or happiness. Making a distinction between the expression of words reflecting a focused writer connecting readers to the rich tapestry of their life and family history and the undisciplined drainage of harsh and critical negative views is the hallmark of a quality life story writer and memoirist.Continue Reading

Your senses and your deep memories

Read my latest article on OverSixty’s Online Magazine. It’s all about the memories that come from wonderful home cooking and how you chase those smells and tastes the rest of your life. Your senses are your most powerful trigger for those deep memories that belonged to a life long ago but a life cherished and worth remembering.

Your senses link to your deep memories

 

The Birth of a Life Story Association

The Power of Professional Dialogue in a Life Story Association

The power of professional dialogue in a Life Story Association enables us to create the future we hope for and time allows us to modify it accordingly.

Professional dialogue is embedded in the professional standards and assumed skills of any professional. It is acknowledged that learning takes place over time and requires opportunities to link acquired knowledge with new skills and standards.

This is especially true of life story writers, personal historians, memoir writers, ghost writers, biographers, film makers and all others involved in life stories.  The language and professional dialogue among professionals involved in producing a permanent record of a person can be quite diverse.

Life Story Association in Australia

In Australia, we are struggling to birth an association that is reflective of all professionals involved in the preserving of life stories. The struggle has progressed over several months since the collapse of the Association of Personal Historians and plays out in weekly meetings over SKYPE. The movement is presently sitting on the verge of an evolution in Australia where many professionals can be brought together to represent the community dedicated to life story telling.

The dialogue has been an issue of the Association from the name through to membership and other issues and many lively discussions have followed. The term Life Stories Australia, Inc. seems a good fit and continues to provide an umbrella for the potential membership.

Recently, I met an end of life doula, a beautiful young woman who provides physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual support to families and individuals facing death. We were drawn to each other because many doulas provide family history documentation to their clients.  It opened my mind to the fact that life story professionals are everywhere and we need to be open and flexible in our interpretation of the term.

I have since learned much of the culture and language of end of life doulas or death doulas as they are sometimes called and I am struck by their professional language, professional education, and community education. I think I actually find it inspirational that a profession such as this has developed and is nibbling away at such an important and private part of an individual’s existence.

The Body of Knowledge in a Life Story Association

Opening up and developing the professional dialogue of the international life story community will be a hallmark development in this wonderful profession. In Australia, we continue to nut out meanings and interpretations. Our diverse backgrounds add to the colour and culture of our efforts and professional respect is always present.

A lack of a centralised body of knowledge in an academic institution is a two-sided discussion. A local university offers a course on one aspect of family history but there are many aspects to a competent life story professional and it would be disappointing to confine future life story professionals to a narrow pathway.  The future may change my view on this and with the concept of Open Universities, I guess it is a possibility.

Evidencing a professional standard is an important step in professional development and continual commitment to ongoing education and openness to new knowledge is, in my view, more important than an academic based centralised course.

A barrier here in Australia to new knowledge from many incredible international professionals is the exchange rate of the Australia dollar. It means that international courses are expensive for us and the real cost of an international course causes my accountant to flinch each year.

Professional Language in a Life Story Association

The professional language is the key to establishing the future of life story professionals. Universal language has not proved a problem for many international professions and so it will not for this profession.

Australia is in its infancy and we are embracing the birth of our new Association with openness and anticipation. We hope to set a standard that is reflective of the high standards in our specialty as we seek and respond to new boundaries and challenges.

Life Story Association

Hopefully, one day, someone will say Life Stories Australia, Inc. is inspirational and I will be proud to say I was a foundation member of that association.

Rose Osborne

Write My Journey

www.writemyjourney.com

Rose is a foundation member of Life Stories Australia, Inc. and previous chair of Oceania Group, APH