Genealogists are often so busy trying to find and record all the details about our ancestors’ lives, that we forget our own history will eventually become family history.
We forget to preserve information about our own lives. Thus, in 100 or 200 years, our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews will be struggling to understand our lives and what we were really like.
Of course, it’s also often personally beneficial to reflect on your own life and experiences. In Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy, Sunny Jane Morton has worksheets and writing prompts to help you get started preserving your own memories—even if you don’t think you’re a writer.
Here’s a list of topics to consider writing about for the future generations of your family tree. Not all apply to every person, but they’re adaptable to fit your unique life:
- Your full name and when and where you were born
- Your siblings’ names, and when and where they were born
- Your parents’ names, when and where they were born, what they were like, the kind of work they did, special memories about them
- The same for your grandparents and great-grandparents, if you knew them
- How your parents met
- Your childhood: the games and books you liked; your hobbies, sports and activities; where you went to school; favorite and least favorite subjects in school; what you wanted to be when you grew up; your chores around the house; trouble you got into
- Your high school years: school subjects you excelled at and struggled with, sports and activities, jobs, friends and dates, learning to drive, how you got along with your parents
- Your college years, job training, and/or transition into working life
- Experience serving in the military
- Adult relationships and/or how you met your spouse
- Where you settled as a young adult, your friends and activities, religious life, travel, work
- Being a parent: when and where your children were born, their names and how you chose them, what you loved and didn’t love about having children
- Life lessons you’ve learned and advice you’d like to share
- Family stories passed down to you, that you in turn want to pass down to others
- Medical struggles that might also impact others in your family, if you feel comfortable sharing them
- Of course, your genealogy discoveries
Memoir Mad Libs
Another easy, fun way to get started writing about your life is with Sunny’s Memoir Mad Lib. Just fill in the blanks as indicated, with a person, place, event or adjective.
Fill in the second blank based on your answer in the first, then tell whatever story comes to mind. You can reuse the prompts by filling in the blanks differently. Here are some examples of ways you can fill in the blanks:
- person: yourself, a relative, friend, teacher, enemy
- place: the backyard, church, high school, summer cottage, in your first car
- event: high school reunion, wedding, graduation, fishing trip, vacation
- adjective: funny, strange, sad, crazy, scary
Mad lib: It was a(n) [adjective] night with [person] when…
Answer: It was an unforgettable night with Matt when we spread out a blanket for a midnight picnic in the woods.
Now you try it, using these prompts:
1. I’ll never forget the time [person] misbehaved at [event] . . .
2. A(n) [adjective] thing that happened at [place] was . . .
3. Nobody ever talks about [person]’s . . .
4. I wish I could do [event] all over again . . .
5. [person] really surprised me when . . .
6. A favorite memory of [place] is . . .
7. [person] was so [adjective] when . . .
8. [person] made [event] memorable when . . .
9. I laughed so hard the time [person] . . .
10. One of my favorite childhood places was [place] because . . .
11. I felt [adjective] at [event] because . . .