A lot of people are intimidated by their past.
They're not afraid of it so much as they're overwhelmed by it. Think back on your own life. Make a list of 10 big events that made an impact on you. For most of us, the problem isn't coming up with the 10; it's limiting it to just 10.
So many stories, so little time.
That's why very few of us have tackled the task of preserving our own life stories for our children, grandchildren and generations to come. But, just as we enjoy stories about our grandparents and their life journeys, our grandchildren will someday expect the same from us.
There are many ways to get started. If you've kept a diary or journal at some point in your life, you're well ahead of most of us. Even though I help others save their stories in my role as a personal historian, I've never been much of a diarist myself. But, in an effort to "walk the walk," I'm working on my own memoirs.
The system I'm using is simple: I have a three-ring binder filled with loose-leaf notebook paper. Each sheet has a heading in the upper-right corner that places it chronologically ("high school years," "1956," "service years," etc.) When I have a few moments and am in a reflective mood, I start jotting things down. With this system, it's easy to rearrange pages to keep things in the right order. Even if I never polish up my writing later, my family will at least have this written record of the things in my life that were memorable to me.
What are you doing to save your own history for future generations?
Need more help? I belong to an organization called the Association of Personal Historians. While much of my family history work is done by phone and e-mail, personal history is best done face-to-face. The APH web site has a free searchable feature that will help you find a personal historian in your area. There's lots of other good information and tips on the site, too