10 Tips for writing about your memories

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Memory journaling can be tough. Retrieving a memory is not like opening a document stored on a hard drive or pulling a file folder out of a cabinet. We all “file” our memories but sometimes we embellish the truth of them. We think we’ll remember the depth of feeling we’ve experienced or the way the event unfolded but we don’t – not even close. As we age our memories fade. That’s why memory journaling is important not only for us but for our families. So here are 10 useful tips on writing about your life:

  1. Use memory triggers. Flip through photo albums, greeting cards you’ve received, yearbooks, home movies.

  2. Thoughts and memories match moods. So, if you’re trying to remember your wedding, Don’t write about it when you are sick or upset.

  3. Sometimes if you visit the site of your memory more of the events you are trying to remember will be easier to recall. More often than not, this is not possible. When it is, take advantage. I have tried over the years to revisit my hometown and have discovered many happy memories I’d forgotten. Oh yes, many of the stores on Main Street are different but have you noticed – street names remain the same.

  4. Have you heard of the term “autobiographical memory?” This comprises both memory and general knowledge pertinent only to the individual. If you were to make timelines for each of your “spheres” of your life and list important events such as weddings, graduations, awards, births and deaths etc. your life would be unfolded in front of you.

  5. Pay attention to what’s distinct. Some of our memories are hazy, fragmented or seemingly trivial. Each one, however, make up YOUR life. Even if the memory seems difficult to understand, work with it.

One of my memories concerns the writing of this blog. I had a lot of technical questions and sought help from a new friend. I remember how I was hesitant to admit that my concepts were not completely formed. After contemplating that memory I realized that her gentle guidance helped me form the basis of all my blog writing since then. Now, every time I post an article I think of her and her advice.

  1. Don’t try to remember events from your early childhood. Few of us remember first grade jitters!

  2. Describe events as you remember them. Do the facts match up to how you lived, where you lived and your day to day life as it was then?

  3. Remembering is not like looking at a picture or even watching a video. These are triggers. (See #1). Relieving the memory is a sensory thing. You feel and “see”  and react to the memory. I grew up in a small New England town. I was a “tom boy” and spent my youth climbing trees, riding horses and reading a lot! I also grew up watching western tv shows. I  ‘re-watched an episode of Laramie ( a tv western produced in the early 1960’s) the other day. In the scene, the character’s horse started galloping down a hill. Suddenly I was “transported” back to a dusty corral in New York state. The afternoon Sun was hot on my face and I could feel the perspiration sliding down my shirt. The feel of my horse’s muscles were beneath me, my feet were firmly planted in the stirrups and my instructor ( a crusty old gent) said loudly, “use your legs” and “I don’t want to see daylight between you and that saddle!” I learned how to canter that day and it was a feeling I remember now so vividly.  I was glad I remembered it and could share it.

  4. It’s not to late to start your journal of memories. Your future self will thank you.

  5. Be as honest as you can when writing about your memories. Names of birthday clowns are trivial but dates and names are not.

Final note: This is YOUR life – what are you waiting for?

~Sallie

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Pursuit of Happiness- Being Grateful (2)

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Gratitude comes in many forms. When we were kids, our parents, wanting us to be grateful for everything they sacrificed for us, focused on the “stuff”. But as we reflect on this we learned that gratitude is not “stuff”, gratitude is an emotion. When we remember the happy memories of when we received the new bike, book, car etc., then we experienced gratitude.

My mother always insisted that when I received a gift I must write a thank you note. I can remember thinking that a verbal ‘thank you’ was enough, but as I grew older and I received written ‘thank you’ notes, I realized that gratitude expressed verbally or written was a source of happiness for me.

So, how do we pursue gratitude? Here are some things to consider:

  1. Take a Gratitude Break. Some people do this when they first wake up or one of the last things before sleep. One way to articulate gratitude is at the dinner table with  your family.
  2. Be present in your moments. A friend of ours wrote us a brief note of thanks recently. We had invited him and his girlfriend to a Museum event that we enjoyed and he wrote: “Thank you for sharing your present moments with us.”
  3. Scale back. While social media is great, you can totally loose hours while “just checking email and Facebook. I’ll be with you in a few minutes.”  Before you know it, time has slipped away and your dinner is cold and that TV show is over!
  4. Start a Gratitude Journal.  How to do it? Here are some tips:
  •  Write 3 or more things daily in your journal. Avoid repeating the same things. As you challenge yourself to discover new things to be grateful for, you’ll start watching and listening for new gratitude experiences.
  •  It’s easy to list the material things – your home, your car, your phone, but what is hard is why you are grateful for these things. How do you feel about your home? Write about your feelings of security and comfort.
  • In addition to material things, there’s your talents and those things in your life that help you create your world. Start with the basics – your ability to write, see, watch, listen and being a good friend.
  • Write about the people in your life and how they make you feel. It’s easy to write about friends, family but how about that difficult co-worker?
  • Write about situations and events happy times and sad times.

As you write about your Gratitude Moments, you will quickly find that as you continue writing in your journal, your expectations and emotions will become positive and you will certainly be happier.

GrandparentsFamily

‘Til next time,

~Sallie

Why journal your goals?

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Growing up, did you ever have a personal coach (think sports) or a mentor (think writing, spiritual) who held you accountable; pushed you to work a little harder and then cheered you on?

A Life Goals Journal, while not a person, can still work to your advantage in much the same way. Your journal can be used to help you identify the things you really want to have or to be in your life and the steps you need to make to achieve them.

How would this work, you ask. Well, first of all you have to think “FUTURE” not past goals or events. So let’s start with one step at a time:

  1. Define your goal. A goal is a general statement about what you want to achieve.

  2. Figure out what you already know and/or have that relates to your goal. Make a list of skills you have and how much time you have to devote to ____.

  3. Brainstorm a list of specific objectives relating to your goal. For instance, a list of resources I need, people to meet.

  4. Put a date of completion next to each objective. Be flexible. Put the dates in your personal calendar also.

  5. Finally, use your journal and your calendar to hold yourself accountable. Hold a weekly “session” with yourself to write about how you’re doing/feeling. If you’re feeling frustrated, explore why and maybe change the objective or time frame. Don’t give up! A newer, better you is just around the bend.

‘Til next time,

~Sallie

The Maroney Happiness Journal

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Mary Beth shares her final perspective on the Family Journal.

Enjoy,

Sallie


“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”

Pericles (Greek Statesman of Athens)

Our first Happiness Journal was a stepping stone for our family. As we each wrote about our reactions, thoughts, discoveries, struggles and victories, we expanded our family history.

I opened the pages of that first journal when I volunteered to write for Uniquely Yours Craft Journal. Re-reading the entries brought back so many memories! So, what did our Happiness Journal contain you ask…..

There were stories of events that started traditions, family traits, growth of relationships not only in our immediate family, but our extended one as well. There were reflections from each of the children when their Grandparents died, family dinner conversations, Girl Scout attempts in the kitchen, family secrets, science experiments gone horribly wrong, tree-house adventures. As I re-read, I found myself laughing and crying at the same time.

Writing the Happiness Journal was one of the best things we did as a family. I know that some of the children started new types of journals after that and I still blog about family relationships. At the last Thanksgiving dinner, when asked what they were thankful for, my children said that the Happiness Journal was one of the things that they remember  and  are thankful for the love sharing we wrote in the pages.

It has been a fantastic experience sharing our family journal with you and I want to thank Sallie for inviting me to share the journey with all of you.

Mary Beth

Pursuit of Happiness- Being Grateful

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Gratitude comes in many forms. When we were kids, our parents, wanting us to be grateful for everything they sacrificed for us, focused on the “stuff”. But as we reflect on this we learned that gratitude is not “stuff”, gratitude is an emotion. When we remember the happy memories of when we received the new bike, book, car etc., then we experienced gratitude.

My mother always insisted that when I received a gift I must write a thank you note. I can remember thinking that a verbal ‘thank you’ was enough, but as I grew older and I received written ‘thank you’ notes, I realized that gratitude expressed verbally or written was a source of happiness for me.

So, how do we pursue gratitude? Here are some things to consider:

  1. Take a Gratitude Break. Some people do this when they first wake up or one of the last things before sleep. One way to articulate gratitude is at the dinner table with  your family.

  2. Be present in your moments. A friend of ours wrote us a brief note of thanks recently. We had invited him and his girlfriend to a Museum event that we enjoyed and he wrote: “Thank you for sharing your present moments with us.”

  3. Scale back. While social media is great, you can totally loose hours while “just checking email and facebook. I’ll be with you in a few minutes.”  Before you know it, time has slipped away and your dinner is cold and that TV show is over!

  4. Start a Gratitude Journal.  How to do it? Here are some tips:

  •  Write 3 or more things daily in your journal. Avoid repeating the same things. As you challenge yourself to discover new things to be grateful for, you’ll start watching and listening for new gratitude experiences.
  •  It’s easy to list the material things – your home, your car, your phone, but what is hard is why you are grateful for these things. How do you feel about your home? Write about your feelings of security and comfort.
  • In addition to material things, there’s your talents and those things in your life that help you create your world. Start with the basics – your ability to write, see, watch, listen and being a good friend.
  • Write about the people in your life and how they make you feel. It’s easy to write about friends, family but how about that difficult co-worker?
  • Write about situations and events- happy times and sad times.

As you write about your Gratitude Moments, you will quickly find that as you continue writing in your journal, your expectations and emotions will become positive and you will certainly be happier.

GrandparentsFamily

‘Til next time,

~Sallie

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