Documenting a life story has a powerful effect on your life
One of my clients wrote to me, saying, “I am at such peace now that I’ve completed my story. I know it will be a source of family history for years to come.”
What a heart-felt statement! Yet, this is exactly the type of response I hear from others who preserve their family stories.
Early in life, I felt a tug, urging me to help others document and preserve their family stories. It happened most when I’d hear someone say, with regret, “I wish I’d asked Grandpa that,” or “I wish I’d asked Mom how she felt after that incident.” Others would say, “I’ll have to throw this whole box of photos away. I know they’re my relatives, but I don’t know who they are.”
These types of statements prompted me to write “10 Pennies,” documenting one of my own stories. The brief video had a big impact on me, as well as others.
My life has prepared me for this work
In many ways, I have been preparing for the role of writing and preserving personal stories my entire life. I wrote stories home while at camp, collected stories of my grandparents’ experiences on the farm, interviewed my dad regarding his time in WWII, asked my parents how they met in small-town Ohio, and more.
As a young social worker, I worked for the welfare department and found it an important time for listening and learning. When I started my career in writing—mostly for hospitals and healthcare organizations—I found that personal stories of patients, physicians, and other caregivers meant the most to me. Their stories started me on my journey. Becoming a personal historian became my calling.
- BA and MA degrees in sociology, interpersonal communications, and marketing
- Interviewer for the Veterans History Project, a project of the U.S. Library of Congress
- Facilitator in memoir writing for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Denver
- Recorder for stories of palliative care patients
- Personal life filled with family and friends, the outdoors, and being a passionate sports fan