Writing Your Personal History

Writing your personal history is one way to leave a legacy that your descendants will treasure for generations. If you leave it to someone else to rely on memories and secondhand stories to create your history, it may not reflect your life accurately.

Ask yourself these questions – if your parents, grandparents, and other ancestors didn’t leave life histories, do you wish they had? Do you wish you could read about their lives and their stories? If you answer “yes”, then don’t leave your descendants wishing the same thing. This is what is happening to me right now as I write a history of my dad’s family. Although my ancestors did not leave a formal history, getting to know them through research has been quite interesting.

A record of your life can be a great gift to your family. I have a cousin, who was an only child, who is now deceased and people really get a lot of joy reading about his short-lived life that I wrote as a gift to his mom and dad a couple of years ago. Words in print can be read and reread, pondered over, and returned to as often as needed. The words your kids reject now may become clear and precious when he or she reads them later on in life.

I visited the old home place a few weeks ago and going through the family bible where my grandmother had actually recorded my birthdate almost brought tears to my eyes. Knowing that she took the time to actually record birthdates is very precious to me.

You could have a great affect on those who will follow you. Your examples, your trials, and your triumphs will strengthen and motivate others. The Prophet Job of the Old Testament, who suffered many trials mourned, “Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever!”(Job 19″23-24). Job’s words were recorded, and his faith and his triumph over tragedy has remained a source of inspiration to people for thousands of years.

Start writing your story now. Don’t put it off. You don’t know how long you will live so don’t procrastinate. No one can write your story the way you can.

Contact me at yourlegacymaker@gmail.com and The Legacy Maker will be glad to assist you.

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Every Story is Worth Telling

Every family is unique, but all families share many universal historical experiences, a fact which places most of our familes in the category of the not-so-unusual. Dudley Randall’s poem “Ancestors” ask the question, “If your ancestors were not princes, kings, and queens, is the story worth telling?”

The answer is yes. In effect, the story is only as good as the storyteller (Griot) – in this case us. Starting out with a trunk full of old documents, letters, photos, and other memorabilia definitely helps. But if you haven’t a clue how your family’s experience fit into the broader pattern of your history or what message can be conveyed using your family as an example, you won’t be able to tell a good story.

The worth of the story starts with your own deep appreciation for your ancestors and what they went through and how they “got over.” What is your story worth to you? Is it worth telling? I imagine the answer is yes.

What’s In Your Kitchen?

The longer I live I am realizing that aging is a privilege and a wonderful blessing.

Being a Legacy Maker often takes my mind back to the things I remember growing up. One of those things is the herbs and spices my grandmother used for cooking. There was alway the trinity in her house – cinnamon, nutmeg, and poultry seasoning along with salt,black pepper and red pepper flakes. Oh, I almost forgot the vanilla flavoring.

Herbs and spices have been used for thousands of years for the health and well being of mankind. Our ancestors realized that their antiseptic and antibiotic properties helped to heal wounds and stave off diseases, as well as preserve and flavor foods and cleanse and beautify the body, inside and out.

Now, the herbs and spices are probably not as potent as they were back then, but here are just a few herbs and spices and their POSSIBLE benefit to you. (Disclaimer: I am not a physician).

All Spice – as an antioxidant that may protect against cancer and can be used to treat flatulence(excessive gas in the digestive tract) and relieve indigestion.

Black Pepper – may stimulate digestion, circulation, and detoxification. Black Pepper may help to relieve congestion and fever, and as an antibiotic, may help to fight colds and flul. It certainly makes you sneeze!

Cayenne Pepper(and other hot peppers) -boost metabolism and increases calorie burning. Peppers contain antioxidants that may help prevent cancer and heart disease.

Basil – keep an open container on hand to repel flies and mosquitoes (I understand they don’t like the scent).

Cinnamon – helps to keep blood sugar levels steady. For diarrhea, mix about 1 teaspoon cinnamon into a cup of hot water and steep for 10 -15 minutes. Strain and drank.

When my mom was growing up in the country, she cut her toe and this WAS the remedy her grandmother used (and don’t try this, please!). Her grandmother got a piece of fatback from their smokehouse, put it on the cut and tied it to the toe with a white cloth. She said it worked then, but that’s a little too “way back” for this generation.

A Woman and Her Grandson

I was going for my midmorning mile walk and passed by a lady with a little boy, they were walking hand in hand. Evidently, the little boy said something as they were approaching me and the the lady stopped and said, “my grandson said you looked like me.” Both of us had our sunglasses on so I know he could not tell what my face looked like. I said to myself, that’s a very observant child.

It is odd to see that kind of bonding these days. A woman and her grandson.

You don’t see very much of that these days. I remember when my grandmother used to walk with us, up and down the street. My grandmother grew up living with 3 generations in a household. So family was always close to her.

In an age where the cell phone and texting is the norm of the day, iPod, email, pictures are sent to you via .jpeg, common communication is very rare. We now have to gather with family according to our various schedules. Everybody is busy, even grandmas!

But, evidently, that child was taken to his grandmother probably while the parent(s) worked. Now that’s old school.

I remember going to family dinners on Sunday afternoon after church at my grandfather’s house. His children would come and bring their children. We would all eat and be full.

That woman and grandson inspired this blog today. Like I said, you just don’t see that kind of connection anymore.

Make the Most of Your Life

I received some unfortunate disturbing new last evening of someone I have known for a long while. She was a part of a church family that we both belonged to at one time. When my mother called and told me she had passed, it was almost like it was about someone in my own family. It also made me realize that we all have to pass that way and that life is so uncertain. Here today, gone tomorrow, and sometimes gone the same day. Let us live life to the fullest and keep family close.

I would like to share this poem with you by Linda Ellis.

LIFE BETWEEN THE “DASH”

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came her date of birth
and spoke the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the “dash” between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that she spent alive on earth…
and now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;
the cars…the house…the cash,
what matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our “dash”.

So think about this long and hard…
are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what’s true and real,
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
and more often wear a smile…
remembering that this special “dash”
might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy’s being read
with your life’s actions to rehash…
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent your “dash”?

It’s All Relative

As I reflect on my family during this Black Heritage Month, it’s amazing how far we have come.  I am proud to introduce you to my Uncle Henry and his wife Jean whose family business is Expressions of Color.  Here is a little about them.

Henry Henderson has been an upholsterer for 30 years, working for various businesses and finally beginning his own business.  Jean Henderson is a doll artist who has been creating and designing dolls since 1993.  A seamstress and designer for many years, Jean began to gravitate toward the dollmaking process, beginning with simple fabric dolls. 

When Jean approached Henry about making a piece of furniture for one of her dolls in her collection, he designed what would become his first piece of doll furniture — a miniature upholstered wing chair.  Although he continued to make furniture for Jean’s personal collection, he still was not convinced that it would be a profitable business venture.  But he was wrong.  Jean and Henry did their first show together in November 1997.  Not only did people buy the dolls, they bought the furniture for the dolls.  It was then that Expressions Of Color was born. 

Please check out their website http://www.expressionsofcolor.net to view the beautiful dolls and the wonderful woodwork.

We probably had an ancestor who was good with woodwork and this gene might have been passed down generations to my uncle Henry. When family talents come together, it can become a family business and it all can be relative.

What’s in a Name

Names have been in existence as long as humanity.  The evolution of names have been shaped by both religious and cultural influences. In ancient times people were generally given one name (called a “given name”).  This name often related to a circumstance surrounding a child’s birth (Moses, meaning “drawn from the water”) or a trait that parents hoped a child would possess (such as Deborah – Hebrew meaning “honey bee”).  I especially like the spiritual connation of my name which is “New Era of Leadership.”

Also a name could be connected to a promise or an aspiration (Isaac meaning “laughter”) or an object (Esther meaning “star” or Amber meaning “like a jewel”). 

Later on in history, we see some utilization of second and third names.  These names were usually given to demonstrate a person’s identification with a particular family and/or clan such as Gaius Julius Ceasar or Simon bar-Jonah.  This practice was carried over into modern times through various tribal societies.    

While a child is still  often named for a characteristic or place, in many cases names are now selected for the way in which they commemorate someone or something, or simply on the basis of their own asthetic qualities.  20th and 21st century times have brought about hyphened names and names that just sound good.

So what’s in a name?  Names are a celebration not only of our humanity but also a reminder of our individuality, that we are all unique.  Names are wonderful gifts, given second only to the gift of life itself-lasting testimonies to the beauty of personhood.  Best of all, unlike our ancestors long ago, you have the opportunity to make these choices for your child(ren).  Enjoy your quest.

Will The Real You Please Stand Up?

“There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.” ~Mark Twain

Is this the year you will write your personal history?  Writing your story can be a intimidating undertaking, but it is well worth the effort! Not only will your family enjoy learning about you and your life, but hopefully you will benefit from this endeavor. You will have the joy of “reliving” many of the moments of your life (past and present), and perhaps you will gain some insights as you look back and see “the big picture” of your life. You have an opportunity to “teach” from your experiences, and most importantly, you will allow others to get to know you better.

I hope that as I write my personal history, my children and grandchildren will come to know me better…maybe they can learn from my mistakes, laugh at my “adventures” through life, and hopefully gain a bit of insight into who I am, where I came from, and what makes me tick! Only I can tell my story and leave my legacy!  Will you write yours?

What Does Black Heritage Month Mean to You?

We are all aware of how it got started, and that February was selected to parrallel the birthdays of President Lincoln and Fredrick Douglas.  We are aware of the contributions that African-Americans have made to this nation and the world.  We are also aware that many of the contributions African-Americans made were ignored because of racism at that time.  There might have been many more that were stolen by others who wrote them off as their own.

This month should not be just about African-American trivia of who ran the Underground Railroad or about Madame C.J. Walker’s hair products but also about current successes such as our First Black President and many of you who have gone on to be successful in your own right.  About those who have completed college and are experiencing a higher economic status.  It can also be about those entrepreneurs who have stepped out on faith and started businesses claiming, “Ain’t gone let nobody turn me around.”  This celebration continues to be a means for African-Americans to appreciate their journey and celebrate their legacy.

I salute my ancestors who have carved out a path that allows me to become all that I can be because they could not:  Lucy and Charles Thomas, Janie and Pierce Chapman, Lucy and Johnny Smith, Mamie and James Tucker, Renda and Robert Henderson.

Let’s continue the journey of heritage each month as we celebrate our history and legacy throughout the year.

Hello world!

“Behold the work of the old. Let your heritage not be lost, but bequeath it as a memory, treasure and blessing.

Gather the lost and the hidden and preserve it for thy children.” – Christian Metz 1846

Where are your precious photos?  Are they in a box under the bed or on your computer waiting to be printed?  Turn your precious memories into a wonderful story that can be passed down from generations to generations.

We have the recorded stories of those who have made great contributions to our country and society.  And these stories are great.  Why not write a story or have a story written about your ancestors, Grandma, Granddaddy, Great Grandma and Great Granddaddy.  Or that Uncle, Aunt, or Cousin who has inspired you.  Better yet, write your own story.  Heritage Makers is the perfect tool that has everything you need on-line to create wonderful, beautiful storybooks, greeting cards, calendars, cookbooks using your own creativity.

Stay tuned to my blog for more information on becoming The Legacy Maker in your family.  I am updating the Heritage Makers website.  Please stay tuned.

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