Week one of “Write Your Life” is a foundation week. We will start getting the memories flowing! So grab a notebook and we’ll get going.
In your notebook you are going to write each year you have been alive down the side of the page.
When you are done writing the years you’ve been alive, go back and enter in the important events that have happened in your life. Make sure to include school years, moves, family member births and deaths! Your list could look like this:
1986 Born Feb 16; Moved to Woods Cross, Utah in Sept
1989 Moved to Bountiful, Ut
1990 Started Preschool, Sister born Sept 24
1991 Started Kindergarten
1992 Started 1st grade
1993 Sister born March 24; Started 2nd grade
1994 Baptized March 5th; Started 3rd grade
1995 Started 4th grade
1996 Brother born Jun 24; started 5th grade
1997 Move to Rexburg, Idaho; Started 6th grade
2016 Daughter born July 28; Start Pathway
2017 Graduate from Pathway; Start at BYUI
2019 Buy land in Shelley, Idaho; Grandma Papenfuss dies April 6, Sell house; Start building house
You don’t need to go into too much detail, it just needs to be enough that you can get the dates straight in your head. This project also helps you remember events or memories or details you may not have remembered right away.
As you have time or remember something over the next few weeks/months you can come back here and add to your list.
If you aren’t a paper and pen person you can always create your list on your computer! I’ve seen excel sheets, word documents and even iPhone notes being used for timelines. What ever works for you is what you should do!
Something nice about the Write Your Life series is that we are here for each other and want to inspire others or be inspired ourselves! Please share what you are comfortable sharing on social media! Tag me @themommygenealogist and use #TMGWriteYourLife so we can all work together documenting our lives!
When I moved to Idaho Falls I didn’t know anyone. In church Savannah gave a lesson about journals and writing your personal history. She mentioned that there was a small group of church members that met together every other week to do creative writing and their life history. She invited anyone who wanted to to attend.
That next Wednesday I nervously pulled into the church parking lot. I had a notebook and pen and was ready for this new adventure. I was welcomed warmly into the group and quickly fell into a routine.
We started each meeting reading out loud to each other, if we wanted to, what we had written for our personal history since our last session. Then our wonderful leader would read us crazy prompts that would get our creative juices flowing! I haven’t laughed so much in a long time. At the end of the night the leader would list some personal history prompts and send us on our way. Two weeks later the cycle would start again.
I know we can’t have such a fun class with our online community, but I still have wanted to help you write your personal history. I started listing weekly personal history prompts on Instagram, but I thought I’d start posting them here too. I also thought I’d post my less personal personal history writing too. It was so nice to hear what others wrote about. I either admired their attention to detail or their creativity so I’d try to add a bit more to my stories, I feel it improved them. I also received inspiration from their topics. Never fell, a story would dredge up a memory of mine and I’d add it to my 10-list. (More on what that is later)
I’ll have to post a few a week to catch up, but once caught up I’ll be posting them once a week with the Instagram prompts. We’re using #tmgWriteYourLife to share what we are working on. I’ve also asked that I be tagged in any posts so I can see! I’m excited for this adventure! This is the year we write our life.
Spaghetti for me growing up was spaghetti noodles, canned spaghetti sauce (which is DELICIOUS!) with ground beef and cheese on top. Luke’s spaghetti growing up was spaghetti noddles and homemade spaghetti sauce with ground meat, brown sugar and all the spices. Luke’s dad grew up with a different kind of spaghetti…..
Grandma Lilly (Holyoak) Mecham would make spaghetti with noodles and tomato juice. Yes, tomato juice. So when my mother in law, Sharol, made spaghetti for the Mecham’s Grandpa Mecham kept raving about it and finally asked, “What is this??? It’s so good!” He couldn’t believe spaghetti could have so many yummy things!
Everyone LOVES Grandma Mecham but she isn’t really known for her cooking. haha So every time I make spaghetti we talk about Grandma Mecham and how neat it is that we have lots of recipes available for us to make now.
Food items are a great way to share your family history! Especially with your kids! Eating is something we always have to do and it’s easy to have traditions and memories associated with food.
What food items connect you to your ancestors? What food items do you want to be known for? What food traditions do you have right now with your family??
You know the saying a picture is worth a thousand words? I believe it! Today’s Family History Connection is pictures.
Just looking at a picture can spring to mind so many memories or stories! They are a reminder clue for your brain! My mom (My Roots And Branches) always said, “If you didn’t take a picture it didn’t happen” Think about that. If you don’t have a picture to record what happened, who says you are going to remember it happened?? (Yes, all pictures in this post (Minus the one above) are from FamilySearch Memories and I’m working on recording the stories and memories)
Pictures can also prompt questions. In most pictures of my Great Grandpa Papenfuss his right eye looks funny. As a kid I never had the guts to ask because I was taught not to point things like that out. One day I finally asked about it and learned that in the saw mill he owned a saw blade tooth had broken and flown straight for his eye! This story is NOT written down as far as I have found, if I hadn’t seen a picture of my Great Grandpa and asked about his eye, I’d probably never know about it or had the ability to find out!
Pictures can help you find ALL family members. My mom is working on scanning in a lot of my grandma’s photos. The one you see above we could match up everyone but the tall guy in the back with my Great Grandpa Hudson’s siblings. So we called up my great aunts (G. G. Hudson’s daughters) and found out there was a brother missing from FamilySearch because he was still ALIVE!!!!! I had no idea the brother of my Great Grandpa was still alive! How crazy is that? He lives in California and is 95 years old. Found all this out just from a picture!!
Pictures can also remind you of events that happened. My favorite is when they bring feelings to the surface. Like this picture above, this is JUST as I remember my grandparents. My grandpa seemed to always have this red sweater on and those overalls??? ALWAYS! haha That was his staple outfit. There’s even a very funny story about them and me and him and scissors in the back of a car…. I can just feel him giving me a hug, I can feel the scratchy fibers of the sweater and the weight of his arms. Then there’s my grandma. She had her hair that color until she passed away, it was always curled like that too. I remember her patting her hair, checking it to make sure it was in the right place. She bought us silk pillow cases when we were little so that our hair wouldn’t get messed up, she always had silk pillow cases (I think I’m going to have to make myself one now that I’ve remembered that!!!). There’s the night this picture was taken. it was a family picnic at the assisted living center they were living at. After dinner there was music and my grandma just couldn’t hold still, finally my little brother stood up and danced with her. She was in HEAVEN! Smiling ear to ear. I was also pregnant with my first, they were so excited! He’s the only one they both had the chance to meet. I miss them terribly! But this picture brought up so many memories, more than I’ve listed here. It’s made the ache of missing them just a little bit better.
I’m so grateful for pictures! What a great connection to the past, our ancestors and each other!
October is Family History Month!! I’ve been trying to think of what I should do to celebrate and I think I’ve come up with something different and fun. As you know I’ve been working with the ladies at Season For Family, we’ve been talking about words we want to have come to mind when you hear family history or genealogy. One of those words is CONNECTION.
This word has been on my mind a lot lately as I’ve gone through my day. I’ve thought of the different connections I’ve made because of a story, an experience, a photo, etc because of family history. This has brought me such JOY as I’ve remembered these connections.
I hope as I share these connections this month that they will inspire YOU to make connections or/and find those connections in your life!
What connections have you thought of? Share with me in the comments!
I’ve been really nervous to post this, but I’ve felt like I really need to. This is honest and raw and very vulnerable. Please be kind. Please be forgiving. Man, I really am having a hard time pushing publish.
After having my first, Nolan, I noticed that I couldn’t watch one of my favorite shows anymore, Criminal Minds. It just put too many scary situations in my head. I would think they were real and thought they would happen. I remember the first time Nolan slept in his own room in his crib, I slept on the round in front of his crib. Some little voice in the back of my mind told me I was being crazy, the big voice in the front of my mind told me I was fine and protecting my kid.
After having my second, Hamilton, my body decided to rebel. My muscles hurt so bad! I couldn’t get out of bed quickly and it took me a few times to actually do it. Going in to my midwives for my 6 week check up, I cried and pleaded to the midwife to help me. I explained that I was in pain all the time, I was crying like crazy and I was super moody and paranoid. She looked at me with wide eyes and said she’d go ask a doctor about my muscle pain and they’d take a blood test for my hormones to see if anything was out of wack. I was totally blown off and told everything was “normal.” The emotion and paranoia almost cost me a very good friendship.
The craziness I felt after having babies the first two times hit BEFORE I had Finley. I was sure one of us wasn’t going to walk out of the hospital when all was said and done. I made Luke sit in the parking lot of the hospital for a good 15 minutes before I could finally go in. I begged him for another blessing, he told me he had already given me one and everything was going to be fine, I needed to have faith and trust. I didn’t really notice anything after having Finley, I was on the look out because I was sure things would repeat itself. After a few months I never really saw any HUGE signs so I relaxed and wasn’t paying attention.
Then winter hit after Finley was a year old. By January I was a mess. I remember it just being dark and gloomy all the time. I remember feeling out of control and in panic mode ALL THE TIME!!! I finally broke down to my Parent’s as Teacher’s adviser and we made a plan to get me into counseling to control my anxiety. I put it off because anxiety makes your mind jump to the craziest conclusions, I was seriously scared to ask for help. Anxiety stopped me.
The cycle continued and every winter things would be sad and gloomy. I started yelling at my kids for the littlest thing. I wasn’t happy. One night, just this last winter, it got so bad that I did have suicidal thoughts, nothing huge, just thoughts on how much happier my family would be without me. How much better they would do without me. I was crying so hard, because that small voice in the back of my head was telling me what I was thinking was wrong and I was scared. I started asking myself if I really knew what happy and joy was and if I would ever feel them again.
Just a few months ago a family member opened up to me and another family member and mentioned that she had been wondering a few months before that why she was living what the point was. She talked to her doctor and started taking some medicine and was feeling better. That was what I needed.
I’ve gotten help! I’m feeling the best I have for awhile. I truly feel happy. Yes, there are still “bad” days, but they are no where near my best days in the past. I feel like I’m in control. I have gone into 2 totally new situations and it’s been amazing to not have to talk myself through actually going in!
There’s so many more parts of this story I could tell you, but this is what I was prompted to tell you. The feelings I was feeling were not NORMAL! It was not ok! The thoughts I was having were not NORMAL! They were not ok. I was not ok! Do you know how many times I was asked “How are you?” and I responded “I’m good!” “I’m great!” I was just hoping someone would push more and truly ask what was going on in my life. I’m guilty of the casual “How are you?” too, but since my change I’ve been trying to ask more questions. That’s why this year I am supporting the National Suicide Hotline’s campaign #BeThe1To They have 5 steps you can do, Be the 1 to Ask, Be the 1 to Be There, Be the 1 to Follow up, Be the 1 to Help Them Connect and Be the 1 to Keep Them Safe.
It’s National Suicide Prevention Week. I gotta be honest with you, until I was 25 years old, my life hadn’t really been touched by suicide. It wasn’t something I ever really thought about. As a teen, of course we had the normal lectures of what to do if we had thoughts of killing ourselves, but I never had those thoughts, so I didn’t really listen to those lectures. I didn’t know the signs to look for, I didn’t even think my friends might have been hurting, let alone family members.
My sister was married in January of 2011. My cousin, Mylea, came and surprised us with a visit. We all had such a fun time with her! She was worried about having bright blue hair in the temple waiting room of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As out of place her hair may have seemed to be, we all reassured her she was fine and we were just glad we got to see her! She talked to me about seeing people’s auras and I was intrigued to learn more about them. Mylea had to go buy some new knives so she could make some yummy salsa for us all. My husband even got a massage from her since he got one of his weird migraines and that’s what she was doing for work at the time. My mom asked her what she thought about while she was giving massages, being in a quiet room for an hour or so. She replied that she liked to focus on taking the negative energy away from the person on the table. She was such a caring person, she didn’t like them suffering! She seemed to have boundless energy! I don’t know if or when she slept.
Fast forward to July that year, I chatted with Mylea’s sister, my cousin, Jade, the weekend before July 4th. We chatted about her kids and I’m sure something else, but the details are fuzzy. I remember her being a little stressed about her little boy. I remember ending our conversation with something like have a great holiday!
July 5th I was at work and my dad, who I worked with at the time, came down to my desk and said, with tears in his eyes, “Camille, your cousin Jade died. She killed herself this morning.” I froze. I had just talked to her! I could have said something to help her. I started to panic since I didn’t know the signs of someone suicidal maybe I missed something, a call for help. Then my dad realized his mistake…
It was really Mylea.
I couldn’t believe it. We had lost our Smiley Mylea. She had a job she loved, she was all smiles in January, so talkative! She had started asking questions about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, about the temple and what happened in there. She had seemed so care-free and happy. But she hadn’t been.
January had been a high for her. July had been a low too low for her to come out of.
I’m sure there are lots of reasons, lots of stories, that I will never know. I know no one is to blame, no one could have done anything differently or known, she hid it well. She had a rough childhood, she lived in a Korean orphanage as a baby until coming to the USA when my Aunt and Uncle adopted her. I remember hearing that she’d hide food around her room and at meal times keep the food in her cheeks.
There were happy times too. She gave me my first horse ride!!!! She was a barrel racer in Washington and I heard had done really well. She had nephews and nieces that adored her and she adored them. I remember being so excited to get hand-me-downs from her and staying in the girls’ room when I’d go up to visit. One April Fools she put up with my little girl jokes that didn’t make sense at all. Like talking to her on the phone, her in Washington and me in Utah, and me saying, “Look, there’s buffalo’s in your backyard! ……. April Fools!”
Mylea is truly missed. We all love her still.
Since this experience, I’ve studied some more on suicide; it’s cause, it’s signs, and it’s prevention. Tomorrow is World Suicide Prevention Day. I plan on sharing a personal story or two tomorrow and some more family stories through out this week. I hope you’ll come back to read them, I hope you’ll share your story, I hope you’ll participate in the National Suicide Prevention Hotline’s #BeThe1To campaign tomorrow! I’d also like to thank my friend Bex at Genuinely Bex for being real, talking honestly and reminding me what week it was. But most of all I hope you know there are others that will listen, there are others that are there for you, most importantly, I am here for you. I’m just an email or DM or a comment away.
Picking my “first” 52 ancestors for 2019 was not as easy as I thought. I decided to just click around the tree to see what I found. I happened to be logged into my husband’s account and explored his tree instead. I discovered Alpheus J. Young, Luke’s 2nd great Grandpa, on his dad’s side. This is my FIRST Mecham ancestor to really dive into and learn about. He also ran the FIRST movie theater and had the FIRST electric lights in Monticello, Utah.
Luckily, a daughter, Jesse Young Allred and Alpheus, himself, wrote his life history. These are a collection of the stories I found interesting and wanted to share with family.