Voices of Experience: Spring Clean Your Memories

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Spring brings the hankering for fresh starts: a clean house, a neat desk and a clutter-free mind. Recently, I sent a project to the printer that I had worked on for three years. With the 334-page church history book finished, the next day was a whirlwind! I reorganized workspace, threw out baking dishes I never used; swept, mopped, vacuumed and even spot-cleaned the carpet. Finishing a project releases a tremendous amount of energy.

People save their memories in different ways. My Grandma Lolly had salt & pepper shakers with a story from each place she had been. Granny Schnuck kept a practical button box and could picture the clothing that had sported each button. My husband Evert can tell a story about any hit rock record from 1965 to 1990. Collectors are actually saving the joy of an experience; they are saving memories. But like any collection, memories need spring cleaning. Dust them off, organize and preserve your memories. You can then showcase them or store them as your legacy. Spring clean your memories for peace of mind and a surprising energy boost.

5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Memories

  • Organize your photos. Label, organize, discard, preserve and showcase your photos. You may make a photo book, slideshow, a video or a website to share. A family member or professional photo-organizer can help.
  • File and store your handwritten stories, poems or recipes in a pretty new three-ring binder.
  • Photograph your keepsakes. Store the photos and stories about what each means to you in a coffee table book or scrapbook. Then, give away most of the objects.
  • Write or record your memoir or family stories. Do this routinely with a family member, friend or personal historian. Get a finished book or video to share now and to leave as a beautiful legacy.
  • Start a Show-and-Tell Club. Ask your friends or colleagues to bring one object and tell its story at each meeting. Dust off that memory, and share it with a sparkle.

Last fall, I scanned just the important, illustrative photos from my father's 16 photo albums. I have a few hundred digital photos ready for the next step - a book of his life stories. Or, I could tackle the tax of editing a box of my poetry from college days. Either way, I spring clean some memories and end up with a book to enjoy, rather than dusty boxes. How will you spring clean your memories?

Deborah Wilbrink is a personal historian with PerfectMemoirs.com and author of "Time To Tell: Your Personal & Family History." She lives in Nashville with her husband, Evert, and enjoys gardening and guitar. Contact Deborah at 615-417-8424 or via e-mail at deb@perfectmemoirs.com.

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