Have you been thinking about writing your life story but procrastinated because of not knowing how to start? What you might need is a beautiful journal with thoughtful prompts to make the recording of your memoirs an enjoyable and fulfilling project.
My colleague, Lisa Lisson, has recently published a pair of journals titled My Life Story So Far: A Grandmother’s Journal and My Life Story So Far: A Grandfather’s Journal. Beautifully designed and illustrated, Lisa has created prompts covering your life from birth to the present. Lisa writes:
Each prompt is designed to help you reflect on the life you’ve lived. Take your time. Let the memories come back gently without forcing them. Remember, this process is to be savored, not rushed through. You should enjoy the process of reflecting on everything that has made your life so special to you and your loved ones.
The prompts begin with your birth story, then cover childhood memories. Next come prompts for education, career, parenting, and grandparenting. The journals end with a series of prompts reflecting on your life so far and what else you would like to accomplish.
I love the idea of using the journal as a beginning point for writing my memoir. I think best in the early morning hours with a pen in hand. My notes and scribblings can then be transferred to a digital format complete with pictures. As with any large project – we need to break it into pieces and My Life Story So Far does just that. Lisa is a fellow researcher and an expert in telling ancestor stories. She especially loves to discover her female ancestors. As a Research Like a Pro Genealogy guest, Lisa shared her best tips for Finding Your Female Ancestors with Nicole and me.
I asked Lisa to share her family history background and here are her answers!
I grew up knowing and visiting both my maternal and paternal grandparents and lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins! It was not until my children were in school that I actually began to research our family history beyond the stories I hear growing up. It started quite simply one hot summer afternoon when my children wanted to “Google” our last name. We were off on the trail of our ancestors!
What mentors influenced you to get started in family history and genealogy research?
Lisa Louise Cooke and the Genealogy Guys were my go-to podcasts where I learned so much about researching genealogy. Lisa Louise Cooke’s podcasts on family history blogging were the inspiration for me to start Are You My Cousin?. The blog was initially just for my family to keep up with my discoveries.
What personality traits, hobbies, or professional pursuits have helped you in your genealogy research?
I’ve always loved puzzles and reading mysteries which is pretty much what genealogy research is. My background is in physical therapy. I honed my analytical skills and the ability to create research plans from my days of treating patients.
Why do you do genealogy? Why do you think it’s important?
I do genealogy to tell my ancestors’ stories. Whether they were prominent businessmen or migrant farmers, each one has a story that can be discovered and shared. I have a particular fondness for sharing the stories of the women in my family tree. Sharing their stories connects current and future generations to their past.
What is the most rewarding part of researching your family’s history?
Finally discovering an ancestor’s story and sharing that with family is one of the best feelings! It keeps me searching for more family history and going beyond just the birth, marriage, and death dates.
What has been the most difficult part of your genealogical journey?
One of the most difficult parts of genealogy is having the patience to pursue the records wherever they are. While much can be done online, many needed records for my research are not online.
What are your research interests?
My research interests vary quite a bit, but I am particularly drawn to finding the women in my family tree. I’m also interested in discovering and identifying old family photographs.
How do you preserve your family history?
I keep my family tree and records in a traditional genealogy family tree software. Of course, I back everything up! I also write up my ancestors’ stories so I can share them with others in the family, too.
What is your favorite way to share genealogy and family history with others?
My favorite way to share my genealogy finds is through blog posts and through family zoom calls! We also have a family Facebook Group where things can be shared.
If you had all the time in the world to spend on family history, what would you do?
I would create and travel on my own heritage tour where I research and visit the locations where my ancestors lived.
What’s the best discovery you’ve made about your family?
I think one of my favorites is still an early discovery. I discovered my 5th great-grandfather settled in the same county where I currently lived. I can actually walk where he walked! This was remarkable to me since I did not grow up in this area. We only moved to this area for my husband’s work.
Who is your most interesting ancestor?
It should be no surprise, my favorite ancestor is one of the women in my family tree! Joann Barrett is my 3rd great-grandmother who immigrated from Ireland to America around 1850. She is one of my biggest brick wall ancestors, too! How did a young Irish girl end up in the foothills of North Carolina where the closest Irish immigrants were several counties aways? Oh, and oral history tells us she was a small woman who could “cuss like a sailor”! There are so many questions I have about her, but I know I’ll figure her out in the end.
Thanks, Lisa for sharing your story!