“To be human is to have a collection of memories that tells you who you are and how you got there.” – Rosecrans Baldwin
I don’t know exactly when I decided that memory keeping was something that I needed to be doing, but I do know that I have been doing it most of my life. The art of remembering holds a very special place in my heart. As I’ve said over and over again, stuff is just stuff. If our house were to catch fire and burn to the ground, I would be fine, as long as my family, and my hard drive of memories, were safe. (Which is why I bought a fireproof safe a few years ago to keep my backup hard drive in!)
Why is Memory Keeping Important?
I love the fact that by keeping family photos, mementos, and thoughts organized, I’m teaching my children about who they are and where they came from. And by affirming to them who they are, we are instilling in them family values that they will one day pass on to their children.
If I do nothing else in this life, I want to leave a legacy to inspire future generations. I want others to remember my life as one that was with love and to know that what was most important to me were God and my family.
Health Benefits of Memory Keeping
A quick side note… Did you know that memory keeping has proven mental health benefits? By sitting down at a table to organize photos and mementos, or simply looking back at them through an album or journal, you are slowing down everyday life, filling your heart with gratitude, and helping to reduce anxiety. As a sufferer of generalized anxiety disorder, I can attest to the fact that these techniques work. (Click here to read about my battle with anxiety.)
Experts also believe that memory keeping, such as scrapbooking, can help seniors that have dementia to retain cognition and slow down memory loss. And by keeping a journal, you can improve your IQ, evoke mindfulness, bring about healing, and boost your remembering skills. So however you splice it, memory keeping has benefits beyond the “feel good feelings” it envokes that can’t be denied.
5 Ways I Treasure My Memories
Looking through the family photo albums was one of my favorite things to do when I was young. I would giggle over photos of my parents as children, and reminisce with my siblings while looking at our baby pictures.
After Gaby and I purchased our first digital camera, the photos started to accumulate in abundance. My first attempt at organizing them using photo boxes worked, but I found that the pictures were never pulled out to look at. Thus, I reorganized everything into albums. I still use the same 3×5 cards to categorize and date the photos, that they are in a book, they are much easier view, and my children can go through them whenever they want.
Aside from knitting and crochet, scrapbooking is my favorite hobby. I love choosing papers and embellishments that enhance a photo, pulling it all together to tell a story.
There are various ways that one can scrapbook, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. You can spend hours working on a page, or just a few minutes. All that matters is that you receive joy from what you’re doing, and that you’re preserving memories for generations to come.
If you’re looking at getting into scrapbooking, but not sure where to start, here’s a quick list of some of the techniques you can use.
- Do everything by hand using paper, stickers, and embellishments to make a page about a photo or piece of memorabilia.
- Scrapbook digitally using computer programs to create layouts.
- Create a photo book online through like Shutterfly. (I’ve already decided that I will be using this method when it comes to my kids’ artwork. It is impossible to keep all the arts and crafts that they make. While we do keep some in our memento boxes, what I’ve done from the beginning is take photos of what they’ve created to make a book for each of them to treasure when they’re older.)
Not only is journaling a great way to preserve memories, science tells us that there are health benefits to writing down our feelings. Studies show that journaling helps to clarify thoughts, reduce stress and anxiety, and problem solve. (Did you know that most problem solving occurs from a left-brained perspective? When we use our right-brained creativity by writing, solutions to seemingly impossible questions become clearer as both sides of the brain are engaged.)
I use journals to pray, finding that I’m able to focus my prayers more clearly when I write them down. I also keep a faith journal which I would consider a cross between a scrapbook and journal, that I use whenever I have the urge to create art while writing. My favorite journal, however, is one I picked up when the kids were young and just starting to talk. It’s called “My Quotable Kid”, and it’s a place to document all those weird and wacky things that kids say. If I need a good giggle, I just read through this journal and remember some of the silly things that they used to say.
Gaby and I used to have a video camera that we would pull out for special occasions, but since the invention of the smart phone, I’ve found that we take more video clips of the kids that we know what to do with. So as not to lose those moments, each year I make us a family video yearbook. I use Adobe Premiere Elements to string the short clips together, often adding titles with dates so that when we’re watching, we can put what we’ve captured in context.
The last memory keeping item I want to talk about is our memento boxes. As minimalists, we don’t like to have an abundance of stuff, but there are always some things in life that are just too special to part with. For us, there are the few trinkets we saved from childhood, souvenirs from trips, and our babies’ coming home outfits, among other things. Some of these items can fit into scrapbooks, like a lock of hair from a first haircut, but most won’t. Enter the memento box. We have a couple of boxes that we store in our crawlspace filled with items that we just can’t get rid of. Though they’re not something that we go through very often, and are kind of like a time capsule. I can’t wait for the day when my children are older, and they open them up. I wonder what kind of memories those items will unlock for them.
How About You?
For those of you who have never engaged in the art of memory keeping, I hope that I’ve inspired you to find a way to preserve your own memories. The method you choose can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. Whatever method you choose, it should bring you peace and contentment as you take time to slow down and remember.
If you already practice memory keeping, what are your favorite methods? I’d love to hear your thoughts about how you are creating a legacy for your family and the generations to come.