Friday, March 21, 2014

Recording an Ordinary Life

Snuggling my new baby girl and reading.
It's the simple things in life. . . 
I recently began reading the book, Little House in the Big Woods, to my children. The story is deceptively simple one of a young girl living in the woods with her family. Their life revolves around survival at it's most basic core. Pa hunts animals and then he and his family spend much of their time preserving food for the coming winter. Of course there are fun times such as playing with a ball made from a pig's bladder. These details must have seemed mundane and ordinary to Mrs. Wilder as she recalled them. However mundane and ordinary the details are, they compel us with their simplicity. The Little House Series reminds me that I have stories of my own to tell, even though the details seem insignificant and small.

Joe Fassler wrote a fascinating piece in The Atlantic about the author, Claire Messud. In "Words on Paper Will Outlast Us": How Claire Messud Distills Her Life,"  Claire Messud says this,"Just because we lose so much does not make the small fragments we do preserve less valuable--quite the opposite. Storytelling is a human impulse, and making meaning is a human impulse. We want to make sense of things, and we will always try to tell the fuller story from the fragments that we've got. . . There is always a world to discover within the shards we have."

This article blew me away as author Claire Messud reminds us that once we are gone, what remains of us is often words on paper. Eventually the people who knew us best and loved us will die, and their memories will die with them. Isn't this so true? Haven't we all lost people in our lives whose presence are gone because of what they haven't written? And don't we treasure those fragments we have even more because of their scarcity?

My grandparents died more than a decade ago. I have hundreds of questions I would ask them if they were with me right now. Those unanswered questions compel me to share my own stories and experiences  through blogging and scrapbooking. The last eight months of my life have been incredibly full, but also difficult to record in blogging. I simply haven't had the energy to write lengthy or even brief blog posts. What I have recorded comes in short, almost cryptic phrases that I am now starting to flesh out.

I believe very strongly that we all have stories of our ordinary lives to tell. Remember that life isn't just about the grand moments or the big events that punctuate our stories. We all have small moments and details that paint a big picture of a life well-lived.

My challenge to you is take some time today to start telling your story in a journal, blog post, or a letter. It doesn't have to be grand or earth-shaking. Just share a piece of yourself.

Share with me what prevents you from recording your life. If you do take time to journal or blog, what keeps you going?

Here are some ideas to get you started:
What's on your shopping list? And what does that say about your life and family? How does it compare to your shopping list last year?
What is your routine like in the morning? (Trust me, you'll want to write this down because it really does change based on the schools your children are in or where you live.)
What is the hardest part of your day and why?
What is something you do well?
What is something you do really, really badly?
What is an accomplishment you are proud of?
What is something you regret and why?
Share a favorite childhood memory.
What subject were you best at in school?
What was your hardest subject in school?
What do you do that relaxes you?
What stresses you out?

Have fun!



Bobi Jensen said...

Wow, I am saving this for blog ideas!

Nicole Salisbury said...

Good ideas! I find my ability to write and process anything these days lacking. And after the baby comes...