One person I was talking to recently claimed ordinary for their life but when I asked her about her hobby, she got all excited and started telling me how she’s tracked her family tree back 200 years and even got a family tree DNA test to further identify her family roots. She could hardly stop sharing about all she’s learned and it got me thinking about tracking down some family background (although I’ve delegated that to cousin Nancy). I like to think that spending time looking at your personal (and professional) history is a bit like sitting down and looking at old family photo albums but the key difference is that while we often think about only the good things when looking at old pictures we usually focus on the negative things when looking back at our history. We might regret missed opportunities or see how that decision led us to make a crucial life decision that we wish we could take back now. I’m trying out some different ways to explore my personal biography to see how much I can learn and how I can shape my narrative so that it carries me on a cushion of air rather than a muddied down plow.
- I’m going to create a visual timeline of my life with important events noted. My marriage to Sheila, selling my business, my first golf hole in one! How did these shape me and what memories do they bring to me now
- I’ve started a list of people who have made a difference in my life. If you’d like to get on the list, send me your nomination form.
- I did a search for Mrs. Sonia Nalvin, my 8th grade social studies teacher. I’d like to write her a letter and thank her for instilling such a great love of history in my life, but alas, she does not come up on a google search. I may write her a letter anyway.
- As a psychologist and consultant, I’ve helped a lot of people and companies over the years. I often think back to what I think was a really important difference I made for them. I may start a list of those folks as well.
- When my parents passed, my family asked me to write and speak the eulogy and while it was a difficult task, it was one I relished as I was able to honor mom and dad in a way that brought out their greatness as people and their love as parents. I started writing my own eulogy this past week and its a bit trickier to do since I know a lot more about my secret lives than anyone else. But I think it will help me to better understand and own who I am.
- The short version is to just write your tombstone. Can you guess what my father’s image represents?