Manifesto for the Family

planting-1898946_640I am a seed planted in the soil of family. Family protects from the elements, provides nourishment, is warm, is love, is always there. I will create a family where other seeds may grow.

A friend to me will be a friend to my family. If I will be their friend, I will build their family. Together our families will be our soil. We will have foundation. We will be strong. We will not be alone. We will be one.

Through family I will reach across my generations. I will find identity from my elders and ancestors. I will provide opportunity for my children and grandchildren.

I will give and receive love. I have been created and I will create. I am protected and I will protect. I have been provided for and I will provide. I will reach across the generations. This is a warm place. I have foundation. I have soil.

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Your Daily Diary

Many of us would like to make regular journal entries, but there is much to get in the way. I offer a few suggestions –

  1. It doesn’t have to be every day. Missing days is no big deal. It could be once a week. Or once a month.
  2. Make it easy. Put the journal on your night table, or in your night table drawer, with a pen handy.
  3. Or, an ejournal might be your style. Make sure you put a short cut on your desk top. Make it easy.
  4. Short entries are just fine – don’t make it a chore!
  5. If you find it hard to know what to write, I’d suggest a list: a) what I did today, b) what I learned, c) who I met, d) what I hoped for. Slip the list inside the front cover of your journal, or use it as a book mark.
  6. It might be helpful to share your journal entries with someone else. In our family, letters/emails to each other are saved and make a great record of life. A private blog makes this easy to do, too.
  7. Make sure you figure out how to enjoy it, how to make it add value to your life and the lives of your loved ones.

Journals increase in value with time, are a treasure in themselves, and are wonderful raw material for many other family legacy treasures.

Family Icons

Kneeling Tara Cotta WarriorFamilies share memorable moments together. These moments can fix in the minds of children for the rest of their lives. They form a foundation of their identity, and provide context and meaning for the rest of their lives. Because vision is generally our dominant sense, using visual icons – photographs, illustrations and artistic creations – can be a strong ally in creating memories that last a life time. When these memories are set in positive family experiences, then family becomes a core aspect of our children’s identity.

These visual cures can serve as common icons shared by family members who shared the memorable moments. They represent and call to mind an especially meaningful and rooting experience, shared by every family member. Family icons support a common family point of reference, identity and loyalty.

Many members of our family shared the experience of living in China for almost 10 years. I created this sketch of an ancient Chinese warrior, a Terra Cotta warrior, from an archaeological dig near the city of Xi’an where we lived. It is an icon that many of our family members will identify with.

What memorable memories would you like to preserve as your icons of family unity? How can you preserve these with photographs or other family art?

Family icons are a gift that last a life time.

Why You MUST Tell Your Story

On Grandpa 4 collapse   There are two legacies that we can leave in the world. The first legacy is our family – our children and their children and so on. The second legacy can be the story of our life, told so that our children, and their children (and so on) can build on it.

If history is the foundation of civilization, then life stories are the foundation of family. If ancient Egyptian and Greek history is important enough to teach every school child, how much more is the history of their own family? I often imagine how valued our stories will be to our great grandchildren, or even ‘great x 10’ grandchildren?

Civilization is born and raised in the family, and as the family goes so goes civilization – and the very joy and happiness of our progeny.

Preserving the wisdom and lore of forebears enables the generations to build on heritage. Family stories provide identity and foundation in a world that often seems to have lost its moorings.

If we leave children – sons, daughters, nieces, nephews – then let us leave them with the foundation of legacy in our own stories.

Tip: Family History File Storage

Your family history – the stories, the photographs, the biographies – is one of the most important gifts that you leave to your family. Losing even a small part of it just can’t happen.

No one method is entirely safe. Hard drives crash and break. Hard copies get lost and damaged. Cloud files sometimes simply disappear. Any electronic file can become corrupted.

My answer is to duplicate and diversity. Duplication happens when you store the same files in different places, when you backup your files and when you print and store hard copies. Diversity happens when you use different kinds of storage.

I don’t store many files on my computer hard drive because I like to save that space for other uses. So, I save files in cloud storage, specifically on Google Drive and on One Drive. I backup files to a hard disk. All of my files are in three different electronic storage spaces. And then I make and store hard copies.

I also email copies of important files to others. That puts those files into another individual’s storage, and also stores the file in the email attachment.

With all that duplication and diversity, I sleep as well at night as I can, knowing that files that get lost in one spot can be retrieved from another location.

How to Make an Oral Recording – Simply!

Histories are only useful when they are preserved. Typically, any unrecorded family story will last for no more than three generations, and most die with those who experienced them.

If you have been reading my posts, you know that I like to start with oral histories because they are quick and easy to make. Let’s discuss some options for recording and preserving an oral history.

The recording devise on your smart phone is perfectly suitable. It might be called ‘Voice Recorder,’ or ‘Voice Memos.’ It will record into a digital file that is easily transferred to a storage location, such as a hard drive or onto the cloud. (More on storage later). I suggest putting the phone on a folded cloth in front of the speaker to keep noise down.

You can also get good results using the built in microphone on a computer, or an external microphone. Again, to avoid external noise, it’s best to fasten the mic onto a stand and leave it alone!

Make a short test recording to make sure it’s actually working, is loud and clear enough and there isn’t too much background noise.

I actually just finished making a 6 minute recording about a summer time activity that our family enjoyed at a local lake when I was young. On playing it back, I noticed that I didn’t sound at all like the anchor on the evening news. I seemed to take a lot of breaths and click my tongue or something every so often. But, that’s OK. I’m recording my real voice and way of communicating. I’ll be best known and appreciated, I think, if the idiosyncrasies of my voice and speech are part of the record.

Where Have All the Seniors Gone?

Today I attended the Kirby Expo. The Kirby Centre is a not-for-profit organization in Calgary that supports the over 55 crowd. The Kirby Expo was a gathering, trade show style, of various public and private service providers for seniors. Family was a theme running throughout, and I was encouraged by the opportunity for collaboration among service providers, in close concert with family, in caring for the older generations.

An aspect that was somewhat in short supply, however, was an awareness of the contributions that seniors traditionally make to family and society. Their wisdom and values are not trivial, indeed are critical, and deserve much more than a cursory nod. An important aspect of Ed Britton Legacies is to provide a venue for the expression of the wisdom and values that seniors have to offer their families and society.

Rather than isolating our grandparents in institutions, our society has a desperate need for their traditional social contribution. In many respects, seniors should be teaching, mentoring and leading. If this was more the case, our troubled world would be much better off.

Where have all the seniors gone?