The latest research is proving our brains are hard-wired to become more integrated as we age. Not only do people get smarter, their decision-making is stronger, wiser and more creative. Older adults know themselves and are comfortable with who they are. They have learned how to live well, to feel whole despite loss and pain. They remain hopeful in the face of adversity. They desire to make sense of their lives by writing and telling their life stories. (The Mature Mind by Gene Cohen, MD, PhD)
This inner push to perform a life review often begins at ages 70 and 80. Tests reveal both sides of the brain become evenly balanced in aging, allowing people to create recollections that are richer and more vivid. Plus, it feels good to recall the past. When they do….
People discover the roots of their strength are in childhood. This young lass was allowed the freedom to roam freely the streets of Manhattan and the rural upstate in summers. As an adult, her courage and spirit of adventure continued, and inspired many an amusing tale.
People write to pay homage to those who shaped them. A big sister was significant in raising the author while their mother, a young widow during the Depression, was earning a living. The sister died prematurely, but was revived in memories shared on the pages of her book.
Hard times became the foundation of priceless resources. The author was responsible for running a household at age 9, standing on a stool to make biscuits and staying out of school to shuck corn. Decades later she created a housing development on land she inherited, and she did this alone, in spite of naysayers. She knew she could from her own past!
Our passions can forge an identity. We may learn something worth sharing. This author discovered her gift ran in the family generations earlier, explaining her compulsion to learn to weave. And now it is preserved in her own life which is linked to the past, is practiced in the present and imparted to the future through live demonstrations.
Some may begin the endeavor by wanting to be remembered as more than a parent. They are painting a portrait of their whole person, for whom parenting was just one role, greatly cherished, but not defining.
All authors end by stroking relationships and values. And in doing so, the memoir is an affirmation of life and living, of all who have come before and will follow after, of that which is strong and enduring.
There are many ways to record your stories, such as using a three ring binder. These can be simple or fancy.
You can write in a spiral notebook or blank journal. You can make copies at Kinko’s and let them bind it. You can create books yourself by searching online for “print on demand.” If you want some help, I am here to support you. I am a book designer, a writer and editor. You are the author, and nothing should stop you from writing your life story. You are only a pen and paper away from beginning. Do it for your family. More importantly, do it for yourself.
As you write, you may brush against the experience that all along you have occupied a seat at life’s great banquet. The table is laid with care while the most delicious food is prepared to be set before you, and there is a place card with your name on it. Without your presence, this banquet would not be the same. Your life is essential to the feast. It is important and holds meaning to many. You will find that every piece of your story counts. Nothing that happened was wasted. It all contributed to making you who you are. And you can look back and see that it was good.
That is the value of writing your life story.