Tuesday, August 29, 2017

interview questions to help write a life story

Did you know Heritage Makers started with a life story?  It's true.  Founder Candy May lived far from her grandfather and was looking for a way for her children to get to know him like she did.  She decided to interview her grandpa and write his life story in the form of a kid's storybook.  And THAT is where the magic happens.

All Heritage Makers consultants know the story:  Grandpa Wozney didn't think his story was anything special.  He was a little reticent when Candy approached him about writing his story.  All the same, he let Candy interview him.  The resulting story (written in storybook style for her kids) became their favorite story.  They could quote from it, and they developed a relationship with and love for their great grandpa who lived 1,000 miles away.

Because here's the truth:  Grandpa Wozney's story WAS something special.  It was and continues to be special to every single person who loves him.

And for the rest of us, the moral of the story is this:  EVERY story matters.  Everyone has a story.  Everyone has a story worth telling.

Whether writing your own life story or the life story of a parent, grandparent, or other family member, the project can be somewhat daunting if you don't know where to start.  Having a list of questions to follow or just use as a jumping off point can be very helpful. 

Three Resources with Questions to Help You Write a Life Story

Here are some very helpful resources as you begin writing a life story, whether it's yours or someone else's.  These will get your thoughts rolling. 
  1.   {60 Questions} from OneFam
  2.   {Creating Family Stories} from Evolve via LifeTales Books
  3.   {#52stories} from FamilySearch

You can use these exactly or see what thoughts come into your mind while you read them.  You'll probably get other thoughts and ideas during the process.  Listen to your intuition and inspiration.  While these questions are a great place to start, you may think of questions that are more specific to the person, questions that shouldn't be missed.  Get started and your heart will give you additional questions and points to document.

When You Should Write YOUR Life Story

If you're wondering when you should write YOUR life story, {this post} outlines the benefits of life stories--to the writer and to the reader--as well as an easy option for creating it right in the publishing program so you don't have to write it twice.

How to Professionally Publish a Life Story (without a hassle)
Create your book in your private, online account, then submit it for publishing on heirloom-quality products before it's shipped to your door.  You can find more information at the {how to get started} tab above.

Who do you need to get to know a little better?  Whose legacy shouldn't be forgotten?  Who needs to get to know you a little better?  A life story is the key.

It's a treasured gift now and for years and generations to come.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Making Preserving Photos Affordable

This post was updated 2022.

Memories are something everyone has.  Pictures are something almost everyone has.  Preserving pictures and memories and personal or family stories is a sweet part of life because it creates connections, engenders a sense of belonging, raises self-esteem, increases resilience, and even lowers stress.  If preserving pictures and memories is so good for the heart and soul, shouldn’t it be something everyone can do?  Why would memory-keeping be limited by money?  I believe memory-keeping should be affordable to everyone, so today let’s explore some ways to keep it that way.

First, know what's most expensive.  Scrapbooking seems to be the go-to way of preserving photos and memories these days, but {as we learned} a couple of weeks ago, it’s actually the most expensive way to preserve your life’s stories.  

With many things in life, we must often choose between what requires more money and what requires more time.  Clipping coupons, for example, takes time but saves money; not using coupons saves time but requires more money.  

Traditional (paper) scrapbooking actually takes the most time and the most money of all the memory-keeping options.  That’s not necessarily bad!  It just means that if you choose to scrapbook, you need to have both time and money.  And that’s perfectly fine if you do –in fact, it’s a gift if you do– but most people need to know that there are other ways besides scrapbooking to preserve photos and memories.

I’ve been a memory-keeper all my life and have been in the business of helping others with it since 2005.  I have seen a lot of things come and go.  Improvements have been made in making sure the products we use are photo-safe and won’t eat away at the photos over time.  

If those things aren’t affordable, though, what’s the difference?

Know the difference, too, between affordable and cheap.  You only want to pay for something once, so quality is super important when you're choosing how to preserve your memories.  You don't want cheap.

Photo and Story Treasures recommends only high-quality products, and you can see 3 fantastic options right here.  Choose the one that fits your style, available time, and budget the best.    

Here are 3 affordable ways to make preserving photos and memories affordable:

1.  The trick for keeping costs down is to wait for sales (current sales shown at this tab).   Sales at Forever change every couple of weeks, so that means just about everything is on sale every 2-4 weeks.  
2.  On top of that, I highly recommend the Club program for these reasons:
  • It's free to join!
  • You save an additional 5% on your printed products.
  • You can choose a certain amount to deposit into your account each month, as low as $25.  Club acts like a bank account--you can save up over time for bigger purchases!
  • Forever Club Dollars (the amount you deposit into your account) never expire. 

3.  Use your Referral Link!  Your Forever account comes with a Referral Link.  Each time (EACH TIME!) you share your Referral Link with a friend and he/she opens a Forever account, your friend gets a $20 coupon to use toward just about anything at Forever (good for 60 days) AND SO DO YOU!

Better still, coupons are stackable, so that means 

There are top-quality hardbound books, softbound books, and even individual digital scrapbook pages available, in a variety of sizes, so you're bound to find something that works for you.

I am surprised sometimes to hear people say that paying a little over $2 per page in a digital book (a 12x12 hardbound of 21 pages is $43 at 50% off) is “too expensive.”  Aside from the fact that they don’t seem to be stopping to think about everything they’re getting for that $2 –from the highest-in-the-industry quality binding to up to 8 or 9 pictures on each page– I think people often forget what they regularly spend $50 on.

Every time a new Harry Potter book came out, I spent $30 on a hardbound book.  Over time, I spent $210 on Harry Potter books!  Why wouldn’t I spend the same amount of money on my own photos and memories, something that will be meaningful for generations?

What do you regularly spend $50 on?  This is a beneficial thing to think about if you’re looking for ways to make memory-keeping an activity that fits in your budget.  What could you cut out or cut down on?  Movie tickets?  A pedicure?  Dinner out?  What isn’t worth as much as your family’s story preserved is?

While it does cost some money to preserve your pictures and memories, it doesn’t have to be as much as you might think.  

Do some looking and find an affordable memory-keeping method that you will enjoy (so you will do it!), and don’t worry about how “cute” or “trendy” it is.  Memory-keeping doesn’t have to look a certain way.  It just has to be your memories and your photos, preserved in a way that can be enjoyed over and over again.  The benefits from the connections that memory-keeping makes are priceless.

Everyone needs an affordable, high-quality way to preserve photos and memories!
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 This post was originally published at www.livegrowgive.org on August 25, 2017, by Jennifer Wise.
You'll find more #familyhistoryfriday posts by clicking the hashtag below next to Labels.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Preserving Pictures as a Family Tradition

Preserving your photos and memories in a tactile way, or {memory-keeping}, is an activity that requires a little planning and time but pays great dividends.  In the struggle to find enough time in a day for everything we want to do, moving pictures from cameras or phones to a photo album or memory book oftentimes stays on our “wish list” and never makes it to our “to do” list.  

You’ve probably read several #familyhistoryfriday posts here about {making timeand some {tips on making your memory-keeping goals into reality}.  One great way to accomplish any goal is to be held accountable for it, and this holds true for memory-keeping, too.  Today we’ll look at one really fun, meaningful way to be accountable for preserving your pictures:  making it a family tradition.

The Power of Tradition
A tradition is a regularly-repeated practice or event.  The {Running of the Bulls} in Pamplona, Spain, is a tradition.  The lighting of the {Rockefeller Center Christmas} tree in New York City is another.  Social or cultural traditions are often fun or entertaining, while family traditions often have a uniting power in them in addition to usually being fun and entertaining.  From Sunday dinners to opening a gift on Christmas Eve that’s always new pajamas, family traditions create a comfortable, homey place to belong. 

In her blog post {“Creating Traditions That Make Family Memories,”} Cora Foley wrote:
[Traditions] help shape a family’s legacy, while also instilling family values in its newest members, whether they be a baby or a spouse. Family traditions can also help solidify the bond between all family members, no matter the age or distance between them. If you document these family times with photos, videos, or written stories, the memories can be shared for generations, ensuring that your family legacy is always protected.
So here's an idea!

What if memory-keeping were a regular tradition?  What if "getting photos off the phone and preserved" weren't an item on Mom's to-do list?  What if it were part of a family tradition?!

Despite the busy-ness of life, we commonly prioritize traditions.  Parents will always fill Christmas stockings, no matter how busy they are or how empty the wallet is.  Always.  If you spend a week at the lake house every summer, you’ll make sure you spend a week at the lake house this summer.  Traditions give us something to look forward to.  Traditions build relationships.  Traditions are good for the heart and soul, for kids and adults.  Memories of the yearly beach trip or Easter Picnic stay with us.

Think about it this way:  You probably take pictures of all your traditions.  So what if preserving those pictures and the memories you made with them were a regular tradition, too? What if that became part of what you always do?  For one, you could stop feeling guilty for not doing anything meaningful with your photos, but the more important part is that you could have a new, meaningful, uniting family tradition as something everyone looks forward to.  {Memory-keeping might be the best family tradition you’ve never considered}.

How to Begin a Memory-Keeping Family Tradition

Here are five steps to beginning a memory-keeping family tradition.  Your own family looks different from others, so modify the suggestions below to fit your own situation.
  1. Get your family together to decide when.  Set aside a regular and consistent date, time, and place for your Family Memory-Keeping Tradition.  I suggest about one or two hours a week (like every Friday night or Sunday morning) or a larger block of time once a month.  Put it on your calendar.  Every single week or month!  Choose a time that is relaxed and stress-free.  There are some great ideas from a couple of different sources for “pruning and prioritizing” your time so you have more of it {right here} if you need some suggestions on making time.
  2. Make the tradition fun.  Put on music, pop popcorn, or whatever creates a relaxing atmosphere in your home.  It’s very important to create a feeling of belonging and connection during this time so that everyone looks forward to it.  Don’t answer the phone.  Don’t check e-mail.  Focus on prioritizing your family, your photos, and your memories.
  3. Know that it will vary, but it all counts.  Memory-keeping involves organizing photos, deciding which ones to preserve, and then either printing them to put in store-bought albums or uploading them to print in digital books or digital scrap pages, as well as writing down the memories and details of the photos.  Your family memory-keeping tradition may not look the same each time–sometimes it could be uploading photos, sometimes it could be writing next to the photo.  It all needs doing.  Make it enjoyable for everyone by talking about what you’re doing.  If it’s a boring upload from camera to computer, sit little ones on your lap and talk about the photos as they come up.  “Oh, remember when we did that?  Wasn’t that fun?”  “What was your favorite part?”  And you might learn a lot, too!
  4. Involve everyone.  You might have to get creative here, but it’s very do-able.  If you’re preserving photos from your trip to the Grand Canyon, ask everyone to write down on pieces of paper what they remember about getting there, their first impressions of seeing the canyon, their favorite part of the trip, the funniest thing that happened, etc.  This is a great way to reminisce together, which increases happiness and a sense of belonging, but it also serves as the perfect source for your memory books so you’ll know exactly what to write next to your photos.  
  5. Use a memory-keeping method everyone can participate in.  When my kids were little, I thought I would be a super great mom by making a gingerbread house together.  It took me about one time to realize that when they wanted to have blow-pops coming out of the roof (“cannons,” I was told) and I wanted the house to look like it belonged in a Victorian village, nobody was having fun.  (We’ve done individual gingerbread houses since, and it’s a much-loved family tradition now.)  So if you want to scrapbook using nice papers and professional stickers but don’t want to let your kids loose on that, you’ll need to involve them in other aspects like writing down their memories or coloring small pictures to put on the pages (and maybe put the pages together later on your own).  Digital memory-keeping is so much easier with kids.  I know several young moms who have told me they love creating digital photo-storybooks for their memory-keeping because they can have their young kids on their laps actually working with them without having a mess!  Plus, they don't have to drag out or put away supplies--any computer with an internet connection will do.  Find age-appropriate responsibilities that contribute to the goal and are fun, too.  Just make sure everyone is involved, even if it’s just talking or pushing a button to upload the photos to your computer.

By request, if you're struggling to just get those precious snaps organized in the first place, here's some help:
And click here for {the written version which also includes how to organize photos that are already printed.}

UPDATE 2022:  For more photo organizing tutorial videos, including my 3-part series where you'll learn the difference between storing and preserving photos plus get 10 strategies for consistency, click that link. 

It’s Not So Different
If you’re not sure how making memory-keeping into a family tradition will work in your particular family, I encourage you to give it a try and see.  You may have a teenager who grumbles at everything, but you might be surprised at what being involved in memory-keeping might do for him.  He will probably grumble through a few sessions, but {memory-keeping is so good for kids (and adults)}, so don’t give up.  Creating a family tradition of preserving photos and memories isn’t so different from other traditions.  It takes some work and planning, but give it some time and wait for the magic.

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This post was originally published at www.livegrowgive.org on August 18, 2017, by Jennifer Wise.
More #familyhistoryfriday posts can be found by clicking the hashtag below next to Labels.

Hooray!  This post was featured here:

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

3 Ways to Scrapbook Faster with 3 Digital Ideas

This post was updated 2022.

We've got an abundance (or over-abundance?) of photos these days, but preserving them can still be a struggle.  Sure, there are quick-fix solutions that pop up here and there, but many of them are lacking in quality or flexibility (the ability to go outside a proscribed template).   

So how do you get your photos preserved quickly before the memories fade without sacrificing quality or flexibility?

Three Ways to Scrapbook Faster

Today I want to share three ways to scrapbook faster, including three ideas for digitally preserving your photos.  The beauty of this is that you don't have to be a scrapbooker!  You just have to have pictures and memories --which you do, because you're reading this post!

My tips for scrapbooking faster plus the three digital ideas can be found {right here at this link}.  I hope after reading it, you take away something important that will truly help you in your goals to preserve your photos and their stories.  

At the very least, always remember this:

UPDATE 2022:  Check out these three digital ideas.  The first two are ridiculously fast!

The middle one, Design & Print, is the one I recommend for most people because it's prettier and has more room for text than the first option and doesn't take time to learn the program like the second option.  See what I mean:

Happy Heritage-Making!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Budget-Friendly Ways to Preserve Photos

This post was updated in 2022.

Because I hear so many people lament about {not having time} for preserving photos and memories, I write a lot of posts about time–ways to make time, myths about “not having time,” and such.   After the topic of time, though, the runner-up of memory-keeping obstacles I hear about is money.  We’re all on a budget.  Preserving photos needs to be affordable.  How do you preserve your photos without breaking the bank?  Aren’t there some budget-friendly ways to preserve photos and memories?  Actually, yes!

I think one reason that people automatically think that memory-keeping is expensive is because they assume memory-keeping means scrapbooking.  It can mean scrapbooking, certainly, but it doesn’t have to.  Hopefully you know that {memory-keeping= scrapbooking is a myth}.  There are other ways to preserve pictures.  Photos have been around for 200 years, so there are obviously other ways to preserve them.  {Scrapbooking is not a requirement for memory-keeping}!

Here's the thing.  I’m all about solutions.  I want to give you something you can DO.  

So let’s really break it down and look at the most cost-effective ways of getting your photos out of the no man’s land of your computer (or phone) and getting them SEEN.

We'll look at 3 different ways.

Scrapbooking is an art (or at least a craft).  It’s usually creative people who choose to preserve their photos via the creative method of scrapbooking.  Some people even go to weekend scrapbooking retreats.  There are big scrapbooking expos with hundreds of vendors.  Scrapbookers love scrapbooking.  I saw a meme once that said, “Blessed are the children of scrapbookers for they shall inherit the scrapbooks.”  And that’s the truth!  They are precious for the photos and memories they contain, for the lives documented there, but they’re also works of art.

As it turns out, traditional (paper) scrapbooking is actually the most expensive way to preserve your photos and memories.  The cost of scrapbooking in a somewhat basic style like this one pictured includes several different kinds of papers, a binder of some kind, sheet protectors, pens, a trimmer or paper cutter, adhesive, and –of course– the photos themselves printed out.  There additional options, too, such as stickers, punches, and borders.  There are scissors and punches of all kinds, as well as crafting machines to create die-cuts and vinyl stickers.  

So you can really embellish the dickens out of a scrap page if you choose.  This is why it’s hard to pinpoint a true per-page cost of traditional (or paper) scrapbooking.  If you buy a 30-sheet pack of paper, will you use it all or have some you’ll never use?  If you buy a punch, will you use it 300 times or 3?  So I’ll just do my best with the cost breakdown.

Here’s an approximation of what one basic traditionally-scrapbooked page costs (without any stickers or other embellishments):
  • 2-4 pieces of scrapbook paper:  $3
  • 4 printed photos:  $1
  • page protector:  50 cents (depending on size and quality)
  • PLUS one-time purchases that would be prorated for a per-page cost breakdown (though one-time purchases do need replacing):
  • adhesive:  $4-$5
  • paper cutter or trimmer with blades:  $20
  • pens:  $3-$4 each (may want multiple colors or styles)
  • binder/album:  $10-$40
This doesn’t include storage boxes or travel totes, but for a basic scrapbooked page, the cost comes out to around $4.50-$6.00 with ZERO embellishments.  Add stickers, punches, borders, die cuts you’ve created with your own machine, etc., for another $1-$6, which brings the total to $5.50-$12 per page.  

Keep in mind that with traditional scrapbooking, you are really in charge of the per-page price.  If you’re looking to save some money, the simple/basic style is your best bet.  I have a friend who doesn’t buy anything unless it’s on sale.  (And I’m not kidding you!)  That’s also a good rule of thumb for keeping the price low on traditional scrapbooking.

Craft stores and even big-box stores sell albums you can just stick your photos in.  Some come with pages (somewhere to put your photos) included and some don’t.  There’s a huge variation in cost, but an average is about $15-$40 for an album with 20 pages in it.  The big key to remember here is that you still need some good quality paper and pen!  Unless the album you choose has space for you to write details of the photo and your memories, you’ll have to add that on your own.  Of course, 4 printed photos still cost around $1, so don’t forget to add that cost in, too.

And one other big key to remember is that while cheap is often attractive to the pocketbook, there is definitely such a thing as too cheap.  Buying high-quality homes for your precious photos and memories is definitely worth it in the long run.

One page of photos and memories preserved via simple albums would cost around $2-$3 per page.  Again, it depends on the kits or papers you use, but this is a rough estimate.

And please, I beg of you, check the quality before you buy anything from a big-box or craft store.

Sometimes cheap is good, but usually cheap is just cheap.  I don't recommend bargain-bin type products for your precious memories and photos, no matter which of these 3 options you prefer.  If you have to go to all the work to re-create and pay for your digital photo books all over again a few years from now, you're not actually saving anything--time or money.

Again, there is a wide variety of methods to preserve photos and memories in digital books or pages, so it’s impossible for me to give an exhaustive price comparison on digital memory-keeping.  There are digital scrapbooking companies that require you to buy art collections (the digital version of stickers and embellishments), and there are several really simple ways to print up your photos and memories in digital books, too.  Each option would have to be looked at individually, because not all digital memory-keeping methods are created equal.  $25 spent at one company might give you something better (higher quality) than $25 spent at another company.  

Quality and cost are just two things to consider.  I had a friend tell me that she stopped using a particular digital photo book company because she found out that they reserve rights to any photo you upload to your account there–so they legally have a right to use your photos if they would like.  Or sell them!  (And some have!)  Just know {what you're really signing up for with digital photo storage} is all I’m saying.  That link will help.

Because quality is a big issue for me (why bother spending time and money on something that will fall apart 5 years from now?) as well as flexibility, photo storage, privacy, and cost, I love and use Forever products because:
  • I know the print and binding is top-of-the-line high quality.
  • They offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
  • My photos (and videos) are privately, securely stored (triple-backed up with bank-encrypted security) in my Forever account.
  • I get a PDF version of my book, too, so I have both a hard copy and a digital copy (that is shareable).
Of course, with digital printing you eliminate the cost of printing your photos at a photo-processing center, too.  The only cost is for the item itself, so defining an actual cost per page is a lot easier.  There are two different options, though, depending on if you want something quick & easy or if you prefer full-on creative digital scrapbooking.  

This book was created using a free Design & Print template.

I'll give a price breakdown for both using an average-size (10x10) book, so keep in mind 8x8 books will cost a little less per page and 12x12 books will cost a little more.  Keep in mind that I'm listing full price, and books are often on sale, anywhere from 20%-50% off.  In addition, many Forever users are Forever Club members (a free program) and save an extra 5%.
  • free software with free templates
  • price for the average-size book (10x10) with 21 pages and best-in-the-industry binding at full price is $1.67 per page for a softbound book and $2.62 for a hardbound book
  • Books come with 21 pages but are expandable to 99.  
This book was created using a free Design & Print template.

If you are looking for more than templates and snap-of-a-finger memory-keeping--if you prefer creative and flexible pages--you may fall as much in love with Artisan digital scrapbooking as I have.  It's a little harder to pin down a per-page price since the software and design isn't free, but I'll outline it below anyway.

  • Artisan software to purchase and download to your computer (start with the 30-day trial, if you want), currently $184 with the 20% discount, but sales can be as high as 40% off  (so, $138), and sales change every couple of weeks.  Forever Club would be 5% more savings. 
  • Digital art collections are downloaded and installed in Artisan.  There are quite a few free collections, or you may choose to buy some.  Digital art has a huge price range because it depends on how many papers/embellishments/alphabets are included in the collection, anywhere from $3 to $50.  
  • The prices for Artisan and digital art should be included in the per-page price breakdown, but it really just depends.  Again, for the average-size book (10x10) with 21 pages and best-in-the-industry binding at full price is $1.67 per page for a softbound book and $2.62 for a hardbound book
  • Books come with 21 pages but are expandable to 199 in Artisan.  
page from a 12x12 scrapbook created using Artisan software and digital art

That price breakdown is just a sampling because there are a lot of other sizes and options (such as lay-flat bindings), but if you’re on a budget –and aren’t we all?!– this gives you a good idea of how digital memory-keeping fits into the mix.

If either of those Forever options look fantastic to you, click here to get started--I've got a step-by-step outline for you there.


The digital books are pretty much tied with simple albums as the cheapest way to preserve your pictures, and traditional paper scrapbooking definitely comes out on top as the most expensive.  (Maybe that puts it at the bottom?)  And digital has a lot of additional perks such as the ability to get multiple copies at the touch of a button or the ability to re-order more in the future.  That may influence your choice.

By the way, there are definitely bargain-bin type options online for digital photo books that might be cheaper than these shown, but the majority of them--in my experience--don't have the same quality as the options I recommend here.  As I said before, sometimes cheap is fine, but sometimes cheap is just cheap, and you might be sorry later.

So what's your favorite?

Do you like the hands-on traditional scrapbooking style, the simple photo albums from a store, or digital memory-keeping?

I always cringe a little when people tell me {they “can’t” preserve their photos because they don’t scrapbook}.  There are a lot more things out there besides traditional paper-and-scissors scrapbooking.  We’ve looked at several methods today, and there’s something for every budget.  

Being short on cash or on a tight budget doesn’t make your memories and photos less important than anyone else’s.  Your photos and memories are a gift to you, so find whatever best-quality method you can to preserve them.

Your preserved photos and memories aren’t important only if they’re scrapbooked.  They’re important because they’re yours.  Whether that means a simple album, a creatively scrapbooked page, or something in between, you’ve done it right.  You’ve done what works for you and given your family and yourself a priceless gift that lasts generations.

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This post was originally published at www.livegrowgive.org on August 11, 2017, by Jennifer Wise.
You can find more #familyhistoryfriday posts by clicking the hashtag below next to Labels.

Friday, August 4, 2017

"Free Time" and Memory-Keeping

What do you do when you need a break?  How do you relax, take a breath, rejuvenate, and recharge?  What do you do to relieve stress?  In our busy world, the phrase “leisure time” is often brushed off because nobody believes he/she has time for that!  The truth is:  we all need an avenue for stepping away from the everyday phone calls, e-mails, school pick-ups and drop-offs, appointments, responsibility, hassle, and stress.  We all need leisure time.

And here's what you need to know about "free time."

It's unhealthy to not take leisure or free time because we mentally, emotionally, and physically need it.  Work, stress, and going all the time are not good for our bodies or minds.  We can’t be at our best when we’re drained.  Time to do something we don’t have to do is vital to our well-being.
Phil Hoefer’s article, {The Importance of Leisure}, gives three great pointers:
  1. Acknowledge that leisure activities are as important a part of life as work is.
  2. Schedule leisure time like you would a vacation or any other event.
  3. Choose leisure activities that "make your heart sing."  (Don't you love that one?)
If you don't feel like you have enough free time, there's a trick to it that you need to know.

According to Glenn Santos, {scheduling your free timegives you more free time!  Free time even makes you more productive!  Just Google “vacations make you more productive” and read Forbes, The Atlantic, and many other sources and studies.

So if you don’t think you have time for leisure time, you might take that as a sign that you really need to make time for it. 

Over the last few years I've stumbled upon one of the best ways you can use your time.  I consider it "the best" because it has {been shown} to increase happiness and improve mood, decrease stress, increase relaxation, and even improve relationships among family members.  So if you're looking to take a break from the phone calls and the e-mails, rejuvenate, and feel better, here's what you do:  memory-keeping.   
If you've never heard of memory-keeping before, you can {read more here}, but the basic idea is preserving photos and memories.

I always look forward to memory-keeping, or sitting down with my photos and preserving them with their memories.  It’s calming and centering.  It’s fun.  As I wrote a few months ago when I busted {Memory-Keeping Myth #3}, memory-keeping is my time to escape I put my problems and stresses and responsibilities on hold so that I can go back to a good time and re-live it all over again.  I take an hour or two to leave the bills and the e-mails and go back to Yellowstone or the weekend in the mountains or my sisters’ getaway.  And, truly, that’s the power of a photo!  It takes you back.  Remembering good times makes you happier in the now.

And, yes, I schedule it!

Memory-keeping does me so much good.  But more than that, I even see memory-keeping as a noble use of time!

Yep, I said noble.  

Reading, developing a skill, learning, and physical activities are all great uses of free time.  So what makes memory-keeping a noble one?  It benefits you as you do it (and, boy, does it ever–from lower stress to higher self-esteem), while at the same time benefiting others.  Kids especially have a greater sense of belonging and purpose when their lives’ stories are told, but anyone who sees your digital books, albums, or scrapbooks gets to go with you to Yellowstone or the weekend in the mountains or the sisters’ getaway.  That will make them smile.  They will feel better.

How many things that benefit you benefit others just as much?  A mani-pedi doesn’t do that.  How many things that benefit you are lasting?  The novel wraps up, and the walk in the park comes to an end.  Preserved photos and memories span generations and make a lasting impact on many.

If making time for preserving your photos and memories has so far been elusive, here is your list of positive reinforcement.  Call it a mantra.
  • Leisure time (or free time) is good for your physical and emotional health.  
  • For best results, schedule free time.  Prioritize it.  You'll have more of it if you do.
  • Focus on all the benefits of memory-keeping.  It's good for your heart and soul, and the results benefit others just as much.
If managing your days is still tough, look for ways to consolidate, delegate, or delete.  There are some great suggestions at the two articles referenced {here} and more {here}.

Once you’ve found the time, the next step is to find a {memory-keeping method that’s addicting and fun}.  That’s your key to continued success.

Everyone takes pictures, but somehow memory-keeping is the best-kept {secret in wellness}!  It’s a noble and rewarding use of leisure time.  So don’t let free time pass you by!
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This post was originally published at www. livegrowgive.org on August 4, 2017, by Jennifer Wise.  You'll find more #familyhistoryfriday posts by clicking the hashtag link next to Labels below.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

the one big secret to organizing and preserving your photos

The amount of photos we take these days often makes us wish for an "easy button"--a way to organize and preserve your photos easily.  The truth is, there IS one big secret to successfully organize and preserve your photos.

It's you.  It really is.

Here are three tips to make organizing and preserving photos a little easier on you:
  1. Keep in mind that {the most meaningful way to preserve photos is in print}.  If you have 1,000 photos on a flash drive somewhere, you'll probably never look at them again.  If photos are preserved with their story (usually in a book of some kind), they're accessible and more likely to be seen and appreciated.  Recalling happy memories increases self-esteem creates connections.  And it has actually been shown to increase happiness in the present!
  2. If you have a lot of photos, you will probably have to just choose your favorites for printing and preserving.  And that's okay!  In fact, it's necessary if you don't want to be {stuck under a mountain of photos}.
  3. After you take photos, download them to your computer for printing as soon as possible.  I make it part of my routine.  My recommended print options are listed here, and I only recommend heirloom-quality digital photo-storybooks!  
UPDATE 2022:  For permanent, private photo storage that you OWN (you don't rent by paying a monthly fee), I highly recommend Forever Storage.  It's guaranteed for your lifetime plus 100 years, and there's even an app for your phone that you can set up to auto-sync your photos from your phone to your (free) Forever account.  Click those links for more information. 

I would say that these are important things to have in the back of your mind WHILE you take photos, too.  If you know having 400 photos from one vacation is going to overwhelm you, think twice before you take 400 photos.  It's much better to have SOME photos that you will see and love than none at all.

UPDATE 2022:  You might also benefit a lot from my 3-part Photo Organization and Preservation classes.  You can catch the recordings of them right here!

Part 1: Organizing and Decluttering Photos

Part 2: Solutions for Preserving and Storing Photos (and the difference between the two!)

Part 3:  10 Strategies for Consistency

The next thing to do is MAKE TIME to preserve your photos and memories.  

There are some great solutions are listed up at the "don't have time?" tab along the top of this blog, as well as some blog posts with time management tips on how to "prune" your days (I love that word) to make time for important things. 

Another fantastic thing to know about is the opportunities to get together with others in our memory-keeping community online and work together!  Find the latest at "Our Community & Events."  Most of them are free!

This photo yearbook was made with a free template {right here}.

As nice as an "easy button" would be, YOU are the key--the main ingredient--in organizing and preserving your photos.  If you didn't click the "stuck under a mountain of photos" link in the second bullet point, go back and read it.  That article identifies several ways to make organizing and preserving your photos a more manageable task.

And once you get started, it's fun! 
Good times can be re-lived!  People you haven't seen in a long time can be seen again!  Photos are truly a gift.  They can create connections and a sense of purpose and belonging.  And what's even better is that the process of preserving photos has a grounding, centering effect while lowering stress.

Just not while photos are left in their digital form.