Tuesday, May 29, 2018

How to Overcome the Challenges of Inherited Family Photos

Are you lucky enough to have inherited old family photos?  While that is certainly a blessing, there are a lot of possibilities for additional challenges.  Maybe some photos aren't labeled so you don't know who is in the photo.  Maybe you have duplicates.  Maybe you just have so many photos that the thought of doing something with them is pretty daunting.

One of the biggest motivators, I think, to getting on the ball and getting photos out of boxes and into albums is this:  preservation.  If they're not preserved properly, photos can kind of decay over time.  And you certainly don't want that happening to that box of pictures from your mom.  Photos are sensitive to light, heat, and humidity (and water), as well as whatever is touching them.  Photos in a box in the attic are a ticking time bomb, so to speak.  Remember those magnetic photo albums from the 1970s?  Turns out the acids those pages were made of actually eat up pictures over time.

I'd like to help!  Getting those photos out of boxes not only preserves them but allows them to be shared.  What would photos of your grandparents mean to your children or nieces/nephews?  What about to your siblings?  They would be eternal gifts!

I published three articles about dealing with inherited photos that can help:
To read each one, just click the links!  These articles will help you as you sort through your treasured photos.  If you need some organizational help, there are some good tips {right here at this link}.

Friday, May 25, 2018

How to Print Your Pictures

It’s {estimatedthat we take 1.2 trillion pictures a year, and 85% of them are taken on smartphones!  We all know that taking a picture is really easy, but what about getting that digital image into a form where it can be seen more readily? 

As you know from previous #familyhistoryfriday articles, {accumulating a stockpile of photos isn’t really the goal} Having gigabytes upon gigabytes of photos that remain untouched and unappreciated don’t do the heart and soul good– seeing those photos doesThe whole point of taking a picture is to see it, not to store it.  

We’ve all mastered Step 1: how to take a digital picture.  Now let’s conquer Step 2: how to see those pictures from our phones.

Decide on a Home for Your Photos First

Where you want your photos and memories to live will determine the right way for you to get your photos off your phone.  While a traditional photo album from a local store is certainly one method for preserving your pictures and the stories that go with them, there are a lot of options.

Heirloom-quality digital books, scrap pages, and other digital products
from Heritage Makers {available here}
In March, we explored four additional ways here at #familyhistoryfriday which can help you decide, plus I have two more bonus options to share with you.  These vary by style, cost, creativity, and time.  I suggest looking at each of these six methods to see what works for you.  In most of these links, I actually give recommendations on who would like each method.
  1. {Pocket Pages and Kits}, one of the absolute fastest ways to preserve printed photos
  2. My favorite method, {digital scrap pages}
  3. {Digital Storybooking}, which– like digital scrap pages –allow you to skip the extra step of printing digital photos before putting them in an album, and the books are heirloom quality
  4. {Yearbooks} which are a simplified version of heirloom-quality digital storybooking, complete with a method to help you really pare down and get a handle on all. those. pictures.  (I love this method and recommend it to anyone who is overwhelmed with their photos!)
  5. {Traditional Paper Scrapbooking}, great for those who like hands-on memory-keeping
  6. {Simple Digital Photo Books}–and I recommend this company because the quality of the products is much higher than the run-of-the-mill online photobook company (like options 3 & 4) but with a cleaner and more simple look, plus the ability to click a button and "auto-fill" pages in your book
Each of these methods has their own perks, so choose something that fits your style, available time, and budget the best.  Most of all, though, love it.  I always say, “If you don’t love it, you won’t do it,” so find something you can get excited about.  Looking forward to sitting down and putting your photos in a HOME and jotting down some memories of them is a great way to help you DO IT. 

Pocket Pages from Our Memories For Life with Journaling Cards and Border Strips
{available here}

Memory-keeping is cathartic and is an excellent method of self-care!  There are {additional benefits} to it, too, like increased happiness and a greater sense of purpose!

Did You Choose a Printed Photograph or Digital Photo Product?

You may have noticed that each of those six options, along with the regular photo album from a local store, all fall into one of two categories:  a product that you’ll put printed photos into, or an all-in-one (a digital product that is printed with your digital pictures already in it).

If you choose pocket pages or traditional scrapbooking as the home for your photos and memories, you will first need to print your photos so you’ll have physical pictures in your hands.  If you choose digital storybooking, simple digital photo books, or digital scrap pages, you will already be printing your photos in a product.  So I’ll show you how to print your photos both ways.  

(If you also want to save your photos onto your computer–which I recommend–be sure you don’t miss the #familyhistoryfriday post from two weeks ago, {How to Get Your Pictures Off Your Phone}.)

How to Print (Physical) Photo Prints

Various big box stores and drug stores have photo processing centers, and all of them allow you to upload photos online.  Or try Snap2Finish where you can  {How to Order Photo Prints from your Phone}.  Snap2Finish offers prints in all these cool sizes.

From there, you can put your prints in albums, pocket pages, or traditional scrapbooking.

How to Print Photos in a Digital Product Instead

If your preferred method isn’t a hands-on memory-keeping one, you get to skip a step!  Printing your digital photos IN a digital product is a pretty cool way to do things.

If you choose to preserve your photos in the digital storybook or digital scrap pages I suggested (options 2, 3, and 4), uploading them from your phone into your Heritage Makers account is EASY.  Because there’s an app!  (It’s in the app store under “PhotoSafe.”)  (If you don’t have a Heritage Makers account, {here’s how to get one}.)  The app looks like that image above.

Digital storybook (left) and digital scrap pages (right) from Heritage Makers.
Both are available in multiple sizes {here}.
I think one of the coolest things about any of the three methods that use Heritage Makers is that it doubles as secure digital photo storage on an outside server, too!  You’ll be printing your photos with Heritage Makers’ heirloom-quality products, but you’re also getting digital photo storage!  That’s because Heritage Makers stores your photos in full resolution that you can download (for free!) at any time.  This {isn’t true for all “photobook” companies}, so I really love this feature!  Plus, even though Heritage Makers has a generous photo storage limit, all photos that you publish in a book or scrap page DO NOT COUNT toward the limit!  So it’s full-resolution photo storage for free.

Simple photo books from Snap2Finish are printed on the same heirloom-quality
products as Heritage Makers products are.  Get started using Snap2Finish {here}.
If you choose the {simple digital photo books}, shown above, which I mentioned in the #6 option up there, uploading photos is almost just as easy.  {This link} shows you how to upload your pictures from your phone into your Snap2Finish account.  And you’ll only need the first minute of that 3-minute video!  Score.

Of course, once your photos are in your Snap2Finish or your Heritage Makers account, you’re not quite done.  The next step will be to create books or scrap pages and then submit them for publishing.  But if you chose this digital method because you will love it, then you’ll have a great time doing it!  I always say, "If you don't love it, you won't do it."  Choose a method you will love!

Why It’s Important

Getting your photos off your phone is really important!  In a world without as much face-to-face contact as we once had, connecting with your own life experiences is a way to {stay emotionally healthy}. 

Every picture you’ve taken means something.  You felt that THAT moment should be captured.  You wanted to remember the experience, the view, the person, the occasion.  So letting the picture rot on your phone like yesterday’s garbage doesn’t do it the justice it deserves.  It doesn’t honor your desire to preserve that moment of your life.

Seeing your photos is what makes them matter.


Save and share this post by Pinning, Tweeting, Emailing or Sharing on Facebook or LinkedIn.
This post was originally published at www.livegrowgive.org on May 25, 2018, by Jennifer Wise.  Find more #familyhistoryfriday posts about memories, photos, stories, connections, and family by clicking the hashtag below next to Labels.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

guest post: Women Who Rock

Do you know any women who rock?  This year Dr. Ruxandra LeMay started an inspiring series on her blog looking at women of influence.  (If you are a woman, you are a woman of influence--trust me!)  I "met" Dr. LeMay through a bloggers Facebook group, and I was so honored when she asked to interview me for her series!

I talk about stepping outside your comfort zone, motherhood, running with YOUR strengths, balancing responsibilities, why being over 40 is great, and why pictures and memories really matter--basically what I've learned from life and business!

I hope this article is inspiring to many women in many stages of life!  I hope you find some great nuggets from it that you can use every day.  Enjoy!  You can find the article here:



Friday, May 18, 2018

How to Organize Both Printed and Digital Photos

As we talk about photos this month on #familyhistoryfriday, it’s important to talk specifically about how to organize both printed and digital photos.  Organizing printed (physical) photos requires a good strategy, but digital photos are a whole new animal.  We just didn’t take thousands upon thousands of photos back when we used film.  In fact, you’ll sometimes see me mention people I meet who have a terabyte (or more) worth of digital photos on their computers.  A terabyte can hold {2,000,000} photos.  Two million.  So organizing digital photos really is imperative simply because we have so many of them!  Let me help with some steps on HOW to organize your photos.

Declutter First

After the first important step of {setting aside time for your photos} and honoring your own appointment with yourself, it’s time to declutter.  (If you need help getting your pictures off your phone and onto your computer, {last week’s post} will help you out.  There’s a quick video tutorial, even.)  On the first #familyhistoryfriday this month, I outlined {three main elements of decluttering} your photos:
  • Get rid of garbage photos (your finger, the floor, blurry photos).
  • Really consider how many photos you need to keep that don’t have people in them.  (You already know what the White House looks like.)
  • Get rid of duplicates.  (In the olden days, we would order double prints.  With digital photos, we can sometimes take about 10 shots that are basically the same.  Duplicates.  Just keep one.)
This is a good place to start, but if you missed the original post about {decluttering your photos}, be sure you click the link and head on over.  There are some important, preemptive tips on decluttering your digital photos to begin with so you don’t have to do it later.  You’ll also find a little dose of reality and perspective that can be rather motivating!

Organizing Physical (Printed) Photos

Organizing photos that have already been printed can feel overwhelming because you can see how much physical space they take up–one box, four boxes.  Digital photos are a little sneakier that way.  Although I mostly deal with digital photos in my everyday life, I have had to organize boxes of physical photos. 

Before my mom passed away, she left me a few boxes of mementos and keepsakes that included quite a few photos.  So believe me when I say that looking at boxes of photos can be overwhelming.  Here are the steps I suggest for organizing physical (printed) photos:
  • Put the boxes in a place where you can spread out as you organize.  You will need physical space.
  • Go through the boxes with not more than a glance, just to get an idea of what you’ve got.  Are we talking pictures from 1940-2010, or are all the pictures just from the 1960s and 1970s?
  • Get containers, one for each decade you’re dealing with.  Label them with sticky notes for each decade.  The containers don’t need to be fancy because they’re temporary–shoeboxes and tupperware will do.
  • Begin organizing.  Only organize by decade at first.  Put all the pictures from 1980 in the container with the sticky note “1980,” and so on.
  • Once everything is sorted into decades, you’ll now just work with one decade.  Get 10 large envelopes (manila envelopes) for that decade.  Label each envelope with one year:  1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, etc.  Then organize everything from the decade container into the specific year envelope.
  • Take a break if you need to!  Work with a friend or family member!  But enjoy reminiscing or discovering new gems.
  • Repeat through all the decades until you’re done.

Remember that organizing photos isn’t the same thing as preserving them.  (Keep reading…)  

For example, I transformed my mom’s box of cherished mementos into {a beautiful life storybook} that we all love, especially now that she's gone.  I sometimes read through it when I miss her.

What To Do With File Names

With film, you had a negative and a printed photo from it.  That’s it.  With digital photos, though, you have a name to deal with.  That’s because each photo has a file name that has nothing to do with anything at all about the photo except the order in which it was taken.  Because photos come out being called “IMG_624” instead of “beach trip 2015 with Bob and Sue; our first stop at the tide pools,” people often ask me what to do with file names.

Now, if you’ve been hanging out at #familyhistoryfriday for any length of time, you know that {a photo loses half its value if it doesn’t have its story with it} A photo of Bob and Sue on their 2015 beach trip, stopping at the tide pools, is only valuable if you know that’s Bob and Sue at the tide pools in 2015.  Right?  If it’s a couple of people you may or may not have ever seen doing something at a beach, who cares?

So you might think that I would suggest that you add some details to the file names.


This just makes them harder to find.  If you have 100 photos from the Bob and Sue trip, you might call some of them “Bob and Sue trip” or “Oregon Coast trip” or “2015 beach” or any number of other things.  Even if you remember to stay consistent with your photo names, what if you take an “Oregon Coast trip” every year?  What if you go back to find those photos in 5 years and you can’t actually remember what you named them?

Leave the file names alone.  Your computer will automatically “alphabetize” files (which, in this case, places them in chronological order).  It’s the easiest way to find things.

(If you’re already a pro at renaming, using metadata, and all that, this "don't rename" advice doesn’t apply to you.  Most of us aren’t.)

The Only Exception

The only exception to the “leave the file names alone” rule is if you have photos from different sources.  For example, I take most photos on my camera because I often like the landscape (far away) shots and close up shots.  My phone doesn’t do as well in those situations, but does better than my camera for selfies and low light situations.  

My camera calls photos DSCN_1111 while my phone calls them IMG_1111.  If I go to the tide pools and take pictures with both my camera and my phone (which often happens), then when I put them on my computer, they won’t be together.  Some will be DSCN and some will be IMG.  This will make them harder to find in the future because they will be separated and I may not remember that they belong together.

 Here's what I do to solve that issue.

After I upload my photos from my camera and my phone to my computer, I rename some of them so that they will fall in line (alphabetical order) to keep them in chronological order.  If I’m humming along uploading my camera photos (DSCN_1111, DSCN_1112, DSCN_1113) to my computer and find a photo from my camera that chronologically belongs in the middle of those, I’ll rename it from IMG_1111 to become now DSCN_1112a.  This will put it in alphabetical order on my computer between DSCN_1112 and DSCN_1113.

You'll see exactly what I mean in this video--you can watch me actually do this process.  I show you in person through a video screen share exactly what I’ve written here–exactly how I organize my digital photos.  Organization is KEY in how I stay caught up preserving them.:

Organize Using Dated Folders

This is a sure-fire way to be able to find digital photos!  Without folders, your photos are just an unending sea of digital images.  I suggest first creating year folders (so:  2012 pictures, 2013 pictures, 2014 pictures, etc.)  Within each folder, add month folders (so:  January 2012, February 2012, etc.)  I used to just leave it at that unless a lot happened within a given month, but now I add another layer of organization.  I add folders per event.  So, for example, if you click on my 2012 pictures folder, then my February 2012 folder, you’ll see folders that say “Las Vegas trip,” “school concert,” etc.

And I’m telling you, using this method means you can find anything as long as you can remember approximately when it happened.  It’s so much easier than swimming through an endless sea of digital images!  It narrows down where you will look.  It gives clear organization to the myriad life events and moments we preserve on camera.

Which brings us to the whole point.

Preserving Your Photos, Not Just Organizing Them

Organizing photos is really important so you know what’s where, but that’s not the end goal.  Photos must come out of digital form in order to be seen and loved.  I call that preserving your photos.  You STORE your photos on your computer or hard drive, but you PRESERVE them by printing them. 

Here’s why:  You need to remember why you took the picture.  You need to tell its story.  You really can’t do that with a file.  Printing your photo and then writing details and memories next to it is what makes it a valuable, even priceless, photo.  Besides, {technology is so fickle} (hello, remember floppy disks?) that it's not a great place to trust your photos.  You never know what will change or what will crash.  So preserve pictures (and memories) by printing them!

So once your digital photos are organized, you can print them the old-fashioned way and put them in photo albums, {Easy Pocket Pages}, or {traditional scrapbooks}.  

Or you can sort of combine the two–print your photos IN an actual product, rather than printing them and then physically putting them in a product.  For digital printing and publishing, whether in books or scrap pages, I use and recommend {HeritageMakers} (shown above) because of its heirloom quality and {other phenomenal features} like Heirloom Assurance, flexibility, photo security and storage, and more.  Whatever method you choose, just be sure you are trusting your precious photos and memories to quality products.

Organizing digital photos is important, but only so they can be preserved in a tactile way for hands, eyes, and hearts to enjoy. 


Save and share by Pinning, Tweeting, Emailing, or Sharing on Facebook or LinkedIn.
This post was originally published at www.livegrowgive.org on May 18, 2018, by Jennifer Wise.  Find more #familyhistoryfriday posts about photos, memories, stories, connections, and family by clicking the hashtag below next to Labels.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Snap2Finish: Making a Photo or Memory Book in a Snap

One of the reasons I'm a die-hard Heritage Makers user/lover is because of the high quality of the photo products (books and scrap pages).  It makes a big difference to me that my photos and memories are preserved in something that is going to last for generations.  I don't trust my precious story and pictures to anything wimpy.

So when Heritage Makers' parent company added an additional digital option, Snap2Finish, to their YGY Photo offerings, I admit I wasn't really enticed.  I love what I can do with Heritage Makers, from digital scrapbooking to beautiful books commemorating special events and family times.  But when I learned that the quality is the same as Heritage Makers (printed with the same process, actually, including the library binding in hardbound books), I decided it was time to get to know Snap2Finish.

Here's why:
  • Snap2Finish has some fun products not available in the Heritage Makers line.  Although Heritage Makers offers really cool things like making your own {playing card deck} and {car magnet} and {computer/messenger bag} and {cookbooks}, Snap2Finish offers puzzles and pillowcases and towels, which are kinda cool!
  • For someone looking for a really quick way to get their photos off their phone and into their hands and hearts, Snap2Finish is simple photo publishing and memory-keeping without anything complicated.  But the quality is so much better than your run-of-the-mill "free photobook" you find online sometimes.
  • Snap2Finish also offers photo prints in several sizes (including square ones) for traditional scrapbookers, too!
So although I had printed up several photos (just prints) for framing through Snap2Finish, I decided it was time to make a book!  As I mentioned, I *adore* Heritage Makers for ALL my digital publishing needs, from memory-keeping to magnet calendars and rockin' gifts, so I admit I went into Snap2Finish with a little bit of a bias.  

Truth be told, I was pleasantly surprised!  Making a photo book with Snap2Finish really was fun and easy!  It really comes together in a fast, uncomplicated way for a clean and simple look. 

And here's my finished book!  I love it.  The quality is definitely up-to-snuff and on par with Heritage Makers, which is a big deal to me.

The metal stitching in the library binding is the same as Heritage Makers.  (No glue that can crack over time!)  It's the best kind of binding available.  Heirloom quality is the name of the game for both Heritage Makers and Snap2Finish.

Snap2Finish has lots of fonts to choose from, and the page layouts are really simple.

Because it took a little trial and error (and asking my consultant) to learn where the buttons are and what everything does, I really wanted to make a tutorial video for you to help you get a fast start using Snap2Finish!  With just a few pointers, you can get your photos off your phone and bring them to life!

BONUS:  You can see how to use the auto-populate feature so you can just click a button and fill your book with pictures:  https://vimeo.com/283799561  (It's just a 4-minute video.)

So see what Snap2Finish can do for you!  To get started:
  1. Go to jenniferwise.snap2finish.com
  2. Click "register" at the upper right to open your free account.  IMPORTANT:  If you are a Heritage Makers user, you already have a YGY # assigned to you.  Ask me for it so you can enter it here--that way you can use Heritage Makers publishing points when you order anything from Snap2Finish. 
  3. Learn your way around the website and the program at the video.
  4. Let me know if you have questions.  That's the whole point of us being connected.  :)  My contact information is at the "contact me" tab at the top of this blog.
This is really a fun way to ENJOY your pictures...  in a snap!

Friday, May 11, 2018

How to Get Your Pictures off Your Phone -- and Why!

Pictures are the focus of this month’s #familyhistoryfriday, and today we’ll look at one of the most basic photo obstacles:  getting them off your phone.  

In the last 10 years or so, photos taken on a phone have come a long way.  Back then, the grainy image was not really worth a second glance, but today I can take better quality photos with my phone than I could on the first digital camera I owned!  With increasing memory capabilities on phones and better quality, the phone is a common way to take photos these days.  And because phones are in our pockets, it’s easy to take a lot of photos with them.  But now what?

Why Do I Need to Get My Pictures off My Phone?

We’ve all heard a story of someone dropping their phone in a swimming pool, ocean, toilet, fish tank, etc.  In fact, about {36 million smartphones are ruined by water each year}.  (That’s about 11%.)  Shockingly, about {70 million smartphones are lost or stolen each year}.  (That’s about 20%.)  Combine those two numbers, and we’re talking about 1/3 of smartphone users who have an irreparable issue with their phones!  I don’t know about you, but I turn my old phone in for a new one every two years when my contract is up.  Theoretically, everything should transfer over from one phone to another, but it doesn’t always.  (Lost all my music that way once.)

This doesn’t mean your phone isn’t a good place to take a picture, it just means it isn’t a good place to store a picture.

Now, that second article I just referenced also says that a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds!  (gulp)  So although we are talking specifically today about how to get your pictures off your phone, remember getting them off your phone isn’t the end goal.  The real goal is to get them into printed form.

Moving your jpeg digital photo files from being stored on your flash drive to being stored on your computer is still storage.  Whatever {digital photo storage method} you have, those photos are only STORED, not seen. 

Storage, by definition, is putting something away–it’s not using it!  Seeing a photo is what makes it precious.  Remember that!  You don't actually WANT photo storage!  You took the picture so you could see it. {Digital photo storage is a backup, not a goal.}

How Do I Get My Pictures Off My Phone?

I can’t tell you how many people I have talked to who really want to preserve their pictures in high-quality completely customizable {digital books} or {scrap pages} but sheepishly admit that they don’t know how to get their photos off their phones.  If that’s you, don’t worry!  I’m here to help with that today.

I actually have three methods I can share with you!  You can find them here with details.  And this is for beginners, so it’s not complicated.  Find the three methods here: {How to Get Your Pictures Off Your Phone}

Plus I just made a video for you!  This little 5-minute tutorial goes over the most basic method of getting your pictures from your phone to your computer.  I even show you my screen so you can see how it works.

What Do I Do After I Get My Pictures Off My Phone?

As I mentioned earlier, getting pictures off your phone is important, but just shifting them to another digital platform isn’t really the goal.
"The sheer volume and lack of organization of digital photos for personal memories discourages many people from accessing and reminiscing about them. In order to remember, we have to access and interact with the photos, rather than just amass them.” -Linda Henkel, psychological scientist
Just hoarding them doesn’t do anything for us. Seeing the pictures is how they get appreciated and loved and remembered.  If you never see them, they can’t {increase your happiness}, or any number of other {benefits of memory-keeping}.

So once you’ve learned that all-important step of how to get your photos off your phone, make sure you do something more with them!  You can find some {great options here} at the link that are higher quality than the typical "photo books" you see advertised.  Plus, you don't buy any of that beautiful digital art (embellishments) that you see above and below, and there's no monthly membership fee, either.  Read {all the perks at this link}.  And then {get started here}.

Whatever you do, #dontletyourbabiesgrowuptobejpegs 

Pin to save and share!
This post was originally published at www.livegrowgive.org on May 11, 2018, by Jennifer Wise.  Find more #familyhistoryfriday posts about pictures, memories, stories, connection, and family by clicking the hashtag below next to Labels.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Memories Connect Us - guest post by Carol Stewart

Today's post comes from Carol Stewart of Capture by Carol.  I was fortunate enough to "meet" Carol online a year or so ago.  We are definitely kindred spirits!  Carol has a passion for family stories and history.  She is the Family Historian in her family.  Carol is an advanced amateur photographer who loves to capture moments in the lives of her family and friends.  She has been using those captured moments (aka: pictures!) to create beautiful storybooks, home decor, etc., for over 20 years.  

In 2009, she discovered Heritage Makers and was in awe of its creative power.  In 2017, as she was approaching the prospect of an empty nest, she decided to take the next step and become a Heritage Makers Independent Consultant.  She has over 9 years of experience using Heritage Makers.  Her two most favorite creations are both storybooks:  a 60+ page storybook of her parents' history she made for their 50th anniversary and a 90+ page storybook she made for her children's high school theatre director upon her retirement.  Carol has experience in most of the products that Heritage Makers offers and can create anything for you!  Contact her through her website (link at the bottom of this post.)   

I love Carol's perspective on memories here.  They really are what make up our humanity, and we really do need help making them last.  Read and be inspired!

We are not who we are simply because we think. We are who we are because we can remember what we have thought about. ~Larry R. Squire & Eric R. Kandel from “Memory, From Mind to Molecules.”

Memories are what connect us.  Have you ever thought about that?.  What if you didn’t have a memory of the people you loved?  What if the people who love you didn't remember you?  A relationship cannot be sustained without memory.  Think about the movie Groundhog Day, where Phil Connors re-lives the same day over and over again.  Phil remembers every re-lived day, but everyone else he knows lives that same day for the very first time, every time! He's very lonely, and he has to start his relationships all over without any foundation beyond the past 24 hours.

In a relationship between two people, both of them need to have memory to grow the relationship.  A solid relationship foundation is built on memories.  Memory diseases like Alzheimer’s are so devastating because one person loses the ability to retain memories of their relationship with the other person.  I have experienced the effects of this awful disease in my own life and it is truly devastating for all parties involved.  

 “Every thought we have, every word we speak, every action we engage in- indeed, our very sense of self and our sense of connectedness to otherswe owe to our memory, to the ability of our brains to record and store our experiences.  Memory is the glue that binds our mental life, the scaffolding that holds our personal history and that makes it possible to grow and change throughout life. When memory is lost, as in Alzheimer’s disease, we lose the ability to re-create our past, and as a result, we lose our connection with ourselves and with others.”  ~Larry R. Squire & Eric R. Kandel from “Memory, From Mind to Molecules.”
Relationship and community are why we exist in the first place!  God created us for relationships and community, and through our relationships with Him and others, we glorify Him.  Imagine how hard it would be to fulfill our purpose without memories.  Memories connect us to each other.

We even set aside holidays for remembering!  Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Christmas, and Easter are all days set aside specifically for remembering. 

Memories connect us by helping us to understand who we are.  It's important to understand your place in history in the context of your family and your ancestors.  Understanding your context brings clarity to who you are and where you came from.  In 10th grade, I did a project on my family genealogy.  I was assigned to do a family tree, so my grandma gave me a lot of her family records.  Of course, I still have them to this day!  I created a huge poster board, and when I brought it to class I was the only one with a huge poster board.  Everyone else had one 8.5x11 sheet of paper.  I stuck out.   (What 10th grader wants to stick out?  J ) Needless to say, my teacher talked about my project that entire school year because he was so impressed with how much work I did. (Truth be told, I did all that work because I thought that was the assignment!) From that project, I gained a love for family history and genealogy.

When my mom's cousin learned about that project, she sent me a huge genealogy record of our family. She gave me panels and panels of 8 ½ by 11 sheets of paper taped together to make up a poster bigger than a queen size sheet. Through this project I learned many stories about my ancestors; who they were, the struggles they overcame, what their temperament was, etc.  It helped me understand where I came from and who I was, and it gave me a great sense of belonging and family pride. This documentation of my family history brought me closer to those that had come before me, even those I had never met in person.  It gave me a sense of security. That's what memories do to connect us.  (I’m currently in the process of documenting all those memories and will eventually put together a Heritage Makers storybook and include some old photos my aunt found).

Here is another blog post I wrote on the importance of remembering the past: www.capturebycarol.com/blog/5-remind-remember/

Memories connect us by deepening the existing bonds.  That 10th grade genealogy project inspired me many years later as my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary was approaching.  I created a Heritage Makers legacy storybook for my parents.  It took me a year to gather all the stories and photos (I had to scan most of them as they were film photos) but it was the most rewarding storybook I have created to date. This storybook captured the story of their lives together.  My parents loved it.  Watching my parents read that storybook together and bond as they re-lived all their memories together was priceless to me! My parents read that book over and over again.  That Christmas, I gave that storybook to each of my siblings, which they cherish.  That’s one of the things I love about making a storybook in Heritage Makers:  you can easily order multiple copies.  Rather than making multiple copies like you would with a paper scrapbook, you simply push the “add to cart" button! Easy Peasy!

When my mother passed away in January 2018, we had a table at her memorial with pictures displayed, a slide show running on a loop, and the 50th wedding anniversary storybook.  When people walked over to the table the first thing they did was to pick up that storybook and read through it.  The slide show was nice, but the storybook was something special--it was tangible and could be picked up and read at one's own pace. Another reason the storybook was such a draw is that it contained the history and the memories in the form of written words that went along with the photos, not just pictures only.  The most compliments I received from the display were about the storybook.  People loved looking through that beautiful Heritage Makers storybook.

We just completed our production of "She Loves Me!" at my daughter’s school.  I had several duties, including document the production through photos.  I took photos at all the dress rehearsals.  I printed 120 photos for display on opening night, and I had a slideshow, too.  People enjoyed the slideshow, but those printed pictures received the most attention, especially among the teenagers in the cast.  They just don’t see printed pictures like we did growing up!  They all wanted printed copies of the pictures because they wanted to hang them up in their rooms to remember this special bonding event they had all participated in together.  (I assured them that they would be getting a link to all my pictures but they still competed for those printed versions!)  From this experience, I'm even more convinced that printed versions of our memories are more treasured and enjoyed then digital versions.

Memories connect us by rekindling old bonds.  I have lots of cousins on both sides of my family, and when I was younger they were my best friends. They were like my siblings.  We have lots of pictures from family trips and other events. Growing up I took that for granted, thinking everyone had this experience.  There was a time that we were all inseparable but as we grew up and started having children of our own, life got busy and the gatherings were less and less.

Then my aunt died. We all gathered at her funeral saw pictures displayed along with a slideshow of many family gatherings.  Seeing those photos again reconnected us and reminded us of our history together.  It brought us all closer and we made a commitment to keep in touch. We saw our memories in the form of photos and rekindled our bond.  

Two years later, another aunt died. Then her husband, my dad’s brother, died a month and a half later. A week and a half after my uncle’s passing, my mom passed away. It was a tragic season of loss.   What did we, my cousins and I, all do?   We went through picture after picture after picture and gathered them all up and displayed them at each of the funeral services in the form of slideshows and framed photos and even some Heritage Makers storybooks.  

Why did we do that? The funeral services honored our loved ones’ lives, and those photos represented their beautiful lives.  The photos also represented our memories, our history with our loved ones and each other.  It both connected us and honored our loved ones.  Those pictures represented the deep bonds our loved ones had cultivated which we continue to enjoy today. If you think about it, those are the bonds that contribute to our health and wellbeing and keep us mentally healthy. 

I am so very thankful that my mom and my aunts knew the importance of maintaining a photographic history.  My mom and my aunts were good at keeping family albums and even writing on or near the photos.  Because they were so careful to record our photographic history, we have a legacy to pass on to the generations that follow us.  

If you don’t have this kind of history recorded in your own family I highly encourage you to start today.  Future generations will be impacted by it and will be thankful for your efforts.  Let Heritage Makers help you create a lasting legacy.  Start with your free Heritage Makers account today at www.heritagemakers.com/carolstewart.

Sometimes our memories are not accurate  Are there photos you don't like or might not have understood the importance of when they were first taken?  A change in perspectives can alter the recall experience of a photo, so going through old photos every few years can be helpful to your health and well-being. Let me give you an example.

When I was about 8 or 9 years old, someone took a picture of me with my siblings, friends and cousins in our backyard.  We had just gotten out of the pool.  My mom developed the picture and put it into our family album.  I remember the bad feeling I had:  “oh my goodness I'm so fat.” But I look back on that picture now and realize that my initial reaction was ridiculous!  I wasn't fat! I was just right. When I look at that picture now, my focus is not on my body image but on the relationships in that picture.  I see a beautiful day with my beloved friends and family!  The passage of time almost makes it feel like I am seeing those pictures for the first time, from a different perspective. The photo jogs my memory back to a more accurate perspective and an accurate memory.  Reflecting on those photos and the memories that go with them deepens my bond with my family and friends.  A photo I once hated looking at is now one of my most favorites!  (I try to remind my children of this concept when they give me grief over some of the pictures I take of them today!)

Memories Connect Us:  Memories connect us by helping us to understand who we are, by deepening our bonds with others and by rekindling old bonds. Heritage Makers can help you stay connected to those memories with a beautiful storybook.  Start your connection today at www.heritagemakers.com/carolstewart.

How to protect those memories that connect us:

Record your memories in a Heritage Makers Storybook:  Photos and the memories that go with those photos help facilitate retaining those memories and as a result, those relationships are deepened and grow.  Photos and the memories that go with those photos help keep an accurate picture of our history.  Memory isn’t always reliable so it’s important to record the memories as soon as possible for a more accurate history.

Once you have recorded your memories and created a beautiful Heritage Makers storybook, order one for yourself and give away multiple copies as gifts!  The boost in self-esteem you will have generated in the person who receives your lovely gift will be well worth the reasonable cost!

Two + ways to store your memories:  The beauty of publishing a storybook in Heritage Makers is that your photos are stored in your account and in your storybook which means that you have a backup copy online in your account and a beautiful hard copy in your hands.  Win-win!  And, if you want a third way, Heritage Makers offers a high quality Photosafe Archival Disc to store all your photos.  It is a disc that will last over 100 years (compared to a normal disc which will only last about 5 years).

Heritage Makers Heirloom Assurance Program: Although the slideshows and digital display of photos are nice, they aren’t as fulfilling as a hard copy storybook in your hands!  Hard copies of your family history are important for your health and well-being.  Being able to pick up a hard copy of your family history is so rewarding and brings a sense of security and stability.  It also guarantees your history will be passed on to generations to come. Not only can you order multiple copies of your storybook but Heritage Makers also has the Heirloom Assurance program.  If any damage happens to your Heritage Makers storybook just order another one at half price!

Some of the advantages of using Heritage Makers to publish your storybooks and other products:

Quality:  Heritage Makers is unsurpassed in quality.  From the quality of their products to the quality of their image processing, you will not find another company that even comes close to Heritage Makers quality.  My memories deserve the best and Heritage Makers fits the bill!

Art Selection & Templates:   Heritage Makers is 100% customizable.  You can create your own products from scratch or start with a template.  There are 1,000’s of artwork and templates to choose from.

Studio online all the time:  Heritage Makers is 100% on the go!  No software to download.  Everything is created online in Studio.  No risk of losing your work due to your computer crashing.  Work from anywhere you have a computer and internet.
Learn More:  www.capturebycarol.com or start creating today by opening your free account:  www.heritagemakers.com/carolstewart