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.)  (In 2021, Carol added a wonderful company called Forever to her recommendations for high-quality memory-keeping.)

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.  Create a lasting legacy with a free publishing and storage account at http://capturebycarol.com/.

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 or Forever can help you stay connected to those memories with a beautiful storybook.  Start your connection today at http://capturebycarol.com/.

How to protect those memories that connect us:

Record your memories in a  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  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!  Try Forever for the ultimate in photo storage!

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!
Learn More:  www.capturebycarol.com 


  1. What a nice write up. I really enjoyed reading it

    1. I'm so glad. Carol has the same heritage heart as you and I do. :)

  2. This is beautiful! Memories do connect us on so many levels. I remember my Grandpa always telling us stories growing up... We heard the same stories all the time... We could retell them for him... But in his last days I was sitting with him and he couldn't remember his own stroies... So I helped him tell his stroies. I had never felt closer to him. Now that he is gone I am so grateful for his stories! #WanderingWednesday

    1. Oh, I love that, Michele. What a perfect example of how memories and stories connect us and why it's important to write them down. Thanks for reading--and for this beautiful comment. So true! xoxo


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