Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Important Effects of Family Stories and Family History (with a giveaway from Evalogue!)

"When our hearts are turned to our ancestors, something changes inside us.  We feel part of something greater than ourselves.  Our inborn yearnings for family connections are fulfilled when we are linked to our ancestors."  -Russell M. Nelson

Family history is really nothing more than family stories.  Interest in family history and genealogy has taken a sharp upturn in recent years, and it's no wonder.  There are great benefits of knowing your family's story.  In fact, {Bruce Feiler} studied the effects of family stories on kids, and he called this knowledge the "single biggest predictor of a child's emotional well-being."  {Elaine Reese} reported on a study that showed that knowing family stories gave kids higher self-esteem, lower rates of depression and anxiety, a stronger concept of self, an increased ability to cope with difficulties, and a greater ability to empathize and connect with others.  Adults find the same benefits.

So, apparently, family stories and family history are a really big deal.

Our stories matter.

Every single person and every single family needs the connections that family stories and family history provide.  Today I've got a few helps to get you there--to learn the stories and to preserve and share them-- (and a giveaway, too).

First, these articles will  inspire you to learn and then share your own family stories: 

Those last two articles give some very simple ideas for learning and sharing family history if you're not sure where to start.

Second, I want to introduce you to Rachel Trotter and Rhonda Lauritzen from {}.  Rachel and Rhonda help people write their stories for a living!  They are both talented writers who have a passion for family stories. They believe that storytelling is the most powerful way to connect with others.  I happen to agree.  When we know someone's story, we immediately feel both connection and compassion.  Knowing stories draws us to one another.

"There isn't a person you wouldn't love if you could read their story."  -Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Rhonda recently published a wonderful booklet called "How to Storyboard."  If you're not familiar with storyboarding, it's basically a way to outline and then flesh out a story for maximum clarity and impact.  It's a way to help you write so that your story is clear and engaging, and it applies to both fiction and non-fiction (like life stories or family stories).  Storyboarding helps trigger creativity, guides you in knowing what parts to trim back and what parts to flesh out, and, as Rhonda says, keeps your story "from falling off a cliff."  Rhonda explains the whole process {here}.

You can see Rhonda's beautiful book {right here} (and even scroll down to read my review of the book if you like)!  Best of all, you can win it right here!! 

Rhonda has created a whole kit to help you write your story!  The storyboarding kit comes with
  • How to Storyboard booklet  (Great information and guidance!)
  • storyboard templates (These are really cool--they're reusable and will allow you to plan and adjust your story.  I love these.)
  • Life Story Question booklet (I also have this--it's SO helpful for ideas!!)
  • flash drive
  • post-it notes (for the storyboard itself)
  • high-quality pen
  • clipboard
  • plastic folder
To enter to win this storyboard kit, all you need to do is comment on this post!  In the comment, just tell me something you learned or liked from one of the articles I shared OR tell me what story you would like to tell with the help of the storyboarding kit (Grandma's life story, a book you're writing, etc.).  After you comment, you must also e-mail me at to give me your e-mail address or phone number so I can contact you to arrange shipping if you are the winner.

One winner will be chosen at random on Friday, August 10, 2018.

Now that you're inspired and armed, preserve your family stories {here}.  There's a video introduction {here}.

There's really nothing better for your heart and soul, and nothing better for your family!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Organizing Myself with an Adjustable Daily Magnet Planner

I was very excited when the idea of an Adjustable Daily Magnet Planner popped into my head!  I am a plan-ahead kind of a gal, and I really believe that being organized is the best way to accomplish great things.  (So are prioritizing and saying no, but those are blog posts for another day.)

"Those who prepare create their own luck."  -anonymous

One little Heritage Makers product that I had never used is the 5x7 Magnet set.  I had used the {car magnet} on the side of my car to advertise my business, and on my fridge as a meal planner and a family weekly calendar, but I'd never thought of using the 5x7 Magnet set for anything but pictures for Grandma & Grandpa.

Until now.

My life is such that no matter how well I plan my days, things come up and get moved around.  I learned a long time ago to write things on my planner in pencil, but my kids need things, and I have work assignments that come up without much notice, I don't allow enough time for things, etc.  When things take longer than expected, I end up having to shuffle everything else throughout the day.  So I decided what I really needed was an Adjustable Daily Magnet Planner!  

And I was right.  I really love it!

Let me show you how it works.

The 5x7 Magnet set from {Heritage Makers} comes in a set of four 5x7 magnets.  Each one can be different.  So I created the daily magnet itself and then small pieces to represent 30-minute increments.  I also made some reminders and to-do helps based on things I've learned from some {proficiency and time-creation experts}.

This Adjustable Daily Magnet Planner (ADMP) is for the woman whose schedule is full and often changing.  The hours shown reflect a Stay-At-Home-Mom or a Work-From-Home type schedule.  This ADMP is designed to be used with a regular paper or electronic calendar or planner which allows for specific notes on appointments and general planning ahead for upcoming days and weeks.  The Adjustable Daily Magnet Planner encourages mindful, focused preparations for one day at a time, based on a regular planner.

So each night I look ahead to the next day, not just looking at it as a to-do list but as choices I'm making about my time.  You can see that I have made a little circle called "My Time Priorities" which is color-coded ("flower-coded" really) into what my priorities are:  self-care, family, church, work, etc.  I am particularly terrible at self-care (exercising, etc.), so actually putting this in writing as a priority is a big deal.  It changes my mindset.  The flower-code helps me look at each day and see if my day's plans actually match my previously established priorities.

I made magnet pieces (strips) with various activities and responsibilities on them.  Each piece is a 30-minute block of time.  They are interchangeable so I can adjust things throughout the day if something changes or takes longer than I thought it would.  Looking at the day in 30-minute increments has taught me that I need some holes in my day!

Even small things can add up to decent chunks of time, so it's wise to actually set aside time to do things like paying bills or planning meals for the week.  (Planning meals a week at a time has some huge benefits.  I've mentioned them {here}.)  Setting aside time for your photos and memories is the best way to actually get memory-keeping DONE!

The "To-Do List" pieces just refer me to my regular planner.  Maybe I have a dentist appointment at that time or I need to take one of my kids somewhere.

I have really loved using my Adjustable Daily Magnetic Planner because:
  • The color/flower-coding really helps me remember my priorities.  I literally see right in front of me how much time I'm spending on my family, myself, my pictures, work, service to others, things that just have to be done (like grocery shopping), etc.  I find myself unhappy on days where I spend my time on things that aren't important to me.  This helps me prioritize.
  • Planning out and then writing each activity in 30-minute increments helps me be more realistic about how long things REALLY do take.  Allowing myself 30 minutes a day to do laundry, for example, is better than a general "do laundry" because it's acknowledging that it takes time. 
  • It's important to me to leave some spaces in between so I can move things around as needed.  This morning I helped a woman learn how to use Heritage Makers for an anniversary celebration book for her company.  It was supposed to be an hour, but it turned into more like an hour and 15 minutes because we chatted a little at the end.  I can move the "Heritage Makers: blogging" magnet back a little since the "Heritage Makers: in person" magnets took a little longer.  
  • I LOVE crossing things off my to-do list.  I feel accomplished, and I feel like I can forget all about that thing now.  Today, I can take off the "grocery shopping" magnets and forget all about them until next week.  Emptying my day--physically watching it empty--feels so good!  
So guess what I did.  I made YOU an Adjustable Daily Magnetic Planner!!

I included a few self-care things like exercise, lunch, getting ready for the day, etc., plus some must-do things like errands and cleaning.  But the rest you can fill in on your own--just write on the pieces with a regular pen, or a dry-erase marker if you think you'll want to adjust things later.  Be sure you start with filling in your OWN priorities.  What is most important to you every day?  What is non-negotiable?  Then what comes second?

You'll have plenty of pieces that say "continued" to put with activities that take longer than 30 minutes.  There are "photos & memories" pieces, too, because those are easily overlooked or postponed, but there's too much peace and happiness and satisfaction gained from them to NOT have them on your calendar.  {Learn more here.}  I've also included some to-do list helps and advice from the productivity expert I mentioned earlier.  Just cut that piece out and display next to your Today magnet.  I've written out instructions on these magnets, too, like how to use the "To Do List" pieces.  

These magnets are thin and flexible and will go great on a file cabinet or fridge, or it would fit perfectly on a 12x12 magnetic board.  The Today magnet itself is only 5x7, but the 12x12 size gives you room for all the magnetic pieces when you're not using them TODAY.

The Adjustable Daily Magnet Planner set is $20 (+ $4 shipping if needed).  To order, just {contact me here}.  This would be a great gift, too!  I only have one in stock at the moment, but I can re-order and have them to you in about 2 weeks, give or take.

I can't wait to hear how it helps your planning, organization, and prioritizing!
Pin and share!  Someone's gonna love you for it.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

How to Stop Being Overwhelmed by Your Pictures (with a video tutorial)

I am SO excited to bring you this solution!!  Digital photos are a double-edged sword!  We can take as many photos as we want, but then it's easy to become so {overwhelmed from having too many photos} that we never do anything with those images.

One of my favorite solutions to getting out from underneath your photos is a family yearbook by Heritage Makers-- family yearbook because they're SO EASY to organize, and Heritage Makers because of the quality and flexibility, {among other reasons}.

I'm not the only one who loves this option.  Be sure you hop over and see 10 reasons from Candy May about why she prioritizes creating family yearbooks and what they do for her family:  {"10 Good Reasons to Create a Family Yearbook with Heritage Makers,"}

Here's one family yearbook style:

And what it looks like inside--two pages for each month:

I wrote a while back about what makes family yearbooks by Heritage Makers THE BEST SOLUTION I've seen to too many photos, and I included the best way I know to actually CATCH UP ON YOUR PHOTOS (the Two-in-One Plan).  You can read all about it and get all the tips and information you need right here at this link:

{One Solution to Too Many Photos:  Family Yearbooks}

Family yearbooks provide a great way to narrow down your mass of photos into your favorites from each month, so you can actually SEE THEM.  Have you ever thought about that?  Taking tons of pictures often means you never see them again!!  Why bother taking them in the first place?

Choose a year's worth of photos you'd like to preserve, then get started by following the five simple steps at the "how to get started" tab at the top right of this blog or by letting me guide you through the process step by step with this video tutorial I made just for LifeTales Books blog readers!

It's a pretty great way to completely change your life.

P.S.  If you need some help with photo organization first, here's one more video help.

Pin and share with someone who would love this idea.

Friday, July 6, 2018

What Makes Heritage Makers Great: #friyay

It's another #friyay -- our monthly feature where we hear straight from Heritage Makers users why they use and love it.  Our #friyays will end at the end of 2018, so we need to double-up so we hear from as many people as we can!!

Our first #friyay comes from Elda, one of the most thoughtful people I know.  She hires me periodically to make special gifts for her friends and clients.  Elda sent me this thank-you after I made a special Heritage Makers book for a dear friend of hers.  I just love hearing things like this!

(By the way, my for-hire information can be found {here}.)

Our next #friyay comes from Catherine, a young mom of three.  She had always been a traditional (paper) scrapbooker but changed to Heritage Makers when she saw how much faster she could get her memory-keeping done.  One of the big draws of Heritage Makers, she told me, is that she can do it with her daughter without a big mess.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Being an Introvert in an Extrovert Direct Sales World

Thirteen years ago, I stepped way (WAY!) out of my comfort zone.  I was only willing to do it because it was worth it.  I did it because I KNOW there is a great power in something everyone has, everyone needs, but few people do anything with.

Here's the thing.  I'm a die-hard introvert, but I'm an introvert with a deep desire to make a difference.  

I had not one but three invitations to leave my comfort zone, and they came in the form of phone calls from friends in March 2005.  Three of my friends had discovered a new company called Heritage Makers, a digital storybooking company that doubled as an heirloom-quality way of preserving photos and memories, too.  One of my friends called it "a company made for" me, and I knew she was right--I had always been a journaler and scrapbooker--but this new, fabulous company had just one drawback.  It was a social selling company.  Heritage Makers was shared through direct sales, or network marketing, and I never even went to home parties!  That introvert thing really kicks in sometimes.  How on earth could I give home parties, ask people to host home parties, or close a sale?  I'm a low-pressure listener, not a high-pressure talker.  

Miraculously, it only took about three days.  I decided that taking the leap and sharing Heritage Makers was worth stepping out of my comfort zone because there is a power in photos and memories and stories that is too often left untouched.  Pictures are absolutely priceless because they can bring back people and moments that have gone.  Telling and owning your story, learning the stories of your grandparents and parents, and intentionally designing your own story now creates a sense of purpose and belonging.

And everybody needs it.  More and more, we need it desperately.

But first I had to learn how to be an introvert in an extrovert business.  At first, I tried to do things that were very unnatural to me--talk the direct sales talk, walk the direct sales walk.  It kind of worked sometimes, but I didn't enjoy it, and I wasn't very good at it.  I met another Heritage Makers consultant once over lunch.  She pointed to a guy sitting three Subway tables away from us and told me, "I could sell anything to that guy."

Well, congratulations.  But that's not me.  I'm not trying to just sell something.  I'm trying to share something that makes a difference in hearts, souls, and families.

Over time, I tried more out-of-the-box things like hosting low-key open houses, having a booth at craft fairs, starting this blog (over 8 years ago!), and creating a YouTube channel with video tutorials.  In recent years, I've listened to business coaches, joined networking groups, and gotten great advice and ideas.  Some are ME, and some are NOT ME.  (I will say that the "give away your best stuff for free" advice is something I was doing already!  Keep reading to find out how much free stuff I give away.)

In the end, though, I found that the most important thing for me to do was to listen to myself.  Recognizing--and then using--my own strengths and talents made me happier, more successful, and more genuine (which, in turn, made me even happier).  Am I good at selling things to a random guy at Subway that he may or may not want?  Not at all.  But I AM friendly, responsible, smart, experienced, dependable, funny, likeable, and helpful.  I'm a good listener, teacher, brainstorm partner, cheerleader, and coach.  Those qualities definitely have a place in business, too.

I still constantly step outside my comfort zone.  I can't have success by not growing or not trying new (and possibly uncomfortable) things.  But my best chance of success is being myself and letting people who are drawn to my style come to me.

It took a lot of hit and miss over several years, but eventually I came to this.  Here's what I bring to the world:

  • I solve photo problems.  Many people have too many photos and too little time.  I teach them how to deal with both.  I have many products and strategies that will help.
  • I help people understand the heart-and-soul benefits of preserving photos and memories in a tactile form (why jpeg files aren't at all the same thing).  I share scientific statistics about how memory-keeping increases a sense of belonging and well-being, lowers stress, and even increases happiness and self-esteem.
  • I introduce people to Heritage Makers and what makes it the best way to preserve photos and memories and life's stories. 
  • I teach people how to use Heritage Makers, from simple styles to digital scrapbooking. 
  • I share time management tricks, photo organization methods, detailed plans for catching up preserving photos, and memory-keeping's real-life benefits to families and individuals in blog posts and and videos I've made. 
  • I introduce people to Heritage Makers through online live or recorded classes as well as blogposts.  I also introduce Heritage Makers in person with small groups.  I show samples in person or refer people to my website,, to see all the products offered and how they fit various needs, styles, budgets, and preferences.
  • I teach people how to use Heritage Makers both in person and online.  I sit down with all new users in person either individually or through group workshops, plus I have several video tutorials online that show the same thing.  (I have clients all over the country, so I'm serious about having lots of detailed helps online.)
  • I hold workshops both in person and online.  Workshops help people who don't have time for their memory-keeping because it's a time to block off on their calendars for just that purpose.  

My best stuff is detailed plans, tricks, helps, directions, video tutorials, classes--all designed to get you from a photo hoarder to a memory-keeper.  It's all available online either at this blog or my YouTube channel,  These are things I've worked hard on to create, and in some cases re-create to update.

One of the things I love the most is getting e-mails (via the "contact me" tab at the upper left of this page) asking for specific helps.  I really and truly love helping people.  The blog is searchable, of course, and you can probably find what you're looking for that way, but if you don't know that my plan for catching up if you're behind on preserving your photos is called the Two-in-One Plan, then you might not know what you're looking for.  I LOVE getting questions and being able to point people to the right blog posts, printables, video tutorials, etc. to get them on their memory-keeping way.

One question I always wonder about small business owners or consultants or entrepreneurs who give away so much of their stuff for free is:  "Then how do you make money?"  I've been asked this question, too.  I do provide tons of free resources, but I get paid three ways:
  • I receive commission from everything made on my website,  As people follow through on my helps and advice and classes by creating family yearbooks or digital scrap pages or storybooks (etc.), I receive a small cut of the price of the item in return for my efforts getting them to that point.
  • Although my first hour with each client, showing them around the Heritage Makers software and answering questions, etc., is free, any additional work with clients is $35/hour.  (I'm always happy to answer quick questions for free, though!)
  • I hire out to do projects (or parts of projects) for people, help with photo organization, etc. for $35/hour as well. 
What talents or strengths do you have?  Sometimes, especially for introverts, it can take a while to actually pinpoint them--or even just recognize them for what they are.  If you are struggling to find out what you can bring to the world, I highly recommend this article, "How Learning about Differences Allowed Me to Embrace Myself."  There are several resources and quotes that really made a difference to me.  

Yes, stepping outside your comfort zone is usually required in business, but there's so much more to success than the ability to "sell anything" to a random guy at Subway.  Relationships, reliability, knowledge, compassion, the ability to listen, patience, and heart go a long, long way.