Author Archives: Lin

Celebrate National Day of Listening – Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Day is now a sweet memory of that glorious meal shared with family and friends, perhaps followed by playing pick up football, winning a heated game of Monopoly, or savoring that last piece of home made pumpkin pie.

But guess what, there are still memories to be made!

This year marks the fifth anniversary of Story Corps National Day of Listening. This is a special day set aside to sit down with loved ones, turn on a recording device, and reminisce together. Share stories and memories of the past and even hopes for the future. Sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it?  Click here for more information about Story Corps.

This year Story Corps is focusing on those who have served in the US armed forces.  On November 23, honor a veteran by asking more about their military service and experiences.   To make this even easier, Story Corps has provided some great questions to ask. Check out: http://nationaldayoflistening.org/militaryvoices/

In this fast paced life that many of us live, this holiday weekend provides a nice excuse for a break. Give some thought to preserving your family’s stories and legacy.  In the years to come you will be so glad you chose to take the time to honor and remember those who have given so much to you.

Wishing You a Sweet Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day festivities are wrapped up in the memories of times spent with family and friends, and the foods that we have shared together.

We at Reel Tributes wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving Day. As you savor the aromas and flavors of your Thanksgiving meal, remember to savor and delight in those with whom you are spending this wonderful holiday.

With that thought in mind, I’m passing on to you one of my family’s culinary favorites: Southern Pecan Pie.  This is an old and special recipe that my favorite Aunt Lou has made for many years.  I hope you like it.

Aunt Lou’s Special Southern Pecan Pie

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare pastry for one nine-inch crust pie.

3 eggs

2/3 cup of sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup dark or light corn syrup

1 cup pecan halves or broken pecan pieces

Prepare pastry. Beat eggs, sugar, salt, butter and syrup with rotary beater.  Stir in nuts.  Pour into pastry-lined pie pan.  Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until filling is set. HINT: When testing to see if filling is set, use a knife.  If the knife comes out clean, the pie is done.

If you make a pecan pie for your Thanksgiving meal, write and let us know how you liked it!

What’s the best way to preserve my family history?

As a personal historian, I often get asked the basic question: How can I preserve my family’s history? While the question seems simple, there are many ways to answer this.

In this post, I will present a few of the options. That way you can understand what’s available and explore the best fit for you and your family.

Oral history: recording your voice

To begin, simply turn on a digital audio recorder and start to recall memories of the past.  This first recording session could be as simple as your telling your favorite family stories.  You could record memories of your mother’s great prowess in the kitchen, or your father’s antics growing up.

There are many books that can guide you through this process, providing questions and topics that you might like to speak to (see the list of recommended reading at the bottom of this post). You could also hire a professional – a personal historian to bring his or her expertise to the project.

Writing: jotting down your memories

Grab a pen and paper (or your laptop), and let the memories flow. Some of you will find this an easy and enjoyable task, others won’t. Writer’s block is a common problem, so don’t worry if you have a hard time getting started. Recording your memories takes determination and discipline. To help guide you, there are ‘fill-in-the-blank’ books that provide prompts and questions to answer.  These kinds of books can be infinitely helpful in creating content. One of our favorites is Our Family Tree and Album  – Edited by Samone Bos.

Looking for more inspiration? Find a local memoir writing class, and attend faithfully.  The class will help you with written self-expression, and the discipline needed to follow through with your story.  By the end of the class you will be well on your way to a full-fledged memoire.  These classes are typically offered through continued adult education programs at local community colleges, adult community centers, and local libraries.

Artwork: creating memories

Have you enjoyed scrapbooking over the years? Have you made a ‘shadow box frame’ containing personal memorabilia, which belonged to an ancestor?  Do you sew custom-made story quilts? Does your home have a family photo gallery? Artwork like this adds character to a home, and creates strong connections from one generation to another.  For the artistically inclined, a family history project is hard to beat.

Film: producing a multimedia experience

In beautiful high-definition, film is quickly becoming the go-to medium for personal history. Films can beautifully document a life story.  Regional accents, facial expressions, and personal recollections can all be captured on film, along with still photographs, family movies, and other personal mementos. Films also incorporate a musical score, to add drama and emotion to the story.

Click here to view some sample family history films.

This is just a short overview of some of the options you have in preserving your family history. I hope I have fueled your desire to kick off the project. You have a story to tell. Why not start today?

The following is a short bibliography of how-to books on the subject of personal history preservation:

The Story Only You Can Tell – Creating Your Family History With Ease and Expertise by Toni Sorenson Brown

Creative Journal Writing – The Art and Heart of Reflection by Stephanie Dowrick

Touching Tomorrow – How to Interview Your Loved Ones to Capture a Lifetime of Memories on Video or Audio

Legacy – A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Personal History by Linda Spence

You Don’t Have To Be Famous – How to Write Your Life Story by Steve Zousmer

Learn more about Ethical Wills at http://www.ethicalwill.com

Check out the Association of Personal Historians’ web site for more information on personal history preservation.

Veterans: We salute you!

Ninety-three years ago, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11th Armistice Day to honor the soldiers who had fought in World War I.  On June 1, 1954 the name was changed to Veterans Day to honor all those who have and continue to serve in the United States Armed Forces.

We, at Reel Tributes, have had many wonderful opportunities to meet those brave men and women who have served our country and to preserve their stories.

Remember to proudly fly your flag today! And be sure to thank those in your life who have served our country.

What if I’m Nervous About Being Interviewed?

So you’re feeling a little anxious, shy or self-conscious about being interviewed for your personal history film? You really want to save your memories for your family but when you think about actually doing it, all you can think about is that public speaking class that you took in high school.  Your palms still get sweaty when you recall standing up in front of everyone. It wasn’t a pretty picture.

The concerns

You might be thinking about such things as:  What if I don’t know the answer to a question? What if I trip over my tongue or forget what the question was?  Maybe you’re worried about sneezing or burping during the interview. Or you’re concerned about being surrounded by cameras and lights.

You’re not alone

Well, the good news is you are not the only person who has these sorts of concerns. In fact, most people have never been interviewed on film before.

I’m here to help you get over those nerves.  I have been interviewing folks for fifteen years.  I understand where this nervousness comes from – it comes from a fear of the unknown.

Three reasons why you shouldn’t dread a personal history interview

Reason 1:  You can prepare. Before the actual interview you will have an opportunity to speak with the personal historian who will be interviewing you. You will have a critical part in creating the interview questions.  You will know the answer to each and every question because you will play a role in designing the interview guide yourself.  Know that the personal historian who is interviewing you is not trying to trip you up or turn the interview into an interrogation.   Her goal is for you to look and sound great throughout the interview.

Reason 2:  Editing is magic. Are you worried about tripping over your tongue, sneezing or even burping while on camera?  The beautiful thing about video is that the camera can easily be turned off for a moment and then turned back on when you are ready to resume.  A huge part of making a personal history film is the editing process.  This is when any of the blurps, bleeps or tongue contortions are edited out, proverbially landing on the cutting room floor.

The finished film will only contain the best of the best of your interview.  You will truly rival George Clooney or Audrey Hepburn!

Reason 3: You will feel relaxed. The personal historian takes great care to make sure you are comfortable and relaxed during the interview.  Before the interview begins, she will answer any questions that you might have. She will encourage and affirm you throughout the conversation. Whether it is a need for a bio-break, or the desire to re-phrase the answer to a question, it is the personal historian’s job to reassure you that everything is still okay and on track.

The camera equipment may initially seem imposing to you, but it is the personal historian’s place to create a connection with you. Soon the camera equipment fades into the background and it is the engaging conversation that becomes the focus.

Where do we go from here?

There is a little quote that I like a lot.  It goes like this:

Blessed are they, who know the way,

To bring back memories of yesterday.

Author Unknown

As a personal historian, I take my job and all that goes with it very seriously, and I know that other personal historians feel the same way.  I feel honored to play a small role in preserving your life story.

So, are you feeling a little better about the interview now?  Take a deep breath, and start the process of saving your stories while you’re on a roll.