Tuesday, August 25, 2009

No more holes.

A man's real possession is his memory. In nothing else is he rich, in nothing else is he poor. Alexander Smith

Recording memories can be like an author writing his masterpiece, but because of time constraints and lack of information, leaves entire chapters empty. Doesn't it feel like this sometimes? That there is not enough time in the day to record the day, or take the 1,000's of photos from a summer vacation and put them into an album; or to sit down and hand-write special memories. These constraints have created something I never wanted to collect - holes. But with these holes, is a discovery and new passion to fill the ones I can and keep from creating more.

Holes can't always be filled:

Looking at all the things I've done with my family and personal history, I find that there are some parts of my life that will always be filled with holes. I will never be able to fill these holes with fact - only speculation. Except for the care of our parents, early childhood memories can be extremely vague. My experience, although not normal, can explain why it's hard to capture memories of our youth, unless it's recorded for us.

The first photo of me was at 18 months. My birth family claimed that there had been a fire and all of the photos had been destroyed. Even when I had the opportunity to meet my birth father, he handed me a photo and claimed that it "might" be me - he wasn't sure. No one took the time to record any events in my life, outside of children's services, until I was adopted at the age of three. Our original baby books created by my mom, had clippings of babies from magazines. She wanted me to know what I might have looked like. This is a very large hole for me and one that can only be filled in slightly with a few photos and recorded stories.

My mom and dad did their best to take photos. Their are a few classic stories of each family member, but the rest is almost a blank slate. My own attempts to record my life started right after my baptism, where I received my first journal. There are many months throughout that are filled with blank pages and neither my mom, nor I, have anything recorded during this time. Neither are there photos to allow me to remember.
The earliest photo I have of my own children is three months. I have only our experience with their adoption and only small tidbits of what might have happened while they were in Russia. It is heartbreaking to me that they already have a few holes in their personal history and I am determined not to make anymore for them.

Filling in the holes:

I found it a great joy to write about my children's adoption. I recorded it in my leather bound journal all the events that took place, the people we met, the paperwork problems, the plane rides, the frustrations, the joys of of meeting them for the first time, and the pain of having to wait for the courts approval. On our way home from Russia after our first trip, I accidentally left this journal on a plane and haven't seen it since. The vividness of these memories are gone forever, but because I took photos and made a few recordings on my computer; I was able to capture some of these moments. Also, I made an attempt to re-write as much of the events as I could, while they were still fresh in my mind.

Loosing this journal was an eye opening revelation to me that memories, although captured in your mind and soul, can never be fully recovered once the experience has past. There are just too many events and experiences in life to remember them all with vivid colors and feelings.

There are three things I have come to do when recording mine and my family's history:

1. Hand-written form through a personal journal to record special experiences and feelings.
2. Log daily experiences, crafts, fun events, quirky moments, and vacations through blogging.
3. Photo journaling through albums, either chronological or subject.

This is my own personal way of fulfilling my promise to myself to have no more holes. I know that if I don't write in my journal, I am blogging. If I don't create an album, I am at least creating files on my computer of when the photos were taken. If I didn't blog the event, I wrote it in my journal.

How about you?
How do you create a 'no holes' approach?
Are there easier ways?


Bren's Life said...

Ok I have to say after looking through everything I have missed. I want to move there. It is beautifull! I love the top picture of your girls running down the trail. It is SO GREEN! I want green & seasons. But it gets really cold there huh?
Is it hard to find a job there?

Jenny said...

I have kept a journal off an on over the years. Blogging has become my journal in a way. I did really well journaling about each of my childrens births. I kept really good journals for the first 10 years of my marriage. Time seems to have slipped through my hands and I got out of the habit.

I wish that I had photos of my self when I was little the earlies photo I have is when I was 2 years.

Nicole said...

I too, used my computer to keep my memories-moments shared with my mom & boys. My downside is I am terrible at developing my photos and organizing them in an album. There was a period where I didn't back up my work & during an unfortunate attempt when my oldest child tried to hack the password on our computer everything was lost. Now there is a 2 year gap where we used to have photos, now only memories.

Marie said...

Oh, losing that journal with the adoption story of your girls just made me feel sick. How terrible!
So glad you took the opportunity to re-write as much as you could. Your determination to have no more holes in your history is totally inspriring.

dani said...

michelle, my life is an open book, verbally, ha!!! my blog is pretty much all i've ever really WRITTEN. the only exceptions... i do have my wedding album and katherine's baby book; but that is it. i, too, probably need to do better.
i wish you had more!!!
much love,
dani xxxx...xx

Kim Sue said...

I think I have done a good job of recording our life since Carly came into it. We have photo albums full of pictures, a baby book full of photos and notes, my blog and a little journal I have kept for the past 5 years. Before that....nothing. My mom has some photo albums with pictures when we were little. In between, college, graduate school, early marriage, pregnancy.....hardly a picture, no journaling. That makes me sad. I have started journaling WITH Carly. I really would like to teach her and encourage her to write down what is going on in her life so she can have that to look back on and remember.

Christie - Childhood 101 said...

I have a journal that I try to remember milestones in for my 18 month old. One day I hope these will be combined with the 75 million photos I have taken to form a scrapbook!

One day..when I have time...maybe when she's 21!