Personal History on Tape

Writing your personal history can seem overwhelming. One imagines countless hours recalling past events and feelings and then laboring to write them for family and future posterity to read. The good news is there’s a simpler way. Here is an easy method that has worked for our family.

First, use a tape recorder to record your thoughts. To help you plan what to say, think of events from a few of the following categories: childhood, teenage years, mission, college, friends, dating and marriage, career, Church callings, raising a family, spiritual experiences, vacations, the golden years, and special talents and accomplishments. From each category, share two or three of your experiences. Remember, detail is not necessary, nor is recalling every event. Your family will be grateful that they have your voice on tape. As you relate your experiences, include stories from difficult times in your life and explain what you learned from them. Try to tell at least one event from each category.

Recording your personal history need not be time-consuming. By taking half an hour each week to record one or two stories, you can progress quickly. Your history can be simple and short. Don’t worry about how you speak; just say it in your own words. Think of how grateful you would be to have a tape recording of a great-great-grandfather sharing experiences from his life.

When you finish recording your experiences you can make copies of the tape or even have it copied to a compact disc. Of course, tapes deteriorate over time, and technology changes. If you would like your history to be written, you can transcribe the tapes or ask someone to do this for you. At this point, if you wish, you could edit your personal history and include more details or experiences. Prepare a title page and use the categories listed above as your table of contents. Don’t let spelling, grammar, and punctuation concerns keep you from typing your history.

Once everything is typed, insert photocopies of pictures of yourself, and make copies for family members. If you’d like to bind your finished work, you can do this at many photocopy stores. As an alternative, you could purchase folders or three-ring binders and assemble them yourself. To further personalize your history, sign and date each copy. You could then give your personal history as a gift for the holidays or other occasions.

By keeping it simple, you are more likely to record your personal history, instead of feeling overwhelmed and putting it off. And for years to come your family will cherish the memories you share.Gail Ratliff Glende, Olive Knolls Ward, Bakersfield California Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Pay Yourself a Reward

Do you struggle with following through on plans to get out of debt? Here’s a technique you can use as a motivator: pay yourself a reward.

People seem to thrive on rewards. Try this formula for success in achieving financial self-reliance: Set a goal to pay off one or more debts, write a specific plan to accomplish this, and reward yourself when you have reached your goal. The key to the successful implementation of your plan is to set milestones along the way and give yourself small rewards as you reach them.

Let’s face it. It’s tough to sacrifice and discipline ourselves to stick to a budget, pay off debts, and save for a rainy day. But attach an appealing reward, and the process becomes enjoyable. Try hanging a picture of the anticipated event or item on the refrigerator. Perhaps you have wanted to attend the ballet or enjoy a relaxed day at the lake. Or how about a quiet dinner at a favorite restaurant?

The best part is that your reward will be paid for in cash with the retired debt payment that is now available. While this amount will be small at first, it will grow as each debt is eliminated. And the rewards of this system go far beyond the movie or day at the amusement park. Who can measure the value of counseling together as a family and working toward a common goal or of the confidence and self-reliance instilled in family members? Not only will you reap the financial harvest at the completion of your goals, but also you’ll enjoy the sweet rewards along the way.Chris Wright, Liberty Third Ward, Huntsville Utah Stake

Family Sports for Family Home Evening

One Monday evening our parents announced we were going to have a sporting event patterned after the Olympic Games. Each of us took turns competing in simple athletic events they had planned for us in the backyard.

First, we ran an obstacle course—jumping over the swing, running under the slide, jumping three times on the trampoline, winding our way through ropes and bars, and sprinting to the finish line.

Then we enjoyed throwing the “discus” (a softball) and measuring the distance, teaming up for three-legged races, and passing the baton in the team relay.

Everyone cheered for everyone else. When the competition ended, we returned to the living room and our parents passed out our “trophies.” When we caught a glimpse of our awards, we were excited; we did not even notice they were secondhand trophies. Attached to each was a handwritten tribute: Laurie—Best Sportsmanship; Shannon—Fastest Runner; Joel—Greatest Flexibility; and so on. Everyone got some kind of trophy. For a long time, those trophies held a place of honor on top of our dressers. Seeing them reminded us of that family home evening and helped build family unity and feelings of self-worth.

Activities such as this don’t take a lot of money, just some creativity, some time, and a lot of love. In those few hours together, we learned important lessons about teamwork, encouraging others, the need for everyone to feel part of a group, and the importance of families.Bonnie B. Larsen, Wellsville Eighth Ward, Wellsville Utah Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth M. Whittaker