Being Blended

Being a memory keeper

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In a world where our lives are documented through social media it’s easy to think that we’ve crossed “keeping a good record of our lives” off the list and that we are all memory keepers these days.  But what about those days that slip into the comfortable mundaneness of a normal life or those days that feel to awful and raw to share in public?  Or what about if we’re just a little over sharing our lives in public (this clearly hasn’t happened to me yet!)

It’s not until we look back or we hear that little voice in the back seat of the car saying “tell us a story about when….” that we realise how important our stories are – big and small – to us, our children and generations to come.

I come from a long line of story tellers.

My grandma used to regale us with stories of dances and war rations as well as retelling stories of when we were young.  She often said to me, when I’m gone will you keep telling my stories to my great grandchildren?  And I do – I tell the somewhat mundane stories of how her favourite saying was “Oh my hat” and how every time I visited she would say “Oh Catherine” like it was the greatest treat she could receive.  Little stories that don’t mean a lot to anyone else but to me, mean everything.  It is at the end of the day, what keeps us alive long after our spirit leaves.

My Mum is also a great story teller.  She writes her stories on a world wide stage in the form of horoscopes – if you don’t already follow her you really should.  Here’s the link to her website and her free daily horoscopes.

I guess it’s why we started Getting Lost.  As James often says to me as I tap away at strange times of the day “the words have to come out”.  I like talking about what’s on my mind.  Talking about things we don’t talk enough about – like blended families, like the rough family times we all have in between the perfect Facebook moments, about lost babies and surviving domestic abuse – as well as of course all the great and nice in the world.

So this year my challenge to you is to become a memory keeper for the next year.  I know it’s past new years so it’s a bit late for resolutions, but think of it as a back up resolution….

#1  Do a 365 day photo challenge

I did this about 6 years ago and it was awesome.  It’s a great way to not only develop your photography skills on the days where literally nothing happens and you are forced to be creative, but it also brings back a whole host of memories from even the days you thought nothing happened.

It’s best if you can find a group to keep you honest and posting a photo each day.  I posted mine onto a private blog which I still have open to look back on now.

#2  Create a blog

Creating a blog is easy, free and it’s so much fun.

I have started many blogs over the years and my favourite supplier is WordPress.  They have a great range of free blogs that you can use and are easy to use.

Last Christmas we set up a blog for my step daughter who wants to be a blogger and photographer when she grows up.  The great thing with blogs is that you can also password protect them or hide them from search engines if you want to keep them to a select group.

Write random stuff or incredibly important stuff.  It’s all just a way of collecting it…

#3 Write down a memory of the day

I saw this written somewhere else and it seems like such a cool idea.  Each day you write down the best thing that happened in the day.  Some days will be stand outs.  Other days will just be normal.  At the end of the year you have 365 memories to keep.

#4  Write down the funny things the kids say

Kids love to hear stories about themselves and the funny things they say.  I have a little book that I keep next to the bed and every time they say something I write it down.  These will become the stories they tell their kids.

#5  Write about their adventures

Before Getting Lost I used to write stories for the kids about their adventures.  I have 300 A4 printed pages of their stories spanning their first 8 years from when my eldest was born.

Now they just go online and look at Getting Lost for their stories….  And they do – they are always looking at the stories that we write and I would never write anything that I didn’t want them to see or I wouldn’t tell them myself.

#6  Write them letters for when they are big

My step daughter has a lot of things that happen in her life that are just down right unfair.  Things that are way to grown up for us to have frank conversations about with her now and things that you won’t find me writing about on here because quite frankly, it’s not my stories to tell.

She struggles to make sense of a lot of it so we discuss it in ways that are okay for a child to hear and at night I write her letters.  I write to her not as a 8, 9 or 10 year old, but as a fellow grown up.

I hope that one day, hopefully over a glass of wine, when she is a confident, happy 28 year old we can read them together and they may round out her memories into something richer and more understandable than we can make them now.

#7  Start a memory box

I started my memory box as a teenager.  I have so much stuff in it that it will hardly close!  It used to be an old nail box and has since become a blanket box and I suspect in time will have to get bigger again.

I have letters James wrote me in his teens.  I have two engagement rings.  I have movie stubbs, old concert tickets, valentines cards, newspapers and things that to anyone else would be fit for nothing more than the rubbish bin.  To me these are where all my most precious memories live.

#8  Create a book of wishes

When I was in my early 20’s one of my good friends Flis made me a “Book of Spells and Magic”   A place she said to write down my greatest wishes.

And that’s exactly what I’ve done over the 20 years I’ve owned it.

I wrote a wish for the perfect man – and while he wasn’t the perfect man for all my life he was and is a great Dad to my two children and still a great wish.

I wished for the safe passage of my children to me.  Two of those wishes came true.  Two did not.

My step daughter Krystal wrote wishes for her sisters to make it safely to her.  Sadly only one of her wishes came true too.

I wrote wishes for friends who suffered the loss of children & wishes for love.  I wrote the story of me and James.  I pressed flowers and kept my own pieces of magic.

It’s not a magic book.  Not all wishes come true, or are even the right wishes to make but it chronicles the things I have truly wished for over the last 20 years and for that reason alone is one of the most special books I own.

So that’s what I do to keep my memories safe – I’d love to know what you do with yours….

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Cat is one half of Getting Lost. She met James (the other half of Getting Lost) when she was 12 when she was camping over summer holidays. They were best friends for 25 years before finally getting together and now they live together with her 2 daughters and his daughter. Getting Lost is their story of the amazing spots they discover around this beautiful country of ours - both together and with the kids, as well as how they are making their way through blended family life. They would love it if you would join them for the ride.

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