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Memoir Musings, Issue #105--August issue--The Bucket List & Super Heroes
August 12, 2008

Welcome to Memoir Musings

Welcome to Memoir Musings, your newsletter from Extraordinary Lives. Our goal is to inform and inspire you to save your family stories.

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Enjoy your memoir journey!

Newsletter Contents

Feature: The "Bucket List"

How-To Tip: Making a "Bucket Book"

What's New at

Family Corner: Media Consumption

Memory Prompt: Super Heroes

The "Bucket List"Bucket List Ireland

Personal historians, by definition, spend much time looking backward. Time for a summer break from the norm!

The DVD release of the movie The Bucket List made me wonder…how many people have an honest-to-goodness “bucket list?” (If the phrase is unfamiliar to you, it means a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.”)

True confession: I have one and have had it for years, although I have always called it my “life list.” Two sisters-in-law also have unwritten lists, and we tease one another about our progress. We crossed one large item from Louise’s list a few years ago—we saw Siegfried and Roy’s tiger show in Las Vegas. Good thing we did; if we had waited much longer, she would have never had the chance, due to Roy’s near-fatal mishap with one of his tigers. Another item, from Lora’s list, is to see Barry Manilow in concert…well, she may have to do that one without company!

My list is a hodgepodge of travel, events and accomplishments. I want to see the Winter Olympics; learn to grow and can vegetables; play the piano; write a book; attend our daughters’ graduations, weddings, and baby showers; be a “fun” grandmother (a long way off!); and visit Ireland, to name a few. I'm making progress; for example, I've both written and edited books. I’m striving to attend the 2010 Winter Olympics and just had a conversation with a fellow personal historian who lives in Vancouver about that very topic.

You might ask, “why am I bringing this up in Memoir Musings?” It’s related, I promise. We had a saying in my former survey research career, “what gets measured, gets done.” Our clients more often took action on service quality issues when we measured customer experiences with those very issues. The same idea transfers to our daily lives; we make better progress on things that have a tangible presence—on a list, as a written goal or even a picture on the refrigerator. That is what a bucket or life list does; it turns a whim into a goal, with a rough time table of sorts.

During conversations with storytellers, I like to ask about hopes and dreams and how they have changed (or not) over the course of a lifetime. I get interesting reactions to that line of questioning. Some have vivid recall of life wishes from their formative years; others have a very real sense of how they willingly re-wrote that list over the years. Some are surprised to find they can’t recall any hopes and dreams that went unfulfilled; others have none they can recall. Working with people who are in a reflective state of mind has many, many benefits. One I am especially grateful for is witnessing the impact of goals, dreams and aspirations as motivating life forces.

My life list lives on and I am encouraging our three daughters to formulate their lists too. When we look back upon our lives, we may not have crossed off every dream and goal, but I feel confident that we will accomplish more for simply writing the list into a book and documenting our experiences as we move through it.

Bottom line--consider the bucket list as a working outline for your life story. Add flesh to that outline as your life unfolds. What a story you will have to tell!

How-To-Tip: Creating a "Bucket Book" How To Tip Toolbox

If the notion of having a “Life” or “Bucket List” appeals to you, make it both fun and motivating. Create a book from your list, with space to describe your experiences as you cross items off of your list. Imagine picking up your book every month or two, revisiting the plans you still have ahead and to enjoying the achievements thus far. Such a book offers significant benefits:

• The act of committing your list to paper greatly increases your likelihood of accomplishing it.
• The joy of accomplishing specific items is enhanced and relived as you make it part of your permanent record.
• You will have a memoir emerging as you move through your list and write about your experiences.

Here are two paths you could take to create your “bucket book.”

Published List
Using our Memory Press service, cut and paste your typed list into the publishing system. Add photos and/or clip art of the places, activities and events on your list to make it visually attractive and motivating. The key is to force “white space” into your book such that each item on your list has its own page. Once your list and visual elements are in place, publish your book so that you have a working copy.

As you complete items, write them in your book and add photos, brochures and other memorabilia. You will essentially be building a Memory Book in your own hard-bound Bucket Book. At any point, you can revisit your book online and add new content to it (type up your experiences and add scans of photos/memorabilia). Re-publish your book as often as you’d like, incorporating your updated content.

Memory Book
A different approach uses traditional Memory Book methods. Purchase a Memory Book album and the supplies needed to set up one page per list item. Create titles that include the item number and description of each list entry (for example: #1—See the Eagles in Concert Again). Titles can be made from computer-generated text, stickers, stamps or just handwritten. Add page elements to enhance and decorate each page as desired, leaving lots of room for your journaling and memorabilia. Then, simply add your experiences in handwriting, photos, text pages and memorabilia as time goes on.

Either approach will make your list tangible, interactive, motivating and fun. The printed list may suit the less crafty individuals, and can be published into a lasting record that is easily shared with others. The Memory Book is easier to update, highly enjoyable for the scrapbooking crowd and a beautiful one-of-a-kind volume as it evolves over time. A no-lose choice!

Live with purpose, leave a legacy—your Bucket Book will help you accomplish both. Enjoy the journey.

What's New at

Extraordinary Lives web site

Visit and check out our Memoir Press service to build a Bucket Book of your own (see the How-To-Tip below).

DIY System for Printing Your Memoir

Family Corner: Media Consumption

Super Hero SkymanPopular media engulfs us daily—radio, television, newspapers, the ‘net—filling our ears and eyes. We choose to actively engage in some of it; others we simply let drift around the periphery. Our children are likewise bombarded, and they develop strong preferences that reveal personality, identity and perspective. Consider including media consumption as one of your children’s memory book topics.

Here are some unique ways to profile your child’s media consumption:

  • Keep a running list of beloved books, from your child’s first picture books (there are always a few standouts) through the first books read aloud, and on into the school years.
  • Do the same for music selections. If you happen to have an especially meaningful song that you sing to your son or daughter, consider adding a “memory button” (a tiny, inexpensive digital recorder that you place in your scrapbook). Consider creating a CD of favorites and storing in a protective sleeve right inside your memory book.
  • Other “running lists” you may want to build are:

    • • Games, including board and video games. Sketch or photograph your child playing, and keep notes on best scores attained.
      • Television shows
      • Movies
      • Web sites
      • Texting expressions
      • Collections (such as Webkins, action figures & baseball cards)

One more suggested list: heroes. Keep a list of admired characters from books, movies and shows. Ask your children why they like this character and journal their answers. If you happen to catch them acting like their media hero, in song, dance or play, try to snap a photo too. The memories will be treasured and the patterns emerging over time may be quite revealing of your developing child.

Monthly Memory Prompt: Super Heroes!

memory prompt

Hollywood gave us a new installment in the Batman series this month with the release of The Dark Rider.

I can still recall the Batman of my childhood, where punches and gunshots were hidden behind cartoonish renderings that said, “BAM” or “RAT-A-TAT-TAT.” It’s incredible how the depiction of violence has changed in my lifetime (but that’s a topic for a different day).

Superman, Superwoman, Batman and Robin, Spiderman, the Incredible Hulk…these were the superhero icons I can recall from my childhood. What about you?

  • List the super heroes that litter your memory
  • Who was your favorite?
  • Why?
  • Were you a true believer, for a time? What ended that?
  • Who did you think was "too fake" to believe in?
  • Which villain was most villainous?
  • How did these characters enter your life—television, comic books, movies, novels?
  • Were you a regular readers/viewer? How deep was your “obsession?”
  • How did they show up in your play?
  • Did you don towels and sheets as capes?
  • Did you carry weapons? What were they made of?
  • What encounters did you recreate?
  • What friends were involved, and what characters did they play?
  • What household items were pressed into use as props?
  • How does this all look in comparison to the super heroes of today and the way children reinvent them?

I’m glad that Hollywood has produced a super hero that is highly flawed in Will Smith’s character, Hick. I have not seen the movie, but the idea that a super-powerful good guy needs a PR adjustment just tickles me; I guess it’s a sign of the times!

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