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Helpful Story Information
Healthful Reasons to Write Your Life Story
By Victoria Burgess, director and psychologist
Writing your life story can be very health promoting. It can improve both your physical and emotional health by recalling past experiences and rethinking them through the remembering and writing process.
The physical body stores emotional memories. The only way it knows how to deal with troublesome emotions is to take them out on the physical structure of the body. Most psychologists believe that physical illnesses are psychosomatic. The mind can produce so much toxic stress on body parts that it makes them dysfunctional.
Releasing these past experiences and feelings by writing or telling stories from your life can reduce stress on your physical body, thus allowing it to do what it was designed to do for your physical health. The life review process can be emotionally therapeutic when reflection allows old memories to be revisited and reframed. Reminiscence also encourages increased communication with friends and loved ones and enhances feelings of gratitude, contentment and well being.
About Life Stories
by Marc Johnson, advisor and personal historian firstname.lastname@example.org
The power of our life stories is in the life lessons we gain through our experiences. Our stories are unique and reflect the direction of our lives. Sharing our experiences and lessons provides us the opportunity to grow and improve ourselves and our communities.
The most common resistance I hear to preserving a life history is that people think others don’t want to hear about their lives, or that there is nothing of significance in their story to share. While we may never know who will be interested in our life stories, individuals—and the world—might be greatly affected by the strength of our words.
Greater understanding and appreciation of life come through personal reflection. Recording a personal history nurtures focus, clarity, perspective and an enhanced faith in what is important. It provides a starting place to find increased meaning, healing and peace. The experience is different for each of us, but the value of the process is universal.
The Life Story Library Foundation collects and preserves the personal life stories of our time as valuable recorded history. To do this we provide a variety of accessible options for people to save and share their stories. ,We have established four unique collections each with its own purpose and accessibility:
Polished Works Collection
This is the premier collection for the preservation of polished story materials. Memoirs personal histories videos and other finished works will be archived according to best practices preserved in tangible and digital formats and made freely available to the public through the Digital Public Library of America. The Life Story Library invites financial contributions to sponsor the stories in this collection.
Feature Stories Collection
This is an invitation for your story to be featured on the website and in other publications of the Life Story Library. If your story is of interest to the general public please submit it here for consideration.
Memorial Tributes Collection
This is an opportunity to honor a deceased loved one with a personal story using an online platform. Memorial photos and stories will remain online for six months.
Time Capsule Collection
This is an informal large-scale repository of stories for possible future research and preservation only. These stories can include eye-witness accounts anecdotes from daily life and “here and now” personal insights within a contemporary historical context.
Follow these steps to submit your story
- Register to use the website and enjoy the activities resources and benefits of being involved.
- Base story materials on the real life experiences of the author preferably told in first person voice.
- Be respectful fair and sensitive with story content. In general provide reference to others by relationship rather than name and focus on what happened to you and what you learned from the experience.
- Reflect on topics such as courage transformational experiences insights inspiration and human interest. Engage the reader by sharing key story elements (e.g. character action conflict and resolution).
- Be mindful of the details since the story will become history. Check the accuracy of the facts and include supportive photos documents and links. With the materials authors should provide search terms (also called “meta tags”) for easy public access and future reference.
- Review the Story Submission Guidelines (forthcoming) and follow the tips for how to send the story materials to the Life Story Library.
- Select the story format (print audio or video) as well as the type of collection that provides the best fit for your story.
- Sign a release form permitting the Life Story Library to archive use and share the story.
Story materials are archived in partnership with the University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library and made accessible through the Mountain West Digital Library a hub of the Digital Public Library of America.
Topics Worth Considering
- A teacher who changed my life
- Seeking freedom and dignity – my experience
- An unheralded story of courage
- Facing life with a disability
- When home is far away
- My biggest mistake and what I learned from it
- Children at risk—an inside story
- Sportsmanship and character
- Changing the story I tell myself
- Why I treasure a memorable family tradition
We recommend submitting your story in several different file formats, these are listed below.
Text formats such as:
- .doc or .docx file format - Microsoft Word
- .wps - Word Perfect Corel
- .txt or .rtf file format - Wordpad, Textwriter, Text Editor
- .odf, .odp or .odc - Open Office Documents
Portable document for e-readers
- .pdf - Adobe acrobat file
- .edf - e-book file format
Compressed or Zipped file of all images, sound or video
- .jpg, .png, .tif, .gif file formats
Recorded Sound Formats
- .mp3, .wav or .aif format
- .mp4 or .mov file format