This year for Christmas I gave my children a very personal gift, a gift of self. I gave to them a small piece of the fabric of my life. I gave them the beginnings of my personal history.
A personal history is never really finished until you die, so it’s always a work in progress. It can be a daunting task to compose your life’s story and put it on paper. The children have been asking for a couple of years. I didn’t have time. I didn’t know how to begin. I wasn’t ready. My life isn’t interesting. Sound familiar?
In February, when friend-husband and I were on the road home from Arkansas with our son’s family, I found the perfect time. I am an early riser. There isn’t much to do in a crowded hotel room, especially when you don’t want to disturb sleeping people. I found that I could hang out in the bathroom with the light on, the door closed and the lap top on my lap. We were on the road for ten days and soon I had woven a small piece of the fabric of my life.
After we were home, I didn’t work on my history with much consistency, but over time I did flesh it out a bit. I added a detail here, an experience there, here a tweak, there a tweak, everywhere a….
Much of my life is ordinary, but some of it is unique, and all of it is mine. I found satisfaction in sorting through the details of my life and processing my thoughts and feelings. I decided to share some of those thoughts and feelings with my family and I wove them into my story. I wanted to give my children more than a time line with facts and figures. I wanted them to know my heart.
My history is not really chronological, though there is a chronological thread running through it. I began with a growing experience from my high school days. My birth is recorded not first or even second. I wanted my history to be interesting reading, and my birth is not the most interesting part of my life. I included some thoughts about my parents and grandparents; not just the facts, but snapshots of their personalities. I mentioned things I learned from them.
There is a bit of a balancing act going on when you write your history. Should you tell all...or only the good. I didn't want to whitewash my history. Every family has unsavory stories. Mine is no exception. I wanted to include some of those not so nice details, not to hurt anyone, but to honor the truth and to bring clarity into our lives. We can all learn from experience, if we are not afraid of the truth. I told the truth, but with kindness, and without blame.
Since my history is a work in process, I decided not to bind it. Instead I had the copies punched and placed them in binders, so that I can add to it. I considered leaving the pages unnumbered, so that pages could be added throughout the history and not just at the end. After waffling a bit, I decided that page numbers were necessary for organization. What if the pages were spilled somehow?
Though I wrote my history as a gift for my children, the magic part is that it became a gift to myself. I found gratitude as I considered the gifts in my life. I found clarity as I considered patterns in my life’s path. I found healing as I considered the challenges I have encountered. I found direction as I considered my goals and dreams. I entitled my history Heart Song, and prefaced it with this poem.
by Linda Kay Garner
I’ll share with you my favorite song; a song of love and laughter.
I’ll sing to you of dreams come true; and happy ever after.
I’ll share a song of sadness, of sunshine mixed with rain.
I’ll sing to you of gladness; I’ll share a song of pain.
I’ll share a joyous melody of every warm sweet memory.
Let’s you and I share harmony of home and friends and family.
I’ll share a song of miracles. I’ll sing a song of change.
This is the music of my life. This is my own refrain.
I’ll share with you my secret thoughts, my hope and my desire.
I’ll dance to memory’s music, as you snuggle by the fire.
And as you turn the pages, perhaps you’ll sing along.
This is the music of my heart; This is my heart’s own song.
Friend-husband’s mother died this year without recording her Heart Song. We long for a small piece of the fabric of her life.
Maybe this could be your year. Maybe you could begin now to record your story, your thoughts, your hopes, your dreams. Maybe you could give the gift of self. Is it time to listen to your heart and make some music of your own? It could be fun. Are you ready to sing your own Heart Song?