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Stories of Lives Well Lived

iPhone lens and flashWe can all learn a lot from our elders. Your older relatives can tell you what life was like when they were children. They can connect you to important historical events by telling you stories about where they were when something big occurred. They can also share wisdom that will teach you how to live a better life. Genealogists can benefit by taking the time to ask their elders for some wisdom.

In San Luis Obispo, California, a woman named Sky Bergman came up with an amazing project. She is a professor of art and design at Cal Poly. Her project is called “Lives Well Lived”. She came up with the idea almost accidentally.

She went to visit her grandmother, Evelyn Ricciuti, who is 101 years old. Sky Bergman was making videos of her grandmother cooking traditional Italian dishes. She accompanied her grandmother to the gym, and asked her to share some words of wisdom. Evelyn Ricciuti said “Be kind” and “Live life to the limits”.

That shared moment was what gave Sky Bergman the idea to do the “Lives Well Lived” project. She has gathered about 30 men and women, all over the age of 75, to participate. Each person was asked “how to age with dignity, grace, energy, and purpose”. She filmed them as they shared their words of wisdom.

This concept is something that genealogists can do with their own relatives. You don’t necessarily need to have the top-of-the-line equipment to make some videos. Your smartphone probably has at least one option (if not more) that you can use to start recording the stories of your loved ones.

If you like, you can follow the example set by Professor Sky Bergman. Ask your older relatives to share their wisdom about “how to age” well. Ask them to share what they do that makes their lives happy and fulfilling.

Another option is to focus on a historical event. “Where were you when…” is a great conversation starter! Ask your relatives to share their story of where they were on 9/11, or when the Challenger exploded, or when President Kennedy was assassinated.

Or, you could seek out stories from their lives that are really happy ones. Ask your elders to tell you how they proposed to their spouse (or how their spouse proposed to them). These memories are important, well worth recording, and wonderful to share with other members of your family. In the process, you will end up learning a whole lot about life and how to live it.

Image by Simon Yeo on Flickr.

Related Articles:

* Historical Event That Changed Your Ancestor’s Life & Yours

* Tips for Preserving Your Family Stories

* Oral Family History

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