Who we are matters. What we keep matters. I know what you are thinking, and no, we are not about to Marie Kondo your life. I'm not a fan. But now seems like a good time to start thinking about the things we surround ourselves with. The history that belongs to the things we hold dear. Where they come from. What they mean. Where we come from. What parts of our own personal history we hold onto and what traits and heirlooms are excluded. I'm fascinated by the objects we keep, the ones we inherit, and the ones we giveaway. It's the driving force behind the images I pair with this project. The natural and manmade things that draw my gaze and attention. There are so many facets of personal history, from our genetics, to the choices we have made for ourselves that become our history. Where we live, our partners, children. They all add to the beautiful and complex narrative of our lives.
I'll share three different personal history based daily practice ideas with you today, along with a more standard These Three Things prompt related to personal history. All ideas can be mixed and matched. Carried on consecutively, or out of order. Just start somewhere.
1. Card Catalogue. How often are we given the time in our surroundings to truly take stock? For me, hardly ever. Now seems like a time to start really thinking about the meaning behind the things we surround ourselves with. Start with your favorite objects. Maybe they are on a bookshelf, your closet, jewelry box. Perhaps they can be found in your kitchen or on your living room walls. Take a moment to remember where you got each one. Did you buy it? Where? Was it handed down to you? A gift? What about it speaks to you? Start your own card catalogue of the things you hold dear. Include all the information you can remember and don't forget to include a personal reason why you have held on to it. Perhaps it just pleases you, or perhaps you don't really like it (as is the case with my grandmother's Hummel figurine collection) but there is meaning behind keeping it around. You can do this with or without pictures, digitally or analog. This can be a very long timeline practice. You can explore just one thing, like a jewelry box, or explore your entire house or apartment. Start and see where the first step leads you next.
2. Family Tree. It's as simple as it sounds. Get out the poster board - any drawing surface will do - and begin creating your family tree. I want to say that this should also be done with chosen family. They are family too. If you do not want to revisit the personal history of your biological family - I totally get it - create a chosen family tree. Or create both, or one and combine them! See how far you can get on your own without phoning a family member, chosen or otherwise. Host a FaceTime call or set up a zoom with friends and family to see who needs to be added. If you are super into genealogy, hop online to a family tree site like Ancestry or USAGov to really dive deep.
3. Class Superlatives. This is fun! Who would you have wanted to be in your high school class? ANYONE!! Create your own yearbook, this can be done individually or as a family project. Roommates count too! Create the graduating class of your dreams and don't forget to include superlatives. You can keep it all imaginary or really go for it and print photos online and tape or glue them into a notebook. Would you have wanted to graduate with Gloria Steinem? President Obama? David Bowie? Would Marc Jacobs be voted most stylish? Jon Stewart most likely to open an animal sanctuary? Have fun with it!
Personal History Related Prompt
Think about your own personal history like the chapters of a compelling adventure novel. What would be the turning points thus far? Record three major moments that transformed everything that came after. I'll go first.
1. Being told I was good at art. As is common in the elementary schools years, there is a point in development, it usually comes around 8 or 9 when we begin to realize that people excel at different things. Maybe we have one friend who is a really fast runner, another who excels at math. It was around this time that it was noticed that I was good at art. I think my friends knew before I did. Being told that changed everything that came after.
2. Moving to California. When I was 20, I moved from New York to San Francisco. January 13, 1997. That move changed absolutely everything.
3. Becoming a mother. Nothing has or ever will be the same.
What did you learn today? Join me by using the #thesethreethings and commenting below with your own These Three Things. I want to hear what you are learning, laughing about, and living through.