LifeStory Briefs

<- Creating Your Lifeline ->

My LifeLine

When you first begin writing your life story, one of the most important things you can do is to create a LifeLine—a listing, or calendar, of the most important things that have happened to you in your life.

What is a LifeLine?

Very simply, your LifeLine is a chronological listing of the most important events of your life, with the year and the month they occurred. As you work further with your LifeLine, you will be expanding it to include more information about the significant events and more of the minor events. But a simple list is best to start with. So take a sheet of paper and write "My LifeLine" at the top. On the right side, write a brief caption describing the important events. On the left, write the date. At this point, the year is sufficient. If you think of things out of order, that's okay—just write them down. You can always go back and reorder your list.

Jean's LifeLine

1935     I was born
1941     I entered 1st grade
1942     We moved to Norfolk
1944     Dad was killed
1947     Mom remarried
1948     We moved to Florida
1950     I started high school

How Your LifeLine Can Help

A written record of the events of your life will enable you to sort things out in your mind, to recollect important dates, and to create a brief outline of your life story. All by itself, without further expansion, it can become a valuable family document, because it shows important events, places, and dates.

Just as importantly, your LifeLine can also help you to understand more about yourself. As you work with it, writing things down and remembering what happened, you will understand more about what was going on in your mind and heart when you made the choices that shaped your future.

Using Your LifeLine

Once you've established your LifeLine, you can use it in many different ways. Here are some interesting ideas—you'll probably think of many others:
  • Use your LifeLine as a simple calendar of your life's events. Placed at the beginning of your story, a LifeLine provides readers with a useful chronological summary of the life story to come. Placed at the end, in an appendix and with page references, it can serve as a handy look-up guide.

  • Use your LifeLine to review your life. We all go through a number of stages of growth in our lives: childhood and teen years, young womanhood, mature womanhood, and our senior years. (Women who work with goddess patterns will recognize the triple goddesses, Diana-Demeter-Hecate.) Each of these stages offers its particular physical, psychological and social challenges. Each one requires us to learn some new and important lessons. Study your LifeLine to see how these life stages have appeared in your life. What events mark the boundaries of each stage? What was important to you in each period? What lessons did you learn? How did you grow?

  • Use your LifeLine as an outline for your life story. For example, you might choose to write one chapter about each of the important events, telling what occurred, who was involved, why things happened the way they did, and what occurred afterward.

  • Use your LifeLine to record important "outer-world" events. The twentieth-century world is a global village. None of us can fail to be affected by the events in other parts of our country and in the world—they are part of the context of our lives. You will realize more about yourself and offer more information to your reader if you include some of these global, national, or local events: for example, the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, the Oakland Fire, or the Great Flood of 1995. Events like these leave their mark on our lives.

More Tips & Ideas for Creating Your Lifeline

Keep each entry short. You can always expand it later.

Use the first-person voice (I/we). Choose either the past or present verb tense and maintain it throughout. Decide whether you will use phrases or full sentences throughout.

If you can't remember a date, write down the event and dig up the date later. For the dates of national and global events, try an almanac, the library, or the Web.

Extend your LifeLine to include important events in your parents' and childrens' lives—create a Family LifeLine that extends for several generations.

Develop a flexible format for your LifeLine that enables you to continue to edit it. A three-ring binder is handy—you can establish a section for the LifeLine and add pages as you need them. Or you might try 3x5" cards, with one entry on each card. Colored cards would enable you to extend and enlarge each entry. A computer, if you have one, makes these tasks much simpler!


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