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Memory Triggers and The Artifacts of Our Lives

Memory Triggers and The Artifacts of Our Lives

By Richard Weijo

My wife was quite surprised by the items I took from my parent’s home before we put it up for sale. 

Among them was an Agfa Ansco folding camera, a fish filleting knife from my father, a pocket notebook, a round tin container filled with an odd collection of household items,  a tiny handmade wooden snuff box filled with coins, and a delicate hand painted glass flower vase.

At the time, I can’t explain why I took some of these items. 

Most people probably would have thrown them in the garbage or donated them.  But oddly, they meant something to me.  They were items that were around while I was growing up.

I later realized these items were particularly valuable because they helped me recapture memories from the past.

Several years ago, I was impassioned to create and leave a legacy to future generations.  I read and used principles described in The Legacy Guide to help me gain insights from my past which I wanted to share with my family and friends. This book described a three-step approach called facts to memories to meaning. By first reviewing facts from the past, long-forgotten memories are triggered, helping to uncover the emotions and finally the meaning behind these events.

I was surprised how well this approach works.

I did not think I could remember much of my past; it was long forgotten. But if you take advantage of all of your memorabilia —I can assure you the memories will come rushing back. I started by assembling and reviewing the facts, pictures, and objects that were from my childhood. This triggered rich memories I had forgotten long ago.  It helped me identify and select important themes from my life to incorporate in creating my legacy.

There are many family artifacts that can trigger these memories.  It could be pictures, videos/family movies, letters, postcards, journals, travel logs or other family documents.  It might include jewelry, items of clothing, awards, art or pieces of furniture.

But don’t forget about those odd little items that were lying around your childhood home – and their ability to trigger powerful memories along with the stories that make them special.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can create & leave a memorable and inspiring legacy, visit Richard’s website at www.richardoweijo.com/create-legacy/

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Richard O. Weijo, PhD, received an undergraduate degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and went on to receive his MBA and PhD degrees from the University of Minnesota. He was an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Richard was also a Senior Analyst at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and his most recent corporate position was as a Manager of market research and Director of customer channels at Portland General Electric. Currently, he is a consultant and a writer. He adores his young granddaughter Elsie, whose birth inspired his book, Our Dreams For Our Children: Creating Legacies That Inspire Each New Generation To Achieve A Brighter Future.