Media professional and founder of Life Story Productions, Keltie is also proud mum to her favourite productions, children Billie and Charlie.
Life in lockdown has prompted us to reminisce and consider how the story of our life has turned out. In a world of increasing uncertainty about our very own mortality, we are becoming supremely aware of what is truly important. And when we do go, just how will we be remembered and what legacy will we leave behind?
There are three key reasons why telling your life story or the story of a loved one is so important. Firstly, sharing your life story is the ultimate gift to future generations. More people than ever seem to be researching their own family's history. Just consider the rise of genealogy websites such as ancestry.com.au. People want to know where they came from. And who better to preserve your history, your stories, than you?
In fact, university studies show that children profoundly benefit from projects like these. Children who come from families that talk about their history, that know their stories, have much higher levels of emotional wellbeing. Stories ground them. Stories give them a sense of identity through time. They let them know where they fit in within their family. They let them know where they came from.
Secondly, the psychological benefits for the storyteller are also well documented. Although some people feel they haven't lived a particularly exciting life, as the process begins and they start reflecting on their lives, they realise there are many stories worth passing on. The experience validates their being. It can give them a sense of a life really well lived. By finding their voice and telling their story, they in turn empower themselves. Their accomplishments, their mistakes, the good times and the challenging. Even talking about old times has been shown to improve mood, wellbeing, communication and even memory.
Thirdly, just as a photograph fades over time, your memories can too. As you age your health may impact your ability to document your past. Preserving your life story means you get to tell it. In your words. In your way. No one wants to think of themselves as a forgotten face in a photo. Your life story should be a celebration of you. A tribute. When the time comes and a loved one passes away, friends and family will appreciate the opportunity to collectively celebrate the person they loved.
With so many of us spending more hours than we ever did at home, now is in fact the ideal time to kickstart a life story project. Collating photographs, memorabilia, artefacts and documents to help tell our story or that of a loved one, takes organisation and patience.
But once you've compiled the memories, what's the best way of preserving and presenting them? Historically people have written their stories and presented them in a published book. Whilst writing memories down is an obvious place to start, talking is usually easier. And video is the only medium that truly captures the authenticity of a person. The way a person tells a story is so much a part of the story itself. Their particular turn of phrase, their unique voice, their distinct mannerisms.
Generations of families not yet born can experience their elders' recollections first hand. Not only will they learn valuable family history in a first hand way, but by seeing and hearing the physical and personality traits they share with their storyteller, they'll connect in a very personal manner.
The reality is, future generations will also be far more engaged and interested in watching an on-screen film. And as technology advances it's important to ensure your legacy, your life story, is captured in the most up-to-date way, so it can be shared easily no matter where your family are across the globe.
A life story film could also be shared at a memorial service as a heartfelt tribute to a person who touched their lives. In fact, many people find that the screening of a life story helps friends and family with the grieving process.
By looking back on a loved one's life, they are given the opportunity to not only celebrate that life, but to re-live special moments and unique memories that they may have been a part of. Organising a fitting memorial service can be time consuming and stressful at what is a very difficult period. Having a unique, dignified life story production is one way of taking stress away.
At a time when the pandemic has forced us to be mindful of our own mental health, reaping the psychological benefits of documenting a life story NOW, couldn't be more opportune. And as the ultimate legacy gift to family and future generations, this has to be an investment worth making.