It’s nice to relive some of life’s most special moments, the exciting political and cultural events you’ve experienced, and to see your life in context. Sharing your stories with your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews introduces them to other times and places and helps their school lessons come alive and feel more personal. That’s why we had so much fun finding photos of Chattanooga, Tennessee from the 1960s and 70s. It’s fascinating to see what’s changed and what has stayed the same — both for cities and people.
If you enjoyed last month’s retrospective in photographs, you might have fun delving more into your own past. Writing down your memories is a fantastic way to stay mentally sharp and provide the special people in your life with a one-of-a-kind record of what you saw, what you did, and how you felt. It might feel overwhelming to tackle the telling of your life story, but it doesn’t have to be.
You could start by simply jotting down a few thoughts what’s different and what’s stayed the same and see if there’s a story in those observations. For example, perhaps the church you were married in is still standing and still has an active congregation. It might be surrounded by different buildings and businesses though than it was on your wedding day, or perhaps you notice how different the clothes are that people wear on Sundays. Many of Chattanooga’s neighborhoods have changed over the years. If you grew up in the area, you might write down what you remember, like when Brainerd Road was the place to see and be seen and hit the latest fast food restaurants, or what East Brainered was like before Hamilton Place Mall was built.
Any of those changes might conjure up memories about how life used to be, and what’s remained constant throughout your life. You could also try bigger picture prompts, like where you were in major historic moments like Pearl Harbor or the Kennedy Assassination, and how you responded. Your loved ones will be lucky to see the world through your eyes and gain your perspective on how times have changed. If you like the idea of writing down your memories there are many great books on the topic. Try picking one up at a local bookstore like McKay’s Used Books, Winderbinder Gallery and Bookstore.
An added bonus is that memory exercises like these are good for mental health— studies show that reminiscence can reduce depression and anxiety in people of all ages. There has also been a huge resurgence of interest in Chattanooga history, so your reminiscenses will be valuable not only to your loved ones, but everyone who enjoys this city and wants to learn more about it. Happy remembering!