Because I'm an author, columnist and journalist, working with words comes naturally. But I'm well aware of the fact that for many people, the idea of writing their life story can sound more like the world's worst homework assignment than an easy way to let friends and family members know and understand the events of their life. This is where technology can make leaving a legacy seem practically effortless. If you don't like the idea of preserving your life story on the printed page, why not enlist the help of a videographer? There are a variety of small production companies and creative individuals who could help you create a filmed visual medium that can be shared with friends and loved ones.
Some firms may take up to a month to complete your video life story, but if you want to leave your heirs a completed documentary-style film, the process could take as long as four months to complete. And, of course, be prepared to pay several thousand dollars to have your video — or that of a loved one — made. One of the oldest firms to start offering individualized filmed life stories is Family Legacy Video. Based in Arizona, the firm began offering its family history service back in 2003.
A few other sources that can help you preserve your life story include Verissima Productions, Memoirs Productions, Legacy Multimedia and the My Video Life Story website. Naturally, each of these sources offers a different level of service. They may be appropriate if you want an A&E-style documentary that involves a more complicated process — one that may include a variety of personal interviews, dozens of documents, photographs, maps, etc. — than a DVD of merely one person speaking directly to camera. Think of this sort of professionally produced DVD as an affordable, entertaining version of the TV shows "Finding Your Roots" or "Who Do You Think You Are?"
Many videographer services offer filmed life stories that run up to an hour. The standard filmed directive used to be people's way of leaving a visual and auditory last will and testament to their survivors. But the whole concept of a legacy video has changed of late. Today, not only are older people filming their life stories as a way of sharing their heritage with relatives; many younger family members are choosing to capture the essence of their elders' memories as a way of creating a historical family heirloom for future generations.
If you or someone you know is really tech-savvy, you could also think about using the free FamilySearch Memories or Familybox apps, which provide an organized storage space for different aspects of your personal story. Whatever sort of filmed technology service you employ, think of this project as a way to communicate emotions, information and historical data that you want others to know and understand. Making your video legacy may just be the only time in your life when you really have 100 percent control over what others see and hear about you.
In some ways, personalizing your story could actually be seen as the ultimate adult power trip — regardless of how old you are.
Marilyn Murray Willison has had a varied career as a six-time nonfiction author, columnist, motivational speaker and journalist in both the U.K. and the U.S. She is the author of The Self-Empowered Woman blog and the award-winning memoir "One Woman, Four Decades, Eight Wishes." She can be reached at www.marilynwillison.com. To find out more about Marilyn and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.