My sister and I recently planned a dinner celebration for our mom’s 70th birthday. We yearned to give her the perfect gift with a focus on our decades of family memories. We felt that having her unwrap a DVD of our childhood family movies would have a wow factor. So began my journey.
I already had our movie reels dating from the ’70s and ’80s, which I had converted into VHS tapes. I gathered our family photos, tossed them all into a shopping bag and drove to my local video transfer store.
The owner was a bottom-line, back East New Yorker like me, so we clicked right away. Together we discussed strategies on how to consolidate, title and integrate the media with music. The “gotta-do-it-someday” project was finally happening!
The night of the celebration dinner finally arrived. I recorded a video on my smartphone of Mom’s head-over-heels reaction when she opened our gift. Later, I uploaded the video and other related images to my free Dropbox app. I placed them in a “Mom’s 70th Birthday” folder, which I stored in “Winter 2016” in the “Family Memories of 2016” file, and emailed everyone the album link. The next evening, the telephone rang. As I picked up the phone, I heard Mom sobbing on the other end. “Mom, is everything ok?” I asked. She responded in a teary, emotional voice:
“Danielle, I just finished watching the family video you and your sister gave me. I just can’t thank you enough for this gift! This is the best gift I have ever, ever, ever been given. It’s so beautiful. To see you and your sister in all these videos is so precious and so priceless, I can’t describe it. You are the best daughter any mother could ever ask for. I will forever be grateful.”
For the first time in my life, I experienced my mother sobbing tears of joy instead of sadness. I immediately called my sister to tell her. Mom’s response to our creative $18 gift caused a ripple effect in our hearts and an epiphany in my mind about the importance of cherishing one’s life journey.
“In order to move forward, you need to think backward. Ask yourself how you want to cherish and preserve your memories.”
Nowadays, we take nearly as many pictures as we take breaths to survive. Only when we pause our treadmill-paced lives are we able to reflect and find clarity about where we stand in our recovery today. Watching our life on screen can bring healing and inspiration in ways we never could have imagined. In order to move forward, you need to think backward. Ask yourself how you want to cherish and preserve your memories.
So, what’s the next step? Consider the following methods to view your life story:
Compile a traditional photo album of paired down images.
Create a digital photo book through Shutterfly™ or Snapfish™. View images on your computer as a slideshow.
Host a family movie night and show images and videos on your TV or tablet.
Display images on your wall, creating your life’s art gallery. For our crew, nothing is better than to cuddle together on the sofa as we eat popcorn and watch our family pictures. We are captivated as our past comes alive on the big screen.
My dad was our family photographer. I am indebted to him for making family movie night a much-anticipated event. I vividly recall my sister and me in our zip-up jammies, waiting patiently for him to load the movie reels on his clattering metal projector. I am committed to offering the same irreplaceable experience for my family, and hope they will do the same someday for their families.
I am grateful that over the years I took a generous number of tender one-minute-moment videos in addition to traditional snapshots. Photos frame that exact moment, but a video of the same event is like wearing 3D glasses; you become part of the experience.
So, let’s get started on organizing your digital media. Consider beginning with the current year and working your way backward. You’ll see progress sooner, and feel more dedicated and less defeated. Sort media by season and year. Depending on your software, your media may already be presorted. Do a quick purge, deleting duplicate images so that movie night doesn’t turn into a 24-hour viewing marathon.
Stream your media from iCloud™ or plug in the appropriate media cable to your TV and watch directly from your device.
Use a DVD if you prefer, transfer the media by season and label each disk with a permanent marker.
Don’t halt your progress…hire help, if needed. Seek out a tech-savvy friend or a digital support service to assist you in completing your project. For future reference, take a video of how they transferred media or hooked up cables.
If you’re like most people, you have boxes and old albums of snapshots gathering dust on closet shelves. Take the plunge and convert your old photos or albums into a digital format. Consider investing in an inexpensive, all-in-one color printer/scanner, or use your smartphone to capture individual photos and whole album pages in one shot. Digitizing old images opens up creative gift-giving options such as calendars and keepsake books to share at milestone events and celebrations.
“The Perfectionist Pipe Dream. Do you struggle with obsessive perfection to the point that endless photo projects are either never started or never completed?”
Do you have a colossal pipe dream of scrapbooking photos or orchestrating an Academy Award film production of your memories to music and sound?
If you have a history of addiction, you understand how spiraling anxiety can create a series of perfectionist projects. Snap out of it! You’ll breathe easier knowing those memories are preserved. Focus on “progress, not perfection.” Go out with a bang rather than a dusty, disorganized bust, and pass along something magnificent to your loved ones.
Danielle Wurth is a professional speaker, organizer and the owner of Wurth Organizing, LLC, a company that transforms people’s lives through using her psyche-based, hands-on organizing sessions and events. In addition, Wurth is an exclusive Arizona Brand Partner of The Container Store and has been a contributor to Real Simple Magazine, Fox 10 News, Channel 3 Good Morning Arizona, 1360 KPXQ Faith Talk Radio and The Arizona Republic. wurthorganizing.com 602.579.5274