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1,000 Stories

One of my most inspiring take-aways from RootsTech 2016 came from Mike Leavitt’s keynote address on Saturday, February 6, 2016. I have long admired the public service of this former Governor of Utah and Secretary of Health and Human Services, so I was looking forward to his address. In his speech, Mr. Leavitt told of “the way I tricked myself into writing a personal history that has great meaning to me and I believe to my family.” He had been telling the same stories over and over to his family and in speeches and wondered if he could come up with some fresh material.

So, he started to brainstorm, in completely random order, stories about his life. He wrote them down in small phrases and incomplete sentences, just enough to trigger the memory again. His list filled a page in just a short few minutes and he thought, I wonder if I could come up with 100 stories? Soon he met that quota and set a new goal of 1,000 stories which he added to over some time. When he rearranged the story lines into themes and chronologies, he had his life history pretty well planned out. Then he was able to take more time to flesh out each story and complete his personal history. He sweetly shared how his grandchildren love to hear a story from his memoir at bedtime. Watch his full speech:


As a longtime genealogist, it has always been my goal to leave my life history for my descendants. –Bless my ancestors’ hearts who left a life history for me; how I wish many other ancestors had done so!– But, beyond consistently-irregular journaling, and now pulling my social media feeds into my electronic journal, I had not yet started my life history. Until this suggestion by Mike Leavitt.

After his keynote, I started a new journal section in my e-journal and the first entry is called simply 1000 stories. Over the course of this year, I brainstormed 100 story lines. And I have written separate entries with details about maybe a dozen of those. Brilliant progress? Maybe not. But, it is progress. And if I continue on at this rate, I will have 1,000 story ideas and maybe 150 or more stories written out well before I am 50. I guess that is a significant something! And something about my life left for my descendants is much better than nothing!

Here are a few of my story tidbits, somewhat related to genealogy just for fun:

  • I did not play with toys as a child, I organized them. Seriously. I organized my bookshelves, my art supplies, my Barbie dolls, even my brothers’ Legos (that was not actually appreciated). I was just exercising my future family-tree-organizing muscles!
  • My mom dropped me off at the Idaho State Archives before I could drive myself so I could research the collections there. (That is saying something since I learned to drive when I was 14 and had my full driver’s license by 15.)

Have you started recording your 1,000 stories? I encourage you to start today. It is easy and painless to add a little at a time. Our descendants will thank us for it!

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