Why I Started An Audio Diary Series For My Family

Why I Started An Audio Diary Series For My Family

Audio Diaries (Private & Confidential Documentary)Last Friday, October 7, 2022, I hit the record button and began a new audio diary series just for my family. I’ve been candid from the beginning – 23 years ago – that this podcast began mostly as a legacy project. I was aiming to record some things for my kids to listen to after I die – not diary-type things, but more “here’s my experience, insight, and whatever wisdom I’ve accumulated” kind of things. The about page tells you more about what was happening when I first thought to start this endeavor.

Well, a few weeks ago it dawned on me that I should likely pull the curtain back even more for this legacy project to be what I first intended. But I don’t want to include the entire world because I’d like to share some things that are far more private for whatever insight and help they may provide after I’m gone. So it was with that motivation that last Friday I hit record. I’m now three episodes into it  (I just finished the third episode) with no idea how many episodes it will be. I had no intention of recording every day, but I recorded twice this week already. I’m going to hit record whenever I want to, but I’m not forcing anything. So far, each recording has been just under an hour long.

I did it for one big reason: to make sure to chronicle and document life for whatever benefit it may provide to future people in my family who listen to it. It’s my take. My perspective. My experience. My insights.

Remembering my maternal grandmother who passed on likely provoked this. I visited my folks, whipped out my digital recorder, and recorded some audio as we talked about her – and my great-grandparents, who I didn’t really know. Legacy stuff.

Everybody has a smartphone with a mic and camera. Everybody has an audio recording app, likely a free one that came pre-installed on your phone. Fire that app up and start talking to your family. Don’t tell them how much you love them – do that to their face! Tell them things you don’t tell them to their face. Share whatever you want to share. Record it. Keep recording. Do it as often as you want.

As you hear yourself record these insights you’ll realize you’ve ever shared some of these things. You’ll likely find yourself wanting to have some face-to-face conversations to share more. Don’t talk yourself out of it. Do it. They’ll appreciate you for it. And if they don’t, don’t fret. You took advantage of the opportunity and now you’ll never regret having kept it to yourself. In the meanwhile, your recordings will live on and everybody who loves you will be so thankful to have your voice sharing these things.

Make the recordings as open as you can. Some of us are more prone to vulnerability than others. Don’t force yourself, but embrace being uncomfortable. Lean into discomfort because that’s where growth is. Open up and share what’s really going on with you, especially insights on what you’re thinking and why you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing. Or why you’ve done what you’ve done.

Come clean if you must – but I’d encourage you to do that face-to-face. You can still record it, but don’t say things in the recording that you know would be better said directly to somebody you love.

Make the recordings as beneficial for them as possible. You love these people. You want to help them avoid some challenges you’re enduring – or ones you’ve already endured. You want them to better leverage the opportunities they get. Be their mentor and coach. Encourage them by sharing with them what you’re learning. It will become a priceless gift! And it will cost you some time, some willingness to be vulnerable, and a focus on them. It’s a worthwhile investment.

Be as long or as short as you’d like. Do it as often as you want. Share the date and time when you’re recording to give them some context and just talk to them. Pretend they’re sitting across from you. It may feel weird at first, but keep doing it. You’ll grow more comfortable doing it. Most importantly, keep doing it. Nobody will care if it’s regular or sporadic. Just do it when you feel you have something you want to share. Remember, this isn’t for anybody except the people you love.

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Hello In There is a classic song by John Prine. It’s about old folks. As a young man, he’d help a friend deliver papers to old people in a nursing home. They’d sometimes pretend he was a son or nephew coming to visit. The memories stuck with him. John was 22 when he wrote the song. I became a John Prine fan when I was a teenager. It’s a song that speaks to your family’s need and your need for a deeper connection – and to not lose it.

Download the files from your phone onto your computer. Put them in DropBox or some other cloud-based storage. Put them on a USB thumb drive. Get them off your phone and onto some type of storage. Keep the files safely in some place where you can alert your family of their location. Don’t let thoughts of “I don’t want them to listen to these now” stop you. Who cares if they choose to listen right now? That’s an even better gift for them because now they can listen, if they want, and have a conversation with you while you’re all alive – together.

I’ve got mine online in a password-protected space, and also on a hard drive connected to my computer. Put yours where you want, but make sure your family has access to them. These are recordings you want them to easily find.

Don’t let life just happen. Document what you’re learning so the people who love you can benefit. And do it in your own voice! They’ll be so glad you did.

Randy Cantrell

P.S. You can Google and find all kinds of deeper details on keeping an audio diary or journal. Like here.

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