Where do you like to go on vacation? What is it that you like best about this picture that has popped into your mind? Beautiful scenery, new adventures, great shopping, historical sites, loving travel companions, exquisite food and wine, are all reasons to return to a well-loved place, even if it’s only in your mind. My childhood memories of family vacations are adventures crafted only in my imagination. Movies, books and television programs gave me images of places I hoped to visit, people I wanted to meet and times that could only be retraced by evidence they had left behind. But they are as real to me as trips I have taken as an adult to Canada, Japan, and Central America.

Memory is one of the most underrated travel locations in the world.

Memory is also an underrated, powerful tool, something we don’t take advantage of nearly enough by my standards. Our memories are treasures, rich resources uniquely individual to each of us. The truth is that every thought, word and feeling of our daily lives is served by how we leverage our memories. And we can choose how we are served.

Reading Gail Collins’ book, When Everything Changed, brought me straight back to my Midwestern childhood. In her book, Collins frames the years between 1960 and Hillary Clinton’s historic run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, detailing the massive cultural shifts in women’s roles that had remained virtually stagnant for over four hundred years. Each story she shared about an individual woman’s life felt like another celebratory whoop of joy for my generation and the one before that had resulted in breaking the chains of the past. Then, I bumped up against her chapters on the 1970’s and felt utterly deflated at the confusion, frustration and despair at the marathon lasting social change really is, spread out over many generations who never feel the full power or impact of their contributions.

I’ve temporarily set Collins’ book aside, not because I don’t want to remember, but because I must remember more, understand more, of how this powerful, world-changing time still informs my life. I am grateful for the memory of my friend and schoolmate telling me there were no women’s names in the phone book because, “That’s the way it works.” I am grateful for the memory of being taunted for wanting to run for the elected position of judge in our eighth grade mock trial because, ”Girls can’t be judges.” I am grateful for the memory of more than one person saying, “Can women do that?” when I announced my decision to become an ordained minister.

Even as I have temporarily set this book aside, I have allowed myself to turn around, to look over these memories, seeing them strung together with others by a gathering thread of purpose and power that I had belittled and brushed away. I remember now that I have spoken up and acted on my beliefs when it has not been convenient. I also see my life as a part of the accomplishments of many others and know that I have made a difference in the world that is lasting. My memories give me strength and resolve to continue my work and grow as a person. My memories serve me well when I frame them in the context of what I want to accomplish in my life now because they have helped bring me to this place.

Although my memories make me unique, using them as a powerful tool to create my life is something anyone can practice on a daily basis. Here are a few tips to try for yourself.

First, choose to live your own life. While community matters because none of us is in this alone, we are each here to live only our own life, no one else’s. When looking back over the events of your life claim your truth, not the stories other people told you about how you should have thought, felt or acted. Simply stop making excuses for what has passed. You can always ask yourself how a situation, conversation or action serves you now. You can also ask yourself what you have learned over the course of time because this memory is a part of you.

Second, let go of the complaining and explaining. You do not owe anybody a reason for how you think, feel or act. No one owes you a reason for how they think, feel or act either. This behavior puts you in position to create from the foundation of a clear memory, knowing you are living consciously, creating the future you will look back on. Wayne Dyer and Mary Morrissey, generous teachers of mine, helped me see these two lessons and live them each day.

Third, trust your inner voice to direct you in remembering. This is the truth with which we all can learn and grow. Paying attention, asking questions and listening with an open mind and heart also moves us in the direction we want to go. Remembering with shame, blame or guilt only manifests regret and hopelessness. There is more to life than dead ends and misery, but you are responsible to search out what you want. Recognize that everything that has happened in your life supports you when you let it.

I create my present life with the energy generated by my unique memories, not as weapons I use against myself, but as tools to understanding how I have crafted my life all along. The past cannot be changed, but it can be used to great effect in understanding yourself and your particular gifts and purpose. Everything that happens in your life is done for you to become all that you are and meant to become. Remembering all that you have been serves you to become all that you can be.

Author's Bio: 

As a communication coach, Cory focuses her work on helping women in transition find their voice so they can live their purpose in the world. Over thirty years of journaling experience as applied in individual and community ministries gives Cory an informed perception about beliefs, their implications and transformational power in everyday life. Cory also brings twenty-plus years of retail sales, customer service, training and management experience, with companies including Bath and Body Works, The Bombay Company and The Rack division of The Nordstrom Company, to her coaching programs. Cory L. Kemp, a native of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay with a double major in Communication and the Arts and Social Change and Development, with a minor in Women's Studies, and was ordained into the ministry of the Moravian Church after receiving her Master of Divinity degree from Moravian Theological Seminary, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Are you ready to make a decision? Find your voice and live your true purpose now. Receive your complimentary “Connect Your Thoughts to Your Purpose” coaching session by emailing Cory at cory@corykemp.com. You can also join the Communication Leadership community by subscribing to Translations, our weekly ezine.