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Read about quality family history and life story news, views, methods, products, links, services

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July, 2008

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July 30, 2008

I watched the ABC News Primetime special last night on Randy Pausch. You may have heard of him.  A computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University known for his developments in virtual reality, he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in September 2006.  He spent the last months of his life inspiring others and giving of himself to his wife and three young children.  His bestseller, The Last Lecture, documents this journey.

Terminal illness is challenging for anyone to face.  And pancreatic cancer can be particularly tough.  My mother died from it two years ago.  Pausch, like my mother, accepted the fate, certainly had sorrow about it, but then did the marvelous thing of directing others to live for each moment.  The legacy we leave should be that we live our lives to the fullest.

Randy Prousch died at the age of 47 last Friday, July 25.  But he will continue to inspire countless others.  See this ABC story.


July 28, 2008

Guess who's turning 50?  Perhaps it is you - more and more boomers are marking their golden anniversary.  But I was referring to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  On July 29, 1958 then President Eisenhower signed the act that established NASA.

Space exploration and the NASA missions are etched into my childhood memory.  I recall watching the TV coverage and dreaming of becoming an astronaut.  While that dream did not become a reality, I did enjoy following the space race and even building and flying model rockets with my brother (see related story).

NASA has a fascinating website rich in information about the organization's missions, history as well as activity today.  See Nasa.gov.


July 26, 2008

From the July/August AARP Bulletin:  More people are planning their funerals and utilizing some new services.  Two of them are offered online, one in England and the other in America.  The Minneapolis-based MyWonderfulLife.com allows members to choose the music for their funeral, where and how their burial will take place and help fellow loved ones to be prepared with access to important information members choose to provide for them 

The similar site in London, YourDeathWish.com offers many of the same services.  Members can join an online community and share their ideas.  One member calls them, "Going away parties".  Clever. And the tone of the site is upbeat - you can't escape death, so accept it and have a little fun.

It's not morbid to plan ahead for your funeral.  And it can help ease the pain for those left behind.  But the most important thing is to communicate to your family and friends your love and your values.  The world becomes a better place when we do that.


July 23, 2008

Larry King, CNN talk-show host (his show has run in the same time slot for 21 years), has certainly interviewed just about anyony and everyone.  And his own life is full of drama, including seven marriages.

But couldn't Weinstein books come up with a better title for his autobiography than
What Am I Doing Here?  Story here on Reuters about the forthcoming book.


July 22, 2008

The journey from thought process to printed page can be long, arduous and even painful.  It can also be joyful and carthatic.  You might be an atrocious speller, bad writer and afraid of a computer.  But still your story can be done. It just takes the help of someone who knows how.

Here's a great story about Michael Oke of Bound Biographies and how he's helping others with their life stories.  The Life and Tomes of an Aid-Memoir appeared a few days ago in the Telegraph, "Britain's No. 1 quality newspaper website".

Oke has assisted in at least 140 books for his various clients and serves in four different roles. "I'm a friend, a secretary, an editor and a gentle bully" he states.


July 16, 2008

Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Robb Lucy.  He is writing a book that explores the idea of legacy and the importance of thinking about it and living it right now. Your legacy is not simply the inheritance you pass on or the “goodbye talk”. We all should be living lives that make a difference. What that means varies for each of us, but as Robb likes to say, it should be a legacy that makes you smile. Check out his blog, Your Legacy Smile.


July 13, 2008

Here's another example of the growing credibility of memoir, biography, and life story writing.  Across the Atlantic at City College in London they are offering a Master's degree in creative non-fiction writing that embraces writing about your life (or that of another).  

It's been said the memoir is the new novel.  It's true enough that many people have spectacular life experiences that are riveting to read about.  Having the skills to write about it in a way that captures the reader's imagination is important.

The article, The hottest new writing degrees are in specialist non-fiction, by Nick Jackson is online here at The Independent.


July 9, 2008

Isn't it nice to be able to go for a nice stroll in your neighborhood?  It's also great if you live within walking distance of stores and places you like to visit.  

Walking is good for you. It can be social, and of course, it's good for the environment.  The less you drive the less gasoline you have to buy, which at $4 plus a gallon and rising is a concern to us all.

I discovered a website that rates the "walkability" of neighborhoods.  Want to find out the score for where you live, or some place you'd like to? Visit www.walkscore.com and you can get the results. They also use Google map technology to aid in the report.  I found that my neighborhood has a score of 51 out of 100. That didn't surprise me. There are a few places within a half mile to a full mile that I could easily walk to, including a grocery store, hardware store, fitness center, coffee shop, movie theater and a sports bar (where my wife and I have frequently played pool).

The goal of WalkScore.com is to promote walkable communities.  That might be more important as you age.

And on the theme of walking, if you've never read the short story I wrote about a walk with my son (when he was seven), it's on my Sample Writing page.  It seems to strike a chord with many readers and it was a true life experience that I will always treasure.


July 7, 2008

Today my daughter and her boyfriend left for a trip "down under".  They are traveling to New Zealand and Australia.  Truly, it is an opportunity of a lifetime and I am thrilled that they are getting the opportunity to do this in their youth. They are traveling with a group from here, all headed to the World Youth Day 2008.

Is there a particular trip you've taken in your life that has special significance? Traveling and vacations are life events rich in potential for your life story. When a full life story is not an option a shorter project such as your favorite vacation or memorable travels can be the way to go.  I envision a 50 page book with many photographs that would make a great keepsake as well as an important part of your legacy.

I've frequently recommended the MemoryPress option for your book and it would be ideal for a project such as this.  Have you investigated this great service yet? More here.


July 4, 2008

Hot dogs. Parades. Flags. Fireworks.

It's Independence Day in the States.  The July 4th Holiday is a time to celebrate our freedoms.  Do we take any of it for granted? Are we humble in recognizing our many blessings?  

Have a safe and happy holiday.  If you get a chance, remind yourself of the roots of this day of the United States.  You can read the Declaration of Independence online here.


July 2, 2008

Jim Loehr, author of The Power of Story, makes the point in his book that "The stories you tell yourself about your life can either help you or hinder you".

I'm sure there is some truth in that.  If you want to succeed in anything you need persistence and confidence.  And faith helps, too.

If you are writing about your life consider the importance of purpose and meaning in your life, including what you yet want to accomplish.

Scrap that old life script, write a new story by Wu Jiayin is online at ShanghaiDaily.com.


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