Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
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The Poet's Memoir
March 25, 2013
Recollection, introspection - respiration, inspiration. Scanning
memory, thinking about it, breathing the past and getting fueled for
tomorrow, these are some of the things I admire about poets. There
is something about their view of life, a perspective that elevates the
mundane to greatness or lowers the lofty to sea level. Yesterday,
tomorrow and the now all collide and revolve and orbit each other in
the poet's mind/eye/heart/soul.
Richard Blanco, this year's inaugural poet (One Today), has released a memoir, Looking for The Gulf Motel, and the review
by Julie Marie Wade is fascinating because it raises questions about
what constitutes memoir. Memoir can be tricky; it relies on memory,
specifically that of the memoirist, and that version of the truth may
vary with other versions, but ultimately it is the version that
matters. At least for the story being told.
I am not a poet, but I surely do find them interesting. In recent years
I've discovered some fine wordsmiths such as Billy Collins, Mary Oliver
and (from ages ago) Gerard Manley Hopkins. My ongoing association with
Ahrend R. Torrey keeps me open-minded and growing as a writer and
interviewer. We previously collaborated on Believer Poet and are now working on a sequel.
So I say, thank you, to the poets. You open our eyes, ears and hearts
to the worlds you see that but for your words we might have missed.
Family Narrative For the Good of the Children
March 19, 2013
I've seen more than once how writing or telling someone your life story
can have a benefit on your mental, physical and often emotional health.
But the New York Times just released a story, The Stories That Bind Us,
stating how good it is for your children's health, especially as they
grapple with the challenges they will go through in life. Having a
strong family narrative can give your children insight on how to deal
with the inevitable ups and downs of life. They develop confidence,
they feel more secure and they tend to be more resilient.
Now keep in mind that the powerful family narrative is best when it
combines stories about success as well as how they have dealt with
failure, setback and tragedy. So don't make it all a bed of roses nor a
trail of tears.
This is the second New York Times
article in just a few days to mention the benefits of life story work.
I've been watching this trend develop over the past decade. Are we
about to reach critical mass?
Becoming Virtually Immortal
March 13, 2013
We live in a time when the means to preserve a life story are more
advanced and accessible than ever before. No longer do you have to rely
on pen and paper or even old fashioned photography. Technology has made
recording our lives through digital means possible with our
smartphones, advanced cameras, recorders, tablets and computers.
It still takes some work and perhaps the help of a professional
personal historian to pull together these elements and create a
coherent finished product. A New York Times article reveals how we are living in a great time for preserving our stories. The article by J. Peder Zane, Hey, at Least You Can Be Virtually Immortal, mentions the growing trend of leaving a legacy with the tools of the 21st century.
Featured in the article are Association of Personal Historian
members Sarah White (current APH president), Cathi Nelson (also a
founder of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers), Mary O'Brien
Tyrrell (president of the International Institute for Reminiscence and
Life Review) and Stefani Twyford (Legacy Multimedia). This piece
wonderfully advances the importance of passing on our stories for our
Time Enough For Time
March 11, 2013
The semi-annual ritual of changing the clocks one hour took place this
weekend. Daily Savings Time kicked in as we moved our clocks forward
one hour and got robbed of a precious sixty minutes of sleep Saturday
Messing with our "body clocks" can result in feeling out of sorts. Are
you one of the many who feel this way when we spring forward or
fall back for the start or end of Daylight Savings Time?
We all get the same amount of time each day. I try to live in
twenty-four hour segments. It would be even better to just live a
minute at a time. Or not even tick off the seconds. Now is the only time we have.
A friend sent me a touching email today, a story about an old man who
passed away and a young man who was his friend and a gift he received
from him. You may have heard the story of Mr. Belser before. I traced
it to a site that credits it to Bob Perks and you can read it here. I think the message is important and I hope you take the time to read it.
As for your ongoing life story, use some time each day to take stock.
What memories are with you today? What memories did you make? How are you processing and preserving your life story? We all have a story and writing and talking about it has many benefits.
Death and the Online Process of Tribute and Grief
March 7, 2013
We live in a different kind of world than previous generations.
Information is everywhere. Technology keeps advancing. The Internet is
at our fingertips. On computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones we
drink in information. And we post it, too. Instantaneous and global.
When death occurs, be it family, friends or celebrity, we often find
out about it through social media, blogs or tribute sites. In addition
to discovering this news, many are driven to comment. It brings a
public mourning aspect to death. Unfortunately, part of the price of
this brave new world is the lack of respect at times for those in
grief. The flipside, however, is that we can also get consolation with
heartwarming posts, messages and tributes.
Thanks to a recent post by personal historian Stefani Twyford (Legacy Multimedia), I discovered in one spot a great deal of interesting and helpful information about this topic. Digital Mourning - Grief In the Online Age has some of Twyford's thoughts. This is good stuff. I recommend you read it and consider how you handle death and grief in our online world.
Forest Fenn and His Hidden Treasure
March 4, 2013
A Santa Fe man has an interesting legacy he wants to leave. Forest Fenn
is a famous art and antiquities dealer who retired after he was
diagnosed with cancer in 1998. Although his cancer is now in remission,
he's aware that it could always return. It isn't his first frightening
battle; he was an Air Force pilot that knows how life can end at any
Fenn wrote a memoir titled The Thrill of the Chase
and in the book he put clues to the location of buried treasure. This
treasure, in an honest-to-God treasure chest, contains $2 million worth
of gold nuggets, jewelry and other valuable archaeological finds that
he had collected over the years. It is supposedly buried somewhere in
the deserts of the Southwest. While many have been searching for it the
past several years, nobody has found it. Recently he's been featured on
the Today Show and an article by Margie Goldsmith is a delightful read about her encounter with this interesting man.
The treasure of our lives is more than gold and relics. Forest Fenn
shows us it is indeed in a life well-lived and the thrill of seeking
treasures of all kinds.