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© Tom  Gilbert

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Yes, I Will Always Be Your Grandpa!

October 20, 2017

My granddaughter just turned 5. That's a delightful age and it is my second go around with a 5 year old grandchild. Sophia celebrated the Big Five just a few days ago and her older brother, Jacob, did a couple of years ago. I don't know if 5 is the best grandchild age or not - but it seems pretty good to me.

A recent article in GRAND magazine, The Times They Are A Changin', has author Debby Carroll responding to her grandchild's query, "Will you still be my Grammy when I turn 5?" How can a question like that not melt your heart?

"Yes, Honey. I'll always be your Grammy. That will never change", was the obvious reply.

Just as you never stop being a parent, you also (thankfully) never stop being a grandparent. And you know what Grands like to say. "If I knew grandkids were going to be so much fun I would have had them first!"

I feel very blessed to have grandchildren and to be able to spend time with them. I get to share love and life experiences with them. They, in turn, keep me young. That's a Win-Win!

ICU Grandpa is a Baby Whisperer

October 12, 2017

File this one under "feel good": David Deutchman is a grandpa who has been volunteering for twelve years at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. What he has been doing for all those years is cuddling and comforting babies in the intensive care unit. It has earned him the nicknames "the ICU Grandpa" and "Baby Whisperer" for his ongoing care of these wee ones.

It's a beautiful story and a beautiful thing that Mr. Deutchman is doing in his retirement years. It shows that there are many ways to contribute to the wellbeing of others. While people are marveling over his dedication and kindness he finds he has been getting a great reward. The joy from holding a little baby is something he treasures. "It's been wonderful because it gives me something to do that has meaning to it." (read more with this story and video from ABC News)

Way to go, Grandpa!

Flying Low

October 10, 2017

I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing - Tom Petty

The last couple of weeks have been kind of rough. There seems to be an inordinate amount of bad things and sad news. I wrote about it in the latest Your Life Is Your Story newsletter. Sometimes when the hits keep on coming you just want to hunker down in a hole or go somewhere to lick your proverbial wounds.

Even after I published the September 30th newsletter more difficult events unfolded. It was bad enough to hear about the suffering from the earthquakes and hurricanes, but the heartache of 58 gunned down and over 500 injured at a concert in Las Vegas, Nevada, followed the next day by the death of Tom Petty, well, it put me in a funk.

Still, I am not one to wallow in misery. So I've done what I do in times like these. I loved the ones around me, pulled them closer and let them know I care.
I spent some time in prayer and meditation. I went to work and did my best to show that there is hope and light. 

Hot Air BalloonsOn Sunday morning I went for a walk. It was a crisp and cool morning; beautiful with blue skies and sunshine, the kind of days we brag about in New Mexico. On top of that, the hot air balloons were rising en masse as our annual International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta brought us visual joy. There is something majestic and peaceful about colorful balloons bearing passengers over fields and the Rio Grande River. It's just an awesome sight!

My friends, we must remember that this is the time of our life and we can have joy, in fact greater joy, when we take stock of what matters and be loving and helpful to others, especially those who need our help. That is part of living well and can (should) be part of our life story. Disasters and tragedies won't cease, but we can't afford cynicism or bitterness. As the saying goes, "It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness" (attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt).

Think Before You Speak

September 26, 2017

Let's get a show of hands: who thinks there are too many people who speak before they think?

I hear you.

Think before you speak

It seems to be quite the problem. Way too many people are moving their lips before engaging their brains. Look, I get it - sort of. We all want to be heard and we all want to voice our opinion. But let's face it; when you speak without thinking what comes out of your mouth might be something you will soon regret.

Some people have no filter. They will voice the first thing that comes to their mind (which is ironic, since what comes to their mind is often not thoughtful, just impulsive).

In this day of social media and global communication the "blurting out" is often posted for everyone to see and it is around for a long time. Say something you regret on twitter, Facebook, Instagram or a myriad of other options and it is bound to come back to haunt you.

I guess you could call this post a rant. Ultimately, however, it is not my point or purpose.

What I want you to consider regarding think before you speak is what you are going to share about your life and your personal history. We all have a story to tell and it involves you, but not just you. There are other people (the characters in your life story) and the places you've been (the setting). And there is the theme (the life lessons or purpose of your one, incredible life).

When I take on a personal history or life story project I will often have conversations with the subject prior to any actual interviewing. I want to get familiar with the person, and they with me. We need to establish some rapport. I even will provide some interview questions ahead of time. While there is value in some spontaneous answers, life story questions are frequently deeply probing and require some thought and consideration before answering. So it helps to prepare the subject.

You can see some of the questions I consider important in the article, The Right Questions.  A questions such as, "What do you want most for those you love?" deserves some time to ponder. 

So, here's to think before you speak. Wouldn't it be great if more people did that?

MemoryWell Helping Sufferers of Alzheimer's Preserve Their Stories

September 18, 2017

Here's some good news and a worthy effort to help those afflicted with Alzheimer's. A startup company, MemoryWell, is using the power of storytelling to improve their longterm care. A news story on gives you insight into this and you can also visit the MemoryWell site to learn more about how they are "preserving care one story at a time."

Remembering Grandparents and 9-11

September 11, 2017

Today is another anniversary of 9-11, the terrible day of terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. Rightly so, we should never forget and always honor the memories of those who died that day. So many heartbreaks, but also so many heroes.

Yesterday was the annual Grandparents Day holiday. I find myself reflecting on both grandparents and 9-11. There are some commonalities. For instance, we want to always remember and honor the memories of the victims of 9-11. So, too, do we honor and treasure the memories of our grandparents. Mine have all passed on and a few years ago I became a grandparent. It is truly one of the greatest things in my life. As the saying goes, "If I knew grandchildren would be so wonderful I would have had them first!"

I vividly remember that fateful day in September, 2001. I can recall the raw emotions, the fear, concern, worry and anger. I did not yet have any grandchildren, in fact, my children were still living at home and just 8 and 13.

Today I taught my fifth graders some history about 9-11. We also paid tribute to our grandparents as part of a school-wide Grandparents Day celebration. I am sure it fed my ideas for this post.

Amidst heartbreak and tragedy there is often the silver lining. So it was with 9-11. No one can completely erase the loss of a loved one, and erasing it is not even the point. Remembering and memoralizing those who've died is the point. How do you do that? There are various ways, through pictures, writing, and sharing their lives.

Grandparents are often able to pass on the wisdom and family history we need to honor and remember. 

I've seen many a good memoir or family history that speaks about a person's grandparents. I have also seen my share of 9-11 tributes. Let's keep the memories in our hearts and together work to forge a world where there is peace through multiple generations.

The Five W's of Work

September 5, 2017

The Labor Day holiday was yesterday. I find myself reflecting on work - the who, what, where, when and why of it.

Most of us work. We labor at a job and we hope our paycheck will cover our expenses.

But I've found that it really is important to work to live, rather than the other way around - live to work. If you are not sure what that means, I am repeating some age old wisdom that we need to have a full and meaningful life and if we have to work, hopefully whatever we do contributes to that life. You don't want to work in a dead-end job that you hate and that doesn't fulfill you. Even if it fills your bank account.

With that in mind, let's consider what meaningful work entails. I like using the 5 W's as a guide. 

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