Story and Why
"Your Life is Your
© Tom Gilbert
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Second City Going for First Place in Baseball
October 23, 2016
It's been a long time since the Chicago Cubs were in the World Series.
The last time the Cubbies won the National League pennant and played in
the Fall Classic was 1945. But it has been even longer since they won
it all and were the champions of the world. That was back in their
glory days - 1908. It is the longest drought of any baseball team and
this team is anxious to change that. Chicago is known as the Second
City (behind New York), but they are going for First Place in the world
Their opponent will be no slouch. The Cleveland Indians stormed through
the American League playoffs, sweeping my beloved Boston Red Sox in
three games before dispatching the Toronto Blue Jays in four games.
They have one of the greatest bullpens so when it gets late in the game
their pitching is really tough.
Both teams have a great story with gifted players and managers and
rabid fans. Cleveland already went a bit crazy back in June when their
NBA team, the Cavaliers, brought a long awaited basketball
championship to the city. Their baseball team hasn't won it all since
So on baseball's greatest stage, the World Series, we have an October
drenched in drama. Two teams who've waited too long to be champs. Game
one is Tuesday night. It will be fun for me, a baseball fan who bleeds
Red Sox red (and there are lots of storylines with Boston connections
this year, such as former Boston manager Terry Francona leading the
Cleveland team and ace pitcher Jon Lester, a one time Boston great who
now leads the Chicago pitching staff), and it will be history in the
making. Be it baseball or someo other important event in your
life, history is the stories we tell about the things that happen in
The City Different with Some Different Kind of Talking
October 19, 2016
This past Saturday I presented a talk about the importance of sharing
family stories and preserving family history. I did it in Santa Fe, New
Mexico at a beautiful retirement and assisted living community known as
This event was part of National Family History Month and the intent was
to get more people talking. The talking we are encouraging is probably
different from most everyday conversation, although it certainly could
(and should) be part of our regular talking that we do with friends,
families and loved ones.
What we talked about was sharing family stories. Using conversation cards created by the Funeral and Memorial Information Council (FAMiC),
many of the attendees shared stories about their lives and family. Some
were funny, some somber and others heartwarming. It was really great to
hear people share.
We call these conversations The Talk of a Lifetime. Find out more here.
Your Most Memorable Year
October 11, 2016
Last night on Dancing with the Stars the DWTS cast
talked about their "most memorable year". It was intriguing,
enlightening and, frankly, a little painful for some of the
celebrities. James Hinchcliffe, professional race car driver, spoke
about the accident that almost took his life. Terra Jole talked about
her father's death and her regret that she couldn't be with him when he
passed. Jana Kramer let everyone know that she it was hard to persevere
during the dark days of her abuse. But each of them ultimately have a
story of triumph.
People can easily get overwhelmed at the prospect of telling their life
story. It seems like such a daunting task to recall the events of a
life. It is a lot of work. A way to make preserving your life story
more manageable is to tackle it in sections. Consider the turning
points in your life.
Writing about your most memorable year can be a terrific hook for an
audience learning about who you are and what your life has been about.
Your most memorable year, like your favorite alltime vacation, most
influential person, greatest triumph or life changing event are topics,
or even themes that can be the main focus of a memoir or life story.
Here's an exercise I recommend as you prepare to write your story (or have it written). Get to the heart of who you are - the heart of your story is based on the real you. Often that is person other people don't really know. Sharing your true self is a gift worth giving.
October is Family History Month - Talk of a Lifetime, Part Four
October 4, 2016
We need to talk. All of us. Family members, friends and communities. We
need to have a talk to share our values, lessons and what is really
National Family History Month is
every October. That is a perfect time to get together with a loved one,
preferably one with a fair amount of life experience, such as a
grandparent or elder, and Have the Talk of a Lifetime.
One of the wonderful ways to do this is by having a meaningful talk.
Connecting generations through family history includes sharing stories
about your ancestors, understanding where your families have lived over
time and the various stories about their lives, values and experiences.
| read more |
Legacy of the Ultimate Gentleman Sportscaster, Vin Scully
October 3, 2016
We are into the month of October, the time when drama runs high in
major league baseball. The playoffs will soon be underway. After
grinding through six months and 162 games the top teams meet to
determine utimately the top prize, a World Series Championship.
The Dodgers are one of the teams that will be in the hunt for that
championship, but there will be a key part of the organization missing
from the games.
The epitome of a baseball broadcasting career is the one that just
ended. Yesterday Dodgers play-by-play man Vin Scully called his final
game. He did this job for 67 consecutive seasons, all for the Dodgers,
both in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. In a serendipitous way his final game
yesterday featured the Dodger Blue against their archrivals, the San
Francisco Giants. You see, when Vin was just a lad of 8 he became a
Giants fan. He lived in New York and this was 1936 and on October 2 of
that year (that's right, 80 years ago to the day!). He had seen a World
Series score from that day when the Giants were beaten down by the
Yankees, 18-4. "I felt so sad for the Giants, so I became, that
instant, a rabid Giants fan", stated Scully.
There have been a few truly great baseball broadcasters. Red Barber,
Mel Allen and Ernie Harwell come to mind. But no one has done it as
long as Vin Scully. 67 years! Most people start thinking about
retirement after twenty or thirty years. Vin is now 88 and the time has
come for him to retire. He finished up with class, just like his
entire career. His way of calling a game was truly an artist at work.
He would weave stories and make great comments and his voice and patter
were perfectly suited for the pace of America's pasttime. Read up on
him in this wonderful New York Times piece,
or do an Internet search for any number of tributes. He was, simply
put, one of the best ever. On top of that, he was a true gentleman, a
great family man and just a terrific person!
Vin Scully signed off
his final broadcast in typical fashion, "Don't be sad because it's
over, smile because it happened. And for the last time, I wish you all
a very pleasant good afternoon." Just typing that I can hear the
cadence and sincerity. Thank you, Vin Scully. You made the game better
by doing your part for a long time and you will be missed.
Talk of a Lifetime - Part Three
September 26, 2016
Where might you have the Talk of a Lifetime?
In just a little while two presidential candidates will square off in
their first nationally televised debate. Having that kind of talk in
front of an audience of about 100 million people is not the intimate
talk we are suggesting for you and your family members. However, it
might be a talk of a lifetime as the stakes are high. The next
President of the United States will take office in January and whoever
that turns out to be must convince Americans that they are the best
choice among those we can vote for to be the leader of the most
powerful nation in the world.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will debate a variety of issues.
If you have a talk about what matters most in life and share
family history and values don't let it be a debate. Debating your life
experiences is not the point of sharing family history.
So back to the question - where should you have your special talk about
your lifetime experiences and values? It should be someplace where you
can be clearly heard, not interrupted and private enough to talk about
important matters of the heart. So a crowded restaurant or a loud
sporting event may not work out. I think sitting on the bank of a river
or by a quiet lake, on the backporch or in the den with a glass of your
favorite beverage might be more conducive.
October is Family History Month and the Funeral and Memorial Information Council (FAMiC) has joined with other organizations to promote the Have the Talk of a Lifetime. Their website has some good thought starters for talking about life. There is even a free workbook you can download.
Your Life Is Your Story
is happy to be part of this, too and I will be participating in an
event in Santa Fe, New Mexico on October 15. Keep coming back here for
Talk of a Lifetime - Part Two
September 20, 2016
When you have an important talk about your life with someone you care
about, one of your children for instance, it is important to set the
stage. You can't really barge into it; at least you should not.
How do you bring up the subject of the most important matters and
lessons of your life? Just how do you open the door to having the Talk of a Lifetime?
It's not easy, at least in my experience. I think it really helps to
have a good relationship with the person you are getting the life story
or experiences from. My dad was not a great one for opening up and it
took sitting by his hospital bed a few months before he passed away. He
had been in and out, dealing with COPD. He was actually on the mend
when I sat with him and got him to reminisce about the early days of
marriage. He told me about sharing an apartment and garage with another
couple and one of the first things they did was buy a padlock for the
refrigerator because their "neighbors" kept eating their food!
Dad was tightlipped about a lot of things. He probably got that from his stoic dad who didn't tell his
story to my father until he literally was on his death bed. Then it all
came out (although I never got to hear about it from my father).
This past weekend my 22-year old son and I ran a half marathon together, the Thunder Run
from Santa Fe to Pojaque. It was a bonding experience. Running 13.1
miles together was special. We also got a hotel room the night before
and went out to dinner and had a bit of fun at the Buffalo Thunder
Casino. He and I haven't yet had the talk of my lifetime, but
experiences like this are going to make that easier.
Spend time with your loved ones and build a good foundation. Set the
stage. And have that talk. You can get more information about the Have the Talk of a Lifetime by visiting the official website and getting the free brochure.
Talk of a Lifetime - Part One
September 19, 2016
We live today in a world where technology has made it easier than ever
to communicate with others, whether they are close by or on the other
side of the room. Millions everyday use the Internet and social media.
We phone, text, chat, snap pictures, blog, post videos and use our
devices to share our thoughts, views and feelings. Sometimes there is
oversharing and some things are better left unsaid.
But I worry that despite our ability to communicate in many ways that
people are also avoiding really talking to each other. Before smart
phones and the Internet, before constant media with radio and
television, people actually spent time visiting and talking to each
other. Not all if it was honest and open, for sure, but I wonder if we
are losing out on real talks, the ones that we hold forever in our
Have the Talk of a Lifetime
is a national, grassroots public awareness initiative developed by the
Funeral and Memorial Information Council, or FAMIC. Funeral
professionals certainly know that when families plan a meaningful
funeral that reflects the unique life of their loved one, they take an
important step in the journey toward healing after the death of a loved
Personal Historians like myself understand the importance of having
real talks with family members to share value, life lessons, heal hurts
and pass on wisdom and interesting stories about your family history.
October is National Family History Month,
so declared by Congress in 2001 with a resolution introduced by Senator
Orrin Hatch of Utah. It should be no surprise to anyone that families
can be brought closer together by discovering their family's unique
There are a number of events taking place in October to promote Have the Talk of a Lifetime.
I will be involved with one in Santa Fe, New Mexico on October 15 at an
assisted living/retirement community, the Montecito. It will be
co-facilitated by Avista Cremation and Burial. I plan to facilitate an Adult Show & Tell event, such as the many that other colleagues of mine in the Association of Personal Historians (APH)
have done the past few years. It gives people an opportunity to bring a
memento or family heirloom or some item that is important to them and
spend a few minutes reminiscing about its importance to them and share
a family story related to it. The concept is very similar to "Show and
Tell" that many of us did when we were in school.
I'm going to be posting about the Have the Talk of a Lifetime
initiative, events and National Family History Month all this week, so
be sure to check back for more. I also encourage you to visit the
official Have the Talk of a Lifetime website and get the free brochure.
Grand Towers - Remembering 9/11 and Honoring Grand Parents
September 11, 2016
This day in 2001 dawned sunny and bright. I began my day and headed
into work, at the time for a small company involved in marketing and
selling machines and supplies people and businesses use everyday in
dealing with paper. We specialized in items like paper cutters, paper
shredders, laminating and binding equipment. There were only about four
of us working in the office at the time. The company would grow bigger
and I stayed with them a couple of years before moving on to other
Moving on - that is something we've all tried to do since the fateful
events of September 11, 2001. A morning that started so beautifully
became a day of great tragedy. Lives were lost, lives were shattered,
and lives were forever altered.
Fifteen years is not a lot of time in the Big Picture. But it is not
insignificant. I've gone through a fair amount of life experiences and
changes in that time. A couple of months before September 11 of that
year my family celebrated my parents' 50th wedding anniversary at my
cousins' wonderful lake home on Lake George in upstate New York. Before
we headed to the lake in June we spent a couple of days in New York
City. My young children had never been and we played tourists,
including marveling at the World Trade Center Towers, a fixture of the
NYC skyline. Four years ago we once again visited the city and paid our respects at the 9/11 Towers Memorial.
Those grand towers came down in flames after two hijacked airliners
were flown into them as an act of incomprehensible terrorism. In
Washington D.C. we heard about the Pentagon attacked by yet another
airliner used as a missile. And the fourth plane's terrorist mission
was thwarted by citizen patriots, but the plane and passengers perished
in the Pennsylvania field crash.
Fifteen years ago I was not sure where my career was going, only that
it had taken some unexpected turns. I didn't know the future for my
children who were 13 and 7 at the time. Today we are doing well, living
successful lives of love and family. My daughter and son-in-law have
blessed my wife and I with two precious grandchildren. My son is now a
practicing nurse helping sick and injured people and confronting their
life and death situations on a regular basis.
The convergence this year of 9/11 and Grandparents Day is a mixed
blessing. The special bond between grandparents and grandchildren is
something I can't adequately explain, only experience. The same is true
of the memories of 9/11. A lot of pain and anguish swirled about us in
the aftermath, but also we saw great acts of compassion and heroism.
Such is the mystery of good confronting evil.
Life is precious and too short. But we are here now and now is the only real time. Don't waste it - live it!
has a story to tell!
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