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© Tom  Gilbert

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Students are Speaking Out About Gun Control and Safety in Schools

February 22, 2018

I do not personally know anyone who has lost a loved one in a school shooting. Not Columbine, not Sandy Hook, and not most recently at Stoneman Douglas High School. Yet, I realize the pain and sadness run deep.

The sad reality in America today is that school shootings keep happening. And there seems no way to make our schools completely safe against these tragedies.

But something can be done. Something must be done.

While many adults can't seem to come to agreement on solutions we are now seeing some students stepping up. A town hall meeting in Florida drew 7,000 people to speak out and many of them were students, some of them survivors who lost friends. Follow this link to watch some short videos posted on CNN by some of the students speaking up after the February 14 shooting in Florida that took the lives of seventeen people.

When I hear students bold enough to speak out about the need for love and change and calling for real action I am impressed. I am a teacher and every day now that I go to my classroom I want to help young people discover, learn and enjoy a full life. I don't want them to be consumed by fear or worried about their safety.

The stories from these students are powerful, just as stories from parents, teachers, law enforcement, medical professionals and all family members and friends whose lives have been impacted by these tragedies have powerful experiences to relate.

Let's have the dialogue. Say what needs to be said. Come up with doable plans that will reduce the possibility of more senseless violence and killing. Money is never more important than life.  I commend the brave voices who are speaking out about the need to ban assault weapons such as the AR-15 rifle. And let's face it, there is a need to make background checks stronger.

Beyond that we really need to have some growth about how we live with and among each other. There is way too much "us versus them". It's time for more love and support for our common humanity.

Love, A Matter of Heart

February 13, 2018

Happy day before Valentine's Day. Tomorrow many hearts will turn towards romance. Some of it will actually be sincere. But let's face it, some will be a reaction to confectionary, card-giving, guilt-induced, and overly commercialized pseudo romance.

Still, love conquers all.

And when all is said and done, your life is a measure of the love you give. It's a matter of heart. The Beatles said it well with The End, "The love you take is equal to the love you make." They also said, "All you need is love." Some pretty good sentiments.

Love is a matter of heart. And love can take many forms. Eros, ludus, philia, mania and agape, to name a few.

Love that lasts is built on a sturdy foundation of true friendship. Romantic and erotic love get the most attention, but agape, love that is selfless, is where it's at.

Most of us know that love is what we need and what will change the world. Still, it is easy to get beat down or cynical. But don't. Don't give up on love.

wisdom in the heartLove is what matters. And love is a matter of the heart. Hearts beat to keep us alive, and I mean that in more than the physical necessity of pumping blood through  our bodies. The heart is more than a muscle. According to William Hazlit, "The seat of knowledge is in the head, of wisdom, in the heart."

Tomorrow is not just Valentine's Day. For Christians who commemorate the importance of repentance and change of heart, of giving, fasting and praying, this year's February 14 is also Ash Wednesday. Interesting coincidence.

It is never too late to change, to be more loving, more selfless and more forgiving. Here's to a love that is truly a matter of heart.

Pioneering Internet Freedom Advocate and Grateful Dead Co-Songwriter John Perry Barlow Passes On

February 8, 2018

John Perry Barlow met Bob Weir in high school in Colorado. They were both at that particular school because they "had difficulties" or "were difficult". When Weir was kicked out Barlow was upset he also was not booted, so he quit in protest.

They remained friends and songwriting partners for many years. Barlow came from rural roots which influenced many of the song lyrics he penned for Weir co-compositions. Some of the best loved Grateful Dead songs, in my opinion, were the result of Barlow's wordsmithing. Estimated Prophet, The Music Never Stopped, Weather Report Suite, and of course, Cassidy.

But Barlow was much more than an excellent songwriting partner. He was an early advocate for free expression and creativity on the Internet. Just visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation to see the tribute they have posted to him. Or better yet, watch this reading of The Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace, which he wrote 22 years ago today. It should give you pause to think about how we often take the Internet, and all it affords us, for granted.

Finding Yourself In Your Story

January 28, 2018

We are all on a journey. This journey, which lasts our entire lifetime, is one of discovery. We are searching for true meaning and purpose. We are trying to find out who we are and why we are here and what we have to contribute. We do this through the story of our life.

In essence, we find ourselves in our stories.

Storytelling is an ancient and very important craft. Some people are gifted storytellers. But you don't have to be a great storyteller to tell your story. All of us learn from stories. It starts when we are very young and continues throughout our lifetimes.

Stories are the natural way we learn.

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Lady Bird Movie Had Me Reflect and Squirm

January 23, 2018

Lady Bird is a fine movie that today received some Academy Award nominations, including a best picture Oscar nomination, along with Saoirse Ronan for the lead actress role, and Greta Gerwig for best director. There was an interesting CBS Sunday Morning feature on Gerwig a couple of weeks ago and it is nice to see young talent like her getting recognized.

I saw the movie recently. It is about growing up in Sacramento, California and Christine MacPherson is a high school senior with dreams, a strong personality and some quirks, including insisting she be called "Lady Bird". The movie had me reflecting about my own high school experience. I enjoyed the performances and the story, but I have to admit I was squirming a bit as I reflected about growing up and high school. I, like the lead character, got involved in the drama department and was in a couple of plays. As a military brat I also often didn't feel like I fit in with the rest of the crowd.

Overall, my own high school experience was mostly positive. But, let's face it, when you move a lot and go to three different high schools in four years it can be stressful. It got me thinking about how we all have our own life stories and they have ups and downs. When you reminisce and decide to write about your life it is natural to get uncomfortable. At least if you are being truthful about yourself.

It is important to look at your life honestly and think hard about how you are going to tell your story. Some things you will reveal; others you might, rightly so, keep closer to your vest. But your story will most resonate with others when you do face and tell your Truth. Be real. I thought Lady Bird struck that chord and it did get me thinking, yes, maybe squirming a bit, but overall appreciating the story that Greta Gerwig has given us.

Sound Wave Tattoo Preserves Grandmother's Voice Message

January 18, 2018

soundwave tattoo

What an incredible thing to have a wave file tattoo that will actually play sounds. In the case of Sakyrah Angelique of Chicago, it is a dream come true to preserve a message from her deceased grandmother.

This is a relatively new technology, something called an augmented reality tattoo by  Skin Motion of Los Angeles. They take a sound file and generate the shape of the Soundwave. Then licensed artists are capable of using a tattoo stencil of the soundwave and creating the tattoo. Then with an app for your smartphone the camera can be focused on the tattoo and you get to hear the sound file.

I can imagine many types of sounds people might use with such a tattoo. But I really love the idea of preserving an audio message from a loved one. It keeps their voice alive and for Angelique, it is something she treasures to hear her grandma tell her that she loves her and happy birthday.

Try Writing a Dream Biography

January 10. 2018

It's a new year and many people are making resolutions or goals. That's great. Sadly, however, many people break their resolutions early on. They start with good intentions, but don't stick with it.

I think it is a bad idea to have too many expectations.

I think it is a great idea to have goals, plans and to dream big!

The story of your life can be about what has happened, all your experiences, life lessons, personal history and what you think matters. It can also include what you hope for the future.

A Dream Biography is something that you can write that envisions what you hope to accomplish in your lifetime. It can be goals, desires, the type of job or vocation you might hold, the people you might meet and what kind of legacy you could leave.

It is imagining a future. Will it happen? Not necessarily, but maybe it will. Certainly parts of your life dreams can come true. There is something to be said for writing out your dreams and goals. There is even a famous quote to support this idea. It comes from the Brazilian lyricist and novelist, Paolo Coelho - "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it."

I've encountered this idea before and I think there is some merit to it. I caution people to not expect everything you dream for your life will come true. Life has a funny way of throwing us curveballs. Nevertheless, I have also experienced some of my heart desires and aspirations have come true, often in unexpected ways. So yes, put it out there.

I saw an interesting article that led me to create this post. How to write a Secret Dream Biography for the New Year by Dr. Matthew King on The article gives reasons for creating a dream biography and directs you to the non-profit 501C website, Dream Biography. You might want to check it out and see if this is something you want to try.

All the best to you in this New Year of 2018. Dream big, do some writing, connect with others and with ways to support you preserving your life story. That's a dream I have for all of you who have a story to tell.

Time is Up and Now for Life Stories

January 8, 2018

Borrowing from the current rallying cry of the Time's Up movement, perhaps many people are now more willing to face the burden of a past that involved abuse and  and
to tell their story. In many ways this can be good.

The right time for anyone to tell their life story might be considered anytime. But let's face it, the right time is more contingent on being ready, willing and able. There are many ways to go about telling your story (as this web site will attest), but when you are dealing with a tale of abuse there is some caution and counsel to consider.

Not everyone is willing to relive or tell about their abuse. But many people can benefit from carefully telling "their truth". Far too long have many women, and some men, kept their stories to themselves, suffering in silent shame.

Dealing with a history of abuse has to be horrible for anyone. Yet there are those who do recover from the experiences and are willing to speak out and to help others find the courage to face the past and call out the wrongs that have been done.

If you watched last night's Golden Globes Awards you saw many of the actresses speaking about the entertainment industry abuses and that "Time's Up" (link to story on E!News). And Oprah Winfrey's fiery speech was powerful as she encouraged people to speak  outagainst sexual abuse and civil rights violations.

It is an interesting time in history that we are witnessing. If you are one of those who has experienced abuse do not be afraid to deal with it, and if you feel it will benefit others, to speak up and present your story. Take time to counsel with personal historians and even therapists or legal experts as there are many things to consider as you bring forth your story. But remember, truth is powerful and things that have been kept in the dark often lose their power over us when they are brought into the light.

 Everybody has a story to tell!
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