Story and Why
"Your Life is Your
© Tom Gilbert
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May 20th is Me@20 Day
May 20, 2015
Today members of the Association of Personal Historians are posting about themselves at age 20. It is a way to celebrate Personal History Awareness Month
and the 20th anniversary of the association. Members worldwide are
helping people just like you in preserving their life stories and
As I reminisced about my life at 20 it helped me to remember what it is
like to recall past events and my feelings towards them. For instance,
where I lived, the music I listened to, and some of the major headlines
of that time. You can read my Me@20 post here. Be sure to check out some of other terrific blog postings by APH member at this link.
That Could Be Your Sister or Brother Sitting Across From You at a Writer's Workshop
May 19, 2015
Two women who'd never met enrolled in the same writer's class and
discovered they were sisters! An odd and endearing personal history
story by Correy Kilgannon of the New York Times - here.
Be Aware! May is Personal History Awareness Month
May 18, 2015
Yes, I know, we've already passed the halfway point in the month of
May, but there is still plenty to celebrate about personal history in
this month we like to refer to as Personal History Awareness Month. Every year I comment on it and I've written on the topic (see this article, as well as Memories for the Merry Month of May).
This month an excellent post by Sarah White, current President of the Association of Personal Historians,
focuses not just on the importance of personal history and life story
preservation, but also on the importance of Personal History AWARENESS!
Every year I see the growing interest in life story work, memoir,
family history, genealogy, story telling and all the things that make
up personal history. Have you considered your how you will preserve
your life story?
In a couple of days there will be a special event promoted by APH.
This year the association celebrates 20 years as an organization and we
members are reminiscing about our lives at age twenty. Me@20 posts will erupt online in blog posts and social media - watch this spot for more.
Throwback Thursday - My Son Walks the Graduation Line
May 14, 2015
Three years ago to the day my son Eric graduated from High School. I wrote about it on this blog
and found myself ruminating about the significance of High School
graduation. It is special on many levels. By extension, you can
consider any graduation an important milestone and
Also three years ago I was finishing up my first year teaching. It is a
second career that I've started after over 30 years doing radio
broadcasting, along with a few others things (personal historian
included). It is not easy to teach, but it is very rewarding. My
current crop of 5th graders will soon be out for the summer and after
that break they will start middle school, a significant new beginning.
Here's to all of us who continue on the path of learning in life.
William Zinsser Wrote and Lived Well
May 13, 2015
William Zinsser, a terrific writing instructor and gifted writer, died Tuesday at the age of 92. His book Writing Well
has sold over 1.5 million copies and has bee revised a few times (just
as any good writing should). I've always enjoyed reading his advice and
"hearing" his voice through the written word. Supposedly it took him
until his 50's to truly find his voice.
Zinsser was good about commenting on memoir writing, such as in his Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir and his own story in a teaching memoir, Writing About Your Life. Find out much more about William Zinsser with this New York Times article.
Mom's Best Cooking Isn't Always A Meal
May 10, 2015
Mother's Day 2015 and I've enjoyed celebrating this weekend. My wife
and I just returned from a family gathering at her parent's house. We
go there most Sundays. Today the grownup kids (her siblings), along
with some grandchildren and a great-grandchild, were there as we fixed
a meal and thanked Mom for all she does for us. And, of course, we
also thanked all the other mothers.
My wife's mom (everybody calls her Nana) is a second mother to me,
especially since my own mother passed away in 2006. She is a caring
person - and a good cook! One of the highlights of the Sunday
gatherings is the meal. She makes some great ones, including ribs,
meatloaf, and green chile enchiladas!
Mom's typically are the family chefs, although many men also enjoy preparing meals. A New York Times article from May 5, A Mother's Cookbook Shares More Than Recipes
has the author, Kim Severson, reminiscing about her mom's recipes and
old cookbooks. They were food-stained and dog-eared, showing how
often they were used. Apparently this is not unusual. The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History has a
collection of Julia Child's cookbooks and they are just as worn and
Thank you to all the moms who work hard each day to feed their
families, and for the special and most important ingredient stirred in,
Your Legacy Smile - New (Free) Book
...and happy Personal History Awareness Month
May 4, 2015
May is here, traditionally Personal History Awareness Month,
and so it is always good to spend time during the month to promote the
importance of telling your story. Your personal history matters - to
you and others!
It was a few years ago when Robb Lucy (Your Legacy Smile)
and I first crossed cyber-paths. Robb is another passionate
advocate for people sharing their lives and stories. More than that, he
wants everyone to have a legacy and to enjoy it now, before you die!
His new book, Legacies Aren't Just for Dead People! is out and today and tomorrow he's offering free Kindle versions
and 50% off paperback versions. I just downloaded my Kindle copy and I
look forward to digging into it and learning more from a kindred spirit.
Your story has lessons for others. Share it. I appreciate what Robb is
doing and also his incredibly generous offer. Today was a good day for
a freebie. Maybe somebody already said to you, "May the 4th Be With
Throwback Thursday - Death as Transition
April 30, 2015
It has been two years since my Aunt Liz passed away. She was my mom's
older sister and she lived an amazing life full of travel and
adventure. She was extremely well-read, enjoyed art and culture, and
like many people from Boston, unwilling to talk too much about herself.
As a result, I didn't get the life story from her that I had hoped for.
But she still gave me insight into some family history.
About two years ago on April 29 I was musing about people, particularly my aunt, dying and wondering at the analogy some use about dying, that it is
like the passing of a baton. We are carrying the "baton" of this life
and when we die we pass it off.
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Deliberating on Diversity and Difficulty in Life Stories
April 29, 2015
One of the good reasons for more people to tell and preserve their life
story is how it adds to our understanding of humanity and society. The
history of people starts with each person and spreads to include
families, communities and larger groups (ethnic, religious and cultural
to name a few).
There can be some amazing revelations that can further our
understanding and appreciation of people when we hear the diverse
stories of people lives. We need to know more about those who've dealt
with difficulty. Addictions, abuse, imprisonment, disabilities, mental
illness and poverty are just a few areas where people have often
struggled - and triumphed - in life. Many people with such stories
wonder if they should be telling their story.
In the continuing series of 20 reasons to write your family history (featured on the APH blog) includes a post about this. #8 The need for diverse family histories by Elisabeth Pozzi-Thanner digs into this subject with rich insight.
Ten Years of YouTube and the Importance of Video Personal History
April 23, 2015
The video site where most people find and watch videos on the Internet just turned ten years old. YouTube
is a decade old and it is amazing how much it impacts our world now.
Videos going viral gives a lot of people their 15 minutes of fame, from
silly cat videos to amazing celebrity stories; the discovery of
previously unknown talent and the legacies of families and their
A CNET article, YoutTube turns 10: The video site that went viral,
helps us understand how the video channel has evolved. No doubt on
demand video programming will continue to grow and YouTube is poised to
continue as a leader.
One of the ways people preserve their personal history is by recording
video pieces. Some are interviews, others well-crafted and edited
documentaries. You can view some excellent examples on YouTube by searching Association of Personal Historians.
Watch some samples, discover more about what personal history is and
even see an overview of the popular "Show and Tell" events that many
personal historians are hosting in the month of May.
Santa Fe Runner is Boston Strong
April 20 2015
Two years after the bombings at the Boston Marathon runners took
to the streets of Beantown to run another 26.2 miles of the historic
event. Like last year, emotions were also strong as people recalled the
victims and the importance of keeping our cities and streets safe from
I was re-reading my post from two years ago, Bombs at Boston Marathon - A Runner's Lament, and
recalling my feelings when the news broke. Although I probably will
never run in the Boston Marathon, I have run marathons and I understand
the difficulty of the training and the actual event. I felt a special
bond with those in Boston that fateful day. My writing about this event
has become part of my life story and one way I've connected my life to
the world at large.
This year my state of New Mexico is bursting with pride as the women's division winner (story KOAT.com),
Caroline Rotich, is a runner from Kenya that has made her home in Santa
Fe for a decade. Winning the Boston Marathon, one of the most
prestigious events for runners, is something she considers a longtime
goal. Now she is "Boston Strong".
has a story to tell!
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