Story and Why
"Your Life is Your
© Tom Gilbert
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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!
50 Years Ago Star Trek Launched and Boldly Went Where No Show Had Gone Before
September 8, 2016
Stardate September 8, 1996 and a new television show debuted. Star Trek
was different that most TV shows at the time. When you watch those
original episodes now the special effects seem hokey, and maybe you
feel the same about some of the dialog. But at the time the scripts
were smart and challenging and the cast was mult-ethnic
(multi-species?) and you can count me as a Trekkie that loved it. I've
always liked the speculation that good Sci-Fi fosters. What if and why?
The celebrations have been going on for a while. Today Facebook even changed their "like" buttons to have a bit of a Trekkie theme.
The legacy of Star Trek is
hard to measure. It has launched numerous spinoffs and movies. But it
all started fifty years ago with Spock, Bones, Scotty and the rest of
the crew. And, of course, the Captain of the Starship Enterprise, James
Tiberius Kirk. The show was going to be canceled by teh NBC network
after two seasons, but a letter writing campaign saved it for one more
season. It's hard to believe the original Star Trek was only on for 3 seasons and 79 episodes. It really hit warp speed in reruns. And the show and its offspring will continue to "live long and prosper"!
Personal Memoirist Makes Front Page News
September 5, 2016
It is poetic justice that on this Labor Day I am able to post good news
regarding the type of work I and others have been cultivating for the
past two decades.
Last year the Association of Personal Historians turned 20.
I've been a member of this organization since 2003 and have both
watched it grow and benefited from the skills and knowledge shared
among this fine group of varied professionals who work to preserve
life stories. This past week a founder of APH and a few other members were featured on the front page of the New York Times, Have a Story to Tell? Your Personal Memoirist is Here.
Making the front page of the New York Times is quite a feather in the cap for Kitty Axelson Berry of Modern Memoirs and one of the founding members of APH.
She's been at this personal history for a long time and she and her
staff create beautiful memoirs and family history books. They are of
the highest quality and not inexpensive.
One of the most challenging things for any Personal Historian trying to
make a living in the field is getting clients to understand why the
financial investment is usually much more than than expected. People
have to be educated on both the value and the time it takes to create a
quality final product. The Times piece delves into this in a good way.
I hope that you have considered the preservation of your life story.
Your story is part of the history of the human race. You have had
experiences and a life unique to you. There is much to share with
others, especially your family.
In my article, Writing My Life Story, I give tips on the writing of an autobiography and memoir including how to start, point of view and motivation.
Pure Imagination and Comedy with
Love Were Gene Wilder's Calling Cards
August 30, 2016
It has taken me a day to process the death of actor Gene Wilder (83, died on August 28
from complications due to Alzheimer's disease). He was a very
talented actor who could show depth in comic or dramatic roles. He also
was a notable writer, not just for screenplays, but also a memoir and a
couple of novels and a collection of short stories (biography.com). And as is typical when someone of
his stature passes we begin to learn more and appreciate more about
Wilder was best known for his roles in the Mel Brooks movies The Producers, Blazing Saddles,
and Young Frankenstein.
He also teamed with Richard Pryor for some hilarious "buddy" comedies,
including Silver Streak.
It was his role as Willy Wonka, however, that most of us cherish and I
found it interesting that Willy
Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was not a box office hit
when it was released in theaters in 1971.
has a story to tell!
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