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The "Your Life is Your Story" Blog

© Tom  Gilbert

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Your Life in Presidents

February 20, 2017

Today is the Presidents Day holiday in the United States. Many people consider the President of the United States to be the most powerful leader in the world. That likely is because the United States is considered by many to be the most powerful country in the world.

Whether it is true or not that the USA is the most powerful country in the world, thereis a great responsibility that comes with the power of being president. The POTUS, as the president is sometimes referred to, is viewed as an important figure. Although the history of the United States is not as lengthy as some countries, this great experiment in democracy has lasted nearly 250 years. Every four years there is an election held to determine the leader.

I've been thinking about the perspective that comes with living long enough to note a number of individuals who have held this office. I was born in 1955, so that means Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama and now Trump. Viewing my life through that particular lens of history reveals more than the daily drama we are currently experiencing.

There has been a great divisiveness in the "land of the free and home of the brave" the past few years. But it is not the first time. 150 years ago our country was nearly ripped apart by a civil war. The president at that time was not as widely respected then as he is now. His burden was very great and when the war between the states ended he felt it important to begin a healing process. History has judged Abraham Lincoln to be one of the greatest presidents.

Presidents come and go and the legacy they leave is there for the viewing. The best ones, in my opinion, are those who tried to do the right thing, especially in times of moral dilemma, and who recognized that as leaders their responsibility was to lead and not to rule. Perhaps there is a lesson in that for us all.

Day Without Immigrants

February 16, 2017

Immigrants protest, photo from bostonglobe.comThe topic of immigration has been widely discussed over the past year, and then some. The United States is a nation built by immigrants, yet the issue of more immigrants coming into the country sparks an often heated debate.

President Donald Trump and his administration want to crack down on immigrants and refugees coming into the country. There has been a court battle over his executive order to ban immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries (link to story). Surely you've followed the news.

What I find fascinating from all this is how from a personal history perspective the diversity of people from various countries, cultures, religions and ethnicities makes for a rich story.

Here in New Mexico there are a lot of people who are of immigrant stock. Many of them live here and are not at this time United States citizens. Nevertheless, they contributre to the economy and most of them are hard working and caring people who want the best for their families. 

Today's Day Without Immigrants protest has put a spotlight on many businesses that are run by immigrants. A lot of them shut down for the day as part of the protest, or had workers who took the day off. A CNN story spotlights some of the stories of these people. It is interesting to read about how some of them worked hard yesterday to prepare for taking the day off, such as restaurant workers who did extra prep work so as not to leave their bosses in the lerch since they would be operating with a smaller staff today. 

Wherever you are on the issue of immigration it is important to consider the humanity of those who travel to other lands in search of a better life. Those stories are often rich tales of overcoming adversity, the kind of personal history that is important as part of the history of our land.

Adolphus Busch's Immigration Story a Budweiser Super Bowl Hit

February 8, 2017

I saw the excellent Budweiser commercial about Adolphus Busch's journey to America online when it was released a few days before the Super Bowl. Budweiser has spent a lot of money over the years advertising during the Super Bowl and usually the commercials are either comedic or aimed at sentimental stories about dogs and Clydesdales. 

This commercial was different. In a well made and edited minute we get the story of immigrant Adolphus Busch and his journey to America in 1857. His dream - to brew beer.

He faces hostility and adversity before eventually meeting and having a drink and handshake with his future business partner, Ebert Anheuser.

The commercial reminds us that it is not easy to leave a homeland for a new country and opportunity. Today there are people who don't want anyone coming into our country. But there are also those who welcome those seeking a better life and following there dream.

Apparently this commercial struck a chord with a lot of viewers during this past Sunday's Super Bowl. You can view it online here.

Calling All Personal Historians

January 30, 2017

There has never been a better time to be a personal historian.

People who love stories and love hearing the life experiences of other people are in greater demand than ever before. We need personal historians, the people who want to preserve history by saving life stories.

I've been working at this since 2003 and I am getting more interest in how to write a life story than ever before. I've put a lot of effort into helping people find ways to preserve their personal history.

One of the best things I ever did was to join a professional organization - the only one truly dedicated to personal historians and the work they do.  This group is International, with members from many different countries. The members have varied backgrounds, such as marketing, education, journalist, film-making, social work and so on.

The group is the Association of Personal Historians. Now is the best time to join APH. An unprecedented discount on the normal $225 membership fee is being offered. Join APH before February 26 and get a full year membership for just $150.

Join Association of Personal Historians at a huge discount

I truly value my membership and the people and resources available to help me in my life story work. It is a great investment in yourself. If you have been thinking about doing this kind of important work then I invite you to join now. By the way, a benefit of membership is when someone joins because a member  introduced them to the APH, that current member gets an additional free month added to their membership. I would really be grateful if you decide to join that you mention me, Tom Gilbert of Your Life Is Your Story, on your application.

Check out the offer and see the Top Ten reasons to join APH here.

Closure Time

January 23, 2017

How important is it to have closure with someone before they die?

Very important. One of the greatest gifts to happen in any life. If you can be with a loved one in their final days and hours you are witness to a blessed, even sacred time. Sure, it can be painful. It is sad. It is also a time when you can thank your loved one for their life. And the person who is dying gets dignity and received your love.

I was able to do this with my mother when she passed in 2006 (Opening Death's Door) and again with my dad in 2012. Personal Historian Bruce Summers wrote a moving piece about the closure time with his mom who passed away around Christmas. He posted it to the APH Blog (Association of Personal Historians). I think you should read How Much Time Do You Have, Mom? and reflect on the opportunities that may come along for you. 

Who knows if you will be able to attend the final time with a loved one. Be ready for it and be present to it. The closure time is so special and the memories will be part of that person's legacy.

Inauguration  Day

January 20, 2017 

Today Donald Trump was sworn in as the next President of the United States. The inauguration of a president is always historic and generates a lot of news coverage. Social media and Internet use are bigger than ever and that adds even more news, commentary and discussion. Anyone can have a voice in this age of global electronic expression.

I always look at big events like this through the lens of life history. It is important for each of us to consider our lives both from the deeply personal and also with consideration of what is going on in the world. In fact, I wrote an article a while back about that very subject - Your Memoir and the Larger World. In the article I make the point that when we set our experiences within the context of important historical events connects us to history in a more personal way.

I encourage you to journal about historic events like a Presidential Inauguration. I know it helps me process my thoughts and feelings. Good citizens are informed and good living includes reflection and contemplation about our lives and our experiences.

Service Work

January 17 2017

A true statement that I hope you have discovered on your life journey is that service work is key to a fulfilled life.

What I mean by service work is doing things that are helping others. You have probably heard terms like servant leadership and in service. The best leaders, movers, shakers and difference makers in our world are those who step out of their personal desires and self agenda and find ways to do things that enrich other people's lives.

Yesterday was the holiday recognizing the life and legacy - and service - of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a man who epitomized being of service to others. He lived his life in service to those fighting racial injustice. He was a big proponent of all people doing something to help others. The very nature of the MLK holiday is to to promote service. Each year on this holiday people step out of their comfort zone and get busy volunteering and helping various causes. 

It's called the Martin Luther King, Jr Day of Service

What does that have to do with people preserving their life story? A lot, I believe. You see, your life must have purpose and most people discover that truly valuable purpose is in doing things for others. In short, service work.

It's a great topic to include in your life story. The things you've been involved in that helped improve people's lives, whether it was time in the military or Peace Corp or helping in your child's classroom, are great material for you to reflect about and write about.

Your service work gets you "out of your self" and it also is rewarding in many ways.

It's part of a true life legacy. If you haven't done any service work start looking around and then getting involved. Find things you care about. Share your passion and your compassion.

The world needs it. And so do you.

 Everybody has a story to tell!
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