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© Tom  Gilbert

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Talk to a Ten Year Old

November 20, 2017

In my role as a 5th grade teacher I spend a lot of time learning about how ten and eleven year olds view the world. They don't have the same perspective as adults - and that can help elders understand something about what it is like growing up as a kid these days. It's not the same as it was 20, 30 or 50 years ago.

Likewise, elders can give young people insight into what it was like to be a kid growing up in a different time. When I was ten we would ride bikes around the neighborhood and our parents were not worried. We'd drink water from the garden hose and stay out until the streetlights came on. People aren't willing to take that kind of risk anymore, and understandably so. Sadly, our world is less safe for kids.

If you are past fifty then you are of a generation foreign to most children. They have no idea what a world without computers, smart phones or the Internet was like! But they are kids with active imaginations and lots of curiosity. Talk to a ten year old and let them know you have some interesting experiences to share. Get them wondering what like was like "back in the day". Let them know it is okay to make mistakes, to try new things, to wonder and to play. Children enjoy playing, but they need to know about the past. They learn history from you, the elder in their life.

Stories of Veterans Are Vital to Preserve

November 11, 2017

Another Veterans Day is upon us and once again we observe how important it is to pay tribute to the many men and women who have served our country. In the United States there are thousands of American Veterans - men and women who have served their country in various 20th century wars. Each of them has a story, often a vivid and heartfelt account that is not a history of war but personal recollections that make us laugh, cry and remember.

The Veterans History Project collects and preserves the extraordinary wartime stories of ordinary people. It is a project of the American Folklore Center of the Library of Congress. The United States Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000 and it is an ongoing project. It received a great boost of publicity from the release of The War: A Ken Burns Film, the in-depth documentarythat aired on PBS Television. And the more recent documentary by Burns on the Vietnam War makes it even more apparent how important it is to preserve the stories of veterans.

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Rolling Stone Magazine Turns Fifty

November 9, 2017

Fifty years ago today the very first issue of Rolling Stone debuted. Over the years it has been a very influential magazine. The writers mostly covered the rapidly emerging and evolving musical and cultural scene of the 1960-70's.

Rolling Stone magazine first issue coverIt was a heady time in 1967. Jann Wenner, the founder and editor, chose John Lennon to be on the cover of the first issue. Over the years Rolling Stone revered and chronicled Lennon, going to great lengths to document the life and music of the Beatle and songwriter. But at one point Wenner and Lennon had a falling out when Wenner made a book of an interview that Lennon only wanted published in the magazine.

There has been a lot ot talk and coverage about the magazine and Wenner. I admit to reading the magazine almost religiously over the years, especially when in my high school and college years, but also for the time I spent in rock radio. It's interesting how the magazine often panned albums that have since become considered classics (such as the first Led Zeppelin release).

Rolling Stone also has had a political side and anyone who has read much of Hunter S. Thompson's work published for the 'zine can't help but marvel at the gonzo journalism he churned out.

At age 71 Wenner has decided to put the magazine up for sale, but he hopes to stay on in some capacity.  It will be interesting to see what the future holds for a magazine still closely connected to the music and culture of today, even though its heyday is arguably in the past.

If you are interested in learning and reading more you might want to check out the CBS Sunday Morning piece that aired last Sunday. There is also a controversial new biography by Joe Hagan about Jann Wenner that has just been released, Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine. In it the author maintains that Wenner was obsessed with celebrity. Wenner isn't pleased with the end result although he hired Hagan to do the book and gave him great access to information.

One thing that cannot be denied - Rolling Stone magazine is fifty and its historical impact on the Baby Boomer generation is a huge part of its legacy.

Funeral For Fats

November 2, 2017

Funeral for Fats DominoToday, All Souls Day or Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is a good day to say goodbye to rock n' rock architect Fats Domino. New Orleans did just that with the traditional funeral procession known as second line (see NPR article).

New Orleans is a special city with a great musical heritage. NOLA residents came out in force to remember one of their own, a great songwriter and inspiration to many other musicians. Fats Domino had so many great songs, from "I'm Walkin'", "Ain't That a Shame", and "Blue Monday" to the timeless "Blueberry Hill". Yeah, hard to top his hit parade.

Fats Domino was born Antoine Domino in 1947. He died last week, October 24, but his legacy will live on. Nice that he got the funeral sendoff that only New Orleans can deliver.

A Big Game with Scary Implications

October 31, 2017

In just moments, as I write this, a baseball game will get underway in Los Angeles, California. On a Halloween Night the implications of the outcome are downright scary for the Dodgers. They must win or they will be eliminated in what has been one of the greatest World Series ever.

The Houston Astros seem to be riding a wave of momentum and emotion combined with clutch hitting and great talent to lead the series, three games to one. The previous game on Sunday night was epic with back and forth battling and finally a game winning hit in extra innings by Alex Bregman (a player from my home town of Albuquerque, New Mexico).

Maybe the Astros have the extra desire to bring the first ever baseball championship to their city that has suffered much from Hurricane Harvey. #HoustonStrong is a hashtag for them. I can only imagine how much the players for the Astros want to win it for their fans and the city.

At the same time the Los Angeles Dodgers have experienced one of the best seasons in their long and storied history. They won 104 games in the regular season and then made it through the National League playoffs to make their first appearance in the fall classic since 1988. They have a lot of special players and have shown resilience, perseverance and Hollywood-style drama.

It's fun to see such competition. And it is a good distraction from some of the negativity that seems a constant in our daily news.

A big game with scary implications makes for frightfully good fun tonight.

Yes, I Will Always Be Your Grandpa!

October 20, 2017

My granddaughter just turned 5. That's a delightful age and it is my second go around with a 5 year old grandchild. Sophia celebrated the Big Five just a few days ago and her older brother, Jacob, did a couple of years ago. I don't know if 5 is the best grandchild age or not - but it seems pretty good to me.

A recent article in GRAND magazine, The Times They Are A Changin', has author Debby Carroll responding to her grandchild's query, "Will you still be my Grammy when I turn 5?" How can a question like that not melt your heart?

"Yes, Honey. I'll always be your Grammy. That will never change", was the obvious reply.

Just as you never stop being a parent, you also (thankfully) never stop being a grandparent. And you know what Grands like to say. "If I knew grandkids were going to be so much fun I would have had them first!"

I feel very blessed to have grandchildren and to be able to spend time with them. I get to share love and life experiences with them. They, in turn, keep me young. That's a Win-Win!

ICU Grandpa is a Baby Whisperer

October 12, 2017

File this one under "feel good": David Deutchman is a grandpa who has been volunteering for twelve years at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. What he has been doing for all those years is cuddling and comforting babies in the intensive care unit. It has earned him the nicknames "the ICU Grandpa" and "Baby Whisperer" for his ongoing care of these wee ones.

It's a beautiful story and a beautiful thing that Mr. Deutchman is doing in his retirement years. It shows that there are many ways to contribute to the wellbeing of others. While people are marveling over his dedication and kindness he finds he has been getting a great reward. The joy from holding a little baby is something he treasures. "It's been wonderful because it gives me something to do that has meaning to it." (read more with this story and video from ABC News)

Way to go, Grandpa!

Flying Low

October 10, 2017

I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing - Tom Petty

The last couple of weeks have been kind of rough. There seems to be an inordinate amount of bad things and sad news. I wrote about it in the latest Your Life Is Your Story newsletter. Sometimes when the hits keep on coming you just want to hunker down in a hole or go somewhere to lick your proverbial wounds.

Even after I published the September 30th newsletter more difficult events unfolded. It was bad enough to hear about the suffering from the earthquakes and hurricanes, but the heartache of 58 gunned down and over 500 injured at a concert in Las Vegas, Nevada, followed the next day by the death of Tom Petty, well, it put me in a funk.

Still, I am not one to wallow in misery. So I've done what I do in times like these. I loved the ones around me, pulled them closer and let them know I care.
I spent some time in prayer and meditation. I went to work and did my best to show that there is hope and light. 

Hot Air BalloonsOn Sunday morning I went for a walk. It was a crisp and cool morning; beautiful with blue skies and sunshine, the kind of days we brag about in New Mexico. On top of that, the hot air balloons were rising en masse as our annual International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta brought us visual joy. There is something majestic and peaceful about colorful balloons bearing passengers over fields and the Rio Grande River. It's just an awesome sight!

My friends, we must remember that this is the time of our life and we can have joy, in fact greater joy, when we take stock of what matters and be loving and helpful to others, especially those who need our help. That is part of living well and can (should) be part of our life story. Disasters and tragedies won't cease, but we can't afford cynicism or bitterness. As the saying goes, "It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness" (attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt).

 Everybody has a story to tell!
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