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© Tom  Gilbert

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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 terrorism.

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".


Throwback Thursday - Gulf Oil Spill Stories On the One Year Anniversary

April 16, 2015

We are coming up on the four year anniversary of one of the greatest ecological disasters ever, the Gulf Oil Spill in 2010 when one of British Petroleum's  oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico exploded and spilled a horrible amount of oil into the water.

How that affected life on the Gulf Coast continues to be a concern, but back on April 21, 2011 I posted about the on year anniversary and coverage/stories I found in a couple of places. The oil spill is no longer front page news, but I am sure it has not been forgotten for those on the Gulf Coast. You can read my Throwback Thursday post here.


Memories Fade - Reason #6 for Your Life Story from APH's Deborah Perham

April 13, 2015

How sharp is your memory? I know that my short term memory seems to be on the fritz these past few years. Sometimes I can't remember what I told myself to remember to do ten seconds ago! But long term memory is more important, especially when it comes to your life story or family history.

The terrific series of blog posts about 20 good reasons to preserve your family history continues with a insightful and humorous article by APH member Deborah Perham. She is a Personal Historian (A Lifetime Legacy) who was inspired by her grandmothers to discover more about her own ancestors. She makes some good suggestions when approaching your own grandparents about "back in the day", such as asking about their first jobs, romance, schooldays, innovations and inventions. Read the full post: 20 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Family History: #6 Memories over time become fragmented and distorted.


Throwback Thursday - A Spring Walk

April 9, 2015

It was a blustery New Mexico Spring day in 2003, typical of the kind of weather we get this time of year, when my then 7 year old son and I went for a walk. It turned out to be the inspiration for one of the better life story stories I've written.

On this Throwback Thursday I invite you to read The Walk here on the Sample Writing Page.  Perhaps you will relate to times spent with children and the power of a simple walk.


Emily Phillips Self-Written Obituary A Good Example for Us

April 4, 2015

On a weekend when a lot of the world reflects on death and resurrection, the story of Emily Phillips' self-written obituary has people talking. She recently passed on from this life to the next. It was pancreatic cancer and it took her quick (29 days). It reminded me of my mom's similar dying. In her obituary she gives a beautiful example of why we should seriously consider writing to our loved ones before we die.

Her self-penned obituary went viral. In it she shares some memories, ponders her values, tells her family how much she loves them, gives us some laughs and should also have you thinking about doing something similar.

Her daughter, Bonnie Upright, told ABC Good Morning America (story), "It was one of the most special moments of my life to hear my mother tell her life story in her words, in her way, in what were incredibly difficult circumstances."

Some choice excerpts include: "It pains me to admit it, but apparently, I have passed away,"; "I was born; I blinked; and it was over. No buildings named after me; no monuments erected in my honor. But I DID have the chance to know and love each and every friend as well as all my family members. How much more blessed can a person be?"

Emily Phillips was a long-time elementary teacher (25 years). I really admire that now that I am in a second-half-of-life-career teaching 5th graders. But what I particularly love about what she did is how much it matters to her family and friends, as well as all those who are reading it and recognizing the value of every life story. Maybe you won't write a memoir or family history, but you can write a legacy letter (ethical will), love letter or your own obituary. Do it and you will live forever in the hearts and minds of others.


You are Important and So Is Your Family History

March 31, 2015

The series, 20 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Family History, continues with reasons #3 and #4. They are related because they both state how you are important, as a person unique in time and history that has a perpective no one else has, and you are important to others, such as your family. Some of those family members will be alive in the future and you may never meet them, but they could find out about you through the personal history story you leave for them.

Check out  the posts on the Association of Personal Historians Blog. Reason #3 was written by Jill Sarkozi and reason #4 byJane Shafron. They make powerful points about the importance of our life stories. I am looking forward to the next post this week. I also wrote about the series in the latest Your Life Is Your Story newsletter, available online.

 
Throwback Thursday - Long Strange Trip Maker

March 26, 2015

Today's Throwback Thursday blog post comes from March 20, 2011 when I wrote  about how Owsley Stanley, best known as the outlaw chef of primo acid (aka LSD) had passed away.

Owsley was also closely connected with the Grateful Dead. That band has been incredibly influential on a lot of lives and many excited Dead-heads will be in Chicago this July for the Reunion Shows of the four core remaining Grateful Dead members. The "Fare Thee Well" shows will feature Trey Anastascio on guitar. It was 20 years ago this July that the Grateful Dead played their last shows prior to the death of their lead guitarist, Jerry Garcia. The virtuoso guitarist from Phish will play lead on these shows and the anticipation is high. The shows have been long sold out. 
dancing bears - owsley stanley post
Owsley had an interesting life and certainly the Grateful Dead are a fascinating part of the American music scene since the 1960's. Check out the original March 20, 2011 post here.


Spiritual Biographies Can Inspire

March 24, 2015

If you have ever read a biography, memoir or life story about a saint or a person who has been on a spiritual journey you probably recognize the power of those stories to inspire. This inspiration is a great benefit of any well-told life story that includes how a person has dealt with matters of faith.

I've read and been deeply moved by Story of a Soul and The Seven Storey Mountain, autobiographies by Saint Therese Lisieux and Thomas Merton. And there are many others, both recent and from even hundreds of years ago.

I know I am not the only one who thirsts for such stories. I regularly get emails from people inquiring how to go about writing their own stories of their spiritual journey. For that matter, my own story includes many instances of faith. It seems to be a frequent theme for many. I find that writing or reading about the spiritual angle of a life helps me relate to the greater mystery of life. Plus, it encourages me to continue my own journey, to even go deeper.

I have felt this way about life stories for some time, but today reading yet another article on the theme (Biographies are one way to delve into stories of spiritual life by Heidi Schlumpf, March 21, 2015, National Catholic Register) it seemed like a good opportunity to touch again on this subject. Additionally, I just came off a four day men's retreat and I have been stirred in my soul.

Consider the value of your story. Writing about your life can yield real health benefits as well as spiritual wellness and insight.


Throwback Thursday - Right Time to Tell Your Story

March 19, 2015

It's that day of the week and time for another of my Throwback Thursday posts. This time I bring you back to a post I wrote this time last year. It was March 10 of 2014 and I reflected on the importance of preserving our stories (an ongoing theme with me), but not waiting too long to do it. This is because someone I'd worked with had just passed away.

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Your Story is Your Contribution to History

March 17, 2015

The history we study in schools and see unfolding in media is important. We want to understand the world we live in and how past events have contributed to the shape (for better or worse) that we are in. But each of us has a personal take on life and it your story that is your contribution to history, both your personal and family history, and its connection to the world at large.

Today is St. Patrick's Day and it is one of those holidays often filled with merriment and partying. It is also a day when we reflect on the contribution of the Irish to history, even though Patrick was technically British. His heart was open and loving to others, including even the Irish pirates who took him captive and enslaved him in Ireland. He escaped six years later, but his love was so great that he eventually returned to Ireland to spread the Christian message of love and forgiveness. He is widely considered the patron saint of Ireland. 

Just as Saint Patrick greatly impacted Ireland it is quite possible that your personal history and life story can make a big impression on your friends and family. And your account of your life, be it a memoir, diary, journal, letters or other means of documenting that "you were here" becomes part of history.  In 20 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Family History: #2 First person narratives are important historical documents, Joan Tornow further explores how  first person narratives become important historical primary sources.


Uncle Arnie at Ninety

March 15, 2015

A couple of days ago my uncle, Arnie Galbraith, turned 90. I wasn't able to travel to attend the celebration, but I understand it was a good one. Arnie was married for over 60 years to my Dad's sister and my aunt, Lois Anne. A tremendous couple, loving and active with a real zeal for life. Lois passed on three years ago, just a few short months after Dad died.

My cousins in the Galbraith family are wonderful people, a true reflection of their parents. Terry passed away last year, but Wendy, Donna, Peter and Tim were able to celebrate Arnie's birthday and they are all featured in this picture from the birthday get together.
Arnold Galbraith at 90
Celebrating milestones is part of family history and I hope you get an opportunity to do that. My sister here in Albuquerque teamed with me on a collage book with tribute for Arnie and it was fun to look through pictures and reminisce.

The opening lines of my tribute to Uncle Arnie at Ninety are: "Ninety. It’s a good sounding number. Solid, substantial, with depth and longevity. It speaks of years of life experiences. For most it would be a good golf score. Catch a 90 pound bass, well, that would be a heck of a fish story. The basic numbers are 1 through 9, so any quantity that begins with 9 means something. It’s the 'Daddy' number of the main digits."

I then went on to write about some of my memories of Uncle Arnie, his qualities, and the time at Lake George when he rescued me and my son when I accidentally flipped over the rowboat. A harrowing situation that I look back on now with a mixture of embarrassment and gratitude.

Hopefully you consider the milestones in the lives of your family. Family history is important for us, both to consider it in the context of world history, and for the place it has in our personal histories.

 Everybody has a story to tell!
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