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Projects and Tracking Your Life Events
April 22, 2014
If you are a busy person with lots of projects to keep track of, then
you need to find a way to stay on top of them. There are all kinds of
time management systems with sophisticated day planners. Many of them
Other people are good with just keeping a daily to-do list.
For me, a good system is essential. It's not that I am what of those
guys who has every little thing planned out. If anything, I have to
fight against the tendency to fly by the seat of my pants. But I've had
far too many jobs where I've needed to keep track of things. This is
very true with personal history projects.
I have mentioned some of the fine techniques I've learned, like making
a memory list. Having a list of significant events in your life that
you continually update can be extremely valuable when you are writing
about your life. A good list will make it possible to always have
something to write about. Essentially, you will never have writer's
The system that has worked for me now for several years is The Journal Software by DavidRM
Software. It is such an excellent tool for journaling, but on top of
that I can create endless categories and sub entries for projects. It
really helps me keep track of various clients and potential clients.
Additionally, I can easily review past days, months or years of journal
entries. It is a powerful and searchable software system.
If you haven't investigated The
Journal, take a look at more information I provide here. I avidly recommend this
system and DavidRM allows you to even try it for free for 45 days. Take
it for a test drive!
April 17, 2014
Sometimes we have stories in our families that are really hard to talk
about. Therefore, they are hard to write. People want to keep those
skeletons in the closet. But as another personal historian loves to
say, bring those skeletons out of the closet and make them dance!
A recent NY Times story is a
great example of a tough family story that ultimately redeems. An
alcoholic sculptor abandons his wife and daughter and then dies under
mysterious circumstances. The daughter was quite young at the time, but
as she grew up she had questions and she went searching for answer. Her
father had loved her deeply and she needed to know for herself what his
life story meant to her; not her mother's version, but hers. What the Sea Took
Away, a Daughter Restores is beautifully written. A poignant
Marathon Runner Shalane Flanagan
April 14, 2015
Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the tragic bombing that shook
Boston at their iconic Marathon Race finish line. Knowing what it is
like to complete a marathon (I've done two) and seeing the news
footage, it all put me in a sad and fowl mood at the time. I wrote
about it on this
very blog. But as the stories of heroism and strength unfolded, I
once again fell in love with the beautiful souls of true heroes. Some
people are not out looking for attention. These silent heroes respond
by jumping into action when horrible events happen. At the bombings
some helped rescue or comfort the wounded; others housed displaced
runners and family members. The accounts that came out of Boston
resonate with the strength of the human spirit.
A year later and there is a hometown favorite who has a real chance of
winning the women's division of this year's Boston Marathon (set for
Monday, April 21). Shalane Flanagan has running in her genes. Both her
parents were world class marathon runners. Although Shalane has only
been running marathons since 2010, she has demonstrated her ability.
And this year it is personal. Although she now lives in Portland,
Oregon, she has returned frequently to Boston to run the course as part
of her training for this year's race. As she put it in her interview
with Anderson Cooper which aired on CBS' 60 Minutes, "I am all-in with this
training. It's my ultimate dream and goal to win the Boston Marathon".
You can watch her inspiring interview here.
Modern Day North
April 7, 2014
My buddy, Rolland Love, writer in the vein of Mark Twain, expert
fisherman, and cofounder of Imastory,
tipped me to something his business partner in the Imastory.com
personal history project is currently doing. Apparently Mark Andresen
isn't just a tech wizard; he's a real life adventurer!
Currently Mark is teemed with his explorer friend, Mike Ketchmark, on a
trip to the North Pole. They are doing it with dog sleds, their wits
and blogging their journey via Imastory. So far they've encountered
bitter cold (no surprise), a large group of polar bears, uncooperative
dogs, some treacherous ice and a lifetime of memories. As Rolland puts
it, "Two men, a dozen sled dogs, a couple of tents, no bath for 30 days
and K-rations". Follow their journey at www.imastory.com/northpole/.
Life Stories From Down
March 26, 2014
There is a website in Australia where they are gathering stories and
promoting life review and reminiscence. Life
Stories Australia has the motto, "Where Memories Matter". Indeed
they do and it is good to see that this is a global truth. I promote
life story preservation in America. So do many other fine personal
historians and story tellers. The same is true in Canada, Europe and
In Australia one of the leading personal historians and banner wavers
for saving life stories is Annie Payne. She is instrumental in Life
Story Circles and runs a terrific personal history business at History
from the Heart. She is also a board member for the Association of
Personal Historians and the founder of Life Stories Australia. She receives
my free monthly
newsletter and was struck by the feature article in the latest
issue about nostalgia and reminiscence. In fact, she was very kind in
posting it to the Life Stories Australia site (here). I am honored.
Personal History Awareness Month
is coming in May. I will be doing things to help promote this awareness
in my community, just as I know Annie will do the same with others in
Australia. Other APH members are also doing their part. Maybe you
will have an opportunity to encourage people to save and share
their life stories. Doing so is helping humankind carry on their
legacies - a very valuable contribution.
Circling Back to
March 24, 2014
Apparently you "can go back home". The famous quote, "you can't go home
again" is actually the title of a novel by Thomas Wolfe. The plot
revolves around the character, George Webber, who has written a novel
about his family and hometown. When he goes back home he's shaken by an
outpouring of hate from the family and friends. Thus the message that
you can't go back home with the interpretation that you won't be
appreciated. However, when it comes to your personal history, going
back home and revisiting your childhoood can have great value.
The gist of an article by David Brooks, Going Home Again
(NY Times, March 20, 2014),
reinforces the value of reminiscence about our growing up. For Sting -
yes, the musician and songwriter, Sting - it inspired a creative
breakthrough. He'd been in a dry spell with his music when he started
thinking about the town he grew up in Northern England. This town had
been home to a busy shipyard that built large ocean-going vessels. As
Sting circled back to his childhood and recalled this place of his
youth he suddenly discovered a resurgence in creativity. It resulted in
a musical, "The Last Ship" which has been performed in theaters and
could be headed to Broadway.
Could it be that conscious reminiscing about the places of your
childhood might spark your own creativity? I think it is highly likely.
At the very least, it will cause you to reflect on your life journey
and that can lead to an appreciation of your experiences, which is
typically a very good thing.
Age to Wisdom Studies
March 20, 2014
It has been a long held belief by many that as we age we get wiser. I
like to believe there is some truth in this. But wisdom can be
allusive. Surely as we age we pick up more knowledge. But that doesn't
always equate to wisdom. Being wise has a lot to do, I think, with how
we apply what we learn to life, and how we learn from our experiences.
Our values and beliefs are certainly affected but those experiences.
Living well and living with kindness, truth, justice, compassion and
integrity are the byproducts of wisdom
A recent New York Times
article, The Science of Older and Wiser,
is a good read about the subject of aging and how personal wisdom
develops. One of the takeaways I had from the article was Professor
Staudinger's five elements of true personal wisdom. He lists them as
self-insight; the ability to demonstrate personal growth; self-awareness in terms of your historical
era and your family history; understanding that priorities and
values, including your own, are not absolute; and an awareness of
life’s ambiguities. I purposely emphasized the third element
because of its importance to life story review and preservation.
The article also states that an impediment to wisdom can be thinking!
When people dwell to much on their short-comings or their problems that
often come with age they can become depressed, angry or bitter. But not
if they accept reality as it is and look at life as a wonderful journey
full of incredible experiences, both good and bad.
Searching Your Irish
March 17, 2014
Happy Saint Patrick's Day! As the saying goes, on March 17th
everybody's a little bit Irish.
Genealogy is one of the favorite (or most popular) pasttimes on the
Internet. As a personal historian I find it more interesting to
discover the stories behind of the people hanging out in the branches
of the family tree. But if you are looking for some good online
resources to search out your Irish roots, I can make a few suggestions.
There are a number of subscription and fee-based sites. One of the
biggest is Ancestry.com.
There is an large Irish database section. You might also try FindMyPast or EmeraldAncestors
(featuring Northern Ireland & Ulster Ancestry).
I would suggest you also check out some of the large free sites, such
and the National
Archives of Ireland.
May the sun be on your face and the wind be at your back as you journey
forth on the discovery of your Irish roots. And check out the About.com section or Google's St. Patrick
section for more.
has a story to tell!
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