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21 Bell Salute for the Winter Solstsice
December 21, 2014
Today is the Winter Solstice,
the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. After today we
begin to get more light each day, albeit incrementally by a minute or
two each day.
The solstice can be a time of celebration. Many cultures observe it as
something special, even sacred. With its proximity to Christmas
(December 25 was picked the day of birth for Christ Jesus by early
Christians wanting an alternative to pagan celebrations of a Sun
God), the long and typically cold winter nights are associated with
both religious and Yuletide celebrating.
My son was born this day in 1993, so today he is celebrating his
official entry into adulthood. The age of twenty-one is something of a
rite of passage. My wife and I recall well the snowy winter day of our
son's birth in Michigan. Today he is a fine young man of whom we are
The years seem to be flying by with greater speed as I age. My birthday
was less than a week ago and I am now in my 60th year of life.
Christmas time birthdays are abundant in my family, something I wrote
about as part of a Christmas Memories article
I wrote a few years back. It is remarkable to consider how in my family
we had birthdays on Christmas (Dad), the day after (Mom) and Christmas
Eve (my sister). So my son and I are in good company.
However you observe this time of year, be it the arrival of a new
season, holiday celebration, birthday or other special marker, may it
be a time of presence to your one, special and remarkable life.
Time Capsule from Old Boston Statehouse
December 11, 2014
A time capsule that dates back to 1795 has been carefully removed from
the old Massachusetts Statehouse. Historians believe it was placed
there by Paul Revere and Sam Adams and could contain old coins and
newspapers. This could be a revealing look back at post American
The plan is to take the time capsule to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts to
be x-rayed for its contents prior to actually opening it (story from NBC News).
It makes me wonder what we might put in a time capsule today and what
people 200 years later might think of the contents. Computers, smart
phones, books, clothing - how might that all be viewed by someone a
couple of centuries from now? Of course, if we don't write about our
lives and the meaningful events and belongings, it will be harder for
people to figure it out. Yet another reason to consider writing your
Paul Simon Agrees to Have His Biography Written
December 8, 2014
As a man known for a lot of great music over the years it would not be surprising to hear that gifted songwriter Paul Simon would pen his own life story. However, in a recent Associated Press article Simon has announced that he wil cooperate with music critic and author Robert Hilburn on a biography to be published by Simon & Shuster.
(Paul Simon in March 22, 2013 AP file photo by Wong-E)
"I thought seriously about writing my own memoir, but I'd rather devote
my time to making music, which continues to hold my full attention,"
Simon explained in a statement issued through his publisher. It sounds
like Simon wants to stick with what he knows best and turn the writing
over to someone he trusts will do a good job. Hilburn is a good writer noted for his biograhy of Johnny Cash (The Life) and he's been a longtime music critic for the Los Angeles Times. He also wrote his own memoir in 2009. I think he's a good choice for Paul Simon's story.
Biographies about musicians resonate with me as I am a lifelong fan of
music and songwriters, Simon among them. I wonder what makes them tick,
where the insights they have about life come from and also how they
manage to weave together art, commerce, fame, fortune and a desire for
some privacy. It can't be easy.
I like Paul Simon's songs. He's got a keen eye for what's happened in
our society over the years, from his days with partner Art Garfunkle (Sounds of Silence) to his many solo albums (Graceland and the self-titled Paul Simon are my favorites).
I am glad to hear he wants his story told in words as well as the
insight we gain from the many fine songs he's given us. I admire that
he wants to keep his focus on his music and, in turn, give the writer
Robert Hilburn a fine opportunity.
Giving Tuesday and Giving to the Cause of Peace
December 2, 2014
After Thanksgiving and the shopping of Black Friday and Cyber Monday we have Giving Tuesday.
This is a day of giving back to good causes, the non-profits and
charitable organizations that give so much of their time and efforts to
try to improve lives and our world.
The gift of a life story is a worthy thing and I'd ask for your
generosity, but I am not a non-profit or charity. However, I can
encourage you to support causes that teach us about people who have
changed lives for the better and made a positive difference. People
like Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez and Anne Frank - these
are historic figures who have contributed to the causes of social
justice with a message of peace and non-violence.
Peace Talks Radio are a series of programs produced by Paul Ingles and Good Radio Shows, Inc.
that are dedicated to promoting the cause of peace through dialog and
action. They have profiled many people over the years, not just the
famous examples listed above, but those you may not have heard of. The
programs are funded by grants and contributions. It is not a
money-making proposition. They exist for a higher cause. Right now they
are in urgent need of support as they have only enough funding for five
or six more shows. So I am asking you to investigate Peace Talks Radio (website and video about) and consider helping out the cause of peace on this Giving Tuesday.
Five for Gratitude
November 26, 2014
a list of the top things
you are grateful for is always beneficial. I believe we should never
lose sight of those things in life that mean the most, that we cherish,
that are the true treasures by which we measure our wealth.
Around the Thanksgiving holiday it is traditional to gather family
together, eat a good meal, and take inventory of all we are grateful
for. I was thinking about what I am most grateful while, of all things,
walking my dog this afternoon. That can often be a chore, but today the
sun is shining and it's Thanksgiving Eve and I am counting my blessings.
As I contemplated the top things for which I am grateful I realized
that money didn't make the cut, at least not in the top five. And
believe me, I know money can't buy happiness but I could use a little
more on the bottom line. It is easy to stress about finances and it can
be hard at times to pay the bills. But, no, money isn't part of my
gratitude big five.
| read more |
Keeping Up Your
November 24, 2014
Thanksgiving is later this week and the Holiday Season pretty much gets
underway this time of year. Many of us spend time writing letters and
sending greeting cards. It's good to touch base with our friends,
family, neighbors, colleagues and associates.
It's easier these days to do it through social media (LinkedIn,
Twitter, Facebook and the like), but an old-fashioned card or letter in
the mail always feels more heartfelt. Some people like to send family newsletters.
I've crafted these before and sent them out, inspired by other
relatives such as my late Aunt Lois Anne, God rest her
Many of us change our contact information, including email and phone
numbers. If you don't keep your contact information current people can
lose track of you. Or worse, you might get some unpleasant news, like
having your website domain suspended. I learned this the hard way last
week. Apparently the provider I keep this site hosted through had an
old and now defunct email address listed as my administrative contact.
So when ICANN
(the agency responsible for coordinating databases of Internet
identifiers) tried to contact me to confirm my contact information
there was no response. Naturally, as I never saw the emails. And then
one day last week my site wouldn't come up and it took a bit of digging
to discover the domain was suspended. Once I updated my contact
information I was back in business, but it was disconcerting that
your-life-your-story.com was unavailable on the web for a couple of
So, the lesson is that we need to stay in contact with each other, for
personal as well as business reasons. Think about reaching out to those
you care about with a real letter or a card with a handwritten note.
This is a good time of year to do it when our thoughts should turn to
gratitude, love and kindness.
Father's Legacy Letter to His 5-Year Old Daughter
November 17, 2014
I doubt anyone would blame Tom Attwater if he didn't spend much time
thinking about the future of other people, considering he has a brain
tumor and his lifetime is limited. But don't tell him that. Yes, he has
a brain tumor and, yes, it will probably take his life. But his five
year-old daughter, Kelli also has cancer and he has been doing all he
can to raise funds for her treatment.
He has also done something more, something there is no price tag you
can attach to it. He has given his daughter his love and his attention
and a voice to come to her for the years ahead. He has written a
thoughtful and heartfelt legacy letter
laying out his hopes, dreams, thoughts, wisdom and wishes for her in a
variety of future life endeavors. He knows he won't be there in person,
but his legacy letter is truly wonderful. As a dad he wants the best
for his daughter and he dispenses great advice for her (and anybody
else, for that matter) about various topics. He shares his dreams about
school, a career, boys, marriage and how he'd like to be remembered.
It's good stuff and shows yet another way an ethical will/legacy letter
can be a priceless gift.
6 Brothers Documentary - a Story inspired by WWII letters
November 11, 2014
On this Veterans Day we remember the many who have served in the United
States Armed Forces. That included my dad, a career Air Force pilot and
decorated Vietnam War Vet (see The
Pilot Who Soared on Eagles Wings).
One of the things I found of interest recently is a family history
inspired by the letters written during WWII by the grandfather of
Daniel Stenberg of Bismark, North Dakota. Daniel is a Personal
Historian and those letters got him started on what became a family
history documentary, 6
Brothers: A Story of Hope, Loss, and Perseverance on the Northern Plains.
I have not seen the documentary, but it sounds fascinating. You can
visit the website, 6brothersfilm.com to find out more.
I also think it is important that people continue to be aware of Veterans History Project.
It is a place where stories of veterans can be archived with the
Library of Congress. See more here.
Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall
November 9, 2014
There are too many walls built up in life. Too much separation.
Humanity grows by uniting in love and life. However, history is fraught
with conflict. That's why today is a day for celebration. Twenty-five
years ago on November 9, 1985 the Berlin Wall came down (more).
For many years Berlin was a divided city. The wall was constructed by
the German Democratic Republic and that wall not only divided a city,
but a country. It was a symbol of the Cold War and when it came down it
became a recognition that people should be free.
Have you wondered what became of parts of the concrete wall? Many of
the slabs are works of art, concrete canvasses on display in
countries and cities. Google, the search engine, has a video on its home page
today that shows some of these wall portions. From Madrid to Kiev,
Sofia to Washington D.C., Brussels to New York City, the graffiti and
artwork display some of the passion for life and freedom shared by
people of many lands, language and culture. It's a good day to let
has a story to tell!
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