Story and Why
"Your Life is Your
© Tom Gilbert
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Finding a Personal Historian
September 2, 2015
Welcome to September. If you are considering a personal history project
that you want to complete in the near future you should certainly
consider working with a qualified Personal Historian.
You can find one, quite possibly in the town or area you live, but searching the Find a Personal Historian section of the Association of Personal Historians website.
There are a number of fantastic people available for you to contact and
discuss your project. From video to scrapbooking, photo books to well
crafted memoir (and a whole lot more!), this organization has the
people you should seek out.
Personal Historian is a profession that has been growing a lot in the past ten years. The APH has been around for 20 years and the annual conference will be October 21-25 in Sacramento, California. This year's theme is Cultivate & Thrive. Lots of great workshops, presenters, networking and social events. There will even be a special event for the public, An Evening with Mr. Chin Lin Sou, labor contractor for Chinese railroad workers.
This creative historical and theatrical presentation by renowned
storyteller Charlie Chin is bound to be both educational and
I've been a member of the APH
since 2003 and I am constantly inspired with ideas and supported by
networking. If you are perhaps considering doing work in the field
of personal history I highly recommend you investigate the Association for Personal Historians. If you join, mention my name. The reference is appreciated and also gains me an additional month in my annual membership.
Hurricane Katrina 10 Years Later
August 29, 2015
Ten years ago today, August 29, 2005, one of the most devastating hurricanes ever hit the Gulf Coast of the United States. Hurricane Katrina
washed over New Orleans and surrounding areas. It was bad. The levees
surrounding "The Big Easy" broke. Homes, cars and roads swept away by
We remember significant anniversaries for various reasons. Obviously
there is joy and celebration for lifetime milestones like birthdays,
marriage and careers. But why tragedy? I think it is because we need to
mark historical events. It is not to dredge up sadness. Rather to look
back, see where we are now, learn from the past and put perspective to
There is another reason. That is to honor those who rise above the
floodwaters of life and become the type of heroes who rightly are
remembered for their selfless service. During, but especially in the
days after Hurricane Katrina, there were a number of stories about such
heroes. The New Orleans Advocate has a special section on Katrina.
Kenny Bellau was on a bike tour in South America when Katrina hit New
Orleans. But the city native returned after the hurricane to rescue his
cat and ended up over a two week period helping to save the lives of 400 people!
Ex-marine John Keller
had a kayak. He says he wasn't trying to be a hero but the big New
Orleans native (six foot four, 260 pounds) repeatedly fended off thugs
and the elements to help save more than 200 people.
There are many such stories. Let us give thanks for those who rise
about the difficulties in life and sacrifice their safety to help those
The Big Why for Your Story
August 27, 2015
I just finished listening in on the Right Focus/ Write Memoir tele-class offered by Denix Ledoux of The Memoir Network. The key focus of this free tele-class was figuring our why
you are writing memoir. The BIG WHY is your theme. This is likely the
life lesson you want to impart to your readers. An analogy Denis used
is that your theme is your hero's journey and the holy grail you bring back from your journey is the story you finish and publish for your readers. I like that.
This tele-class was a valuable stand-alone freebie offered by the
excellent memoir teacher, Denis Ledoux. Of course, there is the hope
that those who attended will want to sign up for an upcoming course,
the Write Your First Memoir Draft. This
course will be intensive work and very helpful for anyone intent on
getting their memoir written. It's a lot of work, sure, but so is
creating the story of your memoir. Do you want help? Or would you
rather go it alone, perhaps getting lost or sidetracked and wasting
If you act right away you can save $100 on the fee for this 7 month
course. After Friday the discount ends. If you are interested in
learning more you can follow my affiliate link
to the course info (I get paid an affiliate commision on any signups
for this course and I only recommend services I believe have good
value). I hope you investigate it.
The Right Focus for Your Memoir
August 24, 2015
Knowing how to write a memoir is helpful. There is a lot more to it
than good writing technique. What is the focus of your story? Is it
about a particular time in your life? What story are you trying to tell
in your memoir?
Denis Ledoux of The Memoir Network is about to launch his new class that will get you to Write Your First Memoir Draft. The course is bound to be helpful to memoir writers at any stage in their writing journey.
I am an affiliate of The Memoir Network.
That means I believe in the services and products they offer and I also
get a commission on any purchases you make when you go there from my
site. I am picky about who I endorse, so take it from me that this
course is a valuable investment in your writing efforts. Denis has a
lot of information on his site to help you and I wanted to share this
blog post with you. | continue reading |
The Strangers Project
August 17, 2015
So a few days ago I wrote about The Forgiveness Project (see below) and today I am telling you about The Strangers Project. This is an ongoing collection of 15,000 stories, and growing.
Lots of people are writing their life stories. So what's so special about The Strangers Project?
For one thing, all the stories are anonymous. Another interesting twist
is that they are handwritten right on the spot. So they are
spontaneous. No doubt many people have carried around their story for
years, but to be asked to write it right there, right then is
interesting. No dwelling, dawdling or revision. See some of the stories
Have you ever been sitting in a cafe, coffee shop or in a public place
and while you "people watched" you wondered about their story? This was
the impetus for this project started in 2009 by Brandon Doman of Brooklyn, NY. He's been busy collecting these stories and a book is coming out next Spring.
The Forgiveness Project
August 14, 2015
Sometimes the pain and suffering of life inflicted on us by others can
feel like more than we can bear. Many people understandably struggle
with feelings of anger, resentment, revenge and downright hate.
It's not healthy. But how do you deal with it? Many people who go
travel this hard road learn that it is better to forgive. Not
easy. Hearing the stories of others who've been able to forgive in
situations that are difficult (to say the least) can shine a light on
how it can lead to recovery and a better way of living.
Reading some of the stories on The Forgiveness Project
has been quite moving. Former convicts, parents of terrorist bombing
victims or murdered children, other victims of violence or abuse -
these stories of redemption are incredible. The purpose of The Forgiveness Project is to explore the possibilities of forgiveness through real stories. You can check it out yourself.
The Narrative Arc of Your Life Story
August 12, 2015
Does your life story have a narrative arc with multiple plot points?
Why, yes, I think that is pretty common. At least, how we interpret our
life experiences takes the shape of story. That's a good thing and here
is a very interesting article from The Atlantic about this that states
it is a fundamental part of being human.
As the article states, we all have a lot of things happen during our
lifetimes and not all of it is interesting or important enought to
preserve in a memoir. But we commonly view our story as a narrative
with multiple plot points, such as rising action, climax and
resolution. These are all valuable parts of the typical storyline.
If you believe you have a good story in you with something meaningful
to share with the world then you probably should take a stab at a
memoir. One of the nice things about memoir is that it can be a part of
your life, not the whole enchilada. You can have a theme or a
particular message that you feel the need to write about, both for
helping you gather meaning from your life journey and for readers who
may resonate with your story. Learning from others can be helpful,
especially with guided instruction. The first draft can be a challenge,
so seek assistance.
Father Roca, Santuario de Chimayo's Little Priest, Dies at 97
August 9, 2015
He was born in Spain and when his brother, Pedro, died in the Spanish
Civil War, his mother lamented, "I ask God for two priest sons. He took
Pedro to Himself; now, it’s up to you to be the two priests I
asked for." He fulfilled that destiny and then some.
Father Casimiro Roca was 97 years old when he passed away on August 5.
His legacy is as the priest who both restored and served at the little church in Chimayo,
the Santuario where many people have claimed healing from the dirt dug
from the chapel's floor. It is a sacred site for many pilgrims in
Northern New Mexico. I visited it years ago and it certainly felt like
a holy place. Many people consider it the "Lourdes of America".
By all accounts Father Roca was quite a man. Short in stature, but big
in heart. His 97th birthday was just a couple of weeks before he passed
and the Valley Daily Post reporter Robert Naranjo interviewed him that day. The article gives you a good insight into the priest. You can also discover more about him at this official site for El Santuariode Chimayo.
Using a Master Memoir Mentor
August 5, 2015
You've thought about it, written down your compelling reasons for doing
it and made the decision that you are finally going to write your
Can you do it? Yes. Will it be difficult? Yes. Would you like some help? Well, uh, of course.
Course is the operative
word. Taking a course that will guide you through writing your first
memoir draft will help you a great deal, especially when you have the
assistance of a master memoir mentor.
This is where the Memoir Authority membership
will make all the difference. Denis Ledoux, noted writing mentor and
memoir specialist has just unveiled a new course, what he's calling his
best ever. The Write Your First Memoir Draft Course includes Master teachers, such as Kathy Pooler (The Memoir Writer's Journey),
live teleclasses, focused critiques, a mastermind group to help you
with the many questions writers have, a series of e-books on various
aspects of memoir writing, and yes, even more.
You can preview some of the elements and get more information here.
Plus, there is an advance $100 discount from August 7 through August
28. Register by Friday, August 7 and get an additional bonus, the
excellent Memoir Start Up Package!
If you are one of those people who've thought long and hard about your life and its story then you deserve a memoir. The Write Your First Memoir Draft Course
from The Memoir Network will accelerate your process and highly
increase your odds for getting a finished memoir. Sure, you have to do
the work - this is not a something for nothing deal. However, it will
put you on a strategic path towards your finished memoir destination.
Making the Memoir Decision
August 4, 2015
Making a decision to write a memoir isn't arrived at easily. When you
consider all the hard work that will go into such an undertaking it can
be intimidating. And after the first flush of inspiration and
excitement it can be hard to maintain motivation.
But if your heart does burn with the desire to write your life story
(or a portion, a slice of life) then you should act on that desire. Make the memoir decision!
The good news is that now, more than ever, there is a lot of help
available to writers and would-be writers. Sites like this one abound
on the Internet. Many helpful writing books about preserving personal
history or writing memoir have been published. And memoir continues to
be among the most popular genres.
Tomorrow and the next day I will be posting some exciting and specific information about how you can Write Your First Memoir Draft
with guidance and inspiration from master memoir instructors. For now,
if you are already considering how to finally move from desire to
reality in writing your memoir, I urge you to take some time to write
out your reasons. Give it some detail. Nothing listens like paper!
This can include the all important "writing for yourself" reason, but
can also include your desire to preserve a bit of history, set the
record straight, celebrate your achievement, and to share your life
Iron Mountain Archives
August 3, 2015
Do you remember that scene at the end of the movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark,
when you see a man pushing a cart loaded down with a big crate and he
takes it down an aisle with shelves and boxes upon boxes stacked
on either side? The implication is of a mysterious repository of
unusual items kept in a secret location.
Apparently there is a real place like this in a rural location in
Pennsylvania. Certain companies, many of them anonymous, are storing
some priceless treasures. The immense size of this underground location
is mindblowing. Amazing storage of original movies, negatives, audio
recordings, and so much more in gigantic warehousing carved out of the
mountain. You have to see this short video from a newscast to appreciate this vast storage spot. Thanks to The Daily Digg for tipping me to this story.
That's Major Bambi!
August 2, 2015
Donnie Dunagan was a 25-year career officer in the United States Marine
Corp. That means he was one tough cookie. He has Valor and Purple
Heart medals to prove it. But he also has a secret he kept from his
fellow Marines. No way was he going to let them know that at one time
he was a child actor and the voice of Bambi in the 1942 Disney animated
Years later he has revealed this story to his wife in a short interview he did with StoryCorps, the organization that collects oral history and archives it with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
Listen to the short interview clip here.
has a story to tell!
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