Story and Why
"Your Life is Your
© Tom Gilbert
quality family history and life story news, views, methods, products,
...and whatever else catches our fancy
past entries - see the blog
Born Dead on a Winter's Night Memoir
August 24, 2016
Rolland Love is a bit of a modern day Mark Twain. He's adventurous and
likes to fish and the outdoors. He's been involved in re-enacting the
Lewis and Clark expedition. He teaches about life stories. And he spins
some very engaging tales. I've used his novel, Blue Hole, in my 5th grade classes for a few years.
Now he has released his memoir, Born Dead on a Winter's Night
and it is garnering lots of good reviews. If you want to check it out
he is currently presenting it a few chapters at a time during August
and September. It's an opportunity to read it for free in serialization
form (more here). I'm thinking of having my 5th graders read it as part of my lessons on personal narrative writing.
“There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an
impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a
comedy, and a tragedy.”
Simone Biles Has a Story of Gold
August 15, 2016
One of the greatest stories to emerge from the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro is that of gymnastic dynamo Simone Biles.
If you have been following the events you know that she is being called
the greatest female gymnast ever. Already she has won three gold medals
and has a shot at more. And she is only 19!
But to know her story is to know the real
gold. She had a rough start to life. Her father had abandoned the
family and she never knew him. Her mother was addicted to drugs and
alcohol and Simone and her younger sister spent time in foster care
before her grandparents stepped in and eventually adopted and raised
them. That was a fortuitous twist of fate. The grandparents assumed the
role of parents at a time in life when most parents are thinking about
retirement. It was a sacrifice, but they have a strong faith and they
passed that on to the girls. (see more with this story at the Daily Mail)
Simone Biles is 4 feet 8 inches, petite, but muscular and incredibly
talented. She had to work very hard to develop that talent. The amount
of time an elite athlete must train and the stamina and perseverance to
make the Olympic team is incredible. What a great story and a shining
light to others! Simone Biles has a real story of gold, more than the
medals and world titles she is achieving.
A Golden Anniversary for Beatles Revolver Album
August 8, 2016
The Beatles are arguably the most influential rock band of all time.
Their songwriting and creativity were outstanding in their relatively
short recording span of seven years. When they released their seventh
album it was clear the group had taken both studio recording and
songwriting to a new level. Yes, Rubber Soul set the stage, but 50 years later Revolver is still considered one of the greatest albums ever. Many would say it is the Beatles' best.
Every song is a gem; there are no duds. Highlights for me include Taxman, Eleanor Rigby, Good Day Sunshine, Here,There and Everywhere and She Said, She Said. But no complaints on any other tracks, including Got To Get You Into My Life, I'm Only Sleeping and For No One.
If you visit The Beatles official website
you can find plenty of info about Revolver, including a video clip,
"The Making Of Revolver". But you can go even more in-depth with an
excellent special by Beatles audiophile and radio broadcaster/ producer
Paul Ingles. Everything Was Right: The Beatles' Revolver has
stories from various people connected to the album, the band and also
comments from some other musical artists, all articulating why the
album was so good along with some little known facts. One of those
tidbits is that the name of the album, "Revolver", had nothing to do
with guns. It was a play on words - an album spins on a turntable, so
this LP was a "revolver".
It's remarkable for me to realize that we are fifty years removed from
this incredibly cultural and artistic creative period of the
mid-1960's. This album more than withstands the test of time. If
anything, it might be better with age!
Gobi, the Ultra Running Dog
August 5, 2016
This is a tale of a dog unlike any other I've heard. It starts by
admiring the amazing physical accomplishments of ultra-marathon
runners. I do a bit of long distance running myself and have completed
a couple of full marathons (26.2 miles) and about a doze half
marathons. It takes a lot of training, stamina and perseverance. But
some runners will go on races that are a hundred miles or more, often
in extreme conditions.
Such was the case of Dion Leonard, a Scottish ultra-marathon runner. He
was in the middle of running a 155 mile race across the Gobi desert in
China. I guess you might not blame him if he started hallucinating. But
what he saw was not an illusion. On day two of the race a stray pup ran
up alongside him. She stayed with him for a few days and ran over 77
miles! They became fast friends and Leonard pretty much saw this as a
sign that the dog and he were meant to be together.
It turns out that would not be so easy. The expense and time (over
$5,000 and four months to get medical clearance, including a period of
quarantine) before this remarkbale little dog could join him in
Scotland was quite extensive.
After running a crowd-funding campaign and utiliing the power of social media (there is a Facebook page)
plans are underway for Gobi, what he appropriately named the dog, to
join him at home by Christmas. Read more of this remarkable story here on Huffington Post.
You Don't Have to Agree to Listen
July 31, 2016
Let's face it - as soon as we disagree with someone it becomes really
hard to listen. We get defensive, on edge, start blocking out what they
are saying and considering our counter response. It reminds me of the
old Saturday Night Live skit with Jane Curtin and Dan Akroyd (here).
So how do we listen when we disagree? This was on Benjamin Mathes' mind
as he stood outside the Republican National Convention holding a "Free
He wrote a great post about
this and one of the key points he made was that we need to first get
the story about the person we disagree with (their biography, where
they are coming from) so you can open up the real possibility of
We don't have to agree in order to listen. Asking someone to tell you
their story, how they came to their point of view, is much more
respectable than lashing out with your counterpoint and can help both
parties grow. As Stephen Covey's 7 Habits teach, as well as the prayer of St. Francis, "seek first to understand, then to be understood".
David Bald Eagle - An Amazing Life by a True American
July 28, 2016
I learned about a remarkable man who passed away last Friday at the age
of 97. This man lived an extraordinary life. Some of his experiences
included being a musician, professional baseball player, champion
ballroom dancer, rodeo cowboy, movie stunt double, actor, tribal chief
and war hero.
biggest clue in all of that is tribal chief. Here was a real American.
This Lakota man, David Bald Eagle, has left quite a legacy and, I
think, example for the rest of us. In his amazing life he had plenty of
heartbreak including parachuting behind enemy lines in the Normandy
invasion during World War II and being shot so severely he nearly died.
In fact, the first medics to reach him left him for dead, but
fortunately sometime later British troops came across him and
discovered a faint pulse and saved his life. He was apparently a very
brave soldier. I think one of his heroic acts was re-enlisting. He'd
been discharged on December 7, 1941. That's right, Pearl Harbor Day.
When he got the news about the Japanese attack he immediately signed
He met an English dance teacher while in the Army. After the war they
were married. Tragically she was killed in a car crash while pregnant
with his first child. He became somewhat suicidal and would do
incredibly risky things, such as race car driving, skydiving, bareback
bull riding and working as a stunt double in the movies. The thing is
he was so good at these death-defying activities that he became quite
He did find another love of his life years later, marrying a young
Belgian actress. They raised a large family on a ranch on the Cheyenne
River Reservation. He became a tribal chief. And he passed on the
history and stories of the Lakota people to younger generations,
keeping their legacies alive. There is a very good article about him on NPR.
This man showed what it means to live a full and meaningful life.
Live Storytelling Popularity Keeps Growing
July 25, 2016
The craft of live storytelling is as old as, well, people talking to
each other. Much of history has been passed down orally. And someone
who can spin a good yarn will almost always have an audience.
Sharing elements of your life story to others in a live talking event is a growing phenomenon. The Moth,
a New York City nonprofit founded in 1997, has been credited with the
current popularity of live storytelling. In Tuscon, Arizona there are
some groups who are discovering they are building both community and
empathy with others by sharing elements of their personal experience in
live storytelling environments.
Odyssey Storytelling is
one of these groups. "People are hungry for real stories, told from the
heart," relates executive director Jen Clark. One of the positives she
sees is how the relating of our stories helps break down stereotypes,
something our culture truly needs, as evidenced by much of the
divisiveness we are witnessing these days (see more with article at tuscon.com).
It can be intimidating to get up in front of people, especially
strangers, to reveal personal antidotes about your life. But it can
also be empowering. As a 5th grade teacher who also engages in personal
history work I am always encouraging the development of presentation
skills. We need to be able to express ourselves and the power of
storytelling is helpful in many areas of life.
Mentors that Matter
July 18, 2016
If you are fortunate there have been people in your life who've had a
positive influence, perhaps even a life-changing impact. Thank goodness
that such people exist!
Stories of You Books is a
publishing company looking for short (1000 words) essays about those
teachers, coaches, friends, parents or mentors who have been a good
role model and inspiration on a person's life. Do you have such a story
to share? Your mentor that matters could be well known or not. They
might be someone you've never actually met, except through reading and
learning about them. It's possible it could even be a fictional
character from a book or story that changed your life.
The plan is to publish an anthology, The Mentor that Matters,
sixty stories picked from the submissions. I am not connected to this
project in anyway, but I think it is worth sharing the information. The
deadline to enter is August 15. Give this some thought as you might
have a story about a helpful person in your life that could inspire
others. There is no entry fee or cost to submit; there will be no
payment to authors chosen. However, you could benefit from the
exposure, get two complimentary print copies and contribute to a
lasting legacy while paying tribute to someone who impacted your life
for the better.
Details are available here.
Liminal Space Puts You on the Threshold of Real Change
July 13, 2016
There are certain times in our lives when real change can occur.
Usually these are times when we are taken out of "business as usual"
and we suddenly see things differently. It is as if we have a new pair
of glasses, a vision of reality that is clearer, more pristine, than we
This breakthrough in experiencing life is not always a happy occurence.
People get shaken to the core by loss and tragedy. This can also bring
about an awakening in our perceptions. And while we may feel we
are seeing things clearer we also may be shaken in our understanding of
what it's all about.
When you are on the doorstep of such change you are on the threshold of
something special. Suddenly you are more open to the way things are. It is what it is now means something more than a glib cliche.
People who know a lot more about this than me indicate that this
"standing on the threshold of real change" is called being in liminal
space. All true transformation takes place in this space. When you are
between the familiar and unknown real change and growth can occur.
Letting go of what we are certain of can be unsettling, but it can also
be freeing. You might feel a little crazy, but in the end I have found
these experiences have been profound.
I know that when I have been in liminal space I've found my writing is deeper, richer, and more insightful. In a word, real.
Not all of our life story writing can be so dramatic, insightful or
"heavy". I don't think any of us could handle being in liminal space
all of the time. But I do hope that you experience it sometimes. And
when you do, pause and take some time to reflect on what you are going
through. It just might lead you to a greater insight and appreciation
for your life journey.
has a story to tell!
© 2003 - 2016 All