Back to Back Issues Page
Your Life is Your Story, Issue #037 – The Finish Line
January 21, 2007

"Your past is your story up to now. The future is the story yet to come. The present is where you live with that experience, your hopes and your dreams."

Your Life is Your Story Newsletter

January 21, 2007 Issue-037 – The Finish Line

From Tom Gilbert – Editor and Writer,

In this Issue:

Opening remarks: Running and Surfing
Featured Article: The Finish Line
Resources You Can Use: Timelines and various software products

Opening Remarks: Running and Surfing

I finished running a full marathon last week. Many of you know this has been a goal of mine and that I’ve been in training for several months. It was hard and an amazing experience and I wrote about it in this month’s feature article.

Since I also spend a great deal of time online exploring various tools and resources that are helpful in preserving your personal history I’ve decided to include several in the Resources You Can Use section. I hope you find them helpful.

I appreciate the opportunity to present another ezine issue to you. You can always email me with questions and comments. I welcome the feedback.

You are receiving this e-zine because you signed up for it or someone who is subscribed passed it along to you. If a friend DID forward this to you consider subscribing by visiting our signup page . Also, let me know what you’d like to see more of in this newsletter – simply reply to this email e-zine.

While the main focus of this newsletter is to share thoughts, ideas, and insights on life story writing you should know that I offer various services and also mention some products and services that can be helpful. You are under no obligation to purchase anything, but if any of these products or services are helpful and you decide to utilize them then I am most grateful.

Thanks for reading. – Tom

Featured Article: The Finish Line

By Tom Gilbert

Running a marathon is a big accomplishment. Less than one percent of the population ever does it. You don’t just get up one day, lace up your shoes and run that far. Twenty-six miles is a long distance and should be respected.

Running a marathon is also a lot like life. You don’t sprint through life; you are in it for the long run and the goal at the finish line is to have lived well.

I recently completed a full marathon. The weather was unusually cold on race day. It was a Sunday morning in Phoenix, Arizona and the thermometer read 29 degrees. According to the city records it was the coldest day in seventeen years. Still, after training for several months I was prepared and I felt ready. Besides, it wasn’t nearly as cold as it had been in Albuquerque the last month.

The P. F. Chang Arizona Rock n’ Roll Marathon is one of the most popular in the world. The number of entries was staggering. Between the half marathon and the full there were over 37,000 runners and walkers. This was my second event with Team in Training, the world’s largest endurance training program. The coaches and volunteers of this organization raise funds for research and improved patient aid for those battling Leukemia, Lymphoma and other blood cancers. Over the years they have raised million dollars for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (more here).

You might wonder what my motivation was to run a full marathon. Part of my drive came from successfully completing a half marathon in San Diego with Team in Training. Participating in that event opened my eyes, and my heart, to how running long distance races can be both a great personal accomplishment as well as supporting worthy causes.

My other reason for running was that I, like many others, know what it is like to lose a loved one to cancer. My brother-in-law, Rob, died from Leukemia in 1989. And my mother succumbed to pancreatic cancer in June of 2006.

I also work in radio broadcasting and our station supports Team in Training and provides airtime to encourage others to participate. It seemed like a good idea to personally accept the challenge of training and running. And it has been both difficult and extremely rewarding.

All along the course in Phoenix there were people cheering us on. Many people were running for charitable causes. It seemed to me that the largest group of supporters was there for the Team in Training participants. It felt really great whenever people would clap, yell and cheer us on. Many held up signs of support. The biggest incentives were the ones that caused the big lumps in my throat. From time to time I’d run by someone holding a sign or wearing a shirt that read, "I’m a cancer survivor".

It is true that you hit what is referred to as "the wall" in the latter miles of a marathon. About mile 21 or 22 I began the debate in my head of whether I could actually finish. What kept me going was a combination of prayer, positive thinking, remembering all the long training runs, thinking about the everyday pain and challenges that cancer patients go through and mostly just chanting "Rob, Mom – Rob, Mom".

My son called me on my cell phone right as I was reaching the 25th mile. It was good to hear his encouragement. I knew that he and my wife were waiting at the finish line. I knew that others were running and reaching the finish line. I knew that there were people at that very moment crossing the finish line of their life. Sadly, every ten minutes a person dies from cancer. Many do it with remarkable courage. It’s important to finish, and if you can, finish strong.

Around the final bend I saw the band of balloons stretched over the finish line and the many people cheering us on as we approached the end of our long, hard run. My legs and feet were aching, but from somewhere deep inside came a sudden drive and my stride began to lengthen and my pace quickened. As I crossed the finish line with arms in the air I knew that this was something much bigger than a personal accomplishment. This was a celebration of life and spirit.

You can read other articles on life-story writing here.

Resources You Can Use

Creating a timeline of your life is really helpful when you are doing your life story. It gives perspective to see what has happened at various stages of your life, those seminal moments in your personal history. OurTimeLine allows you to create that free, plus it will list significant historical events that have happened during your life. I found it interesting that the polio vaccine began to be widely used the year I was born and that Velcro was also created that year!

Visit for more information.


A web-based software you may want to take a look at is Beth Sanders is the Founder & President and an Association of Personal Historians member. The fee for LifeBio is $39.95 for a lifetime membership. More here.


Biowriters.NET is another option, available as a comprehensive online tool, or used offline with their binder service. This tool is a hybrid of high-tech and traditional approaches. You can do-it-yourself or employ a professional writing team to assist as-needed. Discover more from Suzanne Warden, another APH member, at Biowriters.NET.

For those of you who want to take advantage of the massive census records and database you should check out You can even try it for free on a two-week trial. More here.

Closing Information

That’s it for this month’s issue. Thanks for reading. Be sure to visit our blog regularly, and here’s to telling your story. Do give it some serious consideration because I just know you’ve got a great story to tell! Be sure to see the Get Started section.

Any comments, ideas or feedback is greatly appreciated. Just reply to this ‘zine and tell me what you think!

Until next time, – keep your story alive!

Tom Gilbert

Back to Back Issues Page