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Your Life is Your Story, Issue #058 – Preserving Letters
October 29, 2008

"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

October 29, 2008 Issue #058 – Preserving Letters

From Tom Gilbert – Editor and Writer,

In this Issue:

Opening remarks: Fall Back
Featured Article: Preserving Letters
Resources You Can Use: The Legacy Project, Your Family Newsletter

Opening Remarks: Fall Back

Fall is back, but it has been lovely here in New Mexico. Our weather is helping us live up to our state motto, “Land of Enchantment”. Yes, the leaves have finally turned and there are some cool mornings. But we’ve also enjoyed spectacular sunfilled days and mild temperatures. Today was a picture perfect example.

October is nearly over and we’ll soon be into the holidays. Remember in the hustle and bustle that often comes with this time of year to enjoy life, especially the time with your family members. Don’t let family gatherings stress you out. Savor the times together and share stories and create new memories.

A family newsletter is a great way to wrap up the year’s events and share them with your family and friends. It’s not too early to be thinking about putting it together. I offer a service to write your family newsletter and you can read about it in this issue’s Resources You Can Use (see below).

Also, remember that Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend for most of us in the United States, so set your clocks back an hour before you go to bed on Saturday night, November 1 – it’s “fall back” time.

Thank you to all who continue to read this monthly newsletter and for those of you who have recently subscribed.

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: Preserving Letters

Article by Tom Gilbert (written and © 2008, all rights reserved)

When it comes to preserving certain treasures I would rank some of the letters I’ve received near the top. It’s unfortunate that letter writing has become something of a lost art. Most people don’t spend the time writing thoughtful letters anymore. We live in a fast-paced and instant communication world. It’s much easier to dash off an email or a text message than to spend time in quality communication.

A good letter is special in many ways. It requires time, effort and thoughtfulness, but it pays great dividends. We can express heartfelt emotions, concern, compassion, humor, prayer and values. Such communication shares honestly about our lives.

For many years one of my good high school friends was a regular pen pal. We were particularly prolific from our college years all the way through our twenties. We’d write to each other about movies, music, politics, our jobs, our families and much more. It was a joy to read his letters and it really challenged me to sit down at the typewriter (yes, most of the letters were written before the establishment of the personal computer!) and articulate my thoughts.

This is one of the benefits of letter writing. It stretches our intellect, gets us to consider our world and other people, and it teaches us to communicate in a better way. It grows us.

One of my most treasured letters is from my mother. When Mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer she realized her time would be short and she penned a letter to each of her children. My sister, brother and I read our letters after her funeral and shared them with each other, along with a good dose of laughter and tears. The letters Mom wrote to us were not quite what I would consider an ethical will, but they did contain some of what makes up a good legacy letter. Mom took the effort to write her fond memories of each of us, her hopes for our futures and her deep and abiding love for us. I know that I will always treasure this letter and continue to re-read for years to come.

There is another treasured letter in our family’s possession. The great Annie Oakley was a good friend of my great-grandfather, Fred Gilbert. When she was close to death she sent a nice letter to his daughter, Annie (yes, named after Annie Oakley). My dad shared this letter, along with other valuable trap shooting trophies and medals of Fred Gilbert, with Dick Baldwin, author and contributor of history about many great trap shooters. Fred Gilbert was a champion and was inducted into the Trap Shooter Hall of Fame. Mr. Baldwin’s family was associated with Annie Oakley so he was very pleased to discover the letter and even posted it to his The Road to Yesterday essay about Fred Gilbert (online here.

Resources You Can Use

The Legacy Project

The Legacy Project ( encourages the preservation of letters from the men and women who have served in the armed forces. It is well worth (visiting this site for tips on preserving valuable letters. The site also lists a number of useful conservator companies and web sites.

Your Family Newsletter

The days that make up a year are full of important and newsworthy events. It doesn't have to make the local TV station's 6 o' clock report or the morning newspaper. Each of our lives plays out in moments worth remembering. A family newsletter can be just the thing to document those days and sharing it with your family can be a treat.

I can write a customized family newsletter for you. Now is an ideal time to consider this so it can be finished and sent out this holiday season. Get more information 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

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