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Your Life is Your Story, Issue #094 – The Right Questions
April 29, 2012

"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

April 29, 2012
Issue #094 – The Right Questions

From Tom Gilbert – Editor and Writer,

In this Issue:

Opening remarks: Running on Empty
Featured Article – The Right Questions
Featured Resource – Legacy Keepers

Opening Remarks: Running on Empty

I’m running yet another half-marathon next Sunday. So I’ve been putting in the miles. Today I ran about 10 and a half miles and it was a gorgeous morning to do it. These runs are not only for training – they are my time to think, wonder, reflect and be grateful for the amazing journey of life we are on.

To run long distances you have to eat good food as well as replenish afterwards. Plenty of liquids and all that. The same is true for anything you do in life. If you are working too hard or not taking care of your body and mind then you are running on empty. Remember to be good to your self.

Thank you to all the new subscribers. I hope you enjoy this month’s issue. 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 Right Questions

By Tom Gilbert - Copyright © April, 2012

"Each human being is unique and original, and nobody has lived what we have lived. We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told. We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them." Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey HarperSanFrancisco, copyright 1997.

To know your self is a powerful thing. Plato attributed to Socrates the importance of this ancient wisdom – "Know Thyself".

When you make the decision to tell your life story you start on a process that will be very revealing. You will meet someone very special. That someone is you!

Personal history is indeed a process. As the information is uncovered that makes up your story you will be constantly reflecting on it. Who am I? Where am I from? What matters most? These are just a few of the probing and introspective questions every life story, memoir or personal journey must ask. The answers behind these questions are wonderful gems to be mined and to reveal to you (and others) the story of you.

Most teachers will tell you that preparation is essential for good lessons. The same is true for your memoir or life story project. Before you sit down to an interview you need to mentally prepare. It is not essential that you know all the questions in advance, but I think it is a good idea to know some of them. And it helps to also have an idea of what parts of your life each interview will cover. A good personal historian will know this and provide in advance this information.

Let’s take a moment to consider the right questions. Say you are going to talk about your experience traveling to a remote land. The overarching "who, what, when, where, how and why" are great guides. Who was on the trip? What was it like? When and where (precisely) did you go? How did you get there? And why did you go? Can you see how these words are guides to core information?

Beyond the W,W,W,W,H & W are the questions that have you pondering the experience on a deeper level. A good interviewer will know how to ask without pushing and, more importantly, how to wait for your answer. Thought-provoking questions require time to answer. It’s best when the question is asked not to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. Pause and consider. If the questions are ones you have thought about beforehand then chances are you will provide some of that "story gold" we all are hoping for.

What are some good questions for life review? There are many. Here are a few of my favorites.

What places have been most important to you and why?

What lessons has your work life taught you?

Can you describe your religious or spiritual beliefs?

What do you want most for those you love?

Did you experience any dramatic changes in health or circumstances?

Have you been present to someone’s birth (such as your children)? Have you been present to someone’s death (a parent or family member)? What did those experiences mean to you?

What annoys you or bothers you?

What is your favorite way to relax?

Consider the most important lessons you’ve learned in life. What would you share about that to the next generation?

As you can see, these are deep and introspective questions. Sure, I like also knowing about people’s hobbies, favorite colors, clothes, what makes them laugh, ways they like to travel and what their favorite books and movies are. But the right questions are really important. Don’t overlook them. And think about them in advance of your life story interview.

I’ve come across many helpful questions over the years, often from other personal historians. I am always working on my list. If you have some to share, or you’d like to get more simply contact me by email.

Read other articles on life-story writing here.

Featured Resource

Legacy Keepers

Getting your story captured and preserved can be a long and often expensive process. One of the things I am always on the lookout for are service providers that can meet your needs with quality and affordability.

Legacy Keepers is a company that operates a nationwide network of highly skilled personal historians, graphic designers, filmmakers, and audio text and video editors. Their services result in quality video, audio and written products. You should be able to get the life story final product that is best for you, whether that’s a great book of memories and pictures, a video-biography or a listening to the voice of the person reminiscing. I’ve checked them out and it’s a good resource to refer you to. Click the banner to find out more and get your FREE interview guide.

Legacy Keepers

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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