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April, 2005

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April 26, 2005

Jane Fonda's memoir book tour continues and here's an interesting Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article from her visit to Milwaukee. Of particular interest was Fonda's mention that she took a year off at about age 60 to analyze her life, what she called the first two-thirds.

Wouldn't it be great if we all could take time off to do this? If that's not an option, at least consider taking a weekend retreat for yourself where you can get away from the "busyness" of day-to-day life and look at where you've been, where you are now and where'd you would like to go.

April 17, 2005

She's been a sex bomb and a radical activist. She made bestselling workout tapes and married a media tycoon. She's a two-time Academy Award winner and daughter of a Hollywood legend. Now, at age 67, Jane Fonda considers herself to be in "act three" of her life and has just published her memoir, My Life So Far (Random House), which currently sits atop the NY Times bestseller list.

Jane Fonda was in Albuquerque today speaking at a local bookstore (Page One) and signing autographed copies of her memoir. She also is speaking at a reception to benefit the Rape Crisis Center. I didn't attend either event, but I couldn't help notice the story in Friday's issue of the Albuquerque Journal. The fact that another well known celebrity has published her life story may not be that significant, except that to someone in the personal history field it is another sign of the continued growing interest in life stories.

Many people either love or despise Jane Fonda. She alienated a number of veterans and Americans when she went to Hanoi during the Vietnam War. At the same time she's an accomplished actress and a hard worker for social causes. I was quite surprised when she married Ted Turner as they seemed to be on opposite ends of the political spectrum. Nevertheless, it just shows that people are complex and simplistic categorizing of a person fails to reveal their depth.

I still encounter many people who think that in order to publish a memoir they must be famous, or worse, that their story must be a bestseller to be successful (whether they are famous or not). I believe the value of anyone's story is in recognizing the worth of any life and the importance of sharing your experience for the benefit of others, especially your family.

A thought occurs to me. Writers make appearances at book stores to give readings and signings. If you write and produce a life story, memoir or autobiography it might be a grand idea to have your own gathering of friends and family and to do some reading from your book. Serve refreshments, have copies of the book available and personally sign them and celebrate your life story in print!

April 13, 2005

The late Pope John Paul II didn't personally accumulate wealth or property. Nevertheless, he did feel it important to write a last will and testament. What he wrote in a series of entries spanning 22 years was basic instructions for his funeral and a fascinating, intimate sharing about his spiritual journey.

In essence, the pope wrote an ethical will. You can read the text posted here at MSNBC.

April 6, 2005

In the movie Closer, Jude Law's character is a writer whose one book quickly vanishes from the literary landscape. Like many writers he has a "day" job. He pays the bills by writing obituaries for a newspaper. In discussing this with another character he reveals that when prominent people die the obit-writers go to the "deep-freeze" files where they gather research on the deceased. In effect, the obituary has been pre-written.

Today I read a couple of obituaries of famous people. Prince Ranier of Monaco has died at age 81. He transformed the tiny country (smaller than New York City's Central Park) into a very successful financial center, but is probably remembered by most people as the man who wed movie star Grace Kelly.

The other prominent death was of novelist Saul Bellow. He was a literary giant who won the Nobel prize for literature in 1976 and was hailed as one of the most respected chroniclers of postwar America. Intellectual and sharp witted, his writing dissected the souls of his many protaganists.

Obituaries are mini-life stories. At their best they reveal more than just the facts of their careers and surviving family members. They give us some insight into their character and invite us to explore their lives and their contributions more fully.

April 4, 2005

At the end of your life if people consider you to have been honest, loving, compassionate, dedicated, humble and true to your calling you would have to consider that a successful life.

I think all of the above describes Pope John Paul II. He served as the leader of the Catholic church for twenty-six years. One of the things I really liked about him was that he didn't flaunt his office and he didn't try to make everyone believe exactly as he did. He had very strong beliefs but he also recognized the universal faith many have in God's love.

I believe God's love is freely given to everyone and no one religion has cornered the market. I also believe the late pope was a good man and a faithful servant.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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