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April, 2007

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April 29, 2007

The weekends always seem to go too fast.  Here it is, already Sunday evening.  But I am grateful for having time to "recharge my batteries" after a busy week and also to engage in family activities.

One of my nieces (and god-daughter) made her first Holy Communion this weekend and that was a great event for her and a time of family gathering together and celebrating another special memory.  I hope you get the opportunity to experience special events like that.

I have just updated the "Highlight Site" section of this website and you can find out more about the fine services offered by Denis Ledoux and the Soleil LifeStory Network - go here.

April 25, 2007

He's in the YouTube top 10 most watched, people look up to him as a genuine and caring person (even surrogate granddad) and he doesn't seek out fame or publicity, yet he's become something of an Internet phenomenon.

I've written about Peter Oakley (geriatric1927 as he is known on YouTube) before (here) and his short autobiographical videos continue to attract new viewers. It's unusual for anyone to spend as much time on their computer as he now does, but particularly so for a 79-year old.

One of the more interesting and comprehensive stories about him online that I've seen was recently posted at

So what is it about this elder that people find so appealing?  It's not a flashy presentation.  He's not pushing a product.  He's not sure himself. "I don't rehearse or edit anything. I just sit there and talk."  Yet, what he talks about is striking a chord with people.  It's honest and down-to-earth and obviously resonating with others.

As geriatric1927 is demonstrating in a big way, everyone has a story to tell.

You can view one of his latest videos (and others) here at

April 21, 2007

You have a story to tell, but it takes time to do it.  It takes thoughtful consideration about your life and the memories, good and bad, that have formed your unique personal experience.

When we share our story with someone it is possible that something special and powerful can happen.  We can provide insight, inspiration, life lessons and encouragement to others who are going through their life journey, especially when they face difficult challenges.  This happens if we are honest and willing to help others by sharing about our life.

Everyday we can create memories, not only for ourselves, but more importantly for others by how we live and what we pass along.  A great example of this is shared through the Simple Truths website and Johnny's story.  Johnny took it upon himself to make his job of customer service a special experience each day for the shoppers he helped.  See for yourself here.

April 19, 2007

I continue to be pleased with the iMemoryBook product.  The ability to build your story through a password protected personalized web site, add pictures and other graphics, write your story and also invite contributions from others is a powerful, easy and affordable way to tell your story.

Family Learn (the company that developed the iMemoryBook) is constantly working to improve the product and I've been testing their new beta site that has some interesting improvements.

I'm happy that one of the people I've worked with recently, Taroub Al-Aref, has received her copies of her iMemoryBook and is pleased with it.  Brave Decisions was a story she felt compelled to tell and she didn't let challenges prevent her from getting it done.  She did most of the writing, but I helped her edit and revise and format the story.  She is from Jordan and her english is decent, but she invited me to help her with it.  I was certainly pulled in by her powerful tale of living (with her husband and childrend) through the difficulties of both Desert Storm and the current conflict in Iraq.

You, too, can tell your story.  It is easier than you might think when you take the proper steps and ask for help.  Taroub's book was relatively short, but is powerful.  If you would like to discover more about the iMemoryBook go here.

April 16, 2007

I hope your weekend went well.  I don't know about you, but I treasure weekends, even though they seem to "fly" right by.  This is due in good part to a full life.  As many of you are aware, I am a personal historian/writer in addition to a full-time radio broadcasting career.  Add in family life, and other pursuits (running, spirituality, etc.) and it can be stressful as well as busy.

However, a lesson that has been reinforced to me over and over is that it is crucial to do what you love and what you feel called to in life.  I have a call to write and I feel a special kinship with those who want to get their story in writing.

One of the ways that I keep "the fire burning" for life story writing (and all kinds of related issues) is by writing about it online.  I do this primarily through this "blog" and through my monthly free e-zine to Your Life is Your Story subscribers.

Last week I was on a teleconference with other personal historians, all members of the great APH non-profit organization, and the subject was blogging and ezine/newsletters.  It was very informative and helpful.

Most people who are blogging take advantage of the many blogging sites that have software and templates that make it easy to do (such as and  For my blog, I really don't utilize the typical approach of these providers.  The drawback is that I don't have a place for you to post comments, trackbacks and the like.  That may change in the future, but if you want to comment you always can by emailing me.  I do like hearing from you.

I want to give "props" to fellow APH members who provided good insight on the teleconference.  The facilitator (organized the call and emceed the event) was Lissa Ann Forbes.  I've met her and we've talked shop in person, on the phone and online.  She has an online newsletter and you can subscribe to Write from the Inside: The Ezine at her website,  She also maintains a blog here.  And she is the author of an excellent book on writing about your life experiences, Write from the Inside: Dig for Treasures, Discover Yourself, Leave a Legacy.

Jayne England Byrne offered her valuable insight.  She started blogging to chronicle her battle with breast cancer and offer others encouragment.  Her site is

Stefani Twyford has a lot of online experience in websites, newsletters and blogging and is starting up a new blog.  Find out more at her site,

April 12, 2007

Can you be funny, sarcastic, depressed and a brilliant writer?  Kurt Vonnegut made a career of it.  Read any of his novels (some of his most famous are Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, Hocus Pocus) and you may discover underneath the caustic wit and bitterness there was the hope that humanity might still someday be kind.

Vonnegut died yesterday at the age of 84 (CBS news story).  Norman Mailer hailed him as "our Mark Twain".  He cared about humanity, but was dissapointed in the history of society and culture.

Many baby boomers read Vonnegut and no doubt, in the wake of his passing, many more will now discover his work.

April 9, 2007

I hope that all of you had a good weekend, and especially for those of you who celebrated Easter yesterday.  I often comment on the importance of special occasions, such as holidays, as great times to be present and cherishing the moments of family.  At holiday gatherings we often get the opportunity to share our life experiences.  Young ones can gather around the elders and hear some family history.

Preserving our stories for the next generations is not the only reason to do so. The very process of writing about your life provides insight and can lead to real personal and spiritual growth.  It has certainly been so with me.

I enjoyed our get together yesterday with my wife's family.  Since my immediate family is in Kansas City and Virginia I am grateful that I can share in my family of in-laws.  One of the special memories of yesterday was the backyard Easter egg hunt for my two young nieces.  After they found all the plastic eggs with candy and coins inside my son then enjoyed repeatedly hiding the eggs for them to find again.  When kids find things they like they enjoy doing it over and over again.   It was a simple act of discovery to re-find the eggs, but it serves as a fitting metaphor for personal history preservation. Once we've completed a life story project it is there to revisit and reminisce over and learn new lessons from.

April 4, 2007

Not everyone who writes their personal story will get it published.  Of course, many dream of writing their story but never follow through.  You have to make a commitment and actually do the writing (or hire someone to do it for you) to get your story in print.

Once the book is done getting it published by a major publishing house is a huge challenge.  I always recommend that people pursue self-publishing routes, of which there are many.  However, if your story is good enough it can be picked up by a major publisher.  It might sit around for a while until the right person reviews it.  But a 96 year old man in England who didn't write his story, The Invisible Wall, until he was 93, has the good fortune of an editor for Random House finding his manuscript a year after he sent it in to the London office.  Kate Elton, the editor, has described it as "unputdownable".

Read more of this story at MSN News (here).

Everybody has a story to tell!
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