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Read about quality family history and life story news, views, methods, products, links, services

                     ...and whatever else catches our fancy

April, 2008

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April 29, 2008

It's not unusual for any of us to be self-centered, at least at times.  The cure is to do something to help others.  As we age we begin to recognize the importance, and the value, of giving back.

May 8th is the eighth annual AARP Day of Service (more here).  You can join with thousands of other people around the country who want to make a difference by volunteering time and effort to help their communities. AARP has created a "50 Ways to Make a Difference" to give you some ideas.

April 26, 2008

"Let's Make History Together" proclaims a banner across the top of the home page of  This is a wonderful site to do research and find original documents online.  A great deal of the focus is on American veterans who've served in various conflicts.  The site helps you access archival material from a variety of sources.

The site is more than a source of documents for your research. As they describe it, " is more than just an online repository for original documents. In addition to hosting millions of records, Footnote supports a community of people that are passionate about a variety of topics relating to history."

I've bookmarked this site and I'll be exploring it some more.  Here is a good example of how the Internet is continuing to help us with valuable resources for our life stories.

April 20, 2008

I've pondered myself the difference betweeen an autobiography and a memoir and I've been asked the question.  The differences are not that apparent at first.  But I came across a blog entry by Susan Eberling at the WOW! Women on Writing Blog discussing the subject and I thought she made some good distinctions.

She wrote, "The purpose of autobiography is to highlight events, people and places. The purpose of memoir is to take an event and make the writer’s feelings and experiences real and relatable to the reader. If a person’s life stands alone and they tell a story about themselves in terms of history, that seems to be an autobiography. If the story is the author’s retelling of their life circumstances, replete with how they felt in the moment and how they felt afterwards, then this would seem to be memoir."

You can read the full entry here.

April 15, 2008

If you have never journaled regularly you might wonder what people find to write about, especially if they are doing it daily.  Well, journaling for me has become a great way to process life, personal development, have an inner dialogue about life and events, and a chronicle of my spiritual journey.

Journaling can be quite valuable as reference material for your memoir or life story writing.  

Lynette Chartier, a self described Life Style Mentor and Entrepreneur, wrote an interesting article about how journal writing can be part of your personal development strategy.  You can read the article here.

April 12, 2008

I don't know about you, but I find that I can frame many of the aspects of my life through music.  When I hear songs that speak about life experiences I can often relate to it in a deeper way.  Maybe it simply helps me process my life experiences with greater insight.

So, throughout my life I've gravitated to those artists who can sing about the various aspects of life we all experience.

There is a current song by Brad Paisley that fits well within the sphere of personal history.  In Letter to Me he reminisces about his youth and shares in the song what he would say to himself if he could send a letter back in time to the days of his youth. Do you remember those times as a teenager when your emotions and hormones were heightened and you had yet to benefit from the perspective of life experiences you'll have down the road?  The opening lines is, "If I could write a letter to me and send it back in time to myself at 17".

The song goes on to speak about the importance of living with love, of not being afraid, hanging in there because things are going to work out in ways we can't imagine at seventeen.  It's a wonderful song and gives me pause to reflect on my life. There's a lot in this song, but I especially like these verses:

You've got so much *up* ahead
You'll make new friends, you should see your kids and wife
And I'd end by saying have no fear
These are nowhere near the best years of your life.

April 7, 2008

If you search bookstores and online you can find lots of resources to help you compile your life story or some family history.  Naturally, I like to think this site qualifies in providing some helpful information.  Since I spend more time on this than many of you I am continually coming into contact with other sites and services.

One of the consistently best and most affordable resources (in my humblie opinion, but echoed by many satisfied customers) is the MemoryGrabber. This downloadable PDF e-book was created by Michael Boyter of Family History Products and has been used in university classrooms, in workshops and by everyday people.  Boyter has just updated his fine product and the 2008 MemoryGrabber has been re-written with fresh and useful content and the ability to even include your answers right into the PDF forms of the e-book if you use the free Foxit PDF reader.

Mental walkthrough exercises, fill in the blank methodology, life timeline construction, a quick-response questionaire (which gets the memory juices flowing right away!) and much more.  The MemoryGrabber is a quality produce and will help you create a "snapshot" of your life.  I like to use it with the clients I help to write their life stories.  And you can't beat the $14.95 price - it really overdelivers!

April 4, 2008

We all have dreams.  Some of us dream of living in harmony with each other. We dream of a world that celebrates equality, justice, dignity, compassion and humility.

Forty years ago on this day in Memphis, Tennessee a sniper's bullet killed a man who had such a dream.  Martin Luther King, Jr. has been celebrated as a man who held high the values of civil rights and human dignity.  Sadly so many dreamers are killed, but their legacies are not so easily cut down.

You can discover more about the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. at the website,

April 1, 2008

Were you a prankster growing up? Maybe you still are?  Today is your day, April Fool's Day.

I'm not big on creating April Fool's jokes, but I enjoy it when I come across a good one.  There have been a number over the years. lists what they consider the Top 100 April Fool's Hoaxes of All Time. Remember the "Swiss Spaghetti Harvest" or Taco Bell buying the Liberty Bell?

When I was a young teen I scared my mom half out of her wits by telling her there was a black widow spider behind her in the kitchen.  She nearly collapsed in a panic.  Turned out she had been on some pain medication which made her jumpy with my little prank.  I didn't know that at the time and instantly regretted giving her such a fright (although her initial reaction was funny).

Anyway, here's to all of you pranksters on your special  day!

Everybody has a story to tell!
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