Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
quality family history and life story news, views, methods, products,
...and whatever else catches our fancy
What a beautiful day here in Albuquerque! Weather is around 75-80,
sunny, with bright blues sky and a gentle breeze. It's a real post card
kind of day.
I have family in town, here for my daughter's wedding on Saturday. As
you can imagine, it is a time full of visiting and enjoying the special
time. My wife and I keep shaking our head and wondering how quickly our
little girl grew up! It's good to see my family from out of town, along
with the family that lives here.
I hope you treasure family gatherings and special occasions. Keep in
mind that starting tomorrow Personal History Awareness Month begins. The month of
May is a great time to begin a personal history project and I've got
several options for you to consider, including for the terrific
LifeStory Capture service from Priceless Legacy Company.
I'm going to take the rest of the day to enjoy family, but feel free to
browse around the site for articles and ideas on how to preserve your
The National Trust for
Historic Preservation has released its annual list of America's 11 most endangered
historic places. This year it includes the historic Century
Plaza hotel in Los Angeles, the Miami Marine Stadium in Florida, and a
hanger in Wendover, Utah that housed the Enola Gray (the plane that
dropped the Manhattan Project's atom bomb on Japan in World War Two).
One of the more interesting endangered historic places is a mountain in
New Mexico, not far from where I live. Mount Taylor is near
Grants, a beautiful and sacred place to the Native Acoma people. They
consider the mountain their "history book". The mountain, nearly 12,000
feet at its peak and named for President Zachary Taylor, is one of the
richest sites for uranium so mining threatens this natural spot of beauty and sacredness
to the mix of cultures here in the Land of Enchantment.
Historic places and landmarks are important to our stories and worthy
of consideration when it comes to preserving and sustaining our
heritage, as noted by this New York Times article.
Erika Schickel wrote an op-ed piece for the LA Times (here) and made
some interesting observations about her memoir writing and the
sometimes fortunate, sometimes not so much, reconnecting with friends
from High School. See, there is the story she remembers and is writing
- and then there's the version her frriends recall. As she puts it,
there is a need to have some mystery. But there is also the
benefit of catching up with our past friends and aquaintances via
technology, such as Facebook, to help us fill in the
gaps of our
memory. I think she hits on some pertinent points.
What are you most in danger of losing when your parents are gone or
your generation is gone?
What important wisdom, knowledge or eperience will your generation
leave as its legacy?
How do you want to be remembered?
What is your bigges hope for your children or grandchildren?
The above are questions used on a flyer for the LifeStory Package
offered by Priceless Legacy.
And they are important and timely questions. It is easy to
procrastinate a life story project. I understand that there are daily
pressing needs. But if the stories are lost, what a shame. Isn't it time you took steps to begin? As
a Legacy Consultant for Priceless Legacy Company I can get you started.
Her singing dream came true.
By now you have probably heard the remarkable story of Susan
This 47-year old Scottish woman wowed judges and the public with her
singing appearance on the "Britain's Got Talent" TV show. It
has always been her dream to sing and her rendition of "I Dreamed a
Dream" from "Les Miserables" was appropriate - because she is
accomplishing her dream.
The thing that is so great about her story is she doesn't fit the
picture of beauty, talent and fame that we've been fed, and hence, come
to expect. But it does echo my strong belief that everyone has a story.
Dream big. Tell your story. Don't let life hold you back. And don't let
others stop you from living your dream, regardless of their
misconceptions of your talents and abilities.
See Susan Boyle's performance on YouTube.
was the historic "golden door" for millions of
hopeful immigrants who came to America to find opportunity and freedom.
April 17 was officially
designated in 2003 as “Ellis Island
Family History Day.” The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island
Foundation, Inc. and the National Genealogical Society
recognize the achievements and contributions made to America by Ellis
Island immigrants and their descendants.
April 17, 1907 is noteworthy as the day when more immigrants were
processed through Ellis Island than on any other, some 11,747 people.
Did you know that over 100 million Americans (that's more than 40% of
the U.S. population today) can trace their roots back to the 17 million
immigrants who came to the United States through the entryway of Ellis
BY the way, the history of immigrants and social justice is the theme
of the upcoming International Day of Sharing Life
A New York Times article, Ex-Soldiers,
Putting War on Paper, points out how therapeutic
it can be for some GI's to preserve their experiences in writing.
Many veterans can be reticent about sharing their wartime experiences,
and we should be sensitive to this. However, a compassionate and
understanding ear can help coax these stories out. Some of this
personal history is being preserved through efforts like the Veterans
An ex-soldier's tale can be an insightful memoir, along the lines of Your Life Changing Event.
Sports are typically a
world unto their own. But there are
events in the history of sports that transcend the game. Jackie Robinson broke the "color barrier" 62 years ago today and became
the first African-American to play Major League Baseball in the 20th
century. This was certainly one of those signature events.
Branch Rickey, a vice president with the Brooklyn Dodgers, gave
Robinson the opportunity to play "big league ball". He and Jackie both
knew they would face obstacles and racial prejudice. Rickey got
Robinson to agree not to fight back when confronted with racism and he
was tested from the very start. But he bravely faced these challenges
and also had a stellar career. In 1949 he batted .342 and led the
league in stolen bases, earning the National League Most Valuable
Player Award. Robinson continued after his playing days to champion
civil rights and social activism. There's a fine biography of Jackie
Robinson at www.biography.com.
Major League Baseball is honoring
anniversary at every ballpark. Everyone is wearing the number
honor of Jackie Robinson. The Jackie Robinson Foundation scholarship
program (founded by his wife after his death), funded in part by MLB,
helps support the education and mentoring of minority youth.
Robinson's credo is a fine legacy: "A life is not important, except for
the impact it has on other lives."
Nostalgia is big - especially the older we get! No surprise there.
However, there are certain past times that seem to retain a hipness
factor, even with younger generations. I think the 1960's is such a
time period. Perhaps no decade in the past one hundred years or more
had a greater impact on culture and lifestyle. It 's amazing to
consider the vast changes from 1960 to 1969.
Here's a fun trip down memory lane focusing - Take Me Back to the Sixties.
One of the things I find myself doing online is checking out what other
personal historians are up to and posting about. While my ego wants to
tell me my posts are always intriguing, informative and important (read
into that statement some levity, please), quite often what I'm
commenting on is sparked by what I've seen elsewhere.
Case in point is Larry Lehmer and his Passing
It On blog. He recently commented on social
media as a "tool" for family history. Yes, mostly with the younger
crowd, but even 50-somethings like me are recognizing the part such
online means can play, even if I don't always know how it works.
Larry also posted about photos of family dressed
up for occasions like
Easter. What was going on? Does the dress match the personalities of
the people in the picture? As a kid I didn't like putting on a tie and
sportcoat...still don't much, for that matter (I prefer t-shirt and
jeans). And that feeling has carried over to my 15-year old son. Still,
formal occasions have stories behind the photos. Try writing what was
going on then. Did the button-down collar agravate your neck? Was mom
pestering you about your hair? Did you shine your shoes?
The Age of Memoirs?
I always say everyone has a story. And the remarkable growth of people
writing memoirs reinforces this. How you go about doing it - by
yourself, with a hired writer, using resources or workshops - can make
a big difference in getting it finished.
I came across another helpful article - How to Write a Memoir in 5
Simple Steps. The author encourages using bullet points
developing a memory list) and then grouping those points into "baskets"
(I'd call them themes). Give yourself benchmarks in your project
(deadlines to keep the project moving forward and a way to track your
But then he adds the ingenious 4th and 5th steps: "Beat your
head against a brick wall" and "abandon ship". No, he's not encouraging
giving up in disgust. It's a psychological ploy to keep you from
getting too frustrated. Sometimes you need to vent...and then return to
the writing with a fresh perspective. It's a bit like imagining the
worst that could happen and then you realize that probably won't and
you can get "over" whatever bothers you at that time. Remember,
writing can be hard work...but it can be tougher to start or keep at
it. So at least start!
Read the article online at uncabaret.com
A Real Baseball Mom
Anybody familiar with Keith Olbermann knows his reporting/commentary
can be scathing and rich in sarcasm. Hie is currently host of the
but he came up the media ranks as a sportscaster and commentator. He
was certainly fun on ESPN (although he offended many) and added to the
colorful cast of characters
as the sports network was honing its personality.
Recently Keith's mother died. Perhaps you didn't know it, but she was
really the motivation behind his interest in sports which led to his
broadcasting career. Mrs. Olbermann was one of the biggest baseball
fans anywhere, as you can see from the humorous, insightful and
touching tribute from her son - here.
The 40th anniversary of the Woodstock concert event takes place this
year in August. In many ways it was the epitomy of the 60's, the
"Summer of Love" that I hope continues in some fashion outside of time
But don't be surprised if you see lots of marketing surrounding the
event. That won't be all bad, but it surely might be ironic.
A New York Times article takes a look at this - 40
It’s Woodstock ‘The Brand’.
mentions how Michael Lang, one of Woodstock’s co-creators,
memoir coming out and he has made assorted marketing deals for the
Woodstock logo and gear. He is even hoping to put together a free,
greenish concert extravaganza, perhaps in Brooklyn or Queens, near the
anniversary of the event.
Then there is the new media globalization of the once, tiny and
free-formish radio station in Woodstock, NY - WDST. The owners are
taking it cyber with the Woodstock Broadcasting Network (see and hear
Radio Woodstock online). Their plans include music Web sites and a
Woodstock social network.
I wasn't at Woodstock; I was just becoming culturally and musically
aware about 1969. The impact of the event, the movie, and of course,
the music, on my life runs deep. I'm not "hippy dippy", but as Elvis
Costello once sang, "What's so funny about peace, love and
Having spent over 30 years in the radio business I know a fair amount
rock music and I was familiar with the unusual number of musicians who
died at the age of 27. Some by drugs or alcohol excess, but others by
accident or suicide.
Today was the 15th anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain. The member
of Nirvana took his own life in 1994. Other prominent rock stars to die
at the age include Brian Jones (Rolling Stones), Janis Joplin, Jim
Morrison (The Doors) and Jimi Hendrix, as well as early bluesman Robert
NPR had an All
Things Considered segment about this subject.
They interviewed Eric Segalstad, author of The 27s: The Greatest Myth of
Rock & Roll. It really is a bit strange.
Do you fall into the Baby Boomer category? I was born in 1955, so,
yeah, I qualify. Supposedly 10,000 Boomers are turning 60 everyday, but
this is a generation that for the most part doesn't consider themselves
old. I know I'm frequently surprised by the reflection in the mirror
and how it doesn't jibe with my "inner picture".
Some of our "forever young" attitude certainly comes from advancement
in health/medical care. We are living longer and staying active. We
also grew up in a time of some interesting cultural changes. And
marketing tells us getting older is bad. That's a false message, by the
way. Aging is part of life and elders need to be viewed in a more
positive light. But, yes, we Boomers also want to keep a youthful
attitude, if not appearance.
For more on this see MacM's blog entry, Most
Baby Boomers Don't Think They are Old at
April Fool's Day has come and gone...I managed to make it through
without getting caught up in any pranks. However, I saw a movie whose
premise sounds like an April Fool's joke. A child is born with the
appearance of a tiny old and wrinkled man. As he grows he ages in
reverse, so he seems like an elderly man when he's really just a kid
and the "older" he gets the "younger" he appears. Eventually he turns
back into a young boy and even an infant before he dies.
You probably recognize that I'm referring to the Oscar winning film The Curious
Case of Benjamin Button, based on the short
story by F.
Scott Fitzgerald. The movie was wonderfully made with fine acting
performances (in particular Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt). The story
really made me contemplate how life progresses and what our
experiences, relatives, friendships and loves mean to us. I couldn't
help watching the movie with an awareness of life story capture and the
importance of preserving our personal history.