Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
quality family history and life story news, views, methods, products,
...and whatever else catches
the fancy of
personal historian Tom Gilbert
You are Important and So Is Your Family History
Thursday - Death as Transition
April 30, 2015
It has been two years since my Aunt Liz passed away. She was my mom's
older sister and she lived an amazing life full of travel and
adventure. She was extremely well-read, enjoyed art and culture, and
like many people from Boston, unwilling to talk too much about herself.
As a result, I didn't get the life story from her that I had hoped for.
But she still gave me insight into some family history.
About two years ago on April 29 I was musing about people, particularly
my aunt, dying and wondering
at the analogy some use about dying, that it is
like the passing of a
baton. We are carrying the "baton" of this life
and when we die we pass it off.
on Diversity and Difficulty in Life Stories
April 29, 2015
One of the good reasons for more people to tell and preserve their life
story is how it adds to our understanding of humanity and society. The
history of people starts with each person and spreads to include
families, communities and larger groups (ethnic, religious and cultural
to name a few).
There can be some amazing revelations that can further our
understanding and appreciation of people when we hear the diverse
stories of people lives. We need to know more about those who've dealt
with difficulty. Addictions, abuse, imprisonment, disabilities, mental
illness and poverty are just a few areas where people have often
struggled - and triumphed - in life. Many people with such stories
wonder if they should be telling their story.
In the continuing series of 20
reasons to write your family history (featured on the APH blog) includes a post about this. #8 The need for diverse family histories
by Elisabeth Pozzi-Thanner digs into this subject with rich insight.
Years of YouTube and the Importance of Video Personal History
April 23, 2015
The video site where most people find and watch videos on the Internet
just turned ten years old. YouTube
is a decade old and it is amazing how much it impacts our world now.
Videos going viral gives a lot of people their 15 minutes of fame, from
silly cat videos to amazing celebrity stories; the discovery of
previously unknown talent and the legacies of families and their
A CNET article, YoutTube turns 10: The video site that went viral,
helps us understand how the video channel has evolved. No doubt on
demand video programming will continue to grow and YouTube is poised to
continue as a leader.
One of the ways people preserve their personal history is by recording
video pieces. Some are interviews, others well-crafted and edited
documentaries. You can view some excellent examples on YouTube by searching
Association of Personal Historians.
Watch some samples, discover more about what personal history is and
even see an overview of the popular "Show and Tell" events that many
personal historians are hosting in the month of May.
Fe Runner is Boston Strong
April 20 2015
Two years after the bombings at the Boston Marathon runners
to the streets of Beantown to run another 26.2 miles of the historic
event. Like last year, emotions were also strong as people recalled the
victims and the importance of keeping our cities and streets safe from
I was re-reading my post from two years ago, Bombs
at Boston Marathon - A Runner's Lament, and
recalling my feelings when the news broke. Although I probably will
never run in the Boston Marathon, I have run marathons and I understand
the difficulty of the training and the actual event. I felt a special
bond with those in Boston that fateful day. My writing about this event
has become part of my life story and one way I've connected my life to
the world at large.
This year my state of New Mexico is bursting with pride as the women's
division winner (story KOAT.com),
Caroline Rotich, is a runner from Kenya that has made her home in Santa
Fe for a decade. Winning the Boston Marathon, one of the most
prestigious events for runners, is something she considers a longtime
goal. Now she is "Boston Strong".
Thursday - Gulf Oil Spill Stories On the One Year Anniversary
April 16, 2015
We are coming up on the four year anniversary of one of the greatest
ecological disasters ever, the Gulf Oil Spill in 2010 when one of
British Petroleum's oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico exploded
spilled a horrible amount of oil into the water.
How that affected life on the Gulf Coast continues to be a concern, but
back on April 21, 2011 I posted about the on year anniversary and
coverage/stories I found in a couple of places. The oil spill is no
longer front page news, but I am sure it has not been forgotten for
those on the Gulf Coast. You can read my Throwback Thursday
Memories Fade -
Reason #6 for Your Life Story from APH's Deborah Perham
April 13, 2015
How sharp is your memory? I know that my short term memory seems to be
on the fritz these past few years. Sometimes I can't remember what I
told myself to remember to do ten seconds ago! But long term memory is
more important, especially when it comes to your life story or family
The terrific series of blog posts about 20 good reasons to preserve
your family history continues with a insightful and humorous article by
Deborah Perham. She is a Personal Historian (A Lifetime Legacy)
who was inspired by her grandmothers to discover more about her own
ancestors. She makes some good suggestions when approaching your own
grandparents about "back in the day", such as asking
first jobs, romance, schooldays, innovations and inventions. Read the
full post: 20 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Family History: #6 Memories over time become fragmented and distorted.
Thursday - A Spring Walk
April 9, 2015
It was a blustery New Mexico Spring day in 2003, typical of the kind of
weather we get this time of year, when my then 7 year old son and I
went for a walk. It turned out to be the inspiration for one of the
better life story stories I've written.
On this Throwback
Thursday I invite you to read The Walk here
on the Sample Writing Page.
Perhaps you will relate to times spent with children and the
power of a simple walk.
Phillips Self-Written Obituary A Good Example for Us
April 4, 2015
On a weekend when a lot of the world reflects on death and
resurrection, the story of Emily Phillips' self-written obituary has
people talking. She recently passed on from this life to the next. It
was pancreatic cancer and it took her quick (29 days). It reminded me
mom's similar dying. In her obituary she gives a beautiful
example of why we should seriously consider writing to our loved ones
before we die.
Her self-penned obituary
went viral. In it she shares some memories, ponders her values, tells
her family how much she loves them, gives us some laughs and should
also have you thinking about doing something similar.
Her daughter, Bonnie Upright, told ABC
Good Morning America (story),
"It was one of the most special moments of my life to hear my mother
tell her life story in her words, in her way, in what were incredibly
Some choice excerpts include: "It pains me to admit it, but apparently,
I have passed away,"; "I was born; I blinked; and it was over. No
buildings named after me; no monuments erected in my honor. But I DID
have the chance to know and love each and every friend as well as all
my family members. How much more blessed can a person be?"
Emily Phillips was a long-time elementary teacher (25 years). I really
admire that now that I am in a second-half-of-life-career teaching 5th
graders. But what I particularly love about what she did is how much it
matters to her family and friends, as well as all those who are reading
it and recognizing the value of every life story. Maybe you won't write
a memoir or family history, but you can write a legacy letter (ethical will),
love letter or your own obituary. Do it and you will live forever in
the hearts and minds of others.