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April 2015

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You are Important and So Is Your Family History

Throwback 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.

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Deliberating 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 2
0 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.

Ten 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 personal history.

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.

Santa Fe Runner is Boston Strong

April 20 2015

Two years after the bombings at the Boston Marathon runners took 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 terrorism.

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, 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".

Throwback 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 and 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 post here.

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 history.

The terrific series of blog posts about 20 good reasons to preserve your family history continues with a insightful and humorous article by APH member 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 about their 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.

Throwback 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.

Emily 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 of my 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 difficult circumstances."

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.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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