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August, 2008

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August 31, 2008

Today was the 10th annual New Mexico Marathon.  I ran the marathon last year, all 26.2 grueling miles, on a sunny and hot day in Albuquerque.  It was hard, intense and ultimately gratifying.

This year I opted for the half-marathon (the event features a full, half and a 5k) and I trained well with a group of people this summer.  The morning was cloudy and rain had fallen overnight.  It was cooler and good running weather. I was able to post my personal best time of 2 hours 9 minutes in my now third official half-marathon.  I know that's not a remarkable time, but for me it's an accomplishment.

There is also something special and spiritual about running long distances.  I know this truth during the races with all the other people, the camraderie and the excitement.  But it is just as true on those long and lonely training runs.

We are all capable of doing things that push our limits.  Three years ago I didn't really have plans to start running half and full marathons.  But life's circumstances introduce us to such opportunities, as I wrote about previously in the article, The Finish Line.

August 29, 2008

When you are working on your own story how do you gauge the accuracy of your memory?  That's something David Carr, media columnist for the New York Times, struggled with when writing his own memoir Night of the Gun.  Much of the book examines the period of his life when he was heavily into a cocaine addiction, and frankly he didn't trust his own memories.

His solution was to approach his life story by researching it like an investigative journalist.  He interviewed people from his past and revisited some of the places from that dark period; the use of a video camera and digital recorder came in handy.  See the entertainment section's article, Former abuser looks at period of wreckage.

Melinda Copp makes some valuable suggestions on how to go about researching your life story, including reviewing journals, photo albums, newspaper archives and interviewing family and friends in her Researching Your Memoir - How to Mine the Material of Your Life online here at The Cockleburr Times.

August 26, 2008

Family Legacy Productions, a company specializing in video biographies (and one of our recommended resources) is expanding their operations.  They will continue to maintain an office in Chicago, but on September 1 Arielle Nobile and her husband Nico are moving to Boulder, Colorado and setting up an office there.  That is a beautiful part of the country (just north of my location in Albuquerque, New Mexico).

You can find out more about Family Legacy Productions at their website.

August 22, 2008

I discovered another great example of perseverance in writing one's life story. Maurice Nadler penned his story, Dream the Dreams:My Life: The First 93 Years after encouragement from one of his sons.  Nadler lives an interesting life and he "re-lived" his memories by going to sleep each night with the specific purpose of recalling his past events and dreaming about them.

The result was his book, which he wrote himself and typed with one finger - the only usable one because of a stroke he suffered earlier in life.  Read the story online at and I bet you'll get inspired about your own project.

August 20, 2008

When I walked outside this afternoon I was hit by the classic smell of roasting chile.  Late August in New Mexico and you can count on this smell.  The chile crop comes north from Hatch, NM and the roasting smell is strong and evokes powerful memories.  For anyone familiar with the smell - and the great taste - of New Mexico cuisine that includes either red or green chile, you know what I mean.  I love it!

August 19, 2008

I always state that "everyone has a story to tell".  I believe in the value of story - and your life is your story.

However, there must be some caution in pursuing your life story.  What gets written and eventually printed for others to read needs to have shape, be interesting and convey the important aspects of one's life.  This is why it is advisable to get the help of a professional.  Personal historians who make it their business to write people's life stories have spent lots of time writing. They have honed their craft. And they have the often needed emotional distance from your story.

You might be a great writer for your memoir.  Then again, maybe you need assistance.  And if your intentions are publication for market, you need to read some direct, even harsh, commentary from professionals.  For instance, what Jane Friedman has on her blog - There Are No Rules.  Her August 17 posting reveals her concerns about memoir writers who think there story should be published.  Check your ego at the door and see what she says - here.

August 15, 2008

I've written numerous times about the value of journaling, especially for sorting through our thoughts, life events, memories and how we perceive the important things in our life.  You can see some journal writing ideas and resources I've discovered, as well as the article I wrote, The Journey of Journaling for some tips and insight.

August 11, 2008

I've been training for another endurance run.  This time I will do "just" a half marathon.  The race is the New Mexico Marathon, celebrating its tenth year.  I ran the full marathon last year, but have decided I prefer the half this time. It's a pretty flat and fast course, especially the last 13.1 miles which they use for the half-marathon. We run along the bosque by the Rio Grande River and then into Old Town Albuquerque.

I'm a bit sore after our long Sunday run, a mere ten miles but with one of those 2 mile uphill runs stuck near the end of the route that our training leader likes to toss in for stamina building.  It works, even though running uphill after 7 or 8 miles is a challenge.

I don't run to break any records or to be particularly fast.  It's more of a fitness thing and to stimulate my thought processes. So I was interested to stumble upon an article about Haruki Murakami, a Japanese novelist who has recently published a memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. He's been running over 25 years, but he didn't really start until he was 33 and wanted to quit smoking and get serious about his writing.  Check out the article posted at the (The Observer).

August 8, 2008

At 8:08PM in Beijing, China on 08-08-08 the Summer Olympic Opening Ceremonies took place.  It's always a gala event and a global gathering to begin the games to celebrate athletic excellence - and hopefully a message of world unity.

Apparently the number 8 is meaningful as a lucky number in China.  No doubt this is why they picked the day and time to start the Olympics this year in Beijing.  There's an interesting article about it on - Chinese counting on lucky number 8.

Do you have any special Olympic moment memories?  I think many of us do.  I remember some of the track and field events from Mexico City, 1968.  I was a teenager then and it's the first Olympics that I remember watching on television.  Of course there have been the ones in the United States.  It will be interesting to follow this year's games as China attempts to showcase their country to the rest of the world.  The official site is

August 4, 2008

A giant of the literary world as passed away. His life and his writings are mythic, and yet he was probably not as well known or appreciated as he should have been.

He won the Nobel prize for Literature in 1970 and in his acceptance he quoted a Russian proverb: "One word of truth shall outweigh the whole world."

He reportedly read "War and Peace" at the age of ten.  As a young man he was a staunch Marxist, but after World War II he was sentenced to eight years in labor camps without a trial for criticism of Stalin's policies in a letter to a friend.  His life and his views changed radically as a result of longtime exile. Later he left his native country and moved to America, but he was something of a recluse.  Still, he was a best-selling writer and sold over 30 million books.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn has died at the age of 89.  The has a story worth reading (here).

Everybody has a story to tell!
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