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August 2011

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Good Night, Irene

August 28, 2011

As I write this the East Coast of the USA has been experiencing the drenching rain and high winds of Hurricane Irene. Gratefully, it was downgraded to a tropical storm when it hit land along the coast, stretching from the Carolinas and moving north through Maryland and Washington D.C. and then visiting the New York area. The storm will still plow up through New England the northeast coast of Canada.

Not to minimize the effects, but this storm could have been worse. Those who recall Katrina a few years ago hitting the Gulf Coast know what I mean. Storms come and go – it’s a fact of life. Some are natural, others political (the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is days away). There are also storms in our relationships and our personal life. It’s something to consider. I'm writing about this for the August newsletter going out today. If you want to receive this free monthly email you can subscribe here.

Memories Stirred By Song

August 26, 2011

Those who know me know about my past history (over 30 years) of working in radio broadcasting. I was a DJ, music director, promotions director and program director at various times in various cities. I got into radio through my contact with the college radio station, KGOU, when I was attending Oklahoma University in 1976. I hadn't intended to become a broadcaster...but once I got a test of "on air" I was hooked. And I've always loved music.

I bring this up because I love how songs can help us remember certain times in our lives. Some songs are actually great about the subject of our life experiences. Fellow blogger and personal historian Dan Curtis posted about these songs and various members of APH who offered up some of their favorite songs about life recall. I was happy to see that a few that I mention in my article from 2004, Striking a Chord For Memory, were on the list. They are Green Day's Time of Your Life, The Beatles In My Life and Alan Jackson's Remember When.

I'm sure there are others. I'm going to dig into my collection to see what else I unearth.

Good Taste and Creative Drive

August 20, 2011

So you have great taste. Everybody tells you so. You know when something is of artistic quality. Even when people say art is in the eye of the beholder (and it is) you are pretty good at beholding the stuff that is decent, the stuff that is "wow" and also what is, frankly, crap.

If the above describes you and you are also driven to create then you are probably hard on yourself. That's alright. Having high standards is a good thing. Far too many  people settle for mediocrity. But when you are creating stories - be it video, audio or writing - a lot of what you put out, before revision, can be less than the high standards you are holding others to. Ira Glass of This American Life understands this and articulates it well in this vimeo bit from a video he recorded on Storytelling.

Story of Yaz Video

August 16, 2011

Carl Yastrzemski was my hero growing up. I, like many other kids, loved baseball (still do). As a lefty and an outfielder I would often look to the Hall of Famer Boston Red Sox left fielder for inspiration. Yaz would hold his bat high and had an intimidating presence at the plate. In 1967, the impossible dream season, he won the Triple Crown (tops in the American League in batting average, Home Runs and Runs Batted In). That's very rare and no one else has accomplished it since that historic season.

I discoverd on the Red Sox site of a short video intro to a life story presentation about Yastrzemski. Naturally, that captured my attention (link here). The rest of the story is being presented today and tomorrow as part of a special Red Sox Report feature on the NESN (New England Sports Network). The Legend of Yaz is bound to be a fascinating bio - I hope they post it on the website, too!

In the Final Hour

August 14, 2011

Waiting until you are on your death bed to "tell your story" is risky business. I'm not denying that it can be the most powerful and cathartic experience - both for those listening and for the one telling. But it's risky. You are gambling with fate. You may or may not get the opportunity.

I do believe that as a person's life nears the end it is important to be surrounded by loved ones and to let go of the burdens and cares of this earthly life while at the same time gently offering up your pearls of life wisdom. Anyone who puts in their time on this planet has something to share.

Perhaps we need a combination. We need to reminisce. We need to record our thoughts, feelings and experiences. We need to pass it on. This can be done by putting together a life story. And then, in the final hour, you can also offer up your essence. Release to us your joys, your sorrows, the burdens and the triumphs of your life. At bedside, you may be fortunate enough to have family and friends with whom you can share this sacred time.

Brienne Walsh, author of A Brie Grows in Brooklyn, recalls her grandmother doing just this. In Her Last Hour of Life, My Grandmother Told Her Story is a beautifully recollected short essay wherein Brie Walsh vividly describes her grandmother's dying and how she shared this intimate time with her.

Pilgrims on the Journey

August 6, 2011

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie DillardI've finally started reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. It's been on my "some day I will read this book" list for some time. Do you have one of those lists? Anyway, I'm glad I'm reading it. I am not that far into it, 40 pages or so, and it is a beautiful memoir. Dillard writes with such insight, clarity and poetic beauty. The book starts with stunning language. Achingly beautiful. Published in 1974, the year I graduated High School, it won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1975. Of course it did. So far the book is magnificent!

Reading such fine memoir might discourage some of you writers hoping to pen your story with the right words and meaning. I say don't worry about that. Let it have the opposite effect. Drink in her sentences. Indulge your senses with her imagery. Get inspired.

Writing a life story or memoir does take some time...and preparation. But if you spend too much time analyzing you miss the opportunity to let inspired creative moments flow out of you. I suggest you consider the heart of your story, then start writing. It doesn't have to get done in a day (it won't!) and it doesn't have to be put off until "some day". Some day never comes, as John Fogerty sang in an old Creedence song.

The inspiration for your story is all around you. Including in the pages of marvelous memoirs like the one I'm reading by Annie Dillard. So excuse me while I go read some more.

Remember in Albuquerque When...

August 3, 2011

A longtime friend of mine (we worked in radio what seems like a hundred years ago) turned me on to a new group created on Facebook. The Remember in Albuquerque has exploded in members and popularity. This demonstrates once again the power of social networking in today's wired world.

A lot of the postings are mundane, but there is certainly some memory stirring taking place. I'm thinking this could be applied to other cities and towns (maybe it already has!). Are you using social networks to help mine memories?

BTW, I do post Your Life Is Your Story info to FB. You can visit here. I certainly welcome you to "like" my page.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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