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December, 2008

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December 31, 2008

So, here were are, at the end of 2008 and on the cusp of 2009.  

We all have dreams, goals and plans.  That is good.  But do remember that life is lived one day at a time.

What we learn from our past helps us to prepare for where we are going.  But don't over-prepare.  Suit up and show up for life, but be prepared to be surprised.

I want to express gratitude (one of our finest spiritual principles) for all of you who have visited this site, read some things, sent emails, talked to me on the phone or pondered your life story.  We will continue our grand adventure into the New Year.  Be of good cheer, hopeful and joyful.  Discover the value of your story.  Share your story - and your life - with others.  In the BIG picture, we really are all in this together.

December 30, 2008

I've been reading over both my personal journal and the blog entries here for the past year.  The value of journaling shouldn't be underestimated.  "Nothing listens like paper" (or whatever you are writing on).

If you aren't familiar with the DavidRM Journal Software you should check it out.  It's designed for your computer and is very flexible, useful and with numerous applications to help you record your ideas, goals, insights, values and much more.  I profile The Journal here.

December 29, 2008

As we wind down yet another year - and get in that reflective mode - it's important to think about the stuff we wish we'd done, but haven't gotten around to yet.

Yes, yes, there is the memoir, autobiography, personal history or story of your life.  But I don't intend to guilt-trip you on something that can often take years.

I do hope that all of us consider what kind of mark we are making with our life. What are we hoping to pass on?  Have you given thought to your values and life lessons?  These can be recorded in a valuable written manner that doesn't require fancy binding and printing.  You don't have to hire a ghost-writer.  It doesn't hurt, however, to get some sage advice and direction (and maybe hire someone to help you craft it).

I'm referring to your Ethical  Will.  Your Legacy Letter.  Every year I see the growing interest in this, but I still reckon the majority of the population hasn't written one.  

Barry Baines seems to be the acknowledged expert in the area of ethical wills. His site (www.ethicalwill.com) is worth visiting.

I also wrote an article a few years ago about the importance of having an ethical will (you can read it here). Furthermore, the NY Times article from March of this year (
Breaking the Silence) has an article about the values of wealth and passing it on to family members.  This is where an ethical will can be crucial.  

And if you saw the movie, The Ultimate Gift, you viewed much the same message.  By the way, a terrific film to view over the holidays.

December 26, 2008

Did you have a good Christmas?  I hope it was filled with family and loved ones and the sharing of gifts and story.

The Christmas Season is one of joy.  One of the most joyful things you can do is to follow your bliss and do the kind of work that fulfills you.  This is how I feel about Life Story writing and it is challenging and meaningful whenever I take on a project.

You have talents you are passionate about and now can be the time to pursue it using the vast resources and reach of the Internet.  The Site Build It approach to an online presence is more than a web site - it is a real online business built on content, traffic, pre-selling and monetization, and it works. It's been proven time and again by those willing to try it.  It takes effort and perseverance and following directions.  Can you do that?  If you can it will work for you.

The annual buy one and get one free SBI sale should have ended on Christmas Day.  Fortunately, Sitesell has extended it through January 5th so you still have time to make the decision.  Let me show you how with some straight talk, examples and a short video - here.

December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve is here.  Pay attention to the twinkles in the eyes of children. Breathe in the winter chill.  Smile at a stranger.  Hug your family.

Make some memories.  And remember those from Christmas Past.

December 22, 2008

Just a few days ago I was honored to be present at a friend's retirement ceremony.  Richard is a doctor and served 27 years in the Air Force, retiring at the rank of full Colonel.  It was special to be among the family, colleagues and friends at this event.  Rich reminisced about what his career meant to him and his family.  Of course, those who worked with him shared their kudos and fond memories.

It's rare these days for someone to be in an occupation for such a long time. But it still happens and preserving an event like this in the form of a tribute book is a great idea. It gives people an opportunity to share memories, give congratulatory messages, include pictures and whatever else would be appropriate.  Naturally, it takes some planning to have the tributie book done in time for a retirement, but wouldn't it be a wonderful gift?

December 18, 2008

Since we have an insatiable appetite to know more about actors you will probably enjoy The Archive of American Television Interviews.  It's pretty extensive and the excerpts video on the main page has tidbits from Henry Winkler, Rob Reiner, Betty White, Andy Griffith, Ted Koppel and others.

From their "About the Interviews" page:
The Archive produces extensive video oral history interviews with television legends of all professions and makes them available online.

To date, the Archive has completed over 2000 hours of videotaped conversations with over 570 Actors, Producers, Writers, Newscasters, Executives, Directors, Craftspersons, and more.

Visit the site - www.emmytvlegends.blogspot.com

December 17, 2008

A corporate journalist received an assignment that changed his life.  Read about Dennis McCloskey's fortuitous encounter with the courageous Valen Cover, a woman with an amazing upbeat attitude in the midst of incredible pain and suffering (polycystic kidney disease, scoliosis, renal failure and brutal motorcycle accident).

McCloskey's life was forever changed by meeting Ms. Cover, and the resulting book he wrote about her, My Favorite American, is affecting readers at a deep "heart" level.

December 15, 2008

As a boy in Montana he and his friends amused themselves by pushing dandelions up their noses.  Years later, hoping to fight in the Pacific during World War Two, a doctor declared him unfit for duty because of hay fever.  He wondered if the dandelions had anything to do with it.

Eventually Tedd Thomey did get into the fighting and was one of the Marines who fought on Iwo Jima.  He was shot in the heel and ended up back on the ship while the fighting raged, all the while wishing he could be with his comrades.

After the war he was a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and a colleague of Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal, the man who (along with motion picture man Bill Genaust) snapped the famous picture of Marines raising the American flag on top of Iwo Jima.  Many years later allegations were raised that the photo was "staged". It was an insult to Thomey and he documented the real story of the flag-raising and its photographers in the book "Immortal Images".

Tedd Thomey died on December 1.  His friend, Tom Hennessy, discovered he was to write Thomey's obituary a few days letter when the family found a letter never mailed asking him to do it.  Great read about all this from Hennessey online at the Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA).

December 14, 2008

I came across a story that truly soars.  It's about a WWII pilot, Jim Bowers, who flew the P-51 Mustang in Europe.  I found it particularly inspiring, not because of his war experiences, but what the restoring of his fighter meant to him and to his family who learned so much more about him because of it.

I encourage you to check out the short video trailer of this story at GrayEagles.org.

December 10, 2008

Today marks two significant anniversaries.

First, it is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (an initiative of the United States and the United Nations).  I, for one, believe that all humans have inherent dignity and it is our responsibility as citizens of our planet to promote and protect that. Of course, we know we still have a long way to go.  | story here |  You might also want to check out Every Human Has Rights.

This day also marks the 40th anniversary of the death of perhaps the greatest spiritual writer of the 20th century, Thomas Merton.  If you've read any Merton you probably recognize a certain syncronicity at work with these two anniversaries.

Because every life is precious it follows that every story is also precious. Amen to that.

December 9, 2008

If you want to capture people's stories by interviewing them you probably are interested in what kind of portable digital audio recorder you should invest in. 

That's a big topic.  There's quite a lot to choose from.  Much of the decision depends on 1) how much interviewing and recording you are doing and 2) what you can afford to spend.

If you are just doing it for your friends and family (and probably not as a business) you can get away with using one of the less expensive models.  An example is the Olympus VN-4100PC Digital Voice Recorder.  You can find it for less than $50.

If you are recording for an organization or need to preserve the oral histories and quality standards are important then you will be looking at more advanced models.  Some of the standard professional brands are Marantz, Zoom, Edirol, Fostex and Sony.  And, yes, Olympus has some higher end models, too.

The good news is that digital audio recording advances continue to be impressive, and like computers, they seem to be getting better and better without big increases in price.  

You'll want to consider how much recording time your device can handle, the microphones (built in as well as input options), what format the files are preserved in, how they transfer to a computer, the size of the device...and these are just a few considerations.  Don't let it overwhelm you.  With the Internet it is relatively easy to research, shop and compare.

Here are some helpful sites to give you more information, compare brands, equipment and price:




Of course once you upload your recordings to a computer you will need to transcribe, and maybe even edit, your oral histories.  Once again, there are many software options.  I find that the free Audacity works great - you can get it here.

December 8, 2008

It's Monday, so I'll give you a pep talk about writing your life story.  

It's not easy to embark on the "long voyage through your past", but it can be so worth it on many levels.  Yes, it requires work...and persistence.  It's not going to be done in a day, a week or even a month.  These things take time.

But the rewards of life story writing can be tremendous.  You get to re-experience the most important times of your life.  Consider your values. Laugh at your follies and take pride in your achievments.  And you'll be a better person for it.  Your friends and family will appreciate you more.

This is true for anyone, regardless of how ordinary or boring you might think your life has been.  Your life is unique.  There is only one "you".  All that you've experienced has been filtered through your unique perspective.

And one of the greatest benefits from writing your story is how you can become something more than you were before you wrote it.  The perspective you'll gain on your life...and life in general...is invaluable.

I was pumped up about all this yesterday when I read an excerpt from Patrika Vaughn's How To Write Your Own Life Story, posted at Selling Books.  It validated much of what I believe about the importance of everyone's story.

December 4, 2008

At this time of year, as we get closer to Christmas, we often hear the phrase "peace on earth and goodwill towards men" tossed about.  It's a wonderful expression - and what a wonderful world it would be if everyone lived it.

Well, you can't make a dream like that come true without trying.  Towards that end Good Radio Shows, Inc. has been producing a radio program for a few years. Peace Talks Radio is a diverse, non-partison and listener supported series about peacemaking and nonviolent conflict resolution.  The people featured on each program are inspiring and doing something to make this world a better place.  Some are well known, some toil in relative obscurity.  The important thing is they are doing something to make lives and our communities - our world - a better place.

You might hear the show on public radio stations near you.  Recent programs have been on JFK's turn towards peace, Peacemaking Elders, promoting compassion to animals, making peace with money, and the connection between climate change and peace.

You can always listen online.  They are a non-profit entity and depend on donations to continue their programming.  Paul Ingles is a fine person and broadcaster and we've crossed paths over the years.  He reluctantly sent out an email today asking for donations.  You can tell he's uncomfortable asking for money in today's economy.  But what he and the rest involved in Peace Talks Radio are doing is important work. He knows it.  Now you can discover it too.  

So I encourage you to investigate it.  And if you can make a donation - any amount - it will be towards a good cause.  (By the way, I am not affiliated in any way with Good Radio Shows and Peace Talks Radio and so there is nothing in this for me.  I'm just an advocate of what they do.)

December 3, 2008

When you think of the American Civil Rights movement the most prominent figure is Martin Luther King, Jr. He was an incredible voice for the dignity and freedom of all, especially the oppressed.

But another great voice for civil rights was a musical one. Odetta sang folk and blues with a deep voice that inspired many and her songs became a soundtrack for the Civil Rights movement. Bob Dylan cited her as a major influence and Rosa Parks reply to which songs meant the most to her replied, "All the songs Odetta sings."

In an interview last year Odetta revealed how work and blues songs from the deep south influenced her growing up in the shawdow of the Great Depression.

Odetta recorded many albums and performed at prestigious concert halls. She might best be remembered for singing "O Freedom" at the 1963 civil rights march on Washington D.C.

Her voice should now be accompanying angels; Odetta has died at age 77. (Reuters story here).

December 1, 2008

Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps, was interviewed by Michael Krasny on KQED public radio about the National Day of Listening.  During the program you get to hear some of the incredible stories that ahve been captured by the StoryCorps project. You can listen to it online at the radio station's website here.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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