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December, 2009

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December 31, 2009

Happy End Year - Looking Back and Moving Forward

I just finished a nice, brisk 4.5 mile run with my 16-year old son. It was good to run with him. Distance running played a big part in this past year, as I did another half-marathon and helped out the good cause of Team in Training.

As I reflect on 2009 there was also my daughter's wedding, family visiting, shifting jobs and economic uncertainty and new life story projects to be involved in. Nobody can say it was boring!

I am on a path of a new career as a teacher and I'm working towards getting the certification. I also started substitute teaching a few months ago. I really enjoy this "new calling". And I fully intend to keep on with life story preservation. We need to pass on our stories and our history!

At the end of each year I like to reflect, look back and then consider where I am heading. I don't really make New Year's resolutions. Rather, I have life value mission statements and I try to update and re-focus on them. I will spend some of today reviewing those value statements. And I will journal and review past entries. I'm a big advocate in regular journal writing. In the words of Elvis Costello that can apply to life story and life reflection, "I'm giving you a longer look, everyday I write the book".

Here's to a Happy End Year of 2009. And I invite you to live each day fully in the present as we turn the calendar on a year and a decade.

December 29, 2009

What Are You Packing?

I admit it. I'm something of a packrat. Drives my wife crazy. But there are certain things I want to preserve, others that I'm thinking I'll need someday (so I'm afraid to throw away)...and yes, probably some stuff that I just like to pile up. Maybe I'm drawing some comfort from them.

I know it is important to stay organized and uncluttered. Maybe I missed that "gene". Nevertheless, going through stuff when you are unhurried and in a reflective mood can be a treasure worth mining. Try doing it sometime with a notepad handy so you can immediately jot down some of the ideas and memories that surface. Then go do some writing!

This journal entry was prompted by personal historian Larry Lehmer's post. See it here.

December 28, 2009

Movie AvatarMy family and I went to see the movie Avatar. It is a grand cinematic experience. Writer and director James Cameron has created a stunning visual film that includes the latest in animation and special effects. But is also a story that encompasses big themes like dealing with racial and species differences, the drive for power and wealth, community, the interconnectedness of all life and the need to honor and preserve our past for the future.

It is this final point I mention that has the most significance for those interested in personal history preservation. We all have a story, but the incredible thing about our stories is that they are in some way - many ways - connected to the stories of others. »» continue

December 21, 2009

The Right Gift (one that lasts and reflects our values)

Because of the recession many people are having to cut back on spending for the holidays. Out of necessity the gifts may be fewer or less expensive. But when times are tough we often get in touch with our deepest values. We consider what is most important. When you do that you just might discover that the right gift in a recession is a family history or memoir. The cost can be as much as a big screen TV or fancy electronics item - or a vacation getaway. But it will last far longer and have a greater meaning to all who see it.

See this press release published in the Bar Harbor Times for some great personal history type gifts.

December 16, 2009

One of the biggest challenges as a personal historian and writer for hire I encounter is identifying potential clients' expectations. As a business I must market my services and make a living. But, in this line of work I also must have empathy, care and compassion. Afterall, I am dealing with people's life stories and there is a lot of emotion invested in that.

When people contact me for more information I respond with an overview of the services I provide and invite them to contact me to discuss further. It is inevitable that people will submit an email when they are just "kicking the tires"--trying to find out what is involved, the cost, time, finished product and so on. And this is fine. I do the same when I shop around for services. But I think it is important that people think carefully about what type of life story project they want. That is why I put so much information on this site about telling your life story.

If you are seeking professional assistance with your story think carefully about the time and expense you are willing to invest. And remember that hiring a pro, such as myself, is a decision that in the long run can help you realize your dream of capturing your life story in a timely manner. Yes, it costs money. Yes, it takes time to find the right person to work with. But yoru story is so important. I hope that as this year (and decade!) winds down you are giving it more thought. I'd be happy to discuss with you how to get started.

December 14, 2009

Now that I am doing some substitute school teaching I find it very interesting whenever I have a class that involves language arts, story telling and writing. Many children view reading and writing as a chore, which is a shame. But everyone seems to enjoy a good story!

We need to instill in our young ones a lifelong love of reading and writing. Literacy is essential on so many levels. When it comes to preserving the stories of our lives and our families we certainly need to have writers. Not everyone will be the "family scribe", of course, but let's encourage our future writers. And I hope that everyone tries their hand at journal writing. I find it so beneficial!

Here's a link I came across today about a Vermont group, the Children's Literacy Foundation, that is spreading cheer this holiday season - but also all year long - by giving away books to children and promoting reading and writing.

December 9, 2009

This time  of year as you are shopping for gifts, I have some recommendations of great books for you or others interested in personal history and life story writing. I've found them to be helpful in my personal history work.

An excellent anthology has been released from the Association of Personal Historians. My Words Are Gonna Linger contains a number of life stories from various members of APH. You can order the book online.

Some other fine suggestions include Write From The Inside by Lissa Ann Forbes, Turning Memories Into Memoirs - A Handbook for Writing Lifestories by Denis Ledoux and The Legacy Guide by Carol Franco and Kent Lineback. You can find out more with the Famly History Life Story Services page on this site.

December 6, 2009

Priceless Legacy Personal Biography SpecialA new product from the Priceless Legacy Company, the Personal Biography,  is now available for the extraodinarily low price  of only $299. It is a truly affordable personal history product that includes a one hour phone interview (using a standard questionnaire) and up to 15 photographs make up the finished product - a simple but elegantly beautiful 8" x 8" hardcover book.

Of course, you get to review your manuscript prior to publishing and see a preview of the layout. I 'd be happy to give you more information - be sure to visit this page.

December 3, 2009

Visual Story Teller

Stefani Twyford of Legacy Multimedia is a video biographer based in Houston, Texas. She is one of a select group of people working in life story capture using video/film that gets my endorsement (see the video-biographies page).

A recent interview/article by Pam Vetter in American Chronicle with Ms. Twyford shares in a very articulate way what goes in to visual storytelling. "A video biography is like an autobiography but done as a film" explains Twyford. "We combine vintage and current photos, old film footage, old audio tracks, memorabilia such as awards, souvenirs, newspaper and magazine articles with video interviews, voice-over narrations, animations and music to create a tapestry of images and stories that share memories, impart wisdom and mark history."

Lots of people own video recorders and, of course, you can do your own video biographies. But as you can see from the work of professional personal historians, a stunning and priceless video biography is a very worthwhile investment.

December 2, 2009

Library of Congress Pictures on Flickr

Woman aircraft worker - picture from Flickr Library of Congress collectionThe thousands and thousands of words these pictures on the Library of Congress Flickr postings could prompt many memories. Additionally, they might work well in a family history project. I could see great application for school projects, too.

The picture included here is of a woman aircraft worker for the Vega Aircraft Corporation in Burbank, California, probably during World War Two. Many woman worked in such occupations. You should check out the history of "Rosie the Riveter".

You can get details and FAQ's here. It appears many of these have no copyright restrictions.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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