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.
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
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.
My family and I went
to see the movie Avatar.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
Inside by Lissa Ann Forbes, Turning
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.
A 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
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
Library of Congress Pictures on Flickr
The 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