End...of the Year...is Near
December 29, 2010
Inevitable at this time of year I become reflective. I can't help it,
it's in my nature. I introspective and I can only let words rattle
around in my head for so long before I must type them out. Some I even
share (lucky you!).
2010 has rushed by in the way that years seem to the older you get. Mid
fifties are upon me, although I don't think of myself as that age. Some
of the tension of introspection comes from the inner age calculator
versus the reality of an actual chronological record as stated on a
legal document. Or just looking in the mirror.
The year has had its ups and downs, good and bad, boredom and
excitement, frustrations and regrets, and elation at meeting new
challenges and the allure of future goals glittering bright on the
horizon of next year. Through it all I've attempted to find some things
to share with you via this blog. It's been fun for me and perhaps
occasionally worthwhile for you.
If you aren't yet journaling maybe you'll give it a try. A nice blank,
bound book will do - write, doodle, and express yourself! You can also
go the software route and record it on your computer. I continue to get
wonderful results from my use of David Michael's The Journal. Check it out. You can test drive it
free for 45 days. It's way more than "diary" software and highly useful
if you are preserving family history or your life story.
Thanks for visiting Your
Life Is Your Story and I hope you come back often in 2011.
Steve Miller sings in "Fly Like An Eagle", Time keeps on slipping...into
the future, and there's plenty of truth in that. There's
more ahead in our lives, but much to be learned by looking back and
processing "in the now".
Personal Historians in the News
December 27, 2010
A couple of Canadian personal historians, one specializing in books,
the other in video work, have received some nice press.
The Vancouver Sun
writes about the work of Pattie Whitehouse, a veteran personal
historian who has been capturing life stories since 1992 (pretty
significant as this type of work is still considered a fairly new
field). Capturing the stories of our lives
by columnist Katherine Dedyna gives insight into Whitehouse's efforts
to capture stories primarily of everyday people, those she refers to as
"Salt of the Earth".
Also featured in an article by this paper is Dan Curtis, someone I've
mentioned a few times here in my blog. Dan is a prolific and insightful
blogger who often finds great resources, tips and stories. But you may
not be familiar with his work with hospice patients. He's been
instrumental in a program that matches volunteers trained in interview
techniques with patients so they can tell their stories. You can read
the article, A gift that lasts beyond a lifetime.
The work of personal historians like Pattie Whitehouse, Dan Curtis and
others reinforces what I strongly believe. Everyone has a
story to tell and it is beneficial to do so on so many levels.
Memories Decorate Our Minds
December 24, 2010
Christmas time can be wonderful. I hope it is for you. Sometimes it can
be depressing, depending on your circumstances, but I think it is still
possible for you to encounter the "Christmas Spirit" if you are open to
Seventeen years ago in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we
had a white Christmas
and a newborn son (literally - he was born four days prior!). It was a
wonderful time. My daughter enjoyed holding her new baby brother and we
have fond memories of that time.
Now my daughter has her own new son, born in February. Our grandson is
just under a year and it will be a fun Christmas with him. Already
we've had to break out a few gifts. It is more fun to watch him play
with toys than anything anyone might give me. His joy is my Christmas
I hope you have some Christmas memories. Maybe you'll be inspired to
write about them. I've
done that. Wishing you holiday greetings on this Christmas
Eve. Even if you don't
observe Christmas I hope it is a special time for you this year.
Peace and joy from Your
Life Is Your Story - Tom Gilbert
of Love and Ethical Wills
December 21, 2010
It is so important to share your life lessons and values with others,
especially your family and loved ones. It is an act of love to write an
ethical will or prepare a letter or document detailing your wishes upon
death and your care and concern for others.
An article from December 16, 2010 in the Orange County Register shares
how Al Blake celebrated his 91st birthday by sharing an ethical will he
wrote with his two sons and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
I think the author of the article, Teryl Zarnow, clearly articulates
the importance of this and I like that Mr. Blake shared this with his
family prior to death. She found out about this man from personal
historian Jane Shafron (Your Story Here) who had
previously created a video biography of Mr. Blake that included an
ethical will section. You can read Want
to live forever? Bequeath wisdom online here.
fine resource I've recently discovered is the book, Your Legacy of Love: Realize the
Gift in Goodbye, written by Gemini Adams
(published by liveconsciously).
Ms. Adams stresses
the importance of "Realizing the Gift in Goodbye". My review of the
book is posted
Solstice 2010 Offers Rare Treat of Total Lunar Eclipse
December 20, 2010
How can you not gaze at the night skies when something unusual happens
and not be moved? I enjoy seeing shooting stars and brilliant
constellations. And the full moon rising over the Sandia Mountain in
Albuquerue is always beautiful.
Tonight, however, is an extra special event - a full lunar eclipse.
photo courtesy of
It's a rare treat and one worth staying up late for. The eclipse takes
hours to happen and will reach its full totality in the middle of the
night (3:17 a.m. EST/12:17 a.m. PST). So I'll bundle up at be watching
after midnight until perhaps 2 a.m., longer if I can keep my eyes open.
You can find out more about the 12 stages of the eclipse courtesy
also has a brief story on the event.
The color of the moon during the eclipse likely will turn drak orange
or blood red, although in some eclipses it turns dark gray. Regardless,
it should be something to see as we move officially into Winter here
(the solstice is 12/21) in the Northern Hemisphere. I'll be writing
about it in my journal - a life marker to go along with celebrating my
son's 17th birthday. How are you going to preserve the memory?
Suggestions - Helpful Books on Life Story Writing
December 18, 2010
we close in on Christmas you might be looking for
gift ideas for the holiday. Helpful books on life story writing abound
and I have a few suggestions for you (here).
The latest addition to the
list is Your Legacy of Love: Realize the Gift in Goodbye by Gemini
Adams. It's a very good book for preparing others before you die.
Tips to create lasting gifts of your thoughts, values, life lessons and
meaning, but also to help you if you are dealing with the loss of a
loved one. It's thought-provoking and practical. I'll be writing more
about it in this month's newsletter
that I'm putting out this weekend.
Lennon and Yoko Ono: DNA Memory
December 12, 2010
In looking back over the week and scanning various sites I came across
information on Dan Curtis' blog about Sean
Lennon, son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. He's a
grown man with his own career, but interested in family history and we
naturally would assume
he'd be researching his famous father's life. I'm sure he has done
that, but this
article at NPR
tells us about Sean's interest in his mother's life and how he chose
Yoko as the subject for his National Day of Listening
interview. You can read more
and listen to the link here.
December 8, 2010
The evening of December 8, 1980 I was working the night shift at a rock
radio station in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I'd only been in radio
broadcasting for a couple of years at that point and the station I
worked for didn't even have a news wire machine or a television in the
studio. So when all the phone lines lit up at once and people started
anxiously asking if it was true that John Lennon had been shot it was
quite a shock. I had to call a close friend to get confirmation.
It is a strange feeling to be
in media when something of such a
magnitude happens. Being a child of the 60's I am quite a Beatles fan
and rock music lover. That night I had to open the microphone and tell
audience that a music icon was dead, gunned down by an obsessed
fanatic. It was an odd sensation.
It wasn't until after my show ended at midnight that I was able to let
the news really sink in. I played Beatles and Lennon records late into
the night. The next morning I went into the production room at the
radio station and started working on a tribute special. Somehow it was
John Lennon was human and he had his faults. Just like any of us.
Heroes have clay feet. Nevertheless, he also made a huge impact on our
culture. As he said in his song Imagine,
"you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one". So very true.
His music and his message continue on in his sons, wife, friends and
fans. Another line from one of his songs, a favorite of mine from Watching the Wheels
(From the album Double
Fantasy, the record he'd just put out shortly before his
tragic death) speaks volumes to me as a personal historian.
Ah, people asking
questions lost in confusion
Well I tell them
there's no problem, only solutions
Well they shake
their heads and they look at me as if I've lost my mind
I tell them
there's no hurry
I'm just sitting
here doing time
Natural Way of Storytelling by the Earth & Spirit Council
December 7, 2010
Many people are good storytellers, but the best can tell us about life
that is more than what humans do. Our Earth is sacred ground, from the
rivers to the mountains, the valleys to the plains, the deserts to the
swamps and forests.
The Natural Way of
Storytelling is the work of Native Americans in the
Pacific Northwest who are preserving the stories, the history of the
Natural Way, through interviews with various elders (more here).
This type of work is profound and special and helps us to recognize the
great spiritual value of stories that are passed from one generation to
another. You can sample some of the talks, such as Calvin Hecocta speaking about his experiences
in dealing with our environment and the importance of
preserving the value of our land, our people and our cultures.
Was a Dark and Stormy Life
December 3, 2010
Many people struggle over how to begin their memoir, autobiography or
life story. Honestly, we all do. That's part of being a good writer -
the struggle to find the right words. But it doesn't have to be so
Play with words and sentences. Create a mind map and brainstorm. Think
about a particular time in your life that has great significance. This
can be your starting point. Writing about that and then going back to
earlier times (or later) can be effective. There's no rule that says
you have to start at the beginning of your life. Go for a hook that
will reel your reader in.
Sometimes simplicity is effective. Call
me Ishmael is the opening sentence of the classic
novel, Moby Dick
by Herman Melville. Of course, what follows your opening sentence is
crucial. Some years
ago--never mind how long precisely--having little or no money in my
purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I
would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.
Okay, Melville, now you've got my attention.
Here's a writing exercise. Try writing ten different opening lines to
your story. Let them sit for a day or two. Go back and look at them
again. Try combining a couple of sentences or rearrange them. Perhaps
it will inspire you to
write some more. You don't (can't) write all of your story in one
sitting. So don't fret. Do a bit at a time. And remember, good writing
comes from revision.