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"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
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Neuroscience Explains Strong Holiday Memories
December 31, 2014
For the last blog entry of the year I thought it appropriate to post a
link to an article I read recently about the Neuroscience of Nostalgia.
The article states that our brain stores sad, glad and bittersweet
recollections in a certain way. Intuitively I know this to be true.
Around the holidays, and certainly at the end of the year when I do a
fair amount of reminiscing, I've noted there are memories stronger than
others. These memories may not be entirely accurate, rather they are my version based on
how I recall these events. The senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and
touch are all involved.
The article by Luba Ostashevsky states how intense memories, those of
nostalgia (translated from Greek words for suffering and origins) are
stored in a different part of our brain from short-term memories.
Neurotransmitters move these powerful memories to the hippocampus, a
part of the brain deep in the cranial cavity. And
these emotional memories seem to be imprinted more
powerfully, like taking a picture, sparking the term "flashbulb
Regardless of how you think about your memories, the art of life story
writing does involve "looking back" through our past, reflecting on our
memories, especially those powerfully imprinted ones.
On this last day of 2014 I thank you for your visits to Your Life Is Your Story,
for reading, commenting and working on your stories. Here's to the New
Year and to your story!
December 30, 2014
Poetry can state in a few and often beautiful phrases deep and powerful
thoughts and ideas. Not many people will try to preserve memories in
verse, but that is exactly what Margaret Hasse did with her poem Truant.
In it she beautifully captures a time from high school that landed her
in hot water with the principal. And it was apparently worth it.
Take a moment to read the poem, posted by onetime
U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser on the American Life in Poetry
Column. As a teacher I have to admire Hasse's imagery and her decision
to sieze that day, despite it being "against the rules".
Thanks to APH member Paula Stahel for alerting me to this information.
Say It Ain't So! Joe Cocker Has Died
December 22, 2014
Amidst the beginning of Winter came the chilling news today that singer
Joe Cocker has died
at the age of 70. One of the defining voices of the rock generation, he
will forever be remembered for his gritty and soulful renditions of
songs like "The Letter", "Cry Me A River", "You Are So Beautiful", and
of course, his famed rendition of the Beatles "With A Little Help From
Cocker's gift was his interpretation of songs. He could use his
gravelly and blues-soaked voice to add soul where you might not expect
it and he could also convey deep emotion in his heartfelt performances.
As his agent, Barrie Marshall, stated, "Anyone who saw him live never
forgot him". I found that to be true. His Wiltern Theater performance
in Los Angeles in the late 1980's is etched upon my memory.
Joe Cocker's traveling show of rock vagabonds, Mad Dogs and Englishmen,
captured the spirit and heart of this singer. Backed by Leon Russell
and a number of terrific session players, they barnstormed across
America in 1970 and it was captured in a film documentary and double
album set. It is still one of my favorites.
Perhaps the Sheffield born singer is best remembered for his iconic
performance of "With a Little Help (From My Friends)" at Woodstock. How
can you not marvel at that performance? It was a guttural, growling,
swirling, sweaty, windmilling dervish of rock n' roll ecstasy. That,
along with his marvelous version of "Feelin' Alright" (Traffic) leaves
me with a bit of sadness accompanied by a twinge of nostalgia that
another of the voices from my youth has past on. "Feelin' alright? I'm
not feeling too good myself." Rest in Peace, Joe Cocker, and thanks for
Bell Salute for the Winter Solstsice
December 21, 2014
Today is the Winter Solstice,
the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. After today we
begin to get more light each day, albeit incrementally by a minute or
two each day.
The solstice can be a time of celebration. Many cultures observe it as
something special, even sacred. With its proximity to Christmas
(December 25 was picked the day of birth for Christ Jesus by early
Christians wanting an alternative to pagan celebrations of a
God), the long and typically cold winter nights are associated with
both religious and Yuletide celebrating.
My son was born this day in 1993, so today he is celebrating his
official entry into adulthood. The age of twenty-one is something of a
rite of passage. My wife and I recall well the snowy winter day of our
son's birth in Michigan. Today he is a fine young man of whom we are
The years seem to be flying by with greater speed as I age. My birthday
was less than a week ago and I am now in my 60th year of life.
Christmas time birthdays are abundant in my family, something I wrote
about as part of a Christmas
I wrote a few years back. It is remarkable to consider how in my family
we had birthdays on Christmas (Dad), the day after (Mom) and Christmas
Eve (my sister). So my son and I are in good company.
However you observe this time of year, be it the arrival of a new
season, holiday celebration, birthday or other special marker, may it
be a time of presence to your one, special and remarkable life.
Time Capsule from Old Boston Statehouse
December 11, 2014
A time capsule that dates back to 1795 has been carefully removed from
the old Massachusetts Statehouse. Historians believe it was placed
there by Paul Revere and Sam Adams and could contain old coins and
newspapers. This could be a revealing look back at post American
The plan is to take the time capsule to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts to
be x-rayed for its contents prior to actually opening it (story from NBC News).
It makes me wonder what we might put in a time capsule today and what
people 200 years later might think of the contents. Computers, smart
phones, books, clothing - how might that all be viewed by someone a
couple of centuries from now? Of course, if we don't write about our
lives and the meaningful events and belongings, it will be harder for
people to figure it out. Yet another reason to consider writing your
Simon Agrees to Have His Biography Written
December 8, 2014
As a man known for a lot of great music over the years it would not be
surprising to hear that gifted songwriter Paul Simon would pen
his own life story. However, in a recent Associated Press article Simon has
announced that he wil cooperate with music critic and author Robert Hilburn on a
biography to be published by Simon & Shuster.
(Paul Simon in March 22, 2013 AP file photo by Wong-E)
"I thought seriously about writing my own memoir, but I'd rather devote
my time to making music, which continues to hold my full attention,"
Simon explained in a statement issued through his publisher. It sounds
like Simon wants to stick with what he knows best and turn the writing
over to someone he trusts will do a good job. Hilburn
is a good writer noted for his biograhy of Johnny Cash (The Life) and he's
been a longtime music critic for the Los Angeles Times.
He also wrote his own memoir in 2009. I think he's a good choice for
Paul Simon's story.
Biographies about musicians resonate with me as I am a lifelong fan of
music and songwriters, Simon among them. I wonder what makes them tick,
where the insights they have about life come from and also how they
manage to weave together art, commerce, fame, fortune and a desire for
some privacy. It can't be easy.
I like Paul Simon's songs. He's got a keen eye for what's happened in
our society over the years, from his days with partner Art Garfunkle (Sounds of Silence)
to his many solo albums (Graceland
and the self-titled Paul Simon are my
I am glad to hear he wants his story told in words as well as the
insight we gain from the many fine songs he's given us. I admire that
he wants to keep his focus on his music and, in turn, give the writer
Robert Hilburn a fine opportunity.
Tuesday and Giving to the Cause of Peace
December 2, 2014
After Thanksgiving and the shopping of Black Friday and Cyber Monday we
have Giving Tuesday.
This is a day of giving back to good causes, the non-profits and
charitable organizations that give so much of their time and efforts to
try to improve lives and our world.
The gift of a life story is a worthy thing and I'd ask for your
generosity, but I am not a non-profit or charity. However, I can
encourage you to support causes that teach us about people who have
changed lives for the better and made a positive difference. People
like Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez and Anne Frank -
are historic figures who have contributed to the causes of social
justice with a message of peace and non-violence.
Peace Talks Radio
are a series of programs produced by Paul Ingles and Good Radio Shows, Inc.
that are dedicated to promoting the cause of peace through dialog and
action. They have profiled many people over the years, not just the
famous examples listed above, but those you may not have heard of. The
programs are funded by grants and contributions. It is not a
money-making proposition. They exist for a higher cause. Right now they
are in urgent need of support as they have only enough funding for five
or six more shows. So I am asking you to investigate Peace Talks Radio (website and video about) and consider helping out the cause of peace on
this Giving Tuesday.