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© Tom Gilbert

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December, 2018

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Review and Renew

December 31, 2018
review and renew
Here we are, on the cusp of a new year. Many people make big plans to celebrate on New Year's Eve and people are typically in a hopeful and celebratory mood. All good.

But because I try to live one day at a time and be present to each moment, I find that the end of the year does bring about reflection. However, I am not that big on New Year's resolutions. I do like to renew my commitments to live for today and to do better. You might notice that I said, "do better" instead of "do my best". Best is the goal, but progress is how I measure. I know myself well enough to recognize that I will and do make mistakes.

Failure and change are as much a part of life as success and growth. The key is to keep progressing while not getting too down on yourself or being lazy, or worse, oblivious to what needs to be changed and improved.

Here's to the Review and Renew process. Be true to your dreams. Be the best you that you were born to be. These are good and worthy goals for anytime and especially into 2019. Thank you for sharing time on your life story journey with me. I am grateful for all who visit this site, who read the content, and for the many people I have worked with and learned from this past year. Happy New Year everyone!

Asking the Right Questions

December 23, 2018

It's the Holiday Season and as you gather with family and friends it is natural to renew our relationships and talk about our lives. This is typical. What is not so typical is spending the time to preserve the stories about our lives and families for us to appreciate and for future generations to learn about us.

When I interview people about their lives I like to prepare a list of questions. It doesn't mean I don't leave room for spontaneity. It is very important to let the interview unfold like a conversation. But it helps to have some starting points and to think in advance about areas to explore.

How do we know what are the right questions? I think it is anything that gets us really reminiscing about what matters most to us. Some are lighthearted, like the great family stories passed down through the years. Others can be more thought-provoking, such as what your values are or what life lessons have been most important.

I've got a few thought-starters for you with this article, The Right Questions. See what you think and I hope that you get a chance to have some good Q&A with the people that matter most in your life.

Springsteen Rocks Broadway

December 18, 2018

Springsteen on BroadwayFew Rock n' Roll songwriter/musicians have impacted my life as much as "The Boss" - Bruce Springsteen. As a kid just out of high school in upstate New York that summer was one of listening over and over to The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle. Man, songs like "Rosalita" had my heart and fist pumping rock n' roll victory thrusts. One of my best buddies, John Yerka, and I had a job cleaning and painting a beach house on a nearby lake and we'd talk about Springsteen a lot. And we loved it when the radio would blast a Springsteen tune. The man - as so man have known for years - just has rock n' roll in his blood.

In 1975, while at the University of Oklahoma, I saw one of the best concerts of my life when Springsteen and the E. Street Band practically blew the roof off the Civic Center in Oklahoma City. This was when Bruce was on both the covers of Time and Newsweek  magazines and the Born to Run album was out. The show was riveting with a night of sweet foot-stomping, bottom-shaking, soul-making, sweat-breaking rock and soul! It was just amazing.

So, being a life-long fan of Springsteen I was naturally anxious to see the Springsteen on Broadway show. I couldn't go to New York, but fortunately Netflix is streaming one of the shows in a excellently produced special. Bruce reminisces about his life, growing up, his sometimes embattled but ultimately redeeming relationship with his father, other family members and his career journey. It is passionate and heartfelt. I read Springsteen's memoir, Born to Run, last year and much of the Broadway show feeds on that material. All in all, well worth watching is you are a fan.

The Best Part of Feeling Better

December 16, 2018

There are times when we are down, depressed or ill. These struggling times can take a toll. Yet when we finally feel better it gives us a new perspective and a relief that I find very valuable and gratifying.

I realize that many people have experiences that are hard to deal with. When we lose a loved one or have a life setback it is completely normal to suffer. The good news is we do not have to remain in the suffering. I believe there is always a silver lining, even when it is not apparent.

I am very fortunate that I have a loving family and friends who support me and help me through the hard times. I have much to be grateful for and staying in touch with that is one of the keys to my mental and emotional well-being.

This past Saturday marked another "trip around the sun" for me as I had my 63rd birthday. I realize I am heading towards senior citizenship, although I certainly don't feel like it. I am, however, becoming an elder. That can be an important responsibility as we share our strength and experience with others, especially our families. This can be a primary reason for creating a memoir, a life story that explores and shares the milestones of our lives and the lessons we have learned.

Fortunately I am not dealing with any "blue" feelings this holiday season. But I did have a bout of food poisoning on my birthday and it made for a miserable day in bed without food and a lot of stomach pain. The good news (yes, there is some) is that today I am feeling better. The best part of feeling better is realizing that the illness and suffering can and do pass. I know it sounds simplistic, but honestly just being able to eat and hold something down feels really good today. 

There is another lesson that comes from going through a painful experience, be it a stomach ailment or a tough emotional time. It is that we can get better. Feeling better is a big part of that.

George H. W. Bush - a Kinder, Gentler President

December 6, 2018
Former President George H. W. Bush
The big takeaway from this week's tributes and remembrances of former President George H. W. Bush was that this was a man who lived a long life with a dedication to his country and to his family.

It is a rare thing these days to hear people talk about a kind and humble person who had a long career in politics. The news has been filled for a long time with tales of power grabbing and self-centered politicians. And citizens are divided over their country's leaders and issues. Bipartisanship seems to be nearly non-existent.

President Bush, fondly called "41" for being the forty-first President of the United States, was a one term president. But he served for 8 years as a Vice President to Ronald Reagan. He was also a season diplomat with ambassador posts, he served as the head of the CIA, he was a congressman and a World War II Navy pilot war hero.

He also was devoted to his family. He and "Bar", as he called Barbara Bush, his wife of 73 years, raised a family, including some sons who have had careers in high posts. Jeb Bush has been a governor and George W. was elected the 43rd president. If you've watched the news you have seen the impact that the father had on that son and the rest of his family.

After his political career the former president stayed active and even sky-dived on a number of ocassions. He lived to be 94, the longest lived former president in history.

In case you were not aware, one of the most astounding things about Bush Senior's career was how he teamed with former President Bill Clinton (the man who defeated him in the 1992 election) for humanitarian aid efforts to both victims of the tsumami in Asia in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It was an unlikely alliance for the onetime bitter rivals. The two former presidents forged a friendship over the years that I find refreshing.

When elected, George H. W. Bush called for a kinder, gentler United States. He cared about others, including the disabled who have rightly benefitted from the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 that he championed. 

The man was not a saint and he had to deal with some tough things during his time in office, including the first Gulf War. Nevertheless, he was someone who showed courage, humility and sensitivity, both in office and after his long career of service.

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