Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
quality family history and life story news, views, methods, products,
...and whatever else catches our fancy
Your Video Story Here
Your Story Here
is a video biographies service dedicated to preserving family
history. The husband and wife team of Peter and
are based in Southern California and they are both avid professional
storytellers (and members of the Association
of Personal Historians). The stories they "tell"
are from a wide cross section of people. They produce high
quality "A&E" style video biographies and video memorials
utilizing interviews, photographs, historical footage and
music. Their work has received awards and media coverage and
their website (yourstoryherehome.com) is full of
useful and helpful information plus multiple samples of their work.
Listen to Yourself
Everyone has a story to tell. Typically I encounter those who
recognize that - and those who don't. Of those who do, many
want to get their story down on paper, but they aren't sure
how. They wonder if they have the ability to do it right.
Well, in one regard there is no "right" way to write your
story. It is more important to record what your life is all
about. And not just the facts and chronology. What
are the stories behind those facts? What does it mean to you?
Alejandra Owen writes in the SHAARPsession
(AARP blog) about this, echoing what Abigail Thomas has written for AARP magazine on
memoir writing. I agree that your memoir needs to tell us how
you got to where and who you are.
Many people who consider doing a life story or a book as a tribute for
a special occasion fail to plan properly. The idea pops into
their head, which is fine, but often without enough preparation or
Putting a book together takes some time. There are
interviews, transcribing, writing, revising, editing, proof-reading,
layout, scanning photographs and images - and more. The whole process
take months, or even years.
Fortunately, you can speed things up when you work with a personal
historian. You can help, too, by preparing the focus of the
project and gathering materials (letters, journals, timing of
interviews, pictures, etc).
It is really important not to procrastinate. This is so you
can have a finished product in time for the celebration, such as school
graduation, a wedding or anniversary, or as a birthday or holiday gift.
Another important reason to not wait is because the lives and stories
you want to preserve are often from those loved ones who may not be
around much longer. Peter Gudmundsson of Priceless
Legacy Company posted to his blog an account from someone that
makes that poignant point.
You can avoid the regret of lost personal history by planning
now. I am a personal historian and I can help you
get started. One of the ways to proceed is with a LifeStory Capture (I
am an authorized PLC Legacy Consultant) that is affordable and the
turnaround can be in 5-6 weeks (info
here). I encourage you to invest in the future of your past.
really does alert me at times to interesting tidbits. Thanks
to the posting by personal historian Cj Madigan I discovered the blog
posting by personal historian Larry Lehmer regarding a
"motherload" of personal effects, video, notes from a
person's grandmother following her death in 2001.
Read After My Death.
February is Black
History Month. It is important to note the many
accomplishments of people from all races and creeds. But
sadly the contributions of African-Americans have often not been given
their due. Unfortunately this has been true in America for
women, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians and other groups.
The point should not be to single out people because of their
race or gender, but rather to appreciate the diversity of the human
race and that all have something to contribute. Some day
people really will be judged by their contributions and not the colour
of their skin.
Black History Month is an attempt to educate and acknowledge the great
contributions of so many African-Americans. It is more timely
than ever with the election of the first African-American President,
Barack Obama. Biography.com
has an extensive section on Black
history including many interesting bio's, an interactive timeline,
notable icons and facts, a terrific section on the Apollo Theater
"legends" (the Apollo is celebrating its 75th anniversary) and much
more. Visit here.
Perhaps a thought to entertain on this Presidents Day is
that you are the President of your life. Sure, you may not be
the head of an organization, a big shot executive or an elected
official. But when it comes to taking responsibility for your
thoughts and actions - you're the one.
Nobody likes self-absorbed people, but a life where you don't examine
your self, especially your motives, values and things you believe in,
misses out on an important part of living. You are about life!
These days more and more people are using blogging, social networking
and other means to promote their profile. Towards this end, a
well written short bio can be extremely valuable. I've
written them for a number of people. I can do it for you. And
I've just lowered the fee I charge. You are hereby invited to
find out how I can write your
The National Public Radio program, This I Believe,
gives us insight into everyday, and sometimes famous, people.
We learn about their values, what they believe and why.
It's a glimpse into the human heart and the human spirit.
In Houston the public radio station KUHF offers a local version.
Paul Pendergraft speaks with Houstonians and today's feature
is Stefani Twyford, a video
biographer (and fellow member of APH).
It was good to find out how her father and his career as a
photographer in New York City in the 1940's and 50's inspired her to
enter the field of personal historian.
Hear her This I Believe
online at KUHF.org.
Today is the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth. Most
consider him our greatest US President, so a 200 year anniversary is
worth noting (check out this Lincoln
Lincoln has been the subject of many biographies and more keep coming.
His life story is certainly interesting (to say the least!).
What a model of perseverance. We can learn much
from his life for the challenging times we are living in.
Despite the times when I was a smart aleck or cynical, I really did
value things I learned in school. Maybe I'd be hardpressed to
admit it at the time, but looking down the long lens of reminiscence I
can see there were times when education became something special.
And some of it must have stuck with me because here I am
later writing life stories and encouraging others to do the same.
I don't remember having any classes on life story writing.
But apparently it's working its way into curriculum.
Over at the Two
Writing Teachers site Stacey shares about teaching her
class memoir writing and an emotional and truthful breakthrough
experienced by one of her students. More here.
are a number
of helpful books about life story writing. An excellent new
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.
now order the book online.
Doing personal history work - life story capture, memoirs, etc
- can certainly
be rewarding. Family members find out more about the subject
and the process of reminiscing can bring about self-reflection and life
evaluation. The recall of memories can be joyful or painful,
and usually is a mix of both.
What about therapeutic benefits from telling your story? My
gut tells me absolutely.
But there is also actual research to support this. According
to the The Journal Of Palliative Medicine, Volume. 11,
Number 7, 2008 reports a study conducted by the University of Michigan
and the University of
Alabama that used legacy activities as interventions with patients
the end of life. It found that in part,
“…patients reported decreased breathing
difficulty and increased religious meaning. Caregivers and patients
reported greater social interaction on the part of the
interventions hold promise and are simple to
implement.” Thanks to fellow personal historian Dan
Curtis for this tidbit. Dan does a lot
of work with hospice
patients, helping them preserve their stories before the end of life.
Two books might also be helpful in understanding the power of stories
and therapeutic benefits.
The Healing Power of Stories (Creating Yourself Through the Stories of
Your Life), by Daniel Taylor. 1996. Dr. Taylor is a
professor of English Literature who discusses how you are shaped by the
stories you live, hear and tell.
Coyote Wisdom (The Power of Story in Healing), by Lewis Mehl-Madrona,
Ph.D. 2005. Dr. Mehl-Madrona is certified in family practice,
and psychiatry. His book explores the healing use of stories
American culture, and describes how we can apply this wisdom to empower
transform our own lives.
So consider capturing your life story now. Not just for your
family - it could make you feel good!
The Super Bowl this past Sunday got me thinking about the athletic
highlights many people have experienced. While most
will never know what it is like to be a professional athlete, let alone
play in a championship game, a lot of people have played sports and
some have great memories from high school or college.
When Bruce Springsteen and the E. Street Band launched into "Glory
Days" during their halftime performance I connected the dots...why not
preserve your personal glory
days with a book? It wouldn't have to be a big
project. And it is a focused approach to personal history.
Gather photos, maybe local newspaper coverage or alumni
press. Start a memory list for that dream season.
It could be a fun project and your finished book would be a
great coversation piece and a way to boast without coming off as a
The Priceless Legacy LifeStory Capture
is an ideal way to do this. Two hours of interviews would be
enough to capture your sports story and it would yield a high quality
hardbound book complete with photos. The accompanying DVD
digital slide show of photos and the CD with the audio of you telling
your story are a bonus. The process can be completed in six
weeks and you don't even have to do the writing! Your interview will be
transcribed for you and written in a first person narrative, preserving
"your voice" in the text. And the price is suprisingly affordable -
just $1299 (I urge you to shop around to find a better deal for as good
a product. I don't think you can.)
Glory days...don't let them pass you by. Contact me and I'll
help you get started.
In an article for the Muskegon
Opinion (town on the northeast coast of Lake Michigan,
near Grand Rapids where I spent a few years), Susan K. Treutler shares
your story could be the most valuable thing you do.
She puts it to us forcefully, "I've said it before, and I'll say it
again: Write. Grammar doesn't matter. Misspelling is just fine. Type it
or tell it on tape or write it longhand on pieces of scrap paper. Just
Why is she so adamant? Because like many of us she regrets
her parents and grandparents never passed down their stories.
She cherishes their love and encouragement but longs to know more about
I agree with her that school children should be given the assignment of
interviewing their parents or guardians and getting their stories on
We live in a fast-paced and high-tech world. And we also had
better means to preserve personal history than ever before.
Capture offered by the Priceless
Legacy Company is a terrific option. As a Legacy
Consultant I can show you
In the movie Groundhog
Day the main character (played by Bill Murray)
is a self-absorbed and somewhat cynical TV weatherman sent to cover the
annual groundhog day event in Pennsylvania. You probably know the
February 2nd presumption — If the rodent sees his shadow,
more winter, etc.
It is his fourth year of covering this event and he's tired of the
"circus" atmosphere and thinks he's entitled to better assignments. But
a mysterious event happens. He gets "stuck" living the same day,
Groundhog Day, over and over and over again.
The lesson from the movie is that if we keep living for our own selfish
reasons, and keep doing the same things over and over again expecting
different results, we will be living an irrational (some would say
insane) life with no higher purpose.