Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
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A Glowing Report for Vancouver's
"With Glowing Hearts" Winter Olympics
The Winter Olympics 2010 in Vancouver, Canada has wrapped up. Lots of
great sports moments. The spirit of International competition at the
games often makes me think about our world. We have great diversity in
our cultures and countries. But we all have in common the fact that we
have the stories of our lives. You
can see alot about the games at the official website. It
was pretty exciting to have the USA battling Canada for the gold medal
in hockey. The host country came out on top. Canada also set an olympic
record for the most gold medals by one country in a winter olympics.
Congratulations to the "Great White North"!
Canadian personal historian and fellow member on the APH, Dan Curtis, has been
excited throughout. I have to give some "props" to the ongoing great
tips he provides at his blog. You should check it out.
On the heels of the Olympic games another International member of the
APH, Annie Payne (from Australia), is giving you the opportunity to
build your story in March with a daily tip as part of a free
email workshop. I've signed up and I'm looking forward to it. You can find out more here.
February is a wrap. We had a full family day with the baptism of our
new grandson, Jacob Ray. I consider that an "olympic" moment.
Scripting Your Life
I believe there's some truth to the adage that what we focus on we tend
I'm cautious about how this is sometimes presented to people - or even
preached. What I mean is the selling of the Law of Attraction (aka "The
Secret") can mislead people into believing they can get whatever they
set their hearts and minds to, that it will "magically" come to them. I
don't think life works like that. We don't have a magic lamp that we
rub to make our wishes or dreams come true.
Instead, we should dream - and dream big - and then work towards our
dreams and let spiritual principles guide us. Having
faith in something bigger and living a life that promotes goodness,
kindness and unconditional love will lead you to a fulfilled life. You
might not get the job you want or become rich, but you will awaken to a
I'm thinking and writing about this topic this morning because I saw an
interesting article. How To Write the Script for Your Ideal Life
Kate Corbin (a life coach) and it got me thinking about our life
stories. There are some valid points to consider. Everyday we are
our life. If your life was a movie would you want to watch it? You can
read the article at screenwritingbasics.com.
I went for a run this morning. Although it was chilly I was glad to do
it. Many of you know I've enjoyed distance running the past few years.
However, I have been battling a lingering cough/cold and this was the
first time I'd been out for a run in nearly a month.
While running I was reminded how important it is to keep a discipline
in things that require ongoing work. This is so very true in life story
writing. When you first decide to write about your life it can feel
overwhelming. But little by little you can make real progress. You just
have to keep at it.
I listen to music on my iPod. While nearing the end of my run
reason my thoughts turned to Eric Clapton. I hadn't heard any of his
songs on this run, but I was thinking about how
much I like his music. I was also reminiscing about his life which has
been full of
many triumphs and tragedies. I highly recommend his autobiography, Clapton-The Autobiography. In it he honestly details his
of music, his dedication to learning the guitar, the heady days of
music in the 60's and 70's, battling drugs and alcohol and his eventual
Anyway, a few minutes later as I finished my run one of his songs came
on my player. Now I have my iPod on shuffle so this wasn't planned; it
was completely random. But the moment of syncronicity was special,
especially since the song was Let
It Grow. The opening lines of the song can be applied to
life reflection and recollection. "Standing at the crossroads, trying
to read the signs. To tell me which way I should go to find the answer,
and all the time I know, plant your love and let it grow".
Biography in the Making
Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple, is one of shining stars of
Silicon Valley and certainly influential in so many ways to the state
of our technology. You know the line of products: Mac computers, iPod,
iTunes, iPhone and now the iPad. Lots of "i" stuff.
What can we expect from his bio? Jobs is collaborating with Walter
Isaacson, the writer known for his biographies, Einstein: His Life
and Universe and Benjamin Franklin:
Life. Clearly a writer who has written about historical
Check out the Apple Blog for an interesting post by Liam Cassidy. He
raises the questions and points I think a lot of people share about
what this biography might entail (or what he hopes it will). I'm
impressed that he doesn't pull any punches.
Today is the observance of the Presidents Day
holiday in the United
States. This holiday's original intention was
the commemoration of
George Washington's birthday(22nd), but since Abraham Lincoln was also
born in February (the 12th), it's become recognition of these two great
former Commanders in Chief. The "highest office of the land" in this
been rife with history and controversy.
Some of our past presidents
have served in times of great challenges. Washington was the first and
led us through our early development as an independent republic.
Abraham Lincoln, perhaps the most admired, probably had the term with
the toughest assignment - dealing with a nation breaking apart in the
Civil War. His great leadership, humility and compassion are widely
noted. He lived with incredible hardship and reportedly faced deep
depression. But he didn't give in to it.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) had the Great Depression and World War II.
New deals and not giving in to fear were his legacy.
In my lifetime there's been Eisenhower, Kennedy (I still remember being
on the playgound in second grade in Forth Worth, Texas when they called
us in to the school to send us home the day he was assasinated a few
miles away in Dallas), LBJ, Nixon,
Gerald Ford (I later lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, his hometown),
Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr. and now Obama.
What impact have the presidents had on you? How has your personal
history intersected with the nation's? These might be some good things
to journal on.
Katie Vaughan of
Sojourn Lifewriting was recently profiled by The
Spokesman-Review (Idaho site/publication) about how her
services as a
personal historian have made an impact in various people's lives. The article does a great job explaining her services and what a
historian can do for clients, like preserving a deceased father's story
for a family history.
Vaughan is quoted as saying, “A personal history is more than
genealogy, more than the names, dates and places on a family tree. A
personal history tells the stories behind those facts, creating a
legacy for families and future generations. When people die, they take
their memories with them; this helps preserve those stories.”
I mention this article because of how well it explains what many
personal historians do and the value of it. Ms. Vaughan is another
member of the Association
of Personal Historians. The sharing,
collaboration and encouragement that APH
members give each other and
how the organization and its members are promoting the importance of
life story preservation is one of the driving reasons for my continued
Asking Difficult Questions
There are times when personal historians are interviewing someone about
their life that they tread into areas that can be difficult to talk
about. Divorce, suicide, a cheating business partner, death of a child,
alcoholism, abuse and so on. Probing these areas can be
What I've found is helpful is to get an overview before heading down
that rode. I like to find out what kind of life story we are going to
present. Is it going to be focused on happy moments? Triumphant times?
Or are we going to discuss things that might be hard, but are essential
to a person's story. It helps to get idea of what areas are ok and what
are off limits.
I do encourage people to be honest about their lives. Nobody is one
dimensional and the struggles are part of who you are and where you've
been. Often they become turning points in our lives. And if
ahead of time I have some idea about these areas then when I
interview the subject I am sensitive...but we can't dance around them.
One thing you should consider before sharing your personal history/life
story is what do you want to reveal and what is the point of these
revelations. I hope you do it for more than shock value. If you are
revealing some painful or tragic things remember that others who've
been through something similar will find they relate more to your
story. And when you overcome hardship you can share your experience for
the benefit of others.
The Culture of the Super Bowl
Today one of the biggest (many argue it is the biggest)
sporting events in the world takes place in Miami, Florida. Super Bowl
has the Indianapolis Colts playing the New Orleans Saints. The
Colts have been there before and have arguably the best quarterback in
the game, Peyton Manning. The Saints are in the big game for the first
time ever. Many are rooting for the underdog. One of the interesting
side stories is that Peyton's dad, Archie Manning, played most of his
NFL career for the Saints. And during that time the team usually had a
losing record, even though Archie was a pretty good QB.
Cultural events like the Super Bowl can fit into your life story when
you consider what you are doing for the game - a party,
watching for the television commercials which are expensive and often
controversial or unusual, ignoring the contest, or perhaps going to the
event. It serves as a marker in time. I know that's true for me. The
time I was actually able to attend a Super Bowl in person was 1991 in
Tampa, Florida when the Giants played the Bills. It turned out to be a
very exciting game that went down to the wire. But the night before
something happened to me that led to a life changing event.
I won't go
into the personal details, but suffice to say I got into some trouble
and it led me to confront something that needed to be radically changed
in my life.
Big events in life such as the Super Bowl are something to enjoy and
share. We all like to comment on major motion pictures, best-selling
books, cultural phenomenon and so on. We also are impacted by major
calamities (the recent Haiti earthquake for example). When you face
your own life changing event it can be a turning point that forever
changes you. I hope it is for the better, even if it seems bad at the
time. I know that has been true for me and I'll never forget the day
before Super Bowl XXV in 1991 and how my life's course
was changed for the better.
I'm a proud grandpa for the very first time! My
daughter gave birth to
Jacob Ray yesterday. It was a long, hard process before he came into
the world. She went into labor on Monday night and after trying very
hard for 27 hours a decision was made to do a Caesarian section to
safely bring the baby into the world. Turns out that was necessary as
he was "stuck" in the birth canal.
All is fine now with the mom, but she is sore (understandably!) and
recovering. My son-in-law has been fantastic and helpful through it all
and is already changing diapers and doting like only a new father can.
All family members are basking in the glow of new life - God's great
gift to us all.
Now that I have entered into the new (and sacred) role of grandparent I
am injoyful anticipation about how this will stretch and grow me on my
life journey. Many who are already "grands" are probably nodding in
agreement as you read this. One of the fascintating and rewarding parts
of life is how we can share our heritage, values and experience across
As we start a new month there might be a tendency to put the past month
behind you. I know I easily fall into that practice. Summer ends and
you move into Fall. The December holidays pass and it is on to the New
However, the crippling earthquake that has caused so much loss of life
and property in Haiti last month should still be very much on our
minds. It will take a long time for this country to recover. Since so
many charitable efforts are underway you might wonder which ones are
doing the most good or are the most effective.
Here is a list of what many
consider the top charities helping in Haiti. Of course there
is the American Red Cross, by also World Vision and Doctors Without
Borders are listed. Do what you can. Every bit helps.