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February 2012

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Prepare, Look and Leap

February 29, 2012

Today is Leap Day, something that only happens every four years. In a leap year we add a day to the end of February and have 366 days in the calendar year. The idea was originally introduced over 2000 years ago, which makes it 500 leap years ago. Julius Caesar is responsible for the Julian Calendar in 45 B.C.E. There are all kinds of traditions associated with Leap Day and you can read about it here.

I looked back four years ago to something I wrote for this website and it seemed appropriate to recycle it for today. The article, Preparing Your Story, is intended to help you reflect on your journey, determine what your story will be, your motivation, how you will tell it and some other helpful tips. I invite you to read it and hopefully it will help you prepare your story.

National History Stories and Personal Experience

February 18, 2012

History is really just a collection of preserved of stories. Events of national importance are recorded much the same way as those significant events in your personal/family history. First the event happens. Those affected share the stories of their experiences. Interested parties record those events. And they get passed down, entered into the annals of our human experience.

That's a bit of an over-simplification, but there is plenty of truth in it. Nowadays with the various means of global and instant communication events are preserved more easily. What will stand the test of time?

200 years ago the United States and Britain fought a war. It had been just a few years since the American Revolution when independence was declared and the new citizens fought for their freedom. That historical event, and those in the twenty years following, didn't exist isolated from the rest of the world. Europe was in upheaval. Napoleon was conquering and France was vying for world power status with the British Empire. Young America got caught in the middle.

Many events and circumstances contributed to the War of 1812. To simplify it to a conflict with England and the United States is incorrect. Native Americans  wanted to protect their lands. Some Americans were agressive in westward expansion. The British and French on the high seas were boarding American vessels in search of fellow countrymen and often the line for that was blurred. Sailors were impressed into service. America also was trading with both countries and soon was caught in the middle.

My 8th Grade Social Studies students this year wrote essays they entered into the annual Daughters of the American Revolution Essay Contest. The DAR is an historical organizaton that does much to preserve and promote history. Today three of my students were honored at the local Lew Wallace Chapter of the DAR for their essay contributions. The theme was "Young America Takes a Stand - The War of 1812". I was a very proud teacher listening to Jacob, Isaac and Chris each read their excellent and creative essays. They had put themselves back in time and written riveting narratives about events like the naval battles involving American heroes Captain James Lawrence ("Don't give up the ship!") and Oliver Hazard Perry ("We have met the enemy and they are ours"). These students had the top three essays in our local competition.

How do we learn about and appreciate history? Through events like the DAR essay contests, the sharing of history beyond a textbook, the gathering of people who honor our past and the ongoing telling of stories.

Sharing Your Experience When a Loved One Passes

February 13, 2012

We all know that dealing with the death of a loved one is a major event. Sometimes it is beautiful and holy, at other times tragic. I ache to hear the stories of young children dying or sudden death through accidents. And the pain of losing one to suicide is one I shudder to imagine.

My father passed away about a month ago and I've written about that (here). The memories are still fresh. The condolences are appreciated. And the survivors (especially my sister, brother and I) have grown much closer through this.

I added a place for you to share your experience when a loved one passes. It is at the end of the article I wrote about my dad - The Pilot Who Flew on Eagle's Wings. Scroll to the bottom and you will see a form that allows you to share your stories. The community of story sharing can be carthartic - and helpful to others who are seeking solace.

Stories About Your Spiritual Journey - And For a Good Cause

February 9, 2012

I've always been interested in people's spiritual journeys. In fact, I don't really like it when people separate out their spiritual journey from their "real" life. To me everything has a spiritual component. Spirituality is the underlying meaning for who we are and why.

Everyone has a story and everyone's story naturally includes something spiritual. I'm not saying you have to be religious for this to be true. However, it certainly can help you get in touch with this deeper meaning and purpose to living. 

Musician, writer, speaker and artist John Fischer has something going on of late in this area. His regular email missives, The Catch (connecting life to faith) have been dealing with people's stories. I've been a follower of his writing for a while now, more because of his spiritual insight. But as he's moved into this "life as story" angle I've really perked up.

He and his wife, Marti, have been helping the women of Isaiah House discover their value and worth through the telling of their stories. I thought you might want to find out more. Visit here. (you should check out the three posts - Lights; On camera; Your new vocation)

Story Telling To Connect Us on the Web

February 6, 2012

One of the things I dislike about social media is that many of the postings lack substance. I guess it is fine to let people know where you've just checked in to, but I would prefer to know that it is something significant (great concert or family reunion rather than a drive-through for a burger).

Story tellers should give us tales that we relate to and think about. I want to know about the humanity of the people posting stories on the web. And some sites are starting to really address this. One in particular, cowbird, is picking up steam. They have submission with pictures and lots of heart. There's a good article about them from a few weeks ago posted to the Wall Street Journal - Can We Humanize the Web?

He's "Two-riffic"!

February 5, 2012

Sure this was Super Bowl weekend and I just finished watching a pretty exciting game that went down to the wire with the New York Giants holding off the New England Patriots, 21-17. It's the second time in four years that these teams played in the Big Game and the 2nd time the Giants won.

Jacob Ray at two years oldHowever, the theme of "two" I am celebrating is that of my adorable grandson, Jacob Ray. He turned 2 on Friday and we had a fun family and friends party on Saturday. Small children can be loud, silly, funny, precious and lots of work. But it is such a wonderful thing to be a grandparent and watch this young one exploring his ever-new world. Jacob is starting to talk and he's very curious about life. Good times!

What's big in your life? The Super Bowl? A thrilling vacation? A spiritual awakening? A growing family? Life is full of wonderful and amazing experiences. It is good to enjoy a grandson, especially in these recent days since my dad passed away. I'm reminded how special are the bookends of life (young and old) and the sweet moment-to-moment happenings.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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