Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
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Colleen Walker discovered the value of keeping a journal by learning
from another that did so, writing in her journal things she discovered
to be true. Now Colleen has kept her own book of truth - article here.
journal is one of the best things you can do to help you know
your story, make sense of your life, and preserve your experiences for
the eventual life story you will write or have written.
The human experience has been fundamentally the same through the ages.
We have a quest for a life that includes our passions for
love, work, spirituality and purpose. And we are often haunted by the
demons that infiltrate these areas and frustrate us or lead us to
Each culture's take on these experiences is often best recorded by the
writer. One of the best American writers of the past fifty
years died of cancer earlier this week. He was 76. Over the course of
his life and writing career John
Updike observed the human condition and wrote about it
with humor and pathos in many excellent books and short stories.
(See Houston Chronicle story)
For all the cheerleading I do about the importance of people writing
their story I must also state that I'm pragmatic about your story being
commercially published. Look, I don't want to burst anyone's
bubble, but the truth is commercially published memoirs and life
stories are rare, difficult, and the exception.
Do you have a bestseller in you? Maybe you do.
Please don't be discouraged - just realistic. I get
approached frequently by prospects who believe their story will be a
best seller and an eventual movie and they just need a professional
writer, only they can't pay for the work up front. They are
more than willing to pay out of the proceeds of their "sure fire best
selling book". Unfortunately, that is not realistic for me
(unless I've offered out of the goodness of my heart to work for free).
Enter the self publishing business. You can - and in many
instances should - write and publish your life story. Most
should self publish and that means you are going to pay someone to
bind, print and publish your book. And many services will also put it
on sale for you, but you'll be responsible for the marketing.
The New York Times posted an article by Motoko Rich, Self-Publishers Flourish as Writers Pay the Tab, and it
articulates how tough the publishing world is (especially in the
present economy), but that self publishers are making money.
This can be a viable route for authors. Even if you
don't sell many copies you will have that finished book to show to
others and to share your story. Read the article and consider
your options. And look around
my site for additional ideas.
Remember, a story never told is lost forever.
President Barack Obama has expressed himself in two books.
The first is his memoir, Dreams from
My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. The
second is The
Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.
Because our new president gives us insight into his thoughts, his
ideas, values and even into his soul we have an opportunity to know him
You can be inspired by his writing, not just for what he says, but for
what it can motivate you to do. You don't have to be a
prominent politician or world leader to give the world (or at least
your family) your personal story.
I found a site that is encouraging people to read about Obama as well
contribute your thoughts (both positive and critical). The ObamaBook.org describes
itself as Obama Rocks:
The Healing of
America and the Planet. The current design of
the site could
be better and easier to read, but don't let that discourage you from
reading the content there. The prologue of this global Obama
Book project describes the purpose and invites others to contribute.
The online e-book also culls material from President Obama's two books,
along with his speeches, core principles and the many challenges he and
America are facing. Find out more at www.obamabook.org.
It's been two years since I ran my very first full length marathon
(26.2 miles). It was truly one of the most remarkable - and hardest -
things I've ever done. I ran on a cold winter day in Phoenix. Yes,
Phoenix, where it should have been sunny and mild, but that particular
day the "Valley of the Sun" experienced record cold. I ran in
the PF Chang Rock n' Roll Marathon as a fundraiser for Team in Training (fighting blood cancers).
Last week was the annual event in Phoenix, and they had record
participation, including a very large contingent running for Team in Training.
TNT is a fantastic organization and if you participate in one
of the their events you'll meet new friends, get in shape, accomplish
something important, and help a great cause.
Life is about participation. You can read my article, The Finish
Line, about my marathon experience - here.
Music has always been important in my life. In many ways
various "hit" records have formed a soundtrack for my life memories.
If I hear one of those songs it can bring me right back to
that time (high school, college, anniversaries, etc).
I spent many years in radio and helped determine what songs would be
played on a variety of stations that I worked at. Billboard magazine was one of our trade tools as we'd monitor the
progress of hit records on the charts.
If you are curious what the #1 song was on your birthday (and who
isn't?), check out www.joshhosler.biz.
You can look up the number one song on any date in history.
You might also want to read an article I wrote about how music can help
with your reminiscing - Striking a Chord for Memory.
As a personal historian I am naturally fascinated with historic days
like this one. The 44th President of the United States,
Barack Obama, was inaugurated today. The media coverage has
been feverish, especially in our "new day" of social media, blogging
and instant global village. And the public turnout of over
one and a half million people to witness this event was impressive.
Today there is an undeniable air of hope, this despite the enormous
challenges we face. Regardless of whether you voted for
Obama, the man has clearly captured the fascination of the world.
In difficult times we need strong leaders. In
Barack Obama we have someone willing to take on the challenges while
making sure we are aware that we all have a responsibility to do our
How will you remember this historic day? What will people
think about it 10 years, 50 years - even 100 years from now?
I hope that you are recording some of your thoughts in a
journal, online (perhaps on a blog or social media service) or even by
exchanging phone calls, emails and letters with your family and
friends. The New
York Times Facebook account has been encouraging people to
record their thoughts about the Inauguration - see the link here.
History is not some abstract thing - we are part of it.
I watched the We Are One - Obama Inaugural Celebration
last night. It was a powerful concert with many of today's
music performers (Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Beyonce, Herbie
Hancock, U2, Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, James Taylor, Usher, John
Mellencamp, Garth Brooks and others) along with top celebrities, movie
stars and speakers (among them Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Laura
Linney, Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah, Martin Luther King III) speaking
about the challenges and hope ahead for all of us.
The outdoor concert took place in front of the Lincoln Memorial and the
many thousands in attendance on a cold Sunday afternoon were present at
the same place that other historic gatherings have taken place,
including the historic March
on Washington in 1963
that featured Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I
Have a Dream" speech (read his speech here).
This certainly is an historic time for America.
It is both important and appropriate to reflect on it today,
national holiday, as we honor the great American Prophet and Civil
Rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. Tomorrow will be the inaguration
of our 44th President. The election of our new President is
of the realization of King's dream, the first African-American elected
to the office.
President-elect Barack Obama spoke about our challenges and
his hope - our hope - that as Americans we will face our difficulties
together, with courage and hard work. Our current troubles
will not be reversed in a day, a month or probably even a year.
But the process we must participate in will help shape the
future for our children.
Friends, remember this time and be a positive agent for change.
Plan on preserving your experience so that you can pass it on
and "pay it forward" for generations to come.
The immediacy of today's media, especially with the Internet, can
connect us in ways never before possible. Truly we are living
in the age of the Global Village. This was evident once again
as so many of us saw the story unfold of the crash landing of US
Airways Flight 1549 into the icy waters of the Hudson River on Thursday
(read Associated Press story).
We should all express gratitude that no one perished in the plane
crash. That is sadly not the case in most airline accidents.
What we don't know - unless you were on board, or you are
closely connected with any of the passengers - is how the experience
will impact their lives. Events like these are often what I
consider life changing
events. What happens as a result of the
experience, and perhaps more importantly, how it changes lives, are
stories worthy of preservation.
What about you? What has been your life changing
In the wide world of web, and especially social media interaction,
there is a challenge in communicating in a consise way. Twitter.com
forces you to keep your posts (your "tweets") to 140 characters.
While I find a lot of the Twitterers to be a combination of
code and banality...there is also the occasional gem. Pithy comments
meaty with meaning.
I came across a blog posting by Richard Skaare for the 140-Character Resume. And he also suggested trying it for your
life story. So I took him up on it and posted to my Twitter
live for music,
love for family, learn from others, listen for wisdom, laugh for
freedom and write for purpose
From time to time I write short vignettes from my life - little stories
that someday may become part of a bigger story, such as a memoir or
biography. Whether they do or not, writing these vignettes is helpful.
I gets me reminiscing
two important ingredients
in life story capture.
The primary purpose of Margaret Randall's TellOurLifeStories.com
is to get you to write and post some short stories about your life.
There is an option to share these stories with your friends -
or the Internet community at large. I think if you take advantage of
her service it will help push you along in getting your story (or
stories) done. And, besides, you surely have something to
share with the rest of us!
TellOurLifeStories.com is very
affordable, less than $30 for an entire year. Plus, you get a free 30
day trial to see if you like it. When you post your story you
have a couple of font options and you can upload a photo. The
stories get saved in a PDF format that you can easily download and
share with others - or invite your friends to see your writing at the
site. I've had fun posting two of my own stories.
Give it a try.
Thanks to the Internet and all the associated web phenomenon we have
the ability to do research in our PJ's, connect with others half way
around the world and shop multiple price points before making a
We also have to suffer through surveys, spam, distraction and
"everybody's expert opinion".
Ah, the good with the bad. Today I read a humorous, but
pointed, article that got me thinking about all this. What Would "Bloggers" Twain and Franklin Think of the Web?by
Martha Rosenberg is posted at www.opednews.com. Benjamin Franklin and
Mark Twain have always caused me to reflect, ruminate and laugh.
But what would they think of this brave new world?
We're all aware of the enormous challenges facing us, our countries and
our world. We are especially confronted with the troubled
economy, but we also have the very real difficulties in our education
system, the ecology and various world conflicts (i.e. Israel and the
So today's posting is not specifically about life story capture
options. Instead, I want to point you to Kenny Moore, a very
interesting man who writes a very interesting blog. Kenny
works in the corporate world and has a lot to say about how things work
(or don't work) in that environment. He's not afraid to
comment on how we really treat customers and colleagues, or to tell us
the "emperor has no clothes".
Among other things, Kenny used to be a catholic priest in a monastery
and he successfully survived late stage "terminal" cancer. His newest
article, Letting Go of our Love Affairs with Leaders, had me
nodding my head in agreement. We do need to take more personal
responsibility for our happiness, life direction and purpose.
We must admit that we put leaders on pedestals only so we can
knock them off. We've got to stop expecting our leaders to be
messiahs. And we need to get back to a greater respect and
appreciation for our elders and what they have to offer. (Ah,
see, I did
tie in a personal history angle).
Read the article here.
And you can see what I wrote some time ago about the quality
of leadership - here.
I hope I don't disapoint all you cutting edge techy types - but I've
been a bit slow to adapt to the social media web 2.0 phenomenon.
If you are scratching your head over what social media and web 2.0
means, don't feel bad.
Internet time is faster than our normal chronological time.
Things change fast in the web world.
But the truth is that YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter
(to name just a few...yes, there are several more!) social media sites
are all the rage. A lot of people are using it to connect,
share, learn and chat. The Global Village is a-buzzing.
The trick for me is balancing my time and focus. You can
easily get sucked into the vortex of social media...and I can't spend
all my time there. However, I'm learning there are important reasons to
the one that seemed at first to be the most frivolous, but
actually the Twitterverse
can be an interesting place. Fellow personal historian Stefani Twyford (Legacy Multimedia) is pretty savvy with Twitter and I'm
trying to follow
her lead. And following
others, as well as others following
you, is part of the Twitter deal. Each member (don't worry, it's free
to join) creates a Twitter ID and you can find people with their ID
tagged to the end of the Twitter URL. For instance, I'm at www.twitter.com/imstom.
If you want to know more about Twitter, visit twitter.com.
And the article, 8 Ways that Twitter Can Grow Your Freelance Business, by Jenny Cromie,
articulates some good reasons
why Twitter can work to generate leads and contacts.
Is it me or did the first few days of January just fly by?
Hope your year is off to a good start.
Some of you are making resolutions and plans for 2009. Will
you finally take action on your life story? Are you looking to be
involved in personal history for your family, friends or others?
Perhaps you are just getting more acclimated to using various
web tools, like all the social media of web 2.0 (Facebook, Linkedin,
Twitter, MySpace, and so on).
Participation on and with the Internet is part of everyday life.
It was predicted, but I don't think we quite knew what shape
it would take ten years ago. And things will continue to change. But if
you are finally getting online for a hobby, business or passion you
will need to work hard and smart. You may not take action
with Site Build It in time for the
"2-for-1" special (ends tonight at midnight), but before you choose a
hosting platform or web building application I urge you to research
SBI. It really works - a steady pace as you follow directions
and implement the action steps. In the long run you will save
money and be rewarded for following your passion. Take a
couple of minutes to watch a quick video.
The new day has dawned with bright sun and blue skies in Albuquerque.
I notice about three hot air balloons up in the chilly
morning air and I remembered that it is traditional for a group of
balloonists to fly on New Year's Day.
I am optimistic today. There is much work to be done for all
of us, but all things are possible with faith and action.
Take some time today for gratitude, to be in the moment (don't spend
too much time fretting over resolutions and plans, but it is good to do
some forward thinking).
Great opportunities to make 2009 a year when you tell your story.
More ways to do that than ever before. I'm
particularly excited that more of you can me providers of life story
work, as well as engage in getting your own story preserved.
One of those exciting new ways is with the Priceless Legacy LifeStory
approach (see more here).
Choose hope, joy and peace on this New Year's Day.