of Fitness - Jumping Jack Lalanne
January 26, 2011
Three days ago the "Father of Fitness", Jack Lalanne died. He was 96
years old and lived a long life of incredible health and fitness. He
was ahead of his time. Back in the 1930's to 1950's he was developing a
reputation as a great advocate of health and working out. This was long
before such a thing was fashionable. His morning TV show
aired for over thirty years, targeting children and housewives. Along with his dog, Happy, he stirred
many to exercise.
Lalanne started out as a kid hooked on sweets. "I was a sugarholic and
a junk food junkie! It made me weak and it made me mean," he said (see Biography.com). But his life was
turned around when he made a commitment to quit eating sweets, in fact,
to eat healthy and workout. At the age of 15 his mother dragged him to
a lecture on healthy living given by nutritionist Paul Bragg and he
became inspired to change his ways. He became very disciplined about it
and for many years would workout two hours a day - both strength
conditioning and swimming. He became known for some incredible feats
that he continued well into his later years. At an age when many
elderly are just trying to "get around" he
was still doing great swimming and strength feats, such
as towing 70 boats with 70 people from the Queen’s Way Bridge
in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, a distance of 1
½ miles, when he was 70 years old!
His legacy is a good one - he set out to live his dream and left his
mark. I found the Los Angeles Times article by Claudia Luther to be
fascinating. "Jumping Jack" Lalanne is an inspiration for anyone who
wonders how they can turn their life around.
Golden Anniversary for a "Golden" Speech
January 20, 2011
50 Years ago to the day (January 20, 1961) U.S. President John F.
Kennedy gave his memorable and remarkable inauguration speech (text and audio here, courtesy of NPR.org). It was
filled with some great quotes, most notable being, "Ask not what your
country can do for you – ask what you can do for your
country.” Another great line was, “Let us never
negotiate out of fear. But never let us fear to negotiate.”
But perhaps the key line was, “Let every nation know, whether
it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden,
meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the
survival and success of liberty."
How good was this speech? That's the subject of an article on the Christian Science Monitor. Great rhetoric has the power to
challenge, motivate and inspire us. It has staying power. Great
speeches are recorded
etched in our memory and chiseled
in time. They become hallmarks of the orator's legacy.
Google's home-page logo doodle (cleverly
composed with words from the speech) commemorated this historic event
and included a link to search results about the
speech. Consider how many
exposed to the information this way, a result of our Internet Age.
I was just four years old when JFK was inaugurated. Older citizens may
remember the day and speech. How did it impact you? Have you considered
recording your thoughts in the context of your life? It was an
important time, a new decade launching under the shadow of the Cold War
the possibility of nuclear missiles in Cuba. It was the start of a
tumultuous time leading to great social unrest and incredible change.
Here, now, in our own time, the past few days have included the Martin
Luther King, Jr.
Holiday and the death of Sargent Shriver, two icons of that
As a personal historian and life story advocate I can't help but
consider how our lives matter and what part each of us has in the
colorful tapestry of daily events large and small. In light of this we
might consider a variation on JFK's famous quote and "ask not what
history can do for you, but what you can do for our history."
Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
January 17, 2011
Today is the 25th anniversary of officially celebrating Martin Luther
King, Jr. holiday in the United States. This is a day to remember a
hero, a great American, a civil rights activist and a model of
MLK has a street named after him in a lot of cities, including here in
Albuquerque, NM. I discovered an interesting article today at The Washington Post
about a project that several Washington D.C. High School students
embarked on - traveling across the country to visit some of these
Martin Luther King streets. I think they learned a lot and so can we. Visit the story and even view a
photo gallery. You can also see more pictures, including parts of the
Albuquerque MLK Blvd at the N'Jeri Eaton website.
January 13, 2011
The first funeral for one of the victims of the tragic shooting spree
in Tuscon, Arizona took place today (NY Times article). It was for the
killed. Christina Taylor
Green was just 9 years old. But from what
we've discovered about her, she was very full of life and lived in a
way that should be an inspiration to us all.
Born on September 11, 2001, she was apparently inspired by the 9-11
tragedies on her
birthdate to be informed about and involved in politics and American
democracy. I find that pretty impressive for such a young citizen. She
had a desire
to be at the event where she ended up being shot because she wanted to
learn to contribute in some way. Now it appears her message in an all
too short life is that contribution. She was enthusiastic, determined
(she was apparently
quite that as a member of her little league baseball team), and
encouraging. Her funeral service was packed and those in attendance
heard her father, John Green, mention in his eulogy that if Christina
could speak to them she would say, “Everybody’s
going to be O.K.,”. “She would want
that.” he said.
I'm not sure we can ever make any sense of such
tragedies, but we can
draw strength and inspiration from each other. We can rally around the
ones that are grieving. We can live our lives to the fullest. We can
try to change our families, communities and world by doing what we can
to be more sensitive and loving. Today I was paging through a book by
writer and personal historian, Pat McNees. Dying - A Book of Comfort
(available from Amazon) is full of
reflections from a number of people about death, including when sudden
death strikes. In one entry, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People",
Rabbi Harold Kushner writes, "Let me suggest that the bad things that
happen to us in our lives do not have a meaning when they happen to us.
They do not happen for any good reason which would cause us to accept
them willingly. But we can give them a meaning. We can redeem these
tragedies from senselessness by imposing meaning on them."
In other words, when tragedy strikes harden not your heart. Instead, be
a light in a world too often struggling in darkness. We so need the
Your Big "But"?
January 11, 2011
I really needed a laugh today. You might have noticed that today's date
and some people were speculating that meant good luck. But
not so for me. My car broke down (again) and to repair it cost me
another $500. I've had a series of repairs recently for this 1999 car I
bought 7 months ago to replace a car that had been totaled in an
accident. At the time I thought I got a good bargain for $1,500, but
over the months I've had to spend more than twice that and it has been
back to today and this blog post for "What's Your Big 'But'?".
I was reading personal historian Sarah White's new blog - True Stories Well Told
- and she referenced Pee-Wee Herman's movie Pee Wee's Big Adventure.
In the film one of Pee-Wee's friends reveals her yearning to do
adventurous, yet she hesitates, using the word but (as in, "but I
can't do that"). Pee-Wee tells her everyone has a big but and that she
should talk about hers. A cute pun, but
with plenty to consider. All of us have situations, feelings, concerns
and obstacles that are holding us back from doing or accomplishing our
dreams. I can't let my car problems and financial challenges stop me.
You shouldn't let anything stop you either. But
(sorry!) sometimes you have to talk about it.
Sarah White is inviting you to think - and write - about your "Big but"
and submit it to her blog. Go here for more information. (And
I've nothing to write about).
January 8, 2011
How do you spark your creativity? I think it can happen in many ways.
But mostly for me it comes as a result of doing something. I have to
take action. I can't just sit still and suddenly be creative, although
sitting still and being quiet and contemplative can give me creative
The action for writers is to (surprise) - write! It does have to be
brilliant or an incredible amount at a time. Just write. Journaling is
a great for regular writing, especially to unleash your inner thoughts,
emotions, impressions, concerns and ideas. You don't have to share it
with anyone. Then again, if you need an audience, you can try blogging.
A lot of people are doing it. But it is a commitment to regularly write
and you need to consider your audience and your topics carefully. Most
blogs have some type of theme or focus.
Another way to enhance creativity is to be around creative things and
people. Read poetry, explore nature, view theater, movies and art. It
tends to rub off on you.
I was grateful this evening to see these two ideas expressed as part of
Tips to Enhance Creativity in 2011, writtin by Linda Joy
Myers. She's the current NAMW President (National Association of Memoir
Writers). Her article was included in the January 2011
newsletter I subscribe to by email (it's free). I couldn't locate the
their website, but there is a lot of great information available
online, including their blog.
So, go do something creative. And then share it with someone else. We
need to be "the spark" in the lives of others.
Photos from an Previously Unknown Photographer Vivian Maier
January 6, 2011
I recently came across a story about a Chicago woman who had for years
in relative anonymity, as a nanny and with a passion for photography.
Unfortunately, during her lifetime Vivian Maier did not receive
recognition for her incredible talent for capturing amazing pictures
with her street photography. This was due in part by her choice to
strictly guard her private life.
Fortunately, her pictures are now coming to light thanks to the
discovery of them by a real estate agent John Maloof who was searching
for historical photographs to include in a book he was cowriting about
Portage Park. At a local auction house he bought some stuff that
included a box with more than 30,000 negatives. He put it away in a
closet, but later went back to the box. Although he knew almost
nothing about photography he scanned some of the negatives into his
computer and began viewing them. He discovered wonderful shots, became
intrigued and even started experimenting with photography himself. He
quickly gained a greater appreciation for Maier's keen eye and artistic
sensibility. He realized this type of photography was much harder than
You should certainly go to this story, The Life and Work of Street Photographer Vivian Maier
Nora O'Donnell. Read the article and view the photo gallery. It is
stunning work and a reminder that so many people indeed have an
interesting and special gift that should be shared with the world.
Although Vivian Maier didn't seem to crave attention, her photos show
us much about Chicago at that time and is a legacy of her
well as wonderful snapshots in time.
Zinsser on Writing Personal History
January 3, 2011
I've been re-reading some helpful books on writing, especially those
that deal with memoir, autobiography and personal history. William
Zinsser in his classic On Writing Well has a chapter, Writing About Yourself, in
mentions some memoirs, including one by Alfred Kazin (A Walker in the City).
The esteemed literary critic, according to Zinnser, preferred the
literary genre he termed "personal history" more than others because of
the honesty and the willingness of the author to place themselves into
the landscape of American literature through such personal writing.
I like that. Where does your life...and your writing...fit into the
landscape of "literature"? The genre of personal history may be
non-fiction, but a well written personal narrative can often be
January 1, 2011
Happy New Year! Today is the first day of the new year, and it reads
numerically as 1-1-11, which is kind of neat. Every day holds promise
and it is key to live in the present. This is something we all hear,
but it took me a long time to really begin to practice it.
As we embark on 2011 I continue to work towards my certification to
teach school as well as working on various life story projects. Some
are my own or family, others are clients. Each project has its
intriguing aspects, challenges and rewards.
In the coming months I'm hoping to develop more resources for you to
explore and more encouragement for those of you who are attempting to
preserve your legacy in some fashion. If you have not investigated the
various Life Story Services
featured at Your Life Is
Your Story I hope you will soon do so. I also think the
article, Writing My
Life Story may enlighten you to some thought
processes and action steps for writing about your life.