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 of personal
The Impressive Life of Cicely Tyson
January 31, 2021
past week Cicely Tyson passed away. She was 96. That is a long life. In
reading about her these past few days I was impressed with how she
lived a life true to her beliefs and values.
She was not an early success. She became a fashion model at the age of 30, about the time most models were retiring!
Her first starring role as an actor was at the age of 50. It shows it
is never too late to do something with your life - with your talents.
Cicely Tyson decided that she would use her talent and her fame to
communicate her belief in civil rights. She didn't want to have roles
simply based on her beauty or skin color. She never shied away from
living her beliefs.
It is remarkable that she had some interviews about her life just days before she died. One of them was with NPR (National Public Radio).
In it she mentions how her mother did not want her to be an actress,
"But in my gut, I knew there was something I was put here to do."
She was married to Miles Davis, the brilliant jazz musician, and her
wish was that people could know Miles the way she did. He was a genius
with the challenges that often come with that. She undoubtably saw a
side to him the public never did.
Tyson never stopped working. Her acting accomplishments are many, from Sounder, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, to her amazing guest role on How to Get Away With Murder in which she played Viola Davis' character's mother.
One of the highest recognitions you can get in the United States is the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Barrack Obama awarded her that distinction in 2016.
The impressive life of Cicely Tyson is a reminder to us all that there
is something to our lives and our days. They may or may not add up to
96 years, but what you are doing with them now is what matters.
Youth Narratives Show Great Depth
January 28, 2021
The second annual New York Times Personal Narrative Contest
has concluded and the celebrated best show great depth of human
experience and insight. Pretty remarkable for such young writers in
their teenage years. Many of them are in High School, and as most of us
might recall, that can be quite the challenging time to discover who we
To be able to articulate that and move readers with their narratives is inspiring.
The writing is expressive and often shows a real vulnerability about
their lives, concerns and interactions with others. Peers and family
members. Insiders and outsiders. It demonstrates again to me how
powerful the written word can be and the importance of finding a way to
express our thoughts and better understand ourselves through writing.
Heroic Hammerin' Hank
January 23, 2021
Hearing the news about
Hank Aaron passing away yesterday at the age of 86 brought back a lot
of memories from my teenage years. I've always been a huge baseball fan
and baseball legends don't get much bigger than Hank Aaron.
They called him "Hammerin' Hank" and he was one of the greatest home
run sluggers of the grand game of baseball. More than that, he was a
complete player, one who consistenly played great defense, ran the
bases well (he is one of the few to hit 30 home runs in a season and
get 30 or more stolen bases), and he was a terrific all around hitter.
He is best known for breaking Babe Ruth's career home run total of 714
and went on to hit more roundtrippers. By the time he ended his career
he had 755 home runs to his name.
Eventually his record was broken by Barry Bonds. But what many of us
best remember about Hank Aaron was his calm demeanor and his
contribution to civil rights activism. He didn't shy away from
confronting injustices. He grew up in poverty and knew what it as like
to experience racism.
He greatly admired what Jackie Robinson did by breaking the color
barrier in Major League Baseball. He wanted to continue that legacy and
do his part. He did and then some. Aaron had to put up with
prejudice and racism when he first came up through the minor leagues.
And by the time he was on the cusp of breaking Babe Ruth's home run
record he was getting nasty letters and death threats. But it didn't
stop him from holding his head high and showing that dignity shines
through humility and non-violence.
Hank Aaron played much of his career for the Atlanta Braves. Being in a
deep south city he, like many other African-American civil rights
icons, showed a dedication to being a good person who others looked up
to. I, for one, will continue to look up to him beyond his time here on
Earth. Thank you Hank Aaron for the greath thrills you gave baseball
fans and for the inspiration you give us to promote appreciation for
people of every race and color.
Emma's Get Well Note to D.C. Police Officer After Capitol Riot
January 15, 2021
of the more painful images from last week's attack on the U.S. Capitol
was that of a Washington D.C. police officer being crushed against the
doors of the Capitol by the mob. He was clearly crying out in
pain as he was pinned.
His name is Officer Daniel Hodges and he is a veteran of the D.C.
police department. He is doing better now, but many who saw him in
news footage felt some anguish of their own. That includes a ten
year-old girl in Billings, Montana. She was watching the coverage with
her family and she wanted to do something for the officer. She
brainstormed with her mother and came up with an idea to write a get
Emma Jablonski is one incredibly compassionate young girl. She wrote
her note which had the following heartfelt message: "Dear Officer,
I’m Emma, and I’m 10 years old. I hope you heal from being
crushed," she wrote. "I feel bad for you. Those people are really bad
hurting you. I hope you and your family are nice and healthy. When I
saw the video on CNN about people crushing you with a door I almost
cried. Get well. — Emma."
The challenge after writing the note was how to get it to the officer.
Emma's mom, Johnna Jablonski decided to post the note on Twitter in
hopes she would get an address. The note went viral and the D.C. Police
Department later let Emma and her family know Officer Hodges had seen
the note. Since then Emma and Hodges have connected. He has
expressed his thanks and I am sure it is something they both will
There has now been a lot of media coverage about Emma's get-well note, including a story on NBC's Today Show.
That was a major life moment for Emma, one she can treasure all her
life. It shows again that out of ugly and bad incidents goodness can
happen. Thanks, Emma for your caring and your action. It is impressive.
Cold Nose, Warm Heart
January 12, 2021
I don't know about you, but I can sure use some positive news! Amidst
all the protesting, politics and chaotic events there comes a story of
hope that will warm your heart.
And it starts with a cold nose.
If you have ever been nuzzled by a dog's nose you know the feeling. It
is actually a sign of a health canine if a dog has a cold and moist
nose. And dogs, being the compassionate creatures they typically are,
love to give you a good nuzzle.
that to a new level when you consider how some dogs are used to be
therapeutic animals that comfort those in despair or ill health. I came
across a story recently about Christine Hassing, an inspirational
speaker, mentor and author of a book titled Hope Has A Cold Nose.
Her path intersected with a veteran and his service dog and from that
encounter she discovered that many veterans are literally being saved
by having loving service dogs in their lives. It is a very sad
statistic that twenty-two U.S. military veterans commit suicide per day.
Christine was motivated by learning about veterans and their service dogs to write a book. It was published in December of 2020. Each chapter shares the story of a veteran and a dog and explores their relationship.
“It is my hope that the stories within this book can raise
awareness about service dogs as a healing modality for those journeying
with PTSD,” says Hassing. “and to inspire those who are
struggling to not lose their will to live.”
These furry friend stories should serve as an inspiration to others. We
need to remember that so many of our veterans are dealing with
difficult memories and hard lives. Perhaps this book will shed more
light on what they deal with along with spreading some joy and hope.