Your Life is Your Story Go To Your Life is Your Story Home Page

The "Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives

© Tom Gilbert

Read about quality family history and life story news, views, methods, products, links, services

                     ...and whatever else catches our fancy of personal historian  

January, 2021

current blog entries
blog archive index

The Impressive Life of Cicely Tyson

January 31, 2021

The impressive Cicely TysonThis 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 are.

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
Hammerin' Hank Aaron
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

Emma's Get Well Note to Police OfficerOne 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 well note.

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 always remember.

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.

Hope Has A Cold Nose by Christine HassingTake 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.

Everybody has a story to tell!
Copyright © 2003 - 2021 All rights reserved
Email Tom Gilbert