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July-August, 2005

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August 31, 2005

If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break,
If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break,
When the levee breaks I'll have no place to stay.
-- from the song "When the Levee Breaks" by Led Zeppelin

Like many people I watched the news and prayed that the category 4 storm would not be as bad as predicted. The devastation that Hurricane Katrina inflicted on the Gulf Coast of the United States is difficult to comprehend. News coverage and photographs show lots of destruction, flooding and disheartened people. In New Orleans thousands are homeless. Communities all along a 200-mile stretch of the Gulf Coast have been hit hard. Biloxi, Mississippi resembles a refugee camp. As President Bush said today, it will take years to recover from this killer hurricane.

Nearly everyone will have some hard times in his or her life. When something of this magnitude happens we all feel it, even if we live far away from the natural disaster. Nine months ago the massive tsunami in Asia affected us. Four years ago it was the terrorist attacks of 9-11.

Our lives are our stories. People will have stories from this tragedy. Some of them will be sad and depressing. Others will be triumphs of the human spirit. The opportunity is now. How we act in times of crisis is not just a sign of our character. It is also a demonstration of how we live, day to day.

August 28, 2005

"The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen."
- Lee Iacocca

There's a lot of truth in that. I know that often a writing project seems overwhelming. Doing just a little, even if it is some random thoughts, can help. One of the reasons I'm such an advocate of journaling is because each entry can be as little or as much as I feel like writing about.

Most writers learn that the process of writing actually engages your creativity and your motivation. When you are balking at beginning then do a writing exercise. Anything to get the juices flowing. A neat trick is to take three random words and start writing a story using them. The story does not have to be complete. But you might be surprised what comes of it. I've done this several times and I save the exercises as they can be seeds for future stories.

Another thing that helps is to write about news stories. With Hurricane Katrina barreling down on New Orleans right now many of you could be motivated to write your thoughts, whether you live near the Crescent City, know someone who does, or are just monitoring the storm. By the way, I certainly pray for the safety off all in the path of this monster storm predicted to land by Monday.

August 25, 2005

Many of you are interested in writing your story, a memoir, or some form of personal history. I assume this, but I think my assumption is well founded. Afterall, you are on a site about how to do just that.

Writing can be hard work, but if you have the "bug" then you inevitably find your writing coming out in some form. A journal, short stories, articles, letters or writing your story. Once you make a decision to do some serious writing and hope to find a way to publish you are confronted by a whole new challenge. How do I do that?

One way is to publish an e-book. Now before you dash off to do that take some time to research it, because there are many ways to skin that cat. However, I do think Glen Dietzel has a good handle on it. His background as a teacher and his experience in e-book publishing the past few years has earned him a strong reputation. You should check out his Awaken the Author Within web site.

August 21, 2005

If you happened to catch World News Tonight on ABC Friday, you saw the segment they did on the growing popularity of people, particularly seniors, writing their memoirs and preserving their stories. There was even a short interview with Lettice Stuart, President of the Association of Personal Historians. The APH is a non-profit organization made up of over 400 members engaged in life story and personal history work, including books, videos, audio and other means of recording a person's story. I've been a member since 2003.

The story on ABC is another indication of the growing popularity of preserving one's story and/or family history. I've personally seen this trend grow a lot in the past couple of years. I believe the industry of personal historians will wcontinue to grow at a fast rate in the years ahead.

August 16, 2005

My wife and I are blessed to have two children -- a daughter and a son. Part of my fascination with passing on our life stories is because I believe strongly in family legacies. Sure there is the good with the bad, but that's part of what makes us who we are.

Some key findings in an Allianz American Legacies Study (here) shows many baby boomers agree. 91% said families stories are more important than a financial inheritance. The majority of persons surveyed, both elders and the boomers, said they were comfortable discussing key elements of inheritance and legacy planning issues. However, a much smaller minority have actually done so.

Get the ball rolling! It's important to do financial planning, but it is even more important to pass on your story.

By the way, happy 17th birthday to my daughter, Kristen.

August 9, 2005

Over the past twenty years there were the same three news anchors for the major networks. Tom Brokaw (NBC) and Dan Rather (CBS) retired recently. Peter Jennings would probably have stayed on (ABC), but lung cancer forced him off the airwaves in April and he succumbed to his illness yesterday.

Television news has changed a lot since I was a child. Programming is more than ever driven by advertising and the push to get ratings has compromised the presentation. It has to be hard to anchor a major newscast while knowing that the powers that be are going to hold you hostage to the lowest common denominator. Despite this, Jennings maintained integrity and had an easy going way of giving us the news. And he loved being a reporter and would still go out on location whenever he could.

There are a great many tributes to Peter Jennings appearing online as you can see here at Google News.

On a different note, although it is part of the news landscape, today is the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the second atomic bomb on Japan by the U.S. in WWII (Nagasaki). Just three days earlier the first bomb fell on Hiroshima. It brought about Japan's surrender, but it is still a horrifying thing to consider the massive destruction and casualities that resulted. And it ushered in the nuclear weapons age. Certainly this was a major moment in world history. Perhaps one day we will know a world free of weapons of mass destruction and at peace. I know for myself that the way to move towards it is to start with love and kindness to others around us.

July 31, 2005

Wow, is it really the end of July already? I hope your summer is going well. Maybe you've taken a vacation trip or had some time off from work. Those are good things to do as we must have the time to recharge our batteries and get away from the daily grind.

If you have taken a vacation this summer think about how it compared with your expectations. Also, how do your current vacations measure up to the ones you took as a child? And, if you have children, are you doing anything different on your vacations with them compared to your youth?

July 23, 2005

You might have seen a story on NBC news this past week about Joelle Pauporte, a young mother with breast cancer who founded the Light One Little Candle Book Drive in March. The organization is dedicated to providing new children's books to other cancer-struck parents with the hope they will read them with their young ones and build a stronger bond during a difficult time.

This idea can be taken further by parents who are faced with life-threatening diseases. They can take the bold step to write personal experience stories specifically for their children. To express love and share family history in a way that is targeted to your children's ages can be very special.

Read more about Light One Little Candle at their website here.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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