Did you hear the story about the homeless Phoenix man who passed away,
but left large contributions to various non-profits, including a
substantial sum of funding credits to National Public Radio? Turns out
after Richard Leroy Walters died he left an estate of some $4 million.
He enjoyed listening to public radio and wanted to encourage others to
do the same.
Despite being an atheist he was befriended by a devout catholic woman,
Rita Belle. As a registered nurse she worked at a senior center that
Walters would visit (turns out he may have been sleeping on the grounds
there). She works at a mission and Walters left them $400,000.
This was an intelligent and compassionate man who made his money
investing, but deliberately chose to live a simple life without a car
or a home. It should make you think about what you value in
life. | See NPR story here |
The Emotional Power of an Embarrassing Story
We've all had our embarrassing moments. Part of what we fear in life is
people finding out about them. Yet they contain powerful emotion that
can be great fuel for your memoir or life story.
You can do a little writing exercise - and you don't need to share it
with anyone. Write about an embarrasing moment. Relive the emotion of
it. Be descriptive. How did you feel? What happened as a result of the
embarrasment? And you survived it...right? You might even be laughing
about it now.
If you do this exercise I bet it will you free you up to write more
honestly about your life. Honest writing is important because it will
get you thinking more about your real
life. You will also need to discover how much is appropriate to reveal
in your memoir or autobiography (sometimes you need to be discreet,
especially if it is going to bring harm to others). But that's a topic
for another post.
Santa Fe in northern New Mexico is an historic city. It was settled by
the Spaniards four centuries ago. Today the city is a mix of artists,
artisans, the rich and famous and those with deep multi-generational
As part of the 400 year celebration of the "City
Different" a movie
documentary by noted filmaker and 15th-generation Santa Fean E. Anthony
Martinez (Silver Horn Entertainment) will premiere this evening at the
Lensic Theater in Santa Fe. El Corazon de Santa Fe
Heart of Santa Fe) is an 82-minute multi-cultural celebration
of faith and history centered in the heart of the city named after St.
Francis of Assisi. The film includes never-before-seen content of the
famed Cathedral of Santa Fe. This church is a great landmark in Old
Town Santa Fe and is sporting new bells as well as a new cross at its
pinnacle. The documentary also includes scores of interviews from
preeminent historians, some of New Mexico's unique individuals and
historic reenactments of the arrival of Spanish colonists, Franciscan
priests and their interaction with the Native Peoples.
Santa Fe has a rich history and this celebration is timed to coincide
with the beginning of the annual Spanish Market.
was the second man to step on to the surface of the moon.
He and Neil Armstrong were part of the heroic and historic Apollo 11
mission to the moon, along with Michael Collins who remained in orbit
around the moon while the Eagle (lunar module) descended to the
As you might imagine, being part of such a significant event affects
you for the rest of your life. For Aldrin, life had challenges and
difficulties and he bravely documented it in his
to Earth. He battled his personal demons,
including alcoholism, and his story helps us to appreciate the humanity
of our astronauts. He reflected a bit on life after the moon and the 40
year anniversary of Apollo 11 with Steve Inskeep of NPR Radio (story here).
The Real Moon Walk
Today - July 20, 1969 - marks the 40th anniversary of the first men who
landed and walked on the moon. Do you remember where you were when this
historic event happened? I was a huge fan of the NASA space program
growing up and I vividly remember the family gathered around the black
and white TV in our living room to watch the live broadcast.
When Neil Armstrong stepped down to the lunar surface and pronounced,
"One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" we were all in awe.
Authoritative. Credible. Trustworthy. These are the
hallmarks of the TV anchorman once considered the most trusted man in
America. A legend has passed away. Walter Cronkite was a fixture of
media for a generation. He died last night at the age of 92.
I remember him on the CBS Nightly News from my days as a youngster
until well past college age. My fascination with the space program and
was enriched by his reporting. Cronkite, dubbed "Uncle Walter" by his
colleagues, delivered news with authority and without bias. But you
could clearly tell when something big affected him, such as his
breaking news of John F. Kennedy's death by assasination in 1963 and
his awed coverage of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon (40th
anniversary of the July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 event is this Monday).
Thank you Walter Cronkite for all those years of telling us "that's the
way it is".
(Excellent stories about Cronkite and his career on NPR.org)
Thanks to blogs, Facebook and email lists I am
regularly drawn to
stories and postings about the subject of personal history.
Such was the case today when I came across Stefani Twyford's
entry for her LegacyMultimedia.com blog. What Calls Us To These Personal Histories
musing about her interest in preserving life stories (she is quite
talented in the video genre). She points out that sadly some families
don't take an interest in preserving their history and boxes of
mementos and photographs often end up in pawn shops or antique stores.
But sometimes a family member will take interest in artifacts and start
mining their past.
On July 10 (see below) I wrote
a little about the "what" of your life
story. You should also consider the "why". I know that I get great joy
in helping people document their lives and it gives me satisfaction
when they realize the priceless value of a personal history project.
In my opinion there are two very important reasons - the "why" of your
First there is the need to find the real meaning life has for you. This
journey we are all on is a varied one, for sure, but there are some
similar things we are all going through.
Each of us, in our search for meaning in life, has a vast amount of
experience to draw upon. Our struggles and hardship, along with our
achievements and blessings, teach us life’s lessons. Your
experience, your strength and the hope that endures are part of your
unique story — and part of the reason why you should tell
your life story.
The second primary reason to tell your life story is to leave your
mark. This is what we call your legacy. We all want to be remembered.
Certainly we want to be remembered for the good we've done and for the
significant accomplishments in our lives. There is satisfaction in a
life well-lived. Living a life fully and richly experiencing what it
means to be alive and involved in helping others is a great thing. To
share with others who you are, what you are about and what you believe
in is passing on some very valuable personal history. | more on the what and why of your story
What You Know and When You Knew It
There's a line in a Bob Seger song..."wish I didn't know now what I
didn't know then". Yeah, think about that.
Much of what we learn in from experience. Who and what we encounter
combined with education to form the backbone of our life knowledge.
Culture plays a big part. A lot of Babyboomers are thinking this month
about where they were 40 years ago when Apollo 11 put men on the moon
for the first time (July 20, 1969). And the 40th anniversary of the
Woodstock Festival is coming up.
I was on Robb Lucy's
Your Legacy Smilesite and read about a project
conducted by a teacher in Utah. He asked student to interview someone
over 65 years about their leisure and lifestyle when they were 21 years
old and compare that to today's 21 year olds. The students were
intimidated by the challenge of that generation gulf. But he
successfully got seniors in the area to write letters to share with his
students and got a good response from them about their lives, loves,
wisdom and aging. The letters were read in the classroom and it spurred
the students to meet up with some of these seniors and develop
relationships and - share - life. What it is like now compared to what
it was like then. Many of the stories are (and others like it) are
shared at www.legacyletterproject.com.
People often agonize over writing their autobiography or memoir. It is
a big undertaking and it can be a bit overwhelming to figure out how to
I've pointed out frequently that you need to take some time to consider
the "what" of your
story. And breaking it down into steps helps gain
some clarity. Essentially you want to prepare your story
before you do
much of the actual writing.
This article at eHow.com by Dorothy
Sander includes many of these basic
steps. Read it and if you want to discuss how I can work with you on
your life story visit me at the Get Started
Dan Curtis, a Canadian personal historian, constantly has interesting
and useful posts on his blog. Recently he celebrated his
first year for
the blog - good job Dan! His articles about interviewing include how to
handle difficult interview subjects, interviewing the terminally ill,
and how to listen with your "third ear". You can see links to nine of
his interview articles here.
I also thought his post on the cost of a personal history to be well
presented. So many people want to know right away what it will cost for
a life story, but there are so many factors that go into determining
this. Read what Dan says here.
I hope your July 4th holiday was a good one. There is still time to
help develop your creative and financial "independence" by launching a
web presence that is more than a web site and with the great tools and
systems available creat a real on line business.
I'm referring to Site
Build It! which I've used successfully for this website
and thousands of others have discovered the incredible value. The $100
savings on the Summer Sandals special
is good until midnight tonight (7/6/09).
I've related the many benefits and affordability of Site Build It! before
- see here for more.
Declaring Freedom Out Loud on the Fourth
Whether you hold the truths self evident or not, the words of the Declaration of Independence
still ring with freedom and dignity for us all. Sure, our
country has had its flaws and still does, but it is also a wonderful
home with many things I'm afraid I and others take for granted.
For 21 continuous years reporters for NPR (National Public Radio)
have taken turns reading parts of the Declaration of Independence aloud
(more here). I think that is a fine
tradition. I encourage you to read
aloud from this document of American history. And a happy and safe
Independence Day to you all.
What shape will your life story take? Have you asked yourself this
If your life story is to be captured in print the end result probably
will be a book. A life story book is usually a collection of stories
about your life and including pictures is recommended. The
pictures compliment the story and also draw the reader more into "your
world". I always find it interesting to see pictures of
families and scenes from a life.
A full life story - an autobiography or biography - is a large
undertaking. There is typically a lot of research involved,
but what a great treasure to pass on to your family.
You can, of course, do something smaller. A memoir about a particular
phase of your life. Perhaps it was a life changing event. Or you may
want to preserve the tale of your love story or career.
I wrote a book about a young man in
Mississippi. Ahrend Walters is a
poet and a bit of a mystic. His poems can be abstract, but
they are also very spiritual. He loves nature, animals and sees that
humans are imperfect. But his belief in Christ as the true perfection
is his motivation. Believer
Poet: The Mission and Early Life of Ahrend R. Walters was
an interesting project because the subject allowed me to interview him
and write my observations as well as documenting his life history and
ideals. The book is available online and you can read an
Even if you cannot undertake a full life story you can capture an
overview or a portion and have an excellent end result with the Life
Story Package from the Priceless Legacy Company. A full-color hardbound
book with photographs, a digital slideshow on DVD and an audio CD of
the interviews, all for an extremely affordable price. Take
some time this July 4th weekend to review
this option and discuss it
with family members.
The shape of your life story is up to you but I can help you get