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July 2011

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A Social Network That Helps You Tell Your Life's Story

July 30, 2011

Some people will put just about anything on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks. Me, I prefer to be a bit more anonymous. But the evergrowing online trend of social network has an undeniable power to connect us with others and to think about our lives.

A new social network called Proust, named after the 19th century French writer Marcel Proust because of his infamous questionnaire, is designed to help you tell your life story by recalling certain memories through the experiences embedded in your senses and containing deep meaning. Examples include, "Who was your first kiss?" and "What was your biggest fear as a child?" But the site also prompts you to consider some "what-ifs". When you pray, what do you pray for? If your pet could talk what would he/she say to you?

This is different stuff from other social networks. You might want to look into it when you are struggling with how to move forward in your reminiscing and writing. CNET has the story.

National Association of Memoir Writers Fantastic One Day Deal

July 28, 2011

I spent some time once again reviewing the difference/benefits of memoirs versus some other forms of personal history life stories in this month's newsletter. If you missed it, it's online here.

One of the main things I favor about memoir - perhaps the main thing - is that memoir can concentrate on a particular part of your life. Not just the "who, what and where", but most especially the "why". Memoir, done right, speaks truth. It's the author's truth, to be sure, but isn't that important? Don't we all want to know our truth? If life is a journey that has purpose and meaning then I hope you answer with a resounding yes!

The NAMW (National Association of Memoir Writers) is a group dedicated to helping you discover the power of memoir, to craft one, and get the support, insight and tools that every writer needs. Along with inspiration and motivation (what I think we really need). Right now they are running a TODAY ONLY membership drive that saves a healthy chunk off an annual membership. Heck, they're even rewarding current members with today's sale. They call it "Christmas in July" and anytime you can save $40-50 on something as valuable as this it is worth considering. I know money's tight; believe me, I know. But at least check it out. The offer is good just today. I want you to find your truth and NAMW might just do that. See the offer here.

Machu Picchu's Discovery 100 Years Ago

July 24, 2011

I loved the Indiana Jones movies. There was great adventure, thrills, humor and history. The man who stumbled upon the amazing "lost" city in Peru - Machu Picchu - was something of a real-life Indiana Jones. Hiram Bingham married an heiress to the Tiffany Company fortune which in turn allowed him to travel to exotic global destinations in search of historical treasures. One hundred years ago today he was scrambling through a Peruvian rainforest in search of the lost capital of the Incas, that civilization's supposed refuge during the time they were resisting the Spanish conquistadors. What he found instead was Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu Incan city in Peru
This 15th century citadel has become a popular historical tourist attraction in Peru. It really is a remarkable and beautiful place. The Incan civilization is one of the fascinating ancient cultures of our world.

You can read about Hiram Bingham and a newly published biography about him as a "real-life Indiana Jones" with this review published at

Expanding Horizons in Las Vegas

July 22, 2011

The saying is, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas". However, just the opposite should be the case if you decide to attend the annual Association of Personal Historians conference October 16-20 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The APH conference is where you discover that you are not alone in your passion to preserve your life story! Many people (more each day) are entering into this line of work just as more people are discovering the importance of telling their story, or the powerful need to have it done with help from Personal  Historians.

When I first started exploring this line of work I thought maybe I'd discovered a brand new business. The APH both confirms my passion for this type of work and assures me I'm not alone or the first. Check out my Upclose look at the Association of Personal Historians - maybe it will resonate with you.

Stories of Your Town

July 20, 2011

Everybody is from somewhere. The towns we were born in, raised in, moved to - these places are full of stories. Some of them are yours. Bruce Springsteen sings a poignant tale about his hometown.

I first moved to Albuquerque in the summer of 1979. At the time I was living in Norman, Oklahoma, but I'd graduated the year before from the University of Oklahoma. I was flipping burgers and still hangin' on at the college radio station while mailing off packages in search of my first fulltime radio gig. When my college roommate convinced me to come visit him in Albuquerque with the possibility of scoring the overnight DJ slot at a new station, KFMG, well, I jumped in my car and drove out. It was a bit of an adventure. The car died just outside Albuquerque, but a good samaritan stopped and helped me out. My car limped into town. I got an interview and then the job. Took the bus back to Oklahoma, packed up my belongings and came to the New Mexico, ready to launch a career that eventually spanned 30-something years and multiple cities and stations. In 1997 my wife and I came full circle and moved back to the Land of Enchantment and Albuquerque.

We've been here since.

I'm no longer in radio and in a less than a month, at the age of 55, I'll start a new career as a school teacher. Albuquerque has become my home. I love the desert, the red and green chile, hot air balloons majestically rising over mesas, the Rio Grande winding through the middle of the city, the towering Sandia Mountain a magnificent backdrop to what is for me a magical place.

The city has a campaign going to gather stories from our residents (Albuquerqueans). The intent is to drum up tourism. They are offering a prize package to bring to town a couple of out-of-state folks for the author of  the winning My Albuquerque story. The contest prompted me to write this post. And it will probably nudge me to enter my own story.

What about you? Have you written about your town?

Lost and Found - Letters and Thoughts After They Die

July 11, 2011

There was an interesting exchange of emails on the Association of Personal Historians elist the other day (APH). It included how little privacy people have, particularly if they are celebrities. The focus wasn't on reality TV or entertainment "news" shows (although that was touched on). What sparked the dialogue was an opinion post by Sofia Groopman of the Harvard Crimson.

The piece discussed how people who garner a certain amount of fame inevitably will be studied. And that means people will go through what they've written, including letters and other correspondence. How much of that should come to light? In our digital age when so many are putting anything...and, it is worth pondering.

Just this past week my local newspaper, the Albuquerque Journal, had an article about some discovered letters from a person long since dead. The handwritten letters and old newsclippings had been sent to the paper by a fellow who'd purchased them at a flea market. He wanted them for the old airmail stamps, but he was intrigued by the letters and passed them on to the Journal in hopes that they could unravel the mystery of who wrote them. Staff writer Joline Gutierrez Krueger did the research and did find out who from the 1920's authored the letters (story here - click the trial access to read for free).

This peek into the lives of everyday people from the past furthers the evidence for everyone has a story. But I think it would be so much better to get with a personal historian and tell your story the way you want it told so that you can pass on your piece of history.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay AsherBy the way, I am currently reading a novel targeted to young adults about a high school girl who commits suicide, but before she does she records her story and reasons on several cassette tapes and leaves instructions for them to be mailed to a list of her schoolmates, those she thought played a part in her reaching such a sad decision to take her life. Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why is a riveting read. It also opens up an often taboo subject that needs to be talked about. Discussed, of course, with care. The sad statistics of the number of teenagers who take their own lives is troubling indeed. This book can help spark some important dialog.

Story Teller of the People's District Blog

July 7, 2011

Everybody has a story. I believe it. And here's more proof. Check out some of the stories collected by Danny Harris that he posts to People's District - stories and images of Washington, D.C.

This is not a collection of stories about national monuments or government or a tourist site. These are the stories of waitresses, bus drivers, religious leaders, non-profit administrators, teenagers, old-timers, neighborhood experts and rulers of street corners. Fascinatin    g stuff. There's a Washington Post story to tell you more.

The Retronauts

July 5, 2011

Can we travel back in time? We can when we see photographs of the past and add our imagination. The culture, events, people and technology of the past come alive at a fascinating site, How to be a Retronaut.

There is so much to see here. One of the recent features is Manhattan in Miniature. Los Angeles artist Randy Hage makes intricate models of New York storefronts from days gone by. They are 1/12th the original size and uncanny in their detail.

A Social Network That Helps You Tell Your Life's Story

Everybody has a story to tell!
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