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© Tom Gilbert

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

July, 2017

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New Mexico Families Sharing Health Care Stories

July 26, 2017

The news has been filled with stories about health care, insurance coverage, the Affordable Care Act and the desire by many Republicans and the current administration in the U.S. (President Donald Trump and staff) to repeal the health act legislation and replace it with something else.

Most people, myself included, believe that having health care is important and that health insurance is necessary. At the same time, in the United States health care insurance can be incredibly expensive and complicated. A lot of people would agree that it needs to be better and that the Affordable Care Act (often referred to as Obama Care) could be improved. But many parts of the ACA are important to people, including covering pre-existing conditions and access to government assistance programs like Medicaid.

Politics aside, the everyday person just wants to be able to have a life that isn't consumed with fear and anxiety about their medical and health care. It's hard enough to deal with disease and injury. Not being able to afford it complicates things and is why so many countries have some sort of universal health care provided by the government.

From a personal history and life story standpoint the stories of people dealing with issues involving health care and coverage can be very revealing. I live in New Mexico and there is a large portion of the population who cannot afford health insurance without assistance from Medicaid. One of our senators, Tom Udall, has  been collecting and sharing stories from consituents and I found it interesting to watch these stories on this short video compilation.

Birthdays, Anniversaries and Reunions - Oh My!

July 24, 2017

How do you celebrate special events?

It is a common practice to create a social event around a birthday, anniversary or reunion. Think about it.

It starts early on with your birthday. Parents, family and friends gather around a cake lit with birthday candles. They sing to you and then present gifts and cards. You, the birthday celebrant, are the center of attention. And that attention usually creates strong memories, hopefully happy ones.

Anniversaries are often special times. If you've been married a number of years you know the accomplishment and challenge of staying together.

A third type of marker of time with a social aspect are reunions.

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On the Occasion of the 200th Birthday of Henry David Thoreau

July 12, 2017

Henry David ThoreauMost people have heard something about Henry David Thoreau. Maybe you have a vague recollection of Walden's Pond or that the man was something of a loner in nature, whiling his days away with deep philosophical thoughts.

That would capture a bit of the story, but there is oh so much more.

Thoreau's life was fascinating. If he were alive today, he'd probably have some things to say about the state of our politics and society. It would undoubtably pain him to see how we've become ever more anxious and desperate.

In his relatively short life (he died of tuberculosis at the age of 45) he accomplished a great deal. He's remembered for his writings and his simple living. A well educated man who attended Harvard, he spent some years working as a teacher. But he also had to work hard in his father's pencil factory and that time gave birth to his realization that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

One of his favorite ways to contemplate life was by walking in nature. I can relate; I often get insights into things by taking a walk.

His mentor was another great thinker and writer of the day, Ralph Waldo Emerson. We owe a lot to reflection on our lives and thinking about the nature of things, including the nature of nature, to Thoreau. Mostly I admire his spirit of independence while also caring greatly about how we all need to live together in some kind of harmony. And with a sense of purpose.

On the occasion of the 200th birthday of Henry David Thoreau perhaps you can take a few minutes to ponder your life and legacy (read about the life and legacy of Thoreau at the Thoreau Society site). Here are three of my favorite Thoreau quotes:

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify.

Things do not change; we change.

Trusting in Something Bigger

July 6, 2017

I am not one to be preachy or to talk much about my own personal faith here on my blog for Your Life Is Your Story.

It's not that I don't have a faith or spirituality - quite the contrary!
Trusting in Something Bigger
But I strongly believe that it is a personal matter that each person should explore in their lifetime. I don't shy away from talking about what I believe in or sharing about my own life experiences that involve trusting in Something Bigger. I just choose those opportunities carefully.

What that has to do with our life stories should be fairly obvious. When you are writing about your life it is important to explore those areas that are full of meaning and help shape your values and outlook on life. Reading about other people's struggles with the difficulties of life and how we grow from them can be inspiring and helpful.

At the same time, a narrative full of complaining and whining can be a turn-off. So consider carefully what you write that will be shared with others.

One of the things I treasure about journaling is that I can be truthful to myself and include anything. It's not for public consumption. If I ever intend to share from my journal writing I can use excerpts, edit where necessary, and put it out in some format for others, be that in a letter, book, soocial media or a blog post.

Today I am in the middle of great concern over a family member's health situation. It is not appropriate to go into the private details, but I will relate that it has to do with a burst appendix followed by surgery. That led to a day of what appeared to be improvemet followed by the next day and complications. It's scary. I am worried. Yet my life experiences and my personal faith have taught me that life is full of possibilities. Good and bad happen. What's really important is what I am doing. How am I responding? How can I be of help?

Trouble comes. Life can be hard. I know because I've had some of those experiences. I also get lots of emails from other people interested in preserving their life stories and frequently they mention how they have had extremely difficult life experiences.

Keep in mind that your life is not what happens to you. Sun and rain, joy and pain fall on us all. Your life is what you do with all that joy, pain and everything in between.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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