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                     ...and whatever else catches the fancy of personal historian Tom Gilbert

June 2004

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You are Important and So Is Your Family History

June 30, 2004

The more I use David Michael's excellent Journal Software the more impressed I am with it. I love that it allows for creating multiple categories - I've got several going now. It's been especially helpful for organizing my different writing and web site projects.

He sends out a monthly newsletter and there always some good writing prompts included. I found these contributed by Susan Michael to be very pertinent for those working on their memoirs.

1. Write about an employment that you had which you
either learned a great deal from, or which you dreaded. Write in a
narrative form.

2. Write thoughts prompted by your high school yearbook. (This is particularly timely for me as my class is having our 30-year reunion in July. It would be fun to go but too far to travel for me, so I'll travel down memory lane with the yearbook.)

Good tips from Ms. Michael who currently facilitates the Tulsa
Writers Cafe for the Arts & Humanities Council in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Ms. Michael has also led writing & creativity workshops for
children, teenagers, and adults.

More about the Journal here.

June 27, 2004

One of the considerations when you decide to preserve a life story is doing it before the subject's life is over. It's not unusual to find motivation when the end of life is near. While a heartfelt story can be told and preserved at death's door it is so much better to plan ahead and get started as soon as you can.

How much time do we have? In our often hectic lives as we look at all the things to do that involve work, family and responsibilities we wonder where we will find the time. Sometimes, particularly as we age, we ask that question about our lifespan.

The truth is all we have is today. Twenty-four hours. You can divide it into minutes or seconds if you'd like. But, living your life in days instead of weeks, months or years, is a much better way to live life. It keeps you in the present, which is all we have anyway. Time is merely a linear way of measuring our life.

Each day do something that really matters. Appreciate the time you have and share it with others. Your life is your story and you are adding to that story each and every day.

June 22, 2004

You've no doubt heard, by now, that former President Bill Clinton's memoir, My Life, has gone on sale. Mr. Clinton describes the 957 page (whew!) book this way: "I tried to elevate the importance of politics. ... I hope when people read this, they'll have more of an appreciation for it."

There's a lot of hoopla around this, as there would be with anyone as famous (or infamous - take your pick) as this. I know what you're thinking. Yeah, nobody would be terribly excited about my memoirs. Oh, you might be surprised. Nearly everyday I get emails from people who have what they consider to be amazing stories to tell. Even if you don't have a "humdinger" your life story matters to your family and friends...and it should matter to you.

Have you been to my What Story and Why Page?

June 20, 2004

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads! Being a parent is a special thing in life and we certainly should have special days to recognize what a great responsibility and privilege it is. It's also rewarding. Today my wife and kids brought me breakfast in bed and I enjoyed that we all snuggled in the bed as much as the breakfast burrito.

Your life journey includes the connection with your family members. Fathers should pass along their experience, encouragement and life lessons to their children. In turn, children should discover the value of this in their own lives and pass it on to the next generation.

In my family I am the third with the same name. My grandfather was Thomas Marshall Gilbert. Dad is junior and I'm the III. How our first and middle name came about is directly linked to my great-grandfather, Fred Gilbert, a world champion trap shooter. I wrote a bit about him and my Dad in the first-ever issue of the Your Life is Your Story newsletter. You can read it here.

I believe that one of the most important gifts fathers can give their sons and daughters is the message that they are loved and accepted no matter what. When we start from this point then we can encourage our children to become confident and healthy individuals.

June 15, 2004

Any experience can be transformed into something of value."
- Vash Young

June 14, 2004

Yes, it's Flag Day in the USA, but more importantly for me it is my parents' anniversary. 53 years ago today they tied the knot, right after my Dad was officially inducted into the Air Force. Mom always said she knew her place - right behind the USAF (ha ha).

That's an impressive number of years to stay married. They've done it with all the hard work involved in any relationship. I'm grateful for that and for all they've taught me. Three years ago we celebrated the "Golden Anniversary" with a family gathering at beautiful Lake George in upstate New York. My aunt and uncle have a wonderful beach house there and put us up for a week. Good memories. I wrote something back then and I share it with you here.

Here's a good quote: "The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
— Muriel Rukeyser, 1913-1980

That comes from, a wonderful resource for doing family history/genealogy research. Discover more of what they offer here.

June 10, 2004

Ray Charles has passed away. A true music icon. He was a multiple Grammy winner whose wide range of musical stylings - from blues, Gospel, country, jazz and R&B - allowed him to reinvent songs in a style that centered around one of the most expressive soulful voices I ever heard. Songs like Georgia on My Mind, What'd I Say, and Hit the Road Jack are true classics. But just about anything Ray lent his voice too was special - he could make other people's songs his own. One of my favorite Christmas songs is his version of Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer.

Blind by the age of 7 and an orphan at 15, Ray Charles also lived through the harsh bigotry of the segregated South and many years of heroin addiction. A colorful character, to be sure, with the way he'd bounce his legs and swing his head side-to-side. I did get to see him once in concert and it was awesome!

Here's a good retrospective and remembrance of Ray Charles at this USA Today link

June 7, 2004

Today most of the media coverage was dominated by rememberances of former President Ronald Reagan who died on Saturday at the age of 93.

Mr. Reagan served two terms as President of the United States, from 1981-1989. Like most past presidents, he wrote his memoirs, but he even penned an autobiography in 1965 ("Where's the rest of me?" ). A couple of interesting notes about him: he was the oldest man ever elected president and only two other presidents lived to 90 - John Adams and Herbert Hoover.

You can learn some helpful things for planning a biography or life story from the coverage of Mr. Reagan on the CNN web site. In particular, read the biography they posted. It gives an insight into his life - divided into different stages.

While few of us are in the historical spotlight the way Ronald Reagan was, each of us do have lives filled with memories and events. It's important to preserve them and it's a lot easier to do it as you go along - and before it's too late.

An additional note: Ronald Reagan had Alzheimer's. This is an affliction many of our elders deal with and it affects memory. Mr. Reagan and his wife Nancy established the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Institute with the Alzheimer's Association.

Be sensitive to anyone whose life story you are preserving who may be so affected. You can find a great deal of helpful information regarding this illness at the Alzheimer's Association and
A D E A R - Alzheimer's Disease Education & Referral Center.

June 6, 2004

Today is the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, a momentous historical occasion when the Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, France. It was a turning point in WWII.

See Bill Moyers special section at the PBS website on veterans of D-Day. Three men featured have written their war memoirs and excerpts are posted.

June 3, 2004

Well, things are certainly heating up here in the desert southwest. But, it's a "dry heat" :-)

There are so many digital methods to tell one's story and technology keeps advancing. DVD's, video, e-books, websites — These can be good tools for your life story. Just how to best utilize those tools to get the end result of a personal history can be challenging. Fortunately, there is help from a network of creative storytellers. West of New Mexico (where I reside) in the wonderfully scenic and magical village of Sedona, Arizona the Digital Storytelling Festival will soon get underway. The main part of the gathering is June 10-12, but there's some bootcamp workshops earlier in the week. You can learn all about it at the official website.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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