Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
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of the most beautiful places I've ever been is Ghost Ranch in
Northern New Mexico near Abiquiu. It is a very scenic and highly
spiritual place and I've had the privilege of making a retreat there
back in 2004. Georgia
O'Keeffe, the famous artist, lived many years
A new book is out by photographer Craig
Varjabedian that features photos he took of Ghost Ranch. I
found out about it at the New Mexico Magazine site. The book
is titled Ghost
Ranch and the Faraway Nearby, a great title for those
of us who live here in the "Land of Enchantment".
If you ever get the chance be sure to visit Ghost Ranch. And there are
various events held there throughout the year, including an upcoming
Writer's Conference, November 4-8, hosted by CLASSeminars.
A personal history area that I don't work in but have an admiration for
is video biography. There are a number of ways to go about
creating one. I think something more than a camera on the subject as
they answer questions ("talking head" style) is more interesting. So I
like to see some effects, some footage from the past - stills and video
- and a story presentation.
There are many who are very capable of putting together high quality
bio's. I offer some suggestions on my Video
The deaths yesterday of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, combined
with Ed McMahon's passing a few days ago, have put celebrity death in
the news. The morning show at a radio station I worked at years ago in
Grand Rapids, Michigan had a recurring bit called "Celebrity Death
Watch". When a high-profile celeb died they always said two more would
happen within a week. And that was usually the case.
Death is something we all will experience, our own as well as those of
friends and family. Sometimes we can prepare for it. Fawcett's long
battle with cancer was coming to an end and everyone knew it. Other
times it is a complete surprise. When the news came across
yesterday that the "King of Pop" had died unexpectedly I was startled.
I hadn't thought much about Michael Jackson recently. Usually only when
he did more eccentric behavior and it was reported by the press. There
was plenty of that in the past 10-20 years. Nevertheless, he had a
tremendous legacy of music.
For most of us - going through life without the glare of the media
spotlight - we should still be living each day like it might be our
last. In other words, one day at a time full present to life, people
and the moment. But also appreciating our journey. That's where life
story capture of your personal history comes in. Preserve
your story and pass it on.
Ed McMahon - Sidekick King
It's not as easy to play "second banana" to superstar talent as some
people might think. Ed McMahon made a career out of it, being the
sidekick and supporter to Johnny Carson throughout their "Tonight Show"
run. "H-e-e-e-e-r-e's Johnny!!" was his trademark intro, and then after
Johnny's monologue there was always great banter.
McMahon, 86, passed away early Tuesday. He'd been in failing health for
a few months.
McMahon did such a stellar job in his supporting role to Carson that
it's often been parodied. But having a loyal right-hand man has been
important throughout history. Every star pitcher has a good
catcher, Presidents need a VP (although that's not always been such a
great supporting post), and talkshow hosts like a good sidekick.
Ed McMahon had a long and full entertainment career. In addition to the
"Tonight Show" he also was a pitchman for American Family Publishers'
sweepstakes, co-host to the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association
Telethon, host of "Star Search" and also appeared on other shows and
commercials. Maybe tonight he's introducing Johnny in that
great talkshow in the sky. (AP story)
So another Father's Day has come and gone. You said "Happy Father's
Day, gave a card, shared a meal" - now is it back to the same old same
Staying connected with family and sharing the "brotherhood" of
fatherhood is critical for men. There is no way to fully appreciate
what being a father is like until you are one. And there is a way to
pass on our lessons and values. We do this by spending quality time
together, showing appreciation - and preserving stories.
My son-in-law got his first Father's Day wishes/cards yesterday. Baby
is due in February. I'm excited about becoming a grandfather. My dad
and father-in-law are looking forward to becoming a great-grand.
Make some plans and take some action to preserve the life stories of
fathers. I'm ready to hear from you and offer help. There are some
wonderful and affordable ways to do it.
And visit the National
Center for Fathering at fathers.com
for a wealth of resources and good reading.
"Laws alone can
not secure freedom of expression;
in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be
spirit of tolerance in the entire population. "
The above is a timely quote given what we are seeing happening in Iran.
You might be surprised who said it. Albert Einstein (I saw it on my
personalized Google page where I have a daily Einstein quotation).
Protesters have taken to the streets and the Islamic Regime has been
harshly and with violence (AP story). The constant struggle
for freedom and justice continues in our world. You are watching
history. I hope and pray that peace and justice ultimately will prevail
in Iran in the wake of these protests over that country's recent
I am in the midst of a lifestory project with a couple from Iran who
settled years ago here in New Mexico and have had an interesting life.
They've often spoken of their desire for an Iranian government that
would respect the people and protect freedoms. Knowing them makes the
news more real - certainly more personal. And reminds me that most
people desire the same thing - respect, dignity, justice and freedoms.
In a very tough economic climate and a national crisis Americans turn
to the newly elected President to lead them out of this turbulent
Sounds like today, but this is the lead of a press release promoting a
new documentary set to air on the Smithsonian
Channel on Labor Day
weekend. The program, Soul of a
People: Writing America's Story,
details the Federal Writers Project, an arts program created through
President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration (WPA)
during the Great Depression.
It must have been an exciting and fascinating assignment for the
various writers who spread out across America to interview citizens for
a series of state travel guides. The portrait of 1930
Americana that was captured including both triumphs and tragedies and
ignited controversy. Some well-known writers like Saul
Bellows, John Cheever and Studs Terkel participated. This shoud be a
fascinating 2-part documentary.
Bittersweet and Beautiful Man and Boy Story
In a reminiscence about her Dad and a special experience he had in
Normandy with a little orphan French boy, writer Diane Covington gives
us a beautiful and bittersweet story. Very timely with Father's Day so
near. Read Finding
Gilbert at Reader's
Digest and relish the great sequence of events.
For all you writers...and would-be writers: I got a kick out of reading
this post, On Avoiding Writing. Hey! It's not
just me - other people find tons of distractions and excuses when they
really should be finishing a writing project. Honestly, I do knuckle
down and get it done, but sometimes I tend to procrastinate too much.
Maybe it is the intensity of a looming deadline that motivates me.
Sometimes I do write better when I am forced to write rapidly. Of
course, I must always come back to what I've written and be sure to
review and re-write. It's often just getting that first burst out that
generates some decent output.
So, if Michael Hyatt (CEO of Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the one
who quoted P.J. O'Rourke in his entry about avoiding writing) struggles
with some of the same challenges to writing it is somehow comforting to
me. It doesn't excuse my avoidance, but it makes me feel like I'm not
And yes, now that I've written this I realize the necessity of getting
back to the article I've committed to finishing today!
The buzz continues to grow about the social network Twitter,
particularly since high-profile celebs like Ellen Degeneres and Oprah
Winfrey have started tweeting and promoting the site. Frankly, I
find it hard to devote much time to it. It reminds me of the early days
of web surfing and how easily I could start with one destination and
then end up way off somewhere else and far from getting work done.
Still, Twitter is a great virtual watercooler, and it also has some
good networking and business growing potential. So I check in from time
to time, discover articles, people, ideas and share a bit of what I'm
up to (follow me at www.twitter.com/imstom).
A blog post by Dan Curtis, a certified life coach, film documentary
maker and personal historian lists 8
good reasons why personal
historians should use Twitter. And those ideas will work
occupations, too. Check it out here.
Etched into the Steel of Shea Stadium
The New York Mets are playing in a new stadium this year and their
former home is set to be torn down. Actually, Shea Stadium will be
disassembled. As you might imagine there is a great deal of
I came across a website where somebody wrote about how their dad was
one of the iron workers on the stadium. Apparently on the
jobs he worked on he would etch his initials along with those of his
wife and his child. Now this child wants to have that piece of steel
when the stadium is torn down. That won't be easy, but I give him
credit for pursuing this dream and asking for assistance. Read more
about it this quest for a small piece of family history.
Never too old to learn to read - or write a book!
Richard Glaubman was a school teacher for many years, but he became an
author when he met a 101 year old Texas man who didn't learn to read
until he was 98. George Dawson was a grandson of a slave and had a
story to tell. It was his perspective of life in America. Despite
always living in poverty, and mostly uneducated, he had a positive
outlook on life. It goes to show again the importance of each person's
story. Fortunately Richard Glabuman was willing to hear - and then
write - Dawson's life story.
The result was Life is
So Good. As mentioned in this article from the Peninsula Daily News,
the author recently visited the students who were in his class when
he'd discovered George Dawson and his amazing story. Those students
were 4th graders at the time, but now are graduating seniors.
When Glaubman read an article to his students about Dawson, "Everybody
had so many questions," Glaubman recalled. "What grade is he in? Is he
in a class like ours? Does he sit at a desk like ours?' My favorite
was: Does he go out to recess?" These questions and the teacher's own
curiosity led to meeting the subject of what would become Dawson's life
Learn more at www.richardglaubman.com.
Running to Save
Lives and Writing to Save Stories
There's two things I am doing this summer that I am
very passionate about. And even though they are different activities
they have some things in common.
I am running to save lives through Team in Training
to fight blood
cancers. The Leukemia
and Lymphoma Society benefits from the
fundraising I do and I get to run in a half marathon on October 18 here
in Albuquerque (the Duke City half Marathon). Why would I run 13.1
miles? Aside from the fact that I've grown to enjoy endurance runs the
past three years (3 half marathons and two full marathons - what can I
say? I'm crazy for the endorphins), I really
believe in finding a cure for cancer and the LLS has raised nearly a
billion dollars over the past 20 years. They are a great organization,
have helped contribute to research that has raised the survival rate
for children with Leukemia from 4% in the 1960's to 80% or better
today. They help with patient care. And they bring people together to
help. It means a lot to those who are battling blood cancers. I've lost
friends and family to Leukemia and other cancers and this is a way I
can do something meaningful.
You can support me with a 100% tax-deductible donation. Go here to my
personal Team in Training website and you can make your safe and secure
donation online. Thanks in advance!
I also continue this summer to save stories. These are the personal
histories of family, friends and others. I can help you capture your
life story. In particular, I urge you to find out more about how I can
be your Legacy Consultant to put together a full color book based on
interviews along with a CD of the audio and a DVD containing a digital
slideshow of the pictures you want as part of your life story. Discover
the wonderful quality and true affordability of this Priceless Legacy
and PLC -
saving lives and saving stories.
If she did write and publish her memoir the public would certainly
gobble it up! Barbara
Streisand has been guarded about her private
life. But she has finished building her dream house and in the process
she documented it with a book of text and photos. In the Fall of 2010
an illustrated book of her home/compound
in Malibu, California should be released. Apparently she also writes
about other places
she has lived. It is one way to get some of her story, but she is
reportedly also doing some writing for a memoir that she may or may not
publish. You can read more at The Huffington Post.