Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
quality family history and life story news, views, methods, products,
...and whatever else catches our fancy
NY Times Follows Deployed US Troops for a Year
The stories of the men and woman of First Battalion, 87th Infantry, US
Army, in Afghanistan are being recorded as part of a "Year at War"
special feature of the New
York Times (story here). This is not just
tales of battle. The soldiers share heartfelt concerns about their
buddies and families. They talk about their mission, their fears, what
motivates them and much more.
Some quotes: "When you throw all of the politics out the window and
you're fighting...it's for your brother." "My main concern is whether
or not I'll still be me when I get back." "The best things in life are
not supposed to be easy...I guess."
Nobody is going to say war is a good thing. Those who experience combat
often face many great personal challenges and make huge sacrifices of
time and often "life and limb". The insight shared is honest, raw and
reminds us that the lives and stories of each person are special.
Try Writing a Life Story Essay
There are many ways to approach life story writing and preservation.
Throughout my site I discuss this, the what
story and why, how to tell
your story, resources
options. I've also written a variety
of articles to spur
interest and get your motivated.
Today I came across an article on eHow.com
relating some basic and
helpful steps for writing a short (1-4 pages) life story essay. I
recommend you read it. If you take the time to
do this relatively short
assignment it might spur you into more fully developing an
autobiography or memoir. Furthermore, having a life story essay can
assist in job hunting or publicizing your skills, interests, values and
Some people can do this type of writing successfully, but others might
need assistance in polishing it or even to hire a writer for this
process. This is something I enjoy doing, so if you are looking for a
short life story essay or short professional bio read more here.
100 Years of Scouting Commemorated with Special Merit Badges
Growing up in an Air Force family we naturally moved around a lot.
Sometimes this made it difficult, especially when I reached my
adolescent years. But one thing that could help make a transition from
one state to another and one Air base to another, was being in Boy
I never made it to Eagle Scout like my younger
brother (way to go,
Doug!), but I did make it to the rank of Life. As a result, I earned a
number of merit badges. My Mom should have got a medal for all the
badges she sewed on the sashes for Doug and I. Come to think of it, she
did get some kind of official pen.
The BSA (Boy Scouts of America)
are one hundred years old this year and
one way they are commemorating their centennial is with an Historical
Merit Badge Program. Scouts get taught lifelong lessons and
badge process is part of this instruction in areas like citizenship,
personal fitness, signaling, pathfinding, camping, survival skills and
so forth. Special edition badges, differing only from the original by a
gold border, can be earned this year by Scouts. Four merit badge
pamphlets preserving the original requirements give perspective to
scouting over the past century. See more here.
Father's Day in America now a 100 Year Old Tradition
Perhaps you've wondered about the history of Father's Day. In America
it is a tradition that this year celebrates it's 100th anniversary.
Obviously, honoring dear old Dad goes back much further. In fact, one
of the ten commandments in the Old Testament of the Bible calls for
honoring your mother and father. But thanks to the efforts of Sonora
Louise Smart Dodd we have an annual celebration
here in the United
Dodd was inspired by a Mother's Day sermon in 1909 and she lobbied for
support of a Father's Day celebration in her town of Spokane,
Washington. She got help from the Spokane Ministerial Association and
the local Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) and as a result
Spokane celebrated its first Father's Day on June 19, 1910.
It took a little while longer to catch on around the country. But by
1966 President Lyndon Johnson had signed a Presidential Proclamation
declaring the Third Sunday of June as Father's Day. Then in 1972,
President Richard Nixon established a permanent national observance of
Father's Day to be held on the third Sunday of June.
Make sure to remember and honor your father on Father's Day. This year
the official day is Sunday, June 20th. I discovered a web site with a
lot of interesting history and thoughtful messages, gift ideas and
other resources. It's FathersDayCelebration.com.
For those of you who have the
privilige of also being a dad (or, like me, now a Grand Dad), give
thanks for your children and continue to support them. It's not easy
for many men to express their emotions, but consider this a "fist bump"
to all you stoic dads. Happy Father's Day!
I've mentioned before about the growing trend of online tribute
sites (many in conjunction with funeral service providers).
Today I came across another good example. The link was to the Life
Story Network hosted by Heritage Life Story
Funeral Homes based in the Midwest. I used to live in Grand Rapids, so
this was an
interesting coincidence to come across the tribute was to
Margaret DeWitt, a longtime resident of that Michigan city. She passed
away on June 4th. There is a very
thoughtful and heartfelt tribute posted with pictures and a short
lifestory. You can read it here.
Preparing in advance for a loved one's passing should include recording
thoughts and recollections, photos and more. This can be done by family
members as well as by the person who is preparing for their end of life
journey. Don't think of it as morbid. Rather, it is a way to reflect
and have an opportunity to offer up your opinion on a life well lived.
Book Publishing with a (shouldn't be a secret) Agent
not unusual for me to be contacted at times by people who believe they
have a story so compelling that their book would be a commercial
success. I never like to throw cold water on people's dreams, but it is
always such a tremendous task to get a contract offer from a major
publisher. Still, it happens.
I've never personally been published in this way so I must rely on the
suggestions of others. An agent seems to be key. Where do you find one?
A couple of possibilities would be through Agent Query
recognizes them as one of the best websites for writers) and helpapublisherpublishyou.com
(they use the clever acronym H.A.P.P.Y.) Also the writersandeditors.com
site (a very rich resource!) has a page dedicated to information about
agents and book proposals.
It's helpful to investigate this information if you truly want to
pursue the traditional path of publishing. Regardless, if you have a
story to tell (and I think you do!) the important thing is to start.
Your options are to do it yourself or find
The Things That Give You Pause
What makes you pause? What stops you dead in your tracks, brings you up
short, or steals your breath away?
Sometimes it is the still of the morning. A beautiful sunset. Or
walking out to the backyard patio on a summer night and seeing a full
moon rise over the mountain. Othertimes it can be a sudden shock, like
getting an unexpected promotion - or a sudden job layoff.
Maybe it is at the end of a good workout. I had a terrific 4-mile run
It can be the death of a parent (my mom passed away four years ago to
the day). Or a baby's happy face (I have a four month old grandson).
ending of a good book or movie. A great spiritual insight. Lying in bed
next to your lover.
Many things can give you pause. Reflect on those golden moments. Write
about them. Store them with your memory list. These are rich topics for
your personal life story.
75 Years of "One Day At a Time"
It's considered by many to be one of the greatest spiritual movements
of the 20th century. Today marks the 75th anniversary of the founding
of Alcoholics Anonymous.
June 10th, 1935 was the day widely known as
Dr. Bob's last drink. He'd already been introduced to Bill Wilson, and
the two are considered the founders of the recovery movement that has
helped millions of alcoholics around the world.
Much has been made of this 12 step program - and for good reason. But
at the heart of AA is humility, honesty, willingness and
openmindedness. Members help each other - it is a we program. A
belief in a Higher Power is embraced by most in AA, but it is not a
religion or dogmatic. Even atheists and agnostics find recovery, often
using their AA group as a higher power. So while many have a
relationship with God as
their understand him, some think of God as G.O.D. - a
"group of drunks" or "good orderly direction".
One of the most interesting components of the AA program is the
importance of a personal moral inventory and then finding someone they
can honestly talk to about it. It helps members discover their
character defects and nature of their wrongs so that they can go about
making amends and changing their lives for the better. I often think
that preserving your life story through a book, interview or video can
be a way to get in touch with the true meaning of your life, your
values and how you might want to make things right before you die.
Keep in mind that one of the traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous is that
they don't have a promotions policy. It's attraction instead of
promotion, so don't misconstrue my tribute to their 75th anniversary as
trying to "toot their horn". But I think an appreciation for Alcoholics
Anonymous is certainly in order on this particular "Founder's Day". You
can view an interesting timeline of AA on their website.
is June 19th. Just as I encouraged you to remember Mom in May, it is
important to consider the role of Dad in your family and your life
story. And even more so if you've been blessed with the personal
experience of fatherhood.
Parenting is hard work, but it can also be very rewarding. Are you
looking for a way to truly thank your dad? Creating a tribute book or video goes
much further than a card. It's a present that's lasting. It would be
pretty hard to turn something around in time for this year. But you
could certainly give
the gift on Father's Day - make the investment for
willing Dad's, or plan on putting something together that will be a
In her May newsletter Arielle Nóbile of Family Legacy Productions
made some other great suggestions. Her company specializes in video
legacy, but she encouraged going on an adventure trip with your dad or
just spending quality time with him. You could write a long letter
expressing your gratitude and what he's meant to you as a father. Or
show your creative side and paint him a picture, write him a poem or
put together a photo album.
Documenting our lives through photos, scrapbooks, memoirs and video
biographies are all ways to do this. As always, I welcome your questions and comments.
Nash and his Social Community Digital Publishing Idea
Richard Nash is widely known as a visionary and someone who's ideas are
shaking up the publishing world. Printing books is changing with
technology, not the least to impact it being digital content. When
people can download books and reading material for nothing - or next to
nothing, that has Publishing companies rightly concerned. And writers,
At the same time there is excellent opportunity for those who want to
more affordably preserve their life stories. We're certainly dealing
with some real growing pains!
Nash has an idea for publishing and he calls his new start up, Cursor. He offers an
excerpt from his Publishers
Weekly story here. It's interesting and
thought-provoking. As a reader I want to know more about ways to get
published. You, the one with a life story to tell, also must be
curious. And how we, the community of readers, will consume the written
word in the future is evolving. Nash seems to want to help writers,
vendors, consumers - the entire publishing ecosystem - to thrive in the
new digital/Internet age. It's certainly a challenging futuristic
vision. You can also link here to a video
of a talk he gave about the
digital publishing. Chris Anderson of Wired says it's the
best he's ever seen on book publishing.