Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
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Recognizing Rebirth and Renewal
April 22, 2019
Today is EarthDay.
It's a good day to recognize that the pattern of life, especially for
the life we see in nature here on our one shared planet, is that of
birth - growth - death. And the cycle repeats.
There is much to appreciate about our wonderful world. The amazing
diversity truly boggles the mind when you take time to notice it. We
humans have a huge responsibility to respect our planet and help it
stay vibrant. There is always upheaval, but we don't need to add it by
being inept stewards of the Earth and our fellow creatures great and
Spring in the Northern Hemisphere is our time of renewal. We just had
Easter and for those who believe in the message of the feast it means
life is more than we think or often see. Resurrection is a real concept
in both a literal and metaphorical way.
I was reflecting on the twentieth anniversary of the sad day in
Littleton, Colorado. April 20, 1999 was a day of unspeakable violence
and tragedy at Columbine High School. Those who survived have had to
deal with a lot of sadness, anger, grief and despair. And unfortunately
gun violence continues to assault our schools, places of worship, and
public gathering spots. It is not easy, but from these tragedies
rebirth and renewal are possible.
Former Columbine High School principal Frank DeAngelis shared how he
struggled with the tragedy and details his journey in his new
memoir, They Call Me Mr. De. You can read more about it with the People Magazine article and listen to audio from an interview with him on WBUR.
Intergenerational Story Sharing Between Chicago Seniors and 8th Grade Students
April 9, 2019
There are those who say that the young people of today don't care about
the stories of their elders. Maybe that's true for some, but a group of
8th graders from St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago's Jefferson
Park found out that many elderly people have lived fascinating lives
with great stories to tell. These students engaged in an educational
experience as they interviewed residents of Central Baptist Village in
Norridge (see Chicago Tribune story).
They brought new and old school technology to interview and capture the
stories. There were tablets and computers, but also notebooks and pens.
The end result, which I highly applaud, is that the young learned from
the seniors. Life experiences are great teachers, both for the person
who lived it and for those who get the story passed on to them.
Not only did the elders get appreciated by an interested audience who
captured their stories, they also shared a meal and conversation. What
a wonderful event. It was coordinated by the founder of MemoirforMe,
Nora Kerr. She's a parent of a couple of the students at the school and
also truly understands the value of preserving life stories. She is
having these stories uploaded to StoryCorps where they will be archived for future generations.
Plant Seeds Now for Future Story Sharing
April 4, 2019
It is Spring time and while many of us are preparing gardens and yards
for new growth it might also benefit us to think about how we should be
tilling the soil of our personal history. There are countless stories
for us to recall and share with our families. It is just as likely that
there will be some great experiences and stories in the future that are
If you are planning a vacation think about how you might want to pass
along highlights of your travels. When I was a kid people took pictures
that were converted to slides and we'd watch family slide shows as we
reminisced about the trip to Disneyland, the beach or to our
grandparents house in Arizona.
My wife and I will be going to Italy to explore the Tuscany region.
It's a lifelong dream. What will we see and experience? Many great
things, from art, food, ancient lands and cities, to all kinds of other
cultural wonderments. It will be special to go on this trip, but it
will also be something to share our experience with our children,
grandchildren, siblings and other relatives. Just as I have already met
some people who have told me about their travels to Europe, I have an
idea we may be doing the same for others after our adventure.
I read an interesting article in GRAND, the magazine for grandparents. Build and Share Your Legacy Now by relationship counselors and husband/wife team Judith and Bob Wright touches on some of the themes I am posting here.
Make plans to look forward as well as back and share some memories and
experiences. People love stories and that is really what history is all
about. Have you ever noticed that STORY is part of the word history?
Teaching About Immigrant Stories
March 24, 2019
The stories of people who have come to America over the years are
important for many reasons. Everyone has a story. Discovering those
stories and teaching about the lessons of struggle, desperation, hope
and opportunity that were - and still are - a part of the human journey
teaches us a lot.
It teaches us that even though people can come from differnt countries,
cultures and backgrounds we all have some things in common. So much of
the trouble we all face is finding places to live where we can be
accepted, not rejected, for who we are. Acceptance along with welcome
goes a long way towards building bridges. Rejection and keeping people
out tends to build isolation and fear.
In my 5th grade class each year we do a project about immigration. We
discuss many things. We learn about why people leave their homes and
travel to foreign lands. We also learn how they do it. Each
student does a project about a famous immigrant to America so that they
can learn about the wide variety of people who came to this nation
seeking a new life, whether they are coming for refuge or opportunity.
The kids get excited when they learn about some of these people and
their stories. Many don't realize how many movies stars, athletes,
scientists, writers, and "movers and shakers" of history came to
America from some other place.
country would be very different without the millions of immigrants who
came to America, who helped build this nation. Most were not famous,
but all are important, for each of them is a human being. One of the
resources we use in our Immigration Project is the Scholastic web site
about immigration stories of yesterday and today. Much of the focus is
on Ellis Island and its place in history. There is a fascinating
interactive tour on the site that allows you to explore the many
stations incoming immigrants went through to get processed. Lots of
interesting photos and audio. You can explore the site here.
I know one of the driving forces in our lives is a desire to be safe
and protected. I also know that is touted as a primary reason to keep
borders secure. We all can agree that we don't want our homes and lives
threatened by terrorists and criminals that might come to our land
seeking to harm us. But that is just one part of the great picture of
people desiring to come to a country that has a great history of
welcoming the tired, poor and huddled masses.
Aretha Franklin Tribute - One of a Kind
March 11, 2019
Last night the CBS television network aired an incredible tribute
to the late Queen of Soul, the one and only Aretha Franklin. It was a
star-studded event with many amazing singers from a wide range of
genres. That was fitting as Aretha Franklin was great singing any type
of music. It was fun and emotional to hear renditions sung with all the
gusto and love that these various performers could give. From Alicia
Keys, Patti LaBelle and Celine Dion to John Legend, Yolanda Adams and
Jennifer Hudson (and many more) it was a memorable night. I find it
especially appropriate that this Grammy Awards Tribute was aired during
Women's History Month.
Aretha Franklin's influence on people through her music and activism
has been widely noted, especially since her passing on August 16, 2018.
I, for one, am looking forward to the Aretha biopic that is being made
with Jennifer Hudson in the starring role. She was handpicked for the
project by Aretha herself.
They Called Him "The Kid"
March 7, 2019
What's in a nickname?
How's that for a question? Nicknames are pretty common. I bet you've
had one or more. My dad called me "Butch" when I was about seven or
eight. I remember not liking it.
Some nicknames come out of common usage. For instance, a parent may
just call one of their kids "boy" or "girl". In a loving way, you know,
like girl! Get over here!
I know of someone who calls one of her sons "Baby Brother"
and one of her daughters "Yady". But she actually didn't come up with
the names, it was other family members who called them that and it
stuck. That's kind of how nicknames work. Someone starts it and it
Billy the Kid, a famous western outlaw, did much of his carousing in
New Mexico. I live here in "The Land of Enchantment" and New Mexico was
truly the wild, wild west back in "The Kid's" day. There is a new movie
just coming out about Billy and his nemesis, the sheriff, Pat Garrett.
It's coincidentally titled, The Kid.
Nicknames can be fun or frivolous, but for those of us who have one it is part of our story. Here's looking at you, kid.