Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
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The Guthrie Family Business
I've seen Arlo Guthrie in concert a few times and he's quite the
storyteller. Maybe it is in his genes. His father, Woody Guthrie, was a
folk singer, storyteller and troubadour historian of Americans "From
California, to the New York Island; From the redwood forest, to the
gulf stream waters" (lyrics from one of his great folk songs, This
Land Is Your Land).
Very often our past is preserved through the vision
and creative spirit of poets, musicians and artists. Woody
Guthrie's fierce independence and concern for everyday people
influenced countless others (perhaps the most prominent is Bob Dylan).
His blood courses through his descendants and Arlo Guthrie's offspring
continue the legacy. It's pretty cool. The Guthrie Family Rides Again
is a tour featuring four generations of Guthries. Arlo brings his dad's
spirit along and his kids and grandkids join in the fun. This Saturday,
April 3, they make a stop in Albuquerque at the National
Hispanic Cultural Center.
Arlo Guthrie (known for many years as America's favorite hippie)
has turned 60 and he continues to write songs. But he also has much to
share about family, music and creativity - with his well-known wit
intact! Here's a link to a conversation with Arlo. And more info about
his upcoming show from AMP
2010 Census On the Road Tour
You've probably received your United States 2010 Census form in the
mail (those of you hear in the USA, of course). The Census Bureau is
busy encouraging people to fill out their forms and return them. This
includes publicity like their vehicle road tours across the
country. One of the vehicles, named Geography and
touring the Rocky Mountain Region, makes a stop here in Albuquerque
today. You can even follow them on Twitter - www.twitter.com/2010Portrait.
And yes, they have a blog.
Every ten years the Federal government surveys the populace with 10
basic questions including who lives in the household and how
many, plus some other data that helps determine the population count
and allocate resources. From the official government site, "Census
information affects the numbers of seats your state occupies in the
U.S. House of Representatives. And people from many walks of life use
census data to advocate for causes, rescue disaster victims, prevent
diseases, research markets, locate pools of skilled workers and more."
Federal law protects the privacy of the answers until 72 years later
when it becomes public. For those who've searched for information on
their families you've probably encountered older census data that helps
you trace your family tree. I wonder if a future descendant of mine one
hundred years or more from now will be looking at what I fill out.
Those of you who are pet and animal
lovers will love the story
of Jasmine, the
caretaker dog (photo © Caters News Agency Ltd).
This dog is known as a mother surrogate
to many other rescued animals. Jasmine was rescued herself and her
maternal instinct is incredibly strong. As documented in this article from the Daily Mail Reporter
from December 31, 2008 (and confirmed by snopes.com, in case you've seen
the email that circulates and think it is a hoax).
Jasmine loves all animals. She doesn't discriminate. She's given her
motherly love to rabbits, foxes, owls, baby chicks, a baby deer, badger
cubs and (of course) stray puppies.
Do you have a favorite pet or animal story? This would be something
worth writing about. I've heard from some of you about your pet stories
and they are great. Take some time today to appreciate the story of
Jasmine and to think about those animals you know who show such
unconditional love. There's a big lesson there if we are willing to see
- and learn - it.
Yesterday I was in bed for most of the day, knocked down by some kind
of stomach bug. Achy, nauseous - it was no fun. But it did give me the
opportunity to watch the first two episodes of Who Do You Think You Are,
the new NBC series that is exploring the family history of seven
celebrities. My regular work schedule doesn't allow me to watch the
show live, but I had recorded them and so I settled down on the couch
to see what the show is all about.
The first episode had Sarah Jessica Parker traces her roots from German
immigrants who'd settled in Cincinnati and she discovered that one had
been involved in the gold rush in California in 1849. She also found
out that she had relatives in New England and one of them had been
accused of witchcraft in the Salem Witch trials of the late 1600's.
The second episode featured Dallas Cowboy football great Emmitt Smith.
His search took him to Burnt Corn, Alabama (great name for a little
rural town) and later to Virginia to discover his family slave roots,
plus a surprising ancestor who was a daughter of a slave and the slave
owner. He also did some DNA testing that revealed he had 81%
African ancestry (very high according to the expert) and he journeyed
to the west coast of Africa to find out more about his past.
This series is giving family and personal history a greater profile.
Although it focuses on celebrities you should be reassured by watching
that we all have interesting pasts worth exploring and documenting. I
encourge you to view the series which airs on Friday nights on NBC. More on the show here.
(personal historian in Australia and yes, another member of APH) has
been offering daily tips in March on preserving our life
stories. I've found many of them to be great reminders (from organizing
your memorabilia, creating timelines and topics, thinking about the
important people in your life, using photographs) that are practical
and can help you stay motivated and focused on your personal history
Today she was reminded us to think about the toy(s) we played the most
with as kids. I'm going to use that tip with the third grade class I am
visiting today to speak about family history.
It's not too late to sign up for Annie's free emails this month at her History from the Heart
site - go
I was in Santa Fe over the weekend. The "City Different" (as it is
known to many of us) has been celebrating 400 years. On Sunday I
happened to pick up a copy of the local newspaper, The Santa fe New Mexican,
and discovered a front-page story about a diverse
group who share stories of Santa Fe in a face to face manner. Among
them are longtime storytellers Nasario Garcia, Mary Ellen Gonzales, Eva
Torees Aschenbrener and Joe Hayes.
The article made mentin of how oral history that storytellers pass on
is important and helps preserve the heritage of our state. While New
Mexico may not be familiar to the average person we do have a great
deal of history. From the railroad to Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough
Riders, Billy the Kid, New Deal artists and the development of the
atomic bomb in Los Alamos. This state also has a wide blend of cultures
- Native Americans, Spanish and Mexican among them.
In the article Hayes spoke of the performance aspect of good
storytelling. And indeed it can be fine entertainment. Even the
storytellers in your family around the kitchen table know this. But
storytelling also has other purposes. Nasariou Garcia mentioned that it
also includes education as well as serving up a dose of moralilty.
Thanks to fellow APH member Pat
McNee (and current president of the Association
of Personal Historians) for the reminder that today, March 4,
is National Grammar Day.
Are you "dotting your i's and crossing the t's"
of your writing, etc? We can get caught up in grammar mistakes, but
don't let that slow you down from the main point of your life story
writing - the content! Yes, good grammar is important, but you can fix
that in the re-writing.
Here's some more info from the official National Grammar
Day site. Celebrate language and enjoy some fun
New TV Series
explores who you are
The idea of discovering who you are by researching
your family history is an old one, but surprisingly it is still an idea
that has not completely caught on. In other words, saving your personal
history is still a growing trend.
This trend is about to get a great boost with a new television series
on NBC that explores the family roots and history of several
celebrities. Who Do You
Think You Are? premieres on Friday, March 5th. The series
follows the journeys into the past and life history of seven well-known
celebrities, among them Sarah Jessica Parker (actress), Spike Lee
(filmmaker), Emmitt Smith (football great) and Lisa Kudrow (actress and
the executive producer of this series).
What can we learn from these up-close and personal looks into the lives
of some of today's best loved celebrities? I think we will learn the
same things that everyday people like you and I learn. We learn where
we come from, who our ancestors are, and a bit of how historic events
intersect with the lives of our family members. Surely there will be
some surprises along the journey.
It will be interesting to see how the popularity of discovering,
preserving and sharing our life stories grows as a result of this new
series (an adaptation of the award-winning British documentary series).
Ancestry.com, the huge online resource for family history and genealogy
research, is connected to this new series. Find out more at the
Think You Are? website.