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March 2011

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Do You Have An Amazing Real Life Story? Glamour Magazine Essay Contest

March 28, 2011

The seventh essay-contest from Glamour magazine is underway and if you have an amazing real-life story your writing could win you notoriety and $5,000! Plus, the magazine will publish the winning entry. You can see more about this and contest details at the Glamour magazine site.

As you might imagine, the stories the magazine is interested in should appeal to their readers. So probably love life and relationship tales, but why not a life changing event or personal challenge you've overcome? Those are great things to write about and could be inspirational to others.

I've been working the past couple of months with some 7th graders who are writing about personal challenges in their lives. So far I've seen some pretty interesting subjects, from loss of family members to overcoming health issues, dealing with moving to a new school and making new friends, and dreams of future careers and success.

I love encouraging people to write about such subjects. This type of material is often the heart and soul of a good memoir. But the writing can be hard work. Therefore, I suggest breaking it into steps. That's what I'm doing with my students. We first looked to some inspiring stories of other people, including Abraham Lincoln, Maya Angelou and Bethany Hamilton (the surfer who lost an arm in a shark attack and two months later was competing in surfing events! A new movie is about to be released about her, Soul Surfer).

After the students heard these stories I also shared inspiring quotes from various people. And I had them brainstorm challenges to write about. This is all part of the pre-writing stage.

Next we developed an outline and listed the personal challenge, reasons to meet the challenge, the obstacles they face, people who can assist them and and we worked hard on strong openings. These are all good tips to apply to any areas you are writing about regarding your life.

Here's a "personal challenge" - think about an obstacle you've overcome and use the suggested tips above to prepare an outline. Then write a rough draft without thinking too much about how good it is, whether your spelling is correct or how articulate you are. All of that can be reviewed and revised. Just get that first draft written. When you free yourself to write what comes to your mind after proper prewriting preparation you may find it flows right out of you. And that can be very freeing and encouraging.

The World Keeps on Turning and Churning

March 25, 2011

Global events are always taking place. But today we live in a world where news is instantaneous. Through the Internet and technology we can witness it as it happens. This results in a sometimes dizzying effect - that newsworthy things are happening more than ever. More earthquakes and natural disasters. More economic and governmental upheaval. More celebrity deaths.

Each day when I log on my computer and check the Internet for email and news I realize what a brave, new world we live in. In just the past two weeks we've witnessed Japan struggling with the effects of a major earthquake and tsunami and fighting to control nuclear reactors in danger of meltdowns, revolution in Northern Africa countries (Libya), and the death of a Hollywood Icon (Elizabeth Taylor).

In reality, there have been all of these news-worthy events throughout time, but because of our "global village" we realize it more. Plus, the advancement of technology truly does change how we communicate and live. We are so "wired" these days.

I sometimes miss times when the world seemed simpler. But we don't have to go back to a simpler time. We merely need to realize how important life is, how precious each moment is, and how important it is to honor the dignity of every person. Saving lives through helping those in need, and by capturing life stories, is honorable and righteous.

A Really Long Strange Trip

March 20, 2011

A couple of days ago I saw the news that Owsley Stanley died in Australia in a car accident. Owsley's fame was as the creator of the best LSD and it made him something of an outlaw-acid-chef. But he was also a terrific sound man/audio producer and worked with the Grateful Dead for a number of years. He had the nickname, "Bear", and if you've ever seen the dancing bears on stickers or shirts they are an homage to him.
dancing bears - owsley stanley post
I've enjoyed the Dead's music for many years and I also really like Steely Dan whose song "Kid Charlemagne" is based on Owsley. If you are familiar with the scene in San Francisco in the sixties and the acid tests, Ken Kesey, Tom Wolfe, the Grateful Dead and psychedelia, then the death of Owsley is another piece of passing history.

As a counterpoint to this counter-culture hero, Owsley Stanley's father was a U.S. government attorney and his grandfather was governor of Kentucky from 1915-1919.


March 17, 2011

I've found myself incredibly busy this past week and along with some company visiting it has made it difficult to attend to certain matters. Like posting to my blog. It's not what I'd prefer. I like to stay current. But certain things are more important. Paying attention to family and being present are quality decisions. By doing so memories are formed that contribute to our stories.

So forgive me if you haven't seen much new content this week. But know that things will return to a regular routine in a few days. Meanwhile, I'm spending time with out of town visitors, my grandson, and watching the world events with hope and prayer that there are better days ahead for those who are facing the really tough times - Japan and Libya in particular.

Mark Victor Hansen as Grand Dad

March 10, 2011

Right now our 1 year old grandson is at the house. He'll sleep over and we love it. But, boy he has a lot of energy! It wears us out, but in a good way. If you are a grandparent you know how special it is. Maybe it has something to do with having already raised your own children and the experiences that help you  take it more in stride with grandchildren. Or maybe we just mellow with age.

Mark Victor Hansen is known primarily for the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, but he is also an oft-published author, speaker, humanitarian and philanthropist. But he might consider his greatest and most rewarding challenge is being a grandfather. In the April/May issue of GRAND magazine he is featured in an article that discusses how he hopes grandparents will never "retire their mind" and be recognized as a treasure to their families. Hansen is also on a mission to promote green and sustainable environmental living. Obviously he cares about the future of our planet and the people who inhabit it. I hope you read what he has to say about the importance of this and for being truly present and putting out good vibrations when you are with your grandchildren. Speakin of which, time to gather Jacob Ray in my arms and get him ready for bedtime!

The Cry of Freedom

March 6, 2011

The events unfolding in the Arab world/Middle East this year (Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya) are true historical moments. We are witnessing people crying out for freedom and democracy in countries that for years have been ruled by dictators. Unfortunately, revolutions are often violent and bloody and we are seeing that. But we also must admire and even applaud the courage of those willing to stand up for their rights.

How will history record these events? What will future generations be told? We may not be able to predict the precise contents of future history books, but we can record our thoughts and share our views with our family, friends and neighbors.

One of the interesting things I am observing is how much the human spirit wants freedom. You can repress and suppress it, but it is next to impossible to extinguish. Thank goodness for that. How this freedom will be expressed in the future governments of these countries remains to be seen. Let's hope they are governments formed by and for the people and that respect human rights.

So here's a challenge to you readers. Write about what freedom means to you. Journal about your thoughts regarding the cry of freedom from the people in the Middle East. Think about the timeline of your life. What is going on in your world and how does it relate to what is happening globally, particularly in the stirring of democracy in places like Egypt and Libya.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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