Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
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Life Stories From Down Under
March 26, 2014
There is a website in Australia where they are gathering stories and
promoting life review and reminiscence. Life Stories Australia has the motto, "Where Memories Matter". Indeed
they do and it is good to see that this is a global truth. I promote
life story preservation in America. So do many other fine personal
historians and story tellers. The same is true in Canada, Europe and
In Australia one of the leading personal historians and banner wavers
for saving life stories is Annie Payne. She is instrumental in Life
Story Circles and runs a terrific personal history business at History from the Heart. She is also a board member for the Association of Personal Historians and the founder of Life Stories Australia. She receives
my free monthly
newsletter and was struck by the feature article in the latest
issue about nostalgia and reminiscence. In fact, she was very kind in
posting it to the Life Stories Australia site (here). I am honored.
Personal History Awareness Month
is coming in May. I will be doing things to help promote this awareness
in my community, just as I know Annie will do the same with others in
Australia. Other APH members are also doing their part. Maybe you
will have an opportunity to encourage people to save and share
their life stories. Doing so is helping humankind carry on their
legacies - a very valuable contribution.
Circling Back to
March 24, 2014
Apparently you "can go back home". The famous quote, "you can't go home
again" is actually the title of a novel by Thomas Wolfe. The plot
revolves around the character, George Webber, who has written a novel
about his family and hometown. When he goes back home he's shaken by an
outpouring of hate from the family and friends. Thus the message that
you can't go back home with the interpretation that you won't be
appreciated. However, when it comes to your personal history, going
back home and revisiting your childhoood can have great value.
The gist of an article by David Brooks, Going Home Again
(NY Times, March 20, 2014),
reinforces the value of reminiscence about our growing up. For Sting -
yes, the musician and songwriter, Sting - it inspired a creative
breakthrough. He'd been in a dry spell with his music when he started
thinking about the town he grew up in Northern England. This town had
been home to a busy shipyard that built large ocean-going vessels. As
Sting circled back to his childhood and recalled this place of his
youth he suddenly discovered a resurgence in creativity. It resulted in
a musical, "The Last Ship" which has been performed in theaters and
could be headed to Broadway.
Could it be that conscious reminiscing about the places of your
childhood might spark your own creativity? I think it is highly likely.
At the very least, it will cause you to reflect on your life journey
and that can lead to an appreciation of your experiences, which is
typically a very good thing.
Age to Wisdom Studies
March 20, 2014
It has been a long held belief by many that as we age we get wiser. I
like to believe there is some truth in this. But wisdom can be
allusive. Surely as we age we pick up more knowledge. But that doesn't
always equate to wisdom. Being wise has a lot to do, I think, with how
we apply what we learn to life, and how we learn from our experiences.
Our values and beliefs are certainly affected but those experiences.
Living well and living with kindness, truth, justice, compassion and
integrity are the byproducts of wisdom
A recent New York Times
article, The Science of Older and Wiser,
is a good read about the subject of aging and how personal wisdom
develops. One of the takeaways I had from the article was Professor
Staudinger's five elements of true personal wisdom. He lists them as
self-insight; the ability to demonstrate personal growth; self-awareness in terms of your historical
era and your family history; understanding that priorities and
values, including your own, are not absolute; and an awareness of
life’s ambiguities. I purposely emphasized the third element
because of its importance to life story review and preservation.
The article also states that an impediment to wisdom can be thinking!
When people dwell to much on their short-comings or their problems that
often come with age they can become depressed, angry or bitter. But not
if they accept reality as it is and look at life as a wonderful journey
full of incredible experiences, both good and bad.
Searching Your Irish
March 17, 2014
Happy Saint Patrick's Day! As the saying goes, on March 17th
everybody's a little bit Irish.
Genealogy is one of the favorite (or most popular) pasttimes on the
Internet. As a personal historian I find it more interesting to
discover the stories behind of the people hanging out in the branches
of the family tree. But if you are looking for some good online
resources to search out your Irish roots, I can make a few suggestions.
There are a number of subscription and fee-based sites. One of the
biggest is Ancestry.com.
There is an large Irish database section. You might also try FindMyPast or EmeraldAncestors
(featuring Northern Ireland & Ulster Ancestry).
I would suggest you also check out some of the large free sites, such
and the National Archives of Ireland.
May the sun be on your face and the wind be at your back as you journey
forth on the discovery of your Irish roots. And check out the About.com section or Google's St. Patrick
section for more.
from the 1950's and 60's
March 14, 2014
Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty and has build an
online community for those 60 and older. She lives in Australia, but I
found her post, Going back in time to
remember the things of the 50's and 60's, contains lots of
visuals that had me waxing nostalgic. Take a look and see what you think.
The Right Time to
March 10, 2014
As a personal historian I speak to lots of different people with
different ideas of their life story. Some have grand ideas of a big,
sweeping autobiography. Others are more interested in a short biography
that they can use for professional reasons. Some people want something
simple for their family. Others are looking to leave their legacy and
come to grips with the meaning of their life journey.
Every one of these ways of telling your life story is valid. There are
many approaches to personal history. There is no "one size fits all".
The important first step is to decide that indeed you are going to get
your story told. From that decision you can move forward by choosing a
genre (written, audi, video, graphic novel, scrapbook, quilt or
whatever turns your propeller). Every story is unique because each
person is unique, special, and one of a kind. Amidst all the
differences, however, there are similarities in types of life stories.
I've been reminded once again how important it is to not wait too long.
Over the weekend I received the news that a onetime client of mine
passed away. I'd edited Lynn B.'s writing the past couple of years and
she had a good, honest and whimsical approach to her story. One of her
concerns when she approached me to edit and even do a bit of co-writing
was that her "voice" would be lost, replaced by my writing style. I
assured her that would not be the case and that I always worked hard to
stay true to the voice of anyone I wrote for. Happily, we finished her
project last year. She'd become sickly, but she was glad to have done
it. And her family, including a daughter who managed the project for
her mother when she became too ill, were thrilled. They will always
have the memoir and the memories presented in her writing.
A good memoir will take some time and planning, but don't delay. Time
goes by, memory fades, illness or financial hardship hit, and, yes,
people die. Just in time is way better than too late.
You Interesting and Varied Stories From Life
March 6, 2014
I've mentioned Cowbird before.
I know, it sounds like a strange fantasized animal hybrid. The catchy
name is good, though. Cows ruminate and birds take flights of fancy.
Cowbird is a delightful destination on the Internet to find interesting
and varied stories from life. The wide tapestry of humanity is on
display here as people post their memories, experiences, photographs
Althought it sounds like another social media site, it is different
from many of the other "gathering" sites. It has a slower and more
meditative pace. The stories go deeper and it feels more like a
gathering of storytellers. I, of course, have maintained for years that
everyone has a story.
Drop by cowbird.com
and see what you think. It's really fascinating.
Academy Award Win for
in Number 6"
March 3, 2014
A documentary film that tells the incredible story of the oldest living
Holocaust survivor, Alice
Herrz-Sommer, took home the Oscar at last night's Academy Awards
Ceremony. I posted about this film in January (life
lessons through music) and it is wonderful to see that a film that
captures some special personal history was honored in such a way.
Sadly, Alice Herrz-Sommer passed away a week ago, but living to the age
of 110 is incredible. Even better that her story was captured before
she died. It almost was not made. Discover the story of how the two
Montreal-based filmmakers, Frederic Bohbot and Malcom Clarke
collaborated on the film despite their concern that people might be too
weary for yet another story about the Holocaust.
Keeping history alive by saving life stories is so very important as
evidenced by The Lady in Number 6 getting
the special recognition of an Academy Award.