Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
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Veterans History Project
Memorial Day is a time to remember those
who’ve served in military service. Many gave their lives for
their country. Some veterans gave of themselves in combat and in
service that came at a cost. Preserving the stories of war veterans who
have a story they want to document is the work of the Veterans
History Project collects and preserves the extraordinary
wartime stories of ordinary people. It is a project of the American Folklore Center
of the Library of Congress. The United States Congress created the
Veterans History Project in 2000 and it is an ongoing project. The
project relies on volunteers to interview, record, compile and donate
materials. All are encouraged to participate: veterans, civilians,
adults, young people, men, women, scholars, students, amateurs, and
experts. For an “up close” look go here.
Personal History Awareness Month
The month of May is set aside by personal historians as the
month to generate awareness about the importance of personal
history. The Association of Personal Historians (APH)
officially recognizes this month and encourages people to do something
to preserve their personal and/or family history.
I consider life story capture to be something of a personal mission.
Everyone has a story and I think it is so important for us to record,
preserve and validate our stories. How will people remember you, your
parents, your grandparents and other ancestors?
people get overwhelmed when they begin to contemplate a life story
project. I can sympathize. But that’s no excuse for
doing something. Any project begins with some basic steps. The way to
get started is to – get started!
of all, consider that your life story project does not need to be perfect.
Too many people want a perfect end product, maybe even a
bestseller. Well, not to burst anyone’s bubble, but
nobody’s life is perfect. And your written life story (or
video, scrapbook, website or other means of capturing your story) does
not need to be perfect. Quality? Yes, of course. But
be a perfectionist. The main thing is to commit to doing something. | read more
Sometimes a person's traumatic life story can offer hope to others.
That's certainly true for Ashley Rhodes-Courter, a survivor of
a miserable childhood with multiple foster homes before
finally being adopted by loving parents at the age of twelve. Her
Little Words (published by Simon & Schuster and available here), was a bestseller
and now is being widely read middle
and high school classes as part of the "One School, One Book" program.
The author recently graduated college with honors and is thrilled her
book is being used this way (see story at Tampa Bay Online).
If your life story has been one of great challenges you can use it to
help others who face difficulties. Find out more about Ashley
Rhodes-Courter at her website, rhodes-courter.com.
Lost Finale - Life's Strange Twists
television series that has provided plenty of twists, turns
and surprises, has its series finale this evening. I've loved this
innovative show from the very start. Sometimes you get that rare series
that is different from the typical TV fare. And "Lost" has certainly
It is not just the unusual events that happen on the mysterious island.
It is the character development, the back stories, and as we discovered
later in the series - the flash forwards and alternate life stream
stories - that make the show so interesting.
Each of the key characters has strengths and flaws. Jack is a natural
leader, but he questions himself and the purpose of his life
constantly. Kate and Sawyer both have a dark and criminal path. Hurley
is lovable, but he feels both cursed and blessed. Locke was a true
believer - and maybe that got him killed. His body is now used by the
evil and manipulative purposes of Jacob's brother, formely a man, but
betrayed by Jacob and turned into a "monster". And look at Benjamin
Sometimes compassionate, but just as quickly a cold-blooded killer.
There are deep flaws and great strengths in the others, too - from
Sayid to Sun, Jin, Desmond and Richard. Lots of complexity. Isn't this
just like real life? Maybe that's what resonates so much for me. Our
lives are indeed our stories and we each must travel our own path. But
we intersect with others and all kinds of strange, wonderful, difficult
and surprising things happen along the way.
If you are also a "Lost" fan enjoy the finale. I'm eagerly anticipating
it. Perhaps like you, I will think about llife
and my own character traits. The best of us have a bit of bad and the
worst of us have some good. It's truly a tapestry.
A Might Roar is Silenced
I spent most of my early radio career at radio stations featuring hard
rock and heavy metal. As a result I became quite familiar with the
pounding drums, thumping bass and screaming guitars. But the spotlight
for most heavy bands is the lead singer. A certain amount of bravado
and strut accompanied by a big voice has been key for most of the metal
One of the biggest voices belonged to a man who was short in stature. Ronnie James Dio
could belt it out with the best and his lyrics often dwelt with imagery
that fit the brooding and gothic themes of heavy metal. Dio was lead
vocalist for Rainbow (a band started by guitarist Richie Blackmore of
Deep Purple) as well as a few stints with Black Sabbath (he replaced
Ozzy and then left and came back twice).
The little guy with the big voice (some called it
a "royal roar") - and
big heart - passed away from stomach cancer on
Sunday. I found out about it first when I checked my Facebook account
Sunday morning. A friend and fellow broadcaster I worked with twice
(Michael Davis) posted a tribute along with a picture from the mid
1980's of contest winners posing with Ronnie James Dio, Michael and
myself backstage at an Albuquerque concert. That's me on the far right
(when I still had hair!).
Dio was a gentleman and very articulate. I had good chats with him over
the years and when I was program director at the legendary Los Angeles
hard rock station KNAC we even treated he, his wife and band to a
dinner at Medieval Times (Dio loved medieval history and themes). Fans
of the singer are remembering him. It has brought back a lot of
memories for me. Last summer I took my son along to see him
with his Sabbath bandmates when they toured as "Heaven and
First Compleat Biographer Conference
I get The Biographer's
Craft newsletter in my email box each month and there is
always some interesting news about various biographies and biographers.
For instance, the May issue has an interview with T. J. Stiles, this
year's Pulitzer Prize for Biography winner for his The First
Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt.
(as the Biographers
International Organization call themselves) is
hosting their first-ever conference in Boston starting tomorrow, May
15. They plan to focus on the practical aspects of the craft and art of
biography (more here). I'm not a member of
BIO, but the organization
certainly is akin to the personal history work I do. If you are
interested in receiving The Biographer's Craft newsletter (it's free!) visit this page.
Celebrating Moms Courtesy of StoryCorps
Just a couple of days ago I mentioned that StoryCorps
will soon be in Albuquerque to record Latino stories as part of a
current cross-country tour with one of their cool 1950's Airstream
trailers fitted with a recording studio. The rapidly growing legacy of
StoryCorps includes 50,000 and growing oral recordings from everyday
people. Over the years they've had quite a few mothers share their
stories and they have gathered many into a new release, Mom: A
Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps. Its in bookstores
now and would make a fine Mother's Day gift.
Transcription Center has done a significant amount of
transcribing of audio from StoryCorps and they spotlight it here (with no small
amount of good humor and wit). Always nice to hear about fine
contributions to the body of personal history work by fellow APH
In case you weren't aware, NPR
(National Public Radio) regular features stories from
StoryCorps (see here). And you also might want
to visit Democracy Now
to check out the special they did on StoryCorp
producer/founder Dave Isay and the new book on mothers, complete with
some audio from interviews.
This Sunday (May 9) celebrate Mom. Happy Mother's Day from us!
Broadcasting Legend Ernie Harwell
was one of the greatest baseball broadcasters ever, voice of a
few different teams, but mostly for the Detroit Tigers. Ernie Harwell
passed away Tuesday at the age of 92 and the accolades have been
in ever since for the Hall of Fame announcer. He was dearly loved and
respected by many. Major League Baseball has a
terrific tribute online that you should watch. Watch it
whether or not you are a baseball fan. You will discover that this icon
of baseball broadcasting was much more. He was a fine human being, a
real gentleman that cared deeply for his family (married 68 years to
his wife Lulu), his community, a mentor to others and someone who had
deep faith. When he announced last year that he had terminal cancer he
stated, "I know God is in charge".
For Harwell baseball was certainly the touchstone of his life - but his
life was more than the fine summer game. And this is what I always try
to encourage others to see about their own stories. Your career can be
important. But what you do each day, how you live your life, who
you meet and how your treat them along the way - this is your lasting
is Cinco de Mayo and appropriately enough I discovered some
exciting news about preserving Latino histories for New Mexicans. StoryCorps
will be bringing their traveling Airstream trailer (complete with a
recording studio) to Albuquerque. It will be parked at the National Hispanic Cultural Center
for 6 weeks (May 20 - June 26, 2010) and this is an excellent
opportunity for Latinos to contribute to an expansive collection of
stories being recorded in a cross-country tour. New Mexico has a very
rich cultural history and many families can trace their ancestry to
Spain, Mexico and Central America. Since I live in Albuquerque I am
understandably excited about this.
The project will be co-hosted by the community radio station in
During StoryCorp's stay they plan to collect 120 interviews. To make
reservations (starting May 6 at 10 a.m.) call the toll free 24 hour
reservation line at 1800-850-4406, or visit StoryCorps.org.
a Don Henley song that talks about
“getting down to the heart of the matter”. When you
make the decision to tell your life story you are faced with a big
task, because ultimately you need to get to the heart of your story.
You want to gather your thoughts, mine memories and pass along the
lessons of your personal experiences. I imagine you, like most people
motivated to share their personal history, want to tell others what
really matters to you.
To do that well is not easy work. Not everyone is
cut out for the task. If you are able to write it yourself that may be
course because you know yourself better than anyone else. Nevertheless,
not everyone has the writing ability or desire. But if you find someone
whom you can trust – a good listener and a gifted writer
– your story can spring to life from the pages of your very
of the questions I get a lot is how to start.
people are unsure how to begin and the task a getting their life story
in print is frequently intimidating.
what I recommend first. | read