Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
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Book Hound Promotes Personal History Awareness Month
May 29, 2014
As Personal History Awareness Month
comes to a close I hope you have been exposed to the idea of
preservingyour life story and personal history. These days, thanks to
the development and changes in recording options, you have a
better chance to get your story recorded and written than perhaps
any other time.
As a reader and writer I still favor the written word. I like being
able to read about a person's life, especially when there are
revelations and insights into life's purpose. Good autobiographies,
biographies, memoirs and life stories can transport us back in time or
touch our hearts as we learn of struggles and triumphs.
Janice Hermsen (LaRue
Press) has a radio show, The Book
Hound, and she has invited me to join her and some other guests
to discuss Personal History Awareness Month. The show will air live on
Friday, May 30, from 11 am to 12 noon Pacific Daylight Time and you can
tune it in online at renegaderadio.org. You are invited to call in to
share your questions or thoughts (775.827.8900 or 855.790.8255).
There's more about The Book Hound
on their Facebook Page. I am looking forward to the program
and I hope you will be joining us tomorrow.
Writer, Poet, Teacher and Artist, Has Passed On
May 28, 2014
The very gifted writer, poet, teacher, artist, activist, storyteller
and wonderful human being, Maya Angelou, has passed away at the age of
Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1928, she grew up in a segregated
society, but fortunately saw many changes in her world. Her civil
rights activism definitely made an impact. I like to remember her for
her inspirational words, particularly during tough times.
Her impact on generations of people of all color cannot be understated.
She was an established dancer and singer before her writing career took
off. Her memoir, I Know Why the
Caged Bird Sings, is probably her best known work and told of
her troubled and abused childhood. She also was a prolific poet and
writer, a teacher on many levels, and someone we can look to as an
example of not letting hard times define her.
She gave us many fine quotes. My personal favorite is:
"I've learned that people will forget
what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never
forget how you made them feel."
A link to a fine tribute and story to Maya Angelou by NPR is online here.
May 27, 2014
Yesterday was the Memorial Day Holiday in the United States. It is a
day to remember the military veterans who gave their lives in the
service of their country. These fallen warriors paid the ultimate price
of dying in battle. We recall their bravery and sacrifice. It is
horrible that so many wars have occurred throughout history. And it is
sad that so many have died as a result.
Somber and solemn - those are the thoughts whenever I've visited a war
memorial. There are many in the USA, but there are also war memorials
in other lands. A
Google search on world war memorials yielded quite a number of
Memorials serve a purpose. They remind us of those who passed on. The
memories stirred by visiting a memorial can be powerful and emotional.
It was certainly the case when I first walked the length of the Vietnam
War Memorial in Washington D.C. in 1996. On the National
Mall you can also visit memorials dedicated to soldiers of other
major conflicts (War World I ad II, Korea).
You can help to keep memories alive by creating family histories, life
stories and memoirs. These records preserved in writing, audio or video
are powerful memorials and testaments to the lives of our friends and
Peek Into Past
May 22, 2014
It is so easy these days to take pictures. Personal smart phones,
tablets and digitial cameras make it a snap to grab and preserve
moments in time. This is great and convenient. But it wasn't always so
easy. Less than 100 years ago as families took photos of children it
often took time to pose the camera subjects. As a result, picture
taking often became something of an event.
Recently one of my cousins found some wonderful photographs of her
mother (my aunt) and my father when they were kids. It was time
traveling to peek into the past through these family photos and see
them in their youth. There were also some wonderful shots of my
grandparents and my great grandparents.
What I love about this particular photo from the past are the
expressions of young Lois Anne and Thomas. Lois is peering into the
camera and obviously proud to display a doll and teddy bear in little
chairs set in front of them. Dad, on the other hand, didn't seem to be
particularly pleased to have his picture taken. Or perhaps he was just
in a serious mood. I can recognize in their youthful features the looks
I knew from their much later adult years. I also like seeing their
clothing and hairstyles.
What can you do with photos such as these besides the obvious value of
keeping them as mementos? They can serve as real inspiration for
writing about family history. I know that spending time looking over
family photographs helps spur memories and the accompanying emotions
they resurrect. This can be a great help prior to writing
about our personal/family histories. When you haven't looked at
past family photos in a while you may be surprised at what surfaces
when you view them. Doing some quick writing to capture the
reminiscences can be very effective for when you sit for future
writing. It doesn't have to be polished writing. It is more important
to capture the feelings those peeks back in time evoke. How does it
make you feel? What do you remember from that time in life? How does it
help you dig deeper into your memories? This is personal history mining
that can yield a true treasure for memoir writers.
The Meaning of
Life - In Your View
May 18, 2014
As we continue through the month of May and I reflect on the various
ways that we can preserve our life stories I think a lot about how our
perspective of our experiences contributes to the meaning of our
lives. Many people ponder THE MEANING OF LIFE. But in reality, the
meaning and the purpose of life is something each of us must discover.
We do it best by living a full life and appreciating each day. We take
the good with the bad.
Other people can help us in our reflection on life's meaning. From
parents to partners, children to elders, our interaction with people
can teach us many things. I have also found that reading memoirs and
biographies of other people helps me to view my own life. Sharing our
stories is important!
May is Personal History Awareness
Month. Spend some time thinking about your life experiences and
then consider how you might preserve your story for others.
Determing what story and why
are good first steps and you can read more
about what I have to say about that.
Sacred - 9-11
May 15, 2014
History is being preserved in a somber and sacred way at the newly
dedicated 9-11 Museum in New
York City. The day of the terrorist attacks is one not to be forgotten.
September 11, 2001 was a day of infamy. How we honor the memory of
first responders, victims, survivors and families is important. Today
President Obama and First Lady Obama were on hand for the dedication of
this new museum (CNN story).
We prefer remembering happier times, but moments in history when
tragedy strikes, and more importantly, how humanity responds, are
crucial. I'm glad that this museum has been built. A couple of years
ago I toured with my family the 9-11 Memorial with the special reflection pools.
Now this new museum can be part of preserving memories and
legacies for future generations. It is a special thing that this
dedication took place in this month of May, the month of Personal History Awareness.
May 10, 2014
Tomorrow is Mother's Day. It
is a day full of honoring the moms, but we should not limit it to them.
Of course, they are the main focus, but all women who nuture, or all
men, for that matter, should be remembered. And the kids - well, that's
what makes it such an adventure.
Mother's Day Memories can in a wide variety. My mother passed on in
2006. The memories of her final week with the family gathered at
bedside will always be treasured. It was sad and joyful at the same
time, as noted in my article, Opening Death's Door.
My wife and I are blessed to have two children, a girl and boy, both
now grown. One year, when they were younger, we put together a poster
collage for a Mother's Day homemade present. It was as much fun making
it as it was giving it. Our daughter is a mom twice over so we have the
special treat of grandchildren.
Each of us has our own Mother's Day memories and they should be special
to each of us for personal reasons. Sharing them gives us the
opportunity to talk about those memories and our mothers. That's part
of what makes personal history great.
John Dickerson, chief political correspondent for Slate, reminisced about his mom and
urges moms (and dads) to write future letters for their offspring (Write a Letter to Your Children). Also on
Slate is Fifty Things About My Mother by Laura Lynn Brown.
The article had me both laughing and reflecting.
Celebrate Mother's Day with memories, new and old ones. Sharing the
stories is part of sharing the love.
What Kind of Student Were You?
May 7, 2014
The month of May seems to move pretty fast in my world. I am a teacher
and this year I am again teaching 5th graders. May is our final month
of the school year. We are busy with final projects, lessons and
assessments. On top of that there are many other activities for the end
of the year. We do a field trip to the zoo. We have a field day of
outdoor physical activities (running, jumping, throwing and so forth).
The talent show is just around the corner. As a result, I am challenged
to get all the things we need done before the end of the year
accomplished. Will there be compromises? Of course. Will we still
finish strong? You bet.
One of the great challenges for a teacher is helping all the students succeed. People
learn at different speeds and in different ways. It is a teacher's
responsibility to vary instruction and help students in their education
by differentiating instruction so they get to use their preferred
learning styles. It's not easy. By the way, not all the responsibility
is with the teacher. Students need to do their part, too. But teachers,
like good writing instructors, coaches, consultants and personal
historians, find ways to inspire and encourage.
All this brings to mind one of the questions I like to use when helping
people craft a memoir or life story. What
kind of student were you? It is one of the Ten Good Interview Starters I
include in an article I wrote. It's Personal
History Awareness Month and considering good interview questions
is a good tip.
Awareness Ramps Up in May
May 3 2014
I am sure that you notice that each month of the calendar year is full
of awareness for various
causes. Everything from plants, foods, sports and hobbies to various
clans, groups and causes. It's amazing - and fascinating.
When it comes to promoting awareness about the importance of personal
history (life stories, family histories, memoirs, biographies and the
like) May is the month. I feel it is important to both educate and
promote the importance of preserving our history in the form of life
stories. I wrote an article specifically about this back in 2009 - May
is Personal History Awareness Month.