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The "Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives

© Tom Gilbert

Read about quality family history and life story news, views, methods, products, links, services

                     ...and whatever else catches our fancy of personal historian  

May, 2020

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Back to the Highlight Site Again

May 28, 2020

For years I have featured on this website a place to highlight certain life story services, those that provide ways to preserve your story or encourage people to do something to tell their story. I call it the Highlight Site.

Over the years I've featured journal writing software, life story websites, family history products, personalized journal mile markers, sites about preserving a legacy or using the arts. From memoirs to sharing memories, there are many places on the web that can help you with your life story journey.

You can check out the current featured site here and also see past highlight sites.

Memorial Day Taps Across America

May 25, 2020
National Moment on Remembrance Taps
This year's Memorial Day tributes have been affected by the Covid 19 situation. No gatherings at national cemeteries to lay wreaths or flags and the usual parades and other events where there would be crowds are not officially taking place. However, there were some interesting ways to honor those that gave their lives in  war.

One of those was Taps Across America. Retired Air Force bugler Jari Villanueva (Taps for Veterans) and CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman came up with the idea as noted in this report.  Hartman spoke of another bugler, Don Britton, who each day in Tacoma, Washington would go outside at sunset and play "Taps" for the fallen soldiers. His neighbors would come out, some standing on their decks, all at attention silently and solemnly joining in this beautiful act of rememberance.

The history of the iconic bugle melody for taps stetches all the way back through the years to July 1862. Union General Daniel Butterfield reworked the standard bugle call the Army used to indicate time for bed. He had his brigade bugler, Private Oliver Wilcox Norton, play it for the men. It soon caught on, even with Confederate troops.

So today at 3 pm, across the United States, buglers joined in playing Taps. A very memorable and special way to pay tribute on this year's Memorial Day.

Play Time for the Stay At Home

May 21, 2020

Since so many of us are spending nearly all of our time at home, away from other friends and family, figuring out how to spend our time, and probably having ongoing anxiety about the future, I think your playtime deserves attention.

Because we live in a time where there are plenty of technological wonders the draw of social media and online gaming is strong. Nevertheless, I suggest we all can benefit from getting offline some of the time and opening ourselves up to imaginative play.

Who hasn't seen little kids spend time playing with empty boxes or pots and pans? Grab some paper and make airplanes. Color, draw, doodle and enjoy the process.

Cards and board games are timeless. Even the chestnut "I spy with my little eye" can be a hoot.

I actually wrote about this back in October, 2005, pre-coronavirus pandemic, when I felt it important that we nurture our family relationships. Let Us Play is worthy of another look. Check it out and then let the games begin!

Experiencing Life and Preserving Those Experiences

May 13, 2020

We are living in a time when the ability to preserve our life experiences is greatly assisted through technology. Smart phones, tablets, computers, video recorders, websites, the Internet, the Cloud (which still mostly mystifies me) and probably some other things that I am not mentioning.

Back in the day people might have used cassettes, reel to reel tape, bulky and clumsy video recorders, or even further back archaic forms like pen and pencil!

Technology advances so quickly and what will come along 10, 20 or 30 years in the future will probably boggle our minds.

I wrote an article related to this topic in which I muse about both the technology and the importance of why we need to preserve our life experiences. I think some of it applies well to what we are all going through right now with our stay-at-home/social distancing situation due to the coronavirus.

Travel back with me to June of 2016 and see if the article, Experience Life and Live to Write About It, speaks to you.

Mister Mahegan's Dream Jobs

May 5, 2020

There are many jobs in the world. The key is to find the ones that become more than a job. When they become a vocation it no longer feels like work; it feels like you have found your purpose.

I've had many jobs in my life. And a couple of careers for which I am grateful. When I began working in radio broadcasting in college and that led to over thirty years and multiple stations and markets it was an absolute adventure. It was exciting, fun and sometimes very frustrating.

In 2009, after several months of unemployment (recall the 2008 recession which led to my layoff), I embarked on the path that led to becoming a certified school teacher. Ten years into it and I still think it is the hardest and most rewarding work I've ever done.

I may not be done with my vocations. There is still the writer in me spinning my thoughts and ideas into essays, stories and blog posts. And one thing I know for certain on this year's National Teacher Day is that I am combining a bit of broadcasting, storytelling and writing in the work of educating my students.

Henry Mahegan teacher and Red Sox PA Announcer But this post is not so much about me as it is about another man that I discovered could be living my dream life. He is also a teacher, but he has a part-time job as the public address announcer for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Anyone who knows me is well aware that the Red Sox are my favorite team and have been since I was about 11 years old. So to discover Henry Mahegan's story today on the Boston Red Sox Sox Docs feature was incredible.

He was being celebrated by the team because he is a teacher as well as a Red Sox employee and today they wanted to salute one of their own who has that passion both for baseball and for teaching young people. Mister Mahegan is a history teacher at Charlestown High School and Community School. But back in 2004 he got an entry level position with the Red Sox in media relations and eventually became the backup PA announcer. The front office liked his voice. When the previous announcer, Carle Beane, passed away he was offered the job. He's been part of the team's World Series Championships in 2004, 2007 and 2013 and he really is living a life that combines his two great loves of baseball and teaching.

I congratulate Mister Mahegan and all teachers. Passing on experience, hope and knowledge to young people is such an incredible act of love. Hard? You bet. Worth it? Absolutely!

Death and Data

May 4, 2020

Every day on the news we are presented with death and data. The pandemic of Covid-19 has our attention and we are probably becoming accustomed to the numerous charts displaying new cases, deaths, recoveries and more.
covid 19 data
We need numbers. We need data. We use statistics to help us understand quantities. But math is hard and viewing large numbers displayed on numerous charts and graphs can sometimes desensitize us to what they represent. That's not good when it represents people dying.

Every person in a data report still represents a human being, someone with thoughts, feelings, desires, values and, well, a history. We must not forget that.

So while we are dealing with this historic time let's remember that a quantity of one is still as important as a thousand, at least when it comes to a human life. Afterall, is one life more important than another? Maybe I shouldn't ask that; some people think so.

Statistics and numbers - basically data - are important as a means to understanding certain things. It's true with our life stories. If I want to tell others about the US Festival in 1982 it helps if I can relay that it lasted three days and there were crowds of 200,000. If your story includes an experience of beating the odds we might want to know just what those odds were. 10 to 1? A thousand to one?

I got the inspiration for this blog post after reading Writing about the dead during a pandemic: 'They are not a data point'. The article by Katie Pellico and Brian Stelter of CNN Business spoke about how the Chicago Tribune was handling the massive number of obituaries due to the coronavirus. That paper, and many others across the country, have been grappling with how to convert the death toll statistics of Covid-19 into human stories. Everyone has a story - and everyone deserves the right for their story, if possible, to be told. 

Everybody has a story to tell!
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