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May, 2021

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Rolland Love Life Story Workshops Helps Kids Interview Elders

May 26, 2021

I have followed what Rolland Love has been doing for many years now. He's a fun and exciting writer in the vein of Mark Twain with novels like The Blue Hole, but he is also an avid proponent of preserving the life stories of others, especially elders like our grandparents.

Who wouldn't want to know more about their grandparents, or for that matter, their parents, through their eyes and reminiscences about their life experiences?

Rolland Love believes strongly in this and a decade ago was approached by an administrator at Johnson County Library in Overland Park, Kansas with a suggestion that he create a workshop to help motivate people to write their life story. He started out targeting adults, but he soon realized that the best way would be to encourage kids to conduct interviews. Many young people hunger to know more about their elderly relatives and if their stories are not captured it is a loss to the family and even the world. It's been said that when a person dies without preserving their life story it's like a library burns down. Rolland Love just hates to see that ever happen.

Kids these days need reasons to engage beyond cell phones and video games. I am realistic enough to recognize the powerful pull of such technology. After all, I have been teaching 5th graders for ten years. Rolland Love's workshops have inspired children to find out about their grandparents and other elders by asking questions that kids want to know the answers to. They crave knowledge about growing up in another time and elders love to talk to their grandkids or young relatives. 

Find out more about what Rolland Love is doing through his Facebook post. More than a thousand kids have conducted interviews. It's awesome and I'd love to see it keep growing.

In the Blink of an Eye

May 17, 2021

When you are a child time moves slow. Especially when you are waiting for things you are excited about. Like the holidays or summer vacation. As we age it seems to go faster. I know that's not really happening. Still, it does go faster than you think. Or at least faster than I think.

Was it really over 20 years ago when we were starting a new century? Have I really been alive 65 years? Today at school as part of our Spirit Week we were doing a "1950s Theme Day". That got me thinking about that decade, the one I was born in.

Since I teach 5th graders it is always fun for me to tell them what life was like "back in the day". I showed them some early rock n' roll and we looked up how much certain things cost in 1955. You could buy a hamburger, fries and a coke for less than 50 cents. A new car was $1,500 and a decent house could be purchased for ten grand.

Kenny Chesney has a song, Don't Blink. The story in the song is about how life goes fast and has some pretty poignant lyrics. I heard the song on the radio today and it reminded me of the article I wrote about it in 2007. You can read it here.

Don't take any days for granted. Live fully and savor the interactions with your loved ones. Oh, and maybe get some kind of life story preserved. You can do it yourself, but there are personal historians who do this professionally. We enjoy the work. This could be one of the best things you ever do and your loved ones will be grateful to learn about your life.

Just don't blink - life goes faster than you think!

Hi Mom, I Just Wanted to Say

May 9, 2021

Jeanne Gilbert, my MomToday is Mother's Day 2021. I am thinking of Mom and of other women and their great gifts of motherhood. The ultimate gift is giving birth and nurturing the new life.

Mom, I do miss you. I wish I could have a chat. What would I say?

Of course I would say that I love you very much. Also, I would tell you that I have flashes of memories, seeing you in the kitchen, sitting across from me at the chapel of the Center for Action and Contemplation, having a heart-to-heart talk at your house in KC, thinking of the times you got mad when you caught me smoking cigarettes or doing something I shouldn't have. You were a fierce lioness when the situation called for it. But mostly you were calm and loving and in your quiet presence I felt safe. Those final days in June of 2006, sitting at your bedside as you slowly passed from the cancer, were transforming.

You pulled us all closer that week. Family and friends gathered, shared memories, tears and laughter, and mostly love (see Opening Death's Door).

Thanks, Mom. I just wanted to say hi and I wish I had called you more often. I should have written more, too, but the cards and letters over the years from you were like manna from Heaven.

The Order of Your Stories in a Memoir Matters

May 7, 2021

Our lives are lived out in moments and experiences. Over time they help to shape our beliefs, values, habits and much more. When we spend time reminiscing and attempt to make sense of our lives we often want to share that. This is done by telling the story of our life and our various experiences. You need to spend time figuring out what your story is and why you want to preserve this story. Once you have done this the next step is to determine how you will do it.

Part of the how is taking the many experiences you write about and putting them into some kind of order. There is not one way to organize your experiences. But I think it can be helpful to try some different approaches.

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