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November, 2018

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 Art and Sensitivity

November 27, 2018

This post is prompted by reading an NPR piece about Jeff Tweedy, musician and singer-songwriter for groups like Wilco and Uncle Tupelo. He has just released his memoir, Let's Go (So We Can Get Back) in which he chronicles his stories from his life, often filled with angst and pain. He knows what it is like to be addicted to narcotics, to suffer from anxiety, and dealing with the ups and downs of music recording and performing.

It got me thinking about artists and a proclivity to heightened sensitivity. I definitely think there is a connection. Some artists seem to border on madness, or even tumble into it (e.g. Vincent Van Gogh). Others might seem self absorbed and bizarre (Kanye West, in my opinion). So many creators of music, stories, images and more are vividly alive and hyper-sensitive. Personally, I think this can be a good thing.

Then again, it can be a cross to bear. You've probably heard the term tortured artist

truth seems to be that great art is often a result of pain and suffering. I don't believe that it always has to be that way. How horrible if true. But there is certainly a fair amount of evidence that artists create some of their best art from their wellspring of pain and suffering.  I think it's part of their creative tension.

From their pain our gain? Yes, but have some compassion and empathy for the price they pay to give us art and beauty. Art and sensitivity - something to consider.

Gratitude Memoir

November 21, 2018

We are on the eve of the Thanksgiving Holiday here in the United States. It is one of the great holidays of the year, perhaps my favorite.

The focus of Thanksgiving is gratitude. That is more than a fuzzy good feeling. Gratitude can be expressed in thoughts, words and deeds. It is a stance, a way of being, even an attitude. Have you ever heard of the expression, an attitude of gratitude?

I think gratitude can be very useful in life reflection and in putting our life stories together. Here's a suggestion that could translate into a satisfying life story exercise. In about 30 minutes I think you could write a short "gratitude memoir". Of course, this would not be a lengthy piece, although it certainly could be expanded at a later time.

Reflect on an experience that was meaningful in your life and write about it. This experience needs to be one that you are thankful for. Usually that means something good that happened, but not necessarily. Good things sometimes come out of hardship.

It helps to use visualization. You want to recall the experience in more than thoughts. What were you feeling at that time? Who was there and how did you act? Find a quiet place to sit with this memory. Maybe you have photographs, a letter, card or journal entry that will help your memory.

Visualization is one of the many free tips from The Memoir Network all during the month of November (Memoir Writing Month). There are still some days left in the month to access these good life story writing tips.

Here's to your gratitude memories and to a very happy and grateful Thanksgiving Holiday!

100th Anniversary of Armistice Day

November 12, 2018

Yesterday, November 11, was the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One. This became known as Armistice Day, although in the United States the name of the day has since been renamed Veterans Day to honor all members of our military for their service. (You might want to check out this song by Paul Simon, Armistice Day.)

By 1918 people were very relieved to have the end of the bloody and global conflict. It was the worst war the world had ever experienced and people were praying it would never happen again. Unfortunately, just over twenty years later the world was at it again.

History teaches us that we must learn from our mistakes and learn about our past or we make those mistakes again. Looks like we are still learning.

The National Museum of American History has put together a lot of rememberances and resources to learn more about WWI and the people that experienced it. Even though the anniversary was yesterday there is plenty to check out. I think it is important to recognize the high cost of service that veterans pay. The history of the world is something we all contribute to in various ways. Your history may not seem like it is significant in light of major events, but you and your family are still part of the stories of humanity. It is important for us to put our lives in the context of what is happening in the world.

Keep that in mind as you go through your days. You never know when something may impact you that connects you to many others. Witnessing the events of just the past couple of weeks with an election, a few mass shootings, and the horrific fires in California make that very apparent to me.

The Civic Thing To Do

November 7, 2018

One day after Election Day in the United States and the pundits and the public are absorbing the results. This was what we refer to as the Midterm Election because it comes halfway through the term of the United States President. And it has significance as people elect congress members, governors, and a great number of state legislators. 

It is important to also recognize that on the ballot in many places there are bonds and issues, along with various public service candidates. The democratic process where citizens are allowed to participate in choosing their representatives and having a say in government should never be taken for granted.

Despite the great opportunity and responsibility to exercise your civic right to vote, many people still do not vote. There are many reasons why. Some people are apathetic, thinking their vote doesn't matter. I have heard people say the whole system is rigged. Others just don't seem interested or educated about it.  I can understand the cynicism. But change can only happen when people decide to say and do something.

I believe voting is the civic thing to do. I remember how excited I was in 1974 when as an 18-year old I finally got my first opportunity to vote. It was exciting. I continue to vote in elections, and not just during the presidential election year.

One of the things that is interesting about this election is the growing diversity of elected officials. More women and more from different backgrounds. Here in New Mexico we elected one of the first ever Native American women to the House of Representatives.  Deb Haaland hails from the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico and now will represent Congressional District 3. She will join Sharice Davids from Kansas as part of the next Congress.

If you live in a country that allows you to participate in choosing elected officials I hope you exercise your right to vote. Of course, it is each individual's choice, but not everyone has the opportunity.

Go for Memoir Writing Month

November 1, 2018

Today on the start of a new month, November, you have a great opportunity. You can finally get started on writing your memoir!

Or maybe you've been stalled and need to re-start.

How about getting some free tips to help you? All this month you can get free lessons, 30 in all, through the November is Memoir Writing Month program offered by the Memoir Network.

I strongly believe that many people want to tell their story, to write their memoir, but just are not sure how to go about it. We all need tips and resources to help motivate us. One of the things I know that helps me is to write about things I am passionate about. One in particular is my love of baseball, especially the Boston Red Sox, who just won the World Series! Boy, I find it really easy to journal and write about this great season the Sox just had. I've been a lifelong fan of the team, so this is not my first time celebrating a world champtionship. But it was an especially enjoyable
finish to an incredible season.

You probably have some things you are passionate about. Writing about them and how they have been part of your life story can be very satisfying and motivating in moving your memoir project along.

Denis Ledoux of the Memoir Network has lots of great ideas, tips and resources he is willing to share with you as part of your free membership in the My Memoir Education Program. It's a great time to check it out because during November he is giving you 30 posted lessons that will offer new facets of looking at your memoir and at your writing. Give it a try. It's free. I know I will be following the program myself as I am always looking for fresh ideas. No doubt I will be using some of these ideas and sharing my notes about memoir writing all during November is Memoir Writing Month.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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