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© Tom Gilbert

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November, 2021

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Giving Peace Talks Radio a Chance

November 30, 2021

Today is "Giving Tuesday" and every good cause and non-profit around is asking for help. It is good that there are so many organizations doing things to help our society and our world.

Of course we can't give to all who ask. At least I know I have to be selective. But I do believe in a radio program series that is entering its 20th year. Peace Talks Radio is the radio and online series on peacemaking and nonviolent conflict resolution. Paul Ingles and his crew are constantly producing great programs that delve into ways to promote peace in our world and to find better ways to deal with conflict. I am sure it is a labor of love. But they do need financial support to produce their programs.

Check out some past shows and you can also donate if you believe in what they do. When we think about what matters and how our life stories can be part of promoting a better and more peaceful society it can, and should, inspire us to be part of giving peace a chance. Giving Peace Talks Radio a chance to continue their mission is worthwhile.

Life Loaves and Loafing

November 24, 2021
baked bread
I baked my first loaf of bread yesterday afternoon. That's right, at the age of 65 I actually mixed the ingredients, kneaded the flour, folded the loaves (there were two small ones), let it sit while the yeast did its thing, and then put it in the oven. When it was finished there was the wonderful aroma and the great taste that only freshly baked bread can deliver. Delicious!

Look, I know that's not really a huge accomplishment. Many people can bake bread. It's been happening for thousands of years! But don't judge me. I love bread, but I typically get it from the store or the bakery. Or when fortunate enough, from someone else's home baked creation.

The thing is, I had all the ingredients provided to me by our KIDS COOK teacher at the elementary school where I teach. Ms. Valerie is great and the kids love our monthly cooking sessions. We learn about food, nutrition, and we get the hands on experience of creating a meal. It's a great life skill, not just for children, but for anyone.

Life can be a bit like baking bread. We have our ingredients and they mix together and with the yeast of living we rise to the ocassion to meet our many challenges and learn from the experiences.

The loafing pun in this post's title comes from the need to sometimes take our rest and maybe even do nothing. So often people are go, go, go. Today I have a day off from teaching and it has given me an opportunity to take it easy, even just sit still a bit. Perhaps it is a good preparation before joining with family tomorrow for our Thanksgiving family meal. That will be a time of joyful celebration and it might get a bit noisy and busy. Actually it will get very noisy and busy. We all chip in. I'm cooking the turkey (yes, I've done that before several times).

For the noisy busy times I give thanks. And for those loafing times I also have gratitude. Now maybe I'll go have a piece of that baked bread.

NPR Tips for an Oral Family History

November 19, 2021

I've championed people preserving their family and personal history for nearly twenty years. While my specialty is helping people write a memoir or life story, there are other wonderful ways to keep your life stories alive.

According to an NPR (National Public Radio) story there are some great practical tips to prepare before you record a family member's story. First of all, you don't have to use expensive audio or video equipment, although some people do prefer to create a high quality documentary. The recording app on your smartphone can work fine.

Before you begin an interview spend some time brainstorming what you want to accomplish. Is there a particular person, time period, event or story you want to capture? Who is the best storyteller to interview?

And one of the best pieces of advice is to remember the interview is not an interrogation. It's a conversation. It is good to warm up the conversation with some basic fact gathering like a favorite childhood memory. I think creating a memory list is always a good idea and from that list you can decide what you want to cover in your interview/conversation.

Another important consideration is to let the person you are recording know ahead of time some of the topics you'd like to discuss. This is especially important when it might be sensitive. If they don't want to talk about it then don't press it. If they do, then be sure to listen carefully including during the pauses. Some people need some time before responding to the really important questions, particularly when they are recalling something difficult or sensitive.

The holidays are often a good time to plan to preserve some family stories. Your family history is the stories that we carry with us about our life experiences. Now as we approach another Thanksgiving holiday, this could be a great time to have a conversation.

The Lands of Native American Heritage

November 14, 2021

Native American Heritage MonthNovember is Native American Heritage Month. Given the history of the United States and the treatment of the indigenous people here long before European colonists, this month can be an opportunity to be honest about how we treat both the land and the occupants.

The U.S. Department of the Interior has a mission to protect America's natural resources and heritage, and to honor our cultures and tribal communities. It seems only right that we now have a Secretary of the Interior who is a Native American. Deb Haaland is a 35th generation New Mexican, hails from the Laguna Pueblo, and is part of a family who has dedicated themselves to public service. There is a fascinating profile of her in the Fall issue of GRAND Magazine.

One of the things it seems is difficult for many peope is to learn from other cultures with an open mind and willingness to see what they have to offer that can help us all live better lives. I have no Native American blood in my family line that I am aware of. But I certainly am in favor of ideas of living with a respect for our land, natural resources and way of life that promotes peace, harmony and responsibility.

I live in New Mexico, a state rich in cultural diversity and with a large number of native peoples and tribes. I try to learn from them and as an elementary school teacher share that with my students. Of course, they often teach me, especially those with personal connections to the lands of Native American Heritage.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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