70 and You Have A Lot To Share
October 29, 2011
David Brooks, Op Ed writer for the New York Times has issued a call for
short essays from the "Over 70" crowd. He wants to share some of them
in time for Thanksgiving through his The Life Report column. What a
Many people bemoan that not much of anything special has happened in
their lives, but how many of them really take the time to consider what
they've done, where they've been and what they contributed to the
world? Look, everyone really does have a story. Sure, some lives may be
full of more sparkling reminiscences than others, but what really
matters is living your life to the fullest. And I think that sitting
down to write a short essay about your experiences to share with the
world is a good way to consider your life journey. If you haven't
achieved everything on your bucket list perhaps you will recognize that
and decide to get after it.
I suspect that many of you who've lived to seventy or longer have many
powerful memories to recount. Brooks suggests you evaluated what you've
done well, not so well, and what you've learned along the way. Consider
your career, family, faith, community and self-knowledge. He even
suggests you give yourself a grade in each area. As a teacher that
resonates with me, but don't get obsessed about grading yourself. Do,
however, look back and find what you can share with young people. This
is part of David Brooks motivation. He believes they need help
understanding how life, families, careers and friendships develop and
evolve. You can help the young; they can benefit from your experiences.
This, of course, is a passion for me as a personal historian. I don't
want you to wait until it's too late.
See The Life Report entry for more details. And have fun with this.
You've got some experiences others want and need to hear.
Coming from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Neil Young
October 21, 2011
By this time next year you may be able to read memoirs from Arnold
Schwarzenegger (bodybuilder, actor, politician, celebrity) and Neil
Young (singer/songwriter). Both have led pretty interesting lives and
both have managed to reinvent themselves more than once.
Personally, I'm more impressed with Neil Young. I've grown up with his
music and watched him stay true to his "muse" and evolving personal
styles without bowing to commercial expectations. The Canadien
born icon was in one of the more underappreciated but highly
influential bands of the 1960;s - the Buffalo Springfield (which also
included Stephen Stills and Ritchie Furay), joined forces with Crosby,
Stills and Nash for a supergroup, and also has tried lost of musical
genres (country, rock, electronica and grunge). He has been outspoken
in protesting war and eoppression and helped physically challenged
children with his "Bridge School Concerts". His book is tentatively
titled Waging Heavy
Peace (more here).
The Arnold Schwarzenegger book has the working title of Totall Recall: My Unbelievabley
True Life Story. His story is impressive, from immigrant
to champion bodybuilder, a highly successful movie career and time as
governor of California along with his high-profile marriage/now divorce
to Maria Shriver (Kennedy family). More about his upcoming book here.
New and Improved MemoryPress
October 17, 2011
I recently learned that MemoryPress,
part of the FamilyLearn.com
personal history services, is getting upgraded. I don't have the
details, but I understand that the web platform will be enhanced to
improve the "build-online" method of your life story book.
is an affordable way
to create a professional book. People
have been using the system for memoir, wedding, anniversary and baby
books, family biographies and just about any other reason for compiling
a book. I did one for my daughter when she graduated High School
(Growing Up Kristen)
and I'm working on a couple of other projects
For those of you in process with a book you can
continue working with it during the upgrade time. But if you are
looking to start something new be aware that FamilyLearn is not
accepting new customer until the upgrade is complete. They hope to have
it done by the end of the year.
In the meantime, if you are looking for other self-publishing options
there are many to choose from. Lulu.com allows you to publish
affordably, including in ebook format. So does Blurb.com. And there are
many other quality options.
History Guinea Pig
October 13, 2011
It is always interesting to me to discover how people become involved
in the field of personal history. Personal Historians is not a job
description you hear that much about, at least as far as a career
track, but that may be changing. i think it is a matter of time.
It is clear with the increased awareness and media coverage that
preserving life stories (what I call personal history work, although it
also can be corporate history and community history) is a growing
trend. The continued advancement in technology makes it easier to
record life events. And we see the growth of social media as promoting
the awareness of our past events (school, careers, family, friends).
Have you noticed the inclusion of a timeline now in Facebook?
A recent article in the DesMoines
Register (DesMoinesRegister.com) relates the
experience of Tim Tracy. He has decided to become a personal historian
after discovering his aptitude in pulling out the stories from others.
He's a good listener and he enjoys what he does. Now he's decided to do
this work professionally after "testing" it out on a few people. In
fact, spending time with a man in hospice and discovering the Association of Personal Historians
clicked with Tim and he told the man he'd "like to use you as my guinea
pig." The result was a videotape with the man detailing various events
of his life and discussing his journey as he neared the end (a
spiritual one). When the family saw the DVD they were amazed at what
they discovered about him, a side of the man they hadn't known. They
even played the DVD at his funeral.
Tim Tracy gets it. And he'll probably do well in his new vocation. I
keep discovering people like Tim and I'm glad. Because I "get it", too.
Everyone has a story - a story worth telling.
Jobs Advice - Follow Your Bliss and Follow Your Vision
October 12, 2011
The recent passing of Steve Jobs has prompted a lot of press and
rightfully so. He was a man who made a huge impact on our world through
his innovative electronic devices from Apple. He and Apple came up with
devices we wanted before we knew they existed, among them the iPod,
iPhone and iPad. He and his friend Steve Wozniak were bright, young
entrepreneurs who had one of those hard work and great success stories.
They started their company and created the first personal computer out
of the garage of his childhood home in 1976.
Most accounts of Jobs tell of a very focused, intense and secretive
man. But his story will undoubtably be documented in a bio-pic (movie).
The authorised biography by Walter Isaacson will soon be released. An
insightful article from The Telegraph
provides some fascinating information.
If you haven't seen the text of the commencement address he gave at
Stanford University in June of 2005 it is well worth reading. He
reveals how dropping out of college, but going to a class he was
interested in (without the stress or financial burden) became a
fortuitous choice when he later released the Mac computer. And the
message of following your bliss and your vision is clear. | read here |
Life Story Options
October 5, 2011
When I tell people I work to help people preserve their life stories or
that I am a Personal Historian it often leads to intrigued, but
confused looks. "Hmmmm, sounds interesting, Tom. What exactly does
Lots of people want to have a memoir written or to preserve family
history in some fashion. Those are "life story preserving" options. So
are ethical wills.
Ditto for oral history
recordings and legacy books. There are so many different ways to tell
the story of your life that it can be challenging to determine what is
right for you as well as what they mean. A large part of my content on
this website is dedicated
to this large subject.
Once in a while I see a media article that does a good job of
articulating what we personal historians do. Recently the Upstate New
York chapter of the APH received some press. The
article by Patricia
Pihl of the Chautauqua news site, StarNewsDaily.com, gives a very good
overview of life story options. You can (and shoudl) read Stories of a Lifetime.
Years of Hot Air
October 2, 2011
The first passengers in a hot air balloon didn't have much to say to
each other. Not that they were stunned into silence from the experience
of rising aloft. They just didn't share the same language (as far
as I know). These first passengers were a sheep, a duck and a rooster
and they ascended September 19, 1783 in France (per eballoon.org). Two months
later the first manned hot air balloon flight went up, made by the
French brothers Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier.
I wonder what they would think about the International Hot Air Balloon
here in Albuquerque. It is spectacular - a sky full
of hundreds of colorful balloons, some of them in exotic shapes. This
year the fiesta is celebrating its 40th anniversary. It got its start
in a shopping mall parking lot in 1971 as part of a 50th birthday
celelbration for radio station KOB-AM.
first experience with this balloon festival was in 1979. Back in the
day I was working as the overnight DJ at KFMG-FM. I didn't know
anything about the annual event and one morning as I got off the air
and headed home I was amazed at the numerous balloons in the sky. I'd
seen hot air ballons before in Albuquerque. This is a popular place for
flying them due to the ideal weather conditions including a frequently
occurring wind pattern named "the box". But I'd never seen so many. It
was awe inspiring!
The next year I made my first trip out to the balloon park. Hundreds of
people were gathered in the pre-dawn chill, munching on breakfast
burritos and drinking coffee or hot chocolate. Balloon crews were
laying out their envelopes and soon began the routine of filling them
with air from boxfans followed shortly by blasting the hot air from
propane burners. The loud ffftttt!
sound was everywhere. Balloons began to straighten
to a vertical position and people held them down
with outstretched arms and tethered
ropes. Before long they would ascend, each of them more or less
re-enacting the scene from the Wizard
of Oz when the Wizard departs for Kansas.
I even had the privilege to fly in a balloon a couple of
The experience of
floating over the city, the Rio Grande below and fellow balloons
drifting by, is hard to put into words. Serene and spiritual. The
landing, on the other hand, can be a bit rough. You can't really
control the speed of the balloons so when you come down it is the
pilot's responsibility to adjust with short bursts of propane flame to
try to get you down as soft as possible, but you can land, bump and
drag along the ground before the gondola comes to a stop. This is why
good ground crews learn to anticipate the landing spot and are ready to
help ease the gondola to a halt. Back on terra firma passengers are
traditionally treated to a post-flight celebration champagne
Ballooning is amazing, whether watching or flying. If you ever get the
opportunity I highly recommend visiting Albuquerque for this even the
first week of October. It's great for young and old. One year my aunt
took a ride for her 80th birthday. For a virtual tour and look visit balloonfiesta.com.