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October 2012

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Behind Bars, In Front with Their Life Stories

October 30, 2012

InsideOUTWriters is a program that has helped transform incarcerated youth in Los Angeles. They do this by helping these young people write the next chapter of their life story with an emphasis on change and hope. This is real mentoring and a powerful way to show how writing about your life can be an instrument of change - both for the writer and the reader.

The program was inspired by and started through the impetus of a nun, Sister Janet Harris, who served as a chaplain a juvenile hall in Los Angeles in 1996 and discovered the young men serving time there were often hopeless and frustrated. She thought a writing experience would help them and was instrumental in getting writers to come and teach classes, starting with Los Angeles Times journalist Duane Noriyuki who had written about one of her students.

Read more of this inspiring story at The Good Men Project.

Transparency - Seeing Through You to the Real You

October 24, 2012

I like to think I am open and honest with other people. I try to be transparent when it comes to sharing my thoughts, ideas, tips and experiences on this blog. So, when you read about life story work here you often will discover that I share much of my own journey. When you are honest and open - transparent - people get to know who you really are. They see through you to the real you.

Right now things have been so hectic that I've been a bit frustrated when it comes to keeping my blog current. I love to write here and I am passionate about personal history work. But life also has a way of putting in front of us things that take priority.

In the past few weeks I have taken a new teaching job. I have shared here and in the newsletter about going back to school and becoming certified to teach. This happened after a lengthy career in radio broadcasting. I've also put my time in at other jobs, such as working at a local hospital. All the while I have continued to work on family and personal history projects, both those involving my family as well as clients who hire me to help with their stories. This often becomes an interesting and challenging juggling act.

Teaching is a tough, but rewarding occupation. I love young minds and the class I am now teaching are fifth graders. Part of what I share with them is the importance of knowing about their families and so I get to teach them how to interview family members and find out more about the stories of their parents, grandparents and relatives. I hope it also teaches them the value of living meaningful lives and writing about their own journeys, even at their young age.

In addition to my new teaching job we also have a new addition to our family. My daughter had her daughter and Sophia Autumn is a most precious and beautiful baby girl. In this past week my daughter also has been dealing with complications from the birth and been in the hospital. Everything will be well in time, but you can imagine the stress this adds to an already full schedule.

I share this because I know that many of you are also dealing with busy lives. And my message is to do the next right thing. Know what is most important. Prioritize and be with those who need you the most. It's all part of the journey, and when time allows I will spend more time writing here and writing in my journal as part of my life experiences.

Life is sweet. Life is short. Surprises happen. Go with the flow. Live for the day. Be kind and be happy.

Two Life Story Conferences: St. Louis Site of Personal Historian Conference and New Mexico for Men's Wellness Conference on Story Telling

October 18, 2012

Two important events revolving around the stories of our lives and how we draw meaning from them are underway, October 18-21. In St. Louis it is the annual APH Conference. Members from around the world gather to share techiniques, ideas, stories and advance the cause of personal history. I would love to be attending this year, but my daughter has been expecting her second child and indeed just gave birth. A grandpa wants to be around for that special time.

Meanwhile, in New Mexico at the site of the awesome Ghost Ranch (onetime home of artist Georgia O'Keefe) the New Mexico Men's Wellness Fall Conference is taking place. Their theme is "What makes us Men - The Stories of our Lives". They will explore in this amazing location the stories that define who they are and the meaning they hold. I think that's a fascinating topic and I look forward to hearing about my brother-in-law's experience there.

Two different events, but both connected to the stories of our lives. Good stuff for this October, the month dedicated to family history.

Family Tree Magazine has October Family History Month Tips

October 10, 2012

Family Tree Magazine is one of those publications with lots of interesting information for genealogists and family history buffs. They have some ideas for how to begin gathering family history information, from learning about and preparing a favorite family recipe to encouraging children to ask older relatives about their family history. I also like the idea of visiting an ancestor's burial site and doing a tombstone rubbing (make sure it's allowed).

Go here to read.

Retirees Sharing Personal Legacies, Life Stories and Values

October 6, 2012

It was nice to see an article that showed up in the Boston Globe and some other news services about the growing trend of retirees sharing their values, life lessons and personal legacies. I am continually watching this trend grow and this story emphasizes yet again many people's desire to pass on to the next generation more than money and possessions.

As Baby Boomers move into their 60's they are looking back at their lives and also reflecting on their elders (parents and other aging family members). The post World War II generation has seen amazing things in their lifetime. They want to know more about their family history and they desire to share with their offspring what life has meant to them. I fit in this category and certainly believe it is crucial for us to write down the important life lessons and messages we'd like to hand on. Ethical wills, video biographies, journals, interviews and memoirs can all capture the important information.

October is Family History Month so right now is a good time to begin a project. Throughout this month I'll pass on some ideas and tips, but you can start by checking out the many Life Story Resources on our website.

Everybody has a story to tell!
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