Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
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Helen Jones Woods and the International Sweethearts of Rhythm
October 29, 2020
Living to 96 is an accomplishment for anyone. Helen Jones Woods passed
away recently, another 2020 casualty of COVID-19. But in her passing
she leaves a legacy as one strong and independent woman who lived a
In addition to being a member of an all female instrumental swing band,
she spent time as a nurse and a teacher's aide. She felt called to help
people, such as problem children who often need a lot of love and
compassion. She must have been cut out for that job. She
self-proclaimed herself "the director of hugs and kisses."
It sounds like she was quite a wonderful woman (The Improbable Life of Helen Jones Woods and the International Sweethearts of Rhythm by Megan Mayhew Bergman, posted to New Yorker Magazine).
I love to hear the life stories about people like Helen Jones Woods. It
affirms for me once again that many people are living extraordinary
lives. And that even in so-called normal lives people can be
extraordinary in how they live, full of care for others and using their
Certainly Woods was talented. In the 1930s and 40's she toured with a
record-breaking and racially integrated all female swing band. The International Sweethearts of Rhythm was
an instrumental group that toured the world. She played trombone and
joined the group at the young age of fourteen! The group had members
from five different races, a real testimony of diversity creating
something greater than the individual parts. They toured extensively
and to packed venues.
The touring was not without challenges. They dealt with discrimination
and Woods added working for civil rights to her life resume. An
impressive life and one worthy of remembering and taking cues from. The
best lead by example and it sounds like Woods did that very well.
Ocean View of a Life Story
October 21, 2020
With all the turbulence this year you can't blame me if I decide to
take a look under the surface, an ocean view, as it were, of a life
I have come across two interesting tales. One is about a Great White Shark and the other a fascinating octopus.
Researchers came across the big shark, one they dubbed "Queen of the
Ocean", off the coast of Nova Scotia. She's quite amazing, estimated at
50 years old, more than 17 feet long and weighing 3,541 pounds.
What they discovered
about this massive shark is she is probably a grandmother as her first
babies would be easily 30 years old and birthing their own baby sharks.
Do NOT start singing the song! If you do it will be stuck in your head for hours - you've been warned.
The ocean scientists have named this Great White Nukumi, a term
from the indigenous Mi'kmaq people that translates as "the legendary
wise old grandmother figure".
other under the sea creature is the extraordinary octopus. They are
truly one of the most unusual and intelligent ocean animals. I watched
the Netflix documentary, My Octopus Teacher,
and this wonderful story is about a man who lives by the sea and
discovers, befriends and follows an octopus every day for a year. It
was a heartwarming and informative story that I recommend.
Learning about the lives of other inhabitants of our planet
besides humans should make us better aware of our humanity and our
place in the world. We can learn about ourselves by learning about
Grand Time to Visit Grand Canyon
October 15, 2020
Here in New Mexico we have great weather typically in October. That's
true as well for Northern Arizona which is similar in a lot of ways to
the Land of Enchantment. The elevation and dry desert climate make for
pleasant temperatures, not the great heat you might have during summer.
The Grand Canyon in Arizona is one of the great sights and wonders of
the world. It is immense and truly beautiful. Such a popular
destination for tourists means you should plan carefully. During this
season of the coronavirus there are more restrictions, of course. But
you can still go. Check the government site to know more.
To know the best times to visit, the best places to camp, and a wide
amount of great information if you would like to camp at the Grand
Canyon you need look no further than The Camper's Complete Guide to Grand Canyon Camping, posted to OutsideHow.
There is an incredible amount of useful information put together by the
writer Brian, who is using his Bachelor's degree in Exercise and Sport
My memories of visiting the Grand Canyon have stayed with me. The first
time I was a college student on a road trip. My friend and I watched
the sunrise from the South Rim and it was spectacular.
There are many amazing natural wonders that need to be seen in person.
If you get the opportunity don't miss out on a visit to one of the
grandest places on Earth!
John Lennon at 80
October 9, 2020
is John Lennon's birthday. The singer, songwriter, member of the Fab
Four (Beatles) and peace activist, had he lived would be 80 today.
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance
I can't say what John Lennon would be doing today if he was still
around. But I do know that remembering his music and the message he
gave us with lines from songs like, "Give Peace a Chance" still matter. They matter to me - hopefully to you as well.
Lennon was a human being. That means he had his good points and his
flaws. Just like we all do. But with all his fame and money he did
choose to promote a message of peace and love. Man, we definitely need
more of that.
Musicologist and radio program creator Paul Ingles (Good Radio Shows) has a music program he produced that is well worth listening to on Lennon's birthday. 11 from John Lennon: An Appreciation Hour has songs and commentary. I listened to it on my morning walk and recommend it.
Eddie Van Halen, Rock Guitar Legend, Gave His Son the Gift of Music
October 6, 2020
During my many years working at rock radio stations there were
countless times I played Van Halen songs. I played them loud, blasting
the music through the studio speakers and quite often doing some air
guitar. Van Halen was one of the biggest rock groups of the 1980's into
the 2000's. Lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen was a driving force in the
band. Ed could shred!
Eddie Van Halen lost his battle with cancer today. 65 is considered
elderly for rock n' roll. It's typically a young person's world. But as
we've seen with many others, you can keep the rock spirit alive long
past your twenties and thirties.The words his son said about him speak
a great deal to how much he treasured his father's gift of music (more
on that below).
There are plenty of tributes online already. I usually turn to Rolling Stone Magazine when I hear news about prominent rockers. The article
speaks a great deal about Eddie Van Halen's virtuosity on the electric
guitar. There is also plenty of interesting material about his past,
the band, and the era that he reigned as one of the premiere guitar
For this site that focuses on life story and legacy what I found most
moving was the words his son said about his father. Wolfgang Van Halen
got a great gift - the gift of a loving father and music mentor - and
he even toured with Van Halen on bass for a time.
Wolfgang, the son, said of Eddie, the father: "He was the best father I
could ever ask for. Every moment I shared with him on and off stage was
a gift. My heart is broken and I don't think I'll ever fully recover
from this loss."
It is tough to lose our parents and loved ones. I have a feeling that
Wolfgang Van Halen will help carry the legacy of his father forward
through the years. A painful loss, but it sounds like Eddie Van Halen
made quite a contribution above and beyond the music.