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The "Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives

Read about quality family history and life story news, views, methods, products, links, services

                     ...and whatever else catches our fancy

September, 2009

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September 29, 2009

A World War II veteran and longtime pastor has published his life story. Like many people, he's had a life of struggles and of fruit. He was a depression era baby and lived in poverty. Both his parents had disabling accidents early in his life so he spent time in an orphanage and foster homes. He lied about his age to enlist in the Navy at 15. After the war he joined the Marine Corps and while stationed in China he was run over by a two-and-a-half ton truck. It crushed his legs and tore his hips out of their sockets. Today at 82 the injuries still bother him.

That experience in China led him to a calling to become a pastor. He and his wife, Violet, have overseen a number of churches including one over a hundred years old that he helped restore.

Paul Justice's life story is one worth telling. Julie McDonald Zander, a personal historian (Chapters of Life), tells it in Paul's voice in his just published memoir, Transformed by Grace: Delivered from hell to heaven. Read more online from the Lewis County, Washington The Chronicle.

September 24, 2009

Much of our personal history revolves around food. Many cultures and places have traditional foods that become the subject of much discussion and part of family gatherings.

New Mexico green chileNearly all of us who call New Mexico home (both native and transplants) have a great affinity for eating chile. I'm not talking about the beans and meat with sauce you find in Texas or the other "so-called" varieties you might run across in other places. I'm speaking of the honest-to-goodness green chile grown, harvested and devoured right here in the Land of Enchantment.

It can be somewhat addicting, but I don't see harm in it. Actually, the chile is good for you - and sure tastes great in many of our traditional dishes. These include chicken enchiladas made with
with green chile and using blue corn tortillas topped with cheese and onions and a fried egg (yum). Or try cheese baked inside a green chile for a delicious chile relleno. Then there are the multiply varieties of green chile stew (it is not uncommon for great debates to break out over who makes the best. And a breakout of sweating from those who get to sample the hot and tasy treat!).

When green chiles ripen they turn red. Dried red chile is used in a number of dishes and is also very tasty.

Look for official New Mexico green chile (usually from Hatch, NM, but also grown all along the Rio Grande Valley). Check out this story in the LA Times - New Mexico's green chile, the real deal.

September 21, 2009

You may be aware that I've discovered a number of quality video biography companies. Video is another fine medium to capture a life story and often can be an excellent companion piece to a written biography or memoir (more).

Family Voices Media (see here) is New York based company and creates high quality "family treasures for generations to come". They produce professional and in-depth family history videos. A recent client was very grateful that a family project was completed before her eldest brother passed away. Yet another reminder to all to preserve family history while we can.

September 16, 2009

In the days since the death of Senator Edward Kennedy we are learning more about his spirit of compassion and consideration for others, especially people on the margins (the poor, sick, homeless, etc). And we are also learning how over a half century he recorded notes and kept diaries of his encounters with others that went into his memoir, True Compass.

Ted Kennedy had his faults. Don't we all? But he lived life fully and he kept growing and transforming his life until the very end. He did it with family and friends at his side and even his critics have to admit he did a lot of good work.

A USA Today story speaks about his just released memoir (read it here).

September 14, 2009

Now that I am going to be a first-time grandfather I find myself checking out information that normally I wouldn't. Like the Grandparenting section of

One of the articles I came across at that section was about music transcending the generations. Now everyone knows each generation has the music they love and is their own (often to the distress of their parents - "turn that music down!" was frequently shouted down the hall to my room when I was in High School). Nevertheless, there is music that we can share and it can bridge the gaps in generations and help us appreciate the culture and history of the times the music was composed in. It can also help us grow in understanding each other and even share in experiences.

It helps when there are certain artists who seem timeless. You can point to the classical masters (Bethoven, Bach, Chopin) or to groups like the Beatles (current interest being fueled by the release of their remastered albums and the version of the popular ROck Band video game, "Beatles Rock Band").

My children (21 and 15) like some of the same music I grew up with. No doubt my many years as a radio DJ and my vast music collection have influenced them. I get a kick out of my son's guitar playing - he likes a lot of heavy classic rock.

Amy Goyer wrote in The Beat Goes On about her friends, Karen and Phil. They've experienced past concerts with Amy, but now they are taking their 3-year old grandson along and he is learning about rock n' roll, mardi gras jazz music and more.

September 11, 2009

How Do You Honor and Remember 9-11?

Today marks the 8 year anniversary of 9/11. Each successive 9/11 since the tragic day in 2001 sparkes memories and memorials. I hope that we all continue to honor our heroes - especially those who deal with danger each day like firefighters, law enforcement, medical professionals, those in the military, chaplains and so on.

The memories of that day are etched into our collective consciousness. But do you take time to recall it and how it has affected your life? I remember vividly arriving at work and discovering the events transpiring in New York City, Washington DC and Pennsylvania (Flight 93). Oddly, I had not watched or listened to the news that morning. Usually I do, but that day I was in more of a meditative and reflective mood. So I didn't know what was happening until an hour after the attacks on the World Trade Centers.

Since that day I've encountered many people whose lives were directly affected. I have friends who live in NYC. One told me about looking out the highrise of his office building at the smoke all morning. My brother had been working in the World Trade Center complex until about two years before that fateful day. Imagine the emotions he had.

Of course nothing I've experienced comes anywhere close to those personally impacted. Families, children, co-workers, colleagues who all were there or nearby and who lost loved ones have suffered a lot. We should always honor and remember the fallen and help the survivors.

I don't have any hate in my heart for the countries where the terrorists came from. I don't blame the Islamic religion. I recognize that the dispicable terrorist acts were done by a radical fringe.  I look for a world that someday will be one  in peace and action. We can have our differences and our cultures - but we all share in the preciousness and sanctity of life.

How will you choose to remember 9-11. There are those who have been preserving and documenting the history, including Steve Rosenbaum and the work of TheCameraPlanet Archive. He wrote an important and moving post today that you should read. It's titled - I've Got My 9/11 Story. What's Yours?

September 8, 2009

I've frequently mentioned the Association of Personal Historians. The APH is a non-profit group of wonderful people working in all areas and genres of personal history. This includes, but is not limited to, writers, videographers, oral historians, transcribers, book binders, printers, consultants, coaches and digital entrepreneurs.

One of the guiding lights of the APH has passed away. Bob Joyce, APH's second president, passed way August 23, 2009 at the age of 73. He was a charter member of the group in 1995, was involved for many years in various roles and wrote three acclaimed personal historian reference works: Astonishing Century, Life Story Wizard: A Style and Grammar Handbook for Personal Historians, and Moments to Remember: America's Songbook. In 2004 the APH board of directors presented him with a Lifetime Honorary Membership.

Like many other members, Bob Joyce came into the field of personal history as a second career. He held a masters in engineering and taught for more than thirty years at University of La Verne. His legacy to his family, clients and fellows in the personal history field is important and appreciated. You can visit his Orange County Register online obituary with guest book.

September 5, 2009

Stephen Hawking's Zero-G Experience

Back in April of this year renowned physicist Stephen Hawking got the chance to fly in a plane that can put you into weightlessness for 30 seconds at a time. Space Florida and The Sharper Image were responsible for the flight and gave him eight parabolas to experience zero gravity. It must have been tremendous for this very intelligent man who's been confined to a wheelchair and speaks through a computer because he has ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).

We should never let limitations hold us back. Hawking is an inspiring example of someone who has pushed beyond his physical limitations. We all have certain gifts. Are you cultivating yours and sharing it with the world?

Everybody has a story to tell!
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