Story and Why
"Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives
quality family history and life story news, views, methods, products,
...and whatever else catches the fancy of personal historian Tom Gilbert
Pope, Our Common Home and the American Visit
September 26, 2015
You cannot turn on any news without seeing and hearing about Pope Francis and his
historic visit to America. The United States Conference of Catholic
Bishops has created a great hub that will link you to
many important parts of this visit.
First to Cuba, and now in the United States, a leader of one of the
largest religions in the world (Catholicism), has much to say to
everyone. He is not just speaking to Roman Catholics. He's not only
bringing a message to Christians. He's speaking to us about our world,
our lives, our Common
Home (as he calls the Earth and our responsibility towards
it in his encyclical, Laudato Si').
I could say a lot about all of this. I have certainly been reflecting
on this significant moment in history. But what I am finding most
important is a message of love, kindness, caring for those in need,
acceptance, peace and mercy. These are profound concepts. As I spend
time working in the field of personal history and people's life stories
I find these are universal themes and important for all of us. All of
These are indeed exciting times and we are all witness to it.
Your Legacy Clock is Ticking
September 22, 2015
Do you know the saying, "If not now, when?" Yeah, you've probably heard
it before. It is the battle cry against procrastination.
When it comes to your life story and the legacy of your life, time
keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping...into the future (as goes the
Steve Miller Band song Fly
Like an Eagle). Robb
Lucy, author of Legacies Aren't Just For Dead People, a book I've read
and posted about,
encourages you to do something about your legacy with his post (he's
now a regular contributor to The
Huffington Post), Don't Wait to Preserve Your Legacy.
It's a quick read with a weighty message.
Day of Peace
September 21, 20015
I found out today is International
Day of Peace (official site here).
It was established in 1981 by the United Nations who declared it a day
devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all
nations and peoples. 34 years later we need it more than ever.
How does the topic of peace fit into the stories of our lives? I think
anyone could write about what peace means to them. There is plenty of
turmoil and hardship in our lives. There is far too much injustice,
war, poverty, hunger and meanness, all of which challenge the concept
of peace. Yes, peace is a topic that touches us all, hopefully down to
In my 5th grade class I am again teaching a project on Becoming a Peacemaker.
We learn about significant peacemakers throughout history, we study the
idea of peace, we find ways to practice peace in our class, school,
family, community and in our hearts. It's not always easy to teach this
most important idea. As soons as we are threatened we want to defend
ourselves and that often leads to conflict, violence and the absence of
I prefer the path of peace, but I know I still have times where I need
to grow, to become more peaceful and to be a true peacemaker in the
world. It's important to stick with it. As someone once said, "All we
are saying is give peace a chance."
Throwback Thursday - Paying Attention to the Signs
September 17, 2015
This past Sunday I ran my tenth half-marathon. It was also my
year old son's first. So it was a good experience for both of us. The
race was the annual Chips & Salsa event that
winds its way through the North Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It
was a beautiful day and a good run.
Four years ago I ran this race and I missed the sign for part of the
route, confusing it with the 10K runners. I wrote about that and how it
ties into paying attention to the signs in life. You can see that Throwback Thursday
Carriers of Family History
September 14, 2015
Your family history is important, to you and to others. We all need to
preserve important stories and events from the lives of our family
ancestors. You don't have to go back very far either. Start with your
Thanks to Marian McQuade,
a housewife in Virginia, and former President Jimmy Carter, we
celebrate National Grandparents Day every year on the first Sunday
after Labor Day.
It is good to honor grandparents and the roles they play in our
families. A really wonderful way to do that is to get them talking
about life when they were growing up. How has the world changed? What
lessons do they have to pass on? What did they learn from their grandparents?
At the school where I teach we had a gathering Monday morning, the day
after Grandparents Day, to honor them and to have the students make
presentations. My fifth grade class sang a song I wrote for One Day on Earth
in November 11, 2011 (11/11/11). The grands enjoyed it.
I know that being a grandfather has blessed me many times over. I
dearly love Jacob (5) and Sophia (2, but turning 3 next month). They
get a kick out of their Pawkin, too. That's what they call me - Pawkin.
I could never have come up with a name as cool as that!
Marathon of Memoir Writing
September 10, 2015
In three days I will run another half-marathon. The Chips & Salsa Half Marathon
in Albuquerque, New Mexico is in my hometown and starts close to my
house. That makes it pretty convenient. I've run this race three times
before, but this time my 21 year old son will be running with me. It is
his first half marathon and I'm impressed that he's tackling the 13.1
Running is something I took up at age 50. Yes, I did some cross-country
running in High School, but not since until about ten years
Now as I close in on 60 I've got a couple of full marathons under my
belt and I think this will be my 10th half marathon. I've found that
there is something special about distance running. There are many
benefits that come from the long miles. It's not easy, but I enjoy the
outdoors, the health benefits, listening to music and the spiritual
high (for lack of a better term).
memoir I am currently working on is about a ten year period in my life,
2003 to 2013, when a number of important life events converged
together. Part of that story is taking up the distance running and
completing half and full marathons. And it occurs to me that writing a
memoir is similar to running a long distance event. It's not a sprint!
It's a long run to the finish line.
To help me with my writing I've decided to sign up for the Write Your First Memoir Draft course
being offered by Denis Ledoux of The Memoir Network.
I excitedly logged into the member's area for participants this evening
after I received my email with details about the course. There are
already a number of interesting resources for me to tap into. These
include an interview with Kathy Pooler (The Memoir Writer's Journey),
the Should I Write My
e-book and a previously recorded tele-class about how to get started
and keep going in memoir writing. I'm confident I'll get good tips
There is still time for you to sign up. If you do you will be part of a
select group of writers anxious to get their memoirs written. We will
be supporting and encouraging each other and also giving each other
feedback. Yes, of course, we will also be getting excellent
instruction. Want to join me on this journey? The registration deadline
is upon us - tomorrow, Friday, September 11.
September 6, 2015
Labor Day is
tomorrow (September 7) in the United States. I find myself reflecting
on the eve of this holiday about work, careers and how it has impacted
Writing about your work, the personal history of your career or
careers, can be fertile material for a memoir. Many of us spend a huge
amount of our lifetime at work, doing various jobs and building a
A lot of our effort goes into finding meaningful work. Doing something
satisfying, that stimulates us and challenges us, and ideally helps
make our world a better place.
As I close in on my 60th birthday and reflect back on various jobs I've
held I find there are many life lessons. Like others, I've had to learn
the meaning of responsibility, punctuality and doing my best. I've also
suffered through some tough work challenges.
a Personal Historian
September 2, 2015
Welcome to September. If you are considering a personal history project
that you want to complete in the near future you should certainly
consider working with a qualified Personal Historian.
You can find one, quite possibly in the town or area you live, but
searching the Find a Personal Historian section of the Association of Personal Historians
There are a number of fantastic people available for you to contact and
discuss your project. From video to scrapbooking, photo books to well
crafted memoir (and a whole lot more!), this organization has the
people you should seek out.
Personal Historian is a profession that has been growing a lot in the
past ten years. The APH
has been around for 20 years and the annual conference will be October
21-25 in Sacramento, California. This year's theme is Cultivate & Thrive.
Lots of great workshops, presenters, networking and social events.
There will even be a special event for the public, An Evening with Mr. Chin Lin
Sou, labor contractor for Chinese railroad workers.
This creative historical and theatrical presentation by renowned
storyteller Charlie Chin is bound to be both educational and
I've been a member of the APH
since 2003 and I am constantly inspired with ideas and supported by
networking. If you are perhaps considering doing work in the
of personal history I highly recommend you investigate the Association for Personal
Historians. If you join, mention my name. The reference is
appreciated and also gains me an additional month in my annual