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© Tom Gilbert

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                     ...and whatever else catches our fancy of personal historian  

September, 2016

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Talk of a Lifetime - Part Three

September 26, 2016

Where might you have the Talk of a Lifetime? In just a little while two presidential candidates will square off in their first nationally televised debate. Having that kind of talk in front of an audience of about 100 million people is not the intimate talk we are suggesting for you and your family members. However, it might be a talk of a lifetime as the stakes are high. The next President of the United States will take office in January and whoever that turns out to be must convince Americans that they are the best choice among those we can vote for to be the leader of the most powerful nation in the world.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will debate a variety of issues.  If you have a talk about what matters most in life and share family history and values don't let it be a debate. Debating your life experiences is not the point of sharing family history.
have the talk of a lifetime
So back to the question - where should you have your special talk about your lifetime experiences and values? It should be someplace where you can be clearly heard, not interrupted and private enough to talk about important matters of the heart. So a crowded restaurant or a loud sporting event may not work out. I think sitting on the bank of a river or by a quiet lake, on the backporch or in the den with a glass of your favorite beverage might be more conducive.

October is Family History Month and the Funeral and Memorial Information Council (FAMiC) has joined with other organizations to promote the Have the Talk of a Lifetime. Their website has some good thought starters for talking about life. There is even a free workbook you can download.

Your Life Is Your Story is happy to be part of this, too and I will be participating in an event in Santa Fe, New Mexico on October 15. Keep coming back here for more information.

Talk of a Lifetime - Part Two

September 20, 2016

When you have an important talk about your life with someone you care about, one of your children for instance, it is important to set the stage. You can't really barge into it; at least you should not.

How do you bring up the subject of the most important matters and lessons of your life? Just how do you open the door to having the Talk of a Lifetime?

It's not easy, at least in my experience. I think it really helps to have a good relationship with the person you are getting the life story or experiences from. My dad was not a great one for opening up and it took sitting by his hospital bed a few months before he passed away. He had been in and out, dealing with COPD. He was actually on the mend when I sat with him and got him to reminisce about the early days of marriage. He told me about sharing an apartment and garage with another couple and one of the first things they did was buy a padlock for the refrigerator because their "neighbors" kept eating their food!

Dad was tightlipped about a lot of things. He probably got that from his stoic dad who didn't tell his story to my father until he literally was on his death bed. Then it all came out (although I never got to hear about it from my father).

This past weekend my 22-year old son and I ran a half marathon together, the Thunder Run from Santa Fe to Pojaque. It was a bonding experience. Running 13.1 miles together was special. We also got a hotel room the night before and went out to dinner and had a bit of fun at the Buffalo Thunder Casino. He and I haven't yet had the talk of my lifetime, but experiences like this are going to make that easier.

Spend time with your loved ones and build a good foundation. Set the stage. And have that talk. You can get more information about the Have the Talk of a Lifetime by visiting the official website and getting the free brochure.

Talk of a Lifetime - Part One

September 19, 2016

We live today in a world where technology has made it easier than ever to communicate with others, whether they are close by or on the other side of the room. Millions everyday use the Internet and social media. We phone, text, chat, snap pictures, blog, post videos and use our devices to share our thoughts, views and feelings. Sometimes there is oversharing and some things are better left unsaid.

But I worry that despite our ability to communicate in many ways that people are also avoiding really talking to each other. Before smart phones and the Internet, before constant media with radio and television, people actually spent time visiting and talking to each other. Not all if it was honest and open, for sure, but I wonder if we are losing out on real talks, the ones that we hold forever in our hearts.
Have the Talk of a Lifetime
Have the Talk of a Lifetime is a national, grassroots public awareness initiative developed by the Funeral and Memorial Information Council, or FAMIC. Funeral professionals certainly know that when families plan a meaningful funeral that reflects the unique life of their loved one, they take an important step in the journey toward healing after the death of a loved one.

Personal Historians like myself understand the importance of having real talks with family members to share value, life lessons, heal hurts and pass on wisdom and interesting stories about your family history.

October is National Family History Month, so declared by Congress in 2001 with a resolution introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. It should be no surprise to anyone that families can be brought closer together by discovering their family's unique stories.

There are a number of events taking place in October to promote Have the Talk of a Lifetime. I will be involved with one in Santa Fe, New Mexico on October 15 at an assisted living/retirement community, the Montecito. It will be co-facilitated by Avista Cremation and Burial. I plan to facilitate an Adult Show & Tell event, such as the many that other colleagues of mine in the Association of Personal Historians (APH) have done the past few years. It gives people an opportunity to bring a memento or family heirloom or some item that is important to them and spend a few minutes reminiscing about its importance to them and share a family story related to it. The concept is very similar to "Show and Tell" that many of us did when we were in school.

I'm going to be posting about the Have the Talk of a Lifetime initiative, events and National Family History Month all this week, so be sure to check back for more. I also encourage you to visit the official Have the Talk of a Lifetime website and get the free brochure.

Grand Towers - Remembering 9/11 and Honoring Grand Parents

September 11, 2016

This day in 2001 dawned sunny and bright. I began my day and headed into work, at the time for a small company involved in marketing and selling machines and supplies people and businesses use everyday in dealing with paper. We specialized in items like paper cutters, paper shredders, laminating and binding equipment. There were only about four of us working in the office at the time. The company would grow bigger and I stayed with them a couple of years before moving on to other things.

Moving on - that is something we've all tried to do since the fateful events of September 11, 2001. A morning that started so beautifully became a day of great tragedy. Lives were lost, lives were shattered, and lives were forever altered.

Fifteen years is not a lot of time in the Big Picture. But it is not insignificant. I've gone through a fair amount of life experiences and changes in that time. A couple of months before September 11 of that year my family celebrated my parents' 50th wedding anniversary at my cousins' wonderful lake home on Lake George in upstate New York. Before we headed to the lake in June we spent a couple of days in New York City. My young children had never been and we played tourists, including marveling at the World Trade Center Towers, a fixture of the NYC My wife and I at the 9-11 memorial for the World Trade Centers in 2012skyline. Four years ago we once again visited the city and paid our respects at the 9/11 Towers Memorial.

Those grand towers came down in flames after two hijacked airliners were flown into them as an act of incomprehensible terrorism. In Washington D.C. we heard about the Pentagon attacked by yet another airliner used as a missile. And the fourth plane's terrorist mission was thwarted by citizen patriots, but the plane and passengers perished in the Pennsylvania field crash.

Fifteen years ago I was not sure where my career was going, only that it had taken some unexpected turns. I didn't know the future for my children who were 13 and 7 at the time. Today we are doing well, living successful lives of love and family. My daughter and son-in-law have blessed my wife and I with two precious grandchildren. My son is now a practicing nurse helping sick and injured people and confronting their life and death situations on a regular basis.

The convergence this year of 9/11 and Grandparents Day is a mixed blessing. The special bond between grandparents and grandchildren is something I can't adequately explain, only experience. The same is true of the memories of 9/11. A lot of pain and anguish swirled about us in the aftermath, but also we saw great acts of compassion and heroism. Such is the mystery of good confronting evil.

Life is precious and too short. But we are here now and now is the only real time. Don't waste it - live it! 

50 Years Ago Star Trek Launched and Boldly Went Where No Show Had Gone Before

September 8, 2016

Star Trek 50th AnniversaryStardate September 8, 1996 and a new television show debuted. Star Trek was different that most TV shows at the time. When you watch those original episodes now the special effects seem hokey, and maybe you feel the same about some of the dialog. But at the time the scripts were smart and challenging and the cast was mult-ethnic (multi-species?) and you can count me as a Trekkie that loved it. I've always liked the speculation that good Sci-Fi fosters. What if and why?

The celebrations have been going on for a while. Today Facebook even changed their "like" buttons to have a bit of a Trekkie theme.

The legacy of Star Trek is hard to measure. It has launched numerous spinoffs and movies. But it all started fifty years ago with Spock, Bones, Scotty and the rest of the crew. And, of course, the Captain of the Starship Enterprise, James Tiberius Kirk. The show was going to be canceled by teh NBC network after two seasons, but a letter writing campaign saved it for one more season. It's hard to believe the original Star Trek was only on for 3 seasons and 79 episodes. It really hit warp speed in reruns. And the show and its offspring will continue to "live long and prosper"!

Personal Memoirist Makes Front Page News

September 5, 2016

It is poetic justice that on this Labor Day I am able to post good news regarding the type of work I and others have been cultivating for the past two decades.

Last year the Association of Personal Historians turned 20. I've been a member of this organization since 2003 and have both watched it grow and benefited from the skills and knowledge shared among this fine group of varied professionals who work to preserve life stories. This past week a founder of APH and a few other members were featured on the front page of the New York Times, Have a Story to Tell? Your Personal Memoirist is Here.

Making the front page of the New York Times is quite a feather in the cap for Kitty Axelson Berry of Modern Memoirs and one of the founding members of APH. She's been at this personal history for a long time and she and her staff create beautiful memoirs and family history books. They are of the highest quality and not inexpensive.

One of the most challenging things for any Personal Historian trying to make a living in the field is getting clients to understand why the financial investment is usually much more than than expected. People have to be educated on both the value and the time it takes to create a quality final product. The Times piece delves into this in a good way.

I hope that you have considered the preservation of your life story. Your story is part of the history of the human race. You have had experiences and a life unique to you. There is much to share with others, especially your family.

In my article, Writing My Life Story, I give tips on the writing of an autobiography and memoir including how to start, point of view and motivation. 

Everybody has a story to tell!
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