Your Life is Your Story Go To Your Life is Your Story Home Page

The "Your Life is Your Story" Blog Archives

© Tom Gilbert

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

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

September, 2021

current blog entries
blog archive index

Reflecting on Volume

September 22, 2021

As a 5th grade teacher I get to teach my students a variety of subjects. I try really hard to include life lessons and life skills along with the things they should learn as part of their elementary school curriculum.

This week in math I have been teaching them the concept of volume. Volume is defined as "the quantity of three-dimensional space enclosed by a closed surface." So we talked about how to fill that space in boxes or other three-dimensional objects. And there is the well known formula of length times width times height.

Math lesson aside, volume is a concept that can speak, well, volumes about our lives and life experiences. Anyone who enjoys boisterous and exciting events such as sports, concerts or fireworks displays can make a connection to volume (as in sound) and perhaps even the amount of fun. Here in Albuquerque we have an event about to take place in October - the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta - that is full of sights and sounds and is quite incredible. A lot of air must fill those balloon envelopes. When they are properly inflated with air and heated with propane burners they rise majestically. The skies get filled with sometimes hundreds of hot air balloons at one time!

Aside from volume as sound or as mathematical measurement, I like to think of the idea of volumes of life stories. We are all living a life that has many experiences and lessons. When we record these in books, oral history or on video we are adding to the amount of recorded history. Every person has a story. Consider adding yours to the volumes of personal histories. It doesn't have to be part of your local library (although that's not a bad idea), but it can be part of your family history.

Spiritual Memoirs Help You Consider the Meaning of Your Life

September 15, 2021

You are on a journey. This life journey takes you to physical places, but also places we can only call spiritual. The inner journey is where you try to make sense of it all.

In some ways I think every memoir has a spiritual angle. Some people write about their life and their spirituality, their faith, in an overt way. Others refer to it in a  more subtle way. However you approach it, realize that the meaning of life is discovered only as we live it.

I really enjoy exploring the deeper questions about life and how things connect. It does require having a willingness to believe in things we might not be able to clearly explain or point to. That's okay. We all encounter the "unknown" at various stages of life.

For myself, I know that there have been some particular life events where it became clear to me that something bigger than me was at work. Call it what you want - God, Spirit, the Universe, Love - this "bigger thing" has made an impact over and over again.

In an article by John Longhurst, Spiritual memoirs reflect on the deeper meanings of life, there is the consideration that many people have about their lives beyond just the life events. This is what storytelling and sharing our life experiences is all about. And many people relate to these stories, especially the spiritual aspect.

I invite you to consider the spiritual side of your story. It doesn't have to be the central part of your memoir. However, it might help you better appreciate the journey you are on.

Memories of 9/11 or Learning the History

September 9, 2021
Remembering 9-11 and learning the history
Twenty years ago. It seems like a long time. But the memory of that fateful day in September of 2001 is etched in the minds of those who lived through it. Not just those who were there in New York City, Washington D.C. or Pennsylvania. People around the country and around the world can recall where they were when they began hearing and seeing the news of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

But what of those who were just babies, or not even born? To them it is history that they hear about. We teach it in schools. We share it with our families. This kind of historical event is different from those long ago before we were born. And there is no doubt that the world has changed in some sad and frightening ways since that day of terror.

ABC News is airing a special on Friday night with Diane Sawyer that features children of victims of 9-11. Over the years they have kept in touch with some women who were pregnant at the time and whose babies never knew their fathers, at least not physically.

There are many now adults who were also very young children and who have spent two decades grieving the loss of fathers they never knew. Imagine that burden.

We must remember history. We must not forget those who suffer as a result of events like September 11, 2001. I've been to NYC and the Memorials and museum. While I wasn't personally touched by the tragedy I have been with some who were. I've listened to their stories and felt their pain. Some survived. Some did not. The wounds are real, but I believe that we can find ways to make our wounds sacred. They can be touchstones, yes, of pain, but also of spiritual growth and development.

A world without war, terrorism, hate and violence seems like a pipe dream. But it is not impossible. Worthy goals like peaceful living and caring for others are how we change the world.

Reworking Work

September 6, 2021

reworking workToday is Labor Day. It is historically a day to recognize the labor movement and workers. As a teacher AND a writer/personal historian I truly appreciate days off. So I am enjoying a slower pace on this holiday.

At the same time, I am someone who tends to stay busy. One of the gifts of an unrushed day is the opportunity to reflect, write and ponder how I can be a better version of myself. I become more productive when taking time to "stop and smell the roses", as the saying goes.

Our society has taken some gut punches surrounding how we spend time, what it means to have meaningful work, how to deal with heavy issues like health (Covid has done a major shakeup in this area) and dealing with uncertainty and the unexpected.

An important lesson that I hope more of us have learned in the past year and a half is that we all are better off when we live in the present moment. Plans are still necessary, but things often don't go the way we plan. No kidding.

Companies and those who deal with them regarding labor and the workforce have discovered what I think has been on the minds of many of us, even if it was in our subconscious. The way we work, the kind of jobs we do, the rewards (or lack of) for giving our efforts to build a sustainable life have all been brought into a greater focus as the result of a pandemic, our turbulent politics and the realities of our use of natural resources.

I care about this alot. For my own well-being and also for the future of the children I teach. The combination of teaching young children and working with more elderly life story clients is an intriguing mix.

We have opportunities to rework how we work. A survey by PwC reveals how many people are trying to align their values with a new work reality. And companies like Red Havas are taking steps to cater to the new workforce reality with intentional decisions on how to handle meetings (go for a walk with your co-workers), more time off (two more paid summer days off a month), hybrid workplace opportunities, and mental wellbeing considerations (they ask their employees to take one hour a week "on the clock" to actively improve their physical and mental health, such as reading a book, getting exercise or learning a new skill).

Life should not be all about work. It should be all about living. How we approach that living includes finding ways to support ourselves and our families. Isn't it time we all took a good hard look and came up with more ways to re-work the way we make a living? One of the reasons years ago I invested in creating an online business was to give myself more purpose and freedom. Take a look at what I use.

Everybody has a story to tell!
Copyright © 2003 - 2021 All rights reserved
Email Tom Gilbert