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© Tom  Gilbert

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Sparking Our Core Values

July 28, 2021

One of the valuable benefits of life story reflection, reminiscence and writing is the often helpful perspective of where we have been in life as well as where we are now. I know this to be quite true for me. And I know it to be true of many others whom I have assisted in preserving their life stories.

It is wonderful to look back at times in our lives and appreciate all the goodness. Harder to view the troubled times. Yet these times often are the most valuable, at least in teaching us lessons and helping us to grow as people who learn to love and care about others.

At age 93 Jerry Witkovsky - author, social work professional and grandparenting activist - reflects on his core values in an article in the summer issue of GRAND Magazine. One of the things he states is "You know more than you give yourself credit for." But the knowledge is often hard won. Such is life. It's not all easy peasy. I know for myself that the struggle is where I have the opportunity to become something better.

Mr. Witkovsky's article delves into the issues of compassion and empathy, but he does it by relating experiences from his life and interactions with others. It was a good read and helped me to again reflect on just what I consider my core values. It really is about being a part of life, hopefully in a positive way. We are not here just for ourselves. We need each other and we all can use some help and encouragement along the way.


Mary Guathier Saved by a Song

July 16, 2021

Mary Gauthier is one of those singer-songwriters who speaks about her life and life experiences through her songs. A true balladeer. She gets rigorously honest about her life journey. I admit I am attracted to such artists. It is never easy to face our demons, but when we hear about how others do and make it through to the other side we often can gain inspiration and motivation to do the same.

Gauthier has just released a memoir that started as an intended songwriting manual to share insight into the craft of songwriting. In the end she achieved that and more.

The resulting book is Saved by a Song. Nashville Scene published an article by Brittney McKenna that provides some insight into the book, and life, of Mary Gauthier. Influences and support from others like Bob Dylan and the late John Prine have helped her on her journey. Now her memoir may do the same for others.


Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Diamond Anniversary

July 7, 2021

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter diamond anniversaryHow do you measure a successful marriage? Longevity is certainly a factor. Today is the 75th wedding anniversary for Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. 75 years! Their marriage is a great love story.

It is more than the years. It is the quality of that time and the legacy of this couple. Jimmy Carter was a one term president, but his presidency was during a difficult period of United States history. In the late 1970s the country was dealing with the Iran hostage situation and a gas shortage, among other things.

The years following have maybe better defined former President Jimmy Carter. He is a recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize. He and Rosalynn have helped a great number of people with their  social and charitable efforts, among them building homes with Habitat for Humanity.

Jimmy is 96 and Rosalynn 93. Good, long and well-lived lives. They met when he was three and she was a day old. They both grew up in Plains, a small Georgia town and lived just three miles apart. Growing up Rosalynn became best friends with Jimmy's younger sister. Jimmy was later smitten with Rosalynn while a Naval Academy cadet. Their first date was in 1945. She was 17 and he was 20. He soon told his mother, "She's the girl I want to marry."

Happy anniversary to the longest presidential marriage in U.S. history! If you don't know much about this wonderful couple I recommend you read up on them. A short piece on NPR Radio this morning is a good starting point.


Tail Wagging Tales

June 28, 2021

Pet life stories are important to many people. Tail wagging tales told about your fur babies are often entertaining. More importantly, they say something about their owners. It is part of your personal history to share about the lives of your dogs, cats, birds, reptiles or whatever kind of pets you have.

I am currently house-sitting for my son and his roommate. Between the two of them they own four dogs. Four large dogs.
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Walk, Run, Ride and Reflect

June 24, 2021

One of my favorite themes is the importance of walking, running or riding for health. I find that getting outdoors for a walk, run or bike ride gives a different perspective to the world and life. It is much needed so that I don't get too much in my head, which unfortunately is often a problem for me. The health benefits are much more than physical. There is gain for my emotional, mental and spiritual state. Frankly, I find it is all connected.

Look, writers by necessity spend a fair amount of time in isolation, penning words to paper or screen. In order to have proper inspiration I need the "ventilation" of outdoor air. The added bonus is that I see the world while getting exercise. And seeing things while walking, jogging or riding a bike is a different, and interesting, pace than the speed of car, train or plane.

Running Medals I was rummaging through some running medals from the days of my half and full marathon events. I haven't run one of those for about four years now, but there was a ten year stretch when I was doing it fairly regularly. I have run two full marathons (26.2 miles) and a dozen or so half marathons (13.1). It takes a lot of training and that means time. I started at the age of 50 and frankly, I just don't have it in me at 65 to keep it up. But I thought that decade was a pretty good run (pun intended).

Lately I've taken to riding my bicycle more. Believe it or not, my 10-speed is almost forty years old! I've had it tuned a few times and it actually rides well, at least good enough for my needs. My wife bought it for me as a birthday gift, before we married.

Walking, running or riding were activities that could be done during the pandemic, but I see more people out doing it now than a year ago. The world is emerging from Covid, at least in my part of the country. It's good and I am grateful to have lived through it all without catching the virus. I know many people who did contract the virus and with varying degrees of difficulty. It's part of our history now.

Walk, run, ride and reflect. A good prescription for health - physical, mental and spiritual.


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