Story and Why
"Your Life is Your
© Tom Gilbert
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Accountability for Our Actions
September 18, 2018
I am going to admit something that is not very flattering. In my early
adult years I pretty much did what I wanted to without much awareness
of how it affected others. That mean that I was frequently blunt or
even rude. And even when I did think I was being considerate - or
"diplomatic" - I could easily ruffle feathers.
Today I am better. But there are still times when I discover after the
fact that my actions or attitude was not as polite, kind or friendly as
it could be. It's a character defect and I am aware of it and still not
completely free of it.
The good news is that I know that
I am sometimes abrupt. Often it is not a problem, but if my directness
collides with someone's over-sensitivity then it usually doesn't go so
well. So the awareness of my poor interaction is the beginning of making the necessary change.
What should we do as people to grow beyond our shortcomings? This is
the stuff of therapists and spiritual directors. Twelve step groups
such as Alcoholics Anonymous encourage people to take personal
inventory and when you realize you are wrong then promptly make amends.
This is called accountability for your actions.
It seems so simple and it is. But it's not so easy in practice. I
really think our world, with our light speed social media interactions
and rush hour all the time approach to life, needs more people taking
stock of their actions and doing something about it.
I know that a life worth living needs to include quality interactions
with others. Here's a call to all of us to daily review our actions and
think about how we can do better. I'd love to see a society that
steadily becomes more civil instead of running in the other direction.
Grand to Be A Grandparent
September 9, 2018
Happy Grandparents Day to all the grands! I must say, having been a grandfather for over 8 years now, that it is grand to be a grandparent.
The second Sunday in September is observed as Grandparents Day.
It is nice to honor grandparents, but it is even better to have the
experience. Raising children is the greatest challenge for most people,
but it also can be the most rewarding experience. Grandparenting
gives you a chance to be involved in a different way. You know, take
the kids sometimes, but usually you can give them back!
Some people call taking a picture with your grandkids to be a grandie. Funny. Anway, I did that today (#TakeAGrandie). As you can see, I have a grandson and a granddaughter. I love than more than tongue can tell.
Grandparents these days are typically babyboomers. We've experienced
some wild times and seen lots of changes in technology. Grands these
days are feeling pretty spunky. But we do also have the depth of life
experiences that sometimes passes for wisdom. Grand Magazine, dedicated to grandparenting, has some excellent reasons for celebrating National Grandparents Day - see more here.
John McCain and the Measure of a Man
September 2, 2018
If we truly want to look at lives of worth, of legacy and service, of
recognizing what it means to care for life, liberty and dignity, then
we should certainly spend some time observing the life and times of
McCain was laid to rest this weekend and his life has been celebrated
this past week. The senator and Vietnam war hero (for a war where many
American heroes were treated as anything but), engaged in a life of
service. He was true to his beliefs, stuck with his values and
statements as a conservative Republican, and yet, had the ability to
work with those who were often at odd with his political party and
The point of this post is not sentimentalism. If anything, I hope that
I take away from John McCain's life a sense of patriotism combined with
true values. Life is not about being better than others, getting the
biggest pile of wealth, pushing others away who you consider different
or less than, or touting your "greatness".
When I tell people that I believe everyone has a story to tell I am
saying it because we do need to share our stories, our struggles and
our triumphs. You might think your story is too small or insignificant,
but it is not. There are people in your family and circle of friends
who want to know the real you.
At the same time, we can look at McCain's sentiments about his life
through his books and communications to others, and realize that
sharing stories should bring us together and help us find gratitude and
appreciation for our lives, including our differences that often tend
to divide us.
The measure of a man is in the thoughts, words and deeds of a life. It
starts with what we think, gets shaped by what we say, and the proof is
in our actions. Thank you, John McCain, for showing us that in your
| more interesting thoughts on McCain's life and legacy in this New Yorker article. |
The Queen of Soul is Dead, RESPECT for the Queen
August 19, 2018
past Thursday Aretha Franklin, one of the greatest singers of our time,
died at 76 from pancreatic cancer. The date, August 16, happens to also
be the day that Elvis Presley died back in 1977, andit was also
Madonna's 60th birthday, but that all took backseat to the death of the
The day's spotlight, and the days since, have been on the Queen of
Soul. Rarely have we witnessed such a powerful singer and presence.
Aretha Franklin grew up in Detroit singing gospel music in her
church. She could raise the roof and that never changed. In her career
she gave us anthems of soul and R&B, from "Chain of Fools" to the
iconic Otis Redding composition "Respect" that Redding readily admitted
she "stole" and made her own.
Aretha was a great singer, no doubt about it, but she was also a voice
for civil rights, women and the importance of being good and kind.
Sure, she was a real life Diva, but it wasn't pretentious, it was her
presence and her spirit.
Franklin sang at the presidential inaugurations of Jimmy Carter, Bill
Clinton and Barack Obama. A fourth president, George W. Bush, presented
her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. At the age of 16 she went
on tour with Martin Luther King, Jr., and later sang at his funeral.
Like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin was one of a kind who could not just cover songs by other composers, she interpreted them and made them her own.
A great voice and a true music icon, Aretha Franklin was the Queen of Soul. Respect to the Queen.
Mathematics Study Says John Lennon Was Songwriter of 'In My Life'
August 12, 2018
There are places I'll remember all my life, though some have changed. That's the opening line of the Beatles great song about life reminiscence, "In My Life".
For a long time there has been a debate about who wrote the song. Of
course, John Lennon and Paul McCartney credited all their songs as
Lennon-McCartney, an agreement they made when they were teenagers. But
inevitably there were songs that only one of the duo completely wrote.
Even with collaboration. And both McCartney and Lennon had stated
they each wrote prominent parts of the song.
So now comes news that some mathematicians have used a process using
statistics to identify who really wrote "In My Life". It's a bit
complicated, from what I can make from this NPR interview with Keith Devlin,
but the essence is that there are certain identifiable snippets of
musical chords and notes that Lennon and McCartney each used
repeatedly. And when you do the math it turns out the probability based on these snippets overwhelming confirms John Lennon wrote the song.
I am not surprised. The song always felt more like a Lennon tune to me.
But that takes nothing away from the incredible collaboration between
the two songmasters. I love the Beatles and the songwriting by John and
To me what is most important is how the power of music with profound
lyrics can help us sort through our lives. "In My Life" is a really
great song about experiences with people and places that were pivotal
to John Lennon's life. I have always gravitated to songs like that, as
you can tell from a 2004 article I wrote for this website, Music Memories - Striking a Chord for Memory.
Going the Extra Mile
August 8, 2018
Last week my Toyota odometer clicked over from 99,999 miles to 100,000.
It's a significant event in the life of an automobile. One hundred
thousand miles. A lot of cars go further than that, but it still is an
Marking milestones is important. Graduations, certifications, achieving
a long worked for goal - it is important to celebrate when you make the
Which brings me to your life story. One of the hardest things to do is
writing a life story. It can also be one of the most satisfying things
you ever do. Yes, long hours and hard work. It is not a quick trip down
memory lane, at least if you want to do it well.
and writing to the end comes from dedication, willingness and help when
you need it. You might benefit from reading the e-book, Writing to the End by Denis Ledoux of The Memoir Network. It includes encouragement and practical tips to thrive as a writer and to get your writing done. I recommend it and you can find out more along with information about the other Memoir Writing Books Series from Mr. Ledoux.
Howard Cato, the BMX Bike Hero
August 2, 2018
Most kids like to ride bikes. Even in later years a lot of us continue to ride a bicycle, be it for fitness or fun.
Howard Cato loved to ride bikes, in particular the tricked out with
special skills riding of BMX bikes. If you are not familiar with the
sport, picture motorcross with pedal power. BMX riders race and ride
over and around obstacles. It's not easy.
In 1980 when Howard was just 11 he wanted to ride with the other kids
in the neighborhood. But he was still learning and when they laughed
and made fun of him riding with training wheels it embarrassed him.
Then he got inspired.
A year later all his hard work paid off. He was doing all kinds of
tricks and made a big impression with the other kids. But he wanted to
take it to another level. In Oakland at that time there weren't BMX
tracks so Howard and his friends at to improvise. They found places to
ride with self-built ramps and jumping over abandoned cars.
Howard got really good and won a trophy at 14, taking 2nd place in the
first real BMX track race he ever competed in. He continued the sport,
but as he got older he also started hanging out on the streets and
getting in trouble. Eventually he was in a really bad situation. That
night one his best friends was killed. Howard was shot seven times. He
survived, but lost a lung. There was doubt he would ever walk again.
He did recover, but it took a while. And he got back into BMX racing
and later helped his own son with the sport. That son is now 25 and a
professional BMX racer.
But the real story is what Howard is doing for other kids who want to
get into BMX biking, but don't have the economic means. He started a GoFundMe campaign
and has been raising to help kids in elementary schools and summer
camps get bikes, safety gear and training. It is a great story that you
should read more about here.
has a story to tell!
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