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© Tom  Gilbert

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Grandparenting

October 11, 2019

I am excited today to be seeing my grandchildren. I have two and they've been quite a joy the past nine years.

Jacob, the elder, is a nine-year old boy full of silliness and energy. But he can be profound, too. Sophia is the younger sister, about to turn seven, and she's a delight as well. She likes to sing and dance (just like her momma) and as a first grader is full of wonder, curiosity and opinions.

Being a parent is a wonderful yet very challenging thing. Many parents would agree it is both the hardest and best experience in all of life. Seeing your kids grow up and eventually become parents themselves brings about another special thing: grandchildren! 

When families have multiple generations involved in the raising of children it brings great perspectives to life. Life story experiences, support and additional helping hands are just a few of the benefits.

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Bruce Springsteen at Seventy

September 23, 2019

Happy Birthday to The Boss! Today is Bruce Springsteen's birthday (he's 70) and every time September 23 rolls around I have to pause and consider what an incredible artist he is and to marvel at his body of recorded music.

But what makes Bruce the Boss probably has more to do with his live performances. He just give it all - every single time!

I have seen Springsteen with the E. Street Band in raucous rock n' roll glory.

I've seen him perform with other musicians.

And I've seen his intimate solo shows.

Springsteen is an artist. He's done more than write anthems. He's bared his soul, told us his beliefs, dealt with his ups and downs, written an acclaimed memoir and had a Broadway show. Now he's about to unveil a film about his newest album. Western Stars. He's taking us deeper into his soul and he's letting his legacy play out in front of us.

Thanks, Bruce, and all your compadres. Thanks to his wife, Patti Scialfa, who is a musical and life partner. Thanks to his children who have helped him see what any loving parent discovers - that you love them more than life itself. Thank you for the great performances (you blew my mind in Oklahoma City in 1975) and for the memories coming out of high school when songs like "Rosalita" and "Jungleland" blared out of the radio speakers in Upstate New York.

Springsteen has admitted to us some of his struggles and lifted us up through lyric and sound. Keep it rolling, Bossman. Seventy looks and sounds good on you!

Here's a couple of good reads: Chicago-Sun Times on Bruce still telling stories at 70, and Rolling Stone Magazine with Seven Thoughts on Bruce Springsteen for His 70th Birthday.


Eddie Money and Ric Ocasek - Money and Cars

September 19, 2019

Money and cars - some think that goes hand in hand. Well, certainly there are plenty of instances when nice cars involving a lot of money come to mind. Luxury or sport models are status symbols for many. And cars, just your average automobile, are often the second biggest expense for people, right behind buying a home.

Another thing that goes hand in hand with my personal history are rock music artists.  Here's the tie-in with the money and cars topic. Two music artists prominent in the 1980's passed away a couple of days apart. Eddie Money on September 13 and Rick Ocasek of the band The Cars, on September 15.

Eddie Money was born in Brooklyn, New York. He tried his hand as a police officer, but want he really wanted to do was play rock n' roll. His dream came true and radio in the 1980's frequently blasted his iconic tunes like "Baby, Hold On to Me", "Two Tickets to Paradies" and "Take Me Home Tonight". I worked over thirty years in radio and played these songs. I also got a chance to meet and talk with Eddie. He was pretty down to Earth, a real blue collar kind of rocker, and not filled with rock star head trips.

Rick Ocasek, lead singer, rhythm guitarist and writer for the band, The Cars, was quirky. His songs were very catchy. I can't count the number of times I played on the radio songs like "Shake It Up", "Let's Go", "You're All I've Got Tonight" and "Just What I Needed". Good, catchy, bouncy and clever songs.

These musicians are part of my generation. More of them are passing away each year. The soundtrack of my life is full of music by the likes of them. How has music impacted your life?

Money and Cars - rock on!


Labor Day Celebrates Workers

September 2, 2019

Today in the United States is Labor Day, a national holiday to honor the American labor movement. It was many years of struggle for laborers to get collective bargaining and better wages and working conditions. That struggle still continues.

It's nice to have a day off from work. But there is much more to Labor Day than marking the unofficial end of summer with picnics, parades, camping and leisure. Work is part of the human experience and just as all humans deserve the right to dignity, we also deserve the right to do meaningful work that rewards us fairly. Unfortunately, it is an often complicated situation in society. Many people do not make enough to support themselves and family. And work conditions go beyond physical safety. We must consider the emotional and social impact of safe and meaningful worklife.

I've had several jobs in my life and I've written about work in the article, The Five W's of Work. Consider what work is and who you work for and with, where, when and why.


Zozobra Burns Away Your Gloom

August 29, 2019

There is an event in Santa Fe, New Mexico each year around Labor Day weekend that is an amazing tradition. Imagine a five story high marionette that moans and groans while he gets set on fire. Thousands of people are crowded around, cheering his destruction.

Zozobra is the original burning man - at least for the Southwest. He will go up in flames for the 95th time on Friday night, August 30.

This event was started by artist Will Shuster who got the idea from another Santa Fe artist and marionette maker, Gustave Baumann. It was always part of the Santa Fe Fiestas that took place each year over Labor Day weekend until a deadly shooting one year had the city deciding to separate the two events. It has traditionally been a time of revelry, art, music, and fun, but it was getting too big and rowdy.

Zozobra means "anxiety" in Spanish. The idea is to put all your bad juju and mojo onto this giant puppet, sometimes referred to as "Old Man Gloom". I will never forget the first time I saw it back in the early 1980's when my future wife had us running around arroyos and through neighborhoods to Fort Marcy Park. We got in just as the lights went out and a cheer went up from the crowd. What a spectacle!

I've seen it since a couple of times. Once my nephew, when he was about eight or nine, got to be one of the "glooms", young lads chosen to dance around Zozobra before he is lit up. That was fun to see.

Getting rid of the bad stuff of the past year and looking forward to a fresh start is healthy. With the annual burning of Zozobra it can also be quite fun.


Writing Doesn't Have to be a Job

August 18, 2019

In my experience as an elementary school teacher I encounter a lot of students who do not like to write. The reasons vary. Many of them revolve around it either being too difficult or believing they have nothing valuable to express.

True, writing can be hard. As for the second reason, it is my opinion that we all have valuable things to express. We all have thoughts, ideas and experiences. Sharing them through writing is both a gift to others and a gift to yourself. Writing helps ups process and understand life.

Some people write for a living. Others have to write as part of their job. But let me be clear - writing doesn't have to be a job, as in "a chore". Writing is a way to communicate and it is good for your brain and your soul. There's research to back this up. Go ahead and look it up.

I have worked in a variety of occupations over the years. I don't consider my job to be a writer, but certainly writing is part of what I do as a teacher and personal historian. One of the greatest lessons I've learned about writing is the way to get better at it is to just do it. Writers write.

Whatever your career path I hope you consider writing to be a valuable activity. Nothing listens like paper. If you want to try an interesting writing exercise, spend some time writing about all the different jobs you've held. Write about work and your career. I did this four years ago and I discovered it gave me some good insight into my life experiences (read Writing About Work). I don't live to work. However, I do live to write. It's just something I must do. Like all things that tap into our passions, writing for me is a way to be more who I am.

If you are interested in capturing your life story through writing I encourage you to investigate your options. Life story writing is not a "one size fits all" process. There are many ways to go about it.


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