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© Tom  Gilbert

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Vin Scully, True Class Act

August 7, 2022

Vin Scully, famed baseball broadcasterWhen I heard the news that longtime sportscaster Vin Scully had died last week at the age of 94 I instantly heard his voice in my head. He had a distinctive tone and style. The voice of the Dodgers for 6 decades, longer tenured than anyone else in the business, did a tremendous job calling games. Anyone in Southern California who followed the Dodgers knew his signature opening for every game, "It's time for Dodger Baseball."

But it wasn't just the way he spoke. What he said was always interesting, insightful and often full of introspection and philosophy. Even something as mundane as commenting on an injured player being day to day. "Aren't we all", he commented.

By all accounts Vin Scully wasn't just a master at his craft. He was a fine human being, a true class act. That's a great legacy.

There have been many terrific tributes to Vin Scully the past week. Many commented on his coverage of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's home run record. Ted Robbins's piece for NPR is a good one.

Then there is the real Hollywood moment when Kirk Gibson limped to the plate and hit a pinch-hit walkoff home run in the 1988 World Series. It was legendary. I was watching the game and living in Encinitas, California at the time while I worked as a radio broadcaster in Long Beach. His comments doubly impacted me as both a lifelong baseball fan and someone who was getting to live out my dream of working in radio.

Scully's classic line when the ball cleared the outfield wall was magic. And just another example of him calling great moments with class and cleverness. "In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.”

Thanks, Vin Scully. You made listening to a baseball game a special thing. More than that, you lived a good, full life and deserve all the accolades.

Life Story Support

July 26, 2022

Technical support and computer frustrationToday was one of those days when I had a technical problem and spent most of my time dealing with tech support. I haven’t been able to get my printer to print a page properly. I’ve done everything I can think of. I bought new ink cartridges, did the aligning and cleaning of the print heads, all the basic tips, and that didn’t fix it. Then I turned to a provider of tech support and gave them the opportunity to troubleshoot and fix the problem.

It sounds great when someone says they can fix the problem. In reality, getting things to work the way they should is harder than support might claim. In one of my sessions the techie did a bunch of stuff, claimed he fixed the problem, but he didn’t. After investing a bunch of time I wanted to just scream.

But letting off steam still doesn’t fix my printer.

Anyway, it did get me thinking about the support people need when preserving their life story. There are different ways to do it. You can be videotaped. Or audio recorded. You can write out as best as you can the story of your life. But doing it yourself can be challenging. Your intentions and motivations can be spot on. Still, it helps to work with someone who specializes in memoir writing or other areas of personal and family history preservation. I have some resources I recommend in addition to hiring me.

I have used resources offered by others. It has helped me. Furthermore, it has helped me help others when they work with me on their life stories.

Technology can be great and certainly we are living in an age where we have great resources to preserve and share our life stories. However, there is more to supporting someone in telling their story than good technology. It takes empathy, good listening skills and ongoing encouragement for others trying to preserve their valuable life experiences.

I like to think I am pretty good at that. Part of the reason I’ve written so many articles is to give you ideas and motivation.

One takeaway from my long and frustrating day with tech support for my printer is to stick with it. Perseverance is often necessary and always valuable. Be willing to take the time to do the work on your memoir or other means of preserving your story. Have patience. And remember that even though it may take a long time to get your story done, nothing will happen if you don’t start. Do what you can as often as you can. It will add up and eventually you will have a finished story to share with others, including yourself!

Self Obituary Writer

July 17, 2022

I am big on people telling their stories. Stories about their lives, the good, the bad and everything in between. If you are up to it, doing your own writing about your life is wonderful. Not everyone is comfortable with that and it’s okay. In fact, that often gives me, a life story writer, an opportunity to help, to do the writing for them.

But doing some kind of writing, even if it is just bits and pieces, phrases and words, can be helpful. If you don’t believe in yourself as a writer you still should believe in yourself as a person with a story. Your story matters and finding the voice that is uniquely yours is part of the telling. So maybe just write like you talk.

The other day I came across a post about people writing their own obituary.

The first thing you probably think of when considering that task is that you have to still be alive to do that. Correct! Is that weird? Maybe a little. But not really.

Professional obituary writers spend lots of time on research and writing of notable people long before those people have passed on. Rightly so. Trying to get it written after a person has died puts too much pressure on writers with too little time to meet a deadline. Sorry, pun not intended.

You may not be famous or a celebrity, but your life does matter and so do the experiences and stories, the lessons and the values of your one wonderful life. So maybe doing a bit of writing about your life in the format of your own obituary can be worthwhile. If nothing else, it gives you pause to consider your life journey. We understand our lives better with the passing of time and looking back and reflecting provides perspective. Don’t get caught up in remorse or self-pity. Just give some honest consideration to the journey.

Writing your own obituary helps take the pressure off your loved ones who will be in a period of grief when you die. Help them by taking time ahead of the Big Farewell. I found Chris Bateman’s article, The ultimate do-it-yourself project — writing your own obit, inspirational. Humorous, too, which I liked because thinking about death is typically no laughing matter. But writing about your life should definitely include the fun and funny parts.

So here’s a writing exercise for you. Try writing your own obituary. Read some others, they are easy enough to find online and in newspapers. Then tell a bit of your story, the highlights and what you think have been important lessons. If nothing else, it gives you a reminder that your life is your story. It also might motivate you to do something more, which is to preserve and share your life story so that your family, friends and others can recognize the importance of lives, yours and their own.

Midsummer's Day Dreams

July 10, 2022
Midsummer's Day Dreams
We are into the mid-summer days. Hot, maybe humid, restful and even lazy. Days filled with moments of respite. Naps are common, frequent if possible.

In Shakespeare's classic romantic comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream mortal fools are tricked with potions by a mischevious fairy. Summer days are often filled with visions of romance and adventure. That's probably one of the driving reasons for so many weddings in the summer.

I find myself daydreaming of late. Some of that is the natural tendency towards reflection in the second half of life. But I think summer days that put me in a summer daze is part of it too.

Floating on the water - rafts, kayaks, inner tubes or just our bodies - puts us in a dreamy state. Gazing at big, puffy clouds floating in the sky on a hot July day does the same for me.

Midsummer daydreams are good. They are a way to let us getaway, at least mentally, for some needed mindwandering. Let it happen. Go with the flow.
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