Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Writing Your All-Important Life Story

I feel moved to write a short encouragement to you regarding your personal story.  Do not leave this world without telling people who you are.  I have taken a shot at it.  It, like my life, is a work in progress.

My course at Elon University yesterday (I am in a life-long learning program for people over age 55) was about writing your life story.  It was taught by a past Elon Chaplain who specializes in this subject.  

To get started, he encourages prospective writers to begin by writing paragraphs about memories that matter.  Additionally, he asks such questions as: what places have you called home?  Who were the key people in those places? Who were your mentors and what was their story? What key events shaped your life?....within your family or friends, and what national or world events? Recall a moment when you found your own voice, spoke up for yourself, and in doing so announced a perspective to the world different from your friends or family.

When did your life take an unexpected or unwanted change? Was that change harmful or beneficial in the long run? We're encouraged to explore vocational choices, our faith perspective and core values, skills that enriched our lives, special trips/vacations we took, special interests/hobbies.  He encourages us to reflect upon our childhood, adolescence, adulthood, matures years, our families and professional life, our intimate friendships. We are encouraged to be open and honest and to think about the big questions. Where have we been?  What have we done with our lives?

And very importantly to me, we must reflect on, nearly daily, and make a part of our story, what are we doing with our lives now, and where are we going.  What are our plans and dreams and goals for our lives going forward? How will we continue to be the people God would have us be?  How will we continue to enjoy and enrich our lives, the lives of others, and contribute to a better world?  

Again, I encourage to you to begin this process. Reflect. Maybe begin by telling your story to a trusted friend. There is a great deal of help on google under 'how to write my memoir.'  Happy reflecting. Go tell your story.  Final tips:

Why write about your life?

12. To find you: You won’t know how brilliant you are until you see yourself on paper where you’re honest, not judging yourself and no one is watching.
Write to hear your voice.
11. To find the next step on your path: To consider where to go next, it helps to understand how your past choices got you to today.
Write where you’ve been.
10. Because there is value in remembering: You write, and you remember. Writing pulls from places we don’t visit in our daily lives.
Write to remember.
9. Because you’re bound to learn something: Writing about your life gets you to wondering why something happened, or how you got this way.
Write to dig deeper.
8. To feel better: Your story may have some pain in it. On the page the fear is gone, the sting relieved.
Write to get through the tough parts.
7. Because you have a lot to be grateful for: You’re fortunate—in your family, living in this time, being loved.
Write to tap into your gratitude.
6. To pass on some enlightenment: You’ve learned a lot in your experiences, travels, and relationships. You’re a warehouse of wisdom.
Write to share your message.
5. To show the rest of you: There is more to you than spouse, worker, sibling and friend. You have opinions, feel passionately, and live with your heart.
Write to show your full self.
4. To share the strength and the failures: If you decide to let someone read your writing, (and you don’t have to) you just might spare your reader having to learn the hard way.
Write to share your story.
3. To get your side of things on the record: There is always someone who tells a version of the truth that simply isn’t how you remember it.
Write to tell it your way.
2. To leave a piece of yourself behind: Our writing lives on, is savored and treasured by others and has a depth of connection our loved ones crave.
Write to leave a piece of yourself for someone.
1. Because you can. We are the only species that can communicate this way. Studies prove that the physical experience of pulling our stories, finding our words, and sifting through our memories releases the bliss chemicals, helps center us.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Picture of the Day - 20th Century North Carolina Icons

If you love North Carolina history, this picture will hold significance for you.  Here we have long-time UNC President Bill Friday, Governor Luther Hodges, Sr., Ted Kennedy, Rose Kennedy, Governor Terry Sanford, Billy Graham. That is undoubtedly an 'all-star' grouping of significant 20th century North Carolina, and national, leaders in government, education, and religion.

I am not 100% certain, but I believe the occasion has the Kennedy's in Chapel Hill to receive a NC contribution toward construction of JFK Presidential Library. Governor Sanford, the NC governor at the time of the photograph, was very close with the Kennedy's, being the first southern leader to endorse JFK for president. The portrait benind them, hanging in the Southern Historical Collection in The Wilson Library at UNC, is of Confederate Brigadiar General James Johnston Pettigrew.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Thought for the Day - February 15, 2017

I am not sure the White House or Trump senses the magnitude of their problem. We are on the verge of a huge, protracted national story and constitutional crisis related to the Russian / White House connection. Reporters, the opposition party, and smart, non-ideologically obsessed Republicans like McCain, Graham, Corker, and Blunt smell blood in the water. It will be the story of a generation, not dissimilar to Watergate. It is so evident, and of course, not a completely origninal thought on my part. Trying to insulate themselves by calling on conservative media for softball questions at press conferences, will not work. Fasten your seat belts.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

To Survive We Must Understand and Respect Change, Then Adapt

In Thomas Friedman's new book, "Thank You For Being Late; An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations", he emphasizes that the planet's three largest forces--technology, globalization, and climate change are accelerating all at once. These accelerations are transforming five key realms: the workplace, politics, geopolitics, ethics, and community.  The reason it is happening is the exponential increase in computing power, that is, the release of the IPhone, advances in silicon chips, software, storage sensors, and networking.

A key to the future will be adaptability.  It is most interesting to me to observe the extent to which individuals, institutions, and governments adapt to, and embrace, change.  Friedman points out that Charles Darwin is often quoted as saying that, "it is not the strongest species that survives but the most adaptable". Actually, this quote emerged from a speech delivered by LSU business professor Leon C. Megginson at the convention of the Southwestern Social Science Association in 1963.  Megginson said:

"Yes, change is the basic law of nature. But the changes wrought by the passage of time affect individuals and institutions in different ways.  According to Darwin's Origin of Species, it is not the most intelligent of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.  Applying this theoretical concept to us as individuals, we can state that the civilization that is able to survive is the one that is able to adapt to the changing physical, social, political, moral and spiritual environment in which it finds itself."

This thought has profound implications for where we find ourselves in the second decade of the 21st century and for how we approach the accelerating, confusing, changing environment in which we find ourselves.  It saddens and frightens me to watch individuals and institutions refuse to recognize that adapting to a changing world is paramount.

May we not, as individuals or institutions, retreat or attempt to hang-on to a world which no larger exists, or at best, in terms of change, is rapidly accelerating. Adaptation will take clear thought, strength, intellect, courage, and strong religious faith,  May we grasp the concept put forth by Charles Darwin and Professor Megginson on adaptation, and embrace Thomas Friedman's plea that we understand clearly the rapidly changing world in which we find ourselves. Only then do we have a chance to continue forward in a civilized, productive, moral, and spiritual manner.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

King Day Rememberance

First pen goes to Martin Luther King as LBJ signs The Civil Rights Act of 1964, nearly 100 years after the Civil War ended. Dr. King was born 88 years ago today. I'm grateful my pastor read from Dr. King's last sermon, delivered Feb. 4, 1968, at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta, 'The Drum Major Instinct'. ....'Tell them not to mention my Nobel Peace Prize, my three or four hundred other awards. Just tell them to say I was a drum major....., a drum major for justice, a drum major for peace, a drum major for righteousness.....'.

Shot From Haley Confirmation Hearing for the UN

Son Rob, longtime aide (Deputy Chief of Staff / Director of Communications) to South Carolina Governor Haley, takes it in at Haley's confirmation hearing for US Ambassador to the United Nations.(To the left, behind speaker Senator Tim Scott, first African American senator from the South since Reconstruction, who is introducing her). Rob has had tremendous experiences and he is good at what he does.

A Good Night

A good night in Virginia Beach, January 18, 2017, with my older brother, age 77 (hard for me to too believe), and his son (incidentally, an All-ACC linebacker at Duke in the mid-1980s).