Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Legacy of An Oregon Poet Extraordinaire

I met Oregon poet William Stafford several years ago at a men's gathering in Portland. Robert Bly had invited him to join us for an afternoon. Seeing and hearing the two poets read their poems together was quite the scene in a room crowded with over 100 men ranging in age from early 20's to late 70's. That day was the beginning of my love for the poetry of the greatest poet Oregon has ever had (in my humble opinion).

Over the years, I've read most all of Stafford's poems as well as several books about him and his work. After his death, I joined Friends of William Stafford and have participated in a number of readings done locally each year on the occasion of his birthday in January. (NOTE: The birthday reading in Eugene will be on Sunday, Jan. 28 at Tsunami Books for 2 - 4 p.m.).

In the current newsletter from Friends, I came across Stafford's "The Way It Is" poem (from his book by the same name) which is one of my favorites. The poem was recently inscribed in a stone placed in the new Stafford Commons (2nd Ave. & B St.) in the poet's adopted home town of Lake Oswego, Oregon. Here's a link to the short poem:

The Way It Is -- William Stafford

Are you aware of the "thread" in your life? Is it at the heart of your life legacy? Something to ponder during this new year ... and the rest of your life.

May you be blessed in 2007 with life experiences that create the legacy you desire!
The Legacy of An Oregon Poet ExtraordinaireSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Memory Book Project

A good friend of mine passed along a book he received that he thought would make a worthwhile addition to my life legacy library. Written by Henning Mankell, an acclaimed Swedish author (you'll know him if you read Kurt Wallander mysteries), the book I Die, But My Memory Lives On describes how he came across "memory books" while traveling in Uganda.

Memory books are deeply moving little volumes written by people with AIDS for their children so that they will have something to remember their parents by. Mankell writes that "these memory books could prove to be the most important documents our time has produced."

Here's a link to a Plan USA web page about the book (Plan USA is a preeminent child-centered organization working to help the world's poorest children):

Memoir features memory book project

I'm currently reading the book and will share my learnings in a future blog post.
The Memory Book ProjectSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, December 18, 2006

Lasting Legacy of a Compassionate Nurse

Our local newspaper featured a volunteer program today that is a lasting legacy of nurse, Sandra Clarke. The story recounts an experience she had with a dying patient that inspired her to start "No One Dies Alone" which partners compassionate companions with terminally ill patients who are without support of family or friends as they face death. In my view, it is a program that every hospital throughout the world should have. Here's a link to the article:

Together at the End

As a hospice volunteer, I encourage you to become a part of such a hospital-based program or a hospice in your area. Not only will you help assure that "no one dies alone" in your community, the experience will teach you about death in ways that will allow you to face your own death with grace (and live your life with more joy and delight!).
Lasting Legacy of a Compassionate NurseSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Teaching Story - A Legacy to Pass On

In the Spirituality & Practice e-newsletter I received last week, a "teaching story" from Caroline Myss shows how a brief encounter can affect your life's legacy:

"Years ago I had a conversation with a man who told me that the most important truth he had learned was to be kind. He learned this, he recounted, during a cab ride in New York City. As he was paying the driver, he said, "Thank you, sir." At this, the driver leaped, ran around the back of the cab, and opened the door for his passenger. Startled, the man got out and said to the cab driver, "You didn't have to do that," to which the driver responded, "I wanted to. You are the first person in this country to honor me by calling me sir, and I thank you for that respect." The man had never before considered the power inherent in a respectful gesture, but from then on, kindness became the pillar on which he built his life and the legacy he hoped to pass on to his children. That exchange, he said, changed his life."

— Caroline Myss in Invisible Acts of Power: Personal Choices That Create Miracles

Kindness is one of the values I have practiced in my life which I would like to pass on to my children and grandchildren. I learned the importance of kindness the hard way as a child -- from a father and a few (mostly male) school teachers who were very unkind to me. Their gestures were not only disrespectful to me, they were downright mean and abusive. Even so, in a backhanded (literally!) way, these "negative" experiences taught me the value of kindness. Once I had forgiven those who were unkind to me, I could finally see how they had changed my life for the better -- teaching me how important it is to be kind to everyone I encounter in the world.

What life experiences have you had that changed you and the values you would like to pass on to future generations of your family?

A Teaching Story - A Legacy to Pass OnSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Creating A Video of Your Life Legacy

A reader of my blog referred me to a local company that offers a service to create Legacy Life Videos. I gave the owner of the the firm, Martin Hall, a call and we got together yesterday at his office to discuss our mutual labors of love to help people document their life legacy.

Marty and I shared our "paths" to legacy work, both of which started with hospice experiences in our lives -- his with a family member and mine as a hospice volunteer. Marty wrote a book about his sitting with a dying person to help others who would be faced with the experience and decided to create a new venture to create legacy videos that "capture a moment today and create an heirloom for tomorrow."

In his office suite, Marty outfitted a multi-camera "living room" studio to capture on DVD video a one-hour conversation with people of any age who want to create a video legacy of their life (or reflections about special occasions in life -- births, graduations, weddings, retirements, etc.). You can view samples of their videos on the Legacy Life Video website.

Marty described his legacy video work as "both a labor of love and a place of high honor in helping to capture the memories, experiences, wisdom, and love that others are willing to share." The word I use to describe that "place of high honor" in my ethical will work with people is feeling blessed to be able to personally hear their life stories, the "lessons" life has taught them, and the wisdom they have to share with their loved ones.

Along with creating a written ethical will, I highly recommend telling your life stories on video and sharing what you'd like future generations of your family to know has mattered most in your life. What a precious gift for loved ones to be able to see you, to hear your voice, and to listen to wisdom from your life journey .... wherever they are living today .... and after you've passed on.

Creating A Video of Your Life LegacySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Your Legacy of the Present (and Presence)

Last weekend, I read an outstanding magazine article by Michael Ventura which I felt has information of enduring value for everyone's life and life legacy. As a counselor in private practice for nearly 10 years in the 1990's, I especially appreciated this quote from the article:

"Jungian psychologist James Hillman told me once that in his clinical practice, he found that nothing was harder to "treat," to do therapy with and upon, than peoples' schedules. He said it was very difficult to get people to see that their schedule was their life--the skeletal structure of their existence. You're not going to change your life much unless you change your schedule: open it up so that the unexpected may enter. Else how can the present be a presence instead of just another goal--or just something else you don't have time for?"

What does your schedule look like today? This week? This past year? Here's a link to the complete article:

"Appointments With Yourself" by Michael Ventura

Let me know if you find the article helpful for your life. It certainly got me thinking more about what the "present moment" means (and reminded me once again that what is on my daily schedule -- or not -- becomes my personal life legacy).
Your Legacy of the Present (and Presence)SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend