Category Archives: Inspiration

Encore! 50 Fantastic Life Story Quotations!

For an inspirational lift or a grace note in your promotional materials you can’t beat a good quotation. Over the years I’ve  amassed a collection of quotes that relate to life stories and I’m pleased to share them with you here.  I’ve assembled the first fifteen on this page. For the remaining thirty-five be sure to click on the link at the bottom . Enjoy!…Read more.

6 Ways to Rekindle the Passion in Your Freelance Work.


The other day I was having coffee with a colleague and she asked me how I kept my “saw sharp”.  Good question.  No matter how much we love our work, the day-to-day demands can eventually wear us down and make us dull.

I’ve been self-employed for over three decades and know what it’s like to lose my spark. Here are some ways  I’ve found to get it back.  Maybe they’ll work for you.

 1. Connection

Working solo can be an isolating experience. Being able to meet with colleagues is a great tonic.

I get energized meeting locally with fellow personal historians. As well, being connected online through my membership in the Association of Personal Historians is a wonderful source of support and information.

Make sure you’ve got a support group that can give you an added boost when your spirits are low.

2. Variety

I admit that I get bored doing the same thing over and over again.  Knowing this means  I look for ways to build variety into my work.

I started this blog in part because I wanted to try something new. I’ve also expanded my repertoire beyond  video productions to include print and audio projects.

Look for ways that you can add some new pieces to the work you do.

3. Continuous learning

I’m a perpetual student. I love to learn new things. Besides books, there are online workshops and courses that keep me up-to-date and fresh.

Another super way to keep learning is going to a professional conference. I’ve attended two Association of Personal Associations conferences.  These are jam-packed with workshops and talks. Each time I go, I come away feeling revitalized.

Plan to attend one professional conference this year. You won’t regret it.

4. Time out

No matter how much you love your work, if you never take a break from it, you run the real risk of losing your spark.

For this reason I’ve built into my days and weeks “play time”.  Whether it’s meditating, going for a walk, visiting with friends, or just goofing off, I get away from my work.

What kind of play time have you built into your work week?

5. Inspiration

I find that being around positive, inspiring people and reading or listening to inspiring stories does a lot to rekindle my enthusiasm.

I know I’m not alone. Over 15 million YouTube viewers have watched  Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.

Take the time to find inspiring stories that will recharge your batteries.

6. Acknowledgement

When I’m feeling flat and uninspired, I sometimes go to my “Thank You” folder. Here I keep all of the notes and letters sent to me by satisfied and grateful clients.

Reading through these brings a smile to my face and a reminder of why I love my work.

Make sure to put all your support letters in a file where you can find them. And periodically take them out and read them.

What are some of the ways you bring  zest back into your work?

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Photo Credit: mdezemery via Compfight cc

Are You Ready for a Moment of Calmness?

This piece has become an annual tradition. Many of you appreciate the idea of a place where you can focus for a moment on calmness. Enjoy!


It’s time to stop  the rushing and working and worrying. You can always pick that up later. For now, as we come to the end of another year,  let’s all take a deep breath and calm ourselves.  As my holiday present,  I’ve put together a little virtual retreat for you. You’ll find some wonderful calming images, music, books, and quotations. Start anywhere you like.  There’s the three minute Whispering Sea guitar video.  You can  feast your eyes on all the sumptuous calming images from Google. There are three books you might want to check out and some insightful quotations on calmness, my favorite being:

The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.
~James Allen

Continue reading

Season’s Greetings from Victoria.


Broken Islands, B.C. ~ Photo by Dan Curtis 2012

 I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
~ from “The peace of wild things” by Wendell Berry


To all my readers a joyous holiday season. May the New Year bring you much happiness, peace, and good health.

It’s been my privilege over the past year to provide weekly posts on topics of interest to professional personal historians. I’m looking forward to 2013 and a whole new series of  articles.

Thank you for all your comments. It’s always a treat to hear from you.

Warmest wishes,



Photo by Jack Berry

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Encore! How Old Letters and Recovered Memories Bring Satisfaction and Hope.

We lay aside letters never to read them again, and at last we destroy them out of discretion, and so disappears the most beautiful, the most immediate breath of life, irrecoverable for ourselves and for others.
 ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Last week I was doing some spring cleaning and came across a collection of letters I had written to my parents some forty-five years ago. At the time, I was a young man teaching in Ghana. After University I’d joined CUSO, a Canadian voluntary organization similar to the Peace Corps, and had been assigned to the West African country for two years. I’d asked my mother to keep these letters as a partial record of my experience…Read more.

Encore! Do You Want To Be a Successful Personal Historian?

Why do some succeed and others fail? In a word – persistence.   It’s that ability to get knocked down, pick yourself up, and keep going. Success of course is entirely in the mind of the beholder. Success to one person is failure to another…Read more.

Encore! When Small Can Be Profound.

Not long ago I was asked to audio record some final words from a young mother who was dying from cancer.  I’ll call her Sonia to protect the family’s privacy. She was in her early thirties and she wanted to leave something for her only child, a five-year-old boy…Read more.

Encore! Touching Souls.

copyright © 2010 gapingvoid gallery - reprinted with permission

Not long ago I discovered this wonderful cartoon and its accompanying text by Hugh MacLeod. I found it inspiring and thought to myself, … Read more.

Do You Fail To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions?

You’re not alone. Research shows that the majority of all resolutions fail within 6 months. So why do we bother?

I think we make resolutions because we want to be better people. We see weaknesses and want to fix them. There’s nothing wrong with this impulse but  there’s a better way of going about it than making resolutions.

The other day I came across an article by Chris Brogan, My 3 Words for 2012.  I was intrigued. Chris’s approach is to dig deep and find three words that’ll act as your polestar as you navigate the new year.

To me Brogan’s  idea of “3 words” is similar to resolutions but acts more as a mantra – a way to remind yourself on a daily basis to hold  your course.

my 3 words for 2012

  • Simplify. I will clear out the physical and mental junk that holds little value or relevance in my life. This means tossing out, recycling, or donating stuff that’s filling useful space. I intend to be more mindful of thinking that isn’t helpful and let it go. This includes thoughts of scarcity, dread, and perfection. I will look for ways to simplify my work.
  • Play. I am by nature a somewhat serious guy with a touch of melancholy that comes no doubt from my Irish heritage.  I will learn to take time to cavort, dance, rejoice, and mess around. In other words, have some fun.
  • Accept. I will learn to accept that things often happen regardless of what I do or don’t do.  I will accept the hard times along with the good, the sad with the joyful, and abundance with scarcity. And I will try to do all this with equanimity.

Achieving success

Having 3 words  is a start. You can assure yourself greater success by doing the following:

  • Make your words public.  Put your 3 words on facebook, twitter, or your blog. Let your friends and family know how you’re doing. Going public will motivate you to succeed. I’ve  made my list public and already feel an obligation to report to you on my progress. Stay tuned!
  • Post your words. Type up your 3 words and stick them where you’ll see them every day. It might be on the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, or on your bedside table. I’ve pasted mine on my computer monitor.
  • Work on one word at a time. Your chances of success are greater if you apply yourself to changing one thing. I’ve chosen play as the first thing to focus on.
  • Make it a habit. Research shows that it takes on average about 60 days to develop a habit so that it becomes automatic. This means that each day for 60 days you need to practice the one behavior you want to achieve.  I’ll set aside 30 minutes each day for the next 60 days to engage in a playful activity that isn’t something that I’m already doing.  Once a week I’ll take an hour to “mess around”. At the end of two months I’ll chose another word while at the same time holding on to my newly acquired habit of play.

What are your 3 words?

What are the 3 words that’ll guide you through 2012? Why not share them here.  I’d love to hear from you.

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Encore! Now for Something Completely Different: Calmness.

It’s time to stop  the rushing and working and worrying. You can always pick that up later. For now, as we come to the end of another year,  let’s all take a deep breath and calm ourselves.  As my holiday present,  I’ve put together a little virtual retreat for you. You’ll find some wonderful calming images, music, books, and quotations below… Read more.