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Showing posts with the label success

Nostalgia: A Cost/Benefit Analysis

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I am one of those extremely lucky people who is graced with an old friend. A longtime friend.  A friend who has known me from the pigtails  -- to the dreads -- to appropriately adult hair -- to the hair coloring conundrums of the moment.  A friend who remembers my fascination with Fisher Price "little people" and deep love for roller skates, who sat in the beater cars, offered kleenex in the wake of disastrous love affairs, celebrated victorious moments, made me laugh in the face of ordinary griefs.   Nothing I do or say will ever surprise her, quite simply because she has seen it all.  And, I like to think, vice versa.




Last week, I was complaining about my life.  Why so little of this?  Why so much of that?  Why so difficult? Blah blah blah.  And my friend, my dear friend of these four decades, said, "You've got to stop it. You have to let it go."

"Stop what?"  I asked. She said, "Nostalgia. It's all nostalgia."

"Huh?  Nostalgia for …

"Humbling Moments" at the Oral History Association Meeting

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While I wait in the airport for my husband to finish running a half marathon and then drag himself to come get me,  it's a good time to write a quick post about the 2014 Oral History Association Meeting in Madison, Wisconsin. 


It was my first OHA meeting.  Seasoned oral historians and experts on reflection and analysis of the interview process Stacey Zembrzycki and Anna Sheftel invited me to participate in a roundtable conversation on humbling moments because of my insistence on discussing failure in community collaborations more openly last spring at the 2014 National Council on Public History annual meeting

The panel also included the trailblazing feminist oral historian Sherna Berger Gluck and Janis Thiessen, a thoughtful and critical historian of Canadian labor, business and religion.  We had really good attendance and a remarkably rich and flowing conversation, given the fact that there were about forty people in the room.

Do You Have a Problem with the Word Failure?

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People don't like to talk about failure.  They prefer other terms.  Challenges.  Stumbling blocks.  Hiccups. Preludes to success. Opportunities for growth. They embrace what my friend Elizabeth calls the perky reframe.  (I got fired, but hey, I have a lot more time to devote to my popsicle stick collection.)

Most of all, they prefer you don't openly call something a failure.

Sound familiar, anyone?  There are good reasons people shy away from labeling things, especially programs, projects or collaborative endeavors, failures.  It can be  embarrassing to admit. It may jeopardize your public image or compromise your legitimacy. For those of us who rely on grants, fellowships and donations, it might risk funding. If something with which we are involved fails, it is possible we ourselves will come off looking like failures.


Me, I don't trust people who can't talk openly about failure.  It could be my experience with Irish history. The Irish ability to use, celebrate…