Another Trip Around the Sun

While families get together to observe holidays throughout the year, there is nothing quite as special as the celebration of one’s birthday. A day especially for us, when we are honored by friends and loved ones.  Today is a special day on the blog as we are acknowledging Memoirs’ CEO Iris Wagner’s birthday!

From the joyful childhood rituals of birthday bumps, to blowing out candles and singing the birthday song, these dates of celebration tend to take on greater significance as the years pass. With wisdom comes gratitude for the precious gifts of time and experience.

As part of the very personal celebration, birthdays are an opportune time of year to pause, reflect, and set goals we wish to accomplish before our next birthday rolls around. Even better: write them out and put the list in a place where it can easily be referenced. Imagine the treasures you will accumulate if, year after year, you collect these lists: a veritable portal into the evolution of priorities and accomplishments across your lifetime.

Sharing a birthday is also fun! We seem to pay extra attention to the celebrity birthdays, and horoscope predictions when our special day comes around; it’s also great for forging connections. An interesting anecdote: during an icebreaker at a conference networking event, participants were asked to find others who shared their same birth year, followed by month, then day, all the way down to the time of birth. If you can believe it, Iris met someone who had been born at the exact same year, day and minute as she– except he was born in England!

Above all, birthdays should be a yearly celebration of life. A day to indulge in special treats, small (or big) luxuries, and rituals we might forgo the rest of the year. A special day to celebrate and be feted– a day that is just for us!

Happy Birthday Iris! Many happy and healthy returns!

To all who read this we wish you and your families a Happy Passover and Joyous Easter for 2014!

We’ve been featured

kirby-rosplockDecember 2014 Update:

An interview with Iris Wagner is featured in Kirby Rosplock’s December blog post, ‘Preserving Family Legacy’. To read the whole article kindly click here.

“Reflecting on the stories that have shaped these individuals’ lives is powerful. Often stories are revealed that even their children have never heard.” – Iris E. Wagner.

We are pleased to highlight that Iris E. Wagner is featured in Kirby Rosplock’s recently released book “The Complete Family Office Handbook” as an expert on preserving family legacy.

The book, now available on Amazon, has already received high praise. “The Complete Family Office Handbook captures the essence of today’s family office and paves the way to best practice for every family and advisor entrusted with sustaining generational wealth. Kirby has written what is sure to be an industry classic.” —Sara Hamilton, Founder and CEO, Family Office Exchange

To find out more about capturing the history and legacy for Family Offices, please contact Iris at Memoirs Productions at  866.481.9303 or iris.wagner@memoirsproductions.com

 

 

“I HAVE A DREAM…”

 

“I HAVE A DREAM…”

Much has been written about the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s epic civil rights speech “I Have a Dream”, delivered in Washington D.C. in 1963. On January 16th 2014, Dr. King would have turned 85 and we take this time to reflect upon his words and their ability to inspire since their passionate delivery 50 years ago.

The “I Have a Dream” speech is a prime example of an ethical will, a celebration of values, beliefs and wisdom. It is inspiration intended not only for those fighting in the civil rights movement then, but for those he knew would follow and continue carrying the torch.

It doesn’t matter if your audience is hundreds of thousands like Martin Luther King Jr.’s, or a handful of immediate family and friends, our most valuable wisdom and wishes for future generations can and should be recorded and shared in one’s lifetime– before it’s too late. Like the “I Have a Dream” speech our own ethical will stands not only as a testament to what we have learned, but as a touchstone others can use to look back, identify with, and be moved to action. It is this that makes his speech transcend generation after generation and keeps it relevant to this day.

Touching all themes typically found in ethical wills, Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech shares his values, blessings and life’s lessons, his hopes and dreams for the future and his love and forgiveness with family, friends and community.

Here is a brief overview of some of his powerful messages.  (And for those who wish to read it, the text of the entire speech can be found below.)

1) Sharing values, blessings and life’s lessons:

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force…

… I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.”

2) Sharing hopes and dreams for the future:

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

3)  Sharing love and forgiveness with your family, friends and community:

“The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone…

… I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character …

… And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

 We hope you take the time and reflect on the importance and relevance of Dr. King’s speech as we embark on life in 2014. We also hope you are inspired to take the time to record your own reflections for your heirs and future generations. Your messages don’t need to define an era to have significance or importance. All it needs to do is define you.

As promised, here is the “I Have A Dream” speech in it’s entirety. Enjoy.

 

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

One of the Best Traditions to Start the New Year

 

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next years words await another voice” – T.S. Elliot

 

As 2013 draws to a close, we encourage you to take the time to reflect and write a Legacy Letter. Similar to an ethical will but usually shorter in length, a personal legacy letter is written to share what has been most important in your life with loved ones.

A great idea is to take the time to write a legacy letter on behalf of your children when they are too young to do it for themselves. Annual letters documenting children’s blossoming personalities and emotional growth are a treasure worth saving and sharing. Your kids love stories about themselves, and as time passes, the small details are lost to the quick passing of time. Capture them now while they are still fresh!

Storytelling is the most powerful way to connect with family members and can have huge influence on your children and grandchildren. Writing down the special stories of life’s moments guarantees that  your wisdom and values are truly preserved. Please make sure to print and store them safely (or back them up off your computer).

Andrew Weil, M.D, author of Healthy Aging sums it up very nicely, “Certainly, an ethical will can be a wonderful gift to leave your family at the end of your life, but I think its main importance is what it can give you in the midst of your life.”

So please don’t put it off. Do it before the rush of the New Year begins! You (and your family and friends) will cherish the results.

 

Best of Health, Happiness, Joy and Prosperity for 2014!
Be well, go safely,

Iris and her team at Memoirs Productions

Helpful Tips to Preserve Gratitude & Family Stories this Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving holiday celebrated in the U.S. is almost upon us. It’s one of the few times of the year loved ones make the greatest of efforts to make the pilgrimage home. We gather around our dining tables to enjoy the company of family and friends, as well as a carefully planned and executed feast. It is also a deliberate time for reflection, where we pause to express our gratitude for many things that life has to offer.

Reflecting on what we are grateful for should not be saved for one day a year. Just as being in the company of loved-ones is beneficial for both the heart and soul, starting a gratitude journal and writing in it several times a week has proven to have tangible benefits.

normanrockwell_thanksgivingA study lead by Robert Emmons, a professor at the University of California at Davis and world leader in the science of gratitude, has revealed that those who keep a gratitude journal felt better about their lives overall, are more optimistic about the future, and report fewer health problems than the other participants. Interestingly, those who keep such journals reported getting more sleep, spending less time awake before falling asleep and feeling more refreshed in the morning.* The reason this practice works, above and beyond simply taking time out to think about the positive things in our lives, is that translating thoughts into language, spoken or written, makes us more aware of them, deepening their emotional impact.

We are all deeply grateful for are our relationships with our families and loved-ones. Because time passes so quickly, the importance of documenting the stories of our parents and grandparents greatly increases as they age. Thanksgiving, when everyone is together, is a perfect opportunity to capture the stories right from the source. In fact, technology has become so simplified that it is as easy as strategically placing a smartphone on the dinner table and powering on the voice memo feature to record the stories told by family members. Likewise, using a video camera (or smartphone camera!) to record all the details is so easy, even children can help out. And the results become special keepsakes.

After you have your smartphone or video camera ready, here are 5 tips to keep in mind for the day:

  1.  Jump start the conversation: Do you know of a specific story that your Grandfather loves to tell or want to know more about his experience in the war? Ask him about it.

  2. Keep the conversation going: Ask questions about the people involved in the story, what else was going on at that point in time?

  3. Ask elders about their specific memories of those who have already passed away: What did they like to eat, what was the craziest thing they ever did. Get to know family members you never got the opportunity to meet.

  4. Be prepared with a photo or memento and ask for specifics: Where was this taken, what year, why were you there, who else is in the photo? Write it down.

  5. And most importantly, be a good audience. Sit back, listen and enjoy. Also, make sure all batteries are well charged!

Having loving family and friends is definitely at the top of most people’s gratitude lists on Thanksgiving. We’d like to take this opportunity to wish you wonderful times with yours. Happy Thanksgiving. We’re really grateful you stopped by!

 

*Source: http://www.cfidsselfhelp.org/library/counting-your-blessings-how-gratitude-improves-your-health

Lest We Forget … Reflections on Veterans (Remembrance) Day

Harry Knobovitch 1923-1944

Harry Knobovitch
1923-1944

Every veteran who remembers serving in a 20th century war, whether it is with pride for defending freedom and honor or with horror for the atrocities seen, deals with their experiences and memories differently. Although some choose to willingly share their stories, others internalize and live their memories in silence. As the number of WWII veterans diminishes every year, it is becoming increasingly important to record these accounts. “Lest we forget” is not merely a Veterans Day slogan, it is a call to action: to remember the sacrifices made by individuals and to honor their efforts with the respect they so deeply deserve.

Memoirs Productions has had the privilege of capturing many veterans’ experiences on camera. Initially some were reticent to reflect on their wartime experiences and memories. Most of them had never even shared these memories with their wives or their children – they had chosen to keep that whole section of their lives private from their families. Although the exercise can be very emotional, even painful for some, once they started telling their story, they usually told it all and typically they remembered every vivid detail.

 

Harry's telegramAs Veterans Day (or Remembrance Day in Canada) approaches, we encourage you to start the conversation with any veterans in your life – to find out their experiences, stories, memories and write or record the details before it is too late. Ask them to pull out old photographs and treasures they may have kept locked away all this time. Ask them to identify anyone you might not know in the photos and make sure to record that information.

The legacy veterans left should be heard and recorded. Learning about their heroic roles is invaluable for your family’s history. It may be difficult, but worth every moment. And perhaps you’ll even be thanked for it!

P.S. My Dad is a Royal Canadian Air Force vet and he regales us with stories every chance he gets. Now that we filmed him they certainly are cherished by our family!


In memory of my uncle Harry Knobovitch (whom I never met) as he died way too young in 1944 flying for the RCAF in Europe.

YES Client of the Month

Iris Wagner has been chosen as client of the month in the October 2013 edition of YES Montreal’s newsletter. Providing English language support services for Quebec businesses, YES Montreal has inspired and provided strategic support to Memoirs’ growth.

“I often attend YES Entrepreneurship Conferences and am always inspired by the great keynote speakers they have each year,” she continues. “At their Tune In To YES Benefit Concert I landed a great gig on CJAD’s Morning Show from a silent auction prize I won. These are truly great events for entrepreneurs looking to network.”

To read the full feature, kindly click here.

P.S.: Iris will be attending the 7th edition of Tune In To YES on Thursday October 24th. If you’re looking for a great opportunity to network and support a great Montreal business organization, this is it! Click here for event details. header_home_07

JGH & AGI Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf’s Screening

On Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 Iris will be introducing a private screening of Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf’s at the Jewish General Hospital. Proceeds to benefit The Memory Clinic at the JGH and Alzheimer Group Inc. If you would like to attend the screening, details are as follows:

The Jewish General Hospital | The Auxiliary, in conjunction with the Alzeimer Group Inc, in proud to present

Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf’s

It’s the most mythic of all American emporiums – and the scene of many an ultimate fashion fantasy. Now you will have the opportunity to peek behind the backroom doors and into the reality of the fascinating inner workings and fabulous untold stories from Bergdorf Goodman’s iconic history.  The legend, the parties, the fashion idols, the windows, the women, the buyers and shoppers — and most of all, the quintessentially American dreams of New York’s high-fashion hot-spot – all come to life in an ode to a realm where creativity and commerce reign equally supreme. With a light touch, Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s explores not just the glamour but the passion behind the daily creation of this luxury mecca in a film as dynamic, lush and intimate as the store itself.

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Petit Souper 6:00 PM Café Atrium Film 7:00 PM  Block Amphitheatre

Introduction by Iris Wagner,  Executive Producer

$55.00

Complimentary Parking – Pavilion H,  5790 Cote des Neiges

Reservations

The Auxiliary (514) 340-8216             Alzheimer Group Inc. (514) 485-7233

Proceeds to benefit The Memory Clinic at the JGH and Alzheimer Group Inc.

Rendezvous 2013

Iris E. Wagner will be presenting Preserving Legacies with Digital Technology at Purposeful Planning Collaboration in Broomfield, Colorado on August 1- 4, 2013.

 

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