Why I Started An Audio Diary Series For My Family

Why I Started An Audio Diary Series For My Family

Audio Diaries (Private & Confidential Documentary)Last Friday, October 7, 2022, I hit the record button and began a new audio diary series just for my family. I’ve been candid from the beginning – 23 years ago – that this podcast began mostly as a legacy project. I was aiming to record some things for my kids to listen to after I die – not diary-type things, but more “here’s my experience, insight, and whatever wisdom I’ve accumulated” kind of things. The about page tells you more about what was happening when I first thought to start this endeavor.

Well, a few weeks ago it dawned on me that I should likely pull the curtain back even more for this legacy project to be what I first intended. But I don’t want to include the entire world because I’d like to share some things that are far more private for whatever insight and help they may provide after I’m gone. So it was with that motivation that last Friday I hit record. I’m now three episodes into it  (I just finished the third episode) with no idea how many episodes it will be. I had no intention of recording every day, but I recorded twice this week already. I’m going to hit record whenever I want to, but I’m not forcing anything. So far, each recording has been just under an hour long.

I did it for one big reason: to make sure to chronicle and document life for whatever benefit it may provide to future people in my family who listen to it. It’s my take. My perspective. My experience. My insights.

Remembering my maternal grandmother who passed on likely provoked this. I visited my folks, whipped out my digital recorder, and recorded some audio as we talked about her – and my great-grandparents, who I didn’t really know. Legacy stuff.

Everybody has a smartphone with a mic and camera. Everybody has an audio recording app, likely a free one that came pre-installed on your phone. Fire that app up and start talking to your family. Don’t tell them how much you love them – do that to their face! Tell them things you don’t tell them to their face. Share whatever you want to share. Record it. Keep recording. Do it as often as you want.

As you hear yourself record these insights you’ll realize you’ve ever shared some of these things. You’ll likely find yourself wanting to have some face-to-face conversations to share more. Don’t talk yourself out of it. Do it. They’ll appreciate you for it. And if they don’t, don’t fret. You took advantage of the opportunity and now you’ll never regret having kept it to yourself. In the meanwhile, your recordings will live on and everybody who loves you will be so thankful to have your voice sharing these things.

Make the recordings as open as you can. Some of us are more prone to vulnerability than others. Don’t force yourself, but embrace being uncomfortable. Lean into discomfort because that’s where growth is. Open up and share what’s really going on with you, especially insights on what you’re thinking and why you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing. Or why you’ve done what you’ve done.

Come clean if you must – but I’d encourage you to do that face-to-face. You can still record it, but don’t say things in the recording that you know would be better said directly to somebody you love.

Make the recordings as beneficial for them as possible. You love these people. You want to help them avoid some challenges you’re enduring – or ones you’ve already endured. You want them to better leverage the opportunities they get. Be their mentor and coach. Encourage them by sharing with them what you’re learning. It will become a priceless gift! And it will cost you some time, some willingness to be vulnerable, and a focus on them. It’s a worthwhile investment.

Be as long or as short as you’d like. Do it as often as you want. Share the date and time when you’re recording to give them some context and just talk to them. Pretend they’re sitting across from you. It may feel weird at first, but keep doing it. You’ll grow more comfortable doing it. Most importantly, keep doing it. Nobody will care if it’s regular or sporadic. Just do it when you feel you have something you want to share. Remember, this isn’t for anybody except the people you love.

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Hello In There is a classic song by John Prine. It’s about old folks. As a young man, he’d help a friend deliver papers to old people in a nursing home. They’d sometimes pretend he was a son or nephew coming to visit. The memories stuck with him. John was 22 when he wrote the song. I became a John Prine fan when I was a teenager. It’s a song that speaks to your family’s need and your need for a deeper connection – and to not lose it.

Download the files from your phone onto your computer. Put them in DropBox or some other cloud-based storage. Put them on a USB thumb drive. Get them off your phone and onto some type of storage. Keep the files safely in some place where you can alert your family of their location. Don’t let thoughts of “I don’t want them to listen to these now” stop you. Who cares if they choose to listen right now? That’s an even better gift for them because now they can listen, if they want, and have a conversation with you while you’re all alive – together.

I’ve got mine online in a password-protected space, and also on a hard drive connected to my computer. Put yours where you want, but make sure your family has access to them. These are recordings you want them to easily find.

Don’t let life just happen. Document what you’re learning so the people who love you can benefit. And do it in your own voice! They’ll be so glad you did.

Randy Cantrell

P.S. You can Google and find all kinds of deeper details on keeping an audio diary or journal. Like here.

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The Man Who Forgets To Be Thankful Has Fallen Asleep In Life

Happy Thanksgiving!

“Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.”    – Robert Louis Stevenson

Aesop wrote, “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.”

How noble are you?

This week more of us will act noble because of the national holiday, Thanksgiving Day. Unfortunately, it’s likely going to be pretty shallow for most of us. Besides, nothing says gratitude like stuffing ourselves with gobs of food, including desserts of all kinds. If the food doesn’t do it, then watching hours of football helps. 😉

Let’s give nobility some effort this week in the form of gratitude. I’ll share with you just a few things that I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful for Christian parents who taught me the truth about God. I’ve never fretted with questions that plague others. Like, “Why am I here?” I’m thankful that Christ came, died for our sins and provided us a way to be saved eternally. How can that not trump the list?

I’m also thankful for family – starting with Rhonda, my wife of almost 42 years. My tribe has increased a bit over the years and I’m thankful. I can’t mention that without also expressing my thanks that we’re mostly healthy, too.

I’m thankful to live in a free country. I’m thankful to be alive in these times of freedom, prosperity and technological advances. We’re blessed.

I’m thankful we all have opportunities to figure some things out. To grow, improve and make things better. I am also thankful for the time to repair what I may have broken, including whatever pain I may have unintentionally inflected.

I’m thankful for YOU, the listeners of my podcast. And readers of the show notes (the blog). Without you I’m just a guy sitting alone in a room with yellow walls talking to himself. That’s what Rhonda thinks I am anyway. 😉

This week I wish you well, but I wish you well every week. I hope you’re surrounded by family and friends. I hope you’re gathered in warm places sharing and creating warm memories. If you happen to be where it’s hot, then I hope you’re in cool places creating really cool memories.

Be safe. Be well. Enjoy. Let’s all work harder to stay awake by remembering to be thankful.

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A Stone’s Throw Away From Hitting The #CravingEncouragement Goal

The record holds up. Circa 1977. Valerie Carter died in 2017 of a heart attack. She was 64. Jackson Browne wrote, “That Girl Could Sing” about her. And yes, she could sing. And yes, that would be the players of Little Feat backing her up, among other terrific players.

I’m oh so close to hitting the financial goal. Just a few contributors could help push it over the goal line! If you’d like to contribute to PROJECT #CravingEncouragement – you can do it with or without financial contribution.

Find out more by going here:

Thanks much to everybody who has already contributed. I love you all. I even kinda like those of you who haven’t contributed! 😉


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It’s About People, Not Power

It’s not always safe. Often times, it’s quite unsafe. Made so by people with ill and self-centered intentions. The great human atrocities – such as the Holocaust and the current genocide in Sudan, etc. – seem unbelievable to almost all of us (but not quite all, or they wouldn’t happen). But each of us is capable of losing ourself to our own ambitions and devices to the destruction of others, and ultimately to ourselves. We’re all capable of poor – even dreadful – behavior. Even well-intended people can justify awful behavior believing in their own superiority. The drive for power over others can be intense and effective. But it won’t last. A bigger, more powerful tyrant bent on taking power by any means necessary will overthrow your tyranny. Most tyranny is non-violent, by the way.

Life isn’t about power. Neither is leadership. Leadership isn’t about judgment or displays of righteous indignation. Nor is it about being the boss who makes the decisions. Rather, it’s about compassion. Empathy is the fuel, but compassion is the traction. Driving action to help and serve. Without expectation that it will provide leverage (power) in the relationship. Leadership is about learning, understanding, and growing and helping all around you do the same.

It’s about helping people be their very best. That’s only possible when people feel safe around you. Make them feel unsafe and you add to their burden. That’s power! Destructive power, which is the most common kind.

Listening. Learning. Understanding. Growing. Those are required if a person wants to improve empathy. Displaying compassion requires it. And it’s quite uncommon. Not because we’re incapable, but because we’re mostly interested in, “What’s in this for me?” Or, “How can I appear better than the rest?”

That’s just part of why encouragement is so rare. And why you likely have nobody in your life willing or capable of giving you any. And likely why your life has so few people with whom you feel really safe. Safe enough to know that judgment, pride, self-centeredness, manipulation, abandonment, abuse, control, perfectionism, domination and a host of other bad behaviors won’t be leveraged against you.

I guarantee you have far more people in your life willing to deploy some or all of those bad behaviors than you do people who can refrain from them. Right now people are filling the gaps of their ignorance about you with their own made-up “facts.” They’ve got you all figured out and yet they’ve never listened to you, taken time to understand you, or attempted to display any compassion toward you. They’re just glad you’re not as good as they are. It makes them feel better about themselves. But they’re serving nobody except themselves. Drunk on the power of their own self-importance you’re just one in the vast cast of characters against whom they can feel superior.

Catch yourself whenever these temptations erupt in your life. And they will. They try to wedge their way into all our lives. We make up stories that turn into gossip without ever taking the time to consider we may not have it quite right. It’s just more convenient to write the story the way we think it is, rather than find out the truth.

Make this week the week you change that by becoming a leader who displays positive traits toward others. See if you can suppress your ego, pride, and judgment long enough to learn how. Be a person with whom others feel safe. Be a person who can focus more intently on the needs of others. Figure it out. If you dare…to make a difference in the lives of others.



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Making Less More

Note: This post originally appeared only to the private Facebook group. If you want inside, just click here.





He was Oklahoma’s favorite son. For good reason. He died 84 years ago this coming August.

Coming soon — an episode (perhaps an entire series of episodes) on simplicity, essentials, less, contentment, and significance.

My fascination with minimalism began when I first started reading about a guy named Leo Babauta who lived in Guam. It was a profile on him talking about how he’d dramatically altered his life. He had just begun a new blog called Zen Habits. His blog was among the very first ones that I subscribed to using an RSS reader (remember those?). That was umpteen years ago, but it began my curiosity about minimalism as a lifestyle (when I was a kid we’d have said, “What’s that? Living like a monk?”).

This is the year — the year I’m going to personally begin the metamorphosis. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to go about it and how I’m going to document it. But I’m emotionally, mentally and physically committed to getting it done. Managing the expectations of it has been the hardest thing to figure out. But today – for some unknown reason – I made up my mind to put just a single expectation on it: to get it done. No deadline. No timeline.

Today’s spark helped me diminish (not eliminate) the fretfulness in trying to decide in my head, “What will I get rid of?”

The rational part of me understands the notion that if I’ve not touched it in a year (pick whatever timeframe suits you), then I’m not likely going to miss it. But such thoughts send you down the bunny trail of other thoughts. For instance, “Will I regret getting rid of it?” That’s a different question that provides a different answer. I’ve got boxes of stuff I’ve not looked at in a long, long time. But I may regret getting rid of it just the same.

Enter the phrase, “Build a bridge and get over it.” Which is what I’m planning to do. Honestly, I’m going into this emotional/mental phase – the phase just prior to beginning the physical “doing” part – with the determination to see how far I can take it. In other words, how much stuff can I eliminate in my life? How few things – tangible things – can I make part of my daily life? I suspect I can rid my life of more than 80% of everything.

Some things won’t be hard. Wardrobe. I’m not a clotheshorse. Suits, ties, and dress shirts – those stay. I need them mostly for church. But daily wardrobe challenges can easily be met with sameness. I enjoy sameness so the black jeans and whatever else might make up some daily wear doesn’t frighten me.

Books. This will be near the top of my challenges. But I plan to go through and simply pose a 3-word challenge: yes, no, maybe. Yes, will stay. No will go. Maybe I’ll think about, but not too long.

Music. I’ve got thousands of CDs. Legally, I need to retain them even though I’ve ripped nearly all of them. I fret about the digital archive crashing some day. Hard drives do fail. It’s a big investment and one I enjoy daily – like books. So it’s a concern.

Kitchen. I’m already a minimalist in this department. I’ve got one bowl I use for nearly everything. From cereal to steamed broccoli to whatever else. One bowl. I’ve got one glass. A glow-in-the-dark drink container that has made an appearance in some videos I’m sure. It’s the only one I ever use. EVER. And I’ve got 2 (count ’em) forks. I suppose I can add one spoon to the mix and one good knife. Other than that I’ve got one good baking sheet, a good stick-free skillet and a flipper. I could just about ditch everything else, but Rhonda will have ideas.*

*NOTE: This is MY deal. I’m not imposing this on Rhonda.

The Yellow Studio. This is among the many reasons I’m trying to crowdfund a RODE RODECASTER PRO. The Yellow Studio is filled with yards of cables, tons of gear and big boom arms for the microphones. Mixers, preamps, compressors. It’s just too much. And too complex. I want more room – more open space here inside The Yellow Studio.


Go to this page and learn how:

Keepsakes and memories. These can also present a challenge. But I’m determined that if it hasn’t got anything to do with family or exceptionally close friends, then it’s going away. The boxes of stuff I have from my years running companies is staggering. It’s going into the fire (wherever the fire is if there indeed is one).

So that’s the deal.

Tomorrow around noon I’m going dark. Email, social media, and the whole 9 yards. I’m going to think through this, do some reading, have some conversations with Rhonda and figure out a plan of attack, then Lord willing, in a week or so the task will begin.

Got any thoughts or wisdom you’d like to share? Well, the only place to do that is inside the private Facebook group.

And now, it’s time to step away a bit. As you know, I do this fairly regularly when I feel the need. It’s the introversion kicking in where I know I need to retreat to up my energy.


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