Friday, September 28, 2007

What Skeletons are in your closet?

September days have raced past me, and the sunlight shortens its visit every day. In Arizona, temperatures are under 100 degrees. Ah, the beauty of fall. Not only the weather is in transition on the eve of October. October represents spooks, goblins, witches, pumpkins, tricks, treats and all the scary monster flicks you can imagine. However, that is a minor part of October for us family historians.

October is Family History Month. A time to honor our families and renew our adventure in tracking our ancestors.

Some individuals express concern about the past. Phrases I have heard include:
  • The past is over, it's done
  • My family never talked about that
  • I might find out something I don't want to know (the old skeleton theory)
  • It's too hard to do
  • I'm adopted, I don't have family history
  • I don't know where to start

Family history is fascinating. It is the story of how you became you. Genetics alone does not make a family. Every family has skeletons in their closet. Isn't it the skeletons that keep life a bit interesting? And, what better time to start the process than in October?

I agree family history can overwhelm the novice or experienced treasure hunter alike. Family historians solve one mystery and then follow the trail on the scent of a new lead. Did you ever meet anyone who finished all of their research? Let's use October's Family History Month as a way to celebrate and revive your family's history.

History touches the heart, as you can see in the attached photo of my in-laws from November 1942. It is the month they were married in Walnut Creek, California before he traveled to Europe to fight in World War II. Their expressions, their love, their loyalty and his birthday on October 29th should never be forgotten.

Join me in October as I offer a tip every day...31 days, 31 ways to make your family history live forever. If we uncover a few skeletons along the way, so be it. We can face the scary world together.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ugly Betty Rules

Yes, on my day off, I've immersed myself in the Ugly Betty marathon. Oh, I did my chores, finalized my talk on David Morrell, printed my handouts and prepared an agenda for Oktoberfest while I watched. But now I'm hooked on the series. I rarely become addicted to a television series. Today was an exception.

The show is great and I love how some of the most intriguing people are the ones who don't come in cookie cutter packages. My favorite show is when Betty, her father and sister, travel to Mexico. Betty's search for mother's family touched my heart. I love the search for family heritage to be in mainstream entertainment. Check out Ugly Betty when you have a chance.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Family History lives in Prescott

The Prescott Book Festival sponsored by the Professional Writers of Prescott and the Arizona Authors Assocation was a fabulous experience. Thanks to all of the peoople who visited the National Association of Women Writers booth. Many of you expressed an interest in family history, and, in such a historic city as Prescott, who wouldn't?

David Morrell's writing workshop inspired me to continue with my work and research of family history. Morrell wrote a number of best seller thillers yet he is best known for his Rambo series of books. He founded the International Thrillers Writers, Inc. He confided to the group about the commitment and distinctiveness necessary to succeed as an author. One of my favorite anecdotes was Morrell's story about Stephen King. When King was asked, "Why do you write horror?" King asked, "Why do you think I have a choice?" To me, this answer summarizes my passion for writing family history.

I am certain I will return to this outstanding festival next year.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Beautiful Fall Day in Prescott

Saturdays are wonderful. And, today is extra special as I travel to Prescott, Arizona for their Book Festival. It is always a delight to spend time with books and writers. Join us if you are in the area. I will be at the Scottsdale Chapter of the NAWW booth. I also anticipate an interesting workshop presented by David Morrell, author of a fiction writing book, but most famous for his Rambo book series. No, I am not an avid reader of Rambo books. However, this week I listened to his audio book Creepers. His writing is tight and authentic. Although we write on completely different topics, I hope to learn to attract more readers to my family histories. More to come tomorrow.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sports translates to time for Family History

The start of football means the end of US Road trip for tennis. My Green Bay Packers ruled over the Philadelphia Eagles so all is well in my home state. As I now watch Roger Federer take on Novak Djokovic (and wonder why Maria Sharapova and Robert Di Niro are in Novak's family and friends box), it helps me to sit in one spot and reflect on what is next for my adventure in family history.

Although I continue to slow down my time as Carl Honore suggests, I know October will be here almost as soon as the Federer-Djokovic match is over. And, October is special to family historians since it is nationally recognized as Family History Month.

Have you created any plans for celebration? Unless plans are formalized now, it is likely the month will pass with schoolwork, housework, job work and Halloween. I invite you to check back on this blog every day in October as I introduce my plan for the month.

"31 Days...31 Ways to make your family history live forever" will debut on bring life to family history. Will you be able to implement all of these ideas in one month? Maybe. Maybe not. However, the ideas are fantastic and you can pick and choose what works for you and your family. The fun begins in just 22 days. Or, in football terms, only 3 more games from now. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day: A day to slow our labor

I love my three day weekend. I decided, in honor of In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore, to plan nothing for this weekend. I would let the days unfold and savor the slowness of no obligations. My only goal was to finish reading the book, but only if that matched my mood of the moment.

The decision has been fruitful. On the third day of the weekend, I am relaxed. I napped right on my couch when I felt like it. I watched a tremendous amount of US Open tennis coverage and still laugh at every IBM commercial and every John McEnroe dispute resolution. I have let my real world evolve without forcing it.

In the process of just being, I experienced a few moments of genuine desire to do a load of laundry, weed, draw, write, read and handle emails. But, it was not forced out of a sense of duty. It was a different style and pace. There are many chores I need to do. But first I took the time to relax. Only when I truly wanted to do any work did I let myself do it. I told myself, yes, there would be time. When the time is right, it will happen. This major step is counter to my German Russian upbringing. Years of overwork produced this breakthrough.

Rest needs to be the focus of Labor Day for the everyday worker. Labor Day has been a national holiday since 1894. Oregon, a forward minded state, was the first state to celebrate it. The Central Credit Union of New York and New Jersey were advocates of the holiday. So, over a century ago, the need to pause from our daily work lives was deemed essential. What would those folks think of our 24/7 work ethic today?

So, slow down. Just sit. Listen to classical music, read a slow paced book, plan a slow cooked meal. Let the relatives and neighbors keep up appearances. Sit back and relax. Silence is golden. That is, unless you have an exciting tennis match like Roddick and Berdych to watch and enjoy. Let the obligations go. There is enough time to relax. There will be time later to do. Labor Day means rest.