Friday, April 30, 2010

Spike Lee uncovers his grandmother's roots in Georgia...

Tonight's episode of "Who Do You Think You Are" highlighted filmmaker Spike Lee's family search back to Griswoldville, Georgia. This hour was another outstanding segment in this series and three points jumped out to me.

1) Even filmmakers can miss the opportunity to use the camera to document the knowledge and family members. Such a valuable lesson for all of us. No matter how much you have captured, once the opportunity is lost, there is always regret. When Spike admits this loss, it touches everyone's heart.

2) When he dug up the red soil of Georgia that Mars Jackson owned decades ago, it reminded me of my first trip to Georgia when I scooped the clay into bottles to take back with me to Wisconsin. And, since both of our ancestors were farmers, the link back to the land struck a chord.

3) Genevieve, his third cousin twice removed, sparked Spike's memory of watching people in an airport and wondering whether he was related to them. I always knew when I met people whose ancestors came from the same German Russian village as mine, that we were related whether we could prove it or not. Spike's experience expands my notion well beyond the small village. The more we learn to think globally, we need to realize if we can track enough generations back, we are all related.

Tonight was another moving story of how one man's family was impacted by history and slavery in our country, and how the same family made such a remarkable impact on our country.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spike Lee is next!

I always look forward to Friday and this Friday is no exception. In fact, the Spike Lee episode of "Who Do You Think You Are" will be the perfect way for me to end the month of April. Stories, a bit of drama, and another powerful search experience.

My own family will take the forefront in May. In the upcoming month, I plan to fill my photo albums and family storybooks with memorabilia from:
  • four birthdays
  • Mother's Day
  • two graduations (technically one falls on June 2)
  • a speaking event in Tucson with a genealogical group
  • and many family and friends who will join us to celebrate

And, these are just a few of the things I am planning. So, Friday night's show is the perfect transition to reflect on family history and close out of the month of April. Then it's time to take a breath and plan for the fun events to come in May. Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Susan Sarandon's search inspires me...

Susan Sarandon's story on "Who Do You Think You Are?" inspired me in so many ways. I always admired her honesty and independence, but I have to admit I enjoy seeing the "stars" of this show so natural, without performance makeup, just as themselves. I applaud their efforts to trace their history.

Susan's search struck a chord with me. She hunted details about a grandmother she never knew. Her name was Anita and she left for destinations unknown when Susan's mother was only two. Consider the fact that Anita was only 13 when she married and you can understand what a different time it was in the early 1900s.

Ultimately Susan tracks down the house where her grandmother lived, less than an hour from where Susan grew up. So close, yet Susan was pleased to learn her grandmother enjoyed the later years of her life.

One of the reasons I started my family history journey was to understand why my father grew up without his father. He did ultimately have a wonderful step-father in his life, but my step grandfather passed away years before I was born.

Johannes Dalhaimer was my grandfather's name. He left the family home in the summer of 1925. Some say he was never seen again. Others say he briefly returned the day my father was born.

There are clues but I have not landed a link yet. Could he have gone to Flint, Michigan? Did he return to Fresno, California? Could he have gone back to Mariental? Since my grandparents followed the harvest when they came to the United States from Russia, did he have the energy to go back to it? I have met cousins who now live in Washington and there was a connection, but nothing after 1925.

In the meantime, I will continue to enter the $20,000 giveaway at hope that will be the key to discovering the story of Johannes. But, if you have any ideas and what else I can do, please send me your thoughts and encouragements. I always wanted to uncover this for my Dad, but since he is in heaven, he already knows. Now I want to find out for me.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Friday night was almost lonely without "Who Do You Think You Are"

I really missed that show last night. But, I did hear some good news. It has been renewed for a second season. I am ecstatic.

Of course, I had plenty on my plate last night as I prepared for the WRITE Stuff workshops today at the Chandler library.
My presentation is "WRITE to the Heart of the Matter" which covers all types of writing and includes great interactive exercises. Join us if you can. The workshop promises four excellent speakers and over seventy attendees.

And, the show will go on the road on May 6. when I present a similar writing workshop exclusively for the Saddlebrooke Genealogists.
One of the exercises is to focus on the first sentence. Obviously, this sentence is critical to get an agent, editor or everyone interested in your story and critical when you do not have a cover designed to draw in the reader. So, to jump start your writing, take a good look at the picture on this blog. Use it as your inspiration to write the first sentence of your next book, story, or blog. Spend only five minutes on it, your sentence does not need to be perfect.
Add your sentences as comments to my blog and let's see how many fantastic ideas and story lines we can compose. I will share mine later this weekend after the workshop. I also have an interesting example from a good friend.

I wish everyone one thing this weekend...write and enjoy your family. Life moves so quickly at times, savor every minute. Even the bad stuff. It's the experiences that builds bonds which last much longer than we do. And, with the stories we have heard from "Who Do You Think You Are," we are well aware of how the next generation needs to know about what we did. Let's all leave a good trail to follow.