Sometimes the direction our lives take doesn't correspond with how our minds expect it to go. That's neither a good thing or a bad thing, it's just reality. I think what defines a person as strong is the ability to adapt to these direction changes. What if you won the Lottery? That'd be an incredible direction change, right?
For several years, I left my genealogical research because, I claimed, I was too busy. The truth is it was just too difficult. Not the research mind you; that I have down cold. It was the emotional part of it. The delving into the lives of those who came before me and the somewhat harsh realization that I would never have a direct descendant looking for me. It made me sad and frustrated that THIS is how life turned out for me.
I can smile about that now. Because I realize that the genealogical community is vast and that you simply never know who's going to be looking for who (or whom, you know what I mean). What's more astounding is the way in which technology plays a role in bringing people together to make the genealogical community even stronger. Or help you make a sharp a turn, just like winning the Lottery.
In going back to review what I posted about my family in Cincinnati, I realized I didn't actually write about it in its entirety. I won't do that now, but need to give a bit of the 'back-story' as it were to make my point (yes, I know, it always takes me a while to get there; indulge me). When I picked up my research after the hiatus, the first thing I did was go out and look at the family trees I'd posted oh-so-long ago. I stumbled over a post someone had done regarding a Wersel family member, and I responded. That set the wheels in motion to me going to Cincinnati, Ohio for the first time in my adult life, to spend the weekend at the home of Bill and Kim Strubbe. Bill is my second cousin; they generously invited me to stay in their home, without having met me, so that we could exchange genealogical information. It was an incredible journey for me, truly, and I owe the Strubbes a debt of gratitude.
While I was there, Bill invited our 3rd cousin, Nancy Rybolt, to join us. Nancy brought her husband Bill, who is a family historian himself. The 'cool' factor there is they brought with them a shopping bag full of family documents, some dating to the 1820s. Unbelievable. Nancy told us that she had 'trunks full' of this material; she'd just not known what to do with it because it was old, fragile, and most are in languages she couldn't understand. I'm blessed with having spent the last 7 years or so learning foreign languages and how to read handwriting, so what was impossible for them to decipher wasn't nearly the challenge for me.
When I got home, I poured over the scanned images I'd made of the documents to glean what I could. I wrote about it here, posted pictures, etc. And through the posting of a name here, I received an email from someone looking for help to break down a brick wall they had in their genealogical research. A new client! At exactly the time I needed it. My own work, as an Archivist, has been decidedly bumpy the last few months. Some of my own doing, but mostly due to things over which I have no control. Many, many direction changes; some that I honestly believe would give most people whiplash.
Throughout this process, with all its direction changes, I've received the equivalent of a Lottery win. Through social media, Twitter specifically, I've been connected with a group of genealogists who have supported me in ways, small and big. I started this blog, thinking it would be something to use as a way to get my surnames out there, and it's turned into an amazing vehicle for me to chronicle this journey for posterity. It is because of my new connections that I felt I was ready to really kick my dream of a business into high gear. I've met people in real life who I would have, most likely, not met otherwise and who I consider great friends. I've created and presented programs on integrating Archives and genealogy; a passion of mine from the start. I've started the ProGen Study group to increase my theoretical knowledge as well as my experiential knowledge of genealogy. I wrote a chapter for a book my friend is publishing on genealogy for kids (I'll have more on that later). I'm working on research for clients. And I have several books in mind to write myself.
Did I mention a group of us are getting together in late March to go to the Allen County Public Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana? Yup. The Midwest Geneabloggers are going to storm the library's Genealogy Center, and then the home of Tina Lyons, who god bless her heart, is opening her home to this exuberant group of genealogists. And, many of those same people will be attending the NGS Annual Conference being held in, that's right, Cincinnati, Ohio this year. Think I'm going? Oh, heck yes.
Thank you, technology and genealogy, for giving me the equivalent of a winning Lottery ticket. I promise, I'll spend it wisely.
15 February 2012
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