Amateur Geneologist

Building on my last post I wanted to share information on becoming an amateur genealogist of sorts. I have had the pleasure and delight to work on family trees of some of my close friends, telling them about ancestors they had never even heard about and sharing information based on what I discover along the way.

Why is genealogy important?

sankofa
sankofa bird

This is of course, my own personal philosophy and take on the matter. Connection to the people before can benefit your life in many ways. There is a phrase Sankofa which basically means to go back and fetch it. It simply is a way of saying, in order to know where you are going, you have to know from where you came. Looking at genealogy records allow you the opportunity to track your family back as far as records allow, putting a name to the people who gave you your eyes, your smile or that insane sense of humor. Sometimes you will discover patterns of behavior, patterns that may be apparent in your own life! Building your tree and using the chart from the last post can answer questions about why your parents may have acted the way they did or why they are silent about their pasts. You can sometimes find in the documents a record of your ancestors strengths, weaknesses, characters, beliefs, talents, passions; again you might find uncanny similarities between their lives and your own. Practically speaking, death records can provide you a medical history which is definitely a game changer in the way that you approach building a healthier life knowing what ailments you may be predisposed to. Quite frankly, and this is probably my nerd flag flying high it actually brings history alive when you discover a family member who might have lived through some important periods in history.

How do you begin?

It begins with you! The simplest way is to speak to your family members. Ask your parents, grandparents, close family friends…the older the better. Ask for anecdotal stories, family legends….some will be false but others can be substantiated via records. Try to dig into their personal stories, their likes, dislikes, favorite foods, information about their personalities, temperament and really try to connect to these people in any way that you can. In some cases, you might notice resistance to even sharing the information, there is a story there. Most likely a painful one, prepare yourself for what you may find.

If that information is unavailable to you in any way then you can start with your own birth records. Vital records (birth, death, marriage certificates) hold key information. You can find your parents on your birth certificate and the place where you were born. If you are an astrology fan getting a certified birth certificate can even help you with creating your own natal chart. If your parents are not alive their death certificate will list the names of their parents and you can go backwards using that information, most importantly you can also see the causes of death, which as I mentioned before can be very helpful. Marriage licenses can sometimes hold the names of the couples parents as well.

Another source of information is the census. That hands down will give you a glimpse into the family structure, any siblings, how they lived, where they lived, occupation and sometimes finances. Censuses can also help picking up leads on dead ends because if you are unable to track your direct descendant or if they disappear off of paperwork or move to another state having a list of the other family members can help you get back on the trail and identify that it is your family record and not another person with the same name. A census record can hold a wealth of information and using sites such as ancestry.com or familysearch.com can potentially give you downloadable copies of the information you find so that you can create your own little family tree book to be shared with your family or passed along to the next generation in your family. Ancestry has a paid membership plan, but family search is free, just sign up for an account.

DNA testing is a new more exciting avenue, if you choose to use ancestry.com, they sometimes offer discounted testing for $69. You will find offers on groupon or just through their email alerts. On the ancestry site, you will be linked to 1st, 2nd and 3rd cousins, some will add to your story others will want help with their own. There is a great community of amateur genealogists on there that can be helpful.

I will be adding additional information, I welcome questions so that I can provide specific advice and help as much as I can.

Happy Searching!

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Words Hold Weight

Shinola Detroit

I purchased my journals for 2018 and got them in the mail today. I’m so in love with them. Shinola Detroit had free engraving and I believe free shipping for the holiday season. I had to have them engraved because… who doesn’t like personalization. The pages are lined and thick so when I go ham between the pages with colored markers it doesn’t seep through to the next page. Which is such a major plus to me. I like to write in color, staple, paste all sorts of things in my journal and the pages hold up so well. And then, for me the hand written thank you note….ahh the devil is in the details. I have had a few colors and these two are my favorite thus far.

My first Shinola journal, I purchased from a shop located close to my job and when I went back to purchase a new one, I was speaking to the clerk and he told me that he had a friend whose father had passed and his father had kept a journal before he was even conceived. When his father passed passed he read through all the journals. His father had chronicled 30+ years of his life, taking the time to write something each and every day, even if nothing spectacular happened. He noted it. He was able to see all the things his father went through, and their similar struggles and got lessons from his father even though he was no longer around. There is something so priceless and special about that. A written word is infinite and holds such weight especially to those who are bare and transparent between those pages.

I have been pouring myself onto the pages of my journal these days. More now than ever before and it feels good to look back and see all the things that have happened, challenges I have worked through and truths about myself….and the work I have been putting in. It makes me proud of myself, that I am always striving to be the best version of myself. Even if its not always in ways that can be quantified and qualified to the outside world. I have been working on my interior, the part of me that counts the most. And at the closing of this year I can honestly say, I am strong as fuck.

How do you journal? What do you write about? What do you explore? Chronicle?

Happy Writing!

Magic School Bus

I have been thinking a lot about sharing my writing, experimenting with form and content and playing with different methods of writing and sharing it. EEK the scare of it all. I have content that I want to share and ideas I would like to discuss and I want to be extra and add some flair to it. I am working on character profiles, on the idea of slipping into the mind of my character and speaking as though I was them. It helps me understand the character I am creating, their motivations and attitude towards life and then subsequently what action they would take. I am writing character sketches. I want to discover a character that I fall in love with and will want to weave into my work. How to describe them through actions as opposed to words and when and how to use those words when necessary.

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Tonight, I feel like electricity is running through my veins; hot and bright it was zipping around and setting my skin on fire. There was a warm swirling feeling of air in my belly and I felt the energy of the eclipse all around me. The air was palpable, taut, familiar and comforting like a cloud lifting me to places I dreamt of. Where the dreams that live inside are peeking out into the sunlight and bursting with the fullness of wanting to share this journey called life. It was as if a doorway had creaked open silently and slipped shut as though something or someone had slid through and stepped out into the light. It is an awakening, the flames that lay inside smoldering but kept low by the winds of changing priorities and life but are always in the front of the back of my mind and were ignited. Today reminds me of how miniscule I truly am watching the moon blocking the earth from the sun. We are suspended in air floating in the ether grounded but yet soaring free and as a result I should mimic the earth and be in constant motion ebbing and flowing as well. Life is about movement and progression.

Painting was something that I loved to do. On the weekends, the easel would call my name, drawing me out late into the night and I wouldn’t retire until the sun dawned the sky. During real life, I have a 9 to 5 and it takes up all of my days, sapping my energy and not allowing me to commit time to the art that I love. The energy builds up within me and I feel the rush and the desire to breathe life into something because it breathes life into me. There is no greater feeling than to start with a blank easel and create something from the first line to the last dash of color. It’s never perfect enough, it could always be a little bit better, but when it’s done you can feel it. A slight feeling of gentle satisfaction. I started with my home, an old refurbish school bus whose appearance from the outside belies its size inside. I painted her green, purple, yellow and blues, radiant and dancing along the side. She dances with energy and spirit and it is a representation of me, my spirit and my energy in motion and tonight because I am moving, I parked my magic school bus for a while to sink into the energy alive around me.

 

In my head

photo art Igor Morski 5

My lesson this week is to get out of my own way. In one way or another this message has been presenting itself to me and it has been resonating with me on so many levels. I tend to be in my head about a lot of things. Thinking of different ideas and artistic endeavors that for the large part remain untapped or unexplored for varying reasons. The major reason, I am ashamed to admit is fear. Somewhere in the back of my head, I am fearful that my creation or expression will not be received in the right way or that I will be revealing too much of myself and my private nature cringes at the thought. I have been working through some content in my head, but for the large part it has been in my head. Which needs to change. It’s about to be a journey down the rabbit hole my friends; with with many twists and turns and seemingly unrelated topics, might just be plain random at times but there is a point somewhere.

I have been in contemplation about life. What motivates me? What do I want and need in my life? What makes me happy? What makes me sad? My mind constantly going over my life and putting events into perspective. What do they all mean to me at this stage in my growth process?  My wheels are decidedly turning and I can feel a shift in my life…call it maturity, call it growth…but I am curious to know how many people ponder on these things and what their outlook is.

Shoot my Shot

I got my first rejection letter yesterday and of all the things to feel, I felt excitement. I usually write for myself and I am very sensitive about my work so I rarely share it with anyone. This year I decided that I was going to submit work to writing and essay contests and put myself out there and I submitted a piece to Creative Nonfiction. The topic was “The Dialogue between Science and Religion. I enjoyed writing it and I bummed it wasn’t chosen but it has sparked an interest in me to keep going. You lose 100% of the chances you don’t take as the saying goes, so I’m gonna shoot my shot!

Happy New Year

 

Happy New Year sugar babies!! 2017 is going to be an amazing year. As the kids say it’s going to be LIT!

It’s a time for new beginnings and resolutions; there are a few things that I want to work on this year. I won’t bore you with the details but I will be posting about it as the year goes along.

Last night I met with my writing group and with the holidays and everyone’s busy schedule we have been unable to all meet up. There is always one person missing so tonight the fab 5 was in full effect. We have some amazing plans for this year concerning our writing and I am amped to get it started. Won’t give away anything just yet but we are going to work.  We met at The Grey Dog in NYC to hammer out the details of our work for the upcoming months and planning and alot of wine and food.

The food there is pretty good. They have soups, sandwiches, nothing too crazy. I ordered hummus toast on sourdough, hummus and chickpeas with spicy kale and sweet potato fries and it was tasty. They have happy hour up to 7 pm and you can get half off on a bottle of wine. BUT beware if you arent at that register by 7, they won’t honor the happy hour prices no matter how long and slow their line is which is a bit off putting. One my group members brought a bottle of coquito which I love and I got my own bottle so this weekend is definitely going to be litty! And we planned for the coming weeks, what writing we will be doing and set up a structure for our work. Lately we have been doing more socializing than writing but it’s all in good measure because when I leave them I always feel so relaxed and inspired that I am usually ready to write right away