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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Let everything that has breath…..grief and its lesson.

“The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty has given me life”.  Job 33:4

There is nothing more precious and delicate than a life. Our breath is one of the greatest gifts that God bestows on us, the first and the last breaths are the most important ones we will take. We are celebratory at the birth of new babies, at the newness of it and the promise that life holds. However, as it begins so shall it also end; and death is seldom celebrated. More often than not it is mournful and painful. I can understand why. We mourn for the end of a relationship that can no longer be continued, fixed, remedied, nurtured and enjoyed. Its abrupt nature leaves us grasping for comfort outside of the memories we hold. If it is sudden or due to something beyond our control, we feel as though this person has been ripped from us and we were unable to process or prepare for this transition. Grief is a personal process, no two grieving processes look the same. A few days ago, I saw a post online that said and I am paraphrasing her…instead of asking why this is happening to me, as yourself what is it trying to teach me.

On December 15th at 12:45, my mom took her last breath. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on September 3rd and the disease was aggressive and took her quickly. I am struggling with her passing. I don’t even think if I am being honest with myself that I believe it’s real. When I try to wrap my head around it, is when I break down. Today I am asking myself what is this experience trying to teach me? Cliché as it may sound…life is so fucking short. Logically speaking, we know our parents will no longer be around but then it happens it’s a hard ass smack in the face.

What am I doing with this one precious life that I have???? That is the question and the answer. This year for me is about living my best life, the life my mommy would have wanted me to live. I can get bogged down in how I feel and my anger or sadness about trivial matters and since my mom has passed all of that has fallen away. All of a sudden, I have a new purpose and mission for my life. Old goals have resurfaced and my focus is near clearer than it has been in a long time. My mother’s death has taught me, to do everything in the time that I have and not to take for granted each day that I have been gifted, to chase my goals, share the gifts that I have, love fiercely those who I love and never for a moment allow them to think that that I don’t love them, take risks, see the world, eat and be well, don’t succumb and get bogged down in lower feelings, they come and go and some of them are my own fears creeping up around me but to always push through.

I will forever mourn the loss of my mother but I choose at this time to hold onto the valuable things she left me with.

R.I.P. Dawnie

Mood: Overjoyed and Grateful

I have had a headache for a few days and it is gone. I have
been stressing and unable to sleep but that too is lifting. There has been an
almost imperceptible shift in the atmosphere; Mercury out of retrograde and the
full moon beaming down with its Scorpio energy is bringing revelations on all
fronts. It has brought clarity and answers in unexpected ways. Life is funny;
it has a way of knocking you on your ass, picking you up and teaching you
lessons. I am hardheaded – I must admit. There are times when I do not listen.
I have been struggling with three principles that I have been diligently
working to implement into my life. The idea of surrendering. Letting go and
letting God take the reins and allowing Him to lead me down the path where I
should walk.

The idea of focusing on myself and my goals and not allowing
negative energy and people to take me away from my lifelong purpose and
mission.

And the idea of Blooming. Not
in the future but to unfurl the beauty that resides in me that no one else can
possess. The flowering of my mind, my body and spirit exclusive of those around
me because none of our journeys are the same and as the adage goes, “A flower
does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.”

I am to do the same. And not when the situation is peachy but like the lotus, I
might have to bloom even through some shit.

People may not like me, and they don’t have to. I like me. I
like the person that I am becoming, and it has taken so long to get here but
today …today is a gift to me. A beautiful sparkling gift, that makes me so
happy I am damn near ready to go dance nekkid in the moonlight. (kidding not
kidding)

I accept the journey the universe is taking me on with grace
and total surrender. I am willing and open to the benevolence of my Creator and
the blessings he has in store for me. I am feeling extremely nostalgic and
grateful for the humans placed in my life that have helped me cultivate this
garden I am growing. I am keenly aware that I do not walk alone in this life
and that I am covered with unconditional love even when I don’t feel like I am.
I am  blessed. And I am exceedingly
grateful.