Book of Me

Book of Me: What do you want to be doing that you are currently not?

What do you want to be doing that you are currently not?

I would like to be retired from by day to day job.  I would like to be on a property in the country with my husband.  I would like to be in my home office, chasing the threads of family history, while I listen to the sound of my husband working on his classic Chevy in the garage.  I would like to have my dogs curled up at my feet, snug in a warm house.  i would lie to be planning my next road trip around the U.S., visiting the towns and counties where our families came from.

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Book of Me: Who inspires you?

Who inspires you?

I have to admit, I’m struggling with this one a little bit.  I’ve never been one to idolize others.  I don’t have favorite actors, athletes, etc. I’ve have admiration for people who have been a part of my life at various times – teachers, colleagues, bosses, etc.  But I’m not sure I would say anyone continues to inspire me.  Is that strange? Maybe…

I would say more that I’m inspired by my goals and the work that I do – not by people.

I am inspired by mine and my husband’s long-term goals for our life together. We have very specific plans about what we want to have happen over the next 5, 10, 15 years.  We work together to gain the things we need (money, time, experience, access, contacts, etc.) to be able to reach those goals.  Our combined dedication to our future is the thing that probably most inspires me in my daily actions and the choices I make each day.

Inspiration for my work comes from the work itself.  I look for opportunities to find passion about the work that I do, whether it’s my professional work or my personal hobbies.  I cannot do work that I don’t find some reason to care about – it just is not in my nature to be disaffected about my work.  If I cannot find inspiration in the work itself, I will do what I need to do to get it done, but it will be only what is needed, not anything more.

I don’t know if this makes sense to others – but I cannot really find inspiration in others.  Humans are to fallible.  I find inspiration in relationships, causes, goals and shared experiences.

Book of Me: What do you enjoy?

What do you enjoy?

I enjoy a good mystery – from watching crime shows on t.v., to reading a thrilling mystery novel, to hunting down missing members of my family tree.  The hobbies I enjoy most all seem to have mystery in common.  I suppose it goes to my enjoyment of solving a good puzzle because I also enjoy logic problems and Sudoku.

Every problem has a solution, and I like to find the answers to them.

When it comes to genealogy in particular, I can be quite dedicated to my search when I’m on the hunt of a missing ancestor.  My husband would tell you I get obsessed, tunnel-visioned, overly focused.  He’s a true genealogy-widow at times.  I feel like my family history is my real life mystery to solve and it satisfies for me the desire to case a good mystery to solve.

I’ve found a couple of “interesting” things in my family tree, some of which I have yet to share with my extended family because they are the skeletons in the family closet.  They were mysteries I didn’t know needed solving until I found the answers.  In other cases, I’ve solved the origins of the first family who came from Ireland, which was a brick wall for years and years.  I still have couple of mysteries that I don’t know if I will ever be able to solve – the cases of the missing fathers – two men who both went “missing” within a couple of years of each other, leaving their wives to raise their children alone.  One supposedly died in a fall of the ferry in NY harbor, and one likely walked away to never be seen or heard from again.

So, for me, I enjoy the hunt for answers to questions about my past and to the world around me.

Book of Me: What do you look like?

What do you look like?

I look like my mother, but with my father’s coloring. The more I age, the more my face morphs into hers.  At times it’s unsettling to look in the mirror or at a photo because her face jumps out of me.  It’s especially apparent when looking at me in profile.

When my mom passed away almost 19 years ago now, I didn’t see the resemblance quite as readily.  I always thought I looked more like my father’s side of the family, but maybe that’s because my hair/eye coloring dominates my appearance.  But as I watch myself age, it’s in the smaller details that she shines through in my features.

  • The shape of my nose
  • The roundness of my face
  • The way my eyebrows arch
  • The height of my forehead
  • The shape of my chin
  • The height of my cheekbones

It’s haunting to look at a picture of myself and see someone I miss so dearly looking back at me.

Book of Me – January Prompt – Genealogical Plantation

For 2015, Julie Goucher of Angler’s Rest, is reinventing her Book of Me as a series of monthly prompts.  For the first prompt of the year, she writes:

Prompt 1 – January 2015 – Genealogical Plantation

Imagine you are planting trees that represent your family history.

  • What trees would you plant?
  • What part of your family are represented by a specific tree.
  • Why is that the case? – location, image, name?

Share your vision with us, perhaps if you are artistic you could draw your plantation.

Explore the ancestors and family members you are presenting. Illustrate with pictures and bring your genealogical plantation to life.

To me, I’ve always pictured by family tree as a giant oak – the gnarled branches curving up and outwards, strong enough to hold up the many family members deep within the canopy of its leaves.  The branches spread far and wide, provide shade to those beneath them and are great for climbing!  I love the image of a giant oak canopy cradling all my ancestors in its nooks and crannies.

But in addition to the oak, there are other plants in the garden that remind me more of my family.  When I think of gardens, I really think about my mother’s side of the family.  My Pappaw grew up in rural Mississippi, just south of Memphis, during the depression.  During his childhood, they were largely sustenance farmers – whatever they could grow, they would eat.  During the Depression, this actually allowed them to fare better than my Mammaw’s family, who lived in the big city and struggled more to make ends meet.

When I was growing up, we didn’t spend much time with my mother’s family – distance and estrangement largely kept us apart.  However, the times I do remember, the things I remember about my grandfather almost all have to do with growing something.  One of my earliest memories was of a visit we made to Memphis when I was about 4 years old, and we shucked beans on the porch.  I also have a great fondness for tomato sandwiches, which my mother passed down from her father.  He would take fresh tomatoes from the garden, slice them up and sandwich them between two pieces of toast with a little mayonnaise, salt and pepper.  Yummy!

Recently my aunt Penny sent me a green garden wagon that my grandfather used to use. He would pull my mother and aunt around in that wagon while he worked in the garden.  I have been planning for some time to turn that wagon into a memorial planter for my mother, Pappaw and Mammaw, all three of whom I lost within a year of each other in 1999-2000.  I asked her what some of their favorite plants were, and I was pleasantly surprised to find my favorite flower, the peony, listed among those that Mammaw and Pappaw loved.  During my mother’s 5 year battle with breast cancer, she collected angel pins that she would pin to the caps that she covered her head with.  Anytime I came across a design of a pin that she didn’t already have, I would buy it for her.  So my vision for the memorial planter is beautiful pink peonies surrounded by impatiens and ivy, with an angel watching over it – flowers from my grandparents and an angel from my mom.  Below is a rough sketch of what I’m picturing:

Memorial Planter - Peonies, impatiens and ivy

Memorial Planter – Peonies, impatiens and ivy