Stay tuned – it’s fall, so it’s time for change! Spring is more usually associated with rebirth and growth and change, but for the past few years I’ve gotten the urge to change things up at the end of the travel season. Throughout the year, I’ll notice things I don’t like or things I would prefer differently, functions that stopped working as designed, or I’ll just be plain unhappy with it. And I generally have more time during the winter months, and more reason to curl up inside fighting with page templates and themes!
This year is no different.
Except it is.
Last year, I declared myself a writer – even if just privately. I was going to write. Somehow, this intention was different from the writing I had already been doing on the blog. This writing was to have purpose and focus and value to others besides just me. If I did it right, I was even going to make a few bucks at it. I redesigned the blog format, making room for topics and archives and themes. I set goals. I planned. I committed to articles for other platforms.
Then I didn’t write. Or, I did, but not the about the things and in the way I had really enjoyed before. So, I stopped. Several times throughout the summer, I revised my goals and set new intentions, but something always pulled me away from that blank page.
So I followed the sparkly thing (nod to Big Magic author, Elizabeth Gilbert). This summer, that sparkly thing was my long deceased, (adopted) Grandpa Bergen. I’ve written about him before here and here.
Having met the stated goals for that genealogy research project, I put it aside and was satisfied that I was done. But Bergen felt differently. For six days straight, during my first house sitting gig in Olympia Washington earlier this summer he would not leave me alone. Any attempts at blogging about the adorable cat I was caring for, or the awesome locale I was staying in, were thwarted by a nagging pull to do more research. So I did. And three weeks later I was communicating with living relatives in Norway – something I had not thought possible.
With that out of the way, I once again rearranged my goals, set new writing intentions and made a plan to catch up on the blog and get serious. I was moving on to another gig in Bellingham, Washington – this time a fun Golden Retriever named Maisie – so this was a great “fresh start.” Once again, Bergen felt differently. I spent that month creating a family report about his life and that of his Norwegian immigrant family and those who remained in Norway. So – I did write. Just not what I had intended to.
Fast forward a few weeks. I moved on to yet another gig – this one in Michigan’s UP. Way UP. Perfect place to write.
Nope. My “work” there was with the Archivist at Keweenaw National Historic Park. My project? Create a finding aid complete with biography and family history to accompany a collection of donated photos. Two solid weeks of research and writing, while I was living in a place I’d never been, helping others.
It wasn’t exactly a lightning bolt. More like a steady hum that increased with intensity over a period of a few weeks. I commented to my friend, Julie, upon arriving in Florida that this genealogy thing may be something I could…do. Like, as a thing. Like, a career. Ish. Of sorts. She simply replied that she was surprised I hadn’t already thought of that (I’ve apparently rattled on about various research efforts over the past four years). Two weeks later, another conversation with Alison, another dear friend, revealed she had the same thoughts this summer when I was super-hyped up about the research I did while I was in Olympia.
Recalling my past enterprising ideas: Direct Sales for DIY tools and Jewelry, self-employed management consultant, a phase years ago when I just knew I could be a midwife, travel writer, and countless other ideas I’ve dismissed as quickly as I’ve had them, I had to admit that none have given me the same sense of excitement and possibility as becoming a professional genealogist.
Genealogy checks off so many things (or offers the possibility of): diversity of projects, independent work, supplemental income, social engagement, always learning, writing, public speaking, travel, helping others, non-profit service. And most importantly, it complements a deep-seated desire to create and nurture a connection to my own family through sharing our family story.
Only time will tell if this will be the thing. Enthusiasm for some endeavors has waned as soon as the business cards were printed. I spent a few weeks hunting and gathering and collecting information and resources. I’ve talked to a few folks. I’ve got a plan for improving my skills. I’ll rework the blog so that I can highlight some of my existing research. But don’t worry – I’ve also pledged to finish a few things I’ve started. You’ll soon see an offer for an eBook to help you travel like I do. There’s also a coffee table book in the works. I’ll still travel and take pictures and have deep thoughts that prompt introspective essays and fun experiences that prompt rambling anecdotes. I just need to figure out a way to have them all share the same blogspace. Or not. We’ll see!
So hang in there – change is coming. To this blog site and to me. It might get ugly before it gets better, but I am certain I will enjoy every second of it.