RootsTech and MeWritten by Glynis Neves
I'll admit it; I have never been interested in family history. It always seemed incredibly boring, to me. The words conjured up images of family group sheets, 4 generation charts, and lots and lots of dates. However, after spending time at the RootsTech convention in Salt Lake City, I can honestly say that my feelings towards family history have changed... for the better!
At first I wasn't too thrilled with the idea of spending time at a family history conference. I was sure that there would be nothing of any value for me. How wrong I was! I was amazed at the number of people who filled the convention center; people from all over the United States (except South Dakota, where was your representation???), and people from all over the world! Then I found out that parts of the conference would be streamed live to many thousands more that couldn't attend in person. That was AMAZING to me! Surely, if all these people found something worthwhile about family history, I should be able to as well, right?
The thing that impressed me most about the RootsTech conference was the importance that everyone was giving to story. Dates and places are all well and good, but it's time to put the flesh on the bones, so to speak. It's time to give life to the stories that we tell. Giving our family stories those personal touches will really impact those that read them. Our ancestors will come "alive" again, and we will feel much closer to them.
I attended a key note address given by Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman. She spoke about her own desire to write family history on her blog. She mentioned something that really stuck out to me..."You can't wait until you are perfect. Just jump in where you are." She was referencing the photography on her blog, but it really applies to every aspect of family history. I can't wait until I am a perfect writer/researcher/storyteller. If I do, think of the stories that will be lost. I have to jump in where I am, and get better as I go along.
With that in mind, I attended a class titled "45 Stories in 45 Minutes." As we entered the room, we were given large sheets of paper. Our instructor told us that by the time the class ended, we would have 45 ideas for stories that we could sit down and write completely. I was skeptical. However, I followed his instructions. He began by telling stories from his life. Every so often he would pause to say, "Does that trigger a memory for you? Write it down?" He encouraged us to start with a timeline of our lives, and jot down memories on that timeline. It was amazign to watch my paper begin to fill up with memories that I had forgotten until just that moment. I'm happy to say that by the time the class ended, I not only had 45 memories, I had at least 10 more than that! Now, I just need to flesh them out, and record them!
Another class that I took was taught by 2 colleagues of mine: Carol Rice, and Theresa Clark. They encouraged us all to find our stories! I have to admit that I went to that class largely to support these 2 amazing women. I wasn't expecting my heart to be touched, at all. I mean, I've heard these 2 ladies speak about story for years, now. Surely I couldn't learn anything else from them, right? Silly me! What happened in that class was poignant and very touching to me. Toward the end of the class, we were asked to close our eyes, and picture someone in our family that we would like to interview. We were told to ask them one question, and listen for the answer. Then, we were to write it down. It was incredibly humbling to look around that room, and see pens writing as fast as they could across notebooks. I knew that I was not the only one that had been touched by this class.
So, what's your story? I am including a PDF download from Carol and Theresa's class. Read through it, and see if you aren't inspired to find and tell your story. You can download the syllabus here.
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