Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sentimental Sunday - A Musical Tribute

This Sentimental Sunday is extra-special because I am, for the very first time, going to post a video. Although I hadn't planned to post on this, the most emotional, and therefore, sentimental thing on my mind right now is the beautiful solo violin concert that my daughter, Natalia, gave last night, and the dedication that she made to me before playing the beautiful, Meditation (from Thais). It's been a long struggle being a single mom of not one, but two very intelligent, talented, and ACTIVE daughters, and I'm proud of the young women they've become. I don't seek recognition in any way, but whenever either of them does something to acknowledge our relationship, or to express appreciation, it blesses my heart.

So, genea-family, today it is with the greatest of SENTIMENT that I introduce you to my daughter, Natalia.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sentimental Sunday - SAS

Okay, so last week I laid claim to the creation of a new Blogging Theme - Sentimental Sunday - and then today I had a full day of BUSYNESS, and, although it was in the back of my mind all day, just didn't get around to doing the post. So, I decided to put if off til next week, but then.... I had to go and open my reader, and the first thing I saw was a Sentimental Sunday post by my genea-buddy, Luckie Daniels. So, with guilt setting in, let me get to typing before the clock strikes 12!

This Sunday, I want to honor the memory of my brother, Arthur, who was just 17 months older than I, and who passed away at the age of 23 from liver cancer. Arthur and I were like twins. We were so close in age that we did everything together. We had the same friends in the neighborhood, were just a grade apart in school, and fought like cats and dogs (lol), like all loving siblings do. :) Arthur is the only person with whom I shared my entire childhood. He knew all of my secrets, and I knew his. We shared the joys and pains of growing up in our rather dysfunctional family, and we provided that quiet, but solid support for each other through it all.
Arthur and I grew up in a time when kids made fun out of anything, and that's exactly what we did. We were Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack ("Where is the Love?) and Cowboys and Indians. We built tents on our stairway, played hide-and-seek in the house, slid down the banister when our parents weren't looking, and competed to see who could jump from the highest step - and land on their feet. But one of my most cherished memories of fun times with my brother are those of us sneaking late night snacks after everyone in the house had gone to bed. Here's how it worked:

Arthur's room and mine were on opposite sides of the staircase, but our closet walls met above the front foyer. We would set our game plan before saying goodnight, and at an appointed time, we'd each go into our closets and listen for the special knock that meant the other was there, too. It was my job to check to be sure that my parents' door was closed, since my room was next to theirs, and Arthur would make sure that neither of my older brothers were around (which they never were). When the coast was clear, we'd knock in unison, and then creep out of our rooms to meet at the top of the stairs. One of us would go to the bathroom (so as to be able to flush the toilet for noise) while the other crept quietly down the steps to get our snack, which one of us had usually conveniently hidden in one of a few places downstairs. (Our favorite spot was the big wooden Dutch shoes that sat very close to the staircase in the dining room.) With the lookout standing just inside the bathroom door at the top of the stairs, the other would creep quietly back up, pass over the shared snack, and we'd each retreat back to our closets to eat it!

I can't quite figure out why Arthur and I had to go to these ends just to have a snack, but for us, the thrill of the adventure was worth it. Sometimes, I think my parents had to know what we were up to, but I guess as long as we weren't bothering them, they just let us have our fun!

My brother has been gone now for 25 years, but I think of him and miss him dearly every single day.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My First Award!

Wow... an award? For ME? That was my first reaction upon receiving the message from my genea-friend, Sandra, over at
I Never Knew My Father! I've noticed numerous awards on the pages of other bloggers, but I never knew how they got them, and I certainly didn't anticipate that I'd be the recipient of one anytime soon. But, thanks to one very faithful and supportive reader, I am! Thanks, Sandra! I am so honored that you chose me for the Kreativ Blogger award!

So, this award comes with a task (but a fun one). :) The winner has to list seven things about themselves, and then pass the award on to seven other bloggers. So, here goes!

1. I grew up in a neighborhood that had several very large families, with 6 or more children. Though there were only four of us, we had the biggest house. The other families seemed (were) so much closer than ours, and I was always jealous of that. I grew up believing that small houses = close families, and was determined to never live in a big house.

2. I never planned to have a career outside the home. When I was growing up, my goals were to be a wife and a mother. I saw those roles as the two most important in the world (and still do) and had hoped to make it my business to be the best at both of them. (The wife thing didn't work out, but I've done well as a mother!)

3. Now, if you put #1 and #2 together, you might not be surprised to know that I'd imagined myself having anywhere between six and fourteen (yep, 14) children. We were going to live in a tiny house, and have a tiny car that we drove around in. Isn't that special? (LOL)

4. My favorite place to be is by the water. If I could, I'd live in a house on the beach in a year-round warm location, and live simply, spending my days writing and absorbing the beautiful sights and sounds of the ocean.

5. My life-long goal has been to travel to Africa. I want to visit Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Niger, and maybe Nairobi. While there I'd like to take a safari and visit Oprah's school. And, now that my DNA is finally being tested (via my cousin Avon), I hope to be able to visit whatever part of the continent it is determined that my ancestors came from!

6. My dream job would be to work as a dean at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

7. One of my biggest personal regrets is that I didn't stick with learning to play the piano when I was younger. I absolutely love to play, but my skill level is stuck at the point where it was when I was about nine years old. I'm reteaching myself right now, but will soon take the leap into adult piano lessons.

Wow. That was hard to do! For me it was challenging to think of seven things I wanted to share that I haven't already mentioned someplace in my blog!

Now for the fun part. Pass the award on to seven bloggers. I'm going to shorten my list by one. Here are my choices:

Reclaiming Kin (msualumni)

And.....(drumroll).... I know this might be unusual, but I'd like to encourage a brand new blogger, whose blog name is so creative (or kreativ) and has really impressed me. So, for creating a "kreativ" blog name:

Thanks again, Sandra, for this wonderful recognition, and for giving me something to do in the wee hours of the morning when, for some reason, I couldn't sleep! :)


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sentimental Sunday

Today I've been inspired by the heartfelt writings of two of my blog-friends, Luckie Daniels over at Our Georgia Roots, and Sandra Taliaferro at I Never Knew My Father. Both of these fellow researchers posted from their hearts today, and in both cases, their writings were a diversion from the usual genealogy-based subject matter. Instead, Luckie expressed her gratitude for her friends in the blogging community in her post, "So Thankful", while Sandra shared her frustration about having "Blogger's Block" in a beautifully-written post (which showed that she can write, even when she isn't trying)!

I connected so immediately with what was written in both of these posts, that I ended up responding with comments that almost sounded like posts themselves, so I decided that I just had to share these writings with my readers. So, head on over to Luckie and Sandra's pages to see what they are talking about. If you don't follow their blogs already, I guarantee you, you'll be swept in by their writings and adding them to your feed in no time at all!

Meanwhile, the ancestors are nudging me to create a new blogging theme because of all of this. I will call it, "Sentimental Sunday" (if you haven't guessed that already). Starting next week, I'd like to encourage everyone to share a sentimental story or memory of an ancestor or family member, or if you'd like, use Sunday as an opportunity to share your feelings about the blogosphere, and the effect it's had on your life and your research! Happy blogging everyone, and have a great week!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A New Name for Just Thinking...!

Ever since the week I created my blog, I knew that I'd eventually have to change its name, but, as with most of the things I do, I've waited for just the right moniker to come to me. Yesterday, as I was driving to work, it did just that.

When I first began to blog, I'd thought it was going to be more like a diary - revealing more of my everyday thoughts, feelings, and life-experiences. And though there's been some of that, I quickly realized that a genealogy blog was to be just that - a web-log about GENEALOGY. As time (and posts) went on, I knew that I wanted Just Thinking... to have title that would be more reflective of my research experience, but as I've said, I had to wait for it to come to me.

During the past couple of weeks, I've been somewhat frustrated with my research. I've been going through that phase of feeling that I'll never discover anything new, and, although I've made several new contacts, everyone seems to have the same information that I already have! I'm at that point (again) where there's just not much more that I can do on the Internet, so a research trip is necessary, but this not a good time for me to take one. Work is crazy, life is hard, and I'M JUST FRUSTRATED!

On top of that, the problems that I have with my very disjointed, dysfunctional, and disengaged (living) family have been heavily pressing on my psyche. As I try to work to uncover the SECRETS of my family's past, the more I realize that without the help of my relatives, I'll probably never be privy to many of the little nuggets of family lore that I need to give me a direction to go in. Unfortunately, the few relatives who seem to even have a minute interest in what I'm doing, know even less about the family than I do! But all of this aside, there are people in my family, both young(er) and old who know things; and no matter what I do or say, I just can't break through the shield of protection that they have up around the details of our past. Even in my immediate family, where I am the youngest child, with siblings who are over a decade older, there are issues that prevent us from communicating on any level about anything such as this. Deep in my own thoughts, I'm admitting aloud something that I've realized for a long time. Mine is not one of the great, sprawling, well-connected families where everyone loves each other and stands together as one. And, this didn't just happen. My research has proven that. But, the question is WHY? WHY did Calvin and Precilla's eleven children go their separate ways - in some cases living just doors away from each other on the same street in Louisburg, but not sharing their lives? WHY did the descendants of Anna Green split off into two separate groups - one, Greens, the other Greenes - whose family lines don't even know (or seemingly acknowledge) each other? WHY did my Dunstan ancestors disappear from Franklin County and WHY doesn't anyone in my family know any of them, or where they went? And, WHY did Nathaniel Hawkins disappear into oblivion, having the details of his life seemingly erased, and leaving nothing to his six children? I have so many questions about all of these things, and in many cases, have begun to discover some answers, and as I do, it is my intention to continue to bring those answers out of the darkness and INTO THE LIGHT.