My life, my mind, and my heart have been in limbo for a while now, waiting for direction.
How do I feel about family history- something I’ve focused on intensely for over 3 years and have been working on since the 1980′s?
- written 133 posts about it
- spent a lot of time at the Family History Center as a volunteer director
- developed a system to organize beginners and unorganized genealogy enthusiasts
- created a website that could really serve them
- joined the I ASK (International Association of Story Keepers) cause
…and I’ve seen the bottom drop out of all of it when my world turned upside down in April.
For the first time in 26 years I’ve had to work outside of my home to provide where my husband always had. I’ve been incredibly blessed to never have to worry about leaving my children. But I’ve had promptings for over a year to develop my online business so that I could support my family if needs be without leaving my home for more than a couple of hours at a time doing consultant (paid!) work.
But for a while now I’ve questioned the value of my gifts and if people really do need and want what I’m naturally drawn to – the stories of a person’s life that is collected in documents and pictures, researched to bring out life’s lessons, and ultimately shared and archived in stories to share with family and friends.
The real question was: if nobody else was interested was I fulfilled enough to continue down that path? I was working with people so I knew there really were people who needed me, but what I wanted was a business partner, someone to pick me up when I doubted.
I thought the answer was no. My energy was wrapped up in survival and a multitude of distracting thoughts and emotions from sun-up ’til sundown.
Then the Universe conspired to help me out and to teach me, or better yet to save me from myself.
I spent five hours on Saturday cleaning a 10 bedroom house on the ocean. I had time to reflect. Lots of it. And I was paid very well which presented a dilemma: work for money or find a way to get paid doing what you love?
I felt nothing as I worked. Sometimes that’s good. It’s wonderful to have the space where no emotions come to hijack your energy.
I was invisible to the people who were checking out the house - a house that slept 20 and was rented out mostly to wedding parties at $7,000. per week. Maybe it was $10k?
It struck me as funny that my whole life was wrapped up in making sure that people, the living and the dead, know that they are valued and NOT forgotten, yet there I was, serving people who, when crossing my path on the one day that life presented an intersection for us to meet and greet, I was the one who saw the opportunity.
I accepted the unspoken label of “the hired help”, and am old enough not to have been bothered by it. I work hard no matter what the job is, and this job was no different.
Then I came to the second floor foyer where there was a massive built-in bookcase that bothered me enough with its disheveled appearance to want to spend some time with it. I organized and righted beautiful, old books as I made my way from the top to the bottom of two, six-foot-long shelves that were filled with at least 20 photo albums of pictures dating back at least 70 years. The pictures hadn’t been mounted on acid-free paper and were browning and crumbling. I tidied them up as my thoughts drifted to the person(s) who’d valued them enough to organize them and put them in a book, and was saddened to realize that they had so much history in them that would be lost in a very short time if they weren’t digitized and put on cd’s and possibly online. Old and young walked by them every day as they were making memories of their own, too busy to stop, pull one off the shelf and appreciate the strangers living on their pages.
That was why I was there in that house. I knew it.
I was the only one whose focus that whole day was on the memories made in that house by generations of parents and children whose joy and laughter permeated the walls and floated in as effortlessly as the ocean breezes carried the curtains.
But Winter is coming.
Those windows will be shut soon to those memories.
Nobody will walk by those books, sit down, peruse the pages and open their hearts to the eyes that stare at them from the well-worn photographs. Eyes that plead to connect and have their stories told.
It wasn’t that nobody else would value those stories.
It was that I was going to be the only one to remind them to tell them.