Monday, March 7, 2011

Motivational Monday #35 - The End of the Road - The Beginning of the Journey

I know I have been missing for quite a while now.  Sorry about that!  I previously mentioned the genealogy project I have been working on, and I finished it!  Yes indeed, I put everything on the back burner and just got it done.

When complete, the finished book is amazing (if I do say so myself...) but the amazing part is not the work I did, but the things I learned in the process.

In no particular order, here are some things I learned...
  1. Everyone has highs and lows.  After researching the members of the family I realized each and every one of them had some pretty hard things happen.  Some lost babies, some were betrayed by those they loved, some lost homes and land.  Each of them also had great moments of celebration.
  2. I have many traits in common with those who have gone before me.  This is good and bad, but still true.  I am inventive like my Great Grandpa Tom, but I am also stubborn like his mother Sallie.
  3.  I need to practice being content. For example, as I learned about their lives and all they did, I realized I waste energy on things that will not bring me happiness.  If they could be happy living in a two room wood frame home when they had nine people sleeping there every night, then my spacious home is more than enough and I need to be content, (read thrilled) to be so blessed.
  4. "Character flaws" are not always permanent. I was surprised to see how the people in my family changed over time.  Some of them started out with real problems and ended up making a real difference in the lives of others.  Just because they were dealt a bad hand, did not mean their life was a complete loss.
  5. A good beginning was no guarantee of a good finish.  In contrast to the last idea, some of my relatives started out strong and made really bad choices along the way.  They had to get up everyday and make choices about their life.  Some just did better than others.
  6. Bad things happen to good people.  Things out of their control happened to almost each and every one of them.  How they handled it really determined a lot about the way their life went.
  7. There is joy in family.  While we all have a parent/aunt/cousin/grandparent/in-law that we dislike, the bonds of family and the support we can offer is an amazing gift.  You do not have to be obsessive, but knowing you have a support network who knows you, that is priceless.
  8. Memories are not always fact, but they do shape lives.  After listening to many stories retold by different family members, I realized there is no truth, only perception.  The view of the storyteller made all the difference in the story. What was a tragedy to one, was moment of guilt for another.  What was a success for one was a let down for another. How we look at things defines our memories, not always what happened.
  9. Time continues.  I am sure there are moments in every person's life that they would like to hold onto forever.  In the same vein, I am sure there are moments we would like to move past as quickly as possible.  No matter your view, time will pass.  They say the only constant is change.  I saw this time and again with my family.
  10. Choices have consequences, and those consequences can ripple through time.  I was amazed at how simple little decisions changed the course of history for so many people.  Intended or otherwise, decisions made by family members changed how things happened, and those changes affected my life, generations down. I am grateful for many of the consequences, not so much for others.
Now that the project is finished and I have had the chance to reflect on what I learned, I am really glad I took the opprotunity to get to know my ancestors.  I am also glad I dug deep enough to learn lessons from their lives.

I need to take what I learned and move forward.  I have reached the end of the road when related to this project, but now I must begin the journey of my life. Knowing where I came from and how my life was changed by their actions gives me a lot to think about.  As I look at my children, I wonder how my actions will change things for me.

(Wow, that was a lot to think about on a Monday!)

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