One of the first classes I took was from my dear friend Rhonna Farrer and the lovely (and new friend) Crystal Beutler (You can watch their class here). Rhonna is quick to talk about how Crystal got her started on doing family history and what a beautiful friendship and team they are. They introduced apps (so many amazing apps) and ways to utilize your phone or tablet to work on family history wherever you are. I am still processing how I can use technology more effectively and will watch the class again because; I know I missed a great deal. I'm a paper girl, always have been and most likely always will be, so this feels a little new and foreign-- which is silly considering how much I already do online.
Seeing Rhonna after 8 years of illness, trials and triumphs, I was reminded was how very different we are physically, stylistically, technologically. Yet despite those differences we have the same heart, if you can describe it like that. She once described our relationship as "next door neighbors in the premortal life." She is the kind of friend that no matter the time, we pick up right where we left off. However, I think everyone she knows feels the same way, she has an amazing gift to love.
Rhonna and Crystal's class was great, but I came out of it feeling flat (for lack of a better word), which never happens when I'm with Rhonna. I am always inspired to do better, to be better because of her life and example. I was inspired by their class, but still I couldn't put my finger on my feelings. During the course of our conversation the following day I figured it out.... the spirit, which Crystal immediately recognized. She's amazing.
I know it might seem crazy, but Rhonna's class was the perfect example. Because it was being filmed for a board audience (meaning not just members of our church) they were given certain restrictions one being to not openly talk about the church. I can't remember everything they said, but I know that being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is who Rhonna is and I suspect Crystal as well. She lives our religion without fear, with absolute love for the Savior, and has the extraordinary ability to share goodness. Taking that and limiting that portion left a hole, and perhaps I was the only one to notice it, but I felt it profoundly. Thankfully she and Crystal were able to teach the class again on Saturday with no restrictions... what a treasure!
"We are the bridge builders between the past and the future." (Crystal Beutler) I can't wait to get to know Crystal better.
While I'm on the topic of classes, I will have to tell you that I'm so sad that there isn't a recording of Stacy Julian's class. The room was packed and people were standing and sitting along the perimeter. I don't know how I will be able to describe how much I learned and was inspired. Stacy has written a couple of blog posts about her class that might be a good place to start.... "Jigs Up" and "Escaboodily Bump". If she adds any more I will link them or you can subscribe to her blog, which she recently renamed and it's perfect..."a very fruitful tree" based on her favorite scripture (Doctrine & Covenants 97:8-9).
Things I want to remember:
- I want to meet her great grandmother Minnie (I hope Stacy will share the entire story sometime) because I will always remember the "Minnie Moments".
- How many stories can you bring to life through "things"? An old typewriter, cornhuskers lotion, black jack gum, a jar of pretzels, etc. I need to write these stories.
- Adopting someone else's idea: she talked about a family member's memory of an ancestor and a honey tin. It's not Stacy's memory, but that honey tin now holds a special place in her heart. This is why it's so important for each of us to write our own stories and experiences.
- "Family history Museum". Stacy created this museum in one of her bathrooms where she says she has a "captive audience". In the photo she had a some small scrapbooks and momentos. I don't think it would work at our house, but I love the idea.
- # hashtag the full name of the ancestor to create a unique way of sharing their stories (specifically on instagram) This was a continuation of what Rhonna and Crystal talked about. I immediately went back and started hashtaging the photos. Now if any other family member posts a photo and story they can all be in the same place. (See what I mean about being slow to the media game).
- Amazon. Stacy's description of finding and ordering things off Amazon (like corn huskers lotion) made her a kindred spirit. I giggled when she said sometimes she can't remember what she has ordered, especially when three boxes just arrived and I don't know what's in them.
I cant' wait to walk around my home and look at the things on our walls or accents on our shelves and make sure they have purpose in our overall story. Then I want to find or create things that will help tell our stories. I need to complete assignment #1 and fill in my pedigree chart and make some association with each person.... that would be an interesting post for the future.
I can't talk about every class, but I do want to talk about two of my favorite storytelling teachers that I have heard previously, but unfortunately were not filmed.
I was so grateful to have had the opportunity to visit and get to know Carol Rice (familystorytelling.com: a great website to get you started telling your stories). She is gracious and wise. She is an exceptional woman. She not only inspired new stories to be told in her class, but gave the research about how and why telling our family stories is important. Points I want to remember:
- "We live in stories the way fish live in water, breathing them in and out, buoyed up by them, taking from them our sustenance, but rarely conscious of this element in which we live." Daniel Taylor, Healing Power of Stories.
- You don't have to live it to feel it or experience it to learn it."
- "Knowing my family history gives me a sense of belonging."
- "The choices you make today impact generations."
- 'The cumulative effect of a few perfect moments."
- "The most powerful conversations happen in the car" (The idea of being a carpool mom just became my favorite term. We have had some amazing conversations that I need to record.)
- Adding stories to our family recipes. LIGHT BULB MOMENT for my uninspired Simple Food blog. AlthoughI have added a few stories here and there here, there is so much that I could do with simple food. I'm going to work on that and soon.
- Ball toss. She talked about getting a ball with topics glued on and you toss the ball and talk about the topic. This would be fun at home, if the boys would toss gently.
Go to her free site familystorytelling.com where she has pulled some exceptional storytellers and writers that can help and inspire to tell your story.
Teresa Clark (who also contributes to familystorytelling.com) talked about the danger of a single story. If we only knew the story of one person how limited our view and understanding of the world would be. She suggested that everyone watch this TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The Danger of a single story.
Teresa shared a little bit about her work teaching children/youth how to tell their stories and what powerful experiences she shared. "It's awfully hard to hate someone when you know their stories" one of her students said after learning about a boy that no one liked.
Quotes to remember:
"Everyone needs reminders of the fact of their being on this earth is important and that each life changes everything." Marge Kennedy
"The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative." Bruce Feiler
"...if you want a happier family, create, refine, and retell the story of your family's positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come." Bruce Feiler
"The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order"― Eudora Welty
"You are our living link to the past. Tell your grandchildren the story of the struggles waged, at home and abroad. Of sacrifices made for freedom's sake. And tell them your own story as well- because [everybody] has a story to tell." -George H. W Bush, State of the union Address, 1990