Thursday, March 19, 2009

Genealogy, the economy and me

For the last year and a half, my drug of choice has been genealogy, double stacked with a heavy dose of blogging. Every odd slivered moment that I could scrape together, was blithely spent on getting that next “high.”

The ability to peek into what was happening in the world of other geneabloggers, people who felt and wrote about genealogy, like me, was a heavenly respite from a world where people rolled their eyes the minute the subject of anything deader than their nightly dinner came up in conversation. Ah, the pure joy of finding such a world.

But about the time that Facebook became the new nerve central for the genealogical blogging world, I realized that I had taken a wonderful hobby, and managed to make it into a blind obsession. So realizing this new step would take me, now a mainlining Internet junkie, to a new level of addiction, I wisely abstained.

Then those sly dogs at Blogger, who must have seen the signs of waning addiction, figured out a way to ramp up my need for a fix by creating the innocuous gadget “Followers.”

My whole day would hang on the number of followers that my blog had. If someone added themselves to my following, I was in heaven. If someone deleted themselves from the group, I was in despair. Why or why had they left me? Up and down, like a kid on a runaway roller coaster, my emotions hinged on the “love” that readers gave me. (And it was such great love!)

But something happens to you when you start assigning your own self worth based on the views of others. You get a little nutty - okay, maybe a lot nutty. Realizing all of this, I started backing off.

And then, the unthinkable, the economy collapsed, making my little obsession seem like, a trivial self-indulgence. I watched all around as family and friends lost jobs or were laid off. In my own case, wages were frozen, bonuses evaporated (if only I had been an AIG gangster), and I now I faced the week-to-week terror of hearing, “I’m sorry but your services are no longer required.”

A brown bag and an index card that said, “Just breathe,” sat at the ready as I checked my ever-shrinking retirement portfolio. (It’s become so small that I don’t think portfolio is the proper term – maybe pofo?)

And God bless the ever present cable news, which by now had become my new preoccupation. The media continually told me, lest I forget, how bad things were. I would listen on my lunch hour, at supper time, and before I went to bed. It was like watching a train wreck. You knew better than to watch, but you were still irresistibly drawn to the spectacle.

I did then, what I always do when things get rough; I became a turtle, pulling into my shell. I didn’t want to read, I didn’t want to write, I just wanted to be left alone. I wanted to mope. (Have I mentioned I need long periods of reflection time to figure things out?)

And then, I don’t know, the sun came out the other morning, and I looked at the tiny daffodil shoots popping up through the ground, and I said “enough, already.” It’s time for action. It’s time to do something. It’s time to breathe.

So I’m looking for some balance - a little bit of writing, a little bit of genealogy, a little bit of exercise. I want to spend some time with family, some time cleaning out my office, some time figuring out how to work smarter, some time to plant flowers and maybe even some time to read a book.

And that my friends, is what I intend to do. If I am MIA from blogging and the geneablogging world for stretches of time, I hope you’ll understand.

I leave you with two quotes for this week’s positive thinking. The first by Thomas Merton, who said,

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”

And this one by Frank Herbert,

“There’s no secret to balance. You just have to feel the waves”

Here’s hoping that each of you can “feel the waves” and find your own balance.


Dorene from Ohio said...

You have captured the essence of the love of genealogy! Glad to hear from you...and we love your posts,
whenever the wave hits :)

Gini said...

Right on...I completely get it! You took the words right out of my mouth, enjoy some time to yourself, your family and finding that balance, it's exactly what I need to do too. Wishing you all the best.

Becky said...

Terry, I empathize wholeheartedly with all points you've made. I've been "doing" genealogy research for 25 years but there were times when I didn't or was unable to actually "do" research for long periods, several times it was years that passed before I returned to it.

Life, and your psyche, throw curve balls sometimes that allow (or force) you to re-evaluate priorities and to find and adjust the balance.

Having retired early 18 months ago I can definitely relate to seeing your pension plan disintegrate. That definitely "forces" a re-evaluation of everything!

Best of luck to you, and I enjoy your posts... whenever.

Thomas MacEntee said...

I totally agree! As Dorene said you really have captured the essence of the genealogy blogging world - this is coming from me who's been unemployed since Oct 2008 and wants to leave the ugly world of global law firms for a profession in genealogy!

Be glad you haven't found Twitter yet. It is the crack of the genealogy world. Trust me. Just say no.


Thanks loyal friend, for your comments and insight. You always manage to "perk" me up.

Good luck with your own "balancing" act. Let me know how you make out in your efforts. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

I hope you are feeling better. Thanks for your support and words of wisdom. I hoping I will some day be able to retire and work more on my "little addiction." It's not looking good right now.

You are a natural leader. You are already a force in the genealogical world. It makes perfect sense to me that you would make the jump into professional genealogy. I wish you luck. (Plus thanks for the warning about Twitter - I figured as much.)

Terry S.

footnoteMaven said...

Where to begin. Screaming from behind my monitor the other day, my husband stopped by my office to inquire, "Isn't this supposed to be fun?" He has a knack of reducing everything to its base qualities. "You work harder and longer than any employee I've got."

My soon to be daughter-in-law was afraid to friend me on facebook because she only had 79 friends to whatever number it is I have now.

You are endowed with massive amounts of common sense. Your instincts are spot on. I have been doing the same soul searching and I have my book on order.

It isn't the number of facebook friends or Blogger followers you have, it's the number of people in your life who know you, really know you, and care about you!

Go, increase those numbers. We can all survive at your pace. We understand. If you ever get to Seattle, call me. We'll do lunch.




Ah, this is why you are one of my favorite people. Thank you for your wise words (and your invitation).


FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed