Posts in Family History
My Dad and StoryWorth

I have been blessed with an exceptional father. He is faithful, hardworking, patient, deeply caring and sensitive. He has learned to cleverly mask his caring and sensitive traits as well as the uninvited emotions that come with them with a great deal of silliness, sarcasm and humor, so unless you know him well, you might miss his tender side! Since Father’s Day is Sunday, I’m going to share three photos and a few details and thoughts that surface when I look at them and think about my Dad. 

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Double the Network!

Several years ago at a family reunion, my brother, Cougar gave us a new way to think about our extended family (which now consists of more than 35 people, spread across five states) so that we could more readily call upon the love and concern that we have for one another. He asked us if we remembered the Verizon Wireless commercials, where the Verizon Guy, in his signature gray jacket, stood holding his flip phone. He was always surrounded by dozens of people, which visually represented the wireless network, or the support that you would have and feel if you were a Verizon customer. The question, posed by the test guy in most of these commercials, which became the subject of countless jokes, was, “Can you hear me now?” which of course is always a resounding YES, IF you’re lucky enough to own a Verizon phone plan.

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My “Family” Bathroom

About a year ago, I was preparing to write a book. In fact, I was DONE writing the book and was working on photography and final details, when I found out the entire project had been canceled. Details are here. Life moves on and for most of last year I simply forgot about all that work I had done, but now as I am preparing again to teach at RootsTech, I'm remembering and thinking and deciding what I want to do, and I've decided that I simply want to share what I wrote—here on my blog! I mean, duh. Why not? In fact, even though I am NOT a graphic designer, I might even figure out how to flow all this content with images so that the individual chapters/projects/essays would be easy to print for anyone who wants a hard copy—if this is you, leave me a comment!

So, without further delay, Here is the introduction to my (almost) book, with no title ...

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How to get a FREE pass to RootsTech 2017

I'm NOT sure why I haven't blogged RootsTech 2017 yet, especially because it is now less than a month away—Ack. I can be such a procrastinator! Anyway, RootsTech, the most awesome family history and technology conference and trade show will be held February 8-11 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. I am attending and teaching (again) because it's fast becoming one of my FAVORITE things to do all year. And, the BEST part? I have a FREE full-event pass to give away. All you have to do is ...

1. Check your calendar/availability and make sure you really can go.
2. Check your travel options to make sure you can get there. 
3. Leave me a comment telling me which of the keynote speakers shown above is most interesting or exciting for you. Note: Their bios are below. 

I will be promoting this giveaway on some social media channels, but you must leave a comment here to WIN. I'll select a winner by the middle of next week. 

This FREE PASS is a $299 value and includes the Innovator Summit (the first day of the event), over 200 classes, all general sessions + Keynotes, RootsTech classes, getting started classes, full access to the Expo hall and all evening events. 

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The Dash

On my trip to Croatia and Slovenia last year, our tour director would begin each day on the bus with a story or thought of some kind. When he read The Dash one morning, I asked him for a copy. It's the kind of prose I like. It rhymes, has a catchy rhythm to it and it conveys a thoughtful message. 

Last fall, I took my Mom with me to an event in Wisconsin and we visited Campbellsport, where her grandparents lived and raised 10 sons (the oldest was my grandfather). I knew my mom would enjoy this trip and I would enjoy taking her, but I wasn't prepared for how much I LOVED being there. Campbellsport is a small town, that hasn't experienced much growth over the years, so it was easy to imagine my great-grandparents living there and feel their presence as we located the property that had been their family farm and explored other locations that would have been a part of their lives. For years I've shared what I know about my great grandmother Minnie McDougal. I have access to a decent collection of photos and we have letters she wrote and several other documents and memorabilia, but it still isn't enough. I want more. When I stood at her grave marker with my mom, I thought about her life and what I don't know. Then I remembered this poem and thought about the influence her 1890 - 1950 (dash) has had on my life. I am in many ways the product of her courage, faith and fortitude. I'm certain that I parent in similar ways. I definitely want the same things for my boys that she wanted for hers. And because of what she demonstrated and sacrificed for her family, I have been immensely blessed. 

I'm so tickled that FamilySearch has created the Define Your Dash challenge. I'm going to write more about it tomorrow, but I wanted to share the poem first, so you can reflect on the dash of someone you have loved and lost and consider how much you wish you knew that you don't know. This deficit can become the motivation you need to better define your own dash by writing and documenting personal stories. Read on and stayed tuned. 

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Prepping for RootsTech + Periscope plans

I'm really wanting to be better this year at simply checking in and documenting more regularly what I'm doing and thinking and anticipating. I miss doing that kind of blogging (the just for me and my family kind) because it's so fun to go back to read. This is the first time really since completing the bulk of writing for my *almost* book that I've had the urge to sit down and write. I've been enjoying that wonderful "no deadline" feeling and the freedom to pay more attention to my house and healthy eating and better exercise and the little clean-up and organize projects here and there. I've still got my RootsTech presentation looming, but with all the work I did on my book, it's coming together pretty easily. I uploaded my syllabus last night (late of course) but I'm feeling a sense of relief about that this morning. 

In addition to being a presenter—a very small presenter—I have also had the good fortune of being a RootsTech Ambassador, which means I get to attend the media dinner and sit in really awesome seats for all of the general sessions, so that I can take pictures and post information and updates to social media. This really is a HUGE and exciting event to attend, and it dovetails perfectly with pretty much everything I'm passionate about (scrapbooking, storytelling, family, family history, entrepreneurs and innovation and SUPER inspiring keynote presentations) so it's kind of a Disneyland feeling for three straight days! Anyway, I'm working on my Keynote (powerpoint) slides today and tomorrow and looking forward to seeing my family members, including Clark and his new girlfriend (yikes!) in Utah next week. I fly out on Tuesday and return Sunday. My parents are coming from Seattle, so Darci and Kevin waited to schedule Cache's baptism so that we could all be there -- this makes me extremely happy! 

I feel like I'm slowly figuring out where I want to fit in and what I want to focus on and I like that. The whole rejection thing sucks. I've been fighting those "I'm a loser" feelings, but I'm coming out of it now and I'm getting back to finishing some of the projects I started for the *almost* book and honestly, creating just makes me happy (period.) 

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I'm writing a new book.

It's true and I'm excited, but I need your help!

First, let me tell you how this happened ...
I had the truly awesome opportunity to present a class last February at the RootsTech event in Salt Lake City. I was super nervous, because this was the first time I had presented outside the scrapbooking industry and I wasn't sure if my ideas would resonate with the RootsTech audience, As I've said in my post yesterday, RootsTech was mind-blowing. There were so many people there that even my (first-timer) class was full—standing room only. Once I stood up to teach, the anxiety melted away. I began to talk and there was lots of energy in the room, I realized that the new audience wasn't a problem, because I LOVE photos and stories, and so did they. I was still sharing what I love, just in a new way, so it flowed and I felt surprisingly comfortable. I had tons of support. Geoff flew down to be with me and so did my Mom and Dad—and my Utah family came out in force—even Clark skipped his class and drove up from BYU (about an hour away) and sat on the front row, so mama would have someone to look at if needed! Immediately following my presentation, several people came forward to ask questions and make comments. I was on cloud nine—I had that unmistakable post-presentation feeling of immense relief and I was suddenly very HUNGRY. As I made my way out into the hall, a woman stepped forward and introduced herself as the acquisitions editor for Cedar Fort Publishing and said, "I'd like you to put what you've just shared into a book." Woah. I was momentarily stunned, but then I came to my senses and said something like, "I don't think so, I'm trying to retire!" We chatted for a moment and I then I told her we could talk later and gave her my phone number.  

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