23 January 2012

Caps for Sale - the State of My Life

Courtesy of http://books.google.com
Someone on my Facebook page asked how many hats I currently wear. Quite a few, as it turns out. Here on my blog I write about things readers might find interesting. To me, my own activities don't fall into that category, but I've had a few people chastise me about that, so here it is.

There is a lot of negative buzz in the genealogical community lately about people overselling themselves, and I certainly don't want to come across that way because in reality I don't think anything I'm doing is all that spectacular. I myself am happy with it, but I'm not out to impress anyone. Then again, it seems kind of dumb that you can read my blog and have no idea what I'm doing. I always say that if you carry modesty too far it becomes an egotistical thing. A person who purposefully does not share anything about him/herself can seem closed-off, and for what purpose?

Courtesy of http://www.networkoffood.com/pies
So, yes, I've got my finger in countless pies these days. It goes in cycles. I take on lots of projects, work really hard for two-three years, nearly burn out, then take a year off to recover. Right now I'm in a heavy work phase and will be for another two years. I have already decided that from then on I will only accept one major volunteer position at a time. Remind me at the end of 2013 somebody!

Love
Being a wife and mother is my favorite thing in the whole world. With two kids in college and one in high school the responsibilities have eased up over the years, but I always put family first.* Home is where I relax, feel centered and can gaze lovingly at my sons and husband when not yelling at them about socks in the middle of the room or toilet seats in the wrong position. My boys are what sustain me. And my friends brighten my days and I am blessed to have so many that I love.

Courtesy www.dtic.mil/dpmo
Job
I work for the American History Company, under contract with the US Army, and have posted about this before. This takes up the bulk of my working time. It is extremely rewarding and my co-workers are the best! I wake up in the morning and start thinking about the cases I'm working on and next thing you know I'm at the computer. Whoosh! Not bad for someone who has trouble getting started in the morning.  I also take on various genealogical research projects, most of which are Massachusetts immigration/emigration jobs.

Volunteering
It may be voluntary for some people, but I feel obliged to give back to a very generous and nurturing genealogical community that welcomed me when I was a n00Bish genealogist. I count myself among the most fortunate people on the planet, having a big warm house, the aforementioned well beloved family, a job I adore, fuzzy cat, dear friends, and several ongoing knitting projects beckoning. Most people on this earth don't know where their next meal is coming from. I never forget about those people. Millions of them, all over the place, suffering in ways I can't even imagine. Is it guilt that makes me volunteer then? Or is it a way to return some of my good fortune to the universe? I don't know. I just know I feel compelled to give my time in some way that benefits others.

That's how I got talked into accepting the position of president of the Massachusetts Genealogical Society (MGC). I have a most spectacular executive board who greatly assist me in the work MGC is trying accomplish--educating the public about legislation that threatens to limit the access to public records. We put on an annual genealogy seminar each year and this year promises to be the best yet.

I've also been working for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) for a year or so, and as of January 1st joined the FGS Board of Directors. Being on the board means added responsibilities, so I'm also the head of the Nominating Committee, on the Conference Planning Committee and editor of the FGS Voice Newsletter. I just published the first issue in the new format yesterday and am hoping subsequent issues won't have so many, umm, issues, as this first one did.

Lest I not neglect the New England Chapter of APG, I should mention that I am currently in charge of publicity for them. I should not be doing this, don't do it well, and am looking for someone else to take it over. Anyone?

Speaking Engagements
I reluctantly accept offers to speak, and have done so a few times in the past few months. I've been a guest on GeneaBloggers Radio on Veteran's Day talking about my military research, and on FGS Radio-MySociety on January 7th, about transitioning new boards with grace and aplomb. I hate listening to myself since it appears that the only word I've ever fully mastered was "ahhh," but I also like to push myself to do things that make me feel uncomfortable, and that definitely qualifies. I also gave what might have been a fine PowerPoint presentation to the Shrewsbury Women's Club, but the projector experienced technical difficulties, so I ended up just talking and gesticulating grandly for a very bored audience! Remind me to tell you about the lady who was stalked by a genealogist that wanted to harvest one of her kidneys.

Publications
I've had a couple of articles printed about me: one in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette and the other in the APG Quarterly, but as for publishing something myself, I still haven't managed it. I've got a little piece I'm going to submit to the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists 2012 Writing Competition that I hope will get published, even if it doesn't win. Some day I'm hoping to actually write up my own family instead of only shoving things into folders and updating the genealogy database. Well, there is this blog, of course. I guess that counts as a publication.

Transferware Collectors Club Seminar
Baltimore, MD, October 2011
Fun Things
Lest I give the impression that I never have fun, I should mention that I belong to a very good community chorus. I also adore knitting, being particularly excited about the colors and textures of the yarn, not so much about the finished garment. I try to do things that are good for me, so I have an appointment to walk with a friend every Mon-Weds/Fri, and go to the gym on Tues/Thurs/Sat. I enjoy kayaking immensely. And so I can play dress-up without bankrupting the household I also sell Mary Kay products. I play word games on my iPhone, do crossword puzzles, love to travel, and am intending to create scrapbooks for all three sons one fine day (before they have kids of their own). I also collect blue and white Staffordshire pottery and go to a yearly Transferware Collectors Club conference with my dear sister. Part or all of the family goes on an annual week-long camping trip in New Hampshire where we meet up with old friends and enjoy the simple life. I love to take family vacations in exotic locations. See? I have fun!

Things I Don't Do Anymore
Re-Dedication of the Col. Timothy Bigelow Monument
Worcester Common, Massachusetts, May, 2008
I did not renew my commission as a Notary Public. I no longer walk 30 miles a week. I won't train for an Avon Walk for Breast Cancer again because it ruined my feet. I don't sew any more. I have a hard time reading non-genealogical books because my time is stretched too thin. I don't have many dinner parties. I haven't cross-country skied in two years. I've given up on home decorating until the last son is out of the house. In fact, the housework, in general, has slid a bit. I haven't done a thing with the DAR since my "reign" as regent of the Worcester chapter ended. I don't sing in the church choir, nor do I make it to church very often. I'm no longer the Church Historian or on the Church Council. I am no longer on any school councils or committees. I do not currently volunteer for APG. My garden is sadly neglected, to our neighbors' chagrin.

Priorities
When you have this much on your plate, you have to constantly try and trim it down. You end up drilling down to the essence of everything you do. If you aren't careful it can be to the detriment of relationships and productivity. You notice the first subheading I listed was Love. You could take all of the other subheadings combined and they wouldn't equal that one. Love is the meaning of life. If anything were to threaten that, I would readily eliminate something else to compensate. I'm so lucky to also love my work, and those that I work with. I'm one lucky lady, that's for sure.

Feedback
Do you think this post is boastful, arrogant or publicity-based? Does it seem self-serving? I'm curious what people think about this one because it is different from my others. Let me know your thoughts!

* Except the time I went cross-country skiing with Jude and left 12-year old Nathan at home sleeping feverishly. God forgive me!

With my boys at the top of Mt. Washington, during a camping trip in 2003.


15 comments:

DianaR said...

What a great post - I do like reading about what other people do! Also, I loved the trip down memory lane with the book - I think Captain Kangaroo used to read that book to us :-)

Midge Frazel said...

All hats look good on you!

Skip Murray said...

Polly,
I LOVED this post! So nice to get to know you a little more!
Skip

Chris Staats said...

Polly,

At least in my opinion, posts, statuses, tweets, or *gasp* personal conversations are not boastful, arrogant, or self-serving - people are. You're posts are not those things simply because you are not. Certainly some things are lost in any written medium - inflection, comedic intent, or just poor self-editing due to the fact that your brain fills in things other people cannot know. However, despite those limitations, I think it's next to impossible change your true voice - at least without considerable and deliberate effort.
Okay - off the soapbox and more to the point: I think it is really interesting to here what other people do. I liked reading about your activities, and ..damn...I guess I'm not as busy as I thought!

Polly Kimmitt said...

Diane, I'm so glad to hear you mention Capt. Kangaroo! I said the same thing on FB today! Wondered if I was hallucinating, though. Guess not!

Nancy said...

Since I really don't know you at all, I found this post very interesting. Definitely not boastful or arrogant. You live a very full life!

Midge Frazel said...

That book is a "Reading Rainbow" section.

Cheryll Toney Holley said...

That was a wonderful post and I enjoyed reading about you in the APG Quarterly. I belong to NEAPG and have seen you but have never had a conversation with you. Perhaps one day?

Cheryll

Ginger Smith said...

Polly thanks for sharing. I love reading about what people are doing in both their personal and professional lives and it's especially refreshing to hear about your "extracurricular" activities!

Sheri Fenley said...

Polly Dahling,
I started writing a comment and it got to be a thesis so I have responded to you and your concerns over at my blog.

Polly Kimmitt said...

Hi Cheryl! Yes, I know both your name and face but we've never actually met or talked. Must fix that!! Maybe at the Feb. meeting?

Polly Kimmitt said...

Sheri, all I got was a "We're all sick" message. Hope you're better soon! I look again in case it's delayed.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Polly, I don't know you personally so it was very nice to find out who you are!

I like that you are now a well-rounded person for me, not one-dimensional, name only, genealogist Polly!

In this internet world where we only "meet" virtually, it's terrific to find out a little bit more about someone you admire.

Good post!

Jacqi said...

Polly, I don't know you, so can't fully answer your concluding question. I found your blog via the latest post on Sheri Fenley's blog, and found it quite interesting.

I am wholeheartedly with you on the first several paragraphs of your post, especially your sections labeled "love" and "volunteering.

I can relate to that reticence to write about one's own activities. However, you do need to keep in mind that readers for whom your posts particularly resonate will inevitably, at some point, be curious to know about you, the person. If you want to write about what your readers wish to know, you will have to face up to that fact, bite the bullet and write.

Can you help it if you are a fully-engaged individual?

Sheri Fenley said...

Sorry about that - the post is up now -

http://sherifenley.blogspot.com/2012/01/open-response-to-dahling-polly-kimmett.html