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I wrote this post for Terry Thornton’s Getting to Know You writing challenge at Hill Country of Monroe County . Thanks Terry!

I am a 38 year old woman, the eldest of 3 sisters, grew up in New Jersey as the child of hippie parents. I am married with 3 sons, and now live in a sweet home three blocks from the beach, where I feel very blessed to have the love of family and friends, and the luxury of time and resources to follow several creative pursuits. I work helping people with computers, giving private lessons, and helping people organize and enjoy their photographs, family history and living spaces. I also enjoy sewing, scrapbooking, hand embroidery, and many other crafty projects. I feel like I have found my life’s purpose in helping other people by using my creative abilities. Whether it is researching, listening and recording information, organizing photos or helping people deal with the clutter of their lives so they can enjoy the things that are precious, I am happily working, and continually rewarded with the positive responses of the people I work with. My goals in writing this blog are to share my work with our family, friends, and anyone else who shares a love of family stories and history. I believe there is a great deal of comfort to be found in sharing stories. Doing this research, writing about it, and documenting it brings me so much joy. Many cousins who were previously unknown to me have stumbled on my family history while searching for the name of their own loved ones. Also, many of my family members are very grateful for my work in shedding light on the lives of our ancestors. I hope that people are encouraged to ask questions of their own family, and record the stories so they will not be lost, whether it is done the old fashioned way with ears and a pen, or with digital audio and video.

Brightest: Letting his Freak Flag Fly This is my best work, because I felt confident in writing it that I could tell some hard truths but with compassion, that I could observe my father’s dazzling brilliance and devastating failure from another perspective than that of a hurt child.

Breeziest: Mother’s Day
I’ve never tried to be funny on my blog, and don’t even think I have a lot of funny stories to share – but this post seemed sprightly, as I was delighted with my lovely cards and my Happy Mother’s Day when I wrote it.

Most Beautiful: One Woman – “Nanny” Mary Eliza Mason Stewart 1871-1965 I think it is most beautiful because it presents a beautiful life story of the woman who is considered the foundation of my family, whose beauty was shown with her love and hard work.

I have a history of exchanging letters with friends and family since I sent my first letter at age seven. I think of my blogs and social networks in the same way, sharing feelings and news (albeit a lot of old news), and I enjoy learning about other people’s lives through their blogs, for the same reason I love reading biographies and history. Though I don’t use the web to air a lot of “dirty laundry” I openly share a great deal of my personal life. For many years I have been an information resource for many people, and even though each life is unique, the themes and feelings are generally commonly shared among all people. So I share my frustrations and joys, questions and answers in the hopes that the connections I make with other people will be a blessing to both of us. Also, I hope to let others know that painful pasts and sad family stories don’t have to be a source of shame. The process of closely examining the pain and sadness can give us the strength and courage to change the end of the story.

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