Perspective

Ocean dreaming 001More about my “retirement” journey. After I retired in 2011 I bought a 6 month subscription to Ancestry.com with the intention of researching my maternal grandmother’s family. One of my cousins in England has researched my father’s family so I wanted to go in a different direction. I was born in England and, as far back as I know, both sides of my family are English so I was pleased by the vast number of UK records that are available on Ancestry.com. I plunged into my research with great enthusiasm and quickly became immersed in it – it was like solving a puzzle or investigating a mystery. Unfortunately, I reached a wall that I couldn’t break through and I gave up on the research.

I like to read mysteries and, during the past year, I discovered a relatively new sub-genre – genealogical mysteries – and I’ve read quite a few different authors. The feature character in these stories is always either a professional or amateur genealogist who, while doing family history research, becomes embroiled in an unsolved mystery that is still affecting people in the present time. While reading one of these mysteries recently I remembered how much I had enjoyed researching my family history. As I read about all the tools and methods the character used in his/her research, it occurred to me that there is a lot more to genealogical research than I had realized and I decided I should give it another try.

This time I want to study the tools and methods of genealogical research. I bought another 6 month subscription to Ancestry.com and joined the National Genealogical Society so I would have access to the educational resources they offer to their members. Ancestry.com also offers excellent information and tutorials. I’m studying an online “basics” course that NGS offers in order to become familiar with the terminology and validation requirements of this type of research. NGS recommended joining a local genealogical society so I was pleased to discover that there is one here that meets monthly. Who knows, maybe I’ll  do family research for other people at some point. Maybe I’ll write a genealogical mystery! I’m not thinking too far ahead; I’m just following my interest.

I’ve received an unexpected benefit from my research. I call it perspective. A strange feeling comes over me when I’m looking at old documents – birth, death and marriage certificates, military records, obituaries – a simultaneous awareness of both my importance and my complete insignificance. I’m important because I’m doing my part in carrying on a genetic chain and I’m insignificant because, in 50 years, no one will remember me. At my age, most of the things I’ve done in my life are already fading into the mists of history. I can imagine someone in the future looking at one of my drawings or reading something I wrote and wondering what kind of person I was. I like to think it will be a great-grandchild researching our family history – maybe even reading all the information I am gathering now.

Genealogical research gives me a much broader perspective on life than I usually have and reminds me that 99% of the things I worry about are not important. The only thing that really matters is how I experience my daily life – with gratitude, kindness, laughter, love, friendship, and prayer.

Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.  ~Omar Khayyam

matanzas-3-29-16

Life is good

See more of my artwork and books at Lynda Linke Productions

 

Advertisements

Things that bug me – Part 2

How are things on your endFull disclosure: I don’t have an iPhone, I don’t text, and the only reason I have a cell phone at all is for emergency use. I leave it in my car and turn it on when I go out so that my Mom can reach me in an emergency or a friend I’m meeting can let me know if they’re delayed or I can call AAA or 911. That’s it!

I’m fascinated by all the people who are walking around talking or texting on their cell phones. What on earth are they talking about? It’s almost as if people can’t be alone with their own thoughts for more than a minute. Young people used to be the biggest culprits but now it seems like people of all ages are addicted to their cell phones. I don’t use the word addiction lightly but, I can’t think of another way to describe this phenomenon. I fully recognize the advantages of technology and of being able to easily connect with people but, as with anything, we have to be the ones who are in control. Fire is a wonderful thing but, it can also burn the house down.

I don’t care if people want to talk or text incessantly (as long as they’re not behind the wheel or not paying attention to where they’re walking). I think it’s weird but, it’s none of my business and it doesn’t affect me personally. It does affect me personally when it interferes with my enjoyment of a meal or a visit with a friend. I am annoyed when the conversation is continually interrupted by the text message signal or ringing of my companion’s phone – I especially hate it when I sit down with someone and they place their phone right on the table like an uninvited third-party. I am offended when my companion’s eyes dart to their phone whenever they receive a text. Not only is the phone an uninvited third party, but what it has to say is apparently more interesting than the conversation we are having! Call me overly sensitive but, I find that to be rude and insulting. When I meet someone for a meal or I’m engaged in a social interaction of any type, I will give my full attention to the person I’m with and I want the same in return. I’ve even seen couples, who appear to be on a date, so focused on their cell phones that they hardly speak to each other! My feeling is, unless you’re a professional who has to be on call, your children are with a sitter, someone in your immediate family is in the hospital or you’re expecting a very important call – you don’t need to answer the damn phone! Put it on vibrate (better yet, silence it) and leave it in your purse or pocket. Enjoy your meal and pay attention to the person who has taken the time out of their life to sit down and break bread with you.

Granted, I admit that I have almost a feeling of sanctity about sharing a meal with someone. It could be because when I was growing up meal time was family time – we didn’t have the TV on and we didn’t read at the table. We talked to each other. We paid attention to the food we were eating, which, in turn, showed respect to the person who prepared or provided it. I brought my son up the same way. As a busy single working mother mealtimes were often the only chance I had to give him my full attention. We didn’t have cell phones back then but, if the house phone rang I said “Let the machine get it”.

Maybe it doesn’t bother you if your companion is constantly responding to their phone, maybe the people in your life don’t mind if your call or text is more important than the conversation you’re having with them. Maybe you’re fine with your kids having their phones on the table during meals. In that case feel free to blow off everything I’ve said here and call me an antiquated curmudgeon. On the other hand, if anything I’ve said rings even the faintest bell with you (no pun intended), then it might be time to reexamine your phone habits. There are many articles online about studies regarding the negative effects of cell phone use on personal interactions and society at large. Consider trying to be more present in the moment and not allowing the digital world to define every aspect of your life. Focus your attention on whoever you are with. And while you’re at it, make sure that you have some quiet time every day. Listen to your thoughts.  Go for a walk – you can take your phone for emergencies but silence it – and listen to the birds, pay attention to your surroundings, greet people you pass along the way.

You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.  ~Anthony Bourdain

out-for-lunch-4-11-16

Liberty always gives her undivided attention when food is involved!

See more of my artwork and books at www.lyndalinke.com

Small and not so small blessings

Lynda Linke logoJuly 8th will be the fifth anniversary of my “reinvention” journey – the day I retired from the working world and began living life in a different way than I had for the previous 35+ years. Years ago I read somewhere that retirement for “Boomers” is different from their parent’s retirement and that many of us like to think of it more as an opportunity for “reinvention”. That’s a fairly typical Boomer way of looking at things – slightly self-centered and egotistical, goal-oriented, forward thinking, and always striving to be different from previous generations. We’re not going to have our parent’s retirement! Perish the thought!! We might even be the first generation that really didn’t believe we would grow old, or at least the most vocal about it. Remember “don’t trust anyone over 30”? How about The Who talking about “My Generation”? Now that we’re all in our 60’s and 70’s, it’s our turn to confront the challenges of aging and, once again, we are determined to experience it in our own way.

Although I’m sure there are plenty of people in my age group who are happy to spend their retirement playing golf or fishing (nothing wrong with that!), I have read interesting stories about people who are using retirement as a time in their lives when they can create a different lifestyle. Many people have chosen to start a small business after retiring, often completely different from the careers in which they worked for 30 or 40 years. Maybe for the first time in your adult life you’re free to explore interests for which you never had time. You might make a radical lifestyle change – perhaps you always wanted to live on a houseboat or maybe you’re fulfilling the dream you’ve had since you were 18 of traveling the country in an RV. I just read a story about a couple who spent a year visiting all 59 national parks!

Although I can’t say I have created a radically different or unique lifestyle in the way some people have, it is certainly different from the one I used to have. For one thing, the reduction in stress and responsibility has allowed me to change in some important ways. One change, which is a small blessing in itself, is a real understanding that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing at this point in my life. I have accepted my current limitations and restrictions and I’m content. That’s a biggie for me because I’ve always been restless and thinking about the next “thing”. I’m not living an exciting, adventurous life but I appreciate the small blessings of being able to immerse myself in a good book, walk with Liberty, have lunch with a friend, take my Mom on a vacation, go to the beach, get away on my own for a few days and a myriad of other simple pleasures.

I started out 5 years ago with a long to-do list, which is still only half completed. It’s been a small blessing to find I don’t care about accomplishing the rest of the goals I set for myself back then! I’ve learned some things about myself and one of them is that I’m not ambitious enough to be a successful artist or author or to start a business, and that’s okay because an important part of my journey has been learning to accept myself. I no longer feel like I have to be accomplishing something important every day. There are places I’d like to visit, things I’d like to experience and a soul mate I hope to meet before I die, but I don’t have the anxious restlessness I once had about those things – and for a former chronic malcontent that’s no small blessing.

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ~E.M. Forster

Lake Hall Tallahassee 4-16

Liberty is thankful for the not so small blessing of encountering NO alligators during her recent visit to Lake Hall in Arthur B. Maclay Gardens and State Park in Tallahassee. 

For more of my artwork and books visit Lynda Linke Productions – and don’t forget to like me on Facebook and Twitter!