Sunday, June 28, 2015

Oops...I Almost Missed it Again: Celebrating Nine Years of Blogging at The Accidental Genealogist

I can't believe I almost missed it again--my blogiversary! 

I happened to be looking through my blog the other day and realized that today, 28 June 2015 is my ninth anniversary of blogging at The Accidental Genealogist.

I don't know why I can't remember this date. My very first post was on 28 June 2006! I really didn't know what a blog was, what I would write about, or whether anyone would read it! One of my very first readers who reached out to me was Randy Seaver who writes the Genea-Musings blog (which happens to be one of my personal favorites)--thanks, Randy!

Perhaps the date slips my mind because I am busy with other things--you know trying to make a living as a writer, instructor and lecturer. Or maybe it is down to the fact that I haven't been blogging as much as I would like (out of sight, out of mind). It could be that since it the blogiversary date falls in the summer, I am just not as attentive to it as I should be.  

Whatever the reason, it doesn't mean I haven't enjoyed sharing my genealogical finds, or my thoughts about writing family history.  

For the December/January 2015 issue of Internet Genealogy Magazine, I wrote an article entitled "Confessions of a Geneablogger" in which I shared my thoughts on creating, building and maintaining a better genealogy blog.  In this article I confess that I am not always the best blogger I can be.  I list five reasons to blog (giving ancestors a voice, connecting with cousins, inspiring and educating others, engaging with other genealogists, and marketing). I also list five things that stop me from blogging (privacy concerns, the "who cares?' syndrome, technology glitches/issues, finding good images, and fear of rejection). 

You can read the full article by clicking here. Thanks to Ed Zapletal, Editor/Publisher of Internet Genealogy for permission to share the article. (Disclosure: I am a paid freelance contributor to IG).

As I enter my tenth year of blogging, I am thinking about some of my favorite posts from the past nine years.  These include posts for my "Fearless Females" Blogging Prompts Series (which I launched in March 2010 in celebration of Women's History Month, my Sojourn in Slovakia posts (which chronicled my two trips to my ancestral villages in Slovakia in 2010 and 2012), the numerous posts I have written to honor my ancestors, including "Ten Genealogy Lessons I Learned from My Father" and "Ten Genealogy Lessons I Learned from My Mother," and those that covered the topic of writing such as "Free Video for The Write Stuff: Using Nonfiction Writing Techniques to Write a Better Family History"--the post I wrote about celebrating 25 years as a nonfiction writer.  

In addition, as I move into year ten, I hope to blog more regularly than I have been. I have a few ideas in the works, in particular more "how-to" type posts related to the combination of my two favorite subjects--genealogy and creative nonfiction writing. If there are any topics you would like to see me write about on this blog, feel free to leave a comment with your suggestions!

In the meantime, I invite you to take a look at my other professional website (LisaAlzo-Dot- Com) and Immersion Genealogy - a new website I have created to share information and resources about the increasingly popular area of genea-tourism/heritage travel. I have recently starting presenting on this topic. Most recently for a livestream session entitled "No Easy Button: Using Immersion Genealogy to Understand Your Ancestors" for the Southern California Genealogical Society Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank, California earlier this month. Click here to learn more. 

I would like to thank everyone who has followed me and this blog for the past nine years, and especially those who have taken the time to leave comments. Here's to another year! 

Copyright 2015, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Ten Genealogy Lessons I Learned from My Father

“What do I care about those people they’re dead…I didn’t know them.” Imagine my surprise when I received this response from my father, John Alzo, when I once asked him what he could tell me about his ancestors. 

While my dad was not all that interested in genealogy, he said he appreciated that I was and that it was  “a lot of work.”  Since I wrote a post on Ten Genealogy Lessons I Learned from My Mother for Mother’s Day, I thought I would remember Dad on Father’s Day with a similar post.

Daddy and me. Image from family photo collection; held for private use by Lisa A. Alzo 

1. Generosity goes a long way.  My father was one of the most generous people I know. When my father passed away in 2005, one of my cousins, said the following about him: “If all the people in the world could have someone like him in their lives, the world would be a much better place and there would be peace through out.”  I try to be generous with my time and sharing my knowledge with the genealogy community.  

2. It really is important to talk to your relatives. The fact that my father said “he couldn’t help me” made me realize how I should have asked questions of family members while they were still around.  

3. Work hard and then work even harder. Despite the popular perception today of “everything is online,” genealogy research is hard work.  My father worked as a carpenter and used different tools and skills than I do as a researcher and writer, but in a way we are both builders. Dad always finished his jobs through to completion and I feel compelled to do the same. 

4. Smile. My father had a beautiful smile. He was generally a happy guy who loved to laugh and joke. It is important to smile through the brick walls in both genealogy and in life. 

5. Surround yourself with trusted friends. My dad had the same circle of friends from the time he was in high school up until he passed away. Dad taught me how to be a good friend. Many of my closest friends today are fellow genealogists. We bonded because of our love for chasing ancestors, and the common interest has helped us to develop a deeper friendship. 

6. Build a solid foundation. My father’s family was his foundation and there is nothing he wouldn’t do for those he loved. I always keep in mind that the reason I do genealogy is to honor my family—my foundation.

John Alzo (front, center) with his family (L-R): Elizabeth Alzo (mother), Betty Alzo (sister), Anna (Sr. Mary Camilla) Alzo, sister, Helen Alzo (sister), John Alzo (father). From Alzo private photo collection, held for private use by Lisa A. Alzo

7. Love what you do. My father had a real passion for his work and also for play—as in playing basketball.  Things were not always easy on the job or on the court, but Dad stuck it out because he loved carpentry and loved the game of basketball. I am passionate about researching and writing about family history and about inspiring others to learn more about their roots and ethnic heritage.

8. Be proud of your accomplishments, but don’t brag. Dad was a star basketball player in high school and when he played for local fraternal teams in Pittsburgh, and several semi-professional teams. I have Dad’s scrapbook of all of the newspaper articles written about him during that time of his life. Yet, Dad never bragged. I had to ask him about his accolades and only then could I see he was proud of his contributions to the wins of the various teams he played for. I am lucky to be able to work in a field I enjoy, and I feel proud of the work I have done as a genealogist and a writer, but like my father, I don’t always feel the need to talk about it.

9. Appreciate the time you have with living relatives. I spent 14 years as a caregiver for my parents. I don’t regret a day of it. I’m grateful for the times I spent with my mother and father. As genealogists, we spend time and money to seek information mostly about dead relatives, but sometimes we forget about our living family members. It is important to call, video chat, message, and spend time in person just talking with those who are still around. One day it will be too late. 

10. Shoot Your Best Shot! Dad used basketball as a metaphor throughout his life. He met the challenges of life like he would a tough opponent on the court; with one simple phrase in mind: “When the chips are down, shoot your best shot.”  Whether I’m facing a perplexing research problem or just general challenges in my own life, I try to think how my father would tackle a problem or address a situation and try to keep this phrase in mind.

Today is the tenth Father’s Day since my father passed away. Recently, while looking through some family memorabilia, I came across a Father's Day present I made for my dad in 1972. It's a paper heart booklet. On the front cover is a paper cutout of my hand and in the center is my school picture from the third grade.

The inside pages contained some special verses in honor of Father's day which I neatly printed:

"I give my heart to love you Daddy dear.
I give my hand to work for you each year.
I give you myself, my prayers to bring you cheer
On Father’s Day this year."

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I miss you!

Copyright 2015, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved