The smallest of movements Saturday, Dec 29 2012 

As is evident by my delay in posting a new entry I’ve lost a little steam on the ancestry train.

When I first got started on this family history journey there was excitement, exhilaration and anticipation.  What would I find?  How far back could I go?  It’s so easy to get lost in the past.  To become overwhelmed with the history of others that I don’t pay as much attention to myself.  It’s easy to sit at the computer for hours at a time, tracing just one ancestor.  What if I look on this site?  What if I change-up the spelling of their last name?  I can search by their children’s names too.  Maybe I’ll search them to find obituaries or marriage records.  Perhaps I’ll find the smallest of new details.

I follow that path until four hours go by.  I look back on the day and wonder how much more productive activities I could have accomplished.  I could’ve been signing up for a night class, making a new necklace or writing a new blog entry.  I spend 40 hours a week writing on a computer.  Given that I’m sedentary for 8 hours a day why do I choose to remain mostly inactive once I get home?  Whether sitting on the couch watching TV or plopped on a chair doing genealogy research I’m still not moving.  Physically, that is.

I whole-heartedly believe that sometimes moving forward requires looking back.  That we can find strength, hope and inspiration in what’s since passed.  That we may gain insight into the choices someone else made and reflect upon our own decisions.  I have found remarkable insight and inspiration in the smallest of family history details that I’ve learned so far.  There are so many stories I yearn to tell that I get overwhelmed at where to start.

I’m sure I am not alone in this quandary and that many other family researchers stumble upon a similar “block” along their ancestry journey.  I’m moving forward, albeit slowly…but at least there’s movement!

The Value of Music: A Timeless Discussion Saturday, Dec 8 2012 

Every time I think about the tragedy of my second great-grandfather’s (Elmer Karchner) death it’s now amplified at the knowledge he once labeled himself as a musician yet died a coal miner.  While the necessity of an occupation change is understandable it only aggravates the frustration I have about my own choices.

As a writer I welcome constructive feedback.  I want to know what my strengths are and what areas need improvement.  If a story leaves you confused or moves you I want to know.  I thrive on honest yet helpful criticism.

As a singer, if you tell me I was off-pitch, lagging behind the accompaniment or just plain okay I’m likely to internalize that criticism into “I am not a singer, no matter how much I may want to be.”  I often wonder why there’s such a drastic shift between writing and music, and how I define myself.

Is there some part of me that is terrified of actually defining myself as a singer?  I call myself a writer without hesitation – without doubt of truth.  Plenty of family and friends commend my writing.  They champion my desire of pursuing writing as a career choice.  But, no one has ever told me, “Why aren’t you singing professionally?”  I’ve been told I have a beautiful voice and people are surprised that such a powerful voice comes out of such a tiny individual.  Yet, those around me aren’t apt to tell me to give up writing and pursue music.

I don’t blame them, after all there’s a part of me that believes it too.  Or else I would’ve found the strength and determination to pursue a career in music if that’s truly what I wanted.  Is it enough just to enjoy singing on a smaller scale?  To see the smiles on my niece and nephews’ faces when I sing to them.  To burst out into song with my car windows rolled down on a perfect Spring day.  To blare a musical theatre soundtrack and sing along with it when the house it empty.

I get fulfillment from both writing and singing.  The difference is…I earn money with the prior.  Even though Elmer Karchner may have found just as much passion for music it wouldn’t have earned him enough money to support his family.  Not at the turn of the 20th century anyway.  I hope that he shared his love of music with his children.  That they gathered around on a Sunday afternoon in Hazleton and played.  Whether he played an instrument or sang I like to imagine Elmer, Miss Mattie and their children joined in song during the holidays; their family and friends surrounding them with love and appreciation.

Your life ended too short Elmer, but your love of music has not died!



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