One month ago, I sat still long enough to listen to my self.  I wanted my family research and blog writing to feel focused and invigorating, not so scattered and exhausting.  I organized my thoughts by participating in the 52 Weeks to Better Genealogy Challenge:

Think about the goals you want to accomplish next year and write them down. What research steps do you want to take? What records would you like to find? Think about the brick walls you’d like knocked down. What things haven’t you done yet and why not?

I created 10 resolutions, guidelines, hopes, dreams–promises to my self.


How am I doing with all that?  Well, the answer is complicated.

I promise to make three genealogical fieldtrips.  FIELDTRIP!!!  YAY!

  1. A road trip to Allegany County, New York, to explore Whitesville, Rushford and Alfred–towns in which my great-great grandparents Ira and Serena Sayles lived and taught.
  2. A visit to Washington, DC where I will lose myself in the National Archives and Library of Congress and the Smithsonian for more records on the Sayles.
  3. Another road trip to Boydton, Virginia, to locate the Dodson Cemetery and to access Mecklenburg County deeds, probate documents and wills for the Sayles and Dodsons.

My field trips are not likely to be realized until the snow stops falling and I am alright with that.

I promise to attend the Writer’s Workshop in Jackson, Wyoming and visit my brother and his wife on the side. 🙂

Plans are in the works!  Dates have been sibling and husband approved.  Onward!

I promise to pass my Ancestor Approved Award forward, creating a list of 10 things I have learned while being my family’s Teller and awarding the AAA to 10 more genealogy blogs that have great content.

I have begun to read and follow other genealogy blogs; my RSS feed is up to 7.  Unfortunately, even that limited reading comes at a cost in time that I find hard to justify daily.  I DO feel much more connected to a larger community, and that provides impetus to keep trying to fulfill this promise.

I promise to roll in technology like my dogs roll in fresh grass, becoming proficient in PollDaddy, Snag It, WordPress, Footnote, and anything else that strikes me as being super cool and relevant to creating digital and print family stories.

A++++ for effort and accomplishment on this promise! for this is what I do instead of reading other folks’ blogs.  I am particularly focused on Snag It, WordPress and Footnote.

I promise to make an editorial calendar for my blog!!!

OH, Yeah.  Have I done this. But I don’t have time to do all that I planned out!!! So this promise has created an ENORMOUS problem for me.  Time for a rephrase!  I will stop the surname research and the posting to Surname Saturday.  I got REALLY off target with this process.  I don’t regret it all; the meandering led me to an incredible distant relative.  I am not able to keep up the pace and do what I feel passionately drawn to, however.  Whew….it feels good to get that off my mind.  🙂  Now I can redo my editorial calendar.


I promise to keep annotating and cataloging the incredible mother lode of primary documents I am privileged to care for.

This task was suffering from my editorial calendar dilemma, but I have been plugging away at it.  I have had to realize that annotating and cataloging is not satisfying unless it leads to understanding and sharing the stories that emerge.  All of this takes more time than I could have ever imagined.  So this promise is a work in progress.

I promise to finish my Civil War Course, David Blight lectures downloaded from Open Yale Courses.

Another casualty of my editorial calendar!  This task is essential to understanding my Minor Papers and the story-weaving of Sayles, Dodsons, Stricklands and Minors–which is promise ten: I promise to sketch out the stories of how the Sayles and the Dodsons, the Stricklands and the Minors were intertwined by the events of the Civil War and its aftermath.

Promises, promises.

Checking in has made me focus on what is working–and what is not even close to working. Overall though the promises are focusing my attention and driving my energy into wonderful places. As Mr. Bacharach said,

Promises, promises, my kind of promises, can lead to joy and hope and love!


  1. You’ve set yourself a high standard! When I first started blogging it seemed like a great – and fairly easy – thing to do. And then I realized just how much time it takes to keep up with a blog AND continue research AND transcribe, evaluate, organize, AND do everything else I did before. It sounds like you’re making good progress, especially since you’re evaluating as you go along. Best wishes to accomplish everything you want to do this year!

    • Aren’t they AMAZING? I know the MIT online courses exist, but have deliberately shunned the options until I finish this course on the Civil War–don’t read as fast as I used to!! 🙂

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