Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Family History! Wow...

I've been on an especially powerful and productive family history kick lately. It's awesome!! I've had these "kicks" and spurts on and off over the years; once I spent 15 hours on a Friday downloading genealogy files... Talk about a family history burnout! Haha, I could hardly stand to look at a computer after that.

This one has been building up for a few weeks, but now I've started using family history work as an effective distraction from and check on wedding planning (I'm ahead of schedule, but it's hard not to think about "what else can I get done"). It's really more than just a hobby though. Keep reading, and I'll try to explain why.

As far as I'm aware, most of the genealogy has been done on both sides of my family. And at current, it's impossible for me to rectify incorrect submissions to my family tree online (apparently that part of the system will be changed in the next few months!), and I don't have much access to original records myself, so I don't feel like there's much I can contribute to genealogy for now. So I'm working on collecting family history!

The way I see it, genealogy is connecting links of names and vital places and dates (birth, death, etc) in a family - forming the skeleton - and family history is the meat of the matter - the stories and traditions of a family that are passed across generations. That's what I want to work on collecting. Just because I have my great-grandpa's name and birthday doesn't mean that I know anything important about him. If there were 3 important things that you want your descendants to know about you, what would they be? And how will they learn it?

Working on family history has several dimensions: I can form my own footprint, and track down the footprints of others. For years I've collected tickets and mementos from things I do so I could remember them later (I still have yet to organize most of them into a sharable format). I've also been feeling the importance of keeping my own journal, so that's something I've been consist at over time (my most verbose periods are when I'm stressed or have a lot to think about, or I specifically want to write about important events), and I write on this blog as well. For others, I'm trying to track down their stories and learn the details of their lives.

It's hard stuff, trying to discover the lives of people who've been dead for a while, but I'm finding resources. I've visited the Church History Library and Family History Library in Salt Lake City, UT a couple times now, and would love to take a research weekend there sometime. The superficial understanding I gained was that the FHL deals mostly with genealogy and the CHL deals more with the history aspect. I've found some helpful leads already, and can't wait to explore them more!

What am I going to do with all this information? I want to make it available to my family. Some ideas I've had include: creating a "wiki" database of ancestors with helpful links and as much information as I can find on their lives, creating children's storybooks with pioneer and farm/frontier stories from their own ancestors, and organizing binders of sacred experiences my ancestors have had for family reference.

When my great-grandma died last month, I realized that although I had more recent interaction with her than I had with other family members who have died, there's a lot in her life I don't know much about, and no one after me will know about her unless I preserve her memory and pass it on. I am the link. I guess that's what it comes down to. This is my family - my people; they're part of who I am. What else matters more? My faith and my family both tell me who I am and where I come from. Heck, if you want to make a difference in the world, what better place to start than with your family? I suppose that's why I'm doing this, because I love my family: the family I come from, the family I'm in now, and the family that is yet to come. So let's do this!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Keeping Life Exciting

I'm sure I posted a few times last year about my ankle sprain in a dance class; it ties with my work injuries (contusion on my toe and temporary loss of its nail, and laceration of my arm requiring stitches I was too afraid to get) for "the-most-severe-medical-issues-I've-had".

It's seriously been a year... And it's still giving me problems. So I finally went to a podiatrist, which I really should have done right when I got hurt. Found out that it was a high ankle lateral 3rd degree sprain, got a few x-rays, and got a prescription for an MRI later in the week. The doctor said that my ankle clearly hadn't healed, or hadn't healed correctly, and it should have by now. So last week I had my first MRI and went back to the doctor today.

Today we learned that it was not my anterior talo-fibular ligament that was in trouble, it was the posterior talo-fibular ligament that had torn (or maybe the calcaneo-fibular ligament, I've already forgotten which). More problematic than the ligaments though was the bone. Apparently I broke off a piece of the bone and it reattached in the wrong place, and is now threatening to give me arthritis by grinding the joint in places it shouldn't (the tarsal sinus). So in a couple weeks I'm going in for surgery to clear out the bone and scar tissue. My ankle doesn't hurt too much or very often, but it'll clearly give me worse problems down the road if we don't fix it now. The doctor said his goal is to prevent me from needing the joint fused 10-15 years down the road.

[Now I feel a little silly, because after seeing the athletic trainer on campus, my impression was that the muscles around my ankle needed strengthening, so I've been trying to shift my weight onto the ankle more frequently to exercise it. Turns out that the pressure of using my ankle is pushing the misplaced bone into my tissue, which is causing the pain and emergent arthritis. Oops... I wonder if I accidentally exacerbated it over the last 12 months]

So I'm not really in much pain right now, but I'm having the most dramatic health issues (aside from menstruating, because that tends to get dramatic once in a while) I've had so far. It'll be a same-day surgery, so I'll be in the hospital for about half a day. I've managed to get an IV once (I have a thing about needles) so hopefully I'll handle that ok. The doctor said I'll probably be in a cast for 2-3 weeks, which will be a new experience for me too. My dance teacher said I can take the final early, I'll have to let work know, and my fiance and I have begun thinking about how to navigate the 5 flights of stairs to my apartment if I'm on crutches.

How do I feel about all this? I feel somewhat repentant, because I didn't see a doctor right away like I should have; I feel like my little ankle pain/discomfort has become a bigger deal than I thought; I'm a little nervous about the surgery because I don't know what to expect, and I don't like doctors' needles; and I'm not sure how much recuperation I'll need afterward, since I clearly didn't give myself long enough when I was first injured, or what the consequences of that disability period will be. So I've got a couple weeks before surgery to get stuff done, and I'll have to hope for the best! Any advice is more than welcome, since I sure don't know what I'm getting into! One plus side to all this is that I get to broaden my life experience so I can better understand people's situations who are going through the same thing.

Haha: in my most challenging academic semester yet, I'm planning my wedding and undergoing surgery. No excuses for being bored!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Engagement Pictures!

It's been important to me to keep a sense of anonymity on this blog, not so that people I know could say "Oh, you mean so-and-so is the author of that blog? I had no idea!", but rather to prevent strangers from identifying me from my blog. I figure it's a safe precaution for a blog that's so open to the public.

That said, we got our engagement pictures back! And one of them, conveniently, is an artsy shot that doesn't show our faces.

I like the energy of this photo, with my legs in the air, Z on his tiptoes, and us hugging. 
Haha, to be absolutely cheesy-romantic, this is a good metaphor for our relationship, how he holds me close, keeps me safe, and lifts me up so I can fly and accomplish my goals and dreams. Z's pretty awesome like that.

Photo credits go to Jennie Rae Photography.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

In Spite of Trials

With billions and billions of people on earth (or who have been, or ever will be on the earth), and the truly infinite variety of experiences that make up each life, trials are a common factor. They come in many forms, but the bottom line is the same for everyone - they make life hard.

So much of our life is spent avoiding trials: we do homework so we get good grades so we get good jobs so we have financial security so we don't go hungry or naked; we socialize with people who have common interests so we have acquaintances and friends so we feel connected and don't feel lonely; we eat a variety of foods and do things to get out of the house so we stay relatively healthy and don't get bored. Sometimes, though, these negative things happen anyway, without our desire or consent. That can affect our self-esteem - because a common emotional trap is the idea that "if I were better, this wouldn't be happening" - and place limitations on achieving our goals. Those are things that no one enjoys, and their association with trying circumstances colors those circumstances with a negative light.

That's been my attitude for most of my life. But it started shifting in the past year or so. When I've taken time to think about it, I've come to be genuinely grateful for the trials I have. Believe me, it's not because the trials in my life have gotten any easier; the gratitude has come because I like the changes I see in myself that only could have come because of going through the trial. It's been a very interesting conundrum to simultaneously acknowledge both "This is really hard right now" and "I'm glad this is happening right now"; when those two words occur together when having a hard time, it's usually along the lines of "It's really hard to be glad right now." 

For me, it comes down to this. Trials make life more challenging by giving us a situation where we have to work harder to achieve our goals and feel good about ourselves. Learning how to work hard is a valuable lesson that benefits us through the rest of our lives, and learning to become resilient to discouragement gives us the tools to be happy in a wider range of situations. Learning requires us to be humble, open to new ideas, patient with ourselves, and accepting of help from others. From trials, we learn how to learn, we gain more potential for empathy with others, and we gain increasing insight into how capable we really are. While I don't always appreciate or enjoy the hard situations I find myself in, I do appreciate the end results of the journey. That makes trials a little more bearable for me, and I can then have faith that things will work out for the best. 

The only way I can get through trials is by having faith in Jesus Christ. The quicker I remember that He's there, that He loves me, and that He knows what He's doing, the quicker I can feel at peace, be patient, and be happy. My feelings tell me that it is impossible to survive this life without happiness or hope, and those both come from Christ. Because of Christ, I know that when I mess up, I have another chance without being condemned to failure. Because of Christ, I know that there is more to life than what is immediately in front of my face. Because of Christ, I know I'll always have a friend who understands me perfectly, and is perfectly suited to help. Everything good in my life goes back to Jesus Christ. I'm grateful for Him and all He's done for me. Because of Christ, I have the opportunity and certitude of being happy in spite of trials, if I choose to listen to Him.