Hello. I've tried my hand at working again at the local hospital, but that didn't work out. This gives me time to get back to writing my next book: "Chasing Headstones - How to Transition into Retirement and into the Ground* (*And how to Avoid Both")
I am visiting my cousin in Layton, Utah this week (Sun. 6/8/2019 - Thur. 6/13/2019), and traveling daily to SLC to visit and do research at the LDS Family History Library. This is the largest genealogy collection in the U.S. There are 5 floors of displays, books, microfilm, computers, and quality help from the volunteers and professional research specialists.
I'll spend 5 days at the library, heading to meet a friend in Moab next week.
I'm having a great time searching for that missing "needle in a haystack".
About 7 am on Thanksgiving I woke up in the back of my pick up truck in the parking lot of the Salem Ferry, in Salem Massachusetts. It was very quiet, but the morning sun was breaking over the horizon of the Atlantic Ocean to the east and into my face, screaming "Wake up!"
In my head was this poem by Mary Oliver, that I got in a book of hers which I picked up in Boston:
Why I Wake Early
Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.
“Why I Wake Early”
A poem from the book by Mary Oliver
Why I Wake Early – New Poems by Mary Oliver
© 2004 by Mary Oliver
Beacon Press, Boston Press, Boston, Massachusetts
Hello. I am out of the office and starting on my last 8 weeks of paid vacation before I start collecting my retirement pay. I have left my family at home in Coeur d'Alene, and I am traveling across the U.S. and taking a trip to Ireland. As friends or "chosen family" have asked me to Blog to keep them posted, I will make occasional posts here on my familyhunger.com website, and I will Share with Facebook. I have printed 5 proof drafts of my book Family Hunger - Breathe Life Into Your Family History, and am asking for comments, corrections, reflections by family members and friends. When I am finally satisfied, I will hit the proper buttons on Create Space, and Amazon company, and you will then be able to buy this book through Amazon and they will "print on demand" and mail you a book. (Someday I also plan to make this an e-book.)
I am in Montana now visiting family, trying to heal my back and to heal from stresses of 27+ years as a social worker. I want to visit many National Parks, visit headstones, visit family and friends before I catch a flight to Ireland in November.
Enough for now ...
Hello. Tomorrow, Fri. 9/22/2017, my office is throwing me a retirement party. I very much appreciate it, but I still have about 3 weeks of work left before I start using the last of my vacation hours. Are they trying to get rid of me early?
I very much appreciate the retirement party, and I'll try to post more about that later, after the party.
Co-workers have asked me to write a Blog to keep them updated on my travels after I leave the office. As I have an exciting trip planned, and I already have a Blog here, I'm going to make them work for it, if they really want to read my Blog. I'm going to give them my business cards I've printed up with this website, familyhunger.com, and I'll tell them to hit the Blog tab.
I'm planning a little speech for my retirement party, and and here's the opening line:
WHAT DO I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP?
I read this to my family at the dinner table at Thanksgiving this year:
"I want to entice you to sit down at the Dinner-Table-of-Life, calling to you by wafting pleasant aromas from the other room, providing an attractive visual presentation on your plate, and to excite you to recognize and to feed your own "family hunger"! I want you to honor the feast that is your family! I hope my story will be an inspiration for you to search out your own ancestors, to talk to your living relatives, and leave morsels for your descendants and other relatives to find you by recording your own story!
"Did you get that part about “talk to your living relatives”? While this is about dead people, it is also very much about living people!
"I find that this process has been fulfilling for me. As this seems to be a time when reading and writing is somewhat a lost art, I want this to make you hungry for more of both. It can also be said that being with family has fallen into distaste, and the move away from sitting down regularly with family at the dinner table is related to the failure of the fabric that holds our society together. I want to show you how gathering and writing family stories can help connect and preserve our identity as individuals and as family members, and also to restore the fabric of our community and culture, and society as a whole.
"What would the smells (or other senses) be that would flood your family feast? Mine might be the smells of fresh, home-made breads baking in the oven, or maybe the smells and sounds of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner gathering with the family. And there might be stains from food or drink, stains from Life, on the table cloth and on our family books as we open them and tell stories and connect more deeply with each other by doing so." (from my Preface)
And then I had to say "Sit down, Nathan! I'm not done yet".
Home and the Dinner Table
"Where is your “home”, the source of what you really need? What does “home” mean to you? Expand on the idea of “home” to include this question: What did your dinner table look like when you were a child? What does your dinner table look like now? Do you sit down together as a family tradition, giving you all a chance “be in relationship” on a regular basis that you can count on it most evenings, giving you all a chance to talk about how your day went or what your hopes and dreams are? Or are you isolated with your dinner plate on your lap and the television on or cruising the Internet on your smart phone?" (from my Introduction)
Ancestors, sky people, all here today,
Hear my heart song,
Hear my respect,
Hear my love,
Hear my grateful tears fall,
I am truly blessed,
You are truly blessed,
We are truly blessed.
(Dances of Universal Peace N. America, Winter 2007-2008,
Music: Harmony Grisman, Movements: Sharee Anderson)
Quantum physics tells us that linear time is an illusion. It says that the past, the present, and the future can cross paths. When we read about, study, write about, and create family history, we can make those paths cross. Genealogy and family history work can prove this.
My journey to write this book has literally brought me to tears with anticipation and excitement of discovery of my living relatives and ancestors, and those emotions were sometimes confusing to me. I was not clear on what I needed or wanted when I started this journey. While my motivations haven’t always been clear, my feelings told me this is important. Motivations are related to intentions. I will write more on the role of emotions later.
See the title of this book, Family Hunger? I ask you: What are you hungry for that made you pick this up and read this? Do you recognize what you are longing for? What nutrition do you need? What do you want?
It is important to know that there is a difference between “wants” and “needs”. What we need are basics like food, water, housing, stability, belonging, security, etc.- things we need for our survival. What we want are metaphorically like frosting on the cake of life that we can survive without but which makes our lives richer - things like the desire for creativity, beauty, peace, balance, connection, purpose, and deep meaning. Wants are things we want that help us thrive, beyond mere survival. Maybe some of what we want are just distractions, but we need those for respite or rest sometimes (like “mindless” entertainment). (from “Introduction to Psychology” Sixth Edition, by Ernest R. Hilgarrd, Richard C. Atkinson, and Rita L. Atkinson, Harcourt Brace Javonovich, Inc., 1975).
Is family a basic need for you? Family may not be a basic need, but family is one of the ways we get our basic needs met, a means to the ends. Have you learned not to kill the goose that laid the golden egg? Have you learned that access to the resources that allow us to fulfill our basic daily needs - stable relationships - is much more valuable over the span of our life time than winning the lottery?
Speaking for myself, I have my basic needs met, AND I want the full course meal! I want to taste that desert! I want to survive, and I want to thrive in the richness of life! And my family can help me do that. (I define family as those significant relationships who are kin by blood or marriage, as well as “fictive kin” who are friends and sometimes acquaintances who are my chosen family).
I believe in families. I have faith in families. My family brought me into this world, nurtured me to the best of their abilities, and I enjoy my family now. I know that is not everybody’s experience and it has not always been my own experience. I know for some people that families mean hurt, abuse, neglect, or abandonment at many levels.
I have had unpleasant family experiences ranging from my own adopted brother telling me “I don’t want to anything to do with you Neel children”, to my cousin who told me essentially to “go to hell …”, to my work as a social worker in a public child protection service agency where you see the really bad ones. I know that family experiences can hurt. And I understand why some people may want to give up all hope of getting their needs met from their own families.
But I have not given up hope. In fact, I am very hopeful in the healing potential of families. I love my family that I live with. I miss my extended family that I don’t live with. I grieve my family that has passed on. And I embrace my chosen family - my friends and spiritual brothers and sisters, and even some of my co-workers that I interact with regularly.
I have seen the healing power of families from a professional point of view where old patterns can be changed, old injuries can be taken responsibility for and the recovery process can begin. I have seen and been a part of new generations become healthier and less damaging to the next generation.
And I have experienced my own family-of-origin heal from where things seemed pretty hopeless, to where we have moved to stages of healing to where we now seek one another out and regularly gather together again and re-established new traditions of family gatherings.
I recognize my own needs for human interaction and my needs that are met by my family (including my chosen family), for the most part.