Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Progress Is Better Than Perfect

Climbing My Family Tree. Image via Shutterstock.
Image via Shutterstock

I really thought I’d be posting another ancestor story today, but I didn’t get much genealogy done this past week because I spent most of last week really sick. I couldn’t concentrate enough to read anything of any length and I definitely couldn’t analyze evidence.  I missed 3.5 days of work (should’ve been 4) and I never do that.

I was in too much pain and too exhausted to do much besides read some blogs and some Facebook, which left it a great time for some of the darker varieties of self-introspection.   I’d recently joined the Do-Over group on Facebook because, although I don’t intend to do the whole thing the way they are, I thought I would pick up some good ideas. And I expect I will. But just then it became rather overwhelming to see the level of perfection that group seems to be insisting on. I started feeling the stirrings of  the anxiety of perfectionism. This is NOT a good thing for me. I have in the past gotten locked into perfectionist loops, which means because I can’t get “it” perfect, I don’t even really start, or I spend way too much time trying to get every little thing just right, and I don’t actually get anything done, I get stressed, and I lose the fun.

If I’m stressing over what makes me happy, then I’m doing it wrong.

I reminded myself that I’m not a genealogist. I don’t even want to be a genealogist “some day”, frankly. This is a hobby. I do it because it’s fascinating and fun (both the family history and the blogging). I’m very good at my regular job in (an, admittedly, very) niche area of the law, which has nothing to do with genealogy (or copyright law) – but some skills and attitudes do transfer over. I’m good at research, assessing evidence/sources for credibility, analyzing evidence, and writing up my decision/conclusions based on that evidence. I have been obsessed with sourcing my discovered facts from day one. I can speculate on the blog and I try to make it clear when I’m speculating;  however, if the fact is in my tree, I have a source for it (which isn't another person’s tree), unless my person has one of these pictures on him/her.

Climbing My Family Tree: Is This Connection Correct?
Is This Connection Correct?

[That puzzle piece picture means I’m trying out a theory and I’m not sure s/he belongs yet, and if it turns out they don’t belong then I take them off. Because of the pace of the 52 Ancestors challenge I didn’t have time to finish sorting it out and I stuck those pictures on those questionable ones so I’d know who I have to really address again.]

I had to remind myself that this year I’m basically striving to create an organized research plan for each person (because I was moving too fast to do that properly last year), to tell more stories, and to press on if I can. Good enough is good enough. My source citations only have to enable someone to find what I found, where I found it; they don’t have to meet professional genealogy standards. I want to remember to enjoy the process as well as the outcome.

Having jacked myself up again, I went and turned off the notifications on the Do-Over group. I’ll still drop in to look for advice and ideas, but having it constantly in my feed is not such a good idea for me. And shortly after I came to that conclusion, and took that step, the universe gave me a gift. Now you could say it’s not a gift because it was there all along, but I didn't know about it. I’m really still a newbie. I thought, when the latest update imploded my Family Tree Maker software that I would have to re-enter every single person & all their details and sources from my tree, by hand, into Legacy 8. Since I research all the siblings I can find, too, down a couple generations (because it helps with finding and assessing evidence and gives me more stories) that was an intimidating thought if ever there was one, but I was going to do it.

Climbing My Family Trees: My tree details Feb 2015
My tree details Feb 2015 (I chased a few BSO's)
Click to Make bigger

But then I discovered GEDCOM’s! I didn't know about them before. I didn't know I could download a GEDCOM file of my Ancestry tree to my laptop and then import it into Legacy! I read about it on someone’s blog – I really wish I could remember which one, I’d plug it. Then I looked it up in the Legacy instruction book. Then I did it, and it was easy! True, I’m still going to go back through each and every one and makes sure all is all right, and see what else I can find, and order pension files and such, and make research “to do” lists, but I feel so very much lighter since all that information just transferred in. YAY! I also discovered that Ancestry says it has over 1600 hints for me. Oh, boy, I can’t wait to start seeing if any belong to my people! And hit the newspaper sites....I'm getting excited again...and that's good.

Oh, and I should be posting another Ancestor bio (like the 52 Ancestors posts) next week after I finish up some historical context research. It will be of one of my great-grand aunts on my Dad’s side, Grace Gregor Bentley.  I was hoping to have a picture of her for the post, but I haven’t heard back from the person who had the picture on their tree yet, so that is unlikely to happen. But, I hope you will find her story interesting. 


  1. Good for you! We all have to make choices about how hard we are going to work/play at our hobby/passion/obsession, whatever it is. And when it gets to be too much, it's time to ask ourselves "What do I want out of this?" and "Who is my audience?" When we have those answers, the rest sort of falls into place, I think.

    Throw those shoulders back and be yourself! Lots of us love your blog!

    1. Thank you, Janice, for the encouragement and for reading my blog. I appreciate both greatly.


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