We made it. 2020 is in the rear view mirror and although I’m happy to see it go, I have to admit it changed me in big and small ways that I’ll always be grateful for. I’ve learned to slow down my usually frantic pace as I was suddenly working from home (and still am). I am still learning to go with the flow, which is not easy for my structured personality, but necessary right now.

Genealogy took a backseat in those early months as I adjusted to a new normal. But as summer began, I realized I was living a history lesson that future generations would read about. This prompted me to begin jotting down my thoughts, fears, and basically just side-notes of what was happening in the world. I clipped news articles and created a virtual scrapbook of sorts without intending to. I also revisited my family tree and fell in love with my ancestors all over again.

So many people are suggesting that 2021 is the year to give yourself a break from resolutions but I think it could also be seen as the year for a fresh start. These are just a few resolutions that I have posted on my office wall.

Educate yourself — Online classes have never been more abundant. Niagara County Genealogical Society is among so many organizations that learned to go virtual with their programs in 2020. There is no better time to learn while in the comfort of your own home than now. Check out ConferenceKeeper.org to see what’s new and available.

Pay it forward — While we look forward to smashing our own brick walls, take some time this year to help someone else do the same. Taking on a family research question for a friend not only improves our research chops by forcing us out of our comfort zone but allows us to sharing the skills we’ve learned over the years.

Digitize and organize — Scan non-original documents and photographs that can be attached directly to family tree software. I also began to scan any handouts / syllabuses I’ve received at programs directly into a computer file for future reference.

Slow down — As this year has forced us all to slow down, let’s do the same with genealogy. The research is fun but the documentation, not so much. Taking the time to better document sources will improve our research in the long run.

Make the time — No longer spending 2 hours a day in my car has given me more time. Early on in 2020, my employer suggested we each pay attention to how we use the extra time that working from home had allotted us. He said, “Use it to feed your passion”. This stuck with me and I’ve tried to do that each day. Spending time doing genealogy, or anything we love, makes us better in so many ways and I’ll be forever grateful to have an employer that wants me to be my best, both personally and professionally.

Well that’s it for today and for the year. I hope you know how thankful I am that you’re here. I’ve enjoyed interacting with so many of you by email this past year and look forward to a fresh new year of questions and comments in 2021. Happy New Year and stay safe!

Carol DiPirro-Stipkovits is a member of the National Genealogical Society and Association of Professional Genealogists. She writes a monthly column in the Niagara Gazette/Lockport Journal and Forever Young magazine. Carol is a Board member as well as President of the Niagara County Genealogical Society. Send questions or comments to her at noellasdaughter@gmail.com.

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