Uphill, both ways

The winter of 2019 has been ridiculous. The snowiest February on record, temperatures that make freezing feel tropical, and dreary gray skies. School has been cancelled more days in one month than my entire school career. Recently there was a discussion on a Facebook group for my graduating class asking if kids today are less hardy than we were.

When I was a kid the saying “when I was your age I had to walk to school, uphill both ways” was a standard answer to any child’s complaints. It was obviously an exaggeration, but how did our parents get to school? And were they really hardier than us? Kids today?

Or do we just remember ourselves this way? Memory is not like a video recording. We remember certain events and forget others. Memories can be influenced by our later experiences, and can be triggered by a smell, a photograph, a place, or a person. 

Hopefully, this winter will soon be a memory and we will be making new memories experiencing a sunny, warm spring.


Never Lost Again

Not surprisingly one of my favorite shows is Finding Your Roots on PBS. On a recent episode, Henry Lewis Gates Jr handed Marisa Tomei a family tree filled with relatives she never knew she had and declared,  “They will never be lost again”. It was a meaningful moment, but is it true? Will the future generations of her family know all she found? How do we “lose” our history in the first place? 

We must preserve and pass it down!

Winston Churchill said, “history is written by the victors.” This is part of the reason I love watching genealogy shows, you get to learn about a time in history from the everyday people who lived it. It is also a great way to hear from all sides. What was it like being a loyalist during the Revolutionary War and what were their reasons for wanting to stay part of Britain. I never learned that in history class. But because of family stories, journals, letters, and vital records, we can get a glimpse into this all-important piece of what it means to be an American.

By discovering our own history and making sure it is preserved for future generations we can be an all-important piece of what it means to be us, part of our family, and human. 

DNA testing has become very popular, and people love finding out if they’re German or British (though this is not the best use of these tests, stay tuned for a future article on this). But we gain so much more from our ancestors than green eyes or a receding hairline.  


We are here because they were.

They were survivors who persevered throughout history. Our customs, mannerisms, likes, and dislikes have been influenced by them and passed down through how we were raised, our parents were raised, and our grandparents were raised. There is also new research that experiences can affect our genes and can be passed down in our DNA.  Adding a fun twist to the age-old question nature vs nurture. So whether we know them or not, we carry with us the lives of all those who came before us. But wouldn’t it be more fun to know?

How will you discover your past and make sure it is Never Lost Again?

The Friendship Gate

Over the holidays my neighbor Christina came over for coffee. She lives two doors down in our old St. Paul neighborhood, both our homes were built in 1941. As she was walking over she thought about the women who lived here over 70 years ago and wondered if they ever walked this same path to have coffee together. We smiled thinking about them in their crinoline, low heels, and lipstick with fancy china cups. Especially since we were in yoga pants, messy buns, and no makeup with our mugs that have funny sayings. I thought about how different a scene it would be, but how the conversations would probably be the same. We discussed the weather, the neighborhood, our families, and our plans for the holidays… just as I am sure they did all those years ago.  

I told this story to my grandpa and he said: “it’s just like Edison and Ford’s Friendship-gate”. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford had winter estates next to each other in Fort Meyers, FL. They visited so often that they installed a gate as a shortcut to each other’s homes. It is now called the friendship gate and a stop on the tour of their estates. It is also said that when Edison was confined to a wheelchair later in life, Ford still perfectly able to walk, got one too so they could wheel around together. 

I love this story as it makes these historic figures real people. In Genealogy, we call it the FAN (Friends, Associates, and Neighbors). The people who are part of our story and influence our journey. Who are the people important to your story??

Whether in yoga pants or all dressed up I hope that you will take the time to enjoy the journey with them.

10 questions to help start your holiday table conversations.

The holidays are a wonderful time to learn more about your family history.  We have included 10 questions to help start your holiday table conversations. 

1. Ask your parents/grandparents how they met?
2. Ask about the history of the china or other item used on your table.
3. Ask each person for their favorite holiday memory?
4. Ask each person for their favorite holiday food and why?
5. Ask each person what they wish they had known when they were younger, including the children.
6. Do you have any Pilgrims or Native Americans in your family? 
7. If not, where did your family come from?
8. What are the holiday traditions of those places?
9. Ask each person for a memory of a family member who has passed away.
10. Bring old photos and ask older relatives about the people in them.

Janice’s Adventures


Janice loved to travel and spending time with her granddaughter. When Amanda got into genealogy, Janice did not believe she had Irish roots, Amanda took her to Ireland to prove it. They enjoyed the trip so much that they decided to go to one location their ancestors came from every year. They traveled across MN, WI, NY, TX, and MO. They found the stories their ancestors left for them and made a lot of wonderful memories on these adventures. Have you ever wanted to travel for genealogy?

Senior Real Estate Specialist


Julie is a real estate agent who specializes in seniors.  She wanted a website video to share WHY she is passionate about working with seniors and how she helps meet their unique needs. Amanda walked her through concisely sharing her story and branded the video with her logo and colors.

Celebrate a life together

For Bob and Pat’s 58th anniversary, their children gifted them a video interview with Amanda. They preserved the story of how they met, Pat moving from England to the US after their marriage, their favorite moments, and their advice from the lessons of 58 years. Their family cherishes the short video.

Honor a loved one

After losing their father, Don, these three brothers were comforted by wonderful stories from friends and family. They thought about writing a book but a year later it was still only a rough list. Amanda took the list of stories and used them as the basis for a filmed interview. Along with digitized and restored old photos, the interview was edited into a chapter based DVD and each family member was given a copy.


Share an heirloom

Agnes loved being the family historian. But didn’t know how to share all of the amazing stories she had found. Amanda helped her organize and digitize her photos and documents, and share her stories on camera. The stories are more meaningful than just a tree of names and dates.

Growth Life Coaching