Category Archives: General Ramblings

My 2017 New Year’s Resolutions

Now that the new year is off to a start, I have 2 resolutions:

  1. Up my organization game
  2. Better connect with friends and family

Resolution #1: Up My Organization Game : Over the past few years I have been increasingly working to stay better organized. Between Google Calendar, Google Docs, Evernote, setting up multiple account profiles in Chrome so that I can sync my extensions and bookmarks across devices, setting up reminders for myself, and using Google Music, I am much better organized than I used to be. But, I can do so much better I know! So, this year, I am beginning a Bullet Journal to use as a counterpart to all that I do electronically and I will also plan organize all of my family photos.

Bullet Journal – after learning about bullet journaling through some of my genealogy buddies, it seems like a good fit for some aspects about my personal organization system that I have found lacking over the past year.  I do a lot so I can use all the help I can get! 🙂 There are 4 components in particular I want to address:  1) my perpetual to-do list! While I use Evernote well as a repository, I’ve never felt I was able to get a good grasp on my to-do list. I think it is because when my list is electronic, the adage “out of sight, out of mind” is all too true for me.  2) I think it will also help my long-term planning as unlike a digital calendar, I can get a more long-term view of what I have going on, and unlike a traditional physical planner, the use of space on the page is more flexible. 3) I also have a lot of ideas that come into my head, so being able to capture them in the bullet journal should help.  4) I like the monthly tracker pages I’ve seen and I think this will be fun for tracking things that I need to do on a regular basis. Again, out of sight, out of mind in my digital tracking has been an issue for some of my activities. I’ve chosen to use Staples Arc system (junior size) as pages are insertable and the size is one that I will be able to carry with me wherever I go.

my new bullet journal

Photo Organization – For the most part, the physical pictures that I have are in one of 3 locations in our house – a set of photo albums I have, a couple of picture boxes, and a cabinet in our living room.  And… up until about 2008, I was pretty good at printing out my digital pictures. Well, not so much anymore – I’m about 8 years behind! So, my 2017 goals are to: 1) reorganize my physical pictures into a set of binders with photo sleeves (like these – but they come in different configurations) , 2) print out pictures from 2008 – present, and 3) better capture photos taken by family members that are posted to social media so that I can include them among my photos moving forward.  Last year I made some headway with beginning to better organize my personal genealogy files by creating what I call “Treasure Boxes“, so this part of my resolution is a great compliment to that. And yesterday, I ordered print photos for all of 2016 so now I’m really only 7 years behind. Ultimately, my goal for my personal mementos is to have one bookshelf that I instruct my family to keep should something ever happen to me even if they got rid of absolutely everything else of mine! 🙂

some of my photoboxes

Resolution #2: Better Connect with Friends and Family: My family and friend real life and social media network is pretty big – probably because of all the genealogy and family history I do – so I am connected to a LOT of family and great friends.  I want to do more to better connect and stay in more frequent contact.  This year, I am making it a goal to send physical birthday & other life celebration/important event cards – I just think it is a nice, friendly touch (for all the reasons mentioned here).  I also want to come up with a way to add family history touches when I send out cards, but I have not yet figured out a plan for that – will take some more thought. Maybe the card sending can be a resolution for this year, with family history touches a resolution for 2018.

Here’s to 2017!!!

Washing Clothes in 1870

Our washing machine is on the fritz right now, so we’ve having to go to the laundromat until we replace it.  However, I am so glad I don’t have to do laundry this way!

From the Memphis Daily Appeal – January 12, 1870

The Care and Feeding of Email


In 2012, I started my year with approximately 800 messages in my inbox alone!  That is a LOT of email.  I would go through spurts throughout the year when I would try and reduce the number, but don’t think I did better than a few hundred.

Well, this year, I’m going to do much better. Thus, I began the process of cleaning up my inbox.



This meant:

  • deleting email messages I no longer needed
  • archiving email messages that had labels but were still in my inbox
  • applying labels to emails + archiving them
  • putting my “To Do” label to use and archiving those messages

In less than a month, I was able to reduce my inbox from 800+ messages to around 30.  I am pleased to report that for the past two weeks, I’ve been able to maintain around 30 messages in my inbox on average.  The ones that are there, are ones that I REALLY need to address and don’t want to lose sight.  It also helps that I’ve been using an application called “The Other Inbox” to help move messages out of my inbox and into a separate folder.  Now, when I check my email, I check my regular inbox, then I check my “Other” Inbox. It really helps!

Aren’t you proud of me?

Over the next few months, I want to continue decluttering and plan to do the following:

  • organize my Google Docs account
  • whittle my “To Do” list emails down from 400 (this may take awhile….)
  • transition to cleaning up my email address that I use for the NCGenWeb Project – I have about 300 emails in that inbox.

Progress report in a few more months.  Meanwhile, this does not help the fact that my gmail account is 94% full!

Conversation with Tavis Smiley

Tonight our family went to go see Travis Smiley speak at a local church.  Hosted by Riverside Chapel Seventh Day Adventist Church, the speech was excellent and I am glad to have had an opportunity to see him in person.   He spoke on a number of topics and touched on education, politics (namely Obama), gentrification, finding your true passion in life,  and of course, black history.   We resonated with much of what he said, and he had the audience crackin’ up!

After the speech, Tavis answered questions from the audience which made the experience even more personal.  It’s been awhile since I’ve listened to Tavis on a regular basis, but I just may have to tune in now to keep up with him.   The turnout was a nice size, and there were some familiar Nashville faces in the audience.  State Senator Thelma Harper was there (we go to her family restaurant, Harpers, quite often), and local media reporter, Justin McFarland was there also.  It also turned out that I have served on a committee with the pastor’s wife! Small world 🙂

Thank you Tavis Smiley & Riverside Chapel for a motivating and inspiring evening!

Fire & Snow

Last night as I was about to go to bed I heard noises outside the window so took a look.  Saw a news truck outside and then noticed fire engines – there was a fire near our house and I could see the smoke coming from the building.  Since I’ve newly discovered that I can listen to Fire & EMS radio with an app on my phone,  I quickly connected and could hear the conversations going on.  The fire fighters rescued the guy who lived there, but he ended up dying later in the hospital.   They also rescued a female pit bull and her 10 puppies – one of those puppies died.  Very sad indeed.   The news story is here (be sure to watch the video clip).

Then, this morning we wake up to more chaos on the streets because of our snow yesterday.  Kelli took some pictures and the situation is just crazy.  Doesn’t this look like a line of cars in line waiting to go somewhere? Well, there’s no waiting – these are all stranded in the driveway of an apartment complex.