How to Become a History Buff

Peace, Love MuseumsI think our interest in history begins with our own family. Parents and Grandparents talk about their own past, their parents and even farther back in your own history if you are lucky.

The first thing I ever did myself was to record my Grandmother’s sister, Alice, talking about her life, her past and what she remembered from when she was a girl living in Ireland. In school we made family trees, but that wasn’t something I had done on my own initiative. I still have the tape recording, I just don’t have a machine I can hear it on. Technology isn’t always our best friend.

Many people get into genealogy and stop there when it comes to history. Not me. I have researched many people (mostly women adventurers and fighters of one kind or another) and places (mainly local history, places I have found through my own exploring). I also like to research the history of paranormal things and creatures like dragons. (Can you prove they don’t exist?)

Try the history buff quiz for fun.

How to Learn About History on Your Own

Narrow your focus.

Choose a time period, an event, a country, a building, a person or some other smaller area of history you want to learn more about. Narrow your focus a bit because history is huge as a topic. Every moment becomes history as we live it.

Start a journal.

Pick a notebook (or bring a laptop) to take notes, write down facts and information as you find them. Keep notes about the resources you have used too. You may want to use the same book, website, etc. again or find the author of the book for more information, even an interview.

Keep a pen and pencils handy. Along with the journal you might want to draw maps, sketch a face, or use colour pencil crayons to organize your notes. Consider a hand scanner which you can take to scan a document or pages in a book rather than giving yourself writer’s cramp.

Review your notes and pull things together in a report.

It isn’t enough to have a rambling collection of facts. When you put all your information together to create a report (just for yourself even) it really helps you see everything as a bigger picture. You also notice details which you hadn’t seen connected before.

Join a local history society or group.

It’s okay to go it alone when you can’t find anyone to share your interest. But, most towns will have a local museum and a local history society too. Of course cities may have more resources for you once you begin looking. If the person or place you are researching is something local then the historical society will likely invite you to present your research to the group at a meeting. (Of course, this is up to you to do or turn down if you just can’t handle public speaking).

yesterday is history

Where to Learn About History on Your Own

  • Visit museums and libraries and talk to the staff there. Let them know about your interest in history – they usually have suggestions you wouldn’t have thought of.
  • Get on the mailing list so you will know when a new exhibit comes to your local museum or library.
  • Visit the art gallery and look at paintings/ illustrations from the time period you are looking at.
  • Make the trek to bigger cities and visit those museums and libraries too.
  • Look at genealogy. It’s a lot of information but a nice way to track down ancestors and find out where the bodies are buried, literally.
  • Get online and track down other people who share your interest. Read their websites or weblogs. Leave comments or notes for them. Ask questions. If they really seem to know a lot ask if you can send them some questions, even interview them through email.
  • If your interest is something local, get out there with your camera. Take photos of the places where history happened. Talk to people like urban explorers or look them up online and see the photos they have taken too.
  • If your interest is Medieval history talk to people who like Renaissance Fairs and create their own costumes to wear based on the authentic clothing worn in the time period.
  • If you have an interest in prehistory, find out about anyone who has been digging up history in the area you are researching. Try to find them online and get information from the source.
  • Read fictional history books too. In most cases the authors will talk about their research and any liberties they took in changing history for their fiction. Meanwhile, you will be reading an account based on all their own research of the time period, the place or person you are researching too.
  • Keep an eye on the news, online and through the television and radio too. History happens all the time. New finds and discoveries come up in the news more often than you may think.
  • Talk to people who were there for history in this century. Read biographies from people in earlier times. You may even find autobiographies which they wrote themselves versus a biography which was written about them.
  • Watch for TV programs, documentaries, coming up for your history interest. Talk to your librarian and see if any documentary can be ordered in for you. Talk to the people who were interviewed in the documentary and, of course, the people who created the documentary would be a great source of information. (The narrator is not always a great source, look for the people who produced the documentary).

Where to Find History Online

On This Day in History…

The Bloody Mess is Back

I started my period last night. I’m having such a hate, hate, love relationship with it. Last month I refused to acknowledge it until I literally had blood running down my leg and onto the floor. Sounds crazy. But, I’ve noticed I am much more affected emotionally/ mentally by the damned thing every month. There are so many times I wish it would stop and then other times I feel like it’s my last thread of hope and connection to who I am. I think it would be much easier to let it go if I weren’t child-less.

Mittelschmerz

Actually, a small proportion of women can detect their ovulation, being sensitive to mittelschmerz, literally “middle pain,” a twinge of abdominal discomfort felt when the egg is released from the ovary.

via Concealed Ovulation, Part 3: A Role for Consciousnes? – Brainstorm – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

I feel that. It’s almost like the little twinges and cramps I get when my period is going to start. I didn’t know there was a word for it.

Rev Up your Inspiration

Let Life In: 12 Ways to Rev Up your Inspiration

We thought it important to first learn more about what one needs to do to let life in, to allow oneself to be open to new ideas and new ways of looking at things.

Here’s what we learned about inspiration.

1. To experience inspiration you have to be open to new ideas, flexible and willing to change. You need to quiet the voice that tells you “I can’t, it’s too hard, it won’t work, I’m too old” or any other downer self talk.

2. Don’t be afraid to put it out there. If you are passionate about your inspiration, others will follow your passion. People will want to find out more about why you love something so much.

3. Use adversity as a learning experience. When something doesn’t work for you, think about how it can be made better. What needs to change? Be the inspiration for that change.

4. Get started. Quickly. Before you allow yourself to talk yourself out of it. “I can’t knit, I have two left hands.” “I’m too old to ballroom dance, surfboard, learn karate,” “I don’t have the time.” If you need to, divide a piece of paper down the middle, write down your excuse and on the left side and in the next column dispute it. And reread the right hand column as often as you need to.

5. Turn off the noise. Noise comes in all kinds of packages. The Internet, the family, the job, the bills, the cell phone, all the distractions. Consider it all noise and remove yourself for a period of time. If need be, seek solitude. Solitude enables you to focus on your mind and body and to tune in to your environment. Inspirations that can’t cut through the noise are subtle. In solitude you can experience them.

6. Don’t attach an outcome. What if your inspiration doesn’t fly? The idea doesn’t work. You really do have two left hands? So what? You’ll learn something from the experience no matter what. You’ll learn so much from the effort that the outcome really doesn’t matter. For achievement oriented individuals, not attaching an outcome is particularly challenging. Go for it.

7. Visualize. Generate the emotions of your inspiration by creating a mental picture. When you picture your dream you will begin to attract what you need to accomplish it.

8. Find a support crew. Ignore the naysayers and surround yourself with people who choose to encourage you. They’ll support you and help you achieve your goal.

9. Teach. When you have an inspiration, teach it to others. None of us knows it all. When you teach, you do your best learning.

10. Don’t accept no for an answer. Just because something’s always been done one way, doesn’t mean there aren’t better ways to do it. Many better mousetraps need to be built. Ask questions, question the answers.

11. Take a risk. Learn to live with uncertainty. Maybe you will fail. Or, more than likely, you’ll feel alive instead of bored. And you might still fail.

12. Pay it forward. You’ve reached a stage in life that enables you to allow others to learn from your experiences. Embrace your life stage and be the inspiration you are waiting for.

Thoughts of the Day

No man will ever have  a real appreciation for the day your period stops. They complain and make jokes about our periods, about the warm up and the start but they will never know the happy day of waking up and knowing it is over or, at least will be over that day.

I’m living alone right now. So on this, my day of waking up to find it down to a trickle, I can put away my maxi pads and the PMS pills. Usually, I always keep them put away. But, one nice thing about living alone is not having to hide away everything connected to my being a female as if it is all a dirty secret. Not just maxi pads, but my bras, underwear and my body itself. There is something seductive and fun about walking to the bathroom for a shower, wearing nothing at all and coming back the same way, just wetter. I can flick a towel over my chair and sit right here to drip dry. It’s nice getting dressed without struggling to pull clothes over your wet skin.

I’m not a towel dry person. I prefer to drip dry when I can. Usually this means I get dressed wet and then my clothes absorb the shower water. Not the option I like best. I don’t know why I don’t like using the towel. Maybe it’s part of not wanting to put them all through the laundry. Do you know how much it costs to wash towels? A whole load of laundry (because they really can’t go in with anything else lest you want fluff/ pilling over all the other stuff).

There are other good things about living alone, even if it isn’t for very long. I don’t walk around the house naked as I’ve heard others do. But, no one will make me feel guilty for wearing my nightie past noon. I like my nighties. They feel pretty, sexy and girly all at once. I don’t get to feel that way wearing anything else at any other time of the day.

I also get to leave dishes out until the afternoon. I don’t have to keep the kitchen counters bare of anything but the essentials. I can leave the coffee out, on the counter, right beside the French press. This would drive some people crazy with the urge to put things away, not me. I like leaving it out, handy, right where I want it to be when I want to make coffee. Why is this such a hardship for some people?

Hina Matsuri

Just read a post on Geek Mom Mashup:March 3 is Girls’ Day, so Happy Hina Matsuri! What a great holiday.

From Wikipedia: The Japanese Doll Festival, Hina-matsuri, or Girls’ Day, is held on March 3, the third day of the third month. Platforms with a red hi-m?sen are used to display a set of ornamental dolls, hina-ningy, representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period.

PingMag has photos of some dolls and a lot more information about the traditions.

The color of pink symbolizes the day, and a lot of pink colored stuff on the streets reminds me that the season is coming. In department stores, you can see colorful dolls sitting in front of a shining golden folding screen.