I’m a stay-at-home body who thrives on solitude but attending an institute has been on my mind since 2017. That was the year I pulled together an education plan for ProGen 33. It’s hard for me to feel comfortable planning ahead, but last July I optimistically clicked the SLIG registration button thinking “Salt Lake City–here I come!”
I signed up for Melissa Johnson’s technical writing course because I have two overarching goals at the moment: 1) organizing digitized copies of the genealogical records I collected prior to becoming someone who takes great pleasure in entering citations into a research log, and 2) becoming a confident writer of all things genealogical.
So, here I am, sitting cross-legged in bed at 7:00 am on a Thursday morning in a hotel in downtown Salt Lake City, admiring the pre-dawn cityscape from my window while writing a blog post. Three days down. Two to go. And, so far, so good!
The in-class time has been positive and productive. I’m not hanging on every word because I’ve heard many of the concepts before but I’m picking up new ideas at a rate that lets me feel engaged and content.
Things are coming together. After years of experimenting with many approaches to research logs, evidence analysis documents, and timelines, I’ve finally settled on using Excel and I’m feeling good about it. I know exactly how I’m going to approach my next client report and I’m eager for a new project so I can get going on it. I’m looking forward to reworking my ProGen proof argument with an eye toward possible publication because I’m feeling confident that I can improve it. And, I’m secretly dancing in my room and because I now know how to create macros to insert commonly-used citation templates into Word documents and that delights me no end.
There is great value and power in having a single block of extended time, with no distraction, to focus on the key concepts behind producing quality genealogical work products.
So, how have I survived this busy week alone in a sea of people?
No doubt about it. The opening event was a tough welcome. New and not knowing the ropes, it took a lot of courage to go into the crowded room with the tightly-spaced chairs. I headed toward the back, hoping to flatten myself against the wall, and then took a back row seat, one in from the aisle, when there was no other choice. I took deep breaths, focused on the information that was being presented, and made it through.
From there, it’s been a breeze. I headed over to the ProGen event and had a wonderful time chatting with people I’ve met through the program.
The next morning, I showed up at the classroom door and decided on an edge seat a few rows up when I discovered the back row was reserved for instructors. I couldn’t have made a better choice. I’ve had a serendipitous chance to share a table with a colleague who has set me at ease and inspired me to keep striving.
I opted into the pre-paid lunch buffet and I’m glad I did. I’m able to eat take-out in my room and it’s just the quiet down time that I need to be ready to SLIG again come afternoon. For dinner, I’ve been venturing out. The late-afternoon walk in the winter air feels good after a long day of sitting. The first day, I got as far as the German deli around the corner. The next day, I found the City Creek food court and now I’m set. I don’t need a fancy sit-down restaurant. Chinese takeout hit the spot two days ago and a baked potato was all I needed last night.
In the evenings, I’ve been tired, and I confess: I haven’t gone to every event listed on the schedule. I’ve needed the time to rest. And, I’ve needed to spend time in front of my computer, putting the class take-aways to work.
Last night, though, my head needed a break. I retrieved my comforter from the car, snuggled up on the couch to watch a few episodes of The RepairShop on Netflix, and did a bit of mending so I’d have something to wear today. Then I crawled into bed and skim-read a proof argument we’d talked about in class, thinking, in the back of my mind, about how I might rework my own.
It’s been a good week. And what has made it that way for this self-proclaimed introvert?
1) I chose to stay at the conference hotel so that my refuge room is always a quick elevator ride away.
2) I brought comfort items from home to make the room mine: a favorite fuzzy green monster pillow, a comforter, a second monitor, and, of course, speaking from the perspective of an old-time musician, my fiddle and banjo.
3) I chose a class that would keep me interested and engaged and send me home each night ready to turn theory into practice.
4) I’ve had wonderful one-on-one conversations with like-minded people.
5) I’ve made it a point to, literally, get a breath of fresh air every day.
6) I’ve given myself permission not to push myself beyond my social limits. After all, there’s always another year.