I drove into the conference every morning with my mom and dad. I can't tell you how much I loved spending time with them, even if I was running around like crazy during the conference. I was wonderful to share this time with them. One morning when I arrived I found them doing their daily Book of Mormon reading, they are following along with our ward challenge (you can find out more about it here and then the daily postings are here at readingscriptures.org). They are a great example to me, even if I am openly disobedient and post photos of them them here. (insert sheepish emoji here....love you mom)
The two smiling faces on the advertisement are two friends from my neighborhood. They are amazing women and it was so fun to see their smiling faces throughout the conference. Lisa (in the red) is the friend who had the brilliant idea of the family history badges.
One of the new areas of RootsTech is the Innovators summit, where entrepreneurs and business professionals came together. Stacy has a nice write up about that portion if you want to read more. We attended the final event where the 4 remaining companies made their final presentations. It was fun to participate in the judging and be amazed at the creativity and genius of people. I appreciated the official judges and their insightful questions, things I had not considered. You can watch in Innovator showdown here.
StoryWorth won the grand prize with their fabulous service that helps record your family stories. I am excited to try out this wonderful way to record our stories.
The top two photos are of my cousin Jane, she was in the Lucidpress advertisement. It was an unexpected and wonderful surprise. I am looking forward to trying out Lucidpress in the future, it looks like a really amazing tool.
Joshua Taylor director of Find My Past started by saying, "Who knew so many cops would be attending a family history conference?" Security was heavy with former first Lady Laura Bush being the next speaker. "Family history should not be about searching, but about finding. What you do with the data is what makes family history." Then he told a family history cheese story, my favorite part of his presentation, which starts at the 9 min mark on the video here. It was fantastic! It's all about the story.
“This is not your grandmother’s hobby anymore, this is everyone’s hobby. It is inspiring.” (Joshua Taylor)
Laura Bush: No matter what you political affiliation you can not help but admire this amazing woman. I was so moved by her wisdom and adored her humor. I had no idea she was so funny. I wish that you could have heard her speak.
I loved when she talked about not being able to help herself in reading the tabloid headlines and learning that they were actually aliens or that her marriage was so far north that she had moved out of the White House. Or when she quipped now that they've left the White House, "We are back in Texas living what I call The Afterlife, in a state George calls the Promised Land." She was endearing, articulate, and approachable.
When she talked about the pressures to define who she would be as a first lady, more like Barbara or more like Hillary, she simply said, "I'll just be Laura Bush. I know her pretty well." As she described the criticism she received about not being very vocal she said she was not the kind of person who felt it necessary to say everything they feel or think. There is so much to admire in those two simple lines; so much wisdom.
I was also touched when she talked about their family life. Of the inauguration night she said, “My girls and my mother, and George’s parents and siblings, and all of their children, 27 of us in all, were in the house together. How often does that happen in life, that almost everyone you love is safe under one roof, tucked into bed and accounted for?”
She also said that the White House “really is a home, a place where living history can exist side by side with the chaos of normal family life.” Such a lovely thought as I think about our home. Of course we don't have the historical significance, but for our family it means everything.
Her daughter Jenna Bush Hager was next to come and talk about the Bush family, it was a question and answer type event, that turned into a wonderful reminisce of memories and the importance of families. The story they shared about George H. W. Bush babysitting was priceless. It was night before a presidential debate and he was babysitting Jenna and her twin Barbara. Barbara had lost her favorite stuffed animal Spikey and Jenna exclaimed, “ I told him Barb couldn’t sleep without Spikey!” He looked all over the house and even had the secret service out looking around the gardens with flashlights! Later they recounted that George with heavy heart went up to tell the girls he had been unable to find Spikey only to find them fast asleep.
In the end the importance of putting family first was a theme I thought was illustrated over and over again. Laura also counseled, “All we know we have is now, so take advantage of your life as it is, and really savor those moments.”
A. J. Jacobs, a writer, editor and creator of the Global Family Reunion, began Saturday morning keynote address (video here starting at the 12 minute mark) with talking about how he researches his topics for his books. This man is hysterical. He wanted to learn more about religion and so for a year tried to follow every rule in the bible. Hearing him talk about "stoning an adulter" still makes me giggle. As he talked about giving thanks daily and the things he learned to appreciate made me want to renew my efforts toward daily gratitude.
As he moved to the main theme of his talk, we are all cousins, he said, “Instead of one person working on a single tree, you have hundreds creating an interconnected family tree....It’s not even a family tree anymore, it’s an Amazonian forest.” Within our theology as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we understand that spiritually we are all brothers and sisters, but to have such a beautiful physical illustration of trees becoming forest and roots interwoven together was lovely.
Another quote I want to remember is that genealogy brings family history alive and “embed us in history...We’re the same species, we’re the same family." Then he joked that this was bad news for bigots because guest what, "We're all related."
Donny Osmond. Have to say... not a fan. I guess I'm indifferent. I will admit that up until a few years ago I thought Donny and Marie were married. That one sentence should give you a clue as to my Donny knowledge, but I will have to say I was quite impressed with his presentation.
He shared his own family history journey and how most of his life is well documented, then he added that our lives are just as important and they need to be recorded. He said, "it's our responsibility to document those moments of our lives for our children and grandchildren." A few quotes I want to remember:
- Cherry blossom/mice study (found here)
- “It’s all about stories and realizing that when you discover more about your ancestors, the more you discover about yourself.”
- “Has your life been documented? If not, why not? The legacy you leave behind is just as significant as anyone else, including me.”
- "what brings us true happiness is what matters most and what matters most is family ties"
- “Give your loved ones and your friends your time. Things don’t matter. It’s the love that lasts. Stories last. Your reputation lasts. Who you are lasts.”
- "what matters most is the love I have given to my family and being whole.... things don't matter. Who you are matters."
He gave a beautiful tribute to his father and told a wonderfully funny story about an early morning radio interview. There was music, which the crowd went wild for and poignant moments. You can watch is presentation here (starting at the 42 minute mark).
You can find more about my RootsTech series:
RootTech 2015 part 3 (you are here)