The Preserve Your Past Podcast

#29: Tales of Many Mothers: A Journey into the Quest for Ancestral Stories with Sindi Broussard Terrien

January 16, 2024 Melissa Ann Kitchen Season 1 Episode 29
The Preserve Your Past Podcast
#29: Tales of Many Mothers: A Journey into the Quest for Ancestral Stories with Sindi Broussard Terrien
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever felt the magnetic pull of your ancestors' stories, beckoning you to uncover the rich tapestry of your heritage? Sindi Terrien, research genealogist and author,  joins me to share the compelling interplay between personal narratives and the pursuit of our ancestral legacies. Together, we reminisce about the first experiences that sparked our genealogical curiosity and discuss the vibrant lifeline of family history that Sindi has managed to weave through her blog, "My Many Mothers," and her innovative publications.

Diving into our past isn't just about charting a family tree; it's about preserving the essence of who we are. This episode peels back the layers of time, revealing how family stories, holiday recipes, and even the soft lilt of a loved one's voice can be captured for posterity. We venture into the intimate process of storytelling, exploring how Sindi's passion for genealogy has taken shape in exciting ways—through published projects, genealogy activity books, and a treasured recipe that transformed into a children's story.

Finally, we acknowledge the bittersweet nature of uncovering our history, confronting tales of resilience, tragedy, and even scandal, such as the life of Marguerite Bouillet, a 17th-century ancestor with a story begging to be told. Join us as we open the vault of the past, discussing the importance of chronicling our journeys and the unexpected wisdom found within. Whether you're seeking to document your epic family saga or simply looking for inspiration to start writing down your own, let this conversation with Sindi Terrien ignite the spark to celebrate the unsung heroes of your lineage.

Check out Sindi's "My Many Mothers" blog here!

You can find Sindi's books on Amazon at these links:
Genealogy Fun While Developing New Genealogists
Fun with Genealogy: Activity Book 1

This group is for people who are in the process of writing their own personal stories to preserve their past for their future. It’s a place to come for story writing inspiration, weekly writing-related events and memes, and continued support from me and the other members.

Join like-minded people and get your stories down on paper for your future generations!

Melissa:

Have you ever had a time in your life especially when you were working on a creative project or following some inspiration where something kept being put in your way, almost like the universe was giving you breadcrumbs and giving you a tool or a person or making a connection that was going to help you along your path or encouraging you to the next step? Well, the next guest that I'm about to introduce is someone that I truly feel is one of those people to me. Today. I have the pleasure of introducing you to Cindy Bresaertarian. Now, cindy is a research genealogist specializing in Akkadian and Cajun women. Her blog, mymanymotherscom features biographies of her many great grandmothers. She recently published a book Genealogy Fun While Developing New Genealogists and Fun with Genealogy Activity Book One, which can be purchased on Amazoncom. She has written nine articles for the American French Genealogical Society's publication Je Me Vis Sovienne Magazine, where she is an associate editor. Cindy Bresaertarian received a certificate in genealogical research from Boston University and her passion for genealogy spans over 20 years. She was inspired to write genealogy fun while developing new genealogists and fun with genealogy activity book one when she learned that fellow genealogists were discouraged by family members' lack of interest in genealogy and family history, and as one of the organizers for her family events. She has always looked for a way to include the family history and genealogy at parties and get-togethers, and Cindy and I keep popping into each other's lives in the last few months, since May, and I can't wait for you to get to know her. She is definitely a gift in my life and one that I'm going to be sharing with you today. The interview came out amazing. She's got so much great insight and I can't wait for you to listen and watch this episode. So let's get to it.

Melissa:

Welcome to the Preserve your Past podcast, where we'll explore all things related to the creative process of writing your stories for future generations. I'm your host, melissa Ann Kitchum, author, teacher, speaker and coach. I believe that your personal history is a priceless gift for family, friends and generations to come, whether you consider yourself a writer or not. We are discussing the topics that help you with every step of the process, like how to mine for the juiciest story ideas or how to refine them into polished final drafts you'll be proud to share. Let's face it sure, your stories can be overwhelming, but I've got you covered. We all have a lifetime of memories to share, so why not save yours to pass along. Let me help you leave your lasting legacy. Hi, everybody, and welcome back to the Preserve your Past podcast. Like I said, I have Cindy Terrian here with us today. Hi, cindy, and thank you so much for joining me today.

Sindi :

Thank you for having me. I'm really excited about talking to you about genealogy and writing.

Melissa:

Yes. So I gave your official introduction ahead of the podcast. But this is where I love to do connection stories and kind of give people the behind the scenes of how we met. I think it's very interesting and I can't say that I don't believe that there was bigger forces in us getting together, not just today but for everyone to understand. So Cindy and I met in May when I had just started doing more outside speaking and or events for the podcast, for the Preserve your Past podcast, and also for my book writing, coaching and help. So Cindy and I met when I was at my booth and I probably have a picture I don't know if I have a picture of us at the booth, but we had a conversation. You were working on stories.

Melissa:

I remember the conversation. I didn't really remember the gist of like. I remember you were writing about the one we're going to talk about later on my many mothers. I remember us talking about that. And then it was lovely and I sent a newsletter out because you had signed up for my list, which was lovely, and you responded which I do get a few responses to the newsletter, but not everybody replies back with something and I was so happy to see that you had published and we'll talk about some of that, because all the links to everything that you've been working on I'm going to share. Okay, thank you. But so then, once you had published and I was just it bolstered me for the times when you think you're speaking and you forget you're speaking out to people when we do the podcast, when I write my newsletter, and so that really meant a lot to me that you responded, and it meant a lot to me that you also were on this path, that had taken the next step on yourself for publishing, because that's just the best feeling. Then that was lovely.

Melissa:

Yeah, and that was Springfield Mass, which, for those of you who not in New England, a little bit more central of the state, not somewhere I go to very often, although my uncle lived there, but I'm never, it's a little bit of a ways a couple hours away from where I am. And a couple months later I had been invited to speak at some of the chapters of the Massachusetts Genealogy Society. There's letters, they are from the University of Genealogists and one of the ones was for my local Bristol County and I did a raffle and after I spoke and I always give away a book and a mug. And as I pulled up the name, I looked and said Cindy with an S, because that had come up in our conversation as we were doing things. And I looked over and sighed your face and was like Cindy with an S. Now I know it and I put it together. So that's the mug. I got my mug. We're both have our mugs today for our coffee chat, so thank you for coming.

Melissa:

So, yeah, that was beautiful and I love being able to do that day and really actually connect, sitting side by side, sharing a meal, talking even further and realizing that we had this passion, and then that you've been doing even more since we last talked and you joined the Facebook group and have done some writing sessions and worked through the November writing project that we did on the group, and so I can't wait to talk more about that because I just want to say, like it for everyone out there like to find your people that will support you through those projects.

Melissa:

I think that sometimes we think that genealogy is a lone sport when you're doing your research, and so I invite everyone to find those local organizations and find the people that they can have in their team and we can talk about this a little more, because I know that you all have, even through that and that could be a whole nother episode of the resources you can get through your local organization of, even when you hit dead ends or you need a direction and where to go. I know that you all offer that. So for the circle of our relationship, I'm just so grateful to have met you for so many reasons and the joy of just enjoying your company. So thank you, thank you.

Sindi :

Well, I have to say, believe it or not, you've inspired me three different times now and none of it was planned. It was just like wow, okay, if Melissa can do it, why can't I? So, yes, so I thank you for being in my life. I'm Erin Dippus, okay, however, it came about Exactly.

Melissa:

So we're going to go through some of those projects because I'm going to try and walk through, because for me it's just like you, it really I'm inspired that you follow through, because it reminds me to follow through.

Melissa:

But I want to think about in those projects. So we'll be talking about you, have your work that you've been doing for your bigger purpose, which is my many mothers, which is, I think, how you began your personal research, and we'll talk about that project and when we first, when I first heard from you, you had done your books for young genealogists and then now you have another project that I'm going to let you talk about. But can I ask you, even before the books and those kind of publishing in more official ways, so when did you get bitten by this search to the past? What does it mean to you? Because I always talk about like I'm here to preserve it, so that my there's a bridge between generations, so my, my boys have the voice of the past that I can collect for them, but especially the part I know. But what is it for you when you started that journey of looking at that?

Sindi :

So it was around 12 years old and was that my grandparents house? We had a very large family I'm from a family of nine children and we would go to my father's parents house and that was just the big meeting place and someone on my father's side had done a genealogy and brought the little pamphlet at the time so this was in the early 70s, I would say and it just the room was electrified, everybody was talking, everybody wanted to see it. And you know, it's just, I've always liked the stories of the past. My mother was a terrific storyteller. She would tell us stories about herself, about her parents, about her grandparents, and I just loved all of that. So I started recording her stories, but I wasn't doing the genealogy store yet. And then my mother's cousin did research for her side of the family my grandfather, my mother's father's side of the family and she made this huge book and again, it was just fantastic, but I just wasn't there yet. So finally, you know, the kids have graduated from high school and now I have my time, and it's now I'm going to do it.

Sindi :

And that was just when genealogy, I mean ancestrycom was coming out. They were advertising and so forth. So I started and you know, all of a sudden I was staying up till three o'clock in the morning looking at dead people. So it was a lot of fun.

Sindi :

And so, since my grandfather's side of the family was already researched, I decided to go on my grandmother's side, and I was basically on my father's side, but I could tell my mother wasn't too thrilled that I was doing my father's side of the family, so I decided, out of respect for her, to start looking at my grandmother's side of the family, which we knew. My side of the family was an Akkadian or Cajuns, because we were down in Texas, louisiana area, but my grandmother's last name well, she had a grandmother that was Irish, so they thought they were Irish, but when I did the research I found out that she has a lot more Akkadian blood in there than any of us ever thought she did. And so then I needed to start writing the stories, because just writing down dates and so forth, nobody wants to know this, but they want to know all of the other stuff.

Sindi :

You know, how they were deported and how they had to cross the Atlantic Ocean in the 1700s in a crappy ship, you know and that they made it and they lived. And then they came to Louisiana and they lived in an area that was inhospitable at the time, but they survived. So that's why I wanted to write these stories and I wanted my mother to get to read these stories before she passed. But I also wanted to share the stories with other people, so I didn't want it just to be my mother and I knew that if you wait for the book because you need to you know 200 or more pages. If you wait to write a book, yeah it's not going to happen.

Sindi :

Yeah, yeah.

Melissa:

So tell us the can share that too, because that's something that I think is really great, and a lot of people were coming up to me, even at the conference, or when I speak about how to, and I talk, I call it publishing. Right, when I do my, when I talk about the steps of writing, there is a final step of publishing. But for me, for my you know, students or people that I talked to publishing could be in many forms. It just means the sharing part of it.

Melissa:

Right and I know you have the website, so is that? Can you tell us how you chose that, how you formatted that? I mean it could be different. You know, not so much I know platforms are, you know, gonna change and go through. But a little bit about the decision and how you did that.

Sindi :

So when I decided I would be writing a book, my many mothers became the thought that I was. All these women are my mothers. So my many mothers came about and I had joined in a I just said denialogy. Once a month we talk about our different projects and I mentioned to someone that I thought about doing a blog and this one man just said you can do it and I had. It was like I'd only met him quite online, you know. And I finally said you know what I can do this and I have.

Sindi :

I belong to an accountability group. We meet weekly on research and genealogy and we read each other's works and so forth. But that really helped. So I did a WordPress blog and now I've. You know, I posted for the first year or so. I was really good.

Sindi :

I had biographies that I had already researched and I was posting those, but now they've kind of flipped off to less than a month because I didn't have as many ready and I really do the research and I fight everything. So it's not just information that I didn't acquire appropriately. So I really want to be able to pass on my information so anybody can use it and also find out where I got the information and maybe use it for themselves later on. So that's how my many mothers got up there. So it's.

Sindi :

I started that one in 2021, I think, or maybe 2022, I forgot it was on my mother's birthday. I started it. She had passed by that time too, though, unfortunately. So, yeah, that's where my many mothers come from. So there's, and I do those. So those biographies are in all kinds of formats. Sometimes I pretend I'm the person, the mother, and I write it in my point of view. Sometimes it's like a letter was written from one cousin to another cousin and then you know they're trading information back and forth about what happened. Or it's from a child's point of view of what happened to them or to their parents, you know, with a witness or whatever. So I do different formats for the biographies.

Melissa:

Yeah, I love that and I love that as an offer to everyone out there thinking about how to look at it, because one of the biggest questions was I've done this research. Why would anyone want to read it? I remember this gentleman coming up to me and he's like I have this and he and my kids wonder why is dad in his office till 12? Am you know working?

Melissa:

on this stuff. Why would they want it? And we talked about ways to share the story within the research. But that's perfect way to stay. Creative also is to be willing to look at the research and accuracy, which I love, because then it's just a story. So the most you can put in. Citing the facts and including those facts is wonderful, but also being willing to listen to the story and sit with the story and think about whose point of view will tell that best Love that.

Melissa:

It's so playful too that you can then not feel like, oh, I've got to do the same thing next month and it's got to be this format. And if it's not this format, it's not quote, unquote, right, or you know. But being willing to kind of go through probably helped keep that more consistent looking through that Right. Yeah.

Sindi :

And I did make a list. I have a list of different ways to do that point of view, so I try. You know, okay, maybe it's this person. No, that one doesn't work for her.

Melissa:

Yeah, that's really cool. That's a good idea for a tool too, because I have talked about different writing, mini lessons and doing a mini lesson each week on our writing. The Facebook group and point of view is a good way, but specifically when we're talking about our personal stories, thinking about even just the idea of who in this story is it that's gonna be telling the story?

Melissa:

And when in their life are they telling it? Are they looking back and telling it? Are they living it in the moment? I just worked on a story that I am submitting for an anthology and the first draft that I had written. I must have written as Melissa this and Melissa that it was awful, and I then transitioned it to I. But then I looked at the draft she sent back I think it was like half and half. I'm like okay, I can see where I was going. I was changing it to be present and I went through the whole thing and just went back to the moment and it was the night that my mom passed. It was what was happening before, why I was there, to be there for it and kind of this beginning and end. And I'll share that at some point and I'll share when it's coming out because I'm really excited. But the other part of that is it's really hard to do that when it's something that's personal to you, because you write down the facts, because that's kind of how you witness those things in your life right when you look back at it.

Melissa:

It's very easy to get into the facts or to get only into the feelings. But to be able to go back and look at some of those stories and be creative with and point of view helped me. I put myself back in senior year Melissa's mouth like I used my words when I did the edit and it should have been common sense when I first wrote it. But I try and tell people like your drafts are gonna be draft and draft and draft, because you get the thoughts and ideas out first and then you do what the purpose is. So I love that because you have your research facts, you have everything edited and then you can decide which way it's gonna come out by that person.

Sindi :

It's beautiful.

Melissa:

I love that, thank you. So what would you say then? Okay, so I would say from listening to you that the passion came obviously from that childhood moment and I can totally relate because I had a family that was very similar with that and family members that were the ones that were documenting and sharing and everyone getting excited and sitting around the table telling those stories. Not all of them got written down, but there was always. You know, it was funny. When you read some quotes, you've probably heard this too like there's always this thought that there's one person that's the memory minder or the storyteller in the family and I'm like, oh no, everybody in my family is trying to get the story out and the three of us siblings are all like we did a podcast earlier. I'm like, yeah, we often have to like wait because we get so excited to tell the stories. Would you say then your project was also very much inspired by your mom and letting her Absolutely.

Sindi :

Yeah, yeah, yeah, she was a great storyteller but she didn't write. You know, she was creative and she liked to do things with their hands, but writing would not have been. I mean, she wrote letters I have all the letters that she wrote to me but she would have never written a story like that. She would think that was beyond her.

Melissa:

Unfortunately, yeah, no, I totally was thinking of this too when I was talking to someone in one of the group chats that had her mom's. Her mom, at 80, decided to start putting down some of her stories and I had just mentioned, like I don't have that, but I don't even know at that time my mother's age or you know, as I was younger, my mother would not have seen herself as a storyteller, writer or whatnot. But I know that she lived and like saw things and like saw the world in her specific way, and I would have loved that part of her view on the world.

Melissa:

The Barbara view of the world would have meant a lot to me. My sister, who does sound baths and sound healing and vibration, was talking about how just the voice like she wishes, she no, we were really young she was especially young cause she's five years younger than me but having her voice like actual voice. So when we think about at our age, our parents and what we do have in their handwriting, lots of people now will actually have recordings and their voices also, which you know, depending on the timing. We didn't have that, even my mom's voice.

Melissa:

I don't have on like an answering machine tape or anything like that, cause it was just not even happening. So there's different ways of like looking at how that, how we can capture those and progress, and thinking about, you know, encouraging our parents or family members that are older to feel encouraged and to make it as simple as possible for them to do it, and I think there's a lot more now that are focused on that piece. Okay, so we have that first project. Tell me, when you messaged me, it was actually a different project that you had told me about and it was your first one you had up on Amazon that you actually did publish. Aside from the blog, which I think is beautiful, actually, because I love that the blog allows you to continually add and kind of has a feeling of going back in time is going to never end anyway, so where would you stop? But yet your books are very well placed in being books. So tell me about that next project.

Sindi :

So I have heard well, like a couple of months before we met, this was the second time someone had well, maybe well the second time that someone specifically told me how upsetting it was that family members did not want to know about their past and their genealogy and they didn't want to hear anything about it, that they were changing subjects. The family members were, you know, just like, oh no, here she comes, and one woman was even going to cancel a family reunion because the family didn't want to have a genealogy part of the family reunion. And I was just like, oh my God, how could you do that? And then I thought you know what. We have to find ways to entice our audience. So I wanted to have. How can we have fun with genealogy? So my first book is Genealogy Fun While Developing New Genealogists. And we're not going to get our audience or our target first time around. Second time around, it may take three or four years, it may take 20 years. It could be that we will never know that the 10 year old has heard about our story and what is it going to become the genealogist when they're in their 40s and I'm dead? So we have to keep pursuing it.

Sindi :

So I had written an article based on my first conversation with this woman and just jot it down 10 or 15 different ways. And then, after I met you and you had your book, I said this could be a book. You know, it doesn't have to be a big book. Your book was yeah, and I got permission from the publisher that I could take that month the original article, and I expanded on it and it's just, you know that 30 or so different ideas either from word games to actually writing your own little book, doing coloring pages, taking an item and repurposing an item.

Sindi :

My grandmother we have my grandmother's shoe that she wore when she married my grandfather. Well, my brother, my sister, then took the shoe, stuffed some floral stuff in there and has a floral arrangement in the shoe and it's beautiful, you know. So now the shoe isn't just a shoe, it's a piece of the home decor. So you know, there are things that we can do, like a postcard that somebody wrote in the 1900s. You can take a picture of the postcard on one side and then mount it and have it shown and make it, you know, a framed picture on your wall. So things like that are the things that can draw us in. And the other thing that I want to encourage people is to let people touch the items, because if we don't let people touch it, we can't connect. If you want them to really connect with your ancestors, let them touch the glass, take stand, let them touch the war medals. Yeah, you know you don't want them to, you know, grab it and run, but you need to at least give them that connection.

Melissa:

Yeah, and I think doing it in a way that that shows that they're treasures, right, like you said, not go ahead and run with it, but to make it a special event where you're showing them how to respect it and how we're going to do this this way, so that we preserve it so that it can be there.

Melissa:

I love that and I love when you were talking about ways to encourage and not knowing yet like the more we talk about it, but we may not know what they decide to do in their 40s, right? Right, my friend and I were talking when I was first birthing this whole concept because it started. My whole book started because I was researching a historic person from New Bedford for my fiction novel which is in process, but kind of got a little bit interrupted and I realized I'm doing all this work on her and I really want to know the same kinds of things on my people. Yeah, and I was like I want to do something shorter term so that I can be doing it. And so I had signed up to do my book in a weekend with a woman and I was validating the concept. I was pulling, like inviting you know, my ideal reader onto calls to say what do you think about this and how do you look at this? And I wanted it to not just be, which it's funny because at first I still am getting oh, my mother will love this, I'm going to send her the book and I'm going to send her the article and I'm like it's not just about your mother. We need to start sooner, while the things are there and fresh, and you've heard me say start with yourself, right, but there is something to be said.

Melissa:

She, my friend, was talking about how she has two boys, like I do, and even from her looking at her mother, there was things that she didn't know about her mother growing up, and some of them were quite big. She learned as she became a woman, adult, side by side, going through life, and now she can see her mother's strengths and her mother's amazingness. And she didn't really have interest in any of that. I mean, she loved her mom and her mom was there, but not like what's her real story? Who was she when she was younger? What were the things? Was she rebellious? What were those spicy things that we don't always share with our children as we're trying to be examples? Yeah, and she was saying, like I want to put these down so that when my boys are ready they'll have that piece of me. And so even talking about sometimes we might write the stories and wait to share them, right, like write them as they're happening, but in the intention that when you're older and you might be going through this or you can understand me in a better way because you'll be that age that can be there. So I do love the idea of the fact that we're building those blocks and setting expectations for when they're ready to come and also making it, making it entertaining, making it real life, making it connection.

Melissa:

I think those of us that are storytellers or get excited about some of that also have to remember to give space to other people, to be able to connect with those, and so I feel like sometimes, when we're the ones that are like here's all the history, here's all the story, and they're like oh, here she comes again. Sometimes that's about like really being thoughtful of how can I pull people in also. So it's not me just doing the telling, but maybe including, so that there's some kind of two way with that. But that's me, as the teacher, also thinking about like how can I keep the kids involved? I love that. And then so you did the original book and now you have also an activity companion book.

Sindi :

Yeah, so one of the ideas in the book was to write an activity book for your family and I said, well, you know what I can do, one that's just general, and so in it I have a coloring page, I have a page about a crossword puzzle, I have a word match like footer, family relationships. I have a word. I also have a transcriptions, like. I have one of my mother's recipes that was written in her handwriting and I'm asking the person that's using the book to transcribe it, because these are the things that genealogists would do. I have some scavenger hunt that you would do, because genealogy is a scavenger hunt.

Melissa:

It is. I love that. That's probably why I love it so much.

Sindi :

Yeah. So I have activities. You know they'll look at this online, either in a newspaper or whatever. It is like the Freedmen's Bureau, a census record and so forth. And then I have a couple of activities for statistics, because I was thinking, you know, how can I get the accountant interested in genealogy? And I thought about numbers. And then I just came up with you know, what was the? Who was the oldest person in the tree? Who was the youngest? What was the ages? What was the average age of a family? Let's look at a family three generations back. What was the average age of death? Everybody wants to know that, you know. Yeah. So you know I'm realizing I'm probably gonna live to my 90s because of the average age of my family, and so so that's genealogy activity books hit one. I plan to do one specific to the Acadian family, you know so that it's activities just for Acadians or Cajuns. I love that. And then we'll see how the activity books go, if it goes into different format.

Melissa:

Yeah, I love that. That was great. I'm gonna ask to let everybody oh go ahead.

Sindi :

Well, I was gonna say I just had to eat my own dog food, as they say. You know, I'm suggesting you do this well then.

Melissa:

I should do it too, yes yes, exactly, which is why I keep pulling out and I shared my sister gave me for Christmas last year and I did start out, but now today I mean this year, as I do my, and it's got a family tree, that's beautiful.

Melissa:

And it's plain paper and I did such a good job and I wanted to do, you know, a story a day and I did it for a bit and then I had my fall and then I came and did it for a little bit longer. But I am making and, for those of listening to this live, I just released a post and I'll put it actually more obviously on my website about like a tracker so I can keep that habit up of writing my stories a day In my handwriting. I don't know who's getting this, which boy?

Sindi :

are they gonna share?

Melissa:

And when I talked about it I'm like I know it's gonna be hard, because maybe they take turns with it, because there's something to be said when we're sitting and writing and it's not being refined and perfect. It's in our own right. There's something we just talked about. You talked about having the handwriting and I feel that way, like I can see my mother's handwriting and know it was hers, and it's usually recipes that we talked about, that which we're gonna get to next. So I'm trying to think about whatever comes to mind when I sit down in the morning, before I've gotten into a day of like present time, to kind of be thoughtful of, like a love note to my boys and some what I've been doing is thinking about.

Melissa:

Okay, like today, it's January 7th, it's snowing outside, why, I can think. And it's a wet, slushy snow.

Melissa:

And all of a sudden I'm thinking about the mittens that my grandmother gave us every year, and they would get bigger right and they'd be different colors every year, but they were knitted yarn and on a wet, snowy day like this and we lived on Cape Cod, on like sand, and we'd play in the snow and we'd be making things cause our mom would kick us out until it was time to come in, but your fingers would be soaking wet and there would be sand in the fingers of those little mittens that weren't really made for snow. They were made to keep you hand warm.

Melissa:

But like I right Even just not so much a story but those memories that could then maybe be parts of stories, cause then you have, like, your senses and your memories can be tied together. But I love that idea and I just branched off because, like you said, eating your own dog food. I've not heard that phrase. But I am making sure that in the midst of doing the podcast and the content and another book that I'm also still doing, my whole purpose was for my boys to have the story.

Melissa:

So that was a good way and it's a pretty way I find for me and I talked about this even in the like looking at the new year and setting goals For me my writing practice is and I love this cause it goes along with you writing your mother's, my mother's stories, the playfulness in it, finding the beauty in it, like keeping it light, keeping it. I don't know that whole way of like not making it work and so having the pretty journal to go to every day made it like and the texture of the paper.

Melissa:

It's literally, it's pressed paper, so I couldn't even watercolor if I wanted to. But I have my pen. That I love and that's what I write in, and so I made a promise that I would do it again daily, and I have a tracker that I did so I can put the names of the stories or what the topic was or the times. If I'm saying I need to write for 15 minutes a day, however, anyone wants to track. But then when you're going back and looking for your writing, you're saying, oh, I just did one on this and it can fit here, so I'm gonna be using it. So I was like, of course, let me share this. So that's a free PDF. I'll link that.

Sindi :

That's awesome, that's a great idea.

Melissa:

And I am gonna put all of your links and again the link to the books in the show notes for this podcast and the blog, Cause what I do each time I do the podcast, I do a visual blog version of it, so we'll have it in the blog. But I'm starting to think that maybe I do need a resource page with all different resources, like a little gift shop, Cause I'm starting to think of this more now. The reserve your past as like welcome and come into my cozy nook with a big table and we can write our stories together and we can like look at the different things. So I'll talk to you about that, Cause, yeah, I'm thinking that that fits with that perfectly, that maybe we can then put the right there too for everyone. That's an obvious place. So that leads us. So you mentioned recipes, and November's Facebook group was a relaunch for me of creating community within the group, and we're even evolving this month of January to even put some more daily interactions and prompts and things that will keep us having conversations about that. But I really loved that you were able to join and one of the fun parts of that, one which hopefully we can then put back into now that the holidays are over was the end of the month.

Melissa:

We had just a writing party and there was a couple of us on and the topic we had worked through that month of like inspiration was recipe stories. And I did that because every time I went to teach a workshop on how to write stories, like I usually start with like a lesson learned. No matter where I am, food comes up and one of my first paying clients was Melissa. My parents own a restaurant. I grew up with this, so I knew her father and his brother's own restaurant. I want to preserve the recipes and the stories behind them. Will you work with us? So food and recipes has been like a very like I wanna say, easy for people to bridge into looking at what that means. Right, and very similar to what you were saying. They can touch it, they can feel it, they can taste it, so it's real to everybody. Right, it's not this factual thing that happened. It's something that still kind of comes through and I'll talk about that a bit, even how it affected us this Christmas after, but I want you to talk about. So we had a recipe, we worked through the activity. I had everyone bring a card and kind of think about that recipe. We went through the steps.

Melissa:

One of the things that I love to do and I would love to hear your experience of this and how you might use this too is I do that grounding step. So for everyone that's listening or watching, part of what makes my steps different is it's not just a regular writing process which I shouldn't say regular writing process, because I do think a lot of writers do something like this but for me, being stories of people that are with me and energetically or spiritually or however right Our family that have affected us, Taking time to pause from day to day busyness and really think about our topic and ground in with our audience. Who we're rewriting for, what's our purpose for this story? Who are we writing about? And then to kind of almost like stop, close your eyes and talk and listen to them. What's the story that's being told? And I love that because it even goes back to when you were talking about which. Whose story were you telling for my mother's stories. So tell me about your experience from that and what involved from that.

Sindi :

So when I've done a recipe book with my mother, we recorded a bunch of the recipes and then I wrote the stories about. It's all about me, the stories, or my view because my mother passed before. Well, my mother was in decline and but I needed to make sure that the book got published before she died. Two weeks before she died we got it published and then I made copies for all my family. But so recipes in my family, especially with my mother, it was always something we wanted to do. So when I saw that you had the recipe workshop, I said I have to do this one. So I chose fresh apple cake, which is a recipe that my grandmother it was from my grandmother, my mother's mother and it was one that we always had a fresh apple cake at every holiday and I think my mother said that when she was growing up the fresh apple cake was one of theirs. So I did what you had asked us to do. I did the mapping, which I'd never do. I don't map. I'm one of those.

Sindi :

Everybody has a different writing process. So I just wrote, wrote, wrote and. But anyway, I did your process and I was fine with the week that when we finished. I was fine with stopping, because my focus is on biographies, not on this kind of story, but it didn't let me go. I love that. Yes, so this was a Sunday before Thanksgiving.

Sindi :

It was on the 19th of November and we had an early Thanksgiving and I needed to make the fresh apple cake that week because my sister was coming in from Texas and she hadn't been here in 23 years, so I had to have you know bringing. She's coming from New England, she's coming from Texas to New England and I had to give her a piece of home. So make the fresh apple cake. And all of a sudden, the story.

Sindi :

I had the idea I need to write this as a children's book because again, and one of my activities is write a story for your grandchildren about either you or somebody else in the family. So I thought, oh, making the grandma making the fresh apple cake would be a great children's story. And she just, my grandmother just took over For that week. She was just in my mind telling me how the story is going to go, but as I was assembling the ingredients, I would take pictures of it. When I assembled all my utensils and the bowls and the measuring cups and so forth, I took pictures of it. So I took pictures of the whole process, you know, as it battered, when it goes in the pan cake I'm sorry, in the oven and so forth. And then my sister Lori read the book, the story, and she liked it. You know it was good. But I kind of felt bad because while she was here visiting the story was going through my mind the whole time.

Sindi :

Yeah, you're like I'm sorry, I can't stop. I'm writing and writing and writing, and then I shared it with another sister and of course you know you made me cry. I'm sorry, lori, I'm sorry, and I think this needs to be a children's book. My sister has grandchildren, and my second sister, my younger sister's daughter, is an illustrator. So I thought, okay, I'm asking Hailey if she will illustrate it. So I sent her the story and she said yes, right away, which I wasn't too sure because I had asked her to do some illustrations previously and it just didn't connect with her.

Sindi :

But this one did, and so she read the story and then she came up with 12 scenes from the story that she thought would be a good pictorial so that we can do the page, a story that relates to the picture and the story. So she's working on that next week and I'm sure, though, I get the first scene. So I'm excited about that. So, probably, maybe by the summertime, the book it would become a book and I will publish it either on Amazon, the Kindle publishing, direct publishing or lulucom I haven't decided which. This one, I'm thinking I might do two ways One that's specific to the family with that's more personal.

Sindi :

And then I might do a revised version or just kind of make it less specific to my family, so it's more general and can be open to the public.

Melissa:

I love that. I love all of that. I love that we have access to publish, and this is something I want to share. Just point out from what you're saying, people don't realize and you mentioned two very user friendly and accessible ways to publish that you don't need to think of yourself as an author. You don't have to have a social media list to be able to put your words out to the world, to preserve them through some type of publishing. Now, if you want your face on Times Square, there's a different way you're going to need to go, but for these types of stories and I love the idea that it is so accessible that you could do both forms and have it be a gift in a format for your family that's really special, that can be handed down or there to print again and be able to do it in the future. I love the whole story. I love that she was speaking to you. I can totally relate to that.

Melissa:

This year, at the holidays, after we had done that, I had done a recipe from my side of the family, my grandfather. It was interesting because the one I picked was not my mother's writing or my grandmother's writing. It was my aunt's writing, who was only 10 years older than me but passed several years ago and it was just a very sad decline and a very sad. It was a heartbreaking loss and she had written out recipes when I got married and I have those recipes from my grandmother and a recipe book because she took the time to do it. But the one that I used was actually one she wrote for her daughter, I believe, because then it says this was grandfather's favorite and it was this dip.

Melissa:

I had never seen it written down on paper. The whole story for me was like how did I not know this was an actual recipe? But as soon as I read it I was like I'm visualizing my grandfather now sitting at the kitchen table pulling things out first out of my grandmother's fridge in his white t-shirt Now he was white haired, glasses the whole time. I knew him with his hair kind of slicked. He was a pharmacist and he was just very scientific, looking in a not in a neat way. When he was home he was just like a you know the mad scientist kind of look.

Melissa:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, but loving and everything like. No, he was just, but he loved food and the funny part was there was a joke like him and my dad and my dad had. There was five kids in my dad's family but my father and he were like expired food like was different dates for those two than there were for the rest of the family and they were very much into cafeteria. Food was like their favorite place to go was the Kmart diner and so going to places like that with them sitting at a food counter.

Melissa:

But so now this dip comes along and I'm like, oh my gosh, I thought that grandfather just took what was on the side and smushed it together, but it is a very it's several layers of smashing stuff and it was like smash this and mash this and mash this. So I did that and I gifted it to my sister. My brother was away at Christmas, so I have his batch I'm spoiling as Christmas present. If he listens to this.

Sindi :

But I did have it. His expiration date may be later than yours, exactly.

Melissa:

Well, this, the funny part, is not. Much in this expires very soon.

Sindi :

It was one of those cheesy, weird recipes.

Melissa:

But it was delicious and it was fun. The other part that came from that for us was I had fallen right before Christmas and kind of hurt my back. Luckily it was only muscular and I kind of felt better. But in a sense of not doing like a big sit down dinner with my husband's side of the family, I decided to do a great grandma Christmas party because my husband's grandmother would have us all the evening of Christmas, after everyone celebrated all of their things, come to the house and she'd have more of like like hot luck type food.

Melissa:

So she'd have the leftover turkey or someone would bring their leftover ham, but then we would have these different dishes that she made. And so I just messaged everyone and said we're not having a sit down ham dinner because I have my family in the morning. We do like buffet and then to then go and cook a ham dinner when I don't know if I'll be able, you know, I'd rather do something. I can make some of the stuff ahead. We did all of her items, which were like her sweet and sour meatballs and her cabbage salad and my mother-in-law and it was the fun part and like going towards, like including family, and what you were talking about was that I put that in a text and then, aside from eating the food, the excitement that came from my husband's family all putting in what they wish the day. You know what they were either going to bring or wish they wanted someone to make. That reminded that, and one of the ones that came up over and over and over was she would do rolled cold cuts and she'd do roast beef and provolone cheese and I want to say turkey.

Melissa:

I did ham. I'm like I don't think Graham did him, because I think she had like cut up him from the leftover dinner, but how many of them? I knew my son wouldn't eat like all over the other foods, but he would grab his roast beef or some cheese and everyone was talking about, oh yeah, that was what I went for, was the provolone or I always went for that. It was funny how the cold cuts that I remember because I was like, finally my son is going to stop, you know, running around and eating the cheese, puffed cheese, curls that some of them brought, but he finally would have some protein.

Sindi :

But so it is.

Melissa:

It is interesting to see how those holiday recipes kind of pulled us all together and back into the memories and it really did make it special. My sister in law actually brought a picture of my husband's grandmother, Graham, and we had that at the table as we got on the table. Oh, wow, how nice. As a side note, most of those recipes had like a cup and a half of sugar. Even the sweet and sour meatballs, probably a cup of sugar, the cabbage salad I'm thinking, oh, it's vinegar and that's great. I need to eat more of those types of foods. Cup and a half of sugar that you're like boiling in the vinegar I'm like that was a lot of sugar. Right, as someone who's been like really weaning off sugar, but yeah, it was a lot of sugar in all those recipes.

Sindi :

I was noticing the same thing, and one of the things that I noticed when I went through my grandmother's recipe tent is she has a lot of recipes that have pineapples and date, and so I said, well, she must have really liked pineapples, or she really liked dates, does she? I don't know, did she? I don't know? But yeah, it's just my conclusion.

Melissa:

Yeah, I'm going to have to look now too, because I do remember you mentioning that. Remember my brother mentioned that. Did you mention that in one of our chats? Do you think I probably did. I think you did. If not, so as we were doing this and preparing and I had my grandmother's wooden recipe part out that actually I thought it was my mother's mother's. Then when I looked at the kind of broken label at the top, it was for the music group and my grandmother was a pianist amazing pianist and organist for the church, and so it must have been things that she collected from that. And so when I looked through I'm like, oh yeah, that's my. Some of it had my mom's writing because she must have used the box yeah.

Melissa:

Some of those were in my grandmother's writing and some were things that I'm like I have not made recipes, you know anything, and here I need to go back and look at the ones that look like the most not anything that I would know and kind of examine those and try those and see what was going on at that time in history of for food Right, but I love that.

Melissa:

Okay, so we went through and we're going to put the links to my mother's stories. Sorry, my many mothers. I've said it many different ways through this.

Sindi :

That's okay.

Melissa:

SignManyMotherscom, your blog, your books, and I can't wait to see the story for your fresh apple cake. Do you have a title for it?

Sindi :

Yes, I do Mama's Fresh Apple Cake Beautiful.

Melissa:

And then I'm going to go to the next piece of this, because I have two questions that I always ask my hosts I mean my guests and as I was reading through and looking at your projects, a third one came to. Okay, so, if we haven't already shared this because I had shared what I would you know my usual questions is there from your many mothers. Did we already talk about this? What was the most surprising or interesting story that you found doing that project? That's one thing that I would first love to hear.

Sindi :

So my ninth great-grandmother her name was Marguerite Bouillet or Boullet-Boulou, but I can't pronounce it, Sorry. So she was the first of her of my line that came from France to Canada in the late 1600s and her husband killed a man that was supposed to have been her lover. And yes, and he then went back to France and got a pardon from the king and then came back to Canada and they continued their lives together. Yeah, so that was interesting.

Melissa:

Can. I ask you how you found that? Like what documentation did you find that you saw all that?

Sindi :

So it's just during research and it was a. It's a known story but I didn't know it. So it's just one of those known stories. And then you, we find out that it belongs to you. So I've done a little bit more research than other people have and a lot of the research that was done was in the 1800s and it was done by men and it's very biased. They all make a margarite to be a decibel, a clerk. You know that it was her. So I've been looking at it in a different point of view. And then I have met another man that is doing research on the couple also and we are going to we have some collaborative collaboration that's going to be going on. Oh, that's so pretty, so it's going to be interesting.

Sindi :

But the other story was her great granddaughter, anastasia, was murdered or was killed by English or British no American New England Rangers and scout in front of her family.

Sindi :

So it was a time in the 1750s when New England and Acadia and you know New England was trying to take over Nova Scotia and Canada and they didn't want Acadians were Catholic, they didn't want them in the area and they were trying to force them out of the area.

Sindi :

This was to play somewhere in, I think, new Brunswick and they found the family in December and or no March, I can't remember the month. The story is in the book on my blog and her grandfather was a known Acadian soldier type and he was a leader and they wanted him to her father, to pledge to the King of England and he would not. And so in order to force him, they took his daughter and tied her to a tree and they tied the father to the tree and then took the daughter and it was just horrible. I mean, it was written by the account was written in two different places by a soldier that witnessed it, and then it was in the newspapers of the time. So you can see the article. They don't give names, they don't give you a whole lot that you end up knowing who it is. So those were the two big surprises.

Melissa:

Wow.

Sindi :

That's what keeps me going, and the research. You just have no idea that these things were happening and that could have happened. That did happen, so it's great.

Melissa:

Wow, yeah, that's beautiful, that's awful and that's just interesting. And I love going back and looking at some of those perspectives on a different view than just the writing it, as the men which had a purpose to write it for that story right.

Melissa:

Was also their reason for sharing it too, would have that perspective of her as a Jezebel. Yeah, wow, okay. So the other two questions that I always ask are is there a story that you and you found a lot of your stories? You're doing amazing research and you've got me now all excited to get back into that piece, back into the actual researching before me, right, but is there a story that you don't have, either from more recent or from the past, that's still a mystery, that hasn't been preserved, that you haven't found, that you wish you had?

Sindi :

Yes, and I'm not going to get it. It's my grandmother, the one I've been talking about. She and my grandfather. When they met, they were in their mid-20s and my grandfather had asked her to marry him three or four times and she said no. And she finally said yes when she was 26 years old. We know that part of the story. What we don't know is why she said no. We don't know if she had another boyfriend previously, if she had a broken heart or she was just an independent person because she was not living with her parents even though she was 26. She was living in a different town and she had been living with her cousins.

Sindi :

Yeah, she had taken courses and business courses and she was working. So I'm like, wow, we didn't. You know, we knew this a little bit about her, but we didn't have the stories about her. So I wish the stories I'll never get they're gone.

Melissa:

Yeah, that's why we need to start with us Right, right and then get the ones we can, because technology also is amazing of what there is, the things you're talking about, those stories and newspapers from you know 1800s, that we now have more access to Right and you don't have to go to a local library to find the local you know slides, or or wait three weeks for somebody to mail it to you Mail it to you?

Melissa:

Yeah, yeah, crazy, yeah, excellent, thanks, ben. And as you think about going into the future and preserving stories, is there a story that you know that must be? And this was so hard. When I talked to my sister and brother, they were like just one and no one came up with one. They came up with like a generalization, but I have had many people be able to think of one. It doesn't have to be the only one, but is there one that comes to mind that you know needs to be preserved? So, when you think about preserving your past through your story, is there a story you're like, yes, this one needs to get passed along.

Sindi :

So you've done a lot, yeah, and you know, when my mother was 75, we did a family party for her and we all wrote her a letter or a tribute to her and we have it in a book. And we did the same for her sister, who never married and was like a second mother to all of us. So we did that too. So I have those stories. So I feel like I've been doing that all along and that's why I can go back and look at my ninth great grandmother. So, but, truthfully, I have not been recording my own life. I don't have stories about me, and if my children were interested in it, I don't have it for them yet. So it's maybe it's something I need to accomplish. Work like you are doing and you spend 15 minutes a day and just writing one little thing at a time. It doesn't have to be a real story, it could just be documented.

Melissa:

Yeah, I'm doing snippets, yeah, of memories, like little, yeah, like little snippets of like oh I remember this and trying to think of those things. The book that I did was simple because it was 10 things to add to your stories, but then I put small short stories in, and so I try and go back to those things also when I'm writing those little snippets of what's gonna make them feel real.

Melissa:

But yes they're very short and they're not necessarily when I talk about stories. I think that's another thing kind of to clarify with people. It is I've been using the word memory as like collecting those memories, but I do love the idea of I still feel like very strongly about the things you're doing with the actual stories and confirming the facts also. Right, yeah, because we do have to differentiate between what's our perspective of a memory and even our memory.

Melissa:

So that podcast that I did with my sister and brother in December was one same incident and different points of view Like it was us going shopping at Christmas time with my dad, which we would do like a couple of days before, and each of us had different memories. That one, it was funny. It didn't turn out exactly the way I thought, but we were helping each other remember parts or ask questions of like was this real, or do you think this is why? Or you know, and then, what it looked like to each of us at different ages?

Melissa:

Because even like we, went through it and physically my sister's, like I remember being little and handing the money and being at the counter and for me I was like oh, I was older. I remember trying to keep everyone behaving in the car Like yeah, because I was the oldest, so I wanted to think about even just that perspective.

Melissa:

Wow, this was so much fun. I really did a lot. This was, we did a lot. You are amazing. I am so glad that I got to meet you and I feel again like you inspire me and if I can have had any ounce of inspiring you of, I think, anytime you find people that you can collaborate, support, just that helps you remember your path. I feel like that's what you've helped me do also and validate that a little bit, which helps us to go through, because writing and research can be solitary, which is fine, like part of what we love about it sometimes is that getting lost into it, but it's also nice to have people to see other ways of doing things and I appreciate it.

Sindi :

So I just and I wanted to make sure I let you know how what you did for me. I wouldn't have gone this path if I had not met you, and you needed to know that, because sometimes we don't realize how we touch people and you need to know that you've made an impact in a very positive way and I just wanted you to know that. So I appreciate that we met back in May and that we came across each other again and it's been really good and you've helped me stay in focus, thinking about some other stories that need to be told that I wasn't planning to tell, but you asked me what my goals are. I documented those on your Facebook page.

Melissa:

Oh, I know.

Sindi :

So it's helped to me and I really appreciate the time and I wanted to tell you you have a beautiful winter scene behind you. I think it's falling, I know it looks, you know it's really funny is.

Melissa:

I'm looking out at it in the front and for those of you on the podcast, you'll have to go to the YouTube video. So at work the other day, one of our coworkers was in a virtual background. He had like the fireplace and the snow, but it was like gray and rainy. This snow is real, so if you are, able to look.

Melissa:

And it is like total winter wonderland and it's thumping on the roof now because it's kind of wet but it's going to be beautiful to go look in. So that was a nice special way. It did turn over as we were starting and now it looks like pretend and I have my lights on and I'm keeping those little blue ornaments up through the winter to keep me perfect up during this time. Great, and you look nice and cozy in that sweater.

Melissa:

So I appreciate you. Yeah, no, cindy, thank you. And thank you for that. I am soaking in. We don't always let those acknowledgments soak in, so I appreciate that you took the time to tell me that in that first email and today, and I know that we're going to be continuing this path together, so I really appreciate it. And to everyone who's joined us today, I'm going to put all of the notes and links into our show notes and I invite you all to go ahead and, as always, here's to writing our powerful personal stories. Thank you.

Sindi :

It was a great time, thank you.

Melissa:

Wasn't that a fun episode. I enjoyed our conversation so much and if you would like to continue our conversation, be sure to follow this podcast and share with friends. This helps share the mission of preserving the past with stories. Want more tips, tools and inspiration? Head over to Melissa and kitchencom and, as always, let's get writing your powerful personal stories.

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Genealogy and Sharing Family Stories
Preserving Family History and Genealogy
Genealogy Activity Books and Writing Stories
Writing and Publishing Recipe Stories
Holiday Recipes and Family History
Preserving Stories and Family History