Are You Using Fiction to Examine Your Life?

 

In June 2018 I spent some time in Naarden-Vesting, Netherlands. I was in a major transition in life and created this video on the books I was reading at the time.

As I prepare for another journey and am in the beginning of another major transition, the books, both fiction and non-fiction are showing up to help me navigate my new life.

What are you reading that is helping you change your universe? Our readers would love to know. Please post in the comments.

© 2018 Jennifer Holik

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Moving Deeper into the Combat Experience

europe genealogy writing wwii Sep 14, 2018

I’ve spent more than 20 years in the fields of genealogy/family history and military history with a focus the last decade on World War I and World War II. I taught myself a lot where genealogy was concerned, and attended classes and conferences. I participated in the community’s professional genealogy education. Throughout everything I studied or read, the focus was on names, dates, places, sometimes historical context, but never on exploring the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual side of family.

When I began researching in-depth both world wars, which led me to teach and write books on how to research any branch, there was no one to teach me what to do. No one in the country had written educational materials. Yes there were two very outdated books on barely researching Army service, but beyond that nothing existed. The few people who were starting to lecture on this were not going beyond the basics of “all the records burned and here are some online...

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Sacred Spaces in Europe

genealogy travel wwii Sep 12, 2018
 

In Germany the summer of 2018, I spent a day traveling with Doug Mitchell, who showed Johan and I the West Wall, Dragon's Teeth, bunkers, and memorials. We absorbed a lot of history that day.

We visited many WWII sites, some in which I could still feel the trauma, hear the whispers, feel the pain. And others, like the one in this video, where there was a sense of peace.

That peace was a bit in conflict with my head which knew a battle had raged in those woods and blood soaked the land. Sometimes standing in these sacred spaces is difficult for us to reconcile energy and mind.

Where have you stood in a military family member's footsteps that caused this reaction in you? How did you reconcile the energy and knowledge?

© 2018 Jennifer Holik

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Travel in your Family's WWII Footsteps in Europe

europe genealogy travel wwii Sep 07, 2018
 

For more than a decade I have been researching all branches of the military in WWII. In 2015 I finally went to Europe to walk in the footsteps of my cousin James Privoznik, fly his final burial flag over the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) Luxembourg Cemetery where he sleeps, and then walk in the woods here he was killed.

Earlier on that trip I visited my first ABMC cemetery at Normandy. Having extensively researched and read hundreds of Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF)s and the work of the Graves Registration Service, I thought I was prepared to stand in that sacred space.

All the research in the world, all the reading of books in the world, is not the same as standing where your family member fought, was wounded, or died. Nothing can compare or completely prepare you for that moment.

Have you traveled in Europe after doing the military research for your family? It isn't enough to look at your father's discharge paper and say, 'Oh he was in that unit.' Usually...

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Can We Have Gratitude for their Choices?

 

I’ve been having many conversations with people about FAMILY. CHOICE. GRATITUDE. JUDGMENT. NEGATIVITY. CHANGE. WAR. LIFE. DEATH.

Whenever I have posed some questions, usually in a short video, about family choice and what would it take to stop judging it all, the response I get on the posts and through messages is often filled with negativity. As if there is no possibility to see anything positive in the “bad” or “wrong” or “terrible” choices our family members made. Yet, what if there is something in there to be grateful for?

Add to this the tangled web of someone saying, “Well my grandpa did THIS and I know how it traumatized THAT person and THAT person so why should I not judge?”

First, we do not know the 100 choices and experiences that led up to grandpa making a choice that did some damage or whatever it caused. Second, we do not know the 100 choices, experiences, baggage, etc. carried by the people his choice hurt. We were...

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