Notes to 40 Year Old Me


Sometimes milestones make us think. Life is seldom what we expect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t influence the outcome. In fact, life is an amazing journey that takes us to incredible places we never expected. When I was 40, genetic genealogy hadn’t yet been born – yet here we are today!

One of my beloved family members is having a 40th today, and I’d like to share some “accumulated wisdom” for her and also for my genealogy friends.

Looking back, here are the things I would tell my 40 year old self.

1. It’s not too late. You’re just now ripe.

2. Someday isn’t a day on the calendar.

3. Risk is not a 4 letter word. Fear is.

4. Love undeniably.

5. Remove toxic people, and jobs, from your life. You’re worth it!

6. Listen to your gut. It’s seldom wrong.

7. Life’s too short to drink bad wine or eat bad food.

8. Dark chocolate is not bad for you. Excesses of anything are.

9. Unpursued dreams will kill you, slowly and painfully.

10. Life is about the long game. In 10 years, if you’re lucky, you’ll be 50 – so investment in your own life so that you’re 50th will be perfect, because you’ll be 50 whether it’s perfect or not and you have 10 years to make it happen.

11. You are your greatest barrier.

12. You are your greatest asset.

13. A positive attitude makes most of the difference between being happy and miserable.

14. If you’re unhappy, fix the problem whether it’s external or internal.

15. If you can’t bloom where you are planted, uproot yourself and move on.

16. Always entertain the possibility of new opportunities.

17. When looking at employment, think about opportunities to make a difference.

18. Most regrets are born of what we didn’t do. Just do it!!

 Relative to genealogy:

19. Write it down. Yes, you will forget it otherwise.

20. Back up your computer, religiously, and store a backup outside your home.

21. Share. Post your tree. Be kind. It’s good for everyone.

22. Pay it forward. Someday you will be the beneficiary – in spades.

23. DNA test every relative you can find, because you’ll lose the opportunity if you don’t.

24. Be prepared. Carry a DNA kit with you at all times. Learn how to beg effectively:)

In Summary

Give some thought about how you’d like to be remembered. Write your own “dream obituary.” Then, do what’s needed to grow into that legacy.

Those of you past this birthday, what would you add?

Cynthia Wells – A Light Gone Too Soon

It sounds trite to say that I’m sorry she’s gone, but I am.

Cynthia is one of those people that everyone, and I do mean everyone, liked.  She lit up the room everyplace she went, improved everything she touched and encouraged everyone, always.

And now, she has passed from this earth.

Cynthia was a long time dedicated genetic genealogist, and an even longer time genealogist. She joined the genetic genealogy community in the olden days, more than a dozen years ago and managed the Wells and Lay projects at Family Tree DNA.

She attended the conference for project administrators sponsored by Family Tree DNA every fall in Houston, and I was looking forward to seeing her next week.

Sadly, that’s not to be.

In short, those of us in the trenches together over the years have formed a family, of sorts.

I first met Cynthia perhaps a dozen years ago when we sat by each other at lunch at one of the early conferences and began discussing Indian traders in the south. She sent me an unpublished resource, along with a book, and refused any reimbursement at all. That’s the kind of person she was.

Cynthia worked as a volunteer for the LDS Church and spoke at several genealogy conferences and meetings, often attending at her own expense, bringing the message and joy of genetic genealogy to many.

A day or so before her passing, Cynthia returned from a trip to the Middle East, in particular, the Holy Land, to celebrate her husband’s retirement and the beginning of the next chapter of their life together. She was anxiously planning a two-year mission trip with her husband when she passed away.

What a heartbreaking situation her husband faces. My heart aches for him, her children and grandchildren.

Fortunately, Cynthia’s legacy is not lost.

You can read more about her passion in her speaker profile for Genetic Genealogy Ireland here.

You can listen to her lovely southern drawl as she gives her presentation about Reconstructing Irish-Caribbean Ancestry here.

You can read Cynthia’s obituary here.

If you are a member of the ISOGG Facebook group, you can read the remembrances of her friends along with photos of the places she traveled on behalf of genetic genealogy, truly a lovely tribute, here.

Cynthia’s unexpected and untimely passing reminds us all about how tenuous and fragile life is – and why we should say and do what needs to be said and done while we can. Cherish those we love and value every minute. We really don’t know when it might be our last.

Rest in Peace Cynthia – you truly have made the world a better place and improved the lives of those who were graced enough to walk a few steps with you along the way.