Helping You Define Your Lifestyle

How to get into genealogy

Having kids will consume your world. In an instant, self-interest melts away, replaced by the need and desire to care for new humans who have a lifetime of possibility ahead of them.

A few years after sprouting new limbs on your family tree, you may end up reflecting on the whole experience and begin to wonder about the other branches that came before you.

This is how you will get interested in genealogy, despite the fact that it will make you feel as old as heck. Just know that you are not alone – Hans Eckhardt has also taken a great deal of interest in tracing his roots.

Just recently, he traced his surname back to Germany, where another man by the name of Hans Eckhardt was born in the late 16th century.

These cool coincidences and other discoveries happen with regularity when you get into genealogy. Here’s how you can begin discovering the past of your ancestors and those of your relatives.

1) Start with your immediate family

Every genealogical journey starts in the same place – with your closest relations. Talk to your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents (if you are lucky enough to still have them around).

Make it your mission to learn about every birth, death, marriage, divorce, career, and accomplishment (both legendary and notorious) that happened in their past by asking them an exhaustive list of questions.

By being tactful, you’ll be amazed at the detailed responses you’ll get from your elders.

2) Go through family artifacts

Next, make it your personal mission to track down every family heirloom, artifact, document, and trinket you can find.

Start with your own attic, then move on to your siblings, your parents, your relatives, your grandparents, and others.

Keep your eyes peeled for scrapbooks, as they are treasure troves of information, but birth certificates, letters, diaries, and any other documents also provide info and weave a story that will bring the lower rungs of your family history to life.

3) Join genealogy websites/online groups

Now that you have amassed a load of info on your family, you can use it to conduct research that will make it easier to fill in missing gaps in your genealogical history.

Start by getting online at sites like Ancestry.com or FindMyPast.com, and conduct searches to answer any questions you might have.

Offline, head to your local government office to search records like census info, or to your local library to search resources like newspaper microfiches.

If you are stuck, it helps to focus on a story arc you wish to close, like an unknown mother on your Dad’s side or the military career of your great great grandfather.

It also helps to join Facebook Groups or subreddits dedicated to genealogy, as these forums are filled with experienced practitioners who can help you if you don’t know what to do next.

Take time to read the FAQ’s first, though, as failing to do so may attract the ire of long time posters who tire of answering the same queries over and over again.

If you still can’t find what you need, ask away, supplying all the details you can muster, and someone will surely assist you.

How to Use Poker as a Mindfulness Practice

Most common mindfulness practices are fundamentally simple. Things like deep breathing, counted breaths, and short breaks and walks can help to calm us, clear our minds, and generate simultaneous states of relaxation and awareness. As much purpose as these small, simple practices have though, there are also some more involved activities that can assist with the development of greater mindfulness. And it may surprise some to learn that the game of poker is among them.

Gaming and Meditation

It is first important to understand that a link has been established between gaming and meditation in general. For a long time there were a lot of misconceptions about gaming as an active, almost violent practice meant solely for young people. But perceptions have changed over time. We now understand that people in all age groups play games of all kinds, and we further accept that a lot of these games have meditative qualities. Gamer testaments and a few scientific studies alike have indicated that the right game can have a soothing effect on one’s mental state.

This is the case with poker as well. A passion for many around the world, it’s a unique game that doesn’t necessarily fall under the umbrella of traditional “gaming” as we tend to think of the term. It is nonetheless similar with regard to mindfulness, however. Approached with intention, it can be a calming, almost meditative hobby for players.

Mental and Emotional Calm

When considering the game of poker specifically, one tends to think first of strategy, luck, and mathematics. In some sense, these are the building blocks of any given game of poker, and it will of course be important for any aspiring player to learn how they all factor in. However, what really helps successful players to win at poker is a sound mindset. The manifestation of a sound overall poker game requires that players learn to accept defeat and to avoid getting too high from a win. It demands reasonable approaches to betting and competition, clear-eyed social interaction, and the ability to operate without ego.

Add those factors up, and what success in poker really demands is mental and emotional calm. Players need skill and strategy to be sure, but above all else they need to be able to clear their minds of various pressures and shut out hasty impulses. This in and of itself is nearly a form of meditation, and certainly serves as a sort of training for mindfulness practice.

Focused Meditation

Beyond helping players to establish a general sense of mental and emotional calm, poker also leads to an ability to focus that, in its own way, is meditative. Generally, a focused meditation is described as the practice of focusing on something intently as a way of staying in the present moment and slowing down inner dialogue. It more or less means zeroing in on one subject to the exclusion of all else for the purpose of clearing one’s head — which is pretty much exactly what one has to do in poker! Even the slightest distraction can be a problem, and while the game demands a lot of attention it still makes for such narrow focus that one can clear one’s mind in a useful and soothing way.

Even given all of these benefits, poker does not comprise an entire mindfulness or meditation routine. For those interested in working on these aspects of personal wellness though, it’s always good to have one more option! Some will find this simple, popular card game to be legitimately beneficial.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our piece on how to boost your energy, especially useful as we enter a new year and search for fresh motivations!

Earfree Nitebuds: For Better Sleep

Earfree Nitebuds, the two-in-one speaker and pillow that plays calming music, improving the quality of your sleep, is launching on Indiegogo.

The idea for the Nitebuds sleep pillow came from people who used to sleep with earphones in. Many of us who have trouble sleeping at night use earphones to listen to calming sleep music, but sleeping with earphones in is just too uncomfortable. Using earphones while you sleep can cause pain and inflammation in the ear; plus, earphones tend to fall out in the middle of the night. But the adverse effects of earphones on ear health is undoubtedly the most critical of these issues.

Nitebuds puts music IN the pillow to solve the problems caused by conventional earbuds. All you have to do is lay your head down on the pillow to be serenated with lovely music. There’s no earbuds involved – so you can roll around in bed all you like without having to worry about damage to your ears or earbuds falling out.

Nitebuds are simple to use. Just place the speakers in the special sleep-aid pillow, then use Bluetooth to pair your smartphone and begin your music therapy. Once your music is playing, Nitebuds’ crater-shaped design enhances the acoustics, making you feel like you’re listening in on a concert hall performance. This design also prevents the sound from leaking out, giving you the same quality of sound at a 30% lower volume, so as not to bother whoever’s sleeping next to you.

The Nitebuds app also provides free ASMR music and ambience, soothing the brain and easing any anxiety. This white noise works has great benefits on mental health and attentiveness, making the sleep music from the Nitebuds app particularly effective at inducing a natural sleep.

Nitebuds uses 3D mesh material for full, fluffy comfort. The mesh also helps the music play through the pillow without getting muffled, plus high-quality microfiber cotton is also used to give the perfect amount of depth and coziness. The microfiber cotton is also a renewable, biodegradable material, which means Nitebuds is eco-friendly, too.

Even though Nitebuds is electronic, the speaker and pillow are fully separable, meaning the pillow can be washed without issue. If you want, you can even use the pillow by itself without the speakers, or even place other items inside the pillow to help you sleep.

For instance, if you find yourself sweating a lot in those hot summer nights, you can place ice-packs in the pillow to help cool off. Or, when you’re stressed out and in the mood for aromatherapy, the CYPRESS insert can be used for some phytoncide healing.

Also, if you have a preference for a specific pillow height, just use the COTTON insert to adjust the pillow’s height to your preference.

You can back Earfree Nitebuds – the high-tech pillow that serenades you to sleep – by finding their campaign on Indiegogo.