Month: January 2017



In my last blog, Defining my Dash, I committed to writing about my personal history, the dash between Birth and Death.

““A life that is not documented is a life that within a generation or two will largely be lost to memory. What a tragedy this can be in the history of a family. Knowledge of our ancestors shapes us and instills within us values that give direction and meaning to our lives.”  Dennis B. Neuenschwander

There’s a particularly Mormon sentiment to this quote not surprising given its source. But it’s worth reflecting on how much we are shaped by the history of our ancestors, if at all. Perhaps I’ll write about that in due course.

To reflect on my whole dash, a bit of structure and focus is needed. The way I’m going to do it is through #52Stories. That’s one a week, for the quick ones reading this that adds up to year.

52 Stories may sound like a lot, but breaking it down into a list of questions actually feels like its going to be a struggle to fit it in. So here’s a list;

  • Goals & Achievements;
  • Thoughts and Values;
  • Occupations & Hobbies;
  • Home;
  • Health;
  • Education;
  • Mothers and Fathers;
  • Travels;
  • Holidays & Traditions;
  • Events and Milestones;
  • Loves and Friends;
  • Causes and convictions;
  • Music, Books and Art
  • Pets…

Time to stop planning and move onto storytime.

Defining my Dash


Gravestone of John Crowther Greenwood (d 1891) in Adel Cum Eccup Churchyard. (My great great Grandfather)

On nearly every gravestone is carved a universal symbol. This is a Dash, seperating year of birth to year of death. Each of us, currently around, are currently in our Dash.

One of the best Family History resources,, which is run by “The Church of the Latter Day Saints”, (ie the Mormans) is running a personal story project. They have called it “Define Your Dash”.




A poem by Linda Ellis, “The Dash,” speaks of this symbol:

“For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.”

Linda Ellis, “The Dash,”

So a New Years resolution is to define my own dash, to record some of the details of my life or personal thoughts. This is to record them for posterity for my own satisfaction and for those that follow me. Or maybe to answer those questions I should have asked my parents and wished I had asked the Grandparents I knew. To me, this is filling in the gaps around the raw facts a genealogist gets from the records collected when building a Family History.

This fits in with the aim for this Cardboard Castle blog, to reflect on my life, collect my personal thoughts and make sense of experiences. Some of it can also relate to My Greenwood Family history or to this collection of personal thoughts and muses.

According to the introduction to this project in, it is also a theraputic excercise, giving a sense of purpose and control. It helps build patterns, increase gratitude, foster a stronger sense of self. Apparently this will make me happier and more succesful. All this sound very positive, and despite being somewhat of a sceptic on these self help strategies, I’m willing to give it a go.

Heres the science;

mad-scientistIn his book The Happiness Advantage, Harvard professor Shawn Achor cites research that shows how “explanatory style—how we choose to explain the nature of past events—has a crucial impact on our happiness and future success. People with an optimistic explanatory style interpret adversity as being local and temporary . . . while those with a pessimistic explanatory style see these events as more global and permanent. Their beliefs then directly affect their actions” ([New York: Crown Publishing, 2010], 187–88)

So, the plan is to write one brief story about my life, past or present, every week this year.

I’m going to post it here, in this blog. Maybe some could be too revealing or emotional, in which it will stay as a draft for a later posting. Posts will follow suggestions from this familysearch project, but this may go off track when away or bored. Some may end as part of the family history as well.

So here we go;

This has been number 1 in Defining my Dash; my resolution.