Tuesday, February 27, 2001    


Discovering Who I Am

By:Michelle Rae Sperl

Iíve always wanted to be somebody significant, someone who made a difference. I just never knew exactly what it was I wanted to be or accomplish.
I can remember as far back as my teenager years wanting to be a journalist/writer. I wanted to write novels. Not the kind of novels that collect dust on book store shelves. The kind of novels you can't put down and want to read over and over again. I wanted to write Best-Sellers. The kind of novels that I would be remembered by.

I wrote everyday. It makes me laugh to reminisce about those early "novels". I began writing so many and never completed any of them. I could never complete my novels because I had no idea what life was about outside of my sheltered life.

It was during my first year of college a professor told the class that in order to write, one must experience life before he/she can ever write. He taught us that one must write from their own experiences to become a writer. Still inexperienced in the world and very immature, I took an absence from college and never finished my degree.

But I still wanted to be a somebody. Iíve never wanted to be just the average mundane person. I guess you could say Iíve always had the desire to be remembered for accomplishing something important. Iíve wanted people to know who I am, what I believe and how I feel. I just didnít know which road would take me to my destination.

At age 29 I had not accomplished becoming "somebody". I was pregnant with my son Austin, beginning to forgo my dream and was becoming comfortable knowing I was just a nobody. However, soon after giving birth to my son, I was about to become somebody. Somebody very important. Somebody who would be remembered for years to come.

When Austin was two months old I was introduced to the world of scrapbooking. I had no idea that this was where I would finally be "discovered" and finally become the somebody I had always dreamed I would become.

As I began my first pages of my precious babyís album I discovered how truly blessed I was. God had given me this gift to take care of, love and protect. This had been extremely difficult for me to understand before. I was already feeling like a failure as a mother. But as I poured over the photoís of my son I began discovering how much I loved him and how much he needed me. I could see in the piles of photoís as I put them in their album that not everyday was so terrible and that there were happy times. I also began to realize, I am a mother.

Over the next few months I put a lot of sweat and tears into my albums. Literally! Working on my albums was therapy. It allowed me to discover things about myself Iíd never taken the time to notice before. As I would examine my photoís I would meditate on my life. I would look at photoĎs of myself, my brother and sister. It made me recall the wonderful vacations and occasions we shared together. We cared so much about each other and had always remained close. I am a sister.

As I worked on putting my photoís in the albums, my thoughts would go back to the wonderful times Iíve shared with my parents. I would reflect on how much they have done for me and my family. How much they sacrificed for me. I am a daughter.

When I would look at the photoís of my husband with our son, my heart would swell with joy as I was so proud of how close they were and how happy it made me that my husband was so in love with his little boy. I would see the three of us as a family and realize I am a wife.

After every album I finished, the more determined I was to complete the next. I began making gift albums for others. I made albums for girlfriends when they had their babies It made me proud that others enjoyed the work I put into these albums and that my gift would last forever. It allowed me to share some of myself with the people I loved. I am a friend.

I have introduced many members of my family and friends to the world of scrapbooking and preserving memories. I have taught them how to use archival safe tools and products for their albums and how to find their creative talents. I have stressed the importance of recording their families history. I am a teacher.

When I go back through all of the albums I have made and am still working on, I realize that I am the writer I always wanted to be. What I journal about the life and memories of those dearest to me is a reflection of who I am and what I believe.
I record the history of the Hertig and Sperl family and the families that are to come. I am keeping records not only of births and deaths but of the memories those people made. I am a historian.

Itís taken me close to three years but I finally know. I know that I am Somebody. Iím a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a friend, a journalist, a historian, and a teacher. For years to come, the next generations will look through the albums Iíve made and remember me. They will learn that I believed in family and that I accomplished the task of preserving some of their families heritage. I know that I can not complete the last page of my familyís scrapbooks as the story is never-ending. I can just hope that one day another SOMEBODY makes a memorial page remembering me. It would be an honor if the epithet would read ...

Michelle Rae Hertig-Sperl

because that would say it all.

Tomorrow at dMarie Daily: Scrapbooking: A Journal into the Past, by Maria Snook

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