Stephen and I do not make our living through Living History. We are paid for some of the things we do, and we have tried various schemes throughout our lives, but at this juncture our mortgage etc. is paid for by “normal” jobs. But we spend most moments when we are not working those jobs in pursuit of history and Living History experiences. We work hard to make great clothing, kit and equipment, we do tons of research to make sure we’re as authentic as possible, we network and teach to enrich the entire community.
All that means a lot of effort, less sleep, an investment of money and time. We don’t spend enough time with our families, we miss out on the latest movies, we ignore our other interests to cram in as much history as we can. By November of every year I’m usually more than a little burnt out. I’d rather watch TV than slog through another academic paper, play board games rather than struggle with another clothing pattern. That is why conferences like Military History Fest the first weekend in February and the FPIPN retreat at the end of March are so very important to me. I need inspiration to keep doing what we’re doing and also to get new ideas and try new projects.
The best part of these conferences, for me, is being surrounded by like-minded people. People who love history. Some are even interested in similar historical things: the European Middle ages and Renaissance, lovely hats, women’s history, agriculture and food. I enjoy the dressing up, people watching, shopping, encampments, and the seminars and discussions, but I enjoy all those things because of the conversations and the connections. We all get to tell our crazy moment stories, the ones about the stupid visitors, about the horrible weather we’ve endured, and our newest project.
I get to learn from folks who have spent a lot of time and energy on their areas of expertise, I also get to teach others about the things that I think are important. And for me sometimes that is less about historical facts and more about how those of us who love history and dress up etc. have a lot on common.
I can’t wait to see even more funny dressed people who love history!
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