When you are into genealogy, some might think it is all about our past. Not so, or not for me & others. You'll find sometimes you have to go forward to be able to go back. I know we've all seen the tips & hints for when we are just starting out working on our family tree. They all pretty much tell us to start with ourselves & go backwards from there. And I agree, I'm just saying don't limit your research only to the past. If I had done so, I would never have been as blessed as I was to have found several 2nd cousins that I have made a connection with through genealogy. Not only have they've been helpful in filling in some blanks but I love making a connection to those who are the sons/daughters of my ancestors. Getting to hear their stories about my great aunts/uncles is such a joy. And when there are photos to be shared? Can't get much better than that, can it? Maybe now you will be able to put a face to someone who was otherwise just a name in your family tree. So yes, when you get stuck or even start to get bored with your researching, & that does happen to all of us at one time or another, try finding some living relatives that you might have out there.
About 7 years ago I found the first 2nd cousin through a message board on Rootsweb genealogy web site. Her mother & my mother were 1st cousins. Sadly by this time though my mother's health was going down & she didn't get the chance to meet her second cousin. But in finding that first 2nd cousin (once removed) we were able to help one another on the family tree. She'd have information I didn't have & vica versa. Also neither of us had had any luck in being able to go further back than our great grandfather. But with us working together, we finally were able to break down that brick wall & add to our records. I can remember the first time we got to finally meet one another & boy we all knew we were related the instant we saw the others. Let's just say the Johnson gene runs strong in us all. :-)
Then about a year ago I found another 2nd cousin. This cousin had no idea he even had any relatives on his Dad;s side. He knew his father was born & raised in Arkansas but said his father never talked about any relatives. There were two brothers of his Dad that he knew of, but no one else. Even his two sister-in-laws knew nothing of any other relatives. Finally after talking to him on the phone & emailing him some family photos of his Dad, his mother & his siblings, there was no doubt left that we were related. I had one photo of a family reunion that included his Dad & his twin brothers......as he wasn't born yet, he wasn't in the photo. Later he told me that photo is what clinched it in his mind that we were related. Needless to say that for him, at the age of 75, was quite a surprise for him. :-) We've communicated by phone 3 or 4 times now & have formed a good relationship. Its been nice to learn about his Dad, as I never got to meet him.
Let's see I guess it is almost a year now that I found one of my 1st cousin's son. Then by a stroke of luck, I was able to find my 1st cousin's brother's son as well. Within a year & a 1/2 I was able to find two 2nd cousins. Both had lost touch with their Dad's side of the family for one reason or another. But no longer. :-) Matter of fact one of them is planning on coming here for their vacation to meet several of his new found family. Both 2nd cousins thought they were pretty much alone, no longer. :-) Not only do they have a bunch of 1st cousins but several 2nd cousins now to add to their family.
The tip I leave you with is: Just don't restrict your research only to your parents & past generations. Search for those who might still be here in the present as well. And may you be as blessed as I was in my finds.