#4  Know Your Ancestry

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#4

Know Your Ancestry

It used to be that people were excited to get their ‘palm’ read – now it’s trendy to have your DNA read. Just by spitting in a little tube, you can identify where your ancestral roots originated. Why bother?

History

Whether it’s a family tree or DNA, your family history is important. It’s the anchor of your ship… the chemical composition of your existence. It offers information about your great-great-uncle Joe or connect the dots between your English and Irish heritage centuries back.

Genealogy

The most elementary part of knowing your ancestry is to record your direct lineage. Your father, his father, his father and so on… Do the same with your mother and hers… Connect those lines as far back as you can. When you run into a stumbling block, try the DNA  route to run the lines as far as they can go.

DNA

Whether you choose 23&Me or another service, researching your cellular structure offers even more information. Instead of learning that your great, great, great, great, Aunt Florence was the first woman to captain a ship out of Naples, you might discover that your Italian heritage is closer to the French than it is to the Baltic even though she was he hero of that port.

DNA even allows you the genetic history of disease influence. No matter if your ancestry stems from Jewish, African, European, or Middle Eastern – the results can indicate propensity for issues carried by others in that gene group.

Story

At the very least, knowing your ancestry is a tool to help you construct your ‘story’ – the story of you and of how you came to be. It’s a more advanced version – a 3D illustration – of you. Knowing a little about the people that came before you gives depth to who you are.

Can you imagine all those souls that were in front of you? Do you know their story? Their contribution to your being? It’s possible that you’ll be forever changed if you only take the time to …

Know your ancestry.

TTAH

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Epilogue

Continued from Commitment

“A hard life is not a punishment, but rather an opportunity.” ― Brian L. Weiss

Harlan and I continue to love one another. In the eight years since we were in Vieques, we have shared incredible joys, learned more valuable lessons, and built modestly successful businesses; and we’ve done it together. We’ve been partners, lovers, and friends.

I finished grad school and opened a private counseling practice. It’s now funny to think that I started with one client – just one person sitting on my proverbial couch – and then two… and today I often have a waiting list of people who need to get in that week. I love what I do and find that I am happy to go to work most days. I work in the same building where the Print Shop is located and so Harlan and I get to see one another sporadically throughout the day – creating moments that we fill with a hug or a brief injection of love and appreciation although he is better at that than I am. When I get focused, I often have tunnel vision.

I do not believe that Harlan’s presence in my life is a coincidence. As we grew in our discoveries of one another we realized that throughout much of our adult life we had been dancing together in the Universe. His brother got married at the church where we (ex-Hubby and I) were members in the early nineties. He worked in the building across the street from the first house ex-Hubby and I owned together, although not at the same time. He and his ex-wife traveled across the country the same year that I traveled with my family – visiting many of the same national parks – only two months apart. And, when I road tripped with my mom and the kids, we stayed overnight in the town where he owned a business in New England. There were too many incidents to believe that it is all coincidence or happenstance. We were waiting for one another – for the time when our souls could come reunite and continue whatever journey had previously been started.

Harlan has become a bold presence in the life of my son and daughters, helping them to see a different perspective of masculine energy. They have grown to love and respect him not only as my partner but as a personal friend. In fact, they have all grown into incredible people. I don’t go one day without being in wonder at one of them; their work ethic, their commitment to success, their compassion, and their fearlessness. They inspire me to be a better person and they challenge me to learn the art of ‘letting go’. I could not be more proud. Frank got married a few years ago and I adopted another daughter as a result. Almost daily I count my blessings that he chose a woman I could so easily love. She embodies the spirit of our family and bolsters him in the way that a mother hopes for her son. Their partnering is a wonderful example for the girls.

I’ve continued to grow in my faith, my ability to be introspective, and in my esteem. I am stronger today than ever before and yet I don’t feel it is over. Indeed – it may be only beginning again. I think that perhaps we are allowed growth plateaus – times in our life that feel like we are coasting… nothing much happens – it feels comfortable and easy. And then, the learning begins anew.

When Emily left for college, Harlan and I were finally able to live together. We bought a home and moved into a perfectly downsized house that would allow us to comfortably grow old together. Late last year, just as we were settling into the long-awaited period of ‘empty-nesting’, Harlan began to feel sick. After months of frustrating and grueling testing and doctors’ visits, he was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer. We sat together in the small windowless office of our first oncology appointment and listened as the doctor said: “at some point, we will be discussing comfort care”. The prognosis was approximate – an average, they said – of two years.

 

This is where I must leave the story – the irony of his illness is not lost on us. In fact, we are each deeply challenged by it. We have taught one another so much… I have learned more about myself in the last eight years than perhaps in all the time prior and Harlan too. We know we came together to learn. This cancer is impacting both of us significantly. Obviously, Harlan is the body that is suffering from the disease – and the treatments. We both are afflicted with emotional challenges; not only the ones existing in the present but also the ones that have come washing over us from the past. We have noticed triggers we both thought were rusted and locked; renewing themselves with old – unwanted energy.

We arguably are doing the best that we can. Every day we confront the current hurdle and attempt to jump. Most of the time we make it. My imperfection is highlighted almost constantly and I have become accustomed to facing the fact that I am only human – although I don’t like it. The ugliness of cancer doesn’t always bring out the best in us and at other times it highlights everything good. The dichotomy of it can be exhausting.

 

I’m not sure where the words or energy for this story actually came from. It’s only been ninety days. They flowed easily each day as I sat with my laptop and opened the evolving word document. I can only imagine that they are a gift from God. That the Universe has allowed me to see myself in entirety so that I can use the accumulated knowledge now in perhaps the most difficult challenge yet. I feel fortified and open to the next set of lessons although I hate the idea of them coming. Perhaps there is another story unfolding.

 

I do believe that this amazing life – with all of the pain, lessons, joy, and exhilaration is worth living. Even though I get intensely tired from time to time, I am eager to walk the path that will lead me into pure love, into peace. I remind myself of that destination and it motivates me to take the next step. The existential veil that lies atop each experience does not go unnoticed and I am deeply grateful for each day as it draws to a close; regardless of its impact.

Thank you for walking with me as I dared greatly.

Breaking for Gratitude

“If a story is in you, it has to come out.”  ~ William Faulkner

A letter to my family & friends:

I started writing 46 days ago in an effort to finally expose my voice. I never imagined that I could have taken it this far yet I’ve always felt that I had a story to tell; a lot to say. The whole reason I became a therapist in mid-life is because I wanted the pain I’ve experienced to have value (more to come on that). I use many of my own life lessons with clients in private practice and I know that they have been received with respect and openness. Mine is only one viewpoint on the spectrum of possibilities but if offering it to someone can somehow mitigate trouble on their own journey then mine will have been purposeful.

I have been greatly humbled by the support I’ve received over the last seven weeks. Almost daily, I’ve received messages, emails, and text messages demonstrating love, respect, and admiration. I accept it with gratitude. I am honestly excited to realize that I have accomplished the task of writing over 50,000 words in a relatively short time frame. Frankly, the words have come easily. I can attest that they have come without pain or intense emotion – concerns that have been addressed by people who love me. E suggested that it was God’s work that I could write such honest script without feeling the deep emotions I describe – perhaps it is. I have felt them – I have processed them – I have honored them. It is my life – the memories are vivid in most circumstances and I cherish the lessons they have provided.

One of the wonderful parts of sharing this on Facebook – as my sister-in-law recently stated, is that it has given people who may not have shared various parts of my life, insight into how I became the woman I am. It fills in a lot of blanks. Yet, I have made the decision to continue my quest to publish daily but NOT to advertise it on Facebook. The main reason is this: I feel I am becoming attached to the comments, likes, and engagement on Facebook rather than the story itself. That’s not my intention and so it is better for me to ‘simplify’ and just publish. Those who read it will read … those who will benefit, will. This story gets worse before it gets better and now is a good time to rein it in, so to speak.

I have remained vigilant with my children who have been amazingly supportive even though it may be difficult to know that their mom has experienced hard times. I know it has been hard to hear my perspective about their dad, also a person they love and yet, they were there and so this information is not new to them. They are such immense blessings in my life. Being a mother is the single most amazing thing I do. I am only a human being – a real person – who continues a journey of imperfection and discovery. They know this and honor me despite my flaws. Harlan, whom you will get to know …  is likewise, amazing. Loving me, yet reading every day about my love for someone else in another era … he inspires me and I hope to be able to honor him with my words when I write about the current period of my life.

I know that I talk about some really hard topics. I want to open the door to hard conversations! My entire adult life was negatively affected because I didn’t think that I could talk about hard things without being judged. Let’s change that! I respect everyone’s right to believe / think individual thoughts – different than mine. I want the same respect. I am not intentionally pointing a finger at something as WRONG or BAD nor RIGHT or GOOD – as I am directly opposed to using those labels – we are DIFFERENT. That’s all… we are different. We won’t truly have the facts about what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – at least in religious or spiritual terms until we meet our maker and then – this discussion becomes a moot point. My goal is peace, not fear, or judgment. I hope you will be open to that concept as well, going forward.

I may turn this story into a book – a memoir. There is clearly enough information but I am not sure if there is a global need/desire for another ‘pain promotes personal growth’ story. It will take a fair amount of work to edit, submit, and promote the eventual 300+ pages of a book and I continue to ask myself – who cares?  Yes, I am full of self-doubt and insecurity – every time I push the ‘publish’ button I feel that typical / normal fear of ‘so what?’ I imagine it will be like a full-time job to make a full-on book happen and I’m not sure I have the time or energy unless I am convinced that people would buy it. I have a couple of other projects sitting in the wings of my life and so… time will tell.

I promise this – ThisIsLeslyn.com will continue to tell ‘the’ story until I catch up to current day and then, I will share musings and nuggets from my practice, my continuous personal growth, my ideas, thoughts, my life, etc.  I will be thrilled if you feel compelled to follow along – and share with people who may benefit from hearing the messages. I am open to any and all comments that offer support, encouragement, or constructive criticism – in fact, they motivate me to keep on daring greatly.

Again, thank you for reading – you honor me.

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