heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 1 of 7: It all begins and ends with Family

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“The family is the nucleus of civilization.”

Will Durant

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Happy New Year everyone!

This year, the inspiration for my New Year’s “Revelations” stem from some of the experiences, life events and lessons learned in the past year.

For me, it was – as Charles Dickens wrote (in A Tale of Two Cities) – “the best of times, it was the worst of times…. it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

And with each year comes more wisdom.

I hope that some or all of these revelations resonate with you.

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It all begins and ends with Family. It forms the core of our belief system and is the springboard from which we go on to conduct the rest of our lives.  Family supersedes nationalistic ideals, political aspirations and even religious dogma.  Family. Is. Everything. Well, at least it should be.

In a Utopian world, the family should be a “safe harbor” where we are loved, cherished, encouraged, and understood. It is an entity that should be devoid of judgment, jealousy, gossip, or hatred and replete with loyalty, familiarity – a strong sense of shared history and kinship. It is a clanship which fosters collaboration over divisiveness. In a Utopian world.

There are some who are blessed with an idyllic family.

There are others whose families do not withstand the passage of time and who crack or even fall apart when tested by hardship or tragedy.

Sadly, there are still more who are born into dysfunctional, damaged, and abusive families.

And then there are those who are left adrift – with no family at all.

“There is no such thing as a “broken family.” Family is family, and is not determined by marriage certificates, divorce papers, and adoption documents. Families are made in the heart. The only time family becomes null is when those ties in the heart are cut. If you cut those ties, those people are not your family. If you make those ties, those people are your family. And if you hate those ties, those people will still be your family because whatever you hate will always be with you.”

– C. JoyBell C.

My husband and I have built, for over three decades, that safe harbor we call our intimate family. It’s just the two of us… and all the beloved four-legged creatures who inhabit our house. This “safe harbor” has withstood the passage of time, despite many storms and even some typhoons. We are weather-beaten but happy sailors in this journey that is our life. Unfortunately, we have witnessed a few wreckages along the way.

“There is no greater blessing than a family hand that lifts you from a fall; but there is not lower curse than a family hand that strikes you when you’re down.”    

– Wes Fessler

And, as we all know, blood does not necessarily form a family bond. Families can be born from the heart… by choice. However the connection is formed, the important thing is to understand and maintain the true notion of Family.

We may not live in a Utopian world… but we can (and should) certainly strive to get there.

“In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.”

Alex Haley

Some Book Recommendations:

Family Values: The Ethics of Parent-Child Relationshipsby Harry Brighouse & Adam Swift

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Why Can’t We Get Along: Healing Adult Sibling Relationshipsby Peter Goldenthal

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Photo via pdpics.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know Thyself

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“We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies.”

Shirley Abbott

In the 1960s and 1970s,  a generation of young men and women coined the term “I’m trying to find myself.”  This quest for self-discovery (often stimulated by the use of soothing “herbal” supplements) was an earnest attempt, on their part,  to  find answers to such questions as “Who am I, really?” and “What should I do with my life?”  For some, the questions remain unanswered… which is probably why so many Baby Boomers suffer mid-life crises.

It is my firm belief that the answers to who we are (and why we are the way we are) – as individuals, as a society,  or as a nation – can only be found by learning more about our history.  To understand  the present and attempt to mold the future, one must have a clear understanding of the past.

To find out who we are, we must begin at the beginning.  Where do we come from? Who are the people who came before us, and before them? 

What are our roots?

If you like puzzles, as I do, this is when it starts to get interesting.  Tracing your family roots is like meandering through the pages of an epic story, only it’s your story. Your history.  It can be fascinating, enlightening and sometimes even shocking.  When you begin a genealogical study, you could very well open up  a Pandora’s box full of surprises.  My theory is:  it’s always better to know, than not to know.

I’m in the process of completing my maternal family tree. There are still a few missing pieces, but I hope to fill in the blanks soon.  Once that is complete, I will begin the research on my paternal roots.

And then, I will have chronicled the story of my life – from past to present.

My only wish is that I could have met each of these men and women whose blood courses through my veins, whose facial features I bear, and whose character traits I may have. 

I guess I’ll have to wait until I’m on the other side. 

Oh, what a reunion we shall have!

Some links that you may find interesting:

Image via sherrymonahan.com.