23 and Jen

I have always been fascinated by the past. Where I come from and the history of how my family came to be. Being from a Latino descent I know from stories and history I am a mix of cultures, and I love it. It just means that I am an amazing blend of diversity and history.

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When I was little, my grandmother would tell me the story of my great-grandfather and how his father was Spaniard who fell in love with a Taino women and her native island, Puerto Rico. He stayed and raised a family there on a bit of farmland. I never knew how accurate the story was and honestly, I still don’t know all the details. But on my journey of finding out a little bit more about my melting pot of DNA, I fell a little bit more in love with myself.

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When I found 23 and me I knew it would help me piece together so many questions I had regarding my ancestry. How much of me is from where and who? I mean, who doesn’t want to know where they’re descended from? But I actually may have more questions now than before taking the test. I have 2 parents; so who is more of what? Where and when did the Spanish descendant come to Puerto Rico and is there any real truth to the stories I was told as a child?

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Taking the test was fairly easy; just spit into a test tube, seal it up, and send it in. I chose the Health and Ancestry test because I wanted to know it all. I registered my kit on the site and took a few of the questionnaires they provided – which are totally optional. I filled out a few each day to help ease my desperation while waiting for my results. When I received the results, it was honestly such a rush. Seeing this map light up all over the places that I am from just confirmed my cultural mutt theory.

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My grandmother, as much of you may know, is in the early stages of dementia. Asking her too many questions about the story that she told me as a child just isn’t possible. So 23 and Me is giving me the opportunity to fill in some of the blanks. Although I am the only one in my home to take the test so far, I think I will eventually purchase the kits for my grandmother and my children, too. 23 and me allows you to link your test with your relatives so you can see your family tree. And they find other relatives that share my ancestry that I’ve never met, never heard of, never known existed. 3rd cousins, 5th cousins – people I am distantly related to who I never would have found otherwise.

Because I can now connect with these people, I have a real chance of finding some more answers. I can find their stories and see how it blends with my own to discover a bit more where I come from. And considering how much of that world is lit with my ancestors, I can tell I have plenty of stories to find.

Anxiety, Depression oh my!

I wrote this post before the holiday season. I am not the same person I was when I originally wrote this post. I feel so much better now and have for a few weeks. But I know I can get back to feeling this way so I always tread lightly with myself. Keeping busy helps me. Why didn’t I post it then? Honestly, I was embarrassed about what my friends or family would think. That is so sad that I cared so much of other peoples opinions I didn’t share something so raw and true. But its here now, please read and be kind. 

The last few weeks I have been struggling with anxiety and some depression. I suffered silently for the first week. Then I realized my thoughts were getting away from me. So I told somebody. I found someone to listen and I vented. All my fears out on the table. It felt great, but I’m still not “better”.

I feel myself zoning in and out of reality. Like the whole day will go by and it’ll feel like a dream. I get a same headache around 3pm. So when it’s time to pick up the kids and start dinner I am frustrated and exhausted at the day I had lost. At night when I finally hit the bed and I toss and turn till I fall asleep till I’m up again at 4am.

I don’t know what’s happening or what’s causing it. I can only hope that it’s a phase and I will get over it.

A friends advice was to make list and that has started to help. Feeling a little more organized helps with my anxiety. Being honest with my significant other also helps. He knows and console’s me when I need it and gives me space when I need that. He is a great hep in pitching in with chores and meal times but sometimes that makes me feel more useless. I feel more inadequate when I can’t do it all on my own and at times I resent his help.

I have faith that these feelings will fade and I will be “better” soon. I thank god that I have people in my life that help me and can tell when I need help. I know it is not so, for many people. So maybe writing this can possibly help someone, pay a little more attention to those who smile through the pain or hide when they need an ear to just listen. I hope this post reaches someone who needs it.

This may be life for me from now one but I will not let it define me. I will work hard to get up and do everything I can to keep the dark thoughts from my head.

If anyone needs to talk I’m here.

Self-care for the next generation

A few weeks ago my friend’s daughter ran up to me in tears crying because she had fallen and her sister didn’t help her get up. I hugged her and told that it was OK and that people aren’t always going to help you get up. You have to pick yourself up sometimes. I wiped her tears and she ran back down to the playroom and it was all better. If only it were always that simple.

Here we are now and my own 5 yr old comes home upset because she tripped at camp and 3 of her friends ran right past her and didn’t help her up. I gave her the same speech I gave my friends daughter but my sassy queen wasn’t having it. She looked at me and said, “Well from now on, then when I see someone down I’m not helping them get up!”

I stopped and couldn’t even believe what I was hearing.

I got down to her level so she knew it was important (Pro-mom move) and I said “No we don’t do that. You will continue to help people who need help. Don’t ever give up helping others because you didn’t get helped.” She may have understood or  she may not have but she agreed and she skipped away.

I am still left bothered by both situations. Both girls thought someone needed to pick them up. But why? I didn’t raise my kid to think that she was entitled to people at her beckon call. Let me tell you, if you met my friend you would know she definitely didn’t raise her daughter that way either. Still, my question goes unanswered.

Why assume that someone has to help us up when we fall?

Now don’t get me wrong, if I see someone down I am the first one to offer a helping hand. I think anyone who sees someone down should help them back up, always. No matter the reason. But, if I fall I don’t ever expect for anyone to pick me up. Nor should you.

Life is full of so many messed up things and people. There will always be times when you will fall down; literally and figuratively. And when you are down, it’s OK to be down. Take your time getting up when you can. As long as you remember, that you don’t need anyone to get you up. It’s nice, of course, but you shouldn’t always depend on others to help you up – no matter the reason for the fall.

It’s almost as if people are keeping score of who did something nice and who didn’t.

Now don’t get me wrong, if somebody wrongs you, you have every right to stay away from that person. But we shouldn’t bring that into our other relationships, and human interactions. Being kind shouldn’t reflect on how many people have been kind to us. I don’t want my daughter, at 15 years old seeing some on the ground and walking right past them because she thinks, “Well that one time at summer camp my friends ran right past me.”

So many people give up on kindness to total strangers because of one (or several) bad experiences, fear of rejection or just plain laziness. And it’s not to say that everyone is deserving your kindness but we shouldn’t be so quick to give up on all of mankind. Your kindness is a reflection on you; not of how many times you’ve been neglected.

I want to raise my kids to be strong and independent and not need picked up by anyone.

I think most parents want that of their children. But I also want them to be kind and thoughtful. You can be a strong individual and still help other people. Maybe in their kindness, they can help others grown their own kindness.