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Family History: They Were Story Changers!

Tomorrow is Family History Day. The day honors the busiest day ever recorded at Ellis Island. April 17, 1907 was a milestone date, with 11,747 immigrants passing through towards their dream of making a new start in America. 

Family History in Context

Ellis Island is a symbolic place to many Americans, primarily those whose ancestors came from Europe. All Americans share a sense of resiliency, no matter the background of their ancestors. The vast majority of Americans share a sense of settling and starting anew from other places, while all, including indigenous peoples maintain special linkages to their historical traditions.

We are a nation of hybrids! Connected both to the United States, as well as to the roots of where our people come from.

Our Story Changers

What stands out to me on Family History Day is the strength and courage that our ancestors collectively shared. Whether giving up everything to save for a ticket to New York, or surviving the ordeal of the Middle Passage, our ancestors were Story Changers. Courageous and inspiring people who through luck, planning, resiliency or determination changed and built their own story — leading to ours today. Amazing!

Perceiving Our Story Changers Through Writing

Today in particular I celebrate the Story Changers we each descend from. And the Story Changers we all our individually — creating the pathway for future stories.

Journal writing is an incredible way to tap into the resiliency and wisdom of our individual and collective ancestors. The story of our families fall into three buckets: what’s known, unknown or hidden.

  • Known is available through records, stories and personal contact.
  • Unknown includes the fact we all descend from 4 grandparents, 8 great-grands, 16 great-greats and on and on. But as time passes we can lose some of those names and stories and information.
  • Hidden includes information that was destroyed, altered, or concealed, often to protect the secrets of others. Hidden information ranges from the identities of the biological parents of adoptees to the tribal connections of enslaved people.

Family History

Ancestry DNA testing is bringing more and more unknown or hidden information accessible and into the light. While empowering to discover, this information can also be unsettling. It can be a complicated experience of joy, mixed with the frustration or grief of what is or had been withheld from you.

Our intuition and perception can be an amazing tool to process unknown or hidden information as it is discovered, or to fill gaps where discovery is not possible. Insight Writing in your journal is a great way to tap your own intuition.

In honor of Family History Day I have shared a free guided meditation audio file on Insight Timer – Dialogue with Ancestors: A Meditation for Journal Writing. I invite you to walk in the shoes of your ancestors for a moment, and then write in your journal with their inspiration.

Celebrate your very own Story Changers today. And as you do so you are paving the stories of tomorrow.

 

Learn More About Your Story Changers

Your journal is an amazing resource to process what’s known, unknown or hidden about your own family and your Story Changers. I’m excited to announce the first of my classes and tools:

Understand Yourself & Your Family: Writing from the Head, the Heart and Your Own Gut Instinct

The first two sessions are open for registration now! Watch for specially designed tools and information coming me soon.

Stream of Consciousness Writing

Oh how fun just to follow the pen! Lots of flowy, streaming inspiration for your journal this week. Go-with-the-flow Aquarius Season kicked off on Sunday. And yesterday, we celebrated John Hancock’s birthday and his famous signature with National Handwriting Day.

Here’s how you can inspire some Stream of Consciousness or flow writing in your own journal:

  • Set the mood. If you want to open up your head and let your pen take the lead, try a few moments to settle yourself. So many options to try — do some relaxation breathing, take a walk, listen to music, take a long shower, meditate.
  • For any settling, I’d recommend about five minutes of whatever quieting activity you choose.
  • When you are ready, just start writing. Set a timer for 5-8 minutes and just follow wherever the writing goes. No worries if you jump around on ideas, restart, change the orientation of the page. The spontaneity/unpredictability is one of the reasons this type of writing can be so engaging and insightful!
  • As soon as the timer ends, reread what you have written and create a final reflection of the overall process and any insights or observations you now have.

Want to try my favorite entrance technique? Set a timer for 5 minutes and just sit. Let your mind go as many places as it wants. Really. Don’t worry about clearing your mind … just follow it! Then write. My busy brain is so busy all the time, I find a sense of calm in the chaos of allowing myself just to think.

Stream of Consciousness is just one of 18 amazing techniques I teach during Journal to the Self workshops. Learn more on the Workshops page (online and in-person session). Or, same page has info if you prefer to sample first, try a free technique; or let’s schedule a no obligation phone call to chat about how I can support your own change journey.

On MLK Day: Perspective

If there’s one lesson I take from the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it’s about how great the world could be if we would each take a bit of time to think about life through the lens of another’s perspective.

On the date we celebrate his birth, I invite you to learn more about the journal-writing technique called ‘Perspective’. This writing tool happens whenever you change the point-of-view. Maybe writing it from you in the future, you in the past, you in the third person. It becomes a tool for understanding when you write it by changing who the author is.

For example, I get to teach this one as a guest speaker for a high school sociology class near me. We talk about writing about what life would be from the viewpoint of a different gender. What it might have felt like to be an American at different milestones in our history – depending on where you came from or the color of your skin.

To try a Perspectives write today, just take a moment to think about the point-of-view you’d like to understand a bit better. Sit for a moment and reflect on the feelings, emotions, lessons, opportunities, challenges. Then write. Finish with a reflection write to process the overall experience and any insights.

Perspectives is just one of 18 amazing techniques I teach during Journal to the Self workshops. Learn more on the Workshops page (online and in-person session). Or, same page has info if you prefer to sample first, try a free technique; or let’s schedule a no obligation phone call to chat about how I can support your own change journey.

 

Today’s the Twelfth Night – An Epiphany!

Count 12 days from Christmas, and you land on – January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany. In religious tradition, this is the date the three wise men finally completed their journey. The word roots mean ‘manifestation’ (as in the three kings manifesting their quest to see the baby Jesus). But the word also means ‘an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure,’ according to Merriam-Webster.

What an amazing prompt for your journal. This year I had the pleasure of seeing the Public Works version of Twelfth Night based on Shakespeare’s play of the same name at my local high school. Talk about being blown away – and also inspired to discover! The theater director reminded patrons of the ties between the Twelfth Night story, and the concept of an epiphany.

Enjoy a special rendition of ‘Eyes of Another’ presented by the members of Public Works in Central Park to get started. For a writing Springboard, try:

If we’d open our hearts to each other’s beat…

When you’re ready, try a Perspectives write. Write about your own beat from the point of view of someone else (like your best friend). Or jump into the shoes of someone special and write about their beat in the first person.

Here’s to the year ahead!

Perspectives is just one of 18 amazing techniques I teach during Journal to the Self workshops. Learn more on the Workshops page (online and in-person session). Or, same page has info if you prefer to sample first, try a free technique; or let’s schedule a no obligation phone call to chat about how I can support your own change journey.

 

Photo from Amazon.com.