Day 11: Looking at your family history, write down five life lessons you feel you’ve learned from your ancestors. Write an essay for the benefit of sharing with your children, grandchildren, and future descendants.

1. You are Braver than you think

Brave is not a word I would use to describe myself.  I always think I am more of a chicken.  Maybe it is getting older but I feel braver than I ever have. Maybe it is just life experiences losing my mom, watching my newborn son undergo open heart surgery, going through 9/11. None of it destroyed me, it made me bend but not break. Watching that same sweet boy grow up with his brothers has been a joy. Parenthood makes anyone braver! When my sister and I went to Europe for the first time, it was scary. We were completely out of our comfort zone – but you know what? We figured it out and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. The older I get, the less I care what others think. I know who I am – and I like it! My ancestors were incredibly brave – to leave for the promise of a better life. Sometimes you just have to take that leap.

2. This too shall pass

Sometimes cliches are truth. This phrase is always with me, always.  It has helped me through some really tough times in my life, because it is true.  It doesn’t have to be a tough time – sometimes just a regular stressful day. Things may not turn out how you want them to – but somehow they end up ok.  Just wait and see. My ancestors surely went through the hard times but they persevered and kept moving.  No matter what the situation, good or bad it will pass.

3. Strong Foundations

Strong foundations make for strong people.  It isn’t money or things, it was being raised by people who showed me what it means to be a parent, partner, family member and friend.  I believe that this has been handed down for generations.

4. Whatever you are be a good one

This one was a favorite of my dad’s.  He taught me that it really didn’t matter what you did for your living as long as you put your heart and head into it.  I would like to think he would be proud that I became a nurse – but I know that he was just as of proud me working at my first job in a library.  He supported his children in whatever they did as long as they worked hard at it.

5. You come from Hearty peasant stock – deal with it

As a kid I had a pretty active imagination and was pretty sure that my family was secretly royalty.  That somehow my ancestors had to flee their palace and in order to keep themselves safe had to hide the truth.  Please tell me I am not the only one…  Through a lot of research and DNA testing – it turns out that there is not an ounce of royalty anywhere on my family tree.  In fact I am descended from hearty peasant stock on both sides.  Turns out I am ok with it.  They may not be royalty but they were good, hardworking people. People who fought to live and raise their children, people who changed the course of their lives by making a decision to leave their homes in search of a better life and opportunities for their children.  Here’s to good hearty stock, it has served me well!