Mystery Tree

When I was a kid at the age of 9, I felt a little like an outsider.   Don’t get me wrong, I had friends, but they were all pretty, with blonde or blondish hair.  Somehow it wasn’t just my slightly doughy exterior that made me feel this way, or my brown hair and crooked teeth. Something about me felt different but I couldn’t place my finger on it.

When I would play with dolls, it was mostly for fashion.  However, when it came to Barbies, they felt like they had a story to me.  My mother gave me her Barbies from the 1950’s for my birthday when I was quite young.  Growing up I felt like her dolls were reminiscent of high fashion and glamour.  When it came time for me to get Barbies of my own generation, someone gave me one with bleach blonde hair.

This Barbie was very much of the California kind and echoed everything every guy ever wanted according to the Beach Boys songs I heard from my father’s record collection. When we would go to a garage sale, often times I would find Barbies; with blonde hair.  Even Barbie’s sister Skipper had blonde hair. Their measurements looked like they were all an unattainable 39″, 18″, 33″.

surfergirl

As I got older and had more of the freedom of choice when it came to dolls, I tried very hard to find a Barbie that looked like me.  They didn’t have dolls who looked like they might be silly, and slightly roundish. They didn’t have any dolls at that time who resembled girls who were of Native American descent. The closest I could get was one with brown hair.  Immediately I shelled out my Christmas money to purchase the blue-eyed doll I would play with a few times and leave in her periwinkle ballerina costume.  Something inside me still wasn’t satisfied.

In my last year of playing with dolls, my grandparents took me with them to the store.  They told me I could purchase a Barbie if it was under a certain amount.  I wanted the African American Barbie.  Her name was Devon.  She was beautiful, and more importantly, she understood me and what it was like to be different.  She wasn’t dressed in all pink, she only used it as an accent color. In fact she was wearing a “rocker” dance club outfit, which meant (obviously) she understood my taste in music.  She understood, period.

devon

Fast forward to this year.  I’m now 26 years older.  Still different, but have since learned how to embrace and handle it.  For Christmas instead of getting dolls and beloved tiny tea cup sets, I get practical, useful things…and an Ancestry DNA test.

My husband decided to surprise me with this gift, to use his words, “Because you’ve been talking about wanting to do this since we’ve been married.”  My family is a bit of a mystery on my mother’s side since her parents were in the foster system. It wasn’t until recently we’ve had some confirmation of roots in Great Britain and Germany. My dad’s side has some ambiguous roots in Western Europe and Germany but one thing we were sure of is we were descended from the Choctaw.

We waited weeks for the test results to come in.  My husband decided to do the test as well to trace his ancestry back even further.  He didn’t know what to expect with his results.  I on the other hand, was expecting a high percentage in Native American and European Jewish.

The other morning as I was getting ready for work, I came in to the bedroom to see my husband staring at his phone with bleary eyes.  Being concerned I asked, “Everything Okay?”

“The test results came in.”

As we sat and looked at them together, he clicked on mine.

It was like a scene in action movies where there are loud explosions. Finally one is so deafeningly loud everything else becomes quiet and you have ringing in your ears.  As my eyes went down the list of each culture they could trace me back to, it was like mini-explosions saying, “Knew that, knew that…” Then came two very loud explosions.

“2% Spanish” boom. 

“>1% Melanesian” Ka-BOOM.

My entire life, my father and I were told we were Choctaw. For something that was to give clarity, it ended up adding more mysteries to an almost filled in family tree.

The test however, confirmed my intuition about being different.  Even though this is only 3% of me, it confirmed why I never felt like I fully fit in. Even though it gave me closure and insight on my ethnic background, it now gives myself and my family more questions as to how we got here.

It confirmed I had more in common with my Devon doll than previously thought.

 

Have you done a DNA Ancestry test? Were you surprised at what you found? How did it compare to your family tree?

 

 

 

 

 

DNA analysis: A secret vision

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Everyone has something they inherited from their family members. I could break myself down physiologically trait by trait telling you who gave me which feature. I could tell you my eye color proudly displays both parents’ eye color. I could tell you my Grandmother bequeathed to me her cheekbones and nose, which made some people assume she was Greek and myself Jewish. My Grandfather gave me his gift of gab and ability to be burned easily by the sun.

Honestly, I can tell you where every aspect of my personality comes from as well. At least, now I can. Last month I could identify where my over thinking comes from, my wit, my creativity, my ambition, my love of kids. One thing I couldn’t tell you is where my special abilities come from; some would call it a gift.

When I was in the beginning stages of being a teenager my body chemistry went crazy as most teens have happen to them. About a month into my thirteenth year I started having dreams. These dreams started predicting things, mostly things that weren’t serious. One dream entailed a fellow classmate who had moved away and come back, he just happened to be the love interest of one of my best friends. In this dream he was sitting with my friend in choir class and in the dream they had started dating. The next day as I was working on an art project my friend came over and I told her about the dream. We laughed at the prospect of this very thing actually coming true. I even joked and said, “Watch we will go to school tomorrow and he’ll be there.”

The next morning, in first hour choir class my best friend came running into the classroom and whispered very loudly, “You will never guess who I saw in the counselor’s office!” The dream partially came true. Indeed the boy had returned. Needless to say we were both excited and a little freaked out.

After the week stint of predictive dreams my body chemistry must have shut down any abilities I had at predicting things and distracted me with thoughts of boys I LIKED, not ones who were the interest of my friends

Fast forward to the year 2010. It was October and I was on a ghost tour with someone and all of her friends. Unbeknownst to me at the time, you didn’t go messing around with things that shouldn’t be disturbed for personal entertainment. In all honesty, I thought it would be interesting if something contacted me from the other side…but didn’t put a whole lot of faith into it. We were in Alton, Illinois one of the most haunted places in the United States.

On the tour we went into one of the stops on the Underground Railroad. I was already starting to feel alone as I had been somewhat socially separated from the group I came with. We made our way downstairs into a cellar looking facility. At some point I quit listening to the tour guide. The words he was probably used to rattling off every night, bounced off my ears as if they were drums. He turned out the light and suddenly I was paralyzed. A pang in my stomach started happening on my right side. A little voice in my head told me to tell him to turn the light back on as he talked there in the darkness but then another little voice pleadingly told me if I were to say something to him, something bad would surely happen. This inner dialogue happened for the duration of his speech in the Underground Railroad. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t tell the guide to turn the light back on, yet I knew we were safe and nothing bad would happen because there were plenty of people on the tour crammed in the small space next to me. It was a feeling of horrific dread and despair.

As soon as the guide snapped on the light I made a beeline for the door and slowly started feeling better. It was something inexplicable.

The group then went down toward the church where something similar happened and this time I started smelling cologne and nobody I was standing around was wearing perfume or cologne that smelled anything like what had breezily passed by my nostrils.

What was this? Had I picked up on someone from the other side trying to communicate?

After the tour I had to tell my bestie at work about this story. She then took one look at me and said, “You know why your stomach hurt and you couldn’t talk right?”

I was dreading what she was about to say to my reply, “No?”

“What you were feeling is what the people who were stuck down there were feeling! They couldn’t talk out of fear of getting caught! They were hungry and starving, many people died there!”

Feeling a little relieved that there was some explanation behind this, even if it wasn’t a ghost there is a theory that energy can be trapped even if the person is no longer around. Certain types of rock which this cellar was made of could have possibly trapped the bad energy I was experiencing. If this was the case then, why did I feel something at the church too?

After this experience I kept to myself. Early the next month my great Aunt had passed. About a week or two after her passing I had a frightening dream in which I boarded an elevator only to turn around and see her just as the doors were closing. She plainly said with a sardonic look on her face, “Don’t believe what’s in your dreams kid.” The doors shut, the elevator shook like the cables had been severed and suddenly everyone in the elevator with me was free falling about to crash. In my dream I knew I was going to die so I started praying to God. Just as the elevator hit the ground I woke up, my heart was racing as if I had just outrun Usain Bolt. I literally woke up in a pool of sweat.

What had my Aunt meant by her words? Was it just about the dream or was it about life too? Was it even my Aunt?

A few weeks later, I was standing in the kitchen of the house I used to own. The cat that now belongs to my ex was doing his typical meowing by the door where the cat food was stored. I kept asking him what he wanted while I was preparing food and suddenly a blue orb popped up between me and the refrigerator. At this point having had all the experiences I had, this was the least threatening of them all. I didn’t want to scare whatever it was, however the cat took one look at it, and whatever it was it got scared and flew straight out the window. The cat stared at it the whole way and then went straight back to meowing for food as if nothing happened. I knew I wasn’t nuts because now I knew the cat also saw it.

A few weeks after this my parents had come up for Christmas. My ex was working way past midnight and we were up waiting for him to come home. While we were waiting I finally came clean with my parents. I wanted some explanation. Did they have things like this happen to them?

They sat and listened intently as I told them about the things that had happened to me. My father still was a skeptic due to the fact he hasn’t had any experiences like this. My mother was semi skeptical too but both parents know I wouldn’t make up something like this.

Since that year, other things have happened. Some encounters were wonderful, like knowing my Grandmother was around when I broke the news to my Grandfather and Aunt that I was getting a divorce. After the conversation we were playing a game of Scrabble. I reached in the velvet letter bag not looking at the wooden tiles. A few seconds prior I had been admiring the picture my Grandpa treasured of him and my Grandmother together. Their relationship is something I’ve always wanted and hoped to have myself. As I pulled out the Scrabble letters and placed them on the tray in front of me, suddenly a small wave of comfort and gladness washed over me. My Grandmother’s name was spelled out in scrabble letters right in front of me. I never told my Grandfather for fear of his reaction.

My friend who gave me insight as to why I had the feelings I had in the Underground Railroad unfortunately passed away last year. After she passed, a few months later I had a dream she met me in a train station. Her nature was to be a social chatter box, she could make friends with a brick wall. In the dream we were sitting on old fashioned suitcases and she exhaustively looked at me and said, “I’m having a hard time making friends here.” One of the thoughts passing through my head was thinking she had only been in heaven a few months, like any place it’s going to take a while for people to get to know you. Suddenly I woke up.

When I told her Daughter about the dream, she told me it made sense we met in a train station. We had all read the Harry Potter series. Her Mom always told her she would meet her in a train station just as Harry met Dumbledore. Obviously, the dream, a message in of itself was meant for her Daughter. We deduced maybe the message was delivered through me instead of directly to her because she already had too much on her plate to think about.

The more these dreams and strange encounters happened the more I told my parents about them. I wanted answers. A hunch told me my Mom’s Mother had similar abilities. My Mom tried remembering any instances that were similar to mine and she could only come up with one. We boiled it down to the basic sixth sense that most everyone has, your gut instinct and intuition. We ruled out it was her side of the family even though my Grandmother had a brief encounter with some gypsies as a child who tried to grab her through the door of her home and curse her palm.

I longed to find out who in my family had this ability. There was no way I could be the only one.

One night my parents and I started watching a reality series last month about a woman who happened to be a Medium and had special abilities. She had done her own research and said having a gift like this was hereditary. This caused more frustration for me until suddenly my Dad remembered something. He said my Grandmother used to get visions.

Seeing as I’ve been taking this seriously I looked Dad straight in the eye and asked, “Give me a for-instance.”

He said she had been talking to my Grandfather and asked if he had seen or heard from a specific friend. My grandpa replied, “Dot, he’s been dead for years.” It turned out she had been dreaming and the friend had visited her in the dream.

FINALLY an answer to my genetic conundrum.

My Dad further explained he used to sit and have quiet breakfasts with my Grandmother when he was younger where she confessed to having visions and dreams, not knowing what to do with them or how to make them stop.

I dug further into my Grandma’s history. I know on Dad’s side of the family we are part Native American. I asked Dad what nationality we are specifically on his side of the family. He said, “Choctaw.”

Later that night I researched the Choctaw community, where they’re from and some not so well known facts about their practices. I found out there were indeed a small group of people within the Choctaw nation called The Turkey Buzzard Cult. They were people, if my research is correct, who shared this gift and were often healers and great teachers. Granted my direct ancestral line may not come from this specialized group of people, but we do share DNA.

Because my ability is something I was unsure of, I didn’t know how it fit into my faith. My family has raised me as a Christian and ultimately the place I grew up nurtured me into this faith as well. One of the Choctaw websites explained most Choctaw people are themselves Christian in addition to their Native American beliefs. It is no secret there have been people throughout history who have had visions like mine, some were shut down, some were burned at the stake, some were told to keep quiet, and some celebrated it like my ancestors. This made me feel relieved and if anything unafraid to admit to having this genetic gift anymore.

Ultimately I posed the question to some new friends at work, is it a gift or a curse what I have? My friends decided instinctively and assuredly it was a gift certainly given to me by my grandmother.

20130930-211247.jpgThese people are possibly some of my relatives.

What trait do you have that has always confused you? Did you ever figure out where it came from?

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