Since last week I talked about tree planting, I thought this week I would focus on the family tree. If you have never sat down and drawn a diagram of the members of your family, you might be surprised at how many insights and observations that process can provide.
There are several sites on the internet that make it really easy. My current favorite is Geni.com. You can create a log in, then enter your own name to start the process. They give you a really simple menu to add mother, father, siblings, children, siblings of any of those, etc. It not only goes automatically into the right place in the diagram, but it can tell you what the relationship to you is. I entered Lynne, who was the first cousin of my mother. But how am I related to her? I found out she is my first cousin once removed and her children are my second cousins. But what are their children to me? Since they are my daughter’s age, I want to call them my nieces or nephews but guess what. They are my second cousins, once removed.
So why take the time? The next interesting step is to print it out or look at it, and note some of the patterns that show up. Who had a happy marriage? Suffered from an addiction? Lived with or died from a serious disease. Had a long and healthy life? I hate to say it, but did anyone take their own life?
This takes me back to the theme that we are not untouched by the patterns in our family tree, even if we never knew the person ourselves. I can’t prove it, but many of us have observed that we sometimes find ourselves working on issues that seem to haunt us no matter what we do. Could it be that each generation gets to play a role in bringing certain things to consciousness?
That’s how I see it. I have been blessed with a happy and nurturing life. I didn’t always feel that way. When I was younger I had a pretty pessimistic view of life and my expectation was that there would be a lot of loss and suffering. As I uncovered the mysteries of my mother’s hidden past, I understood how many of those beliefs were like inherited karma. That helped me make choices that created a different outcome, and take some responsibility for changing a family legacy to one of trust, and for that, I am a very grateful person. It is my hope that I have been able to pass something different on to future generations by looking at my family tree, my family history, with honesty and yet making the decisions to not be a victim of it.
Family trees can be fun to do together, and a way to give kids a sense of being part of something bigger. I would have liked that growing up. I like it now. How about you? Let me know if you have any feedback on this kind of tree planting.