The DNA Stories

Joe & The 44

The DNA test kit market was valued at $747 million in 2018 and is expected to grow 23% by 2027. Much of it is driven by services offered by companies like Ancestry.com and 23 and Me to meet the demand of a growing number of people interested in their ancestral family tree and DNA testing for health and fitness. Along the way, people are making discoveries about themselves and their ancestors that challenge and influence their identities and how they see themselves in the world.

This 4 part series of Life in HD examines the personal journeys and discoveries of people who have taken DNA test. These stories of self-discovery are in the storyteller’s own words and I sincerely appreciate their choice to share with us all. Everyone’s story is as unique as the force that drives them into the arms of history.

The first story of the 5 part series is Joe and The 44. It is my own journey to discover more about my ancestors, my heritage, and struggles with identity.

Music in the episode is Love Me Forever and I Used To Love Hip Hop by Audiobinger under Attribution Non-commercial license.

The Anderson family – Mary Anderson (my paternal 2nd great grandmother) at center
Maternal great grandparents Robert and Bessie Brodis
Parents and grand parents: Josephus & Helen Lee (L) – Joseph & Frances Lee (C) – Mordecai & Norma Brown (R)
Paternal great grandmother Lillian McGoines (far left) and paternal 2nd great grandmother Betty Coates on the right

The Beauty of What Remains

 As we enter 2021 and reflect on the year that passed, a new book reminds us to pause and reflect on the importance of life. We experienced quite a bit of loss in 2020. Loss of employment, loss of freedoms, loss of security, and the loss of friends and loved ones.

This episode is about focusing on what truly matters in life especially during uncertain times. In his book The Beauty of What Remains, Rabbi Steve Leder shares his own experience of love, regret, and pain in a more personal and intimate way than ever before. After experiencing the loss of his father he discovered how much of a life changing event it truly was. “In death we do not lose – we actually gain more than we ever imagined.”

Steve uses personal reflections and heart-warming stories to bring the reader into a conversation about what is important and urges us to live more meaningful, more beautiful lives that are less anxious and less frenetic.

The Beauty of What Remains is a heartfelt narrative filled with laughter and tears, wisdom, and ultimately, an acknowledgement of the profound truth that if we can understand death and loss, we can learn how to truly live. I hope you get something out of this conversation.

Are You Watching Over Me?

Roland watching over me – Christmas in the 70’s

On what would have been your 57th birthday, I won’t paint a fantastical picture of our relationship as brothers. Lionizing you will do me no good on the day that I miss you most. Ours was as typical a brotherly relationship as any other. You had your friends and interests and I ran with my circles and did my own thing. But when taken out of those zones of comfort, we had each other.

We fought like brothers who were close in age. There was that time that you warned me, with specific detail, that you would knock the wind out of me. And you did. You watched me, mouth agape and struggling for air, until the inevitable wail escaped the walls of our Wakefield apartment to the street below. You ran for you knew the rage that would follow. You stayed away from the apartment the entire day, undoubtedly waiting for the calm after the storm. Later that afternoon, you returned home to find the storm still swirling. You gave me an entire day to plot my revenge and think about how I would do you harm. I played several scenarios out in my head but, in the end, I was an opportunist. I used whatever was at my disposal. I grabbed scissors and stabbed you in the leg.

It was an act of pure rage followed by immediate regret. For while you were my enemy that day, you were my brother for life. And a silly fight over who controlled the television might have had irreversible consequences. But my rage then, as it is today, is unpredictable and, at times, uncontrollable. Know that I continue to work on it.

I don’t know what makes brother raise fist against brother. It’s a documented part of human nature. What I do know though is that you would acquiesce to no other laying a hand on me. You were protective in a way that created a bubble around me. I was never bullied as a child because my older brother had the will and ability to defend me. And you remained protective of me and my soul until your passing. When you left me here alone to fend for myself. My hope, my belief is that you continue to watch over me. That you protect and guide me in some mystical way. That on some subconscious level, the decisions I make in life have your hand on the rudder. That is certainly the hope. Are you there? Watching over me, brother?

I will raise a glass to you on this day and continue to miss you until the end of days.

Wisdom

How we choose to approach a variety of issues in our lives often boils down to choices, and the choices we make may require a degree of mindfulness if we are to persevere in that moment. What we are talking about here is being wise. Applying wisdom to address existential and potential life-altering situations and questions.

When life’s disruptions surface unexpectantly, many of us don’t know what to do. We become anchored in fear. The fear of making the wrong decision or how that decision will impact our lives. Whether it’s losing a job, being faced with a career move, mending a broken heart, or feeling a lack of purpose, wisdom can help us navigate forward and push past our fears.

This episode of the Life In HD podcast features a conversation with personal development expert Gary John Bishop. You might remember him from from a previous episode on empowerment. Gary returns to the show to talk about applying wisdom to your life to help create a set of personal truths and perspectives that will become the foundation of your thinking and provide clarity where none exists. In his new book Wise As Fu*k, Gary provides insight that speaks to the 4 areas that touch us most…love, loss, fear, and success.

Raising a Person

Credit: Ekaterina Bolovtsova

An alarming number of today’s kids leave home without certain basic life skills. Will yours be one of them?

Some do not know how to do their own laundry, use a debit card, or even address an envelope. We can only blame ourselves. On this episode of the podcast I speak with Catherine Newman, author of How to be a Person: 65 Hugely Useful, Super-Important Skills to Learn Before You’re Grown Up. It’s a humorous graphic oriented book full of tips, tricks, and skills designed to show kids how easy it is to free themselves from parental nagging and become more valued members of the grown-up world.

Improve Your Memory

Memory and cognitive functioning become increasingly important to us as we age. Taking appropriate steps to sharpen your memory might also reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s. That’s according to Harvard and Yale trained Neuropsychologist, Dr. Michelle Braun.

Dr Braun’s book, High Octane Brain – 5 Science-Based Steps to Sharpen Your Memory & Reduce Your Risk of Alzheimer’s, helps us navigate the maze of conflicting media advice on supplements, brain games, nutrition, and exercise. In our conversation on the Life in HD podcast, Dr Braun highlights 5 science-based activities including proper nutrition, appropriates sleep and proper exercise. So if you’ve been experiencing difficulties finding words, constantly misplace objects, or often forget why you walked into a room, then this conversation is for you.

Click here for more information on High Octane Brain.

Pandemic Self-care

Four months into the Covid-19 social distancing, self-isolation lifestyle and we are definitely feeling the impact. The isolation, employment struggles, unknowns about schools and travel are exacting there toll in the form of stress and anxiety. A society esurient for normalcy, we attempt to gain control by developing new habits and adapting to new routines, not all of them good for us.

On this episode of the show, we visit again with health and weight loss coach Elizabeth Sherman to talk about ways to change our troubling behavior for the good and manage the stress and anxiety we are all experiencing.

The Power of Ritual

The symbolic behaviors we perform before, during, and after meaningful events are common across culture and time. Rituals are performed in an array of shapes and forms. At times performed in communal or religious settings; at times involving fixed, repeated sequences of actions, and at other times not.

We use rituals for a variety of reasons, like after experiencing losses or before public speaking, because we believe it increases our confidence and reduces our anxieties.

In the new book The Power of Ritual: Turning Everyday Activities Into Soulful Practices, author Casper Ter Kuile explores how we can nourish our souls by transforming common, everyday practices into rituals that can heal what he calls is an “increasing crisis of isolation” and help us feel more connected.

Take a listen to our conversation. If you like the podcast, please consider making a small donation to support the production efforts.







Fathers Day Reflection

My girls Hadiya and Imani

My wife and I have long had a running joke as parents. That is that our main job was to keep our children off of the therapist couch. And if they did find themselves there, it wouldn’t be because of us.

In all seriousness, being a father has been a great joy. There have been up and downs, lessons learned, and hard truths. And despite what the greeting cards say, there are no perfect dads. What’s important is that we recognize the growth opportunities as parents and embrace those opportunities to become better mothers and fathers to our children.

On this episode of the Life in HD podcast, I take the opportunity to have a chat with my daughters about their dad and their experiences being my daughters. I also speak with my own father about his experiences with his father and his retrospective view of having children.

It’s an honest and, sometimes, cringe-worthy exploration of my relationships as a father and son.







Core Pursuit #1 – Wine

Hey friends! I am experimenting with adding a video element to the blog and podcast. A few episodes ago I explored the question Can Money Buy Happiness? During that conversation, author and money manager Wes Moss revealed some of the commonalities he discovered during his extensive research on the happiest retirees. One of the things the happiest retirees have in common is what Wes calls core pursuits. These are activities that bring you great joy in life. For some it’s golf, for others it could be yoga. Whatever your varied interest are, you need 3-4 core pursuits to have a rewarding retirement.

In this first video, I introduce you to one of my core pursuits – drinking, exploring, and collecting wine. Here’s a look at my small but growing wine cellar and whiskey room. I hope you enjoy it. Drop me a line and let me know what some of your core pursuits are.

Cheers!