DNA Story #5 – Cayla

Cayla’s biological father

Abandonment takes many shapes and forms and the legacy of closed adoptions can trigger harmful ripples that can last for generations. We wrap up our series on DNA testing and how the rise in these tesiting services opens up a world of discovery with a truly compelling story. Cayla’s story. It is a memoir of family secrets, heartache, reconciliation, and forgiveness.

Cayla grew up without her biological father in her life. Never accepting the reasons why, she embarked on a journey to learn of his identity and get answers to the burning question…”why did you abandon me?” After a multi-year search, she found some of the answers she was looking for. But was the truth enough to make her feel whole? Listen to this incredible story to find out.

Cayla’s grandmother

Music in this episode features DNA (Internal Alchemy) by Ketsa under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Amerika by Audiobinger under Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

DNA Story #4 – Rachel

When it comes to searching your family tree, there are inevitable roadblocks that can keep you from achieving the kind of progress that you hoped to make. For descendants of slaves, the barriers can be quite difficult to overcome. The same is true for the descendants of some immigrants who worked to forget the past by getting fresh start in America.

The task can be as equally daunting when you are adopted or the child of a parent who was adopted. Without critical information like surnames, birthdates and places, you lose an entire section of family tree and an opportunity to complete yourself. That was certainly the case for today’s storyteller, Rachel. A young woman curious about a section of family that she knew absolutely nothing about. So many question rolling around her mind, so many answers waiting to be discovered. For Rachel, this missing bit of information stood in the way of feeling whole. As you’ll discover after listening to the show, this is ultimately a story of belonging.

People who have a strong sense of belonging tend to be more secure and comfortable with their identity. It’s a basic human need that provides a sense of wholeness and community that can improve motivation, health, and happiness. Enjoy Rachel’s story.

Music in this episode includes Warm Morning and Biscuits by Ketsa under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

And Ground Effect by Bio Unit under Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

DNA Stories #3

Chuck’s Story

The Howe family – Chuck’s great grandfather Charles Wesley Howe (back row center) and his grandfather Walter Wiley Howe to his left.

Forget what you think you know about your family’s history. Once you start down the DNA testing rabbit hole, there is no telling what you might discover. There’s something intriguing and mysterious about sleuthing through your family history.

Some search for peace that comes from knowing their origins, or the thrill of discovering that they are related to some famous historic figure. But for some, a little surprise information can challenge long-held beliefs about their family and create thought-provoking context for their existing relationships. That is certainly what happened to our next guest, Charles (Chuck). Chuck’s simple journey to confirm and learn more about his Irish heritage produce a few extra surprises.

These enlightening moments often have a way of challenging our perspective on family and our relationships to one another. And, in Chuck’s case, we gain a different understanding of our family’s participation in the American experiment.

Music in this episode is Steady Ships and Blazing-Stars by Ketsa under Creative Commons non-commercial, No-derrivatives 4.0 International use.

DNA Stories – 2

Kalia’s Journey

My personal journey to discover more about my maternal grandfather’s lineage led to other unanticipated discoveries. Like a deeper dive into my ethnicity and developing a broader sense of my identity and worldview. It also afforded me an opportunity to meet family members I didn’t know I had. Like my wonderful cousin Jennifer Jones and her beautiful daughter Victoria. We arranged to meet up, share a meal, and get connected in a familial way.

Cousins Victoria (L) and Jennifer (R)

Thorough Jennifer and Ancestry.com I met my cousin Kalia Loper. Jennifer and Kalia’s grandmother Carol and my grandmother Norma are sisters from the Brodis side of our family. Through them, I learned more about my grandaunt who I knew very little about.

I also learned that Kalia was on her own personal journey of self-discovery. What started out as an opportunity to assist in the research of Crohn’s disease through DNA testing with 23 And Me turned into an amazing spiritual journey to connect with her ancestors and eventual physical journey across the Atlantic ocean. Please take a listen. I know you will enjoy it.

Kalia Loper
Kalia’s Great Grandfather
Kalia and Jennifer’s grandmother Carol, my grandaunt.
Kalia’s ancestor Leah Wanter Ruth – born in Guinea and sold into slavery

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.

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.

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.