Why I Believe In Miracles, Christmas and Otherwise

I think I can safely state that MOST people know both sides of their family. Unless of course you were adopted  or like me your parents divorced and you lost nearly all contact with one entire side of a family tree.

I am nearly 50 years old and I have blocked much of my childhood out. I remember bits and pieces but the huge volume of memories most people have I can’t access. I grew up hearing different stories about my dad’s family , but I didn’t have holidays and visits to reinforce these memory’s like most people do.

My parents divorce was messy like all divorce, but with the added component that my dad was from Mexico. So custody or visitation was not an option.

In fact attempted parental kidnapping was a serious issue for my family. The entire time I was in elementary school until middle school, I was NEVER allowed to walk home. My mother was terrified that my father would kidnap us (my brother and I) and she would never find us in Mexico.

One time when we lived in the City of Orange I remember my dad showing up with a car full of men, while my brother and I played outside. I screamed for my brother to run inside, I followed. Running through the garage, through the yard to our house, I locked all the doors and woke my mom up. I don’t remember what happened after this, but it was terrifying enough that I remember it.

Flash forward ( because I don’t feel up to sharing the messy details of the time in between then and now) suffice to say my life took many jagged turns. I fought God and faith ALL the way. I would say most of my adult life I was an agnostic who didn’t believe in Jesus or any organized religion for that matter.

In 2003 I met my husband through work over the phone. I worked in advertising and he was one of customers. In December 2004 I decided to take a complete leap of faith, selling all my furniture and packing my little Ford Explorer up with all my treasures and my cat.

The rest is a blur of blessings, from becoming U.S. citizen before we got married, to having our 2 daughters. In the words of Fernando Venezuela “Ohio has been berry berry good to me”.

Last year I asked my family for an Ancestry.com DNA kit. My mother had told me her vague recollections about the Anaya side of my family. Things like how funny my dad was, how they once threw a party that lasted all night and guests just passed out on the floor. *That is my kinda of PARTY!

When the results came back I was SHOCKED to find out I was 87% European, so she was right the Anaya’s really were from Spain (read my other blog post about Dabbling in DNA).

I didn’t do much more with the information. But just last month I received an email from the Ancestry website, that said I had a message from a fellow member.

im_shocked

The email

Hi- I just did my DNA test and see that we’re first cousins. I was placed for adoption as an infant, and am searching for my biological father. I would love it if you could do some family investigating and see if you have an uncle that created a child with Marilyn C. while in his senior year of high school. He was probably living in Portland, Oregon, although I’m not positive that is where the conception occurred. I’m interested in knowing about your side of the family. Thank You- Leah S.

My mind was racing like Speed Racer (zoom) who could it be? Well in order to narrow the pool of suspects I had to know what year she was born, because my Grandpa Cason had been married twice before he married my Grandma Jane. So it could have been one of my Cason uncles. So I asked her for some more information (birthplace and year).

Then I took a leap of faith,

Dun dun dun…..

Hi Pilar! Thanks for writing me back! I was born in Portland in 1973. I have my bio-mom’s info from my birth certificate, but she doesn’t want contact. My old adoption agency won’t release his name, and it’s not on any court documents. All I know is his height, that he has olive skin, played the guitar, was Catholic, and was a senior in high school. Maybe your mom could shed some light on your dad’s siblings.

So right away I could rule out my brother (born 1970) my maternal grandpa Cason, my own father Alphonso who was already out of law school. This left me with 9 other Anaya siblings that could have moved to Oregon and married an American?

I texted my mom and she said that had to be my Aunt Estella

Hi Leah,

First can I just tell you I am overjoyed and so happy that you were adopted by a loving family! I was just talking to another school mom and we were discussing all the children (including her’s that are adopted) and adult parents (also adopted), sister-in-law and both her children, 3 neighbors on my street (all of us Catholic).
Which makes me wonder if it’s because we live our Pro-Life values we have so many beautiful families created by God through adoption.

So I hope this info helps your husband find some answers,
My dads name Alfonso Anaya (Flores)
Paternal Grandfather Salvador Anaya
Paternal Grandmother Maria de Jesus Flores

So in Mexico you get your mom’s maiden name as part of your full name
So my dad would be Alfonso Anaya Flores

When you look for my Aunt Estella check for her last name as Anaya Flores (maiden).
Let me know what you find, I’m so curious about my dad’s side of the family.

Not 72 hours later I get this message from who I now know is my 2nd COUSIN Leah, daughter of Roger(1st cousin), son of Estella(my Aunt). My family just grew exponentially!

 

 

Family-Reunion-21012-1024x470

(Random family I found on Google not my Tribe)

So Leah wrote back that not only had she found my Aunt Estelle (Leah’s paternal grandmother alive at 92 and living in Oregon) but she also found one of Rogers sisters Beverly (my cousin). All of this was thanks to the AMAZING sleuthing skills of Leah’s awesome husband Vince.

For this I have to thank Vince he did all the research and stayed up late many nights, digging through Ancestry records and gently prodding Leah to get her DNA checked. All he asks in return is a “Life time supply of carnitas” I think he could be my brother from another mother! #Carnitas #YumYum

You see Leah was adopted by a loving family (miracle) who wanted nothing more than to have a family of their own and couldn’t without adoption (this is another reason I am Pro-Life). As Leah’s story unfolded in these messages I realized that God had this plan all along because God NEVER makes a mistake, we do but God has a beautiful plan no matter what.

So Leah was adopted by a Mormon family, her biological mom is Mormon so this may have had some sway in her placement, but when Leah grew up she became a Spanish-speaking missionary in Texas (see the humor in her choosing that language coming from this family)? This is a brief part of her mission trip story she shared with me.

I was a Spanish-speaking missionary in Texas, and one of my best experiences was with a Catholic Priest. There is so little beauty in Texas, and we had stopped at this exquisite Catholic church by the side of the road out in the country. It was all white stucco in the Spanish style, with white arch ways and a walk way and flowering vines all-over. No one was around, and we just wanted to stand there and rest, but were worried because we were clearly missionaries from another church. We didn’t want to look like we were being disrespectful or proselytizing on the property. Sure enough, we’d only been there a minute before the Priest came out the door toward us. We started to apologize, but he interrupted us and said, “Sisters, you do good work. You’re welcome here anytime.” I’m crying now remembering this, which may sound silly, but to tired missionaries, his words of acceptance and confirmation meant so much.

Meanwhile she replied with this BOMBSHELL

Hi Pilar- I talked to your cousin Beverly (Estella’s 4th child) for a couple of hours tonight. She was 13 or 14 when I was born, and was able to tell me the whole story. She was wonderful to talk to, and now I know what I wanted to know. It’s quite the story. FYI, I was confused you and Ana (Daniel’s daughter) are actually my aunts. I think we’re close in age because Rodger was Estella’s oldest, and I was born when he was so young. The important thing I wanted to tell you is that as a teenager Beverly was witness to a heartbreaking situation when your dad hunted at the court-house for your address in San Fransisco and came to your apartment. Your grandma wouldn’t let him see you, and he was devastated. Beverly tells the story with much emotion. Maybe she can tell you more about why you didn’t get the relationship with your dad that you should have. She was an unusually precocious teenager to absorb all of these stories.

Overjoyed

Wait WHAT?! You’re telling me you found my long-lost family and they want to talk to me? They even remember me! WHAT!? How can this even be true, but it is.

How do I even begin to thank these strangers who are now my family? How do you thank someone for helping you heal your broken heart? How could I have known that a few years ago when I decided I really needed to forgive my Dad (whom I assumed was deceased) for all the things that could never be undone? I had so many cracks and crevices in my heart, empty spots that I didn’t realize existed until I spoke to Beverly (my cousin).

You see I believe that I needed to start forgiving my dad because NOTHING was going to change the past or bring my dad back to me,NOTHING! So only when I could start letting go and praying for and the repose of his soul could this miracle come into my life by God’s great and powerful mercy! (Can I get an AMEN?)

Beverly called me on a Tuesday night and we talked for 6 hours! If you know me in real life you will understand this is totally normal but whats hilarious is that Beverly like me talks with her hands!

She shared so many great stories she had me laughing hysterically until my face hurt!I love when I meet people like me and we CLICK like a spark that turns into a raging BONFIRE!

Women w Coffee

Talking with Beverly and reconnecting with all these lost cousins on FB and WhatsAPP (an international texting app) has been like a balm on my wounded heart. I could have never guessed how healing this process would be for me.

One of the things she said was “Pilar I hope you’re not offended about what I am about to tell you” Me “Beverly NOTHING you could say would offend me I promise, I am just so excited to finally find you!”

She said “We were with your Dad when he searched the records at the court-house and he brought us to your house. He asked me to go up and ring the doorbell your grandma opened the door her face turned white (because she knew Beverly was an Anaya and my dad was close by) he came up behind Beverly and told my brother to grab the girl and he would grab the boy!”

Well Beverly’s brother said “No WAY! I don’t want to spend my life in stripes” (meaning prison) he knew even at 17 that kidnapping was a crime.

Beverly said they eventually came in and my mom and dad had a heated talk while she and her brothers played with my brother and I.

Beverly just reinforced what I knew and remembered. But she also shared is that my dad was everyone’s favorite Uncle/Tio. She said he was hilarious and a prankster, which I knew from my mom.

But she also shared that he went through a many years long depression when our family split up.

This made me sad and I realized that divorce hurts everyone involved.My life was no picnic growing up, but I also understood why my mother left. My friend Kara says all these things made me the strong woman I am today, she’s right.

Now I am reconnecting and texting with cousins and branches of my family from Washington State, Oregon, Mexico and all points in between! All of them with their own unique story to tell me and I can’t wait to hear each one.

Leah is planning a reunion with my Aunt Estella and Cousin Beverly for the day after Christmas 2017. I wish I could be there but God willing we can all meet up in the summer of 2018. Leah’s family has also grown exponentially.

Sadly Roger, Leah’s biological dad died in 1992 of a seizure disorder. Again Leah was raised by a loving family who wanted her and she has a wonderful family of her own now. But Roger had wanted to marry her mother and keep Leah, but because he would not convert to Mormonism he was forbidden from seeing Leah’s biological mom ever again.

This broke my heart, but I am honored to be part of Leah’s journey of discovery because she brought me a MIRACLE along the way!

Stay tuned for more on this unfolding tale of DNA and family.

I just want to say Thank You to Leah for graciously giving me permission to reprint excerpts of our correspondence for this post.

I want to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and pray that you have miracles in your life as well.

Your Friend

Pilar The Papist Squirrel

Gift

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Merit Badges For Grown Ups or Me Too Badges.

Girl Scout Uniforms

Have you ever met someone and they later become a good friend and in the course of sharing your life stories you realize you have so many things in common?

Isn’t that the best feeling, when you realize you aren’t alone?

This is where Girl Scout Badges would be so handy. Can you picture it…without all the small chat, you could instantly see that you have several life experiences in common.

For example how long do you know someone before it comes up in conversation that you  have had a miscarriage? Or you were raised by a single parent because your parents were divorced and your dad was an abusive alcoholic?

Wouldn’t it save so much time if you could wear all these life experiences on our sleeve or the outside of our purse?

I mean really wouldn’t it be easier if we got a badge for surviving the crap that life drags us through? We should have amazing little decals that we can iron onto our sashes or motorcycle jackets take your pick.

For things like:

  • Divorce
  • Suicide
  • Infidelity
  • Abuse
  • Screwed up childhood
  • Cancer
  • Loss of a child
  • Death of a Spouse
  • Death of a Parent
  • Veteran/PTSD
  • Teen Pregnancy
  • Addictions
  • Loneliness
  • Infertility
  • Anxiety/Depression/Mental Illness
  • Elderly Parents/Dementia
  • Adoption
  • Etc

Really the list is infinite, but you get the idea. I am certain that one of these things may have touched you or your family’s life at some point.

Recently I was having lunch with 2 separate friends who revealed to me independent of each other how throughly awful their childhoods had been. I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear that these smart, wonderful, kind friends had both gone through such horrible childhoods and yet come out alive.

To know these people I would have never guessed it was like this, I tend to think my childhood was fairly weird and not normal.But you never know what someones else has lived through or what their family has dealt with.

So wouldn’t it be easier in this life to wear our brokenness like a Merit Badge? I mean can you imagine how much easier it would be to cope sometimes if you knew you were NOT alone.

You could be in an elevator and say “I have the same type of cancer, how did you beat yours?” because the person beside you wore the badge.

We could see right away why some people seem prickly when you first meet them, who wouldn’t be if they had a tough upbringing or a  hard life? But you could break through those walls with a common thread or a Merit Badge System!

Even the most perfect looking people who some may think have it all, they have brokenness too. Don’t be fooled by their facade, this is part of our humanity, to have these struggles.

All of us are broken in some way, I may not walk with a cane or limp but I assure you my brokenness is in there, it’s tucked away. I realize when I share my story or my life with a select few I may help them to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I hear you, I lived it too. My heart hurts for you that you to have to go through this.

As a mom I pray that my kids never make the mistakes I did. I just want them to be happy and healthy and grow up knowing that they are special and they are loved. Most importantly that when their father and I are gone that God is still with them and loves them even more. No matter WHAT!

Most importantly Christ knows you and he loves you no matter how damaged you may think you are. He sees our invisible merit badges and he loves us, despite our flaws.

So who’s with me? Sashes or biker jackets with our “Life’s Merit Badges Movement”? I think I vote for the Biker Jacket, at this point I’ve earned it.

Your Broken & Imperfect Friend,

Pilar The Papist Squirrel

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When Did Kids Sports Get So Gnarly or When Did We Become a Jerry Springer Parody?

 

I’m sure you’ve seen the news recently with parents at Little League games, sunshine, concessions, Jr playing 2nd base. When all of the sudden a brawl erupts and the police are called!

I just cannot fathom this behavior, don’t get me wrong other parents say I’m the LOUDEST cheerleader on any team, but I’m cheering not screaming at my kid or the Referee.

My daughter is in 6th grade and we’ve been participating in sports activities with her since she was 5. She plays spring and fall soccer, swim team, basketball and maybe volleyball this year. Plus she loves to run in races thanks Girls On The Run ( a great organization to encourage girls to be fit, confident, athletic and kind to each other).

I tell you this because I want to give you an idea of length and scope of families we’ve met over the years.

When she was young it was little local neighborhood leagues, then the YMCA, our swimming  pool Swim Team and CYO.

If you’re not familiar with CYO it stands for Catholic Youth Organization. They are all over the country in probably every Archdiocese. I believe the primary purpose is for Catholic schools and families of these parishes with children enrolled in public schools to have a league of their own to compete against.

More on this later……(dun dun dramatic pause)

So when we played for the YMCA we had a team mostly made up of kids from our school and a few brave *parent volunteers and other schools. Each school builds up their own team for whatever sport and the Y provides the referees (sometimes middle school kids or college students). You get cool little t-shirts and the kids get a trophy at the end of a season.

But mostly they get to make friendships, build skills, exercise and parents visit amongst themselves while we cheer our mini-me’s.

*Thank the Lord for parent volunteers, without whom many of the leagues would never exist and that would be a huge deficit.

One Saturday morning we all our watching our little 4th grader co-ed team play soccer when a dad erupts from the side lines beside me (from the other team) yelling at our coach over some suspected slight. My poor unsuspecting husband is sitting between us (minding his own business aka trying to tune me out)

I jumped up and told him to sit down and stop acting crazy, I guess I should mention he was HUGE over 6′ tall and burly, my husband is all of 5’3″ but built like the mini Hulk. He was shouting that his kid was out there and such and such is unfair. I said “Hey everyones kids is out there and here you are screaming at the coach in front of ALL our kids! So sit down and be quite. He sat down and my husband breathed a sigh of relief I’m sure.

Summation ” I guess we’re NOT playing for Jesus in this League” #disgusted #RabbleRouser #Naïve

FOR THE RECORD– I hate bullies! I was bullied as a kid and now as an adult I can not fight down the urge to defend other people, probably at my own peril sometimes. I’m not a vigilante but I have seen The Punisher several times. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

the-punisher

 

Meanwhile all the parents (dads included thanked me quietly for shutting down the bully) I swear I don’t know what came over me, I just loathe bullies and I am a FIERCE mama bear when pushed.

During the course of my daughters sports I have seen some brutal nasty underhanded tripping, shoving, intentional elbowing to the sides, etc. During one such game one of our players (a tough no nonsense girl named Hannah) was knocked to the ground flat on her face and the ref didn’t call a time out. Hannah lay on the field and didn’t get up, while the the rest of the team kept running around and over her. So I shouted for the teams to “Take a knee!”

This means STOP play and wait till the injured player can be helped off the field and checked by the coach. All these little girls stopped dead and dropped to a knee. Hannah was taken off the field and the Ref yelled at them to only listen to his whistle to stop play (to borrow a line from Brittany Spears “Oops I did it again!”).

Consequently I had a long talk with my daughter about what I expected from her in her sporting career.

  1. Have fun it’s JUST a game.
  2. You’re playing for Jesus! For Pete’s sake these kids are all from other Catholic schools.What does it say when you beat the crap outta of the other kids just to win?
  3. Play fair NO MATTER what, I don’t care if you Win or Lose as long as you play with Good Sportsmanship.What’s the point of “Winning” if you can’t play with integrity.

Once my daughter was complaining about her coaches and her team, about how unfair everything seemed. I said “Look every single parent here is a volunteer, they are not making a  dime to coach you. Also you’re not getting paid to play either.They are taking time away from their families to teach you the love of this sport (fill in the blank).If you really love this sport it doesn’t matter if your team wins, but every minute you get on the field, court , etc is making YOU a better player, no matter the skills of the rest of your team”.

These are parents who are lawyers, surgeons, Stay at home mom’s with 3-5 kids, Airforce Colonels,Professionals, etc. who take time out of their busy schedules to coach my kids! I am humbled and blessed at their levels of commitment, because I’m not out there doing it.

Obviously I don’t take this entire kids sports to seriously thats because I am realistic about the fact that maybe only 1% of the population will actually become elite athletes or Olympians for that matter. That’s probably WON’T be one of my daughters, but as long as they have fun, get exercise and it builds their confidence thats a win in my book.

Also I don’t think I’m living out some FAILED sports dreams through my kids achievements. Although I do scream/cheer super loud at swim meets, when I see my girls  out swimming my best times in the backstroke.

Cut to this weekends first basketball game of the season, 4th quarter, 5th grade girls basketball game, our gym. A visiting parent had apparently been screaming at the refs throughout the entire game until at this point he JUMPED up and was screaming at the top of his lungs at the 6’5″ “built like a LineBacker referee. Telling the ref to learn the rules. Where upon the ref said “You need to learn the rules this is the last 3 minutes, etc.” The dad backed down, but later proceeded to talk loudly throughput the following teams prayer leading up to the beginning of the next game. #Disrespectful

Apparently this has become such a problem that the Archdiocese has hired a part-time parent to eject these unruly parents from games!

Seriously! We’re talking about a kids sporting event not Soccer hooligans in Europe rampaging a stadium.

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Courtesy Saturday Night Live 

Another parent told me about a group of parents that nearly attacked another coach at a YMCA game until she screamed at the approaching mob that she was a City Prosecutor and would see them ALL arrested before they day was over, narrowly avoiding a brawl.

During our next game on Sunday (way out in the boondocks), few parents showed up for either side. But we all (maybe 25 in total) sat on the same side of the gym. I felt bad for the other team because our girls just kept scoring (final score 26-6) so I cheered for the other team too. So did my fellow team parents. We all know those long depressing rides home after a complete shut out.

You see we’re parents and we want to encourage ALL of these girls to do their best and have fun. NOT just our team but all of them.

As Catholic Christians we want to set examples for our children that we are showing Gods love for our neighbors.

I have to imagine that some of these parents are frantic for little Debbie or Tommy to get a full ride scholarship to college, but that does not excuse their abhorrent behavior.

Our kids are mirrors of our behavior, every sweet or nasty thing my kids do is a reflection of how I treat them or how they see me treating other people in our lives. Period.

So what kind of example do you want to see your children modeling?

Gladiators

Your friend,

Pilar The Papist Squirrel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Build A Better Girl or How to LOVE Who You Are Right NOW!

strong-woman

A thought has been going around and around in my head ( you know those thoughts , that just won’t quit)?

My friends have a running joke about me that I have serious underwear issues, like I never have enough on hand! But I just got 20 new pairs and I texted my girlfriends and showed them my multipacks of JOY.

A conversation ensued about who wears which kind and how some of them NEVER and I mean NEVER let anyone (hopefully their husbands) see them naked or in their underwear EVER!

That just strikes me as so SAD! When did we all become so self conscious that we can’t even walk around the house (with the blinds closed, I’m not advocating being a WEIRDO)  in our underwear?

I understand that I may not look like a super model, but my husband thinks I’m all that and a bag of chips. Maybe because he’s older then me by 12 years, but he still chases me around.

So when my friends who are fabulous, beautiful, intelligent and hilarious, tell me that they don’t think they look beautiful it breaks my heart.

Tonight at my daughters  soccer practice. I kept hearing all the girls say “Oh I should have done better” or “I suck, I’m terrible at running” all this NEGATIVE self talk!

I do NOT want to be that mom that tells my girls “Oh sweetie you’re the very best at every single thing you do, there is NO room for improvement ever”!

I want my girls to know that part of becoming a better, person, student, athlete, artist or anything takes LOADS of work and perseverance. I want them to be confident young women who go out and make a difference in the world big or small I don’t care.

If they decide to have full time careers or be stay at home mommies, I just want them to know they are amazing and expect to make mistakes so they can be a better professionals, mamas or athletes.

I have a friend named Michelle and she has given her children self affirmations that they say together everyday.

Things like “I am important, I am brave, I am strong, I am intelligent”etc. You get the idea, this sets their internal voice to a positive message when she isn’t there to cheer them on.

But I see a huge difference between young boys and girls, sure they are all insecure and that’s normal. But boys aren’t talking to themselves in this negative way or men, they would walk around in their underwear ALL day if it was possible ( scratching their bellies and other unmentionables).

I have a few theories on this entire issue.

Number 1 with a bullet pornography. Men see these women as an ideal and women think I need to look like these women!These poor women who have been so surgically altered that they look like a Barbie come to life. Not mention all the psychological issues this industry is inflicting on their psyche let alone their health.

barbies

Magazines, tv, movie stars, social media mavens filmed or photoshopped after hours of hair and make up professionals have waved their magic wands.

Reality tv shows that tell us Plastic Surgery is the MAGICAL CURE ALL to every single problem you could ever have. Nope you’re still you under that tummy tuck and after that liposuction.

I’m not against plastic surgery, but you’ve seen these women, skin pulled SO tight that they no longer look like a real person. I read an article about a 39 year old mother in England who has already had her first FACE LIFT. She admits to multiple surgeries, ranging from breast implants, to rhinoplasty.

But 39 and having a facelift is just INSANE!

What real women or teenage girl can compare themselves to these UNATTAINABLE standards? These are impossible and harmful ideals.

Real women have flaws and we need to LOVE ourselves despite these flaws.

When I look back at how I looked in high school, I wish I knew then that was my absolute peak of physical fitness, or my 20’s & 30’s! Now as I stare down 50 I realize I may not be thin, but I am alive and God is using me to help others.

I had a miscarriage in my early 40’s that sent me into such a DEEP and PROFOUND depression, I never thought I would come back from it. I lost all interest in how I looked.

But when my kids were in preschool I always thought I want to look my best so my kids aren’t embarrassed or treated differently. GAG

Why did I ever think that was important?

Cut to me 4 years later, my priorities have certainly shifted and I still have tough days. BUT, but I have days when I pull it together and feel pretty, which in turn boosts my confidence and this affects how people interact with me. Or at least I think it plays a slight role.

I tell my friends “You’re fabulous RIGHT NOW!” Just think when you’re 80 and you look back at this age and say “Damn I was FABULOUS at 44, why didn’t I realize that then?”

If you can look at your life this way and say wow I got more interesting with age, or that scar there, I earned that scar in a hard fought battle (having kids, having some type of surgery like a friend of mine who had open heart surgery in her late 20’s).

Like those women who fight breast cancer and win! I love to see those photos of some lovely tattoo where their breast used to be. These women are WARRIORS and they can decorate their battle scared body any way they chose. They fought cancer and WON!

Women are warriors on and off the battle field, sometimes these battles are only in our minds with our selves.

So today tell that voice in your head that says:

“Wait till I reach this goal, lose that last 10 lbs., fit in these skinny jeans, get that promotion, etc”, blah blah, blah.

Tell that voice SHUT UP!

I AM fearfully and wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God, right here and right now!

Then remember you are special, unique and a treasure to your friends and family that love you.

Your friend,

Pilar the Papist Squirrel

 

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What Happens When You’re Someone Else? Dabbling with DNA

SilouetteFor Christmas this year I asked my family for a DNA kit. Let me just state that my mother-in-law could NOT fathom why I would want to know my DNA background. According to her what’s the  point.

Pilar kindergarten 3

Me,1974?

Well, I guess if I had been adopted this would perhaps be a burning question at some point in my life.

Or if like me you were raised with no contact with your dad’s side of the family. So I was left with my mom’s vague recollections and family folklore. As I’ve mentioned in the past, we moved A LOT!

Add to this the fact that my grandma (The Head of Chaos (GET SMART) as I call her) is the matriarch of the family and is rather sketchy even when she had a good memory. Sketchy in a kind “Witness Relocation” kind of way!

We are a family that doesn’t seem to keep roots down for long. So for me who we are and where we’re from has been a nagging question most of my adult life.

It became more of a question when I had children and they started  writing ancestry type reports in school.

My husbands family has an Uncle George the family genealogist, they have photo’s going back nearly 120 years. Like my friend Barb that can name all the family members in her old family pictures, going back several generations. #Treasure

We have some photos of my grandma as a child, grandpa with my mom, aunts, a few of my own baby photos. I say a few since after the divorce my mother cut my dad out of most of the pictures, which makes it difficult to grasp at memories if he ever held me and loved me?

I have one single photo of my dads family with all my aunts, uncles and grandparents.

Anaya Family

The Anaya Family

My mother can’t seem to remember if my dad is the littlest boy in front or the baby on my grandma’s knee? Or which are my Aunts Marina and Aurora?

But I see a striking resemblance in my youngest daughter to my Aunts, who look like Spanish film stars. The ears are another family trait I inherited, like my brother, who also got the red head gene from my Grandpa Anaya and the Cason side of our family. Or the weird mole on the back of my neck like my brother and my dad, which means I can’t continue to claim my brother was a troll we found under a bridge!

Growing up I was a clone of my father, even mannerisms and personalty according to my mom. She used to say he never met a stranger, which is what my husband says about me.

But when you have unresolved issues with an absent parent and they die before you can grill them about their motives, it leaves a huge empty spot in your life. Not to mention the whole medical history side of family history.

This is not to say I don’t picture this side of the family when I pray during mass for the faithfully departed, but I can’t pray for them by name like I should be able too.

 When you don’t know who or where you come from, pictures and DNA help you like an ancient map.

Silouette

So I finally received the results of my DNA from Ancestory.com and I find out (drum roll) I’m 87% European.

Hun? I thought that would have been spilt a little differently, not what I was expecting at all, maybe 56% but 87%?

Let me be clear that 24% of the “Anaya” DNA comes from the Iberian Peninsula. Spain and Portugal, which I had heard we were Spanish, but most Mexicans claim this and it’s probably not correct. I also expected Ireland( more red hair genes), England, Scotland, France (hello France boarders Spain, who knew!)

But what made me laugh, is the 8% Native American!

Have you ever watched those ancestry shows on PBS? You know where the people are certain, beyond a reasonable doubt that they have a Native American great grandma, and the results are always NO. Zero, Zilch, Do not Pass Go or Collect $200.

But nearly every person of Jewish decent is related to Barbara Walters! (Now that’s just odd). I was holding out hope that I may be a little Jewish, which would have been so awesome to be one of God’s chosen people! No Luck.

People have asked me what if the test is wrong? My answer is this , they have suggested my brother as a nearly 99.9% match (with different last names) and the region of Mexico that they predict I share DNA (Colima & Western Michocián) are within a 100 mile radius (give or take) where I was born and my fathers family lived and probably still do.

So I’m fairly certain that even with my families sketchy lack of history that the test is reasonably accurate.

Which leads me to this question, if I’m not half Mexican like I always assumed then what am I?

I have a joke I tell  “Between myself (1/2) and my 2 (1/4 & 1/4) daughters we make one whole Mexican!” People either laugh or they look really confused. #ItsAJoke

Rats! This means I need a whole new schtick! I can’t call myself the Mexican Vampire that can’t go in the sun. Or claim that alarms sound in every house in Oakwood when I enter the city limits (another joke).

I feel like I may have opened up a Pandora’s box full of questions. But by nature of my birth and birth certificate I am a Mexican, if you count the country of my origin? Why is this so weird now?

Ultimately, I would say I identify as a Catholic foremost, a Mom, a wife and an American, in that order.

Looking at my DNA now I can see a heavy Catholic influence, which my mother discovered when she paid a genealogist to research our family history. My mother said we had been Catholic going back 500 years, then came to America and rebelled against the Church becoming Protestants. #Rebels

I have yet to see this report, my mom is not good with the follow through.

So what about you friends, have you dipped your toe in the DNA testing pool? Let me tell you from my experience, you may be SURPRISED with the outcome.

Your friend,

Pilar the Papist Squirrel

Formerly known as “The Mexican Vampire”