I’m A Mormon

“I’m a Mormon! Yes, I am!” It’s a jaunty Primary song we sang as kids.

Consequently, my genealogy’s been done to death. (Thank you.) I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t expect the ancestry portion of 23andMe to be interesting, because I already know it all. (I’m NOT a know-it-all!)

That’s only half the story. I was raised by my mother. I forgot there’s a whole ‘nother side to the story. My dad’s people are as American as they are Mormon. Furthermore, they came here specifically to join the Plymouth Bay Colony. With rare exception, those who came before the Mormon conversion swept northern Europe arrived in the early 1600s!

Turns out I’m a Daughter of the American Revolution as much as I’m a Daughter of the Utah Pioneers! It also turns out that the branches of family trees that reach into our colonial history are more like tentacles. I’m at once energized and overwhelmed.

Mormon history is much easier to trace. It was but a moment back, as these things go.

I want to know everything! Everything, is a lot. It’s too much! There are so many. I can never know it all! Ooph, that’s hard for me. (I’m a know-it-all.)

How do I know their ships? How do I find their war records?

I found a line that links me to Pres. Warren G. Harding (reputed, before Dump, to be the worst president in U.S. history. But that was before George W and, yeah, the dump we live in now) and to Tonya Harding, as it turns out, haha! Our ancestors go back to a patriot, Capt. Stephen Harding, who founded a town in Pennsylvania and got his name on a monument. His family split, with one brother staying loyal to the crown!

Wow.

I found a fellow about whom it was written, “He did not agree with the Salem Puritans in their extreme measures and, with Rev. Samuel Whitney, was opposed to persecution.”

There was another line of colonists to Virginia and North Carolina. Never in my life have I imagined I might have ancestors who owned slaves. It horrifies me to wonder now. Many Plymouth Bay ancestors were prosperous. I’m hoping the Southerners were poor as church mice. (Writing that, I immediately recognize that the poor would have been just as racist as the wealthy of the time. Perhaps more so, since the poor are always led to believe that the Other is to blame for their circumstance. And the rich get richer…)

Completely pre-U.S. anthing, I found direct lineage to King Henry III. This may not seem as impressive to others as it does to me, but I’m a descendant of Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, founder of the Plantagenet dynasty. I’m a Plantagenet! Henry the 8th killed every remaining Plantagenet he could find during his reign, because any of them could make a claim to the throne equal to his own.

I’m also related to Charlemagne, as in Pater Europae, Father of Europe, King of The Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages, and still another royal line went no further than a King of something, who was born and died BC. The Mormons don’t really go before Christ, even though the Old Testament is a part of our canon. 😉

The Mormons are right. Genealogy is fun!

I should go back to church and do baptisms for the dead for the House of Plantagenet. The monarchy can’t object. I’m entitled to do temple work for my family.

Speaking of church, just to climb down my family tree yesterday with some sense of control, I – oh god, this is embarrassing to admit – I made a list of every single Mormon convert ancestor, including the wagon/handcart trains each took across this land!

Precisely 50 persons drank the juice and came over. Three are listed in Utah Pioneer records as having come with unknown companies. Seven came after the railroad was completed, ending the Mormon Pioneer period. The remainder came on 17 separate wagon trains and one handcart company, which I’ve mentioned more than once. I’m enormously proud of my ancestors who survived the Martin Handcart Company crossing, and all of them, really – but that one, wow. I find them heroic.

It was very satisfying to wrap that up in a nice, neat bow after a painfully slow work day. I felt so accomplished. Early on, I was so tired at my desk I had that panicked feeling, “Oh my god, how am I gonna make it til 5:00!” You know? I could have continued ’til midnight but, alas, the bell rang and I went to dance.

****

Just to be perfectly accurate – we are talking history here – I’m not actually Mormon. I let them “keep my name” to bolster their numbers with my paltry one. I had no stance to take. I love my history. I’m proud of my people. I find it as fascinating and enriching as I do strange. It gives me a sense of place in history. I feel like I can connect with the religious fervor of the time, known as the Second Great Awakening. (The First took place during Thomas Jefferson’s life.) Of course, the original fever brought the Puritans.

A couple of years ago, however, The Church made a move I couldn’t endorse with my continued membership, be it in name only or not. They took away the rights of children of gay parents to be baptized and/or serve a mission, until they’re 18 and unless they disavow their parents’ union. This hurt many people. It hurt me, and it had no direct impact on me. It absolutely broke my heart. There was a lot of pain in this valley during that devastating period, and a mass exodus of those of us who hadn’t participated for many years but hadn’t made the divorce official.

Losing My Religion Nov. 20, 2015

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Finally!

Once again, I’ve dropped 4 lbs. in one week. Hopefully, it doesn’t take another 8 weeks to see appreciable change. I’m interested in steady momentum. Maybe that will be reflected in my body fat percentage, which is, ahem, 36.7%.

I recall noting the number at my New Year’s weigh-in. I couldn’t remember whether it was 34 or 37-point-something, but we’ll assume it was 37 and moving in the right direction. I certainly don’t put any limits on the fat I eat, but I am trying to be watchful of over-indulgent grazing. My genome gave me a metabolism type that’s somewhat counter-intuitive as to body shape and weight-loss, indicating that fat restriction can lead to increased waist circumference. 23andme actually advised me not to opt for low-fat products. Weeeee! Good fats were advised, of course, a la Mediterranean Diet, but knowing me as you do – Skinny Was My Superpower/ I Do What I Want – well, it’s just not food if there isn’t as much butter as potato.

*****

Yesterday was so frustrating I cried in yoga. In public. Like, fought (failed) to hold back tears, several times. It’s that constant nagging anxiety, “Am I gaining strength and flexibility or overdoing it?” I felt like I was just copping out in poses. I felt like a faker. I came home to the headache Ibuprofen can’t touch and seizing joint and muscle pain so high I couldn’t sleep. I’ve never not been able to escape through sleep, let alone rest to restore and recover. Tender points were more like screaming spots. Even my skin hurt!

I did nothing all day but complain. My poor roommate. He never gets impatient with me. I am going to try to keep it to myself a bit, though. I recognize in all the complaining not just the fear and anger of pain, but a battle with Imposter Syndrome. “I’m not faking this! I’m not just being lazy!” I have a tenacious lazy streak, too, so there’s a constant internal struggle that I’ll work out aloud on any hapless friend nearby.

He’s heard enough. He knows. He feels for me. He’s a great roommate.

A strange series of events occurred recently. My general practitioner has been wonderful. This would have been 10 years together, and she has been a remarkable companion with whom to monitor my health. Until recently. She dismisses Fibromyalgia. She’ll acknowledge it as a thing but won’t offer any advice beyond, “We really don’t know what it is and there’s no proven treatment.” The fact that conventional methods are undesirable to me has kept me loyal to her, but I’ve known for awhile that the road diverged.

I got a letter in the mail about a month ago that her office had closed. I called the clinic taking over and was informed only that they’d expanded into the space and would try to help as many patients as possible from the old practice. But where was my doctor? I Googled her. No new info. Honestly, I just wanted to send her a Thank You note. Not being able to do even that left me feeling abandoned, betrayed almost. How can you ditch people without any notice? With no guidance to other options or how they can get their records, at the very least?

I know it’s for the best. I’m looking forward to creating a new relationship for the long-term with someone who takes my pain seriously.

The second timely thing happened yesterday. The Utah Senate approved State Bill 73, allowing for medical use of cannabis oil! I can’t believe it. The last time this insufferably red state did anything I couldn’t believe was when they approved Marriage Equality. However, even Mormons have gay friends, family, children, co-workers. Even religious people can see that we’re all just folk: black, white, good, bad, gay, straight, who cares? Everyone can, if they choose to, realize at last, “Wow, this person is entitled to anything I am,” even if they disagree with who or how they are. But – gasp! – DRUGS, never.

(And, trust me, the Mormon Church tried to block the bill.* Blocked, instead, will be the pain of thousands. Well done, Utah!)

Cannabis oil is low in THC, so there’s less psychedelic effect, and high in cannabidiol, which binds to receptors all over our bodies and calms them down (or something science-y). And it’s just a freaking plant!

I think I’m going to find relief!

* If any Church uses its influence and money to further a political agenda, as the Mormons did lobbying for Prop 8 in California, IT SHOULD NOT BE TAX EXEMPT.
tax

My Cat Needs Surgery and I Have Cancer

Well, it’s a grabby headline, anyway.

My poor kitty. Her ear has swollen even more since yesterday. Any more, and it will pop on its own. Maybe that would be cheaper. I feel so sad for her. It’s been one thing or another with her since she was 4 weeks old, from the innocuous to the terrifying. I’m always amazed at the next new thing. “Seriously? It never ends for you!”

I’ve decided she has a compromised immune system that makes her vulnerable to attacks of this, that, and everything. “Well, it’s obvious you’re my children,” I tell them. “One of you never stops talking and the other has auto-immune disease. We’re family!”

How I love them. =^..^=pen and crick

And the medical information I had to worry about all night? Well, I didn’t worry. I felt comforted, by my mom and my cheerleaders on high. I spoke with the nurse first thing this morning, and my biopsy came back positive for squamous cell skin cancer. No biggie. I’ll wait for the site to finish healing, and in a month I go back in to start freezing it to death.

When I mapped my genome 2 years ago, it revealed a higher than average risk of squamous and basal cell carcinomas. Both are relatively harmless and very common among fair-skinned people. I’m a redhead in the desert, and I’m a cyclist. Though my hands didn’t burn in the last decade, I confess I didn’t always wear sunscreen. Sheer bike gloves afforded some protection, but I knew better. It’s begun. (I was comforted to learn that I have only average risk for melanoma, the more deadly skin cancer.)

Yesterday, mom told me she got a cream from her dermy to put on her face for a couple of weeks to seek out the bad patches and burn them. She said she looks like she has acne on every square inch of skin. “Poor mom!” I laughed. “I’m sorry you’re ugly!”

Hopefully, it’s like a chemical peel and takes age spots, too, because ALL of my freckles have morphed these days and I, no doubt, will be getting that treatment myself one day.

Mid-life was never supposed to happen to me!

23andMe and the FDA

I know, I know… bureaucracy, the feds, mind control, money control, control control… You won’t be surprised that I’ve opted out of a political belief system, other than the fact that I truly cannot be made to understand what is so frightening about gay people, and why do we still have smog? Leaders are dumb. I fully grant that I COULD NOT LEAD, but neither can anyone else without backroom concessions and full-scale sales on the souls of those in power and, sadly, those of us in their wake. That’s trickle-down.

I didn’t say I wasn’t opinionated. It’s simply that I see governance as an impossible task. What then? “My brain hurts. Let’s do something else.”

I try not to rail against it. Futile though it all may be, it is no less futile so say “blah, blah… and blah.” I’m ignorant. I’m the worst kind of citizen: An uninformed reactionary. I do not have an understanding of how it works. As much as I try to relearn the basics, I can’t retain information anymore! Subjects that confuse and irritate me are banished so firmly beyond a cement wall in my mind, I can’t access them even when I want to. Basically, of paid elected leaders, I believe some are corrupt and some mean to do good – or did once – and plenty of others are just as caught up as we are in the nonsensical morass that is American life.

That said, I love my country. I love my home. I love my people. I love the land. I love freedom. (Ugh, that abused phrase – by both sides – makes my skin crawl! How dare they sully my reverence for autonomy! I LOVE MY FREEDOM! I hate leaders who appropriate it and tell us, “Your version wrong.”) Though you can guess what my thought is on war and the reasons we’re given for it (Lies. It’s about money), I am proud of and grateful for my [biological] father’s service (Army) and that of my brothers (Air Force and Navy). I do not take liberty lightly. Others die for saying to those in power, “I disagree with you.” I know freedom and I’m grateful for it.

Guv’ment, on the other hand, alarms me. They just want my money. Here’s proof:

“Dear 23andMe Customers,

I’m writing to update you on our conversation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and how it impacts you.

If you are a customer whose kit was purchased before November 22, 2013, your 23andMe experience will not change. You will be able to access both ancestry and health-related information as you always have.

23andMe has complied with the FDA’s directive and stopped offering new consumers access to health-related genetic results while the company moves forward with the agency’s regulatory review processes.”

Process this: You won’t have access to your own genome until enough people revolt. And who’s gonna revolt about an elective curiosity? It’s just so dumb. It’s so obvious! The government saw that more and more people were willing to pay for this information. Knowledge is power. “Don’t give access to the hoi polloi,” they schemed, laughing and rubbing their hands together. “And/or set up a circumstance where we are the only ones taking the cash.” For MY health information! Unbelievable!

Of course, I feel charmed again. As weird and hard as my life has been, I have occasion nearly every day to say, “Good grief, things work out for me!” Even the silly stuff, like knowing heritable traits and health conditions for fun.

23andMe has been so cool. Every now and then, I get an alert from the company that they’ve identified another potential relative. They’re usually 5th cousins. I get excited when they’re 3rds. I’ve sent out some pertinent last names to see if any match. No one’s replied. That’s okay. That’s not why I spit in the tube last March. And then…

Right before Thanksgiving, I got an introduction to a second cousin! “You probably shared great-grandparents,” the 23andMe robot reported. Do you know what a thrill that is? “Who is this person!? Where do they live?” I sent out my names. He answered!

“Oh!” I replied. “I’ll just die if you’re So-and-So’s son.”

“Yes. So-and-So is my mom.”

As it happened, Cousin So-and-So was at his home visiting for Thanksgiving and nearly jumped out of her skin with instructions to tell my mom and Grandma how much she loves them! Of course I cried. So did Grandma. Bringing her a hug from a faraway grand-niece made me happy. Thanksgiving is the holiday that makes me feel closest to my Grandpa, and all that is good about family. It was a wonderful gift to take home.

I love that even in my unorthodox way, I can still contribute and belong to the family I’m estranged from. I honor the times and ways I feel connected to them. Much of it is my own doing, insisting on gratitude and seeing the good when there is so much ghastly, ruinous wrong in us. Most of it is pure grace, having nothing to do with any effort on my part to stay above the anger. Still, I do feel very much like I’m watching from the outside. Physical separation must remain, sadly, in order for me to try each new day for spiritual connection to my immediate family, but the timing of this blessed introduction reminded me that, yes, I am detached, if that’s what I choose.

Thank you, angels.

And now… Unless 23andMe drops its price, you’ll be getting ripped off now that most of the information is no longer available. Of course, some people don’t want to know the scary truth about their genetic doom blueprint, as pertains to health. The ancestral info was not at all interesting to me, or so I thought before I got it, since my people have done my genealogy since the dawn of the Mormon Church. If you are one of those who might not do gene testing because you’d rather not know your risks, map your genome now. It continues to be one of the best presents I ever gave me. I was stunned by the things I didn’t know about my people’s origins. Nevertheless, I’m so glad I got the whole picture! Suck on it, feds!

http://refer.23andme.com/a/clk/4FPnC7 … and do it here. I get ten bucks. 😉

http://www.23andme.com/

Where Did You Get Hair That Color?

I feel marginally less secure about my “typical risk” markers for inherited conditions and general health when I understand that I have only typical odds for red hair, and I got that in flames. I had believed I got the gene for red hair but, in fact, there isn’t one. Two variants increase odds, and I don’t have them. I’m purely typical, yet I’m red red red.

I inherited lower than average odds of freckling, too, and still I speckle.

http://refer.23andme.com/a/clk/4FPnC7

I love 23andMe!

Sarah Was a Dreamer, Too!

I spent 5 days and thirty some-odd hours pouring over my genome. By Friday afternoon, I was done. There was nothing I hadn’t printed out and written copious notes on. Fascinating stuff. Endless.

http://refer.23andme.com/a/clk/4FPnC7

I had a couple of hours to kill before 5 o’clock, so I began to fill out my family tree. I hadn’t considered this important because, as a Mormon, that’s been done for me. To death.

It was amazing! I’ve never had the experience of finding – and meeting – the people myself! Learning their names, where they lived… Filling in those blanks with my own hands was… a mitzvah.

Where did I hear that, so long ago I can’t remember? When did that become the only way to describe, sometimes, the transcendent connection to God and each other, and the enormous blessing that is life? I’ve been saying, “It’s a mitzvah,” for years.

(That’s more of a colloquial use of the term than literal. Really, it’s not even the correct use of it colloquially [good deed], but what would I know?)

It came as no surprise that I’m 52.2% British/Irish (Scottish). It was a shock (delight!) to learn that I am .2% Ashkenazi Jew! 40% of living Ashkenazi* descendants can trace their ancestry to 1 of 4 women!!! Do you know how intertwined and small and big and tearful you feel when you know who you are? When learning who you are surprises you and says, “Hey, we’re all in this together”?

Is there a reason in my blood that I read every Holocaust survival story I could get my hands on? Is there a reason I’ve chased Jewish men? (Totally accidental, but when you’ve been dating for 25 years and yet another suitor is Jewish, in the western United States, you recognize the trend. “Of course you are!”)

(One of my boyfriends said, “Are you sure you’re not Jewish?” when I sang “Hashivenu.”)

I’m an Anglo-American Ashkenazi Jew!

So!… I’m filling in the names and dates. I get to Louis Miller, whom I knew to be the one to bring this wonderful blood to my veins. My beautiful grandmother, whose life story I wrote, is LaWana Miller because her great-grandfather changed the family name from Mueller when they came to this country. Only by Googling the people myself was I to learn that Mueller is simply an Ashkenazi name for the village miller. My family had the blanks filled in already, but I never knew ’til now who they were.

The Muellers, of course, had been Christian for generations, but I found a forbear named Spangenberg. Hm. ??? (I also found the surname Pabst, and anyone who knows me well knows just how perfect that is. “They don’t give blue ribbons to everything.”)

I digress!

By now I was home and couldn’t stop. When I got stuck finding ancestors online, I pulled out my boring stacks of black-and-white paper with names and years and blanks and grids… Like I said, I have it all. Always have. I decided to closely read an account included in the pile. It was a life sketch of Sarah Ann Haigh, whom I’ve introduced you to (https://wildwesterngirl.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/meet-sarah-my-beloved-ancestral-mother/), and Louis Frederick Miller [nee Ludwig Friedrich Mueller]. I’d never read it thoroughly before because I know the story. It’s our lore and we’re very proud of her.
Little did I know…

Sarah was a dreamer, too!

Despondent after her husband died, she met him in a dream across a fence. Expressing a desire to join him, he said her work wasn’t done. He told her it was better than she thought it would be [in Zion], and it would get better still. A man approaching on her side of the fence took her by the arm, and they walked away together. Some months later Sarah met Louis, whom she called “Miller” for the fifty-plus years of their life together, and recognized him as the man in her dream.

Knowing I have another dreamer, on my mother’s side now, makes me feel less psychic myself, and more human and exactly like anyone. We all have access. We all have dreams. We all know. We’re from the same place. We’re in this together. We’re the same.

23andme.com is the best gift I ever gave myself. $108 and some change for thrilling scientific information, and reconnection to my true self, my goodness, my spirit, my people, my fellow man, you.

http://refer.23andme.com/a/clk/4FPnC7

*The Ashkenazi are an ethno-religious group indigenous to Israel that migrated to Europe.

23andMe

All the revelations, new understandings, and information make the picture more complete while simultaneously shrouding life in ever more complex, delicious mystery. I am in love with 23andme.com!

http://refer.23andme.com/a/clk/4FPnC7

DO IT DO IT DO IT! Don’t you wanna know?
(You do! It’s amazing, this feeling of antiquity, humanity, sameness, and uniqueness!)