Social Media

 

 

Social media usage has risen dramatically over the last decade. In 2018, Pew Research stated that 68% of adults in the U.S. use Facebook. * A lower percentage of adult Americans use Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Snapchat than Facebook. However, none of the platforms dips below 20% and the total numbers are quite significant although even considering overlap of usage between apps.

 

The reason for the rise in social media usage is a combination of general industry growth, desire to connect, business demands, and a desire for attention. The industry has grown as new platforms evolved – each with its own focus and its own attraction to various age groups and types of businesses.

 

Desire To Connect

 

The initial boom in social media – and what keeps it going – is the desire for people to connect. Although you can know what is happening around the world almost instantaneously, people are not as connected to those around them as they were 100 or even 50 years ago. Thus, people turn to social media to (re-)connect with their family and friends that are often spread around the world.

 

People also join groups of like-minded people to discuss issues that are relevant to them, such as, parenting, hiking, or genealogy. Thus, people connect with new people and often receive support for the challenges that they are facing in life.

 

Business

 

As these platforms have grown, businesses have turned to them as a way to connect to their clients. They utilize these platforms for advertising, event announcements, and client engagement. They have replaced some of the traditional marketing methods and are especially important in the coveted 18-49 market, as they are the highest users of social media. It has also allowed businesses to expand their client base in new ways.

 

Desire For Attention

 

For some people, however, the use of social media isn’t really to connect with anyone. It is simply to draw attention to themselves. They use it to dramatize their life or a life that they choose to portray. Often, they play on people’s emotions, gaining attention from people they don’t even know. One must assume that they are starved for attention in real life. Thus, they create a more exciting or dramatic life online by making sure that people notice them. As a result, they gain the attention that they desire.

 

Cause Disruption

 

Some of these attention seekers take it a step further. They purposefully attempt to anger people and create arguments. These trolls never provide real facts and are quick to make highly judgmental statements. If those don’t create enough rage, they will turn to name calling and personal attacks. These trolls gain attention for themselves, but the joy they get is in seeing other people angry. Nothing makes them go away quicker than a calm, logical response where you completely ignore their inflammatory statements.

 

As you can see, there are good, bad, and ugly aspects of social media. It is important to prop up the good. The rest is something that we all have to work together to overcome. Thus, the next time you see an inflammatory statement or post consider what is going to create a positive outcome. If we could make everything on social media positive for even one day, it could change the world!

 

 

*https://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/

 

found now what

 

In the previous article “The Search,” I discussed the roller coaster ride of searching for birth parents. In this article that concludes the 3-part series, I will discuss connecting to birth families and the associated emotions.

 

Emotions All Around

 

When a person finally identifies their birth parent, they can be overcome with emotion. Emotions range from excitement to guilt to fear. Thus, taking that step to contact the birth parent (or even a half/full sibling) can be overwhelming.

 

It is impossible to know how the birth parent is going to react. Thoughts that people often have when contacting birth parents include: Will they accept me or reject me? Does their spouse/kids know about me? Are they a good person? What if they aren’t a good person? And, in the case of fathers . . . Does he even know about me?

 

All of these thoughts and concerns are valid. Some birth parents welcome their long lost children with open arms. These are the stories that keep people searching. The mother (and in some cases the father, too) that tells the person that they have been thinking about them every day and hoping they would find them often lead to amazing connections.

 

When Things Don’t Go Well

 

Other birth parents are not nearly as welcoming. They would like their “secret” to stay “secret.” In some of these cases there are extenuating circumstances and painful memories involved. Therefore, it is understandable. However, it is no easier on the person who is searching for their birth parent.

 

In many cases, however, these people have some image that they are trying to protect and have not told their spouse or children about the other child. In the worst of these cases, the biological parent threatens legal action against the person if they contact them or other family members. Although legal action may not be possible, clearly connections with the family are going to be limited.

 

In other cases, the people are simply being cautious. They are fearful of people taking advantage of them. Alternately, they are trying to protect their estate for their family.

 

Some of these people will come around. Other times, the parent’s other children are willing to build a relationship despite the parent’s concerns. However, these relationships are not the same as being fully included in the family.

 

Clueless

 

Of course, there are those that have no idea what the person is talking about. It is understandable for fathers that never knew about the pregnancy. However, it also includes mothers that claim to have zero memory of having a child. It also includes mothers and fathers that don’t claim to know each other despite what the DNA says.

 

In some of the cases, the parents stick to the story that the DNA is lying. It is hard to connect with them when they won’t acknowledge that you could even be their child. However, some of these cases, particularly fathers that never knew they fathered a child, eventually lead to strong connections.

 

Emotional Roller Coaster

 

Even when the birth parent(s) is found and starts to build a connection, the person should continue to expect a roller coaster of emotions. Some people report that they connect immediately. Meanwhile, others have a complete distaste for the biological parent. Even those that connect immediately and have a growing relationship often find that things don’t go as well after the honeymoon period.

 

Family drama is another emotional challenge for adoptees. It is rare to find a family without some drama and if there have been secrets, there is bound to be more!

 

Family connections are always interesting, especially when one or more people that are not their biological parents have raised a person.

 

the search

 

 

In the previous article “Family Connections,” I discussed some of the reactions when people learn that one or both of the parents that raised them are not their biological parent. In this article, I explore the connections and feelings that often arise during the search for a person’s birth parents.

 

Now, rare cases exist where the person takes a DNA test and immediately finds their birth family, everyone loves each other, and they live happily ever after. However, that isn’t the norm.

 

Expectations

 

A person shouldn’t expect anything other than a rollercoaster ride when looking for a birth parent.  Emotions will go high when the person sees a DNA match. Then, they will fall through the floor when the match does not respond to messages or hides all their information. This process may repeat several times.

 

Likewise, the person searching may contact a DNA match, who puts them in contact with other family members. Just when they start building a strong connection, someone else does a DNA test and it blows a hole in the theory of who the birth parent is. Now, they are left dangling.   They feel connected, but they aren’t connected the way that they think they are. In some cases, they may not be connected at all.

 

News of a mis-connection can be almost as emotional as learning that one or both of your parents are not your biological parents. This is especially true in cases where the new connections were supportive and welcoming, while the parents that raised the person are deceased or the relationship with them is strained.

 

The Process

 

The process can be lengthy and the result is not guaranteed.   It is very easy for people to become too excited, which often scares off DNA matches. It is equally as easy for people to become frustrated, lose interest, and just give up.

 

The best possible approach is a slow, steady approach where the person makes lots of connections. This allows emotions to be more even while allowing the person to build relationships with people that are related, if only distantly. Building connections with these people helps the person learn information that is useful in solving their parentage puzzle. Possibly, more importantly, these connections help the person to feel connected to family.

 

The final article in this series “Found, Now What?” will discuss the ability to connect with birth families and the associated emotions.

 

family connections

 

 

As a genealogist, I have become involved in helping people find their birth parents. It is always an interesting journey and although there are various common scenarios, each journey is unique.

 

The Reactions

 

Some people who have found out that one or both of their parents aren’t who they thought they were express no interest in identifying and meeting their biological parents. These people usually feel a strong connection with the parents that raised them. Often their perspective is that there is no need to find out who their biological parents are given that they will always consider the parents that raised them as mom and dad.

 

Other people report always feeling like they were adopted or never believing that their dad was their biological father. These people are not at all surprised when a DNA test reveals that their intuition was correct. Many of them report feeling disconnected or like something was missing in the relationship.

 

Other people fit somewhere in between these two perspectives. Some are surprised, but embrace the possibility of connecting with more family. These people still view their parents as their parents, but are open to learning more about themselves and their roots. Some people that fall into this category are people who grew up as only children. They are excited at the prospect of finding siblings.

 

Another reaction is to feel lost and/or angry. In these cases, people feel as if they no longer know who they are. For these people, learning that one or both parents who raised them are not their biological parents is devastating. It can take time and professional counseling to get through this very personal crisis.

 

Connected?

 

To me, it appears that some people sense the lack of connection all their lives. But, others want what is comfortable or desire a connection with the parents that raised them so much that they fear knowing about their biological parents. Yet others are comfortable with any and all connections. It is a very personal situation and is unique to that person.

 

If you are going through this, know that although your situation is unique, most likely there is someone out there that has been through something similar. Seek counseling if you are struggling. Also, know that there are groups of people that can help you find your birth parents if you so desire.

 

The next article in this series “The Search,” will dive into expectations when searching for your family.

 

instilling beliefs

 

Out It Goes

 

When I was young, our church had a minister that proclaimed that we must be wary of the devil’s work. He declared that we must eliminate certain items and beliefs from our households. One of those items was an Ouija board. This deeply concerned my mother given we had one of those boards. Because of this fear that he instilled in her, she took our Ouija board to the family farm and burned it. I believe there were other things or beliefs we had to purge from our home under the direction of this particular minister; however, the Ouija board is the one that sticks most in my memory. Maybe that is because I watched it go up in smoke!

 

It Is Everywhere

 

This is one example of someone influencing other people’s beliefs based on their own beliefs. Most of us regularly encounter people attempting to influence our beliefs. This behavior is very prevalent in newscasts, social media, and late night comedy. Of course, family, friends, and co-workers also regularly demonstrate this behavior.

 

People may consciously or unconsciously try to instill their beliefs in others. The stronger the connection that we have to the person; the more vulnerable we are to their beliefs influencing our own beliefs. Thus, it is not uncommon for our beliefs and values to shift based on the beliefs of those we trust. The resulting beliefs may or may not reflect our true beliefs.

 

True To Yourself

 

In order to prevent undue influence by others, it is important that we know our self and our true beliefs. By doing so, we can control our response to beliefs that differ from our own. When pressured to have a different belief, we can choose to remain silent realizing that the person has a right to their opinion. We can however, where appropriate, express a differing opinion in a caring manner. We do not have to accept the other person’s beliefs – no matter who they are or how powerful they are.

 

There are ways to check to see if someone is influencing you. If your emotions are stirred, for example, that can be a sign that someone is trying to use your emotions to instill their beliefs in you. Triggering fear and anger are common ways to make others vulnerable to influence.

 

You can also check to see how you view something now versus in your past. Has your belief changed? It is good to grow and change as long as the change was of your choosing. It is important to assess if you chose in your heart to change or if you allowed someone to “gift” you their belief.

 

Stand Firm

 

If someone tries to instill their beliefs in you, stand firm. Recognize their effort for what it is and know that you do not need to fall victim to their influence. You have the power to make your own decisions.

 

 

Memory Triggers

 

 

Have you ever saw, smelled, or heard something that triggered a memory from a long time ago? I watched a movie the other night that included a scene about a high school student losing her grandmother. It reminded me of losing my grandmother when I was thirteen. I recalled the day after my grandmother’s funeral when I returned to school. A friend asked where I was the day before. I told him that I had attended my grandmother’s funeral. He insisted I was lying.

 

I found it odd that a friend would think that I lied about losing my grandmother. This is when I realized that not all people my age had lost loved ones. They were likely blessed with having their parents as well as all four of their grandparents living.

 

Death Was Familiar To Me

 

It was different for me. My father’s mother, who had just passed, was the last of my living grandparents. Plus, I had already lost my father seven years earlier. So, death was a familiar experience for me. It seemed, however, it was unfamiliar to my friend.  

 

The Right Trigger

 

This seemingly benign incident has stuck with me for many years. All it took was the right trigger for me to remember it.

 

It’s not uncommon for us to remember something from the past that would otherwise be long forgotten when a current event provides the right stimulus. Sometimes recollection of a memory results in a simple reaction of recognition. However, many times these recollections bring up emotions – both positive and negative. Sometimes, these “forgotten” memories are the source behind a person’s current day issues.

 

It is fascinating how our minds hold onto memories from so long ago and how they unconsciously can affect us today. Even memories that don’t have significance on the surface can have a lasting impact on our well-being long into the future.

 

Responding To Memories

 

As you experience past memories that may spontaneous arise, recognize them. If they are pleasant, welcome them. If they are negative, give yourself permission to release any negative emotions associated with that memory. Releasing guilt, fear, and other negative emotions can be a great healing experience. Don’t forget to be thankful for the experience and to forgive all involved, including yourself.

 

 

meaningful relationships

 

 

Ever feel like you are living a song? I have been hearing Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ frequently the last few years. When I began to notice the song, I assumed that my connection to the song was through the song title. I believed that I kept hearing this song as a way to encourage me down the path I’ve been traveling since leaving the corporate world.

 

Assumptions

 

Recently my wife questioned my assumption. She asked if the connection could be with the lyrics or meaning of the song. So, I looked at the lyrics and was surprised to find some interesting correlations with my life.

 

I’m just a city boy, born and raised in Omaha. I’m married to a small town girl. A couple years ago, we rode a midday train going anywhere (actually Georgetown, CO). We’re feeling like we’re living in a lonely world with everyone attached to their electronic devices and ignoring personal contact. And the associations go on, and on, and on. Okay, I’m sure you are now looking on the Internet for the lyrics. And, yes, I took liberties.

 

The point of this song is that we are all looking for meaningful relationships. This song suggests that the purpose in life is trying to fill an emotional void through personal connections. Sometimes we will find someone to fill that void and other times we continue with the search, going through relationship after relationship. This song encourages us to hold on to the feeling of hope that we will find the relationship that we seek.

 

Deeper Meaning

 

If I look beyond the song title, I think there is a deeper meaning for me. I interpret the search for meaningful relationships to be analogous to seeking out people I can help improve their lives. Some of these people are looking for their own meaningful relationships. Meanwhile, others are looking for ways to identify how to improve their lives.

 

On the flip side, some of those people are consciously or unconsciously seeking my assistance. When I am able to help them achieve improved clarity in their life or relief from ailments, I feel emotionally fulfilled. As such, the song both encourages me to continue and reminds me of the benefits of making such a connection.

 

The work I do is one way to help others. We all, however, have the ability to positively affect the lives of others. Sometimes it only takes a smile to establish a connection with someone. From there you never know where it may lead. Who knows, maybe there’s a meaningful relationship just waiting to begin with your next smile.

 

 

 

I have had cats and dogs at different times in my life. Like all cats, mine pretended that they were independent animals, but every so often you would see their true colors. For instance, they really don’t want you to be far away or ignore them. That is why they are always in the middle of anything you are doing. They just like it on their terms.

 

You Are Mine

 

When my sister-in-law and father-in-law were looking for a cat to adopt, they visited the local Humane Society. Many of the cats ignored them or were happy with them for a few minutes and then wandered away. Some of them clearly stated that they weren’t the right cat for them. However, there was one kitten that took up residence on my father-in-law’s lap and would not move. You could say that the kitten chose to adopt my father-in-law. She was making sure that no matter what, he wasn’t leaving the shelter without her. She had already created a bond with him before they got home.

 

Unlike cats, dogs have no restraint in showing their attachment to humans. In many cases, they are excited to meet any and all new people. However, they do bond strongest to particular people.

 

Dog Rules

 

Our dog Jaz is strongly bonded to my wife. When my wife leaves the house, our dog likes to lie by the front door or sit by the front window until she returns, which can be a challenge if she is gone for an extended period. Whether my wife is gone 10 minutes or 10 days, upon her return she is greeted by a very excited dog that demands immediate attention. My wife even has a furry little follower when she goes upstairs. The bond between them is obvious.

 

Jaz likes other family, friends, and clients. In her world, each person has a specific role or connection to her. For instance, she loves walks and any time I try to put my shoes on, she begins hovering over my feet. She is sure that means I will take her for a walk.

 

Similarly, she thinks clients are for petting her. Therefore, when we are getting ready for a client she begins watching at the front window in anticipation of their arrival. She is sad when the client meeting is via video because she doesn’t get the same interaction that she gets when they meet in person.

 

Connections

 

Pets and their humans have both physical and emotional connections. When people lose a pet, they go through grieving just like they would if they lost a family member. When a pet loses their human they also grieve. For example, when we lost my mother-in-law, the family’s dog would lay down and put his chin on the floor. You could see the sadness in his face. Somehow the dog knew my mother-in-law would not be returning home.

 

For some people, their connection to their pet is their strongest and maybe only connection they have with a living being. I’ve witness a few homeless people with their dogs. For these people, their relationship with their pet can be life saving. As their pets give them a reason to live.

 

Life Line!

 

Pets connect to people in ways that other people cannot. They are always there for us and there is no question about their devotion. They bring unconditional love into our lives and that is something very precious!

 

 

 

In the previous article “Don’t Stop Believing”, I wrote about my belief in past lives and experiences that reconfirmed that belief. Having studied the topic extensively, I have learned of even more profound cases where young children knew amazing things that they could not possibly have learned in this lifetime.  

 

This knowledge is interesting and exciting, especially in cases where it can be confirmed. However, it is really secondary to the healing that is available through exploring past lives.

 

Stumbling Into Past Lives

 

Dr. Brian Weiss MD’s work with past lives and healing is probably the most well-known of anyone’s in the world. He was a psychiatrist when he stumbled into past life regression. In the story that he tells about his first encounter with past life regression, his patient regressed when he was trying to use general hypnosis techniques. It wasn’t until she regressed to a previous lifetime that she began showing physical and emotional improvement.

 

The patient appeared to have true healing. Yet, Dr. Weiss was not convinced that past lives were real and was unsure as to what was really happening. . In a later session, the patient was actually able to obtain information about Dr. Weiss that she could not have possibly known. Although this was not about her life, it convinced him that something very real was happening. His experience with this client was the beginning of a journey that has changed his life and the lives of many others.

 

Our Work

 

My wife and I had read about Dr. Weiss’ experience many years ago. Then in 2014, we had the opportunity to attend Dr Weiss’ professional past life regression training where we witnessed such healing first hand. We learned that past life regressions can help heal both physical and emotional issues people are experiencing in their current lifetime.

 

Today, after additional study with others in this line of work, we include past life regression and other similar types of sessions in our service offerings. Our primary focus of regressions are for people who want to resolve issues that they cannot consciously explain. In many situations, the client becoming consciously aware of the situation that initiated the current day problem allows healing to begin.

 

Client Experience

 

Every person is different and every experience is different. Some have immediate understanding and healing. For others, there is a sudden recognition some time later. And, there are others where healing process occurs slowly over time as full understanding occurs.

 

I never expect miracles, but I am almost always surprised by the results. And, I love those e-mails that arrive from clients at a later date with new amazing insights. So, whether you believe in past lives or not, just know that if there is an issue with no apparent origin, your past lives might hold the key.

 

To learn more about Dr. Weiss’ work, check out his website http://www.brianweiss.com/

 

Note: Past Life Regression is not therapy and should not be used in lieu of medical treatment.

 

 

After the recent flooding in the Midwest, I had to scoff at a politician who claimed that there were towns totally destroyed that would never exist again. Although this is possible, this politician clearly does not understand the mindset and determination of Americans.

 

Examples From History

 

If we look back in time, Chicago rebuilt after a major fire destroyed over 17,000 buildings in the 1870s and San Francisco came back stronger than ever after a 7.9 earthquake hit in 1906. More recently New Orleans is rebounding from Hurricane Katrina. Likewise, Joplin, Missouri is on the mend after a devastating F5 tornado destroyed a nearly mile-wide swath when it plowed through the southern part of the city eight years ago.

 

In all these cases, people died and property was destroyed, but the community survived. The same can be said of countless communities across the country. The key to their recovery is the people. People coming together to help one another is a way of life for many Americans. They fight for their communities even if politicians don’t realize it. Human resiliency should never be underestimated.

 

I can tell you that my father and father-in-law are prime examples of people who would be there any time for anyone. And, there are countless others like them. During the recent Nebraska flooding, for example, a farmer lost his life when he was taking his tractor out to help someone in need.

 

A Little Help

 

People overcome tragedy on a regular basis. Some get more attention through the media than others, but that does not diminish the effort. There are millions of situations where people help each other every day. It can be as simple as the neighbor who clears another neighbor’s sidewalk and drive after a snowstorm. We’ve had neighbors do this for us and vice versa. The neighbor of my father-in-law offered a portable heater upon learning that he needed something to heat his back porch to keep stuff from freezing.

 

A Lot of Help

 

Sometimes the help is more substantial. For example, in his earlier years, my father-in-law raced to the scene of a fire to save a family’s home, took a tractor through two-feet of snow to get mail for the entire neighborhood, and did mechanic work on a semi on Christmas Eve so that the driver could get home to be with his family for Christmas.

 

Other times people risk and sometimes lose their life to save a friend, a neighbor, or even a stranger. People do this for each other. It is human nature to help those around you who are in need.

 

If we stop for a moment, each of us can recall with examples of how someone has helped our families or us. Likewise, we can remember ways we have helped others.

 

Gratitude

 

Even though there are times it is challenging to express gratitude, especially when the gift is anonymous, I believe most of us are grateful for those that help. Most of us have seen heart-warming videos of someone graciously giving their time and effort to help others in need. Those videos are very touching to us as a third-party. The person who was the recipient of the help, is likely extremely touched and grateful.

 

I for one am very grateful for human resiliency. I am proud to be a part of a community and a country where people help others in times of need. The world could be an even better place if we focused more on the wonderful gift of human resiliency.