Thanks to you for your responses to my last blog about my immigrant relatives’ dusty, desert-y eastern Oregon existence in the 1880’s. I felt so sad that they endured these difficulties, which I hadn’t realized before I went on my trip.
Your comments reminded me that life is not just sadness or happiness, but a mixture of both. And this is true even and especially in the darkest times, if we choose to see the greater perspective.
My cousin Elaine sent a photo that said this so very well. It is captioned “Fred Rosenzweig and Victor Shick in their store in Athena, Oregon c. 1895.”
As you can see, it shows our great-grandfather dressed in a suit, with a heavy watch chain looping across his vest, pinky ring and cigar, confident expression and body language.
Whereas I told you sad things I’d discovered about his life, the photo proves that his life developed well beyond his weekly 18-mile walk to his mill job.
Prior to seeing the photo, I had a much smaller piece of the greater story. With the new information, not only did I have more of the facts, but I also felt a lot better about my ancestors’ lives.
I tell this story on myself because every day I help my coaching clients find greater perspectives and truths that are always embedded in life — even in the darkest, most difficult situations.
Because our brains unconsciously tune in on what’s not working as a means of problem-solving and survival, we need help and practice to break this deeply embedded survival “habit.” I teach my coaching clients how to activate the higher functioning areas of their brains. They then can grapple with their difficult situations in much more calm, less stress and with greater mental capacity. They discover the bigger picture and its lens — that goes way beyond the automatic win/lose, good/bad, right/wrong focus.
It’s a lot more freeing and guilt-free … less fattening too — for those who reach for the cookies in times of stress. Like me. 🙂
P.S. Here are a few stories that you sent me about your family’s immigrations:
Martha, my colleague who immigrated to the US from South America, commented that, “you will do anything to give a better life to your children.” Her words give me shivers, thinking of her, my ancestors and all the many immigrant sacrifices.
Marjorie wrote that her parents emigrated from Japan to Hawaii before WWII and endured war tensions from the US towards Japanese Americans; fortunately they were not interned as many others were.
David, my daughter’s fiancé, who emigrated at age 6 with his family away from a Caribbean coup d’état, told me that his professionally educated, trained and experienced father had to begin studies all over again to practice in the U.S.
- Groundhog Day