24 December 2018

Comfortable with Nature

Did you enjoy spending time quietly reading and looking at pictures when you were a child, like I did?

I never enjoyed school.  It was too regimented and noisy and crowded for me.  I never saw the point of it, really.  I thought school was a place where you were mainly meant to obey the teacher.  I had no idea I was meant to learn anything there.

Did you enjoy spending time exploring nature on your own as a child, like I did?

I was probably lucky to grow up surrounded by green fields and big trees and country lanes in the middle of England, with trips to the seaside of several weeks duration every year. 


I have always appreciated nature, as long as I could keep warm and dry from it when necessary.  Being unnecessarily uncomfortable has always been something difficult for me to understand!


But I had a relatively leisurely childhood, unlike the child labourers amongst my ancestors.  Most of them probably could not read.  I doubt they had the time or training for that pursuit.  They may never have had a holiday, either.

During my teens, I worked in fields, harvesting potatoes and strawberries, and I worked in a restaurant, as a kitchen hand and waitress, and in a cinema as a sales assistant and usherette. I was still in my teens when I started my first full-time office job in London as a secretary.

My husband began work selling newspapers at the age of ten and kept it up for several years. He also helped to sell ice creams. In his mid teens, he was a postal worker during the Christmas season.  He began full-time work with a telecommunications apprenticeship at the age of sixteen.  He was then with the same employer for his entire 40-year career.

We both had the benefit of living in relatively egalitarian circumstances, even though we both suffered from workplace bullying from time to time.  Neither of us had encouragement from our parents to gain university qualifications, so we made the most of our abilities in our own way.  Our parents had not been to university either, and nor had our grandparents, or anyone in any generations of our families before that.

I went to university in my 30s but I did not really enjoy it.  I just wanted to prove to myself that I was just as intelligent, and possibly more so, than many of my previously employers and graduate colleagues.
 
When I first started blogging on family history, back in 2009, I had many unanswered questions about my family background.  I put the least personal of my questions in this blog so that I could easily find them again later.  I thought the same questions would also be useful for other people, as most of my questions were very general back then.

How have you been building pictures of the past in your mind?

Even in 2009, I had several specific questions in relation to my research, too.  Some of those questions were answered when a few relevant people, through their own own online searches, found facts about their ancestors in my blog and fitted them into their own family trees.  We corresponded mainly by email.

Other specific findings of importance to me have been made through emails rather than blogging or Internet searches.  The more I discovered, the more I wondered how comfortable with nature my ancestors, and the ancestors of my husband, would have been.
 
I have felt uncomfortable with knowing that non-relevant people have been reading about my family history on this blog.  Yet I would not have made the most important discoveries without the information exchanged through writing here. 

Soon, I will be making this blog permanently private.  I have made it temporarily private from time to time in the past for security reasons.  Even so, I kept it open to the public as much as possible in the hope of acquiring relevant, further information from readers.

I sometimes receive requests  to promote genetic and genealogy software companies.  I rarely respond to such requests, even if the people contacting me praise my blog and offer me money.  I do not wish to compromise my credibility by compromising anyone's personal security.

There are many legitimate concerns relating to ancestry and privacy.  I wrote, in January 2009, that reflecting on our natural links to the past can be just as important to our self-understanding as reflecting on our cultural links.  My views on the subject have not changed, and nor have my ethical concerns about genetic testing, including genealogical DNA testing.

There are many mental health issues relating to unexpected genealogical and genetic discoveries, just as there are from the uses and abuses of social media. Linking genealogies, and genes through social media services can be especially fraught with dangers, especially from scamming and identity theft.

I have not conducted any DNA testings in relation to my family history.  I still cannot see the point of it.  None of my questions would be answered that way.

I am especially concerned that there could be later uses of stored genetic information that are not yet known.  Just as the uses of big data have grown significantly over the past ten years, it is already easy for organisations to match DNA samples to other identifying information about people, not necessarily in their best interests.

That accumulated information may be used from one generation to the next for the next few centuries, at least if climate change does not wipe everyone off the face of the earth in the meantime.

Who owns your DNA and how is your genetic inheritance being used for various purposes?
 
On my identity blog, By Any Other Name, I have briefly mentioned genetics:

Environment and genetics

In the name of accuracy

Genes shape us in various ways, whether we like it or not.  I once saw resemblances of my parents and their siblings in me.  Now I see resemblances of my grandparents in me.

There is much controversy about the heritability of various traits, given the prevalence of variables.  I am very glad I do not have children of my own, or any others in my life.  I tend to be irritable around children and I am sure they feel irritable around me!

Children rarely appreciate my need for peace and quiet.  That is certainly not their fault, nor mine.
 
On my By Any Other Name blog, I have written about nature and comfort on several occasions:

Groups, gatherings and glamour

Super banana woman

Happy and normal seclusion

Time for a light heart or a serious one?

In the name of beauty

How to prevent social problems

Last year, on Ancestors Within I briefly wrote about ancestors within genetics.

Do you know much about the heritability of intelligence?

Do you know much about the heritability of creativity?

Do you know much about the heritability of mental health and mental illness?

How do you interpret kinship patterns?
 
Do you know much about epigenetics?

How do you interpret kinship terminology?

How do you interpret big data and family history?

Are you comfortable with the nature you have inherited?

Do you know which parts of you are natural?

How well do you understand the influence of your ancestors on your life today?

Are you sure you know your real ancestors?

How has your understanding of your ancestry developed over the past ten years?

How has that understanding been attained and how accurate is it?

How comfortable has your life been, and how have you experienced nature?

I still prefer reading alone rather than around other people. Are you a slow reader, like me?  Are you easily distracted?

How do you compare yourself with your ancestors in relation to nature, the weather, environments, foods, learning and such like experiences? 

Family history research can involve many metamotivations.  For whose benefit have you been researching your family history?

Is your research part of a process of self-actualisation?

Have any of your family history discoveries been peak experiences for you?

Do you have familiarity with genetic genealogy?

How well do you understand your ancestry, genealogy and heritage?

We can make so many exciting new discoveries when we explore questions in new ways.

But what do you know about your genetic predispositions, if anything?

What do you know about behavioural genetics and the genetics of personality?

What do you know about heritability?

Have you reached the age of reflecting on age?

Have you read my blog about identity?

Are you a deep thinker or a superficial one?

On my Continual Journeys blog I have written about nature and comfort on quite a few occasions:

The adventure of awareness

Australian drought, bushfire, flood and travel plans

The beauty of nature

Global prosperity

Searching for reality

The many meanings of safe travels

For the love of writing

Sustaining the heart and art of living and writing

What did you discover of most relevance to you in my Ancestors Within writings in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and this year?

On my Quieter Living blog I have mentioned nature and comfort on a few occasions, too:

A comfortable search for peace

Growing older in Australia

The chemistry of quietness

My friend, privacy

All four of my original blogs will soon be closed to the public.  I am about to devote more of my attention to developing a more comfortable relationship with nature.  My relationship with society is rarely comfortable!

You may know that I now have a new blog.  Its topic is reform

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I especially appreciate historical insights.