Sunday, July 10, 2005

Where I'm Coming From?

This post is in response to GreatWhiteBear's challenge:
"We all pretty much know what we believe. But ever ask yourself why you believe what you do? Did you have an epiphany? Ever think about who might have influenced your thought process? Do you believe the things you do simply because it's what your parents believed? My challenge to you.... Tell me who you are, what you believe, why. Who influenced you, who you admire. Post it on your blog or in my comments (let me know if you blog it)."

My post of 6/1, pretty much covers my views on religion. My Robert H. Heinlein quote of 6/3 gives you insight on how I live my life. NOW I need to look inside myself and discover WHY I live the way I do. Tough assignment GWB!

I guess my life boils down to the old nature vs. nurture debate.
Genetically, I come from a 100% Norwegian mother and a 50% German, 50% English, Scotch-Irish father. OH BOY, a LOT of stubborn, hard-headed genes here!
I'm almost 100%, 3rd generation American. Most of my family came here in the 1850s, although 1 branch of my mother's family has been here since the 1820s. This branch stayed out east for a generation before heading west. The rest of my ancestors headed west to Minnesota and Wisconsin immediately upon arriving in America.
My Dad's family was 100% live off the land, self-educated, do-it-yourself farmers. We pioneered southern Minnesota! Unlike GWB, we never fed George Washington. However, Frank James tried to buy horses from my great-grandfather, after the Northfield Raid. My great-grandpa's best friends, as a child, were the Native Americans in a nearby village. My Dad's family was never rich, but they lived a joyful life, filled with the love of nature and children. To this day, our family reunions are conducted outdoors, with kid-friendly activities. We're a noisy bunch, with all our 4th and 5th generation kids and dogs running around. We survive on potlucks and the "my house is your house" credo. If one of the kids scrapes a knee, we think nothing of going through each other's medicine cabinets. We all have a great sense of humor and tease each other unmercifully.
My Mom's family is more educated, and snobby. Here, I come from a long line of bankers, teachers, Lutheran ministers and administrators. We also have a famous Norwegian artist, Andreas Askvold, on this side of the family. There were also a lot of farmers, but they've been pretty well forgotten, as the lower side of the family. Family reunions, on my Mom's side of the family, are quiet, civilized, and totally BORING!! It would be UNTHINKABLE to enter one of their homes or refridgerators without express permission. Z and L have refused to attend another one of these events. My Mom's side of the family is extremely proud of their lineage and can trace it back to a barbarian Queen of Norway, Queen Sigrid the Beautiful. I've never been able to find ANYTHING about this woman, so I'm starting to think she's a "delusion of grandeur".

Now for the nurture side of my personality.
I'm an only child, so all my parents' hopes and dreams were wrapped up in me. My parents are ultra-conservative. EVERYTHING is black and white to them. Shades of gray don't exist! I was raised in a very strict, loving environment. My parents encouraged me to think for myself and not follow the crowd (that one came back and bit them BIG TIME). I was taught to respect the property and rights of others. My Dad taught me to respect the balance of nature and to "leave it as you found it". My childhood was filled with tent trips into wilderness areas that have since been civilized. I take pride in the ability to light a fire, ANYWHERE, with only 1 match. My Dad learned carpentry and cabinet making from his uncle and I was Dad's apprentice. Dad taught me to raise a puppy to become a member of the family. His family loves, respects and understands animals and I have never feared ANY animal. This trait has passed on to my children. My parents instilled a strong work ethic and tremendous sense of self-esteem in me. This has seen me through a lot of hard times.

Now for the epiphany part of my life. This is the hardest part for me. I've never really thought of any "light bulb moments" in my life that have changed everything. There HAD to be something as I'm a LOT different, politically, from my parents.
Graduating in 1974, I'm a product of the hippie generation. Having been raised surrounded by nature, I found the back-to-nature movement a natural progression in my life. I recycle and compost religiously. I avoid all man-made fertilizers and herbicides. Out of necessity, I have been forced to sparingly use commercial ant-killer. Birds, bats, and dragonflies help keep the mosquito population down in our yard. Prescription medications are kept to a minimum in our lives, although Prozac saved our daughter's life when she was a teen. I'm currently successfully treating my perimenopause and my husband's restless leg syndrome with vitamins and herbal remedies.
Free love wasn't much of an issue in my life, as I'm a totally monogamous individual. However, I DON'T believe that marriage is a piece of paper, it's a lifestyle! Committed couples, living together, are just as married as those who have the piece of paper, in my eyes. I also don't believe that homosexuality is a CHOICE! I think I've FINALLY convinced my parents of this; one of my major life accomplishments!
I think the biggest hippie influence in my life has been the anti-establishment movement. Ever since my teen years I've ALWAYS questioned authority. I'm extremely suspicious of big business and the two-party system. My parents came close to disowning me for not voting for "Saint Bush" in the last election.
The next, and perhaps greatest, influence in my life, has been my husband. I was raised to be a "good girl" and lived my life trying to please EVERYBODY. My husband taught me to unashamedly revel in my wild side. He taught me to be accountable to myself first, followed by our accountability to each other and our children. What a freeing idea!! My parents have NEVER forgiven him for this.

I guess this about covers my life up to the present. I like to think that I'm constantly evolving as a person. Some would say that I'm "stuck in a rut", but I really enjoy the rut we have created for ourselves. We live a relatively peaceful, loving life. What more could I possibly ask?

To my readers: Feel free to take up GWB's challenge. Let me know if you write a post on this topic.


At 7/10/2005 9:57 AM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

Wow we have a lot in common, Tshsmom. My mother's side of the family, 100% Irish, is full of women who bucked the system within in, especially in attitude. They were mostly teachers or farmers' wives, whose jobs came first even though they loved their families. My mom broke that mold by putting family first, even though she was married to an abusive and I suspect manic depressive man. She and I are best pals.

None of them appeared to accept 'women as baby factories' religious stuff, including Mom. My father was a computer whiz kid who had major problems with authority. Both parents questioned abolute rule. However they did send me to Catholic schools, where I proceeded to get very bad grades in 'comportment' and fine grades in everything else. Oh yah, except math which both parents taught.

So I have authority figure probs too. Big time, especially when the authority is used to harm others.

I'm also a pleaser. And my ex tried to cure me of that. It didn't take.

Can't figure out how all this goes together.

Thanks for a wonderful post...Bridg

At 7/10/2005 10:13 AM, Blogger dbackdad said...

Great post! GWB's challenge was a great idea.

What part of Minnesota? I'm Iowa born and raised. We still have friends and family in Waseca and Mankato and we vacationed near Park Rapids a few years back.

At 7/10/2005 11:01 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

I've lived in northern MN most of my life. My Dad's family homesteaded near Rochester.

Bridg-How did I know this about you before you told me? LOL

At 7/10/2005 6:43 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

ROFL! Gee guess I'm kinda subtle huh? Glad we're alike!


At 7/10/2005 10:04 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

I will do the challenge tomorrow or Tuesday, on my "weekend", when I'll have uninterrupted computer time at my friend's place.

At 7/11/2005 12:21 AM, Blogger alix said...

a little too heavy for me at present, but the read was quite enjoyable and thought provoking...

At 7/11/2005 4:29 PM, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

That is a very well-written piece, probably the best piece I've read in awhile.

Yes, I've tried to challenge my beliefs. I've changed a lot over the years. My parents are hard-core Democrats and were very upset with me for voting 3rd party in the last two elections. I don't discuss my religious beliefs though. Nothing personal, I just don't discuss religion or my sex life.

Your parents seem like real good folks. Their generation was very anti-homosexuality. I do not hold that against them one bit. My parents were big homophobes but changed over the years. That's just how it is. The thing that changed them is when they met cool people and later found out those cool people were gay.

I'm very against free love, not out of morality, but out of the effects of it - kids who don't know who both of their parents are and venereal diseases. However, I am thankful that the hippies have brought to us what the Native Americans knew all along - the Earth is important.

Once again, great post. I wish I knew about my heritage as much as you do. There are still lots of holes.

At 7/11/2005 5:46 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Welcome back ZS, we missed you!

My Dad's side has a few holes too. My cousins have been doing a lot of digging. If only all of us had taken notes when Grandma rambled on about family! We didn't realize THEN, how important it would be to us NOW.

My husband knows virtually nothing about his Dad's side of the family. He says he doesn't want to know, but I feel bad for the gaps in our kid's heritages.

At 7/12/2005 1:12 AM, Blogger SME said...

Well said (er, written)!

At 7/12/2005 1:17 AM, Blogger SME said...

There was a Queen Sigrid! Don't know about the beautiful part, though...

At 7/12/2005 4:14 AM, Blogger Vest said...

G-day tshsmom. It being P M here as I write, Maybe I should have said god ettermiddag or god aften. If you by chance snakke ikke norske tell your dear Mother who despite your differing opinions jeg elske dig.
It is such a pity there are few people in this world as forthright and loving as you, I thoroughly enjoyed your condensed family biography, try expanding it, there must be much more you can tell the world.

At 7/12/2005 8:16 AM, Blogger Laura said...

Very interesting! I know a little of my family history but not much. I wish I knew more. It's great that you know it and pass it on.

At 7/12/2005 2:15 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

G-day Vest! Thanks. Don't know any Norske; my Grandpa wanted to teach me, but I had issues with him, so I didn't. I DO know a few German swear words though.hehe You're right, SME and I should put our heads together and write all this down.

SME-Where did you find the Queen Sigrid stuff? I looked a couple years ago and got zilch. I found Askvold, but the sites were in Norwegian.

At 7/12/2005 5:02 PM, Blogger SME said...

Just google "Sigrid". Leave the "beautiful" out. The stuff I found seemed a lot more like folklore than solid history, though. Maybe there was no Queen Sigrid and one of our ancestors made her up, heehee.

At 7/12/2005 6:00 PM, Blogger Vest said...

tshsmom. It should have read, 'Good afternoon' or 'Good evening' and for your dear Mom 'I love you'.

My norske is purely tourist stuff I learned a long time ago;(Memories of Sigrid in Stavanger, Christina in Kristiansund and Olga in Oslo, my halcyon days as a young oat sowing sailor in the British Navy) but not that far back when ships had sails and Port was Larboard. Sat July 16, 60th ann of the first A-bomb test New Mexico 1945, my 19th birthday, at that time I was enjoying a champagne and deckchair cruise in company with the U S Navy with the occasional visit from happy waving Japanese airmen.
tshsmom, I have read your post three times, I loved it.
Daily Gaggle.

At 7/13/2005 8:16 PM, Anonymous ann said...

i constantly admire your honesty!

At 7/13/2005 10:00 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Thanks, Ann. Honesty tends to be a curse in our family.

At 7/14/2005 5:01 AM, Anonymous Sagepaper said...

Honesty is one of the symptoms of Tourettes. It is a disorder of disinhibition. You are likely to blurt out the truth at anytime. It could happen driving a car alone, or it could happen at a business cocktail party.

Given the risk of blurting out the truth, it behooves us to try to lead exemplary lives. That way we don't blurt a truth that reflects ill on us, or would be offensive to others. Not offending others is kind of hard, but at least you can maintain a respectable reputation.

At 7/14/2005 4:07 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Sage-Thanks so much for bringing this up. People with Tourettes tend to be impulse driven and it's hard for others to accept this.
Z's school refused to acknowledge this and that's one of the reasons we're now homeschooling.
With help, Z is getting better at thinking things through before he acts, but it's still VERY HARD for him.

At 7/15/2005 8:37 AM, Blogger United We Lay said...

Great post. Mine's up on my site.

At 7/15/2005 12:43 PM, Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

Tshsmom, I posted where I've come from on my blog. Thanks for prompting a thought-provoking topic. :-)


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