Learning About Myself with 23andMe

Like many people, I have always had an interest in where I came from and what my ancestry was like. Growing up I knew some of the basics, such as that my entire Dad’s side of the family was Jewish and from Eastern Europe and that my Mom’s family was a mix of English and Norwegian. However I also knew that there was quite a bit else that was mixed in. When I got to college, I felt myself pulling away from the religious aspect of my Jewish heritage, and that didn’t leave me much left to identify with. My girlfriend (now wife) is 100% Portuguese, as she is actually a First generation. My best friend is Middle Easter as he was actually born in Iran. Me? I was born in Tucson Arizona, to parents born in the US, who were born to parents born in the US to parents who may or may not have been born here… we simply did not have good records of it.

With such great technology and advancements in DNA research, there are now a lot of great options for learning more about your ancestry and where you come from. So I decided to look into a few options and learn more about myself. I decided on 23andMe as I like the information they were providing and what they were looking to build with their own findings. In hindsight, Ancestry.com DNA may have been a better option as I have heard it is slightly more accurate, and I also have a lot of family that did it, and they will link you together. Either way, I wanted to share my experience with you and the whole process.

When I signed up for 23andMe, it was quite simple. I chose to pay a little extra and get the Health and Ancestry service, to not only know about my ancestors, but to also see if I have any genetic markers for things such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, etc. When my package arrived, the instructions were very simple to follow: essentially you spit in a tube and put it int he mail (that’s in a nutshell, as there are a few other steps). Once that is complete I also set up my online profile which consists of many optional surveys to provide the 23andMe company with information they can use to help enhance their database and provide more accurate findings of yourself. The questions are simple in regards to race and gender, to more interesting questions such as sleep patterns, anxiety and other health related items. Again, this is all used to help build profiles based on DNA submitted in hopes of learning more about what our DNA does and to better identify people through these means.

Once everything is sent in, the process takes about 6-8 weeks before you get your results. Once those results come in, you get an email that links you to all the reports they provide on you. I received my results last week and I could not wait to dive in. The reports were a very cool mixture of ancestry markers, health screenings as well as other markers (many of which I know already and of those, some they got right and some they got wrong). For me, the first thing I looked at was the Health markers. I am a bit of a hypochondriac so I had to make sure right away that I was ok. And thankfully, there was nothing that showed I would be at a higher risk for anything they would test for. After that, I had to dive into my ancestry.

Unsurprisingly, I was shown to be 99.9% European, with less than .1% being a mixture of East Asian and Yakut. of my European Ancestry, I was shown to be 47.3% Ashkenazi Jewish, which makes sense since I know my Jewish family came from Germany, Poland and Austria. The biggest category on my list however was Northwestern European, at 50.5%. This was a mixture of British and Irish (21.6%), Scandinavian (9.5%), French and German (7.7%), Finnish (<0.1%) and what was categorized as ‘Broadly Northwestern European’ (11.6% – which is likely my Norwegian heritage I know of). To me this was all very fascinating and gave me a better sense of belonging! Another cool part of this, is of all other users who use 23andMe, it shows me those who are related to me. Only one name I recognized (1st cousin once removed), but it found 1,233 DNA Relatives. It also was able to determine how many markers I have in common with Neanderthal Ancestry, which was surprisingly higher at 281 markers, which is more than 54% of all 23andMe users, and 1st among relatives I am connected to.

Beyond the Health and the Ancestry, 23andMe also provides a list of other features as well. Features they determine based on the surveys I answered as well as what other people have answered as well. They are not meant to be a diagnosis or even be accurate. But to tell you things that are likely to be true. From this information they did get a few things right: I am likely to not have red hair (I do not), I am likely to be average or below average weight (I am below average), likely to have darker eyes (this one is close, but mine are hazel, so I will confirm this) and likely to have straight hair (mine could not be any straighter).

However, for all the items this predicted accurately, I felt there were far more discrepancies that were not accurate. Again, this is based on people similar to me with my genetic makeup and is not meant to be 100% accurate. But my concern was with just how much they got wrong (makes me think what else is not accurate). According to this report I am unlikely to have dimples (I do), a widows peak (I have that too) and I am likely to have detached earlobes (sorry, wrong again).

Aside from these items, I found it all very interesting. The ancestry part felt very accurate to me, and that was ultimately what I was looking for. I am sure over time some of my other reports may change as more people provide information and the database for 23andMe grows. Until then, I will be satisfied with what I found.

Have any of you ever tried 23andMe, or perhaps another service such as Ancestry.com? I would love to hear about your experience! Please share your experience below or please let me know if you have any questions and I would be happy to share more!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Off to Portugal!

I write this blog post full of excitement, as tomorrow morning, my family an I are off to the Azores Islands! This is especially fun for me, as I have never been out of the country!

My Father-In-Law turned 70 this year so he is flying the whole family (him and his wife, my wife, kids and myself, My wife’s sister and her husband and 2 kids as well as my wife’s brother) out to his home island for a week of fun and celebration. Even my parents will be stopping over for a few days as my Dad celebrates his retirement!

I have been practicing and teaching myself Portuguese the last couple years (I am usually awful with foreign language) and I am very much looking forward to seeing how much I really know. Also, I have school starting in mid-August as well, so this will be a good final R&R before school begins… life is about to get really crazy and hectic I think…

I do plan to schedule a blog post to be posted while I am gone, but other than that, you can follow me on Instagram and check out some of the pictures I will (hopefully) be posting while I am there!

If you have ever been to the Azores (specifically Faial or Pico) please share some of your favorite things to do there. Otherwise, what do you like to do when traveling?

Phil Dunphy is My Hero

If you are not watching ‘Modern Family’ every week, you are missing out on one of televisions greatest treasures. This Emmy award winning show will make you laugh, it will make you cry and… well it probably wont make you cry but it will make you laugh. This comedy follows an extended family as they navigate life in their own way. Phil is married to Claire and together they have 3 children. Claire has a gay brother named Mitch,and him and his partner Cam (who in their own right nearly steal the show from Phil) have an adopted daughter. Mitch and Claire’s Dad, Jay, is married to a young bombshell named Gloria (who had her own kid from a previous marriage. There is always a lot going on in this show, but to me, the greatest part is Phil himself.

Phil is a family man. He is funny, charming and witty (although he rarely succeeds when he tries). He reminds us constantly that he was a cheerleader in college and that he is an expert magician. He loves to bounce on the trampoline, dance and have fun. But most of all, Phil loves his family.

I have had conversations with friends and family on many occasions about how much I love Phil. What is funny is that everyone always says the same thing: I am just like him. Now, knowing better, I know they are making a joke, because Phil is an utter goofball and a nerd. He often finds himself at the butt of people’s jokes and in general is just a silly, fun loving guy. But when people compare me to him, I take it as a compliment.

Phil might be a bit of a doof, and may get picked on from time to time, but he has a heart of gold. Phil loves his wife and kids more than anything, and they come first in his life. Phil not only loves his job, but he loves his life and loves to have fun. All 3 of his kids are very different but he finds ways to bond with each one and to help lead them. Each kid is not punished or celebrated the same as each is unique, and he treats them as such. Phil doesn’t particularly care what others think, aside from his Father-in-law, who he is constantly trying to impress, so that he feels good enough to be the husband, to his father-in-laws little girl (I know the feeling). And at that, for being such a nerdy guy, Phil landed a smokin hot, down to Earth wife, who not only puts up with him, but cherishes him and truly loves him too. Who wouldn’t want that.

Over time, television has brought us many great TV Moms and Dads. Those we love, those we hate, and those that much us smile and laugh. To me, Phil is the penultimate father figure. Phil Dunphy is my hero 🙂 !!

Please feel free to share who your favorite TV Mom or Dad is or who you see a little of yourself in.

Please feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.Not a go

Testing My Patience

Today is just one of those days. I am sitting on my couch, tired, frustrated and exhausted. I am nearly in tears today. We all have those days, but I guess the true question is: how do we respond to those days.

Nothing out of the ordinary happened today. Nobody I know was hurt in any way. I didn’t lose my job or car. I have plenty of food on the table and in the fridge and my kids are happy and healthy. So why am I so upset? My guess, is that life is just tiring sometimes.

It is no secret I have a lot going on in my life. I am dealing with marriage problems (more on that at another time), I am super busy at work, I have a big vacation coming up, I am going back to school soon, and I have 2 kids under the age of 5. Life. Is. Crazy.

Today I came home from work, already in a bad mood. Work is crazy busy as my co-worker recently left the company, dumping all of his work on me. All of this right as we were undertaking a big change to our organization AND prepping for a big conference next week, in which I have to give a presentation. Outside of work there is a lot going on too, as personal problems aside, I am preparing to start school as well as get ready for a week long family vacation (which adds stress at work because I need to ensure all of my work is completed so I do not have to work while I am gone). So when I came home from work, I was just not ready to parent and adult.

To be honest, I lost my patience tonight. My kids tested me over and over, and I finally lost my patience. Its not their fault. They do not mean to press my buttons. But today it just happened. In reality, they were just being themselves: wild and crazy kids, acting their age (my daughter turns 5 in September and my son turns 3 at the end of July). But today wasn’t the day for that. They were eating dinner when I came home… well they were sitting at the table watching TV talking and playing, while not eating. I fought with them, I begged and pleaded… I even resorted to bribing them to eat. My daughter ultimately ate, but my son did not. He refused to eat very much, stating that he wasn’t hungry… but I know better. I know he is just trying to fight with me until I give in and give him something else. But I do not play that game. So tonight after he was in bed and he was crying for more food, I had to be firm with him. Is it too much for an almost 3 year old? Perhaps. But by no means was my son starving, and he did eat SOME food… just not a lot. He was just trying to get his way, and I just refuse to be the parent that lets their kids get away with everything.

Tonight I am just exhausted. I did not want to parent or adult, I just wanted to relax and meditate. Life has been particularly trying these last few months, but I am still focused on bettering myself and finding the positive. Some days are harder than others, but we are human, right? Tomorrow is a new day and I can focus on being better.

Share some of your stories or best practices when you are having a day that is trying your patience as well. Whether its the kids, your job, your significant other, or just life in general.

Please feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

A Week with No Kids

I am a father of two. I have a 4 year old girl and a 2 year old boy. They are the light of my life and I love everything about them. I love their personalities, their little voices and their compassion. I love them when they are happy, and I love them when they are sad. Both of my kids are absolutely wonderful humans and I miss them when they are not around… most of the time.

Do not get me wrong, I love my children more than life itself and I would do anything for them. And I truly do miss them when I do not get to be around them. However, sometimes it is nice to have a break. I have never been one to think that, but as they get older and our lives get more and more hectic, I see the need for some alone time. And what it took to discover that, was actual alone time.

This week, my parents took the kids to their home out of state and my wife and I had the week off. Missing my kids is a given, but at the same time it has been kind of nice at time. Normally my routine has me coming home from work, playing with the kids, fighting with them to eat dinner, getting them in the bath, and dressed and teeth brushed, reading them a few books and then putting them in bed and laying with them a bit. When all is said and done, I am usually not able to change my clothes and relax until close to 8:30 at night. This week? This week, I am able to come home, and sit on the couch and unwind for a bit. Eat dinner when I want and not argue with anyone over what food to eat. Instead of waking up to get in my workout before anyone is awake, I can sleep in and then work out at night.

Sleeping in! That is another thing. When you have kids, you never know what time you are going to wake up. The kids could sleep till 8 or they could be up at 5:30. But either way, I have to get up early to work out just in case they also get up early. But now I can sleep in a little longer and relax and just not have to parent.

Do not get me wrong, I love so much about parenting, but it is hard. Not that I would EVER leave my kids, but I see why some people do: they are tired and stressed and can’t handle it, so they run from their problems. But is parenting really a problem? Is life really a problem? As Rocky balboa said (in one of my favorite quotes) “The world aint all sunshine and rainbows..” Life i shard and will keep you on your toes, but you can’t run away from it… and not that i ever would. But what I have learned is that you need time to recuperate.  It doesn’t have to be a week, but a weekend every now and then, or a night with the boys/girls: something to let you have some “you” time and refresh.

AS much as I have missed my kids this week, I think it was a week like this to really help me realize how important these breaks are. I would much rather see my kids every day than not, but the occasional weekend or day off I think is best for everyone.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Please feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Guilt, Regret and Re-Framing Your Mind

Guilt and regret are dangerous. They are a disease that manifests in your brain and brings you down. Through life, everyone does and says things that they ultimately regret or feel guilty about. Some things are bad (perhaps killing someone). Others are not as bad (calling someone a name). However, regardless of what it is, if you are unable to get over the guilt and regret, you will have a very hard time moving forward.

As I mentioned, most everyone has done something in their life that they regret or feel guilty about. I unfortunately have a short list of those items. But as time goes on, and I regret decisions I have made, I feel more and more guilty and that weighs on me and brings me down. It affects my well being, and my attitude towards life. How I treat others are affected by this as well.

For the last 11+ years, I have worked in the world of Business and Technology. And as I stated before, there were many aspects of this I have thoroughly enjoyed. Yet, there is something else missing. When I was growing up, I always felt encouraged that going into business was the smart/safe move and that is what I was focused on. Nothing else mattered. When I got into college, despite enjoying classes on Psychology more than business, I pursued this route. I was driven by success and money and figured that was the only way to be happy. I had a girl that made me happy (who I would eventually marry), and all I ever wanted was a safe/secure job that would allow me to provide for her and my family one day. What I didn’t count on, is that it wasn’t the money that made me happy. Helping others made me happy. My family makes me happy. If I am unhappy, how can I be the best father and husband I can be? The short answer to that is: I can’t.

After my first job ended, I almost went back to school. But I was engaged and wanted to provide for my future bride. I figured I would find the right job that would meet most of my needs. I didn’t. I left to find another job. I failed there too. Without realizing it, I was falling into a hole of negativity. I was living with this regret for not choosing the right major in college and the right career path. I felt guilty that I was not being fair to those I loved. They all deserved more. I wouldn’t say I was unbearable to be around, but I wasn’t pleasant either.

Last year was a cray year filled with stress. We sold out house, moved in with my in-laws, bought a house, I changed jobs at work, my wife quit her job to attend to her start-up full time, and everything changed. I started to recognize my unhappiness at work as I changed roles. I was trying to fill a void by going about it the same way I always did. According to Albert Einstein, that is the definition of Insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.” Near the end of the year, I started to seek out counseling. I was unhappy with my decisions. My regret was causing guilt and I was taking it out on those around me. I saw how I was treating my in laws, my friends, my children and my wife. I was pushing people away. I was not being fair.

When speaking to my therapist, we have discussed many topics, including my career. I told her I felt stuck and that it was too late. She assured me it was not too late and that I could make things right. For me, making it right was doing something that would fulfill me away from my family. I can make a good living, provide for my family and spend time with them, while doing something I can enjoy.

I am slowly starting my process. I am working hard at my job. I am planning to go back to school. And by the time I am 40 (I am in my early 30’s), I hope to be on a brand new career path.

Sometimes happiness is right under your nose.

Have a great day!

Please feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Welcome

Hello, and welcome to my blog!

As I am sure you have learned from reading my About Me page, I am capturing my journey as I explore going back to school and completely changing my career. At the time I am writing this, my About Me page is very short and to the point, and perhaps in time I will update it. However as it stands currently, my bio is fairly short and I do not go into much detail… so I guess I owe you an explanation.

I am 33 years old and I am a married father of 2. I graduated from a top 10 university in 2006 and have been working in the tech/business world ever since. My first job was with one of the tech/Search giants and the job sort of fell right into my lap. At the time, all I thought I wanted to do was go into business. My Dad worked in business, and I knew it was a safe route, and one I could make money. I have this romanticized idea of working for a start-up and making good money and just enjoying creating and making great things. The only problem with all of it is, in reality, I hate it. Well, hate is a strong word… but I dislike this [business] world.

Since I started in business, there were always part of me that enjoyed what I was doing and parts of me that despised what I was doing. Learning, creating, and working with analytical minded people, much like myself, has always been enjoyable. And these tech/business jobs always provide safety and security that allow you a lot of freedoms  to build a life. The downside to these jobs, is often times you cannot “get behind” the work you are doing. Sure a lot of this is cutting edge technology, but I look around at my day-to-day and I do not feel I am making an impact on anyone else.

After I left my initial job (I was on a 1 year contract), I work as a contractor for awhile before filing for unemployment in 2008 during our recession (just after I got married). From there, over the span of 5 years, I worked for a couple different start-ups before landing my current job (another large company, doing great things in their industry). Every time I started a new job I would be excited and have a lot of energy and think “this is it. The job that will make me happy, and the job that I can make my money with.” The problem was, after a couple years, I would get burnt out and find the job boring and tedious. I would then go in search of a new job, one that had everything from the previous job I liked, but fixed one of the “issues” I had with working there. Even at my current company, I changed roles after 2.5 years as the current role was wearing on me.

Within the last year, I have also been fighting some personal battles as well, one of which being that I felt a lot of my unhappiness was affecting those around me: my wife, kids, parents, in-laws, friends, etc. I was stressed and I was not happy and I was taking it out on everyone else. Coupled with some other personal stuff, I set-out to talk to a therapist. Seeing this therapist turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. She has helped me see through so much of the fog in my life, and to better understand not only myself, but how others see the world. I have worked on and changed so much about me for the better, including my outlook. I have a long way to go, but one of the big things we discussed, was that I am not “stuck.”

For so long I have considered leaving the business world and doing something else. After my first year, I almost left to be a firefighter, but didn’t because I knew I wouldn’t pass a physical (bad joints) and I wanted to be able to provide and figured I would find happiness. The other things I had considered were teaching and being a therapist (Family, occupational, Sports… any of those would do!), but I felt it was too late as I needed to support my family. What I didn’t think about was that I never had those strong feelings for this job in the first place. I never truly wanted this job, I was made to believe I did in my upbringing. Instead I wanted to help people. I wanted to do something to help those around me achieve. So with that, we decided that maybe I should go back to school.

Starting this fall, I will be taking a couple classes at a local Community College as I complete all the prerequisites to apply for a Masters in Psychology program.  Even if I decide not to go this route, its nice to know there are options. .

Please feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.