I have never met my grandmothers. My maternal grandmother, Zofia (Sofia), died in Poland when my mom was just 13. I don’t even have a photo of her; but given how much I look like my mom and her sister, I have to believe we acquired our looks from Zofia. It was May, 2017 when I decided to get to know Zofia better by reconstructing her life in writing. All I had were some notes I’d scribbled after a few conversations with my mom who passed in 1987.
Three months after writing about Zofia, I did the same for my paternal grandmother, Agnieska (Agnes). It wasn’t until our second visit to Poland in 2013, while visiting family still living on the farm my dad was born on, that I confirmed I had a photo of my paternal grandparents all along. How do you describe the emotion of seeing your grandparent’s faces for the first time at 52?
The photo had been in a pile of black and whites my parents had saved from their five year experience in a displaced person’s camp in Germany after World War II. They had both been prisoners of war on German farms during the war, met in the camp, got married and had two children there. They had never “walked us through” the photos. We just knew they existed. And as most prisoners of war families will tell you, you didn’t ask questions. You didn’t touch the sleeping dragon.
Since reconstructing the lives of my grandmothers, I’ve found myself wanting a deeper relationship. I wonder what they might say to me if I asked them for advice or if they might offer an opinion about any number of happenings in my life. Those of you who have the privilege of knowing your grandmothers in life can understand this natural desire to connect.
I only know a very minute portion of what life experiences they went through based upon the circumstances of the time. I do not know how they felt when they lost parents and other relatives to war and famine. I do not know their fear as they witnessed battles upon their farmland as they hid in nearby forests for days to escape capture. I do not know the humility of being forced to learn a whole different language after the war because your country no longer held a place on the map. I can only imagine.
Sometimes I suspect they might snicker at my incessant worrying over the trivial when they, by comparison, had so much turmoil in their lives. When I go there in my mind, I immediately apologize for being unaware of just how wonderful my life is just as it is.
“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.” ~ Mary Jean Irion
Recently I took my desire to hear their words a bit further. I’ve written about signs from the Universe and ways to let the Universe know you’re open to receiving the messages. It might be a song that pops on the radio, or the random reading you open to in a favorite inspirational book after asking a question in your heart, or a card pull after shuffling an inspirational deck of oracle cards. You can keep asking a question before sleep and awake until you hear/see/dream the answer. Then there’s your meditation practice where you listen to your inner messages. Are they from you, your guide or your ancestors? Does it matter? After all, it’s the answer that’s important, isn’t it?
Speaking to your ancestors can be done via ritual, prayer, thought, random readings and/or questions you ask in your heart. For me, it helps to have something that reminds me of them as a touchstone.
For Zofia, I use my parent’s wedding photo, my mom’s rosary, and the bottle of “Sofia” wine I synchronistically received as a “high five thank you” only hours after recreating her life as best I could on paper. (See the linked story above.)
This collection sits on an end table in my she-cave/yoga practice room just in front of a small lamp. We turn it on the low level when we practice yoga together each morning as a way to invite her presence in. When I meditate in the room, she’s there keeping me company. I can feel her.
For Agnieska, it’s the family photo I have and her heart-warming smile (uncommon for photos taken in that era) that speaks to me. I recall the Harry Potter novels where photos would spring to life upon a gaze, sometimes imagining the same for her image. It brings me comfort—that smile—just as it would had I known her intimately. It’s as though she’s right there in front of me smiling as I share my thoughts, fears and concerns.
I’m only just beginning to open the channels of speaking to them in the present, so I’m still getting my legs, so to speak. I ask questions or send loving thoughts and then wait for a response—any response. You learn to trust your intuition in the process.
My yoga practice is fertile grounds for developing a connection to the messages my body has to tell me. I am constantly drilling down to sensation and interpreting what it might mean. Remember, your body can only communicate to you through sensation. So it’s our job to listen to each one just as you’d listen to a good friend sharing their story. If you quit listening to the sensation, you’ll quit getting messages just as a good friend might quit telling their story to you if they could sense you weren’t listening. This makes sense, right?
Similarly I’m just starting to listen to the messages my grandmothers have saved just for me. So I expect my attempts at connecting with Zofia and Agnieska will take some time to fully develop. I believe their spirit is there waiting to connect, waiting to share.
Layne Redmond has a quote from When the Drummers Were Women: A Spiritual History of Rhythm: “All the eggs a woman will carry form in her ovaries while she is a four-month-old fetus in the womb of her mother. This means our cellular life as an egg begins in the womb of our grandmother. Each of us spent five months in our grandmother’s womb, and she in turn formed within the womb of her grandmother. We vibrate to the rhythms of our mother’s blood before she herself is born, and this pulse is the thread of blood that runs all the way back through the grandmothers to the first mother.”
I firmly believe the connection remains unbroken from my grandmothers to me. I believe in this “rhythm of my mother’s blood”. I believe there is much wisdom my grandmothers have to share with me, their granddaughter, and I am so ready to hear their messages and continue their story. So I’ll keep asking questions, I’ll keep listening for answers….and I’ll keep writing their story both in my heart and on paper.
Better Day Yoga, LLC
Mail to: 5024 Oxborough GardensBrooklyn Park, MN 55443-3990
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My website is still in progress. I promise you’ll be the first to know when it’s up and running and you’ll have first access to one of the new free giveaways on my newly launched site: “21 days to optimizing your innate energetic potential!”
Using various segments from my archived newsletters I provide a dedicated 21 days of easy to do practices, meditations, diet/food recipes and suggestions plus other fun topics to follow along as you get to know your energetic/chakra system! This piece will explain what your seven basic chakras are, why they’re important, and how to work with them to bring balance.
Thank you for your patience!
Six Weeks to Inner Resilience
In the meantime, check out my new workshop: Six Weeks to Inner Resilience! This webpage has some of the new photos appearing on my new website.
I’ve also updated my archive of past newsletter blogs for your easy reading pleasure. Enjoy!