Since 2011, I have ended every episode of The Barefoot Genealogist with the tag line, "Have fun climbing your family tree." For me, whether I am making discoveries fast and furious or beating my head against a brick wall, the process has always been a pursuit I have enjoyed, immensely. It’s also been, at times, varying degrees of cathartic, frustrating, mind-stretching, connecting, powerful, and heart-breaking. But, ultimately the challenge of it all has been “fun” for me. And, so I assumed, for others as well.
A few years ago I was introduced to the concept that for a lot of people climbing their family tree can feel impossible. It can be painful and shame filled. This wasn’t an idea I could easily relate to. So, I started listening to two amazing women - Miyamoto Loretta Jensen (known as “The Polynesian Genealogist”) and Michelle Franzoni Thorley (known as “Flora Familiar”) and their approach to family history. I learned about their unique challenges on the journey of learning more about their ancestors. And my perspective shifted.
I often say that all families are messy. They always have been. Wading through that messiness has always been a part of the process for me. I have found deep healing and joy in that process. But, I think it’s because of the mental and emotional tools I’ve been given or gained to help me through it. Not everyone has those tools readily available to them. Or, even knows that they need them. And so they avoid family history even when it is the very thing that can help them deal with the messiness and the pain and the shame in really powerful ways.
Miya and Michelle have a new podcast - Love Your Lineage - that helps give people those tools. Billed as a “shame-free approach to family history,” centered in the BIPOC family history experience, they and their guests help people see ways to make powerful connections to their ancestors.
I hope you’ll give it a listen here. Then come back and let me know what you think.