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GenesThe age-old question of nature vs. nurture will never be answered to everyone’s satisfaction. Two children who grow up in the same household with the same biological parents can mature into exact opposites of each other. A child from a less than supportive family, who seems to have no stability or opportunity for success, can end up achieving greatness. So how much influence does your family history actually have on who you have become or are becoming?

How do your genes fit into your life story?

All my life I have envied those people who have one passion or talent and pursue it exclusively. It always seemed to me to be the only way to achieve fame and recognition. But even though I have been blessed with a number of talents, I could never force myself to concentrate on just one, devote time and energy to just one, to the exclusion of all the others. As a result, I felt inadequate and frustrated much of my life, spending a lot of time and energy trying to figure out just who I was and what I was supposed to become and achieve.

Doing research on my great-grandfather Dr. Blaine has led me to a much deeper understanding not only of him but also of myself. I come from a family of multi-talented people; it’s in my genes! And that’s okay. In fact, pursuing many different interests and talents has allowed my life to be as varied and colorful as a wildflower garden, just as Dr. Blaine’s was.

Dr. Blaine was curious about everything, especially all things mechanical. He would take an engine apart and reassemble it just to find out how it worked. He was a trained printer and owner of a local newspaper for a while. He helped to establish the first telephone service in Attica, OH, and even invented a special metal anchor for telephone poles. He served his community as mayor and justice of the peace, in addition to maintaining his medical practice. He founded a medical journal and a hospital. Other interests included photography, teaching, and writing.

Like Dr. Blaine, I may have made a few significant contributions along the way, but I have also had the privilege of touching the lives of so many different people in so many diverse situations. And that’s where I have found the real richness and meaning of my life: teaching people to enjoy the magic of handbells, being a friend to someone with mental illness, writing a grant to support a program that cares for neglected and abused children, connecting people to meaningful volunteer opportunities, encouraging the love of language and reading in students, playing with words in poems and stories, knitting, sewing, gardening, singing. My life has been full of God’s gifts, just as Dr. Blaine’s was. And I am thankful that finally I can accept who I am and what I am still  becoming. My genes fit just fine!

How about yours? What have you learned about yourself from studying your ancestors? Feel free to join the conversation!