My AncestryDNA results

I’ve been meaning to write this entry for a few weeks now, but other posts always took precedence over it. My life finally became boring enough to give me the opportunity to write it. ;)

I received my AncestryDNA results about two months after I mailed off a tiny test tube of my saliva to Ancestry’s lab in Ireland (I’ve seen that other kits get sent to Utah. I’m not sure why my saliva was so special that it had to be sent overseas). I didn’t mind waiting this much time to receive my results because, for one thing, it was realistic due to the large volume of kits they would have received from individuals who received them as Christmas gifts. Secondly, I would hope that they would need a proper amount of time to complete the test, otherwise I would have received inaccurate results (and I ain’t paying that much money for a botched genealogical test!)

I’m not sure how loud I gasped when I first saw the email with the subject “Your AncestryDNA results are in!”, but I do remember my eyes bugging out of my head and my fingers were suddenly unable to type properly while trying to text my husband that I finally received that long-awaited notification. I logged into the website with bated breath, my left hand covering my mouth as I read my results.

I was not surprised that the test determined I was 50% Eastern European since my mother is 100% Polish. I also was not surprised that I had roots in Great Britain, but I originally thought them to be 25% instead of 32% (this may also shed some light about the great love I have for London, England). The biggest surprise was the 9% Finland/Northwest Russia since I have never heard of any family being from this region and thought the 9% would be Netherlands. Once I read further into my analysis, I understood that these numbers reflect “where your ancestors came from hundreds to thousands of years ago”, so my ancestors probably immigrated from Finland/Northwest Russia to the Netherlands and I just haven’t been able to go that far back in my family tree yet (something I now look forward to doing!)

Another neat thing you get out of the results are relationship links to other people who have taken the AncestryDNA test that are related to you. Through this feature, I found out that I have a third cousin living in Edmonton that I have never met (at least I don’t think I have). I’ve already been creepy and stalked her on Facebook, but I’m too timid to friend her (AWKWARD!) Maybe I will if we connect through the Ancestry website first.

And the more people take the AncestryDNA test, the better the results become regarding your ancestry! This past week, AncestryDNA introduced a new feature called Genetic Communities which are groups of AncestryDNA members who are connected through DNA most likely because they descend from a population of common ancestors, even if they no longer live in the area where those ancestors once lived. This feature, which is still in beta testing, was where I understood and finally found my connection to the Netherlands.

Now that I have a better idea of my ancestry, I am tempted to obtain a paid subscription to the website so I can add more information to my family tree.

And maybe eventually I’ll make contact with that third cousin I’ve been stalking.

Embrace

This past Friday, I attended a viewing party for a documentary titled Embrace. The film follows Taryn Brumfitt, a body image activist, who posted a powerful Facebook post of a reverse before and after photo of herself. The before photo was of Taryn on stage at a body building competition, and the after photo was of her completely nude (though strategically covered), sitting on a stool, and noticeably heavier and less fit than her before photo. Taryn’s photo attracted both positive and negative comments, and from those comments, she was inspired to set out on a journey that took her around the world to speak with people about body image.

Not even five minutes into the film, I was already tearing up and discreetly wiping tears from my eyes — it struck a cord with me.

But I was not the only one.

At various points in the movie, women around me nodded their head in agreement or spoke aloud about how they could relate to the experiences the women in the film had. The subject matter was so relatable that we spent two hours talking about our own experiences, thoughts, and feelings after the movie finished.

I was both surprised and saddened as the women in the room described verbal, emotional, and physical abuse they have endured regarding their bodies. Some spoke of the various diets they have been on in an endless battle to reach what society has deemed the ideal body shape. Others spoke of how they had to finally quit striving for the “perfect” body, throw out their bathroom scale, and start focusing on their health instead of their dress size — these women are my heros.

One thing Taryn spoke about in her movie really hit me hard in the gut and has been turning the gears in my head ever since. She talked about how she feared that her negative body image would influence her young daughter, Mikaela. Taryn did not want her daughter growing up loathing her body and worrying about needing to be a certain body shape for society to accept her.

It was then that I felt a very heavy weight placed on me. I realized that I am my daughter’s very first teacher and role model. She looks up to me, already emulates me (the good and the bad), and thinks the world of me. I’m careful not to talk down about myself around her, and we talk about eating the right foods to stay healthy, and if we talk about her height and weight, it’s always positive. Even by doing all that, I feel like I need to do more — not just for me, but for her as well.

I have very low self-esteem,  my diet and exercise habits aren’t the greatest, and I dislike my body as well (I’m trying really hard to not say “hate”). I didn’t add anything to the discussion after the movie and listened to everyone else instead because I felt if I opened my mouth to share my experience with my own body image, I would immediately start crying. Now, I feel this huge obligation to better myself and change my thinking about myself or have my daughter develop the same negative thoughts about her own body. I can’t have that.

I really don’t want her to feel that kind of pain.

An ode to Spring

I love spring!

(I tried to write a better introduction to this post than that, but really, that’s what the whole point of this post is about — to tell you that spring is my favourite season!)

I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate winter. It’s cold, for one thing. That’s unpleasant. Then it snows, virtually locking you in with endless frigid temperatures until a Chinook arrives. The air becomes even more dry because, hello landlocked prairies, so the lotion companies make their moolah while you’re endlessly applying to your cracked, stinging skin.

Everyone loves summer except me (probably not the case, but that’s what it feels like). I hate the heat and the blazing sun. My skin is very fair, so I burn easily and need to apply SPF 100+ anytime I’m going to be out in the sun for a long time (even more money for the lotion companies). I’m constantly paranoid about getting either sunburns or mosquito bites, so its difficult to focus on having a good time. I also have an incredibly hard time breathing when the mercury is around 30 celsius. This all cumulates into absolutely no fun for me. How can I focus on having fun when I am so uncomfortable?

Autumn/Fall is depressing because everything is dying and the cold weather starts to rear its ugly head again. Everything that was green and alive turns brown, orange, and yellow and you carry around this dread in your heart that winter is looming at the end of it all.

But spring? Oh… my lovely, lovely season. I love thee so much! Really, just look at how joyous and colourful you are!

(Okay, yes, that’s just a photo of the Easter chocolate at Shopper’s Drug Mart… but still! Look at all the colours!)

(Also, this post was not sponsored by Lindt, I assure you.)

Why do I love spring? Um, because it’s not winter anymore! DUH! Hahaha… but I like that we don’t have to deal with the snow and cold anymore. I do love me a good downpour of rain and even a great thunderstorm, and spring has plenty of that.

Growing up, I loved seeing the sparkle of fresh morning dew on the blades of grass in our backyard and millions of tiny, white blossoms on our apple tree as I walked past on my way to catch the school bus. Or when I would be heading through our front yard gate at the start of a bike ride around our neighbourhood and I’d catch a whiff of our fragrant lilac bush that stood next to the gate. I don’t usually like being outdoors, but for spring I make an exception because of this.

And you can’t beat the Easter candy at this time of year! Cream eggs, mini eggs, marshmallow eggs, caramel eggs, Reese eggs, Twix eggs… virtually everything yummy and sugary gets molded into egg form and devoured!

Omnomnom! XD

Thirty-four and more

I’m not one of those women that hates telling people how old she is. It sometimes takes me a moment to remember the number, but when I do I have no qualms saying it out loud. So I have no problem telling you that, this past Saturday, I turned 34.

Am I where I thought I would be when I turned 34? Hell, I don’t know! When I was younger, I don’t think I thought much about what would happen to me past 30, so I am not worried one bit that young Jenn would be embarrassed or shocked about how my life is today.

So who is Jenn today?

I find that I can best express my thoughts in point-form:

  • I am married to my loving, supportive husband of almost 10 years.
  • I have a caring, precocious three-year-old daughter.
  • I am happily employed as an administrative assistant in an industry I am interested in and an organization I am proud to be a part of.
  • We live a comfortable lifestyle and thankfully carry no debt.
  • A minimalist lifestyle appeals to me and I am working on removing unnecessary material possessions from our home. (Too much “stuff” makes me anxious.)
  • I’ve lived the life of a dancer for the past four years and am now trying to figure out what my next hobby/activity/passion will be.
  • I’m working on becoming a healthier person by steering my eating habits in a more positive direction and exercising more than I used to.
  • I love rock music and hope to see plenty more live concerts in the future.
  • I love London, England, and am over the moon excited to travel there for a third time in May/June of this year.
  • I am passionate about what I think are out of the ordinary things like Kill Bill, Linkin Park, and Anne Frank. (Sometimes I fear these passions make me too one-dimensional.)
  • I require a lot of down time to recharge my batteries, so I’m often found at home rather than out on the town.

For the most part, I am happy with the person I am today. It has taken me a long time to be able to say that.

Thirty-four years, even.

Breaking the habit

If you asked me to choose between a sweet treat and a salty snack, I would choose the sweet treat every single time. I’m not sure I would go as far as to say I’m a sugar addict — and I actually contemplated whether I should call myself one for this post — but I do have a hard time saying no to it. Coca-Cola, juice, chocolate, candy, baked goods, Nutella, jam, and most desserts are all things that I’ve scarfed down without a second thought of what it was doing to my body.

We all know that sugar is bad for you, mostly because too much contributes to weight gain and acne. But it wasn’t until recently when a friend of mine recommended I watch a couple documentaries on Netflix that I opened my eyes (and mind) to the real damage my excessive sugar consumption was doing to my body.

After watching Fed Up and Sugar Coated, my world fell down around me (not literally, obviously) and one word summed up how crappy I felt: “Shit.” (Yay puns!)

Now, I’m not going to go into too much of what those documentaries talked about because I feel that it is important for others to watch them and come to their own conclusions. Yes, I write a blog, but I feel out of place when I am expected to influence people’s decisions and beliefs (blogger fail!). But I will let you know what watching them did for me (expletives aside).

I had to stop drinking so much Coca-Cola immediately, and that is tough for me because I think I’ve drank it since I was about five or so. But when you see a pile of sugar sitting next to a can of Coke, and you understand the damage that it is doing to your teeth and bones, well, it was a pretty easy decision to make.

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Now, understand that I said “stop drinking so much” instead of “stop drinking full stop”. Realistically, I don’t think I will ever be able to go without sugar entirely, but considering what my intake was a week ago compared to now, I have made huge strides in improving my health (and hopefully that of my daughter’s by example).

I stopped having my nightly dessert of whatever sweets we have laying around, whether it be leftover Christmas goodies (yes, we still have some), cookies, or chocolate. I allow myself only one “tall” size Starbucks drink during the week (my grocery shopping trip treat) instead of taking advantage of double-star days and my “I’ve made it through the work week” celebratory frappuccino Friday afternoons. I’ve also stopped heading into my co-worker’s office to take a piece of chocolate out of her candy dish (and that’s really hard because she has peanut butter chocolate hearts in there right now!)

Coincidentally, around the same time I started, a friend of mine was also cutting back on the amount of sugar she was eating. We’ve agreed to send each other photos of disapproving looks when we get off track. She sent me this just as an example, but I can never feel bad when I see a picture of Pusheen.

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I’ve only been doing this for six days, but I’ve definitely felt a difference. I have better focus at work and I don’t feel so tired mid-way through my mornings. My skin is clearing up and I sleep more soundly. I’ve lost roughly four pounds (probably water weight, but a loss is a loss) and I feel more energetic when I’m on my treadmill. Saying no to sugar gets easier too because I know what my goal is and why I am doing this in the first place. Also, documentary flashbacks are a scary thing. *shudder*

So we’ll see how this goes. I’m pretty sure I am on the right track, and making better choices and eating this way will become second nature to me. I’ll update you on my progress in a future blog post.

SHAMELESS PROMOTION TIME!

This past Wednesday, tickets went on sale for our final dance show! (See fancy poster.)

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Saturday night’s show is selling out quick, but there are still plenty of great seats available for Friday night’s performance. We had a mock dress rehearsal this past Saturday and I was so happy to see how all the dances have come together. It’s going to be a great show and you might regret it if you are not there, so get your tickets while you still can!

/end SHAMELESS PROMOTION TIME!

Your turn!

Have you watched either Fed Up or Sugar Coated on Netflix? What are your thoughts?

Have you recently cut your sugar intake?  Do you have any advice/tips for me?

Are you coming to our dance show? The correct answer is “yes”. ;)