Remember Me

Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos) is a holiday that gives us the opportunity to celebrate the lives of our loved ones who have passed. Families honor their ancestors by creating “ofrendas” or offerings. These altars are decorated with candles, bright yellow marigolds, photos of the departed, and the favorite foods and drinks of the one being honored. Since this celebration happens today into tomorrow, November 1 & 2, it felt appropriate to share this expanded definition of ancestors and descendants again. Perhaps it will inspire you to light a candle, look at old photographs, or simply take a moment to remember all those who came before:

One of my most influential Family Constellations Teachers, Suzi Tucker, defines an ancestor as anyone who stands behind the people who stand behind us. Yes, this is our grandparents, great grandparents, and so on, but this definition does not limit an ancestor to those who pass down their DNA. It expands the definition to include teachers, mentors, therapists, counselors, and coaches. Truly anyone who has touched our lives in some significant way is an ancestor. 

By this definition, Michelle Blechner, Suzy Tucker, Mark Wolynn, and the many Constellations Mentors that have shaped my work, including the man who created Family Constellations, Bert Hellinger, are my ancestors. I also honor Helen Schucman, William Thetford, Ken Wapnick, Judy Skutch Whitson, and all those responsible for ushering  A Course in Miracles into the world. I acknowledge and thank Gary Renard and every ACIM Teacher and Facilitator who has helped me understand and apply these radical teachings to my life. I have tremendous respect and gratitude for all of my spiritual teachers along the way: Ministers from both Unity and Science of Mind, my Rose Quartz Family, and the staff at Educating Hands School of Massage in Miami. There are too many to name so I will just say thank you, ancestors!

Suzi also has an expanded definition of descendants. They are anyone whose life we touch that touches the lives of others. Of course, if you have children and grandchildren, they are your descendants. Nieces and nephews fall into this category, but so would any child whose life you have been a part of, regardless of blood relation. If you are a teacher, every student you have ever taught is a descendent. There are so many lives we touch every day whether from a formal mentoring or teaching role or just by the way we show up for them. 

By this definition, my Coaching Clients, Constellation Clients, and all those who have ever attended a Family Constellations Workshop or A Course in Miracles Study Group are my descendants. Take a moment to think about all the lives you have touched. It is extremely humbling to imagine how many people are in front of us. I am thrilled to know that a few members of my ACIM Study Groups have gone on to facilitate their own groups. Some who have attended my Constellations Training have begun to use the concepts and philosophy in their healing work. It brings me such joy to see these teachings being passed down and spreading out into the world.

An experience I had during a Constellations Conference gave me an even deeper appreciation of this concept. During an exercise, the facilitator put us into groups of 3 and instructed us to take turns representing ourselves while one person represented an ancestor and the other represented a descendant. I’ll never forget the feeling of immense gratitude that welled up in me while representing the descendant. As I looked at my teacher and my teacher’s teacher, I wondered how I could ever repay them for such a life-changing gift. And then it dawned on me. The best way to repay them was by sharing what I learned with others, thus allowing the gift to keep on giving.

If you’d like to experience some of the gifts I have been given, consider attending one or both of my weekly online A Course in Miracles Study Groups on Mondays and Fridays. Visit the Miracles page on my website for the times and information on how to join. 

For a one-of-a-kind opportunity to honor your ancestors while releasing unhealthy family patterns, join me for an upcoming Virtual Family Constellations Workshop. There are just two more scheduled in 2021. To prepare you for Thanksgiving, the first is “An Exploration of Belonging with Family Constellations” happening on Saturday, November 13 at 2PM Eastern,  1PM Central. Then, to help you navigate the holiday season, we will be “Balancing Giving and Receiving with Family Constellations” on Saturday, December 11 also at 2PM Eastern, 1PM Central. Visit the Upcoming Workshops page on my website for more information and to purchase your ticket. 

In the meantime, I trust you will find a way that has meaning to you to honor your ancestors, those that came before. Don’t forget to also take a moment to receive gratitude from your descendants, those that follow. I like to watch the Disney/Pixar film Coco at this time of year because it takes place in Mexico during El Dia de Los Muertos. Not only is it visually stunning, but the story will touch your heart. Please enjoy a little sample with the song “Remember Me” by clicking here.

Love must be extended. 

A Course in Miracles ~ T-28.II.2:2

I’ll Stay with Them

Last weekend I attended an inspiring and informative workshop led by one of my favorite Family Constellations teachers, Suzi Tucker. The title of the workshop was “Parenting: Expanding the Vocabulary,” and she certainly did. Suzi is a master at painting family portraits with words to help us understand the underlying dynamics that inform our decisions. As she discussed what can happen when our parents are emotionally wounded, I remembered a profound and powerful constellation that Suzi facilitated for me years ago in Miami. 

During the intake interview, I shared that both of my parents experienced tragic losses at a young age. My mother’s father drowned in a swimming accident about a month before she was born. My grandmother had to push her grief aside and find a way to support herself and her newborn baby girl in the middle of the Great Depression. When my father was a young boy, his parents divorced and his mother was kicked out of the family for some undisclosed reason. We only know she was quite a bit younger than my dad’s father and from then on she was ostracized. We heard stories about my grandmother’s thwarted attempts to visit my dad and his sister. To prevent her from seeing them, my grandfather hid them under the bed and told my grandmother that her children were not home. My heart ached for both of my parents when I thought about their traumatic beginnings. 

Herein lies one of the most common and challenging family dynamics we see in Family Constellations. Out of love and a distorted sense of duty, children often unconsciously take on the pain or sadness of their parents. We don’t even know we’re doing it, but somehow we feel like it is our job to “fix” our parents or fill the holes that remain in their hearts. Of course, this is an impossible task. And it’s also not our job. We are the little ones. Our parents are the big ones. It’s their job to take care of us, not our job to take care of them. That responsibility belongs to their parents. Sadly, the orders of love often get confused.

Suzi could see this was probably the case in my family and why I felt “stuck.” Little Johnny unknowingly took on some of the pain and responsibility for his parents. For some of you, this may sound very familiar. Thankfully, there is a way to restore the orders of love during a Family Constellation. To set up my mine, Suzi asked me to pick six people from the group, one to represent my mother, one to represent my father, two for my mom’s parents, and two for my dad’s parents. She then asked my “mother” to stand with her parents and my “father” to stand with his parents. I stood facing all of them. Then she invited my mom’s parents to say something like, “Dear John. You can leave her with us. We will take care of her now. You can be the little one again. Today you are free.” Then she asked my dad’s parents to tell me the same thing. “Leave him with us. We will take care of him now. It’s our job. Today you are free.” 

To read about it may seem overly simple, unclear, or even silly, but I can assure you it did not feel silly or unclear to my soul. It responded to those words and that image with streams of tears and deep sobs. I don’t think I’ve ever cried that hard in front of other people. It was definitely in the category of the “Oprah Ugly Cry.” When the sobs finally subsided, Suzi encouraged me to look at my parents and grandparents, wave goodbye, then turn around and walk towards my future. She recommended I walk slowly, stopping occasionally to look back at them smiling and waving at me. As difficult as it was to let them go, it was also beautiful and comforting to see my parents being supported by both of their parents. It took some time to integrate that experience, but I left that workshop feeling lighter and free from a burden I didn’t even know I was carrying!

If you have yet to attend a Family Constellations Workshop, I highly encourage you to give it a try. It is a heart-opening experience whether you participate or just observe. My next group session on Zoom is next Saturday, February 6. Click here for more details and to purchase a ticket. I also offer private sessions if that’s more comfortable for you. You can invite one or two trusted friends or family members to participate or it can be just the two of us. Please look around my website for more information and to book a session. 

Until next time, I invite you to leave the past behind so you can focus on what’s in front of you.

Our children drink from the wellspring of our own “okayness.” – Suzi Tucker

Love does not conquer all things, but it does set all things right.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-4.VI.7:6

Meet Your Ancestors and Descendants

This past weekend I attended a 3-Day Online Family Constellations Intensive. It was a virtual gathering of Constellations Facilitators from all over the globe who, like me, wanted to learn new skills and techniques for their practice. One of my first Constellations Teachers, Suzi Tucker, was one of the main presenters, which is why I registered for the event. Suzi is a master wordsmith as well as a skilled Constellations Facilitator. Her expanded yet simple definition of Ancestors and Descendants was one of my biggest takeaways from the weekend.

Suzi defined an Ancestor as anyone who stands behind the people who are standing behind us. Yes, this means our grandparents, great grandparents, and so on, but this definition does not limit an Ancestor to those who pass down their DNA. It expands the definition to include teachers, mentors, therapists, counselors, and coaches. Truly anyone who has touched our lives in some significant way is an Ancestor. 

This is not a new concept to me, but it was so nice to hear it expressed so clearly. Every year at the Big Sky Retreat we speak about all those who had a part in creating the first retreat 45 years ago. We honor the original President, Al Heard, who had an idea to create an event where people from different spiritual paths come together, share ideas, and meditate in a beautiful setting in nature. He and the other original Board Members are the Big Sky Retreat’s Ancestors. I am so grateful to all of them because this annual event has blessed my life in more ways than I can count. 

By this definition, Helen Schucman, William Thetford, Ken Wapnick, and all those responsible for ushering  A Course in Miracles into the world are my Ancestors. This is also true of every ACIM Teacher and Facilitator who has helped me understand and apply these life-changing teachings. I have tremendous respect and gratitude for all of my spiritual teachers along the way: Unity and Science of Mind Ministers, my rose quartz family, and the staff at Educating Hands School of Massage in Miami. I also honor the many Constellations Mentors that shaped my work, including the Father of Family Constellations, Bert Hellinger. Thank you, Ancestors!

Suzi also shared a beautiful definition of Descendants. They are anyone who’s lives we touch that touch the lives of others. If you have children and grandchildren, of course, they are your descendants, but this also includes any child you have parented regardless of blood relation. There are so many lives we touch every day whether we are in a formal mentoring or teaching role or just by the way we show up for them. By this definition, my clients are my Descendants. It is extremely gratifying when one sends me a photo of themself holding their first copy of A Course in Miracles. A few members of the circles I have facilitated have gone on to facilitate their own groups. Some who have attended Constellations Training with me have begun to use the concepts and philosophy in their healing work. It evokes such joy in me to see these teachings being passed down and spreading out into the world.

One of the exercises we did during the weekend intensive gave me an even deeper appreciation of this. We were put into groups of 3 and instructed to take turns representing ourselves while picking one person to represent an Ancestor and the other to represent a Descendant. I’ll never forget the feeling of immense gratitude that welled up in me while representing the Descendant as I looked at my teacher and my teacher’s teacher. I wondered how I could ever repay them for such a life-changing gift. And then it dawned on me. The best way to repay them was by sharing what I learned with others, thus allowing the gift to keep on giving. It gave me renewed inspiration to continue sharing the gifts I’ve been given.

Along those lines, another truth about Ancestors and Descendants became very clear this weekend. Ancestors don’t require anything from their Descendants. The love and support they give are completely free of charge. In fact, during that same exercise, another participant from Asia shared that when her Ancestors spoke to her, they were overjoyed to see how she lived. They were thrilled to see the opportunities available to her that were not available to them. She, in turn, was extremely excited to know she could bring her Ancestors so much joy simply by living a happy, healthy, and prosperous life! And you can too! Not only do you have your Ancestors permission, that’s what they desire for you!

If you could use some assistance connecting with the love and support of your Ancestors, please reach out. I would be honored to share the gifts my Ancestors have shared with me to help you live a happy, healthy, and prosperous life. Through the miracle of technology, I am still offering Life Coaching and Family Constellations sessions. Please send me an email for more information and to schedule a session. 

Until next time, may you receive the love and support of your Ancestors and continue to touch the lives of your Descendants in miraculous ways…

With love in you, you have no need except to extend it.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-15.V.11:3

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