Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “For everything you have missed, you have gained something else.” I love this quote and imagine this idea synonymous with my mother’s favorite saying, “Bloom where you’re planted.” This has become her token saying and usual answer to my constant query: “How will I know if I am following the perfect path for me?”

I guess I’ve often wondered why, if I could live anywhere in the world (London, Singapore, Manhattan) I continue to have a romance with my small upstate hometown? The answer, after contemplating both motherly and transcendental wisdom, is simple: it holds me at the roots.

No, I don’t believe that it’s necessarily your bloodline that forms your roots. Nor do I believe that it’s a particular “place” or community. It is a place in your heart that speaks to you, and when you are there you know you’re home.

In my case, it is my genealogy I think of, however. Simply stated: It’s the reason I stand where I am, right now. To be here, my great-grandmother lived for days in the bottom of a rickety old wooden boat. She left behind her family, her loving community in the old country, to come to the United States through Ellis Island. Here she sought her fortunes. Once here, however, she migrated to parts north and was fettered to an arranged marriage. She was 15. The rest of her days were spent raising 12 children while my great-grandfather worked each day in a factory. No one’s quite sure if she was happy since she could barely communicate in English. We can only imagine so since she lived to see age 99.

What I take from this story and my ancestry is my and all of our responsibility to take advantage of our opportunities. In our generation and lifetime, the world is our oyster. We are free to express and explore all of our gifts and talents; we are only limited by our own imagination. So wherever you find yourself standing, remember what my mom says to me each time I question and beg for answers, “When your roots are firmly planted in the ground your branches grow closer and closer to heaven.”

Today ask yourself:

Do you feel firmly rooted in your life, in your community? Can you identify why or why not?

Do you have a powerful woman in your life (relative or otherwise) that makes you feel a responsibility to evolve?

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