While some of us are fortunate to have close family ties with our immediate kin, others are not so lucky. I learned a long time ago that family takes on a whole new meaning when we add the word extended to the word “family.”
During challenging times, family is so important. Our families can be our greatest support or our biggest challenge. Families break ties over differences regarding politics, the environmental crisis, money, food and drug choices, racism, media choices, conspiracy theories, and religious beliefs, to name just a few. Where do you turn for family support?
The word “family” has significant meaning, whether it be the family you were born into, adopted into, loved into, or have embraced. Some of us experience a closeness with families that we choose rather than our biological families.
Many clients I work with are not content or at odds with their biological families. When a family member judges you for what you do rather than why you do what you do, it can be very convoluted and disconcerting – not a healthy family dynamic. That is why there is nothing wrong with going outside of our biological family to help bring out the best in you. ♥️If you come from a loving, supportive family, cherish it!
What constitutes a family for one person is not the same for another. People often think of the family unit as a mom, a dad, sisters and brothers, and maybe grandparents, all living under the same roof. This can be a wonderful and secure place to live when there is love.
When there isn’t love, it’s best to walk away when you are able and find a new loving and supportive family network.
What does the word “family” mean to you?
The word “family” is a powerful word that conjures up multiple meanings and emotions.
- What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “family”?
- Who do you consider family?
- Who do you turn to find connection, love, and support?
Does the word “family” conjure up uncomfortable feelings or delight? For some, even mentioning the word “family” can trigger emotional turmoil. Most of us feel something somewhere in between, as memories of good and bad times are all part of what shapes us. Negative memories of the past do not have to define who we are today. Forgiveness is powerful, as is having the strength to separate ourselves from the trauma/drama while holding on to positive memories. These are the moments that validate and connect us to our sense of well-being and self-worth.
We thrive when we have self-worth. Surrounding ourselves with people who bring out the best in us is our genuine family. Why limit yourselves to just biological families, especially if they don’t bring out the best in you?
Blood may make us biologically related, but love and loyal relationships are like the vitality of the water, the true essence of what it means to be family. You can get a blood transfusion, but you can’t live without water. Water holds us afloat, and without it, we die. Eliminate energy vampires that harm you so you can choose those that nurture. Sometimes severing family ties is the only way to find our way. It does not always mean forever. We can find out who we are by being part of other functional families that support our growth. Once secure in ourselves, we might find our place back with our biological family. That’s the best of both worlds.
My husband, dear friends, and pets all have different DNA than I do, but they are “my people,” my tribe. What matters is the love and support that brings us together. We have seen adopted children raised with more love and support than many children raised by single or biological parents. A loving, supportive family is a blessing that I wish for everyone.
It is liberating to know we can create new families. These are people that accept you unconditionally, and you do the same for them. These are the people who understand you and accept you for being you! They do not judge you for what you are going through; they stand by you, hear you out, and help guide you the best they can without dumping their agenda on you. Surrounding ourselves with caring, loving people give us the greatest chance to become our best selves.
Our relationships are like a two-sided coin; each having equal say. We encourage and inspire one another and show up for each other. A healthy family brings out our amazingness.
Communication is vital to family dynamics. Being sensitive and communicating with empathy, we leave room for emotional responses that validate our self-worth. Without communication, family ties unravel. Sometimes, tough love is what we need to stop the craziness! We all have things that we like and dislike about each other, but we do our best to listen and understand. The power of a positive attitude and thinking strengthens family dynamics. Honesty moves us toward what is most important. Sometimes it’s necessary to uncover our BS, compost what does not serve us, and nourish what will benefit us and others. Family teaches us the rebirth of kindness, love, and compassion during our changing perspective on life. A genuine Family welcomes transformative conversations that nurture the spirit of family, promote well-being, and prevent hostility.
Regardless of who or what you consider family,
dynamics are constantly changing, and so are you.
Life is a roller coaster, so fill your ride with those whom you consider family. Inspire others with your passion and purpose and get inspired by others. Through the highs and lows, stay true to your morals and enjoy the ride. New realizations come with each day.
We know we are family when we contribute to creating a loving place for others.
We follow through on our promises.
We pay it forward.
We can find “family” in our connection to our community, a group or organization, a congregation, or anywhere we feel part of something meaningful.
What “Family” means to me.
Family is where I feel loved, functional, with foundational reciprocal support.
To me, the word “family” means to be with people who understand, accept, and love me. They know and accept my quirky habits, and I, theirs. My family comprises all that I love and support and all that love and support me, including my relatives, good friends, co-workers, and my pets. And beyond them, Mother Earth, whose ecosystems are teeming with living families of plants and animals that I rely on for my existence. I even consider my body as my family, all the trillions of cells, my organs, and the rest of me supporting my life each moment.
Family is love and security. I am grateful for my relationships with all my families, some of which have filled the void that my biological family could not fill.
Expanded your perception of “Family” can open your heart and mind to a more loving, supportive way of being.
Expand the family concept to gain additional support, even if you come from a loving, functional family. Include your relationship with culture, God/ Spirit, and Mother Nature when considering expanding your perception of family. Wherever you feel you belong, are loved, respected, and supported for being YOU, you find family.
Choose wisely. Some of us found our tribe/family following the Grateful Dead, coming together like groupies at Rainbow Gathering. Some of us found unity in a place of worship, while some found family being a member of the Ku Klux Klan or part of the Neo-Nazi party. We must be cautious of cults and conspiracy theories and choose wisely. People often get drawn into more destructive families than they left behind, searching for a deeper connection. If you find yourself stuck in an unhealthy situation, get support and find autonomy. Selecting a family with discernment is the family known as humanity. We must choose our families wisely.
Include the Humanities: Culture, food, art, music, and beauty bring families together or tear them apart. The music we listen to, the books we read, and the art we create or love significantly impact family dynamics.
Music and dance are some of the best ways to pull us out of a funk. Music brings us together with other music lovers who appreciate the same genre/ the same music family. I fell in love with my husband at a square dance, and we are still dancing together, now, to light, high-vibe rock-and-roll.
What comes out of our mouths when we sing, or our bodies dance expresses who we are. Whether it be folk, hip hop, or techno, if the lyrics speak to you, listen. Modern art or classic design, choose the family of art that connects you to a safe place.
Include our bodies: When we look at our body as a family that we love and care about, we treat it like family. We support and nurture it with healthy choices. We are a host to a family of trillions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Cells constantly multiply, while some die to keep the healthy ones alive. When we put immune system-building foods into our family of cells, our body is loved and supported. When we see all the parts of our body as a functioning family, we are healthier. What we consume matters. Food becomes an instrument of change to rebuild a healthy body, a clear mind, and a more purposeful life.
Include Mother Earth: I connect with my most intimate family when I am out by myself, in Nature. The winds speak to me; the sun warms my being, and it is a safe place to bare my soul. I feel connected by the elements, grateful for my biological connection to the Earth. I believe if more people felt this family unity with Mother Earth, the world would connect to become one big family. We would take care of what sustains us all; Mother Earth – the mother that provides for all of us. The diversity of the Earth’s species (including us) and the biodiversity holding it together also preserves the life force that sustains us all. Mother Earth and future generations are counting on us.
Some people spend their entire careers studying the different families of plants or animals. Yes, there are all kinds of families, and it’s time the global society recognizes the value and their rightful place in the world.
When the mountain slopes get parched, and the fields are dry, they have lost their families. Overgrazing and deforestation rip ecological families apart, and the species that depend on that place are in danger of becoming extinct. It’s time to breed family values that unify humanity for the common good of all lifekind.
In closing: Follow your instincts that support self-worth. Sincere family love is so strong nothing can impede your growth. When you look at the trajectory of what defines you, you can objectively choose who and where you spend your time.
Where our emotional intelligence is nurtured, we are guided to manifest our dreams. By doing so, we can carry this wisdom into our biological and extended family. We become the people we wish to be and the kind of family member we are meant to be.
Big Love and Aloha,
I would be so happy if you consider me part of our extended family♥️
Big Love and Aloha ❤️
“Why Retire When I Can Inspire”
Donna Maltz is an author, blogger, speaker, culinary chef, and eco-entrepreneur. Her books include Living Like the Future Matter ~ The Evolution of A Soil to Soul Entrepreneur. I AM ~ A Guided Journal to Cultivate Abundance, Conscious Cures~Soulutions to 21st Century Pandemics and Yummy Recipes, Wilderness Wonders, a healthy activity cookbook for kids and adults. Check our her website: www.donnamaltz.com
She spends her days immersed in Nature and strives to help make the world a more vibrant place for all sentient beings. As a ‘voice for Nature,’ she shares her love for Mother Earth through words and photography. 🌿