In My Blood

If you know me well, or visit my home and look at the art on my walls or study my vignettes, one thing you learn about me is this: I feel a strong connection to Scotland. Believe me, I will take opportunities to travel to anywhere in the world, because I love exploring new places. One country though feels like home, every time I visit…Scotland.

I am a Lauderdale by birth, a name that has connections to Clan Maitland in Lauder, Scotland. I have known that part of my ancestry story since childhood. Recently I decided to order a kit through AncestryDNA, spit into the test tube, and see what larger story my DNA told. I got the results back.

Here is the breakdown of my ethnicity:

I am quite a mix of European countries, with a bit of Asian South, which includes the modern day nations of Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, and a smidge of Caucasus, which includes the nations of Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan.

I am primarily of English, Scottish and Irish heritage, with ancestry connected to Spain, Scandinavia, France, Italy, Greece and Wales. It is no surprise that I am strongly Celtic. Ancestry provides pages of information about my story, including maps that show how my family migrated across Europe and then to the Virginia area of the US, before settling in the Midwest.

The maps and pages of text accompanying them helped me to understand my 44% Europe West. That region includes France and Germany. I do have some French ancestry. It is also where the people who became known as the Celts originated. The Celtic People expanded out and eventually settled primarily into the areas known today as Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.

My DNA confirms what my heart and soul already knew, instinctively. It explains why the sound of bagpipes makes tears come to my eyes and why Scotland feels like home. It is home. It’s where my roots are. It is the place that calls to me continually, and Edinburgh is my favorite city in all the world.

Thirlestane Castle in Lauder, Scotland, home of Clan Maitland. Pic is from their Instagram page.

I am looking forward to learning more about the rest of my heritage. I’ve only just begun to sort through all the information available and according to Ancestry, I have more than 1,000 DNA matches that are 4th cousins or closer in relationship. That’s a lot of new family members to reach out to and get to know.

I’m excited about visiting as many of these regions as I can, knowing I have ancestors who lived there, loved there, and that some journeyed on to new places. I want to return to Ireland and England. And always, there is my beloved Scotland. I will go home as often as I can. It’s in my blood, after all.

Visit Ancestry.com HERE if you would like to know your DNA story!

Day 70: Buy an Irish Shamrock Plant

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Every March, area stores create displays of the Irish Shamrock Plant. I admire the plants and plan to buy one later, only to find when I return to the store that they have sold out. This year, I debated about whether to wait until St. Patrick’s Day to purchase one, as my first, and then realized I was about to do it again! I’m almost certain that by St. Paddy’s Day there won’t be any Shamrock Plants left. There is a saying, “Do what you’ve always done, get what you’ve always gotten.” Time to do something different, and new! For my first today, I purchased a Shamrock Plant.

I discovered that the Shamrock Plant, also known as Oxalis, is reactive to light. It folds up its shamrock shaped leaves when it’s overcast or nighttime, and opens them again when it’s sunny. The plant has tiny red or white flowers and the leaves can be bright green, dark red or purple. I purchased a traditional Irish Shamrock with bright green leaves and white flowers.

The shamrock is known as the symbol of Ireland. St. Patrick is said to have used the plant as a metaphor for the Christian Trinity. The tradition of wearing a shamrock dates back to the 1700’s and it is now known worldwide as a symbol for good luck.

I’ve mentioned my Scottish heritage, which comes to me through my dad’s line, the Lauderdales. I’m of Irish descent also, on my mother’s side of the family, through the McCools and Gregorys.  I intend to visit Scotland first, because that country has haunted me my entire life, but beautiful Ireland calls to me as well. The Celtic culture is found in both countries. It will be interesting and fun to see the similarities and the differences between the two. With Irish and Scottish blood coursing through my veins, I’d love to find or create a piece of jewelry with the symbols of the shamrock and thistle entwined. Or I can tuck a shamrock behind one ear and a thistle behind the other and call it good!