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Top o’ the Mornin’ to Ya

Luck of the Irish

March is usually associated with the beginning of spring and with Saint Patrick’s day. I liked the idea of wearing something green when I was in elementary school and seeing what everyone would wear so they didn’t get “pinched.” Maybe this is only an American tradition, but either way, Saint Patty’s day is a big deal in the US, especially in big cities like New York and Boston where there are huge populations of Irish Americans. Until recently I didn’t realize she was Irish herself!

So what happened? I took the “23 and Me” spit test. (gross). But the results were fascinating. Funny enough I was always told I had an American Indian heritage and that I was mostly German, after all, my maiden name is Ritter which is German for Knight. I never doubted what I was told. So when the results came back I was stunned. The narrative I believed, was completely false – there were no American Indian genes and less than .5% German genes. What? How could my family get it so completely wrong?

My family was handed down myths about our ancestry for generations. This made me think about how a narrative can have so much power in our lives both positively and negatively. What we are told and what we believe can give or take away our personal power. Finding out your ancestry can be potentially rife with painful discoveries, for me, however, it wasn’t tragic (no surprise sisters or brothers) but amusing and entertaining. It made me think about how connected we really are. As it turns out I have a cousin right here in my town that I didn’t know existed along with 5,000 others across the US that I don’t know! And here I thought I only had 60 first cousins. Ha!

I also got really curious and decided to read about human ancestry history. If this interests you, here are books you might find stimulating:


The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes

A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes by Adam Rutherford

(Both can be found at Thriftbooks for CHEAP)


Another perk of the 23 and Me test is that I found out some foods that I should really keep off my plate. When I saw in black and white that I have a very high probability for a particular food intolerance it had a big impact on me. I have been saying “I think pasta is terrible for me,” only now I know pasta is terrible for me. So I have been trying some gluten-free pasta and found one I love. If you want to try a pasta substitute try this one: Palmimni a pasta substitute you can find at most grocers. It is made out of Heart of Palm but it is similar in texture to al dente pasta.



Another thing that the test did was illicit curiosity about the music of my ancestors. I found out that I am part Italian (much to Toni’s dismay), and my ancestors are from the island of Sardinia. Sardinia is known for its rich musical history and has a long tradition of a type of throat singing that is fascinating and very spiritual for the people of Sardinia. Listening to this music has had a heart effect on me. You never know what will speak to you unless you get curious.

To wrap it up, here are the results of my 23 and Me test:

British and Irish 78.3% from London and the County of Donegal

Scandinavian/Sweden 12.8%

Broadly Northwestern European 5.9%

Sardinian 2%

French/German 1%

Southern European .1%

Trace Ancestry North and West African .7%

Unassigned .1%

We hope you have a great March and a great St. Paddy’s day, and Denise say’s “slán agat.”

Denise and Toni


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