TIPS FROM THE QUEEN OF REJECTION®
Welcome to the 12th issue of Tips from The Queen of Rejection(TM)
IN THIS ISSUE
1. Pilgrimage to a DC-3 - The Voices of My Ancestors Whisper to
2, Poof. They Were Gone
3. Wrapped in Silence
4. Making Grief Real
5. "There Are All Your Ancestors resting snugly in Your DNA . . ."
6. Baby Cora and the DC-3
7. Contacting Elayne
8. Privacy Notice and Subscription Information
1. PILGRIMAGE TO A DC-3 - THE VOICES OF MY ANCESTORS
WHISPER TO MY GRANDDAUGHTER
By Elayne Savage, Ph.D.
What a moving experience it was holding my new granddaughter in
my arms. Whenever she'd open those big eyes it seemed she was
connecting with my soul. And I was connecting to hers as well.
As I looked into her eyes, I was looking into the past, present
and future at the same time. I was recognizing the importance of
this newest female member of my linage.
2. POOF. THEY WERE GONE
I'm trying to put words to how much it means to me that this
baby is a girl. Her arrival in the world symbolizes the next
generation of female lineage. A continuation of a broken line
The women of the two generations before me, my mother and grandmother, were wiped out in an instant in a plane crash. They were aboard
a Braniff DC-3 that crashed into a corn field near Mason City, Iowa over
50 years ago. Poof. They were both gone. Two generations of
female role models. Two generations of nurturing. Two generations
of support. And two generations of storytelling.
I missed out on being able to sit at their feet and hear
their stories. Stories about the Cossack soldiers ravaging
their village. Stories about what it was like to travel
through China by rickshaw. Stories about being quarantined
on Angel Island for 3 months. Stories about building a new
life in Omaha. Stories about their experiences in raising
Over the years there have been many questions unformed and
many questions unanswered. Yes, I have missed all of those
3. GRIEF WRAPPED IN SILENCE
The aftermath of that plane crash was handled badly by my family.
This very public loss caused a city to mourn, yet my brother Lee and I
were not allowed to grieve either publicly or privately.
Everything was wrapped in silence. The newspaper articles
and crash scene pictures were hidden from us. We didn't attend
the funeral. We weren't allowed to talk about my mother.
My Dad removed all photos of her from the house. We thought
he'd thrown them out, but after he died my brother found the
albums tucked away in the back of the highest shelf of Dad's
closet. He'd moved with them 4 times, yet we never knew they
existed. It's nice to have them back.
Lee and I were able to do some grieving five years later when
another plane crash into a corn field made headlines. Buddy Holly,
J.P. (Big Bopper) Richardson and Richie Valens were killed. The
crashes were only a few miles apart outside of Mason City, Iowa.
Yes, I've worked on these losses for many years in therapy. Yet there
always seemed to be something missing.
A few years ago something fortuitous happened. After presenting
a one-day training program several miles from my home, I decided
to stay the night at a local Bed and Breakfast. Intuitively I told the
B&B owner the story of the plane crash. It turns out he is a grief
He presented me with the missing piece: to grieve a loss and move
on, we need to make the loss real.
Yes, of course. That's what was missing. The deaths of my
mother and grandmother were never made real.
4. MAKING GRIEF REAL
One day I woke up knowing what to do. I must visit a DC-3.
For several years I fantasized about locating and visiting a
DC-3. One I could visit without other people around. I wanted
some time to myself on the plane.
(Telling the richly detailed story of the DC-3 has become part of my
professional speaking programs. Some of you may have been
in my audience and heard this story before. I'm including a few
selective descriptions of my pilgrimage. I've chosen these
because they are related to carrying on the female legacy which
Miss Cora symbolizes for me.)
Early last year I gathered the courage to track down a restored
DC-3. Making the actual arrangements to visit the plane came
about from a confluence of many happenings.
Lots of serendipity is involved - a chance conversation with a
fellow professional speaker who is a pilot, the support of my
boyfriend, Burt, who encouraged me to follow through with the
phone call that eventually led to making the appointment to
visit the plane.
Matt, the Operations Manager at the Santa Monica airport pointed
me to a restored plane at the Van Nuys Airport. It is the private plane
of a major Southern California Aviation figure, Clay Lacy.
I took a deep breath and called. The receptionist told me
"Oh no you can't visit this plane. This is Mr. Lacy's private plane."
I took another deep breath. I wasn't going to be deterred.
I persisted, told my story and asked to speak to a decision
maker. Mr. Lacy's personal assistant called back the next
day: "Mr. Lacy would be pleased to have you visit his plane!"
Burt went with me as witness. We were escorted from the
office to the plane which was on the tarmac. (But my experience
of the plane is another story.)
By way of preparing for this pilgrimage I contacted a few
friends and a listserve of therapist colleagues asking for
support and suggestions of rituals I might do on the plane.
It was a big step for me to reach out publicly. I'm glad I did.
I felt I was being cradled in the strong and comforting arms
of a caring community.
My time on the plane was an amazing event.
I was able to stay present and to experience the moments on
a cellular, energetic level.
I was able to imagine my mother and grandmother beside me
on the plane. I could imagine talking with them, especially
with my mother.
I could feel myself reconnecting with her in a new way.
I could ask questions and receive answers.
I could laugh again with my mother, sharing some memories.
I could also tell her about my life, my disappointments and
One of the reasons I wanted to visit a DC-3 was to be able
to release the shackles that have constrained me for so many
years. When I was sitting on the plane I could feel the chains
falling away. I could feel myself rebalancing and realigning.
I was able to achieve the healing and liberation I've missed out on
for so many years.
A couple of years ago someone made me a beautiful blue felt pouch,
decorated with lace and leather and shells.
I'd never used the pouch because it was so lovely, so special.
As I contemplated my pilgrimage, I realized this pouch was waiting
for just the right time to be the guardian of something very precious.
I put into the pouch photos of my mother and grandmother.
Photos of myself and my brother Lee as we grew up.
Photos of my daughter Jocelyn.
Then I imagined putting the essence of my mother and grandmother
into the pouch, and I carried their spirits onto the plane with me.
In retrospect I believe the conversations, phone calls and
arrangements for the pilgrimage came to pass because I had just
learned my daughter was expecting a baby.
5. "THERE ARE ALL YOUR ANCESTORS RESTING SNUGLY
IN YOUR DNA . . ."
One of the therapists who responded to my request sent me this
quote which I also put into the blue pouch to carry with me on the
I re-read the words on that piece of paper many times in the hour I
spent on the plane:
"But when we take the time to really give thanks to our ancestors,
we place them in their proper context, granting them neither more
nor less than their due.
We are able to use the lessons they have taught us - even
if by negative example - and move beyond their legacy to
claim our rightful place in the world.
Dawna Markova says, "Look in the palm of your hand.
Thich Nhat Hanh would say that if you look deeply
enough, you'll never be lonely. Each cell of your hand is made
from genetic material passed on to you from your mother and father.
Whether you adored or despised them, there they are in the palm
of your hand. If you look a little deeper, you'll see your grandfathers
Deeper still, and there are all your ancestors resting snugly in your
DNA . . .
Can you hear them whispering in your ear,
'Maybe this is the one who will carry our dreams into the world,
maybe this is the one who will move beyond the
limitations that have held us back and carry our dreams
into the world.'"
-- From Attitudes of Gratitude by Mary Jane Ryan
6. BABY CORA AND THE DC-3
Just after Cora was born, I corresponded with my cousin
Dr. Steve Raskin. Intuitively I decided to send him the
above quote about DNA. Steve emailed back with this
"little biology lesson." He reminded me that there
are two kinds of DNA in cells. One is "nuclear DNA which
exists in chromosomes and are subject to recombination over
the generations, resulting in the complexity of human variation.
But there is some other DNA in the cell known as
"mitochondrial" DNA that exists in the cytoplasm
OUTSIDE the cell nucleus. The mitochondria are passed
completely from mother to daughter and that DNA
does not take part in any recombination.
You are the bearer of your mother's and her mother's
mitochondria (and mitochondrial DNA), just as Jocelyn
and - now - Cora are also. You might get a good feeling
knowing that tiny little pieces of your mother are part
of your granddaughter."
So in this communication with a cousin I haven't seen in
over 30 years, I came to realize why holding this little
girl was such a spiritual experience for me. Cora is more
connected to my mother and my grandmother than I ever
Had I known this baby was to be a girl at the time I
made the pilgrimage, my experience on the plane would
have been even more powerful. For too many years I let
the accident define me. I was frozen in the drama of
the 12-year-old child.
On the plane I was able to visualize the chains falling
away. I was able to see my experience as the ending of
something and the beginning of something else.
I began to understand that I don't have to be a hurt,
scared child any longer. I recognize that my inherited
potential is unimpeded by the tragedies of the past. I
CAN fly - even soar.
Now I'm the grandmother, Jocelyn is the mother and baby
Cora is the child.
I can hear the ancestors whispering in my ear and in
Jocelyn's ear and in Cora's ear:
"Maybe this is the one who will carry our
dreams into the world,
maybe this is the one who will move beyond the
limitations that have held us back and carry our
dreams into the world"
© 2007 Elayne Savage, Ph.D.
Until next time,
Elayne Savage is the author of books published in 9 languages.
To order DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY! THE ART OF DEALING
WITH REJECTION from Amazon:
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6. Contacting Elayne
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