947 lives

I sat down to write a blog about something that happened yesterday.  I clicked on a different URL than I usual, and it took me to the “reader” side instead of the “writer” side of the portal.  There, I was invited to join 947 people who follow this little blog.  947.  That’s nearly 1,000.  It’s a pretty big number.

I know that some of those “follows” are people hoping that I will “follow” them back – and they’ve never read a word.  Other people may read a post when I link to it on Facebook or LinkedIn or twitter, but not “follow.”

I don’t know what I may have written that has helped someone else.  How would the world change if each of us could reach 947 people and give them some love, some hope or simply make them feel as if whatever emotion they are experiencing is normal – that they will get through it.

Some of these 947 people have reached this page because I tried and failed to run a half marathon at Walt Disney World (the FIRST time) and they, too, wanted to know what happened if the balloon ladies pass you (click here to find out).  That post has by far the most views.

Speaking of views, as of the writing of this little article, my posts have been viewsd 6,456 times.  It’s not a big, big number, but that number is larger than the number of people who I have interacted with in real life since 2014, when I found the courage to begin writing on the internet.

I’m reminded of the first time that I ran the 10K race at the Cleveland Rite-Aid marathon weekend.  As I crossed the finish line, a woman asked my name and said, “you’re the woman who lost all that weight, aren’t you?”  The connection I shared with her at that moment were more special than the shiny medal I received for finishing.

Another time, I wrote about finding painted rocks at the beach, and how happy they made me, and the woman who let them in secret saw me running and became my friend.

My third grade teacher has read my words and continued to make me feel as loved and supported as she did 43 years ago.

Years ago, I had a small circle of friend online with whom I shared poetry.  My profile said, “I am an artist.  I paint pictures with words.”

When I logged onto this site, I was given 947 gifts in an instant.

Write on.

love,

~Be~

 

 

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Special Delivery

When you begin listening for the voice of God in your life, he speaks in many ways.  Sometimes, it is that “still, small voice” in my head during a meditation.  Other times it is looking up to see a sunbeam playing across the floor bringing just a little light into a dark moment.

When I pay attention to “living, instead of existing,” God manifests.  Perhaps you will say that these moments are simply coincidences.  I choose to view them as the breadcrumbs left behind to show me that I am still on the right path.

God sent two messages to me last week via “special delivery.”

I adopted “comfort and joy” as a little personal theme, brand or motto a year or so ago.  I post photos of teacups or flowers, bright colored yarn or even close-ups of my dogs. If it brings me comfort or joy, it’s a likely candidate for my instagram hashtag, #comfortandjoy.

I have an eye condition that makes it difficult to read sometimes.  I do as much of my reading on a screen as I can because I can tweak the contrast and the font size to make it easier to see.  As a result, I rarely look at “real” books anywhere anymore.

Last weekend I went on a little shopping expedition to two of my favorite thrift stores.  At the first, where I have never even glanced at the used book rack, I was forced to stop a moment by the shelves because a couple of people were admiring objects in a curio and blocking my way.  I turned to the bookshelves to pass the time, and my eyes lit immediately on a daily devotional about “Simple Abundance” with “Comfort and Joy” in the title.  I picked it up and paid for it.

At the next stop, I was waiting for my son to try on some clothing.  I had already checked out the dishware and found no teacups that called to me, so I walked to the book shelves.  Just the day before, I had reviewed my Amazon “Wish List.”  On it was Regina Brett’s book, “God Never Blinks.”  I’ve enjoyed reading Regina’s newspaper columns for years.  She has inspired me on many occasions.  I “follow” her on Facebook, and although I frequently have considered buying her book, I just haven’t gotten around to it.

Just as at the previous shop, the first book that I saw “called out” to me.  Its bright orange cover drew my eye, and into the cart it went.

Those books sat on my coffee table for several days, untouched.  I opened the cover of “God Never Blinks” and saw an inscription from a daughter to her mother on Mother’s Day 2012.  It made me a little sad to know that a carefully chosen gift had made its way to the Salvation Army store.

I turned the page, and saw that the author had autographed the book, and my amazement that this little book had found its way into my hands was magnified.  I turned to the Introduction section, and as I read the words, I knew that I had discovered a soul sister.  Tears streamed down my face.

I’ve been reading from these two books for a week now, with no hint of discomfort – no visual distortion.   Now, I read a lesson each day.  I want to keep turning the pages and consume the entire book in a single sitting, but it would be over too quickly.  Instead, like a box of expensive chocolates, I will savor just one each day, letting the words sink in slowly.

God didn’t just send me a message.  He sent me an autographed copy.  Thank you for your words, Regina, and thank you to unnamed “favorite daughter” who bought her mom and autographed book in 2012 that would be delivered into the hands of another mother nearly 5 years later.

 

Ohana Means Family. Family Means Nobody Gets Left Behind or Forgotten

I spent the day with family today.  Legally, we have no relationship.  On paper, we are strangers.

I was born in 1967 and surrendered for adoption.  I grew up always knowing that I was adopted. I can’t remember learning the fact.  My Mom always told me that she and Dad picked me.  Some days that made me feel very wanted and very special.  Other days, it made me feel sad, because for my mom and dad to pick me, someone else had to leave me behind.

Like many teens and young adults, anything that made me “different” made me feel a little awkward and self-conscious.  Adoption was one of those issues.  I sometimes wondered what my birth family would think of me if they could see me at that time in my life.  Would they be proud when I won the lead role in the musical, or when I was accepted to the university of my choice?  Would they have come to the football games to watch me march with the band?

When I gave birth to my first child and felt that bond like no other, I wondered what it must have felt like to leave the hospital without me.  My birth mother didn’t have a face for me then, but she was not forgotten.  She was a part of me, and I was sad for her.

I didn’t know much about my birth family.  My Mom always told me that the adoption caseworker had told her that my birthmother wanted me.  I hoped it was true.

I found my birthmother in 1997. In-home internet access was a relatively new thing.  I was bored one evening, and I put the details that I knew about my birth into a database on AOL, never thinking it would lead anywhere.  After all, adoptees often searched for years and spent lots of money on investigators to try to find their birth families.  I was shocked when, a few short minutes later, I received a phone call advising me that someone in the database matched me, and asking if I wanted to speak with my birthmother.

I called off work and drove 30 minutes from home the next day to meet her.  I was terrified, but as I stepped through her door, the fear melted instantaneously.  She and I were wearing the same earrings.  She gave me a glass of water in the same drinking glasses that i had in my kitchen cupboard.  We had some of the same artwork hanging in our respective homes.  The meeting convinced me that nature plays a strong role in development.

As our friendship grew, we began finishing one another’s sentences.  My mom would always be my mom – she, my “mum” felt more like a big sister.  Like many sisters, we had a falling out one day over something silly, and we didn’t connect again for years.  Neither of us was still angry, but both of us were afraid of reaching out – afraid of rejection.

We connected several more times over the years.  There was no anger, no hard feelings.  There was only love.  Somehow, years would pass between visits.  Life got in the way.  It’s funny how life does that.

This week, she asked me to lunch.  I was delighted to accept, and excited that my grandparents, too, would be available.  we spent hours and hours today talking.  We didn’t talk about adoption.  We didn’t talk about what it felt like to grow up somewhere else.  Instead, we talked as parents or grandparents and the younger generation would talk.  We talked about pets and experiences.  We talked about travel and hotels and antique stores. We talked about first jobs and cooking.

My adoptive family is my family.  My birth family is my family.  My husband’s family is my family.  “Family” is that affinity we have for others when we are tied together by blood, shared culture, or the bonds of marriage.  Family is Ohana.  I like the concept of Ohana – it is much broader than a mommy, a daddy and the children who reside in the same residence.  Ohana signifies the respect and cooperation that family members should have for and with one another.

Finding my birth family forced me to reconcile some feelings.  I still remember looking at my “new” family’s pictures and seeing faces that really looked an awful lot like mine looking back.  I remember some of my adoptive family – the only family I knew – questioning whether I would still want to be a part of that family now that I had found my “real” family.

I took the search farther a few years later and found the other side of my adoptive family living in another part of the country.  We haven’t met face to face, but they are a part of my Facebook world.  They, too, are Ohana.

I was adopted into a big, big family.  My concept of family already included ten aunts and uncles, their spouses, and a whole slew of cousins.  It wasn’t difficult to mentally expand that arrangement to include a few more.  Somehow, life kept the birth family from becoming a close-knit part of my family, but we were, and remain “Ohana.”

Although we didn’t discuss my adoption or the facts and feelings surrounding it on this particular occasion, we discussed it enough in the past that I knew that I was never forgotten.  Although I was elsewhere, I was safe and loved.  I was never truly left behind.  Likewise, the family I grew up with remains my family.  I love them dearly, and although I don’t see many of them often, either, when we talk face to face, it’s like we are picking up where we left off a month or a decade ago.  Ohana means nobody gets forgotten.

Yesterday was a special day for adopted persons in Ohio.  For the first time, thousands of Ohioans who were adopted between 1964 and 1996 can apply to receive a copy of their original birth certificate and adoption files.  For over 400,000 of us, finding lost family is a viable possibility.

More than 400 people waited outside of the Bureau of Vital Statistics yesterday to apply in person to see where they came from.  My birth family and I have never petitioned the court for an order unsealing the records to confirm that we are “Ohana.”  I haven’t decided whether I will apply to open that record.  Having found Ohana, there is a fear that when opened, the family I lost and then found again might not be on that piece of paper.  I don’t think that’s the case, but it’s possible.

As was stated in the Disney Film, “Lilo and Stitch,” “Ohana means family.  Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.”  In my world, it doesn’t take blood to make you family.  It doesn’t take marriage.  Ohana, to me, are those people who are a part of me.  Ohana is stronger than friendship.  Family are the people who care about you even when you mess up.  They are the people who love you even when you say hurtful things or turn your back on them.  We may be separated from family for a time, but they are not left behind.  They are not forgotten.

As thousands of adoptees apply for their birth records, there will attempts to contact people separated for years – for decades.  Some of those people will have happy reunions.  Some will meet and be glad that they were able to fill in the blanks on their medical history forms.  Some will have doors slammed in their faces and phone calls ended abruptly.  I pray that those who don’t have a happy reunion will be able to cope with the fact that the rejection isn’t about them – it’s about facts and feelings over which they had no control.

My husband has finally figured out much of my complicated family tree.  I had to draw him a picture.  It’s okay.  My tree branches like crazy.  Some branches die off, and new ones grow.  The ones that aren’t with us leave a mark.  Nobody gets left behind or forgotten.

Ohana.

Serendipity – God’s appointments

I wanted to write this post yesterday, but I was having a “first world problem.”  I am writing this on a brand new (to me) computer that my oldest son configured for me right before he left the house without giving me the password.  He knows most of my “usual” passwords, and I thought I had tried them all.  I texted him, and I called him, and after no answer, I gave up and I enjoyed my evening.  This morning when he told me the actual password, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t tried it.  It was so obvious (knowing me).

I dubbed yesterday “self-care Saturday.”  The planned activities centered around taking care of myself. I planned time in my “zen den” drinking a pot of tea (check).  I planned coffee time with my dear husband (check). I planned a workout at the gym (check), I planned a haircut (nope) and the big daddy… I planned a 5-mile run.

It was far too beautiful to run indoors on the treadmill.  The high school stadium was in use all day and all evening, so that was out of the question.  I decided to run through the beautiful neighborhoods in my quaint home town.  Although I have lived here for 15 years, there is so much that I haven’t seen because I am a creature of habit.

I ran to my office where my husband was mowing the lawn and re-hydrated.  I ran through all of the roads in the Lagoons, and ran along the beach where my shoes promptly filled with sand.  I found a conveniently-located bench and removed my shoes to shake out the sand, sat to enjoy the view, and decided to run a neighborhood I had never explored.  I didn’t mean to spend 1.5 miles there, but I did, and after another run across the sand (and another stop at another bench to shake out the sand and enjoy the waves), I headed back for my office for more water (and a bag of jelly belly sport beans) and headed toward home.

Knowing I was later than I was expected home already, I called my husband and let him know where I was and what route I was taking home.  I’m not sure why I did that, because I usually like to plan my route on the fly depending on how I am feeling.  On my way back, I briefly thought about taking Exchange Street instead of Douglas Street like I had planned.  I kept running past Exchange, and as I turned South onto Decatur, a car pulled up to the stop sign, and the driver called out, “Excuse me, is your name Betty?”

I turned and answered “yes,” and proceeded to have a conversation with the driver, who knew me from this blog.  She’s a darling woman who has touched so many lives herself, and I was blessed with the opportunity to meet her face to face because I explored a new neighborhood, added 1.5 miles to my route, and followed the route I told my husband I would follow home.  Now that we have met, I hope to hear more of her story.

I was walking (jogging) on a cloud the next leg of the journey.  As I passed by the high school, I was flagged down by another person (this one on foot).  She said, “I have seen you all over town today, and I just have to meet you.”  She was looking for the 6th grade football game (it turns out she was in the wrong place for it).  We had a wonderful conversation for 5-10 minutes.  She told me about some of the obstacles she has had to overcome and I shared some of my story.  When we parted ways, I felt that I had made yet another new friend.

I reached home and my husband was hard at work cutting up a huge tree limb (actually bigger than many trees) that fell down a short while back.  I decided to blog about my experience, but it was not to be, so I spent some more time in my “fortress of peace,” my “zen den,” and fell asleep with a smile on my face.

I awoke to the sound of a high school marching band (the Festival of Bands was starting just a block away), and went out to tell dear husband that he didn’t have to cut the whole tree up in one day.  I persuaded him to join me in the hot tub to listen to the bands, and I told him about the wonderful day that I had, the chance meetings, the new friends, and the experience of serendipity that made it all so special.  If I had to define serendipity, I would deem it “a happy coincidence.”  When my life is moving in the right direction, though, it seems these happy coincidences happen with such frequency that they don’t seem coincidental at all.  I often end up learning valuable lessons from the people I meet when serendipity takes over.

In order for these meetings to happen, I had to deviate from my planned 5 mile run and run 7 miles.  I had to get sand in my shoes (twice) and take time to enjoy the beautiful beach (twice).  I had to run the direction that I had told my husband I would run instead of turning a block earlier like I decided I wanted to.

As I concluded the paragraph above, I received a beautiful message on Facebook from the woman I met on Douglas Street.  It seems that she would not normally have been there at that time, either.  She, too,  remarked on the serendipity of the moment.  She shared that a friend of hers calls these moments “God’s appointments.”  I think she is right. We were destined to meet, and I look forward to getting to know her.   Had I known the password to this machine and blogged this yesterday when I intended to, I would have done so without the benefit of knowing how truly serendipitous my meeting was yesterday.

This blog started out as a way to “just write what [I] know” because I truly enjoy writing.  The fact that even one other person has found it a blessing makes me truly grateful for the ability to write.  I’m off, now, to a local festival where I hope I will have the opportunity to listen when I am led, and to keep more of God’s appointments.  Serendipity is the word for today.

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