Thursday, September 30, 2010

Its a small world ...after all

Never fear, I am not going to repeat this phrase over and over again like some sort of annoying soundtrack that gets stuck in your brain. I was just struck again today how small the world really is and how connected our lives truly seem to be. Have you ever discovered that one of your Facebook friends is connected to another one of your friends from a different part of your life, your past, or from another part of the country? And they didn't meet through you. Now of course the world is not supposed to revolve around you, but how the heck does that happen?

Technology has certainly impacted this shrinking universe of ours and we are more aware than ever of the joys, tribulations and challenges of those separated from us, be it by geography or the distance of of socio-economic status. I was blown away to see the stats for this blog and find that it had been viewed (many times mind you) in the United States, Canada, Brazil, China, Latvia, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Russia and Denmark. I have never been to most of those countries - so how did we connect. If you are one of those people - leave a comment so I can meet you!

My up close and personal experience with a shrinking world came through the amazing arrival of my daughters into my life. Two babies living in orphanages in China become the light and love of my life and they could not be more my children than if I had given birth to them. I was profoundly and forever changed by this experience. Beyond the joys and lessons of motherhood, I learned that we as human beings are far more alike than different. In spite of differences in race, religion, country of origin, sexual orientation, culture- our human experience and spiritual essence connect us and create more similarities than we sometimes like to recognize. It is a fascinating experience to spend time in another country with a vastly different government system, culture, language and history.... and to have someone greet you with a warm smile, handshake, hug and genuine interest in who you might be. Folks who just want to take care of their families, make a living, foster friendships, be healthy, enjoy life and often help one another.

This transformative experience is why I feel so compelled to get involved with organizations like CARE and am concerned about international issues. It could be me or my daughters sold into sex slavery or not allowed to attend school or born into poverty in this country. Being born in fortunate circumstances doesn't mean we are better than others or get to turn a blind eye to the rest of the world. As my dear friend Cathy likes to say, "there but for one different chromosone go I."

There must be a reason for our shrinking world and perhaps it means we can't claim ignorance anymore. I am not some sort of unusually enlightened person - there are thousands of blended families - children or spouses of different races, religions, political beliefs or backgrounds. If we can combine families in the most intimate of ways, surely we can come together on other issues. In this wonderful country - we have an even more common experience. In amazes me that we can't see our common ground and have become so polarized by politics, race and religion. Disagreeing with a person's political beliefs does not mean it is OK to call them names, demonize them and get personal attacks. If we can cross international boundaries to connect, surely we can do it within our borders. The danger comes from resisting, becoming fearful and retreating into a bubble to avoid the unknown. Ironically that bubble (some call it the good old days) is pretty bland, colorless and dry when you think about it. Our lives are richer, fuller and more colorful when our experiences are more broad.

Think of the magnificent potential of a more connected, caring world. There are brilliant minds on opposite sides of the planet who can now work together and inspire one another. Maybe the skills and genius needed for the cure for cancer or AIDS is in school child in Pakistan or comes from a collaborative project of researchers in the US, China and Australia. Maybe all orphans could find a home. Maybe what appear to be the overwhelming problems of the planet and environment could be improved by combining the energies and efforts of many. Idealistic? Absolutely. Unrealistic...yes by current circumstances. But as the world gets smaller. perhaps just perhaps it could be a future possibility.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pure transforming love

I have watched in amazement as my girls settled into 2nd and 6th grade over the last few weeks. They are both doing incredibly well and I can't help but marvel at the transformation over the last few years in my youngest child.

When we brought Avery home from China 6 1/2 years ago she was an underweight, sick, incredibly shy, sad little one year old girl. My daughter cried for almost the entire two weeks we were in China -as anyone in my travel group will attest! As the days went by in China, she decided she would not cry when I held her or when she slept. The poor child had an ear infection, sore throat, intestinal parasites, and had been handed off to perfect strangers. Once we got some antibiotics into her system - she began to heal. I was incredibly blessed that she really just had typical childhood illnesses- very treatable, just easily spread in a crowded orphanage.

It was quite an interesting dynamic because adopting Lily was a completely different experience- when handed to me, she promptly peed on me, laughed at that, cried for about 10 minutes and then was content. Avery tells me now that she cried so much as a payback to me for taking so long to come to China and get her!

In addition to my girls having completely different personalities and temperments, their orphanage experiences varied dramatically. Lily was in a more rural setting- the only photos we saw of the orphanage were from a distance and it looked rather run down. Even though she may have missed material comforts; I could tell that Lily was loved and cared for while she was an infant. She was a chubby little baby and her caretaker nanny cried when she handed her over to me. Avery was in a crowded urban orphanage and I do not believe she had the one on one love and attention that Lily received.

So that became my purpose - love, love, love her, shower her with affection and stimulation and give her the attention, help (speech therapy has been remarkable) and care she needed. Over time and with lots of love, this child has blossomed, grown and transformed into an incredible little girl. She is affectionate, caring and loving. This is my child who covers me with hugs and kisses and tells me she loves me every day. She has grown confident, no longer clings to me and loves school. She has gone from being painfully shy to a child who makes friends easily and cares deeply for people, animals and all living things.. she is truly a remarkable soul. I can only imagine the good she will do in the world. Those who will have her in their lives will be lucky.

I certainly have been lucky to have her in mine. Both of my girls have given me more love than you can imagine. I am so blessed to have been the recipient of their pure, transforming love. They have changed me in more ways than I can list. In loving them, I have been transformed as well. I wish all the folks out there who are considering adoption would put aside their fears and realize what joy they are missing. There are always risks and challenges when deciding to become a parent through adoption or through biology. The love and joy far outweighs all else. If you feel there is a child waiting for you...go for it. The love will transform both of you.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Good-bye to the rut!

Time to get out of the rut! I think the balance between the comfort of routine and falling into a life-sucking rut is dicey. On the one hand, routine helps us get things accomplished in our lives, to work and school activities on time..etc. On the other hand, it can create a pattern of life, behavior and actions that make life sort of a numb, dull existence - in a word -BORING! Same route to work, same job, same meals, same workout routine, same Saturday night plans, same music, same TV shows. And then wondering why our lives don't change or improve. Reminds me of the defition of insanity- doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result.

I have seen interesting studies lately about how important new activities are to keeping the brain well wired. Changing things up, trying something different, developing new skills helps stave off depression, increase happiness and keep our relationships and lives fresh. It literally helps the brain function better.

I watch how my kids embrace life and new adventures - soccer for a while, then a switch to karate; Chinese dance then a switch to ballet; No more dance, now I want to try tennis; Chinese language- no I want to take Spanish; about guitar and piano. One the one hand, we want our kids to stick with something, but perhaps they are onto something. They are figuring out who they are and finding their passions. Plus they are engaged, inspired, learning and having...dare I say!
Yes, adults can and should have fun too!

As part of my 90 day life shake up, I am committed to trying and doing something different or new every day and well. This list contains both big and small options:

* take a different route to work
* change my hair -hmm auburn highlights?
* learn Spanish
* try new foods
* grow an herb garden
* learn to bake bread
* walk/run at a new park
* put aside crossword puzzles for sudoku(finally figure out how to do it)
* read a biography instead of a novel
* take an online class or workshop
* join that new gym opening up around the corner
* Re-arrange the furniture
* pay the toll of the person behind me on the highway
* paint

The list could go on and on, but I have things to do!