Thursday, December 22, 2011

Together Again

I have been very much a blogger slacker lately- with good reason. My children's book, "Together Again" has finally been published. The last six weeks have been a flurry of incredibly fun activity- selecting and working with an illustrator, selecting font types, cover art, reviewing book design. I am so excited and thrilled beyond words that it has come to life. The artist did an amazing job!.

The description and author bio from the book:

Have you ever felt as though you have known someone forever when you actually just met? Or felt a connection with your child or spouse that has an effortless, timeless quality? Together Again is the true story of such a soul connection between mother and daughter. Their story spans heaven and earth and thousands of miles as the two souls are reunited through the miracle of adoption. Their journey is spiritual as well as physical.

The story is told from the child's perspective: Do you remember where you lived before you were born? I do! I once live in heaven with my mommy and other people I love; then I was born in China. My mommy searched for me, found me across the ocean, and adopted me. From heaven to China to America ---we are together again!

Author, Laurie Stephens is a writer, dreamer, and a mom who loves laughter and this spiritual journey known as life. She works in the field of non-profit fundraising and marketing. Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Laurie currently resides in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, with her two incredible daughters.

To order go to

Friday, October 28, 2011

National Adoption Month

I wrote and posted this one year ago - but it holds true this November as well!

National Adoption Month
November is national adoption month, so I gathered some thoughts about adoption and asked my kids as well.

Ten Things to Know about Adoption- from an adoptive parent’s perspective

1. Adoption is a very personal decision that an individual or couple makes on how to build a family. Don’t automatically assume they have fertility issues or it is a “second-best choice.” It is a permanent, court approved loving decision and one way that parents and children come together. The choice to adopt domestically or internationally is based on many factors and we frequently just “know” our children are waiting for us.

2. Adoptive parents are not “saving” a child and/or looking for “gratitude” from our kids, particularly if the child has been adopted from a developing country. As any adoptive parent will tell you, we are the lucky ones to have these amazing kids in our lives. We will work hard to make sure that they have a full understanding and appreciation for their birth country and heritage.

3. If you are really interested in adoption, the costs and the process- most of us would be happy to discuss our experience or refer you to our adoption agency. We do not, however, want to have these conversations in front of our children. And we will probably not discuss our child’s or their birthparent’s personal history with you.

4. Yes, there are costs involved in adoption, but we do not buy our children. The costs are for attorney fees, travel, paperwork, medical care and orphanage support. Similar in fact to the costs associated with pregnancy and delivery- without the healthcare insurance.

5. We are our children’s “real parents” and they have “real brothers and sisters” in their families. Our children have birthparents who gave them life. We have the joy of raising them and are their parents.

6. It is important not to belittle birthparents. We often have no idea as to why the painful decision was made to place a child for adoption. Even when a child is officially abandoned without record, as often happens in China, there are numerous factors- poverty, government policy, family and cultural pressure that led to the decision.

7. The vast majority of adoptions are wonderful experiences. The media, however, will report on the rare occasions when it does not work out well and an adoption is interrupted. Yes, these are sad and heartbreaking stories and trust me, we have already heard them. Just as a pregnant woman does not want to hear about labor and delivery horror stories, an adoptive or prospective adoptive parent does not want these to be repeated time and time again. We work with our adoption agency and or counselor to prepare for problems that we could face.

8. My child was not “chosen” for adoption because he or she is special. That terminology puts an unnecessary pressure on a child to stay special or perfect. It is actually, the parent(s) that is selected and must live up to certain criteria to be matched with a child. It is our responsibility to make it work.

9. My child is not permanently damaged because he or she was adopted or spent time in foster care or an orphanage. Yes, problems can occur and there are many programs and therapies available to offer solutions to parents and children. However, I don’t assume every behavioral issue or act of misbehavior is because my child is adopted. We are vigilant in getting our kids the help they need – just as parents of biological kids deal with their kids issues. Studies show that the vast majority of adopted kids adjust well and become successful in life.

10. As fellow parents, please speak up when you see an adoption myth being perpetuated in the media or in conversation. Help us spread the word about adoption and help your kids understand that our families are very normal- we just built them in a different way.

Thoughts from my children about adoption

7 year old’s perspective

• Coolest thing about being adopted- “meeting my mom and dad”
• Why did your mommy adopt you – “we matched’
• What do you think about your birthparents in China- “they still love me but could not take care of me.”
• What do your friends ask you about being adopted from China – “why don’t you speak Chinese?”

11 year old’s perspective

• Coolest thing about being adopted –“it is cool to have an interesting background”
• “Don’t like it when people look at us strange or stare because you are white and we are Asian, I think most people who stare do not know what adoption really is all about.”
• Do you ever think about your birthparents and a loss with them not in your life-
“No, because with a loss comes a gain, I am curious, but do not get sad about it.”
• “What matters most is the scenario or family you get adopted into “
• What is more challenging to deal with- being adopted or a being Asian – “being Chinese – it is more noticeable”

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Circle of Friends

Maeve Binchy wrote a wonderful book a number of years ago called Circle of Friends. It was then made into an equally good movie starring Minnie Driver and Chris O'Donnell. Circle of friends- that phrase is stuck in my head today. I attended a reunion this weekend of the adoption travel group for my youngest daughter, Avery. We all traveled to China together 7 1/2 years ago to adopt the baby girls that became our precious daughters. Beyond being amazed at how these sweet girls have grown and blossomed, I was struck at how quickly they bonded and connected. We have not seen one another for many years and in one case- since the trip to China. But this group of 8 year-old girls were off playing, laughing, having "scream offs" and we had to drag them away from one another when it was time to go. I know that part of that is just being a kid- the "hey, let's play" mentality when you meet a new person that adults unfortunately forget and replace with judgement and wariness. But it was beyond that- they hugged and played as if they had known each other forever- which actually they have when you think about it.

The girls shared an orphanage and have common history, ethnicity and similiar stories. They actually have more in common than most of their classmates. I watched them in their "circle" and was reminded of the value of friendship. The parents are part of a circle as well, people who would probably never have met if it were not for this experience.

Think of the circles in our lives and how they change over the years, sometimes overlapping and sometimes fading over time. Common interests, shared experiences and stages of life all lead to the creation of our various circles of friends. Of course, there are the precious friends who you meet because of one experience and the connection is so strong that you stay in one another's lives forever. I have one friend who is living on other side of the world and I haven't seen her well over a year, but I still feel connected. We helped one another through some tough times and I will always treasure her friendship. I hope my daughters develop these friendships- some deep and lasting and some more circumstantial...they are all important.

You always here so much about the importance of family...and it is important. However, so are friendships. I think sometimes that we need to be reminded of the value of the people that we choose to add into our lives- our friends. These connections can bring us joy, support, laughter, compassion and fill our hearts much as family can many times.

Celebrate your circles of friends...or better yet- create a new one!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Spiritual lessons-your stories needed

Isn't it wonderful how sometimes one when area of your life seems to get on track- others fall in line as well? You become inspired to keep going, moving forward and to try new projects or pull an old dream off of the shelf and start again.

For me- I got an amazing new job and at the same time was able to move forward with my children's book - "Together Again" which will be published hopefully by the holidays. While working on revising the manuscript and explaining the concept to the illustrator, I was struck with how much more I need to write.

The book is about the adoption of a baby girl from China and the experiences that she and her mother have in finding one another again. Yes, I said again, because I am attempting to include some key spritual principles in the book- ideas that I am finding are radical to some folks. I believe that we are all connected at a soul/spiritual level, that we plan our lives with divine guidance before birth and that the people who surround us are here on purpose. In terms of adoption, this includes children, siblings, parents and birthparents-all connected in unique ways and all with a role to carry out, a purpose to serve and a lesson to learn or to teach. My book editor resisted a bit- wanting to remove the early references to being in heaven before we are born (she thinks it will be confusing to young children) and eliminating the birthmother from the story all together. I cannot do either as it would the essence and purpose of the whole book. Plus, I believe that young children actually have the purest and most open spiritual perspectives of all, many talk about being with God and often see angels. Of course, a birthparent must be included in any adoption story - they are part of our lives and not people to be demonized or ignored.

This will all be ironed out in editing. I will add some language that will make the concepts clearer for children but will not compromise my vision for the book. Can you imagine the hoopla that would have occurred if I had included reincarnation into the story? The conversations have helped me realize that I really must go forward with two other pieces of writing - a novel with a reincarnation theme to be titled "When Earth Turns Over Heaven" and a non-fiction book called "Spirit Connects Us All."

The non-fiction piece will be a compilation of real life stories of families that have come together in unique ways and reinforce the message that spiritual connections not biology are the true foundation for a family. There are some amazing adoption stories out there not to mention deep relationships with step parents and foster families. Some of the connections, twists of fate (like the woman who adopted from China twice, years apart from different orphanages and ended up raising daughters that she found out were full biological sisters- there HAS to be a divine hand in that) and paths that lead us together are fascinating. Do you know someone with a story to tell about how their family was built - put them in contact with me!

I will continue to edit my book without compromise and look for new ways to communicate that spirit really does connect us all!

Friday, August 12, 2011

A mother's cry.... all of us cry

I have watched the news reports of the famine and drought in Africa with horror, sadness and pure sobbing grief. 30,000 sons and daughters already buried and an estimated 600,000 total children may die before the end of the year if this crisis is not changed. Dying... of hunger. Dying... of diseases that are completely preventable or curable like whooping cough... I find it sadly ironic that we are battling obesity in the West and children are dying from hunger in Africa. How did our priorities on this planet get so incredibly out of whack??
The most heart wrenching story I saw on CNN was that of a mother in grief after burying her child. Her cries were universal and touching. That has taken place 30,000 times already in this crisis, 600,000 is totally unacceptable. Think about all of the kids in your town, city, state dying- that is the enormity of this situation.

Take a minute now to then factor in the number of adults who have and will also die and then add to the mix the atrocities being done to women in the midst of the tragedy - this is a time of unbelievable loss. The atrocities I refer to are the rape and gang rape of women refugees by soldiers or bandits. Imagine- you are starving, fleeing for your life across a desert with your children and it is not safe to gather water or find a place to use the bathroom or you could be abducted and brutally violated- some women reporting attacks by gangs of men that last hours.

Perhaps the death and sadness are just too overwhelming for people to watch or to care about. Imagine for a minute if this situation were happening in our country-it would be the top news story every night, people would be outraged. The childish antics of our elected officials would pale in comparison to these events in terms of news coverage. I am not naive. I understand that this is a poor and misundertsood part of the world. I understand that there are political issues, corruption and religious and racial differences in Kenya, Somalia and Ethopia. But children are STARVING. That one simple fact should cause any human being with a heart or conscience to stand up and demand action. And yes, they aren't in OUR country- so what? They are people- children, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and grandparents with a heart and soul just like ours. That mother's cry could be our own expect for geography. The human race is all connected- through energy, physics and spirit. What are the ramifications to those of us outside of this tragedy if we sit by and do nothing?

There is so much brilliance, talent and drive among human beings across the globe. We have collectively created an international space station, cured diseases and designed super computers and new technology. We can develop Viagra and the space shuttle...but can't figure out how to navigate political and logistical problems to get food and water to a starving baby? Someone help me understand this.

What can we do? It does seem overwhelming and easier to bury your head in the sand. But it isn't. Do what you can:
* get educated and learn what is going on
* share this horror story with others
* make your kids aware- perhaps their generation will do a better job one day
* make a donation (10 dollars can feed a child for 10 days) by checking out the reputable charities listed on CNN
* if you are spiritual- say a prayer
* call, email or write your legislators and make sure they are informed and active (about time they did something of value)
* remember how incredibly blessed and lucky you are

A mother is crying. Can you hear her? I can't get her voice out of my head.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Pace of Change

Exciting things are happening in my life right now! A big one involves an exciting major change -a new job. After nearly 25 years at my current company, I am moving on to a new role with a wonderful organization. Interesting how change, and time for that matter, seem to have different paces at different stages of your life. During the job search, it seemed to take forever as I interviewed with company after company, and watched colleagues move onto different opportunities. Now I can hardly believe that in a week, I will be the one moving on.

It is fascinating how you can long for things - new jobs, relationships, children, publishing a book and it seems to take forever to happen. Then when it does, you can hardly believe it is there already. I remember waiting for the adoption referrals for my daughters. Those months and months seem to drag on- now my daughters are growing up way too fast for my taste. Where did the time go?

Is time relative after all? Vacations fly by yet time in the dentist's chair sure doesn't seem to. I believe the change we seek and the time it takes to happen is a product of far more than our effort. There is a divine hand at play making sure the circumstances are right and that we are ready, really ready, for the changes to happen. When you think about it, the year job search I conducted is really only a speck of time against the backdrop of the universe and history.

When I looked at my reinvention journey a little while back it seemed to have stalled, now I realize a ton of changes have and are still happening in my life. New job, I am in a relationship, have made some incredible new friends and I am on the edge of publishing my children's book. I still have a lot to accomplish. With 48 looming in a few weeks, I really want to get my healthy eating and exercise habits back on track so the next year can be the healthiest yet. I am still working on spiritual growth- that is a continual process.

So if you are trying to reinvent yourself and seeking changes in your life, it is alright if it takes awhile and try to enjoy the journey...the future will be here before you know it!

My favorite new quote from the Dalai Lama sums it up:

Asked what surprised him most about humanity, The Dalai Lama answered, "Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. Then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Ah parenthood! The stuff of stories, songs, legend and one of the funniest movies ever made starring Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen. I see myself and my friends struggle, laugh, cry, become filled alternately wtih joy and concern and ultimatly triumph at this most holy of jobs - being a Mom or Dad. It is truly the most amazing and wonderful aspect of my life. I can't imagine my life without motherhood.

We all do it differently. Our relationships with our kids are unique because we are unique and so are they. Even children raised by the same parents have a different experience than their siblings. They have different memories, perspectives, scars and connections. Birth order, personality and varying parenting styles and circumstances create a unique experience for each member of the family. I have seen one sibling not understand why another holds certain hurts or grudges against a parent- they had a different relationship and needed different levels of nurturing, affection and/or discipline than another did. One size does not fit all.

I have come to realize that being a good parent does not mean that everything has to be "equal or fair." The trick is to do your best to meet the needs of your kids as individuals. Heaven knows I am far from mastering this balance, but I am trying. I do believe that all kids do need love and acceptance for their unique natures. How mamy times have you seen parents trying to put kids in a mold or have a plan for them that mirrors their own dreams or the successes of an older sibling. I have seen other amazing parents who have seemed to master this mystery of parenting idividually.

The parenthood experience gives you a new appreciation for your own mother and father. Whether married, divorced or single, gentle or tough, strong or addicted and troubled- our parents did the best that they could with what they had. As Maya Angelou says "when you know better, you do better." Sure, there are selfish, unskilled and unloving parents out there - check out the awful court trials in the news. Usually these folks are in extreme pain themselves. And not every person should or was meant to parent. But for every troubled parent, there is someone longing to become a mother or a father.

And yes, our parents made mistakes. We are also making them with our children. At some point, you realize that our parents were people too, not superhumans, and that their mistakes or parenting errors were not deliberate attempts to screw us up. They were simply learning how to raise a child and following the models and patterns of their parents and the times in which they lived. That discovery of our own parents' vulnerability helps make out own journey easier. And the knowledge that you can parent your own way, in the style that works for you and your children is liberating. It is the essence of "when you know better, you do better."

All parents out there - pat yourselves on the back and be not afraid!! And remember, some day your kids might be on this miraculous path themselves and ask you for some parenting advice!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The writing fever is back

The writing fever is back! One of the purposes of this blog is to put some structure and yes even discipline around writing. Having a blog to write pushes me to put these crazy plans, thoughts, inspirations and observations down in written form.

I am absolutely amazed that people in over thirty countries around the world have read this blog. Recently, folks from Iran, the Netherlands, Denmark and Nigeria have become readers. That is truly astonishing to me! They found this blog through google and other searches. The power of the internet to connect people with common ideas, viewpoints or challenges is wonderful. It reminds me, once again, how connected we are as human beings in spite of nationality, culture or circumstance. In my opinion, we are connected beyond our common humanity.

We are connected because we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Our souls, spirits, energy, essence - use the word that best describes your beliefs, are all connected. And that connection transcends biology, race, gender, geography and even lifetimes. The idea that our energy is all connected fascinates me and explains so much about human behavior and what brings us peace and contentment and dare I say it happiness.

I realize that all of my writing projects currently on paper or in my brain, including a children's picture book, magazine articles, non-fiction book and a novel all have this theme at their core. Interestingly enough, when I am writing or working with this theme in mind "Spirit Connects Us All", the words flow and things fall into place. The stories need to be told and it just might be my place to tell them.

Glad the writing fever is back!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all of my friends, family and readers of this blog whom I have never met! This is a day to celebrate all the moms who carry life, give birth, adopt a child, step-parent, foster parent and mentor. A salute to those who love a child, guide a child and share their very heart and soul.

Becoming a mother is such a profound, life changing experience that it is almost impossible to describe to someone who has not heard the words.."MOM- where is my backpack?, MOM, can we go shopping.., "Mommy, I love you." My daughters fill my heart with such joy and light that I can't really even remember, or maybe I don't want to remember life without them. I remain convinced that we have been together in previous lives. Yes, I believe in reincarnation and this dance of life that we experience together is one of a number of times we have laughed, loved and learned as a family. We are connected on levels that are far deeper than biology or environment- our very souls are linked.

While the journey to become a mother to my daughters feels magical, an act of destiny and full of love, I am reminded on days like today that there is sadness beneath the joy. There are two women in China who weren't able to keep and raise their baby daughters. They took their infants to public places, wrapped them in blankets and left them for authorities to find. Those sweet babies where taken to orphanges and then made their way into my arms as my own daughters through adoption. I have no judgement here- the pressure on women to give birth to sons, the one couple/one child policy in China, poverty and a patriarchal society is an intense combination. I can't imagine the pain and sorrow that the birthmothers felt and probably still do. Their loss became my joy.

My heart breaks for these women- my daughters' birthmothers. I wish we knew them. I have to believe that somehow they know that those babies are now beautiful girls who are beloved and treasured. I take some spiritual comfort in the fact that I believe that I am connected to these women as well. This tangle of emotions and connection that wrapped our lives together was deliberate and meant to provide us all with lessons and purpose.

So on this special day, I celebrate all the wonderful moms across the world. Mothers are powerful in ways that can truly change history. The love we feel for our children spans generations, distance, race, boundaries and lifetimes.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wired to care.

I had a fascinating conversation this week with a colleague in the non-profit world about what drives us as human beings to help, volunteer, donate and reach out to others.

At times the need seems so deep - genocide, crimes against humanity, gender violence around the world, preventing child abuse and sexual trafficking, helping sick kids, clean water, ending poverty, fighting disease, promoting health, disaster relief, feeding the hungry, concern for animals, saving the planet.... The list of causes and needs could go on and on. Sometimes this list grows so long in our consciousness that it is overwhelming.

I believe human beings are good by nature and that a caring, compassionate spirit is inside the real us - although it can often be buried under a hardend facade or a cynical exterior. It never ceases to amaze me how we humans rise up and help another in need. Often I wonder, though, if folks just get saturated with sorrow and tune out the images, the news reports and the appeals for help. We ask oursleves, why should I care about something happening on another continent? Or there is no point - my contribution or time will just be a drop in the bucket so I am going to hide away from the pain. .

Then something happens- a tornado, earthquake, diagnosis, a photo of a starving child whose eyes haunt us or perhaps a news story on genocide in Darfur and the enormity of the loss of life strikes us. Of course we care, even if it happens across the globe. Why, because we see ourselves in another's eyss. There except for one strand of DNA or a twist of fate and that could be us. Sometimes I wonder if it is God's way of reminding us to be grateful for our own lives. I read a great quote the other day from a woman who was sharing the great advice her mother had given her - she said if you are depressed or sad go out and do somthing for someone else, it will put your problems in perspective.

On a deeper level, I think that at some point of our core we remember in these moments that we are all connected - at a soul level, at a cellular level and through our shared energy. Science is now proving this energetic connection between life. There is an amazing new documentary out called "I Am" which really demonstrates that physics prove that fundamental connection between us and that we are wired to care for one another. Compassion and cooperation are part of our DNA. I have just read about the film but can't wait to see it. I too believe that we are wired to care. The need seems overwhelming, but is it really? If all of us tapped into this wired reality of our hearts and spirits, couldn't we collectively make a huge dent in this pile of need?

That "wiring" is why we keep giving, volunteering, helping our neighbors and supporting causes that touch our hearts. It is also probably why is feels so good to help another person, be generous or to do he right thing - we are acting on our true nature, honoring our connections and that brings us joy. Think about it, have you ever met a happy person who also happens to be selfish, mean or uncaring - instead, they are miserable. Isn't it wonderful to know we are wired to care?

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I follow up my recent blogpost about helping our girls keep their voice with something I think is quite extraordinary. My 12 year old daughter wrote a poem for her Language Arts class. In addition to the beauty of the words, I was impressed and actually rather in awe of her strength and confidence. I believe that she may indeed have her voice and I have a deep belief she will not lose it.

After much discussion, she agreed to allow me to post her work. She amazes me..

Taking Chances Lily Stephens 4/20/11

don’t sit around
for life
to find You

grasp it
in the palm of Your hands

let it shine
let Your dreams
become Your reality

its like a dare
You have two roads
to walk…

the easy-going,
obvious choice:
NO I can’t

with Your eyes beaming
You can walk
that plank
into the unknown realm
of YES I can

don’t let fear
Your courage

feel the wind
as You jump
out of the plane

let Your heart
skip a beat
as You finally
ride that ride

You are You
and only You
have the power
to what You become

so go ahead.
say NO
don’t climb that mountain
sit in the shadows
of Your dreams

live life
create the climax to Your story.
Take Chances.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Helping our daughters keep their voice

Speak and stand in your truth. To thine own self be true. Follow your bliss. Be yourself. How many times have we heard and read these bits of wisdom? Follow your instincts. Know your worth. These nuggets of truth really do offer a road to happiness and peace, but are certainly harder to live by than it may appear on the surface.

The past weekent, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a fundraising event for G-CAPP (Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention) and the focal message of the evening was to help our girls - our daughters, nieces, granddaughters, sisters- find and keep their truth, voice and their spirit as they experience the tumultuous time of change that is adolescence. The special guests- Jane Fonda and Gabby Sibide told their stories of finding, keeping, sometimes losing and then re-discovering that very essential strength of sense many years later- often in mid-life.

Our girls seem to lose that sense of fearlessness and confidence that marks early girlhood. I have written of this before- about how these tigers (or I guess tigresses) of girlhood are strong, smart, confident, funny, like to get dirty, play sports, dream BIG and excel at school. If you have any doubt, observe a gaggle of 7-11 year old girls at play or as I have in large numbers at a slumber party! Unfortunately, they often lose a little of that luster when hormones, pressure, competition for male attention and societal mores that they be "good girls" but also sexy girls, not make a scene, not outshine the boys and by all means fit in that begins to kick in with puberty.

So how do we help them keep that strength, that voice and confidence? I don't think there are any easy answers. But here is a bit of what I have picked up and will do my best to try and do as a mom: let them discover who and what they are - without pushing them in the direction of your choice, create at haven at home where she can be her true essential self, try to remember what it feels like to be 12, 13, 14 and be discovering who you are while making mistakes along the way, listen without judgement and talk even if it doesn't seem as though she is listening.

The other aha moment from the evening was really a reminder- you can't expect your daughter to keep her voice, stand up for herself and know her worth - if you don't know yours. That may actually be the most powerful tool of all in this quest. Do I stay true to me, pursue my dreams with abandon, require respect from those in my life and love myself no matter what?

In spite of all the history, the statistics and concerns - I do have great hope for this generation of girls.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Karma, what an interesting topic! It is not just the doctrine of eastern religions but a universal law - you reap what you sow, like attracts like, you give what you get, every action has a reaction. Some folks even believe that what returns to your life is actually three times what you dish out. So if you treat people poorly, cheat, or are deliberately unkind, you will get back consequences threefold. On a positive note, if you strive to be kind, reach out to others to help and act with integrity, the natural and divine law says the same will return to you in kind.

So what does this have to do with my reinvention journey? I made a conscious decision a number of years ago to better educate myself about the laws of karma and this has impacted how I deal with situations in my life. I strive to be as kind and generous as possible with my time, attention, love and material resources. Do I always meet that goal, heck no- but it is a goal and I work toward it.

The wonderful as well as frustrating thing about this concept is that laws like this have their own timeframe (not our emotionally driven schedule) and are universal. So you do not have to try and "make it happen." If someone does something awful to you, taking revenge is not the answer. Perhaps that is one reason that forgiveness is so important. The person will receive their due, it just may not come from you and you may not be there to see it. This is of course, much easier to say than to do.

There has been one time in my life in particular when I was so hurt that I really, really, really, really wanted to respond in kind and take revenge. I am not talking about self-defense- in my opinion, we have the right to do that. I mean revenge - to find a way to hurt the person who so hurt you. I restrained myself from going there and had a good friend who reminded me that "hurt people, hurt people." I am so glad that I remembered the lesson of karma during that time of pain. Now, many years later I have a broader perspective and have been able to retain relationships that would have been damaged with revenge. I was able to get through the experience with dignity and grace and I have some blessings in my life because of it. And when karma finally did catch up with the person involved, I didn't take any pleasure from it, it just made me sad.

Nobody goes through life jolly, happy and wearing rose colored glasses all the time. And sometimes it is hard to envision how all of this works when bad things happen to good people. But we are not privy to their lessons or their agreements with God or other people. I have to be honest and admit that I still struggle with the karmic meaning behind situations when children are hurt.

The whole idea of karma is on my mind this week because I have seen such wonderful things happen to two dear friends of mine. Friends who have endured some tough times and stayed loving, honest, kind and compassionate through their challenges. I can rejoice with them.

I have realized as well, that this universal law of action, sowing and reaping is sometimes hard to recognize because it doesn't always show up as we expect- we are not provided a balance sheet that says you do X and you get Y. Here is an example, I was talking to my daughters a few years ago about the importance of helping other people out when they need it. I have had the good fortune of being able to open my home as a place to stay on occasion when family and friends have needed a fresh start. My daughter said, "mom you must like helping people and maybe we (she and her sister) are your karma reward for helping them." Um, I think she could be more than a little correct. I tell that story NOT to pat myself on the back by any means but to demonstrate the intricate nature of all of this.

So when it gets tough and people around you seem to be getting ahead or gaining at your expense or the cost of another, remember there is much more here than meets the eye and as long as we stay focused on ourselves and our actions, the law of karma will take care of the rest.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Know your worth!

I have been helping a friend this week as she goes through the interview and negotitation process in her job search. Our conversations have reminded me once again that we often sell ourselves short and while we may at some level know our value and worth, we don't always express it to others and demand our due. Is it because we are women? Are we somehow taught that we are worth less, especially in the workplace? Shouldn't we just be grateful and quiet for what we have - unsatisfying relationships (at least you have one,) underpaid job, entry-level offer when our skills are worth so much more. Heck no, we shouldn't settle! I think we can learn a big, no a huge lesson from our male brethren on this one.

A guy will ask for a higher salary, will walk away from a poor offer, won't let someone take credit for or steal his idea, he will go for the CEO job, will expect he can get the woman of his dreams....somehow just assuming "of course I am worth it." And he is- and so are we. I wish I could put my finger on why we do this submissive dance and seem to feel that we need to take what we can get. So if you are doubting yourself in any area of your life- YOU are worth it. You are worth a partner who treats you well and with respect, you are worth success, you are worth equal pay, you are worth that top job, you are worth it all!

Ironically, the company would not raise the offer for my friend, but the recruiter said. "You did the right thing in refusing to settle for this pay, I have another position coming up that pays better and is more suited to your qualifications."

Here is my all time favorite quote from Marianne Williamson that sums it up beautifully:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Go for it and rock on!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Borrowing my children from the future

What a gorgeous morning for the first day of Spring! The wind is brisk and fresh with a hint of the warmth and heat that is coming for the day. There is nothing so refreshing to me than a full breeze. The sky is cloudy yet not menacing, as if to say while it may shower, it will not storm today. It is the kind of day that does what the first day of spring is supposed to do- bring you feelings of hope for the future and gratitude for what you have in your life.

Perhaps it is the beauty of this day or maybe the tragedies happening in Japan and Libya but it is certainly a time of gratitude for me. Of course, gratitude for me always means looking to my daughters and their appearance and place in my life. I marvel, as usual, at how I could have gotten so lucky. Two baby girls living in different orphanages thousands of miles away in China each needing a mommy, a family. Me, back in the US wanting to become a mother...searching for her daughter(s.) And we all come together. Seems like something pretty miraculous to look on with gratitude.

Now as they grow, I marvel even more. It is pretty amazing to watch your little girls become young women. My oldest seems to be maturing at warp speed, I often shake my head and think, hold on now, I want to freeze time for a bit, don't grow up so fast. It seems as though they are little girls one minute and then all of a sudden, within a year or a few months they are no longer so young. I realize that I am lucky to be a small part of that transformation.

I am reminded of an old quote about how your children don't really "belong" to you you- they belong to themselves, you just borrow them for a little while... you host them for the future. I realize that in what will seem like a blink of an eye, they will be grown, off to college and their own lives. Yikes - that is going to bring a kind of bittersweet sorrow to me that I can only just imagine at this point. I will need to remember in those moments that I just borrowed them for a while.

As I am sure, all my fellow parents will attest, that bittersweet sorrow is all worth it. The joy, gladness in my heart, laughter and fullness that being a mom brings is worth any sadness, frustration and eyerolls/sighing that a pre-teen can dish out. It is easier when you realize that in growing up, they are going to begin distancing from you, separating into themselves- and that means that you have done your job.

For today, however, I am going to revel in being a mommy. I am going to remind them just how much I love them. I am going to pretend they are mine for today..let tomorrow get here when it comes.

What are you grateful for today?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Devastation in Japan...a global cosmic reminder

Like everyone else with connection to the outside world, I have been watching the reports of the devastating eathquake and tsunami in Japan. Incredibly sad footage and news coverage with a death toll that is mounting daily as villages are reached and appear to have literally been washed away. As always, when a tragedy like this strikes, people from around the globe rise up and lend a hand -donations of money, time, resources flow in to aid those who have been impacted. The wrath of Mother Nature seems to call us to action, be it a tsunami, earthquake, hurricane, tornado, drought - the human spirit responds to the resulting pain in a powerful way.

For a while, we forget our self-imposed separateness and we can imagine ourselves in that situtation. A crying child being held by rescuers, for example, seems to resonate for all - no matter if that child is in New Orleans, Africa, Haiti, Indonesia or Japan. For a while we remember that we are ALL connected despite boundaries both real and imagined. We remember that pain, loss and grief are universal and felt as deeply here at home as they are on the other side of the world. We remember compassion and are reminded that it could just as easily be us or one of our family members lost to the unforgiving tide. As one of my friends likes to say - "there but by a chromosone and a twist of fate go I."

This tragedy struck me as even more deep than most in reminding us of this lesson. The tsnumai did its damage in Japan and then moved into other targets - different countries, different continents sharing the same threat and fear. The risk of nuclear meltdown in Japan surely had huge consequences beyond the country's borders.

My pollyanna attitude is going to come out now, but why do we forget about this unity and connectedness once the initial horror fades? Wouldn't it be amazing if we could marshall this sense of connectedness and common purpose on a regular basis to deal with shared problems across the globe. How many times do we need to see a devastating weather related disaster before we collectively say "crap, we need to get our collective act together and stop mistreating the planet." And how many children in this country and across the globe need to go to bed hungry or die of starvation and malnutrition before we decide that it is unacceptable. Really, in 2011 with all the the technology, advancements, and brilliance in the world should a child be dying of hunger? Or should a woman be dying of cervical cancer anywhere when it is preventable?

Obviously, we get caught up in our own life, problems and challenges, I am by no means diminishing those - I have a few big ones if my own right now. And then, the earth splits, the ocean roars, the winds spin out of control, rain is non-existent and we take notice.. a fellow human being needs help. I am an eternal optimist who believes in the innate goodness of the human spirit. These tragic moments give me hope that we do remember..somewhere buried deep, the unity of our souls, the interconnected nature of our existence.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Feminist - why does the word get a bad rap?

It is International Women's Day, a time to recognize the accomplishments of women in history and highlight the issues that remain for females around the world. We tend to sometimes think only of our own experiences and assume that the cause for gender equality is no longer necessary. Remember, it was not that long ago when women could not buy a home or even get a credit card without a husband and his approval (yikes, makes my skin crawl just typing this.) The future for my daughters is much more open than in the past and they will have so many more choices about how to create their lives than their grandmothers and great-grandmothers were given. And my daughters and I have all of the women who went before us to thank for those choices. As a mother, I say thank you to every woman and man who fought for our right to vote, own property, attend college, the list goes on....

However, lets take a look at issues that still exist here and around the world that impact the status of women:

* Lack of gender balance among those in political power - even though women make up at least half of the population. Take a look at a photo of Congress and watch an interview or two during election season with someone who "just couldn't vote for a woman"... enough said.

* In spite of the phrase "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, the role of a wife and mother is seen as a secondary, lesser purpose. Stay at home moms are still viewed as not having a "real job."

* Women (and children) make up a disproportionate number of those living in poverty around the world.

* Instead of teaching our daughters to honor and OWN their sexuality and that it is a gift belonging to them we are teaching them that it should be fostered, packaged for others and given away. We are sexualizing girls at even younger ages instead of teaching them that their brains, talents and personality should be their focus.

* Cultures and religious traditions that consider women second class citizens and not as worthy as their male counterparts. It is easy to jump out side the USA for these examples, but lets look close to home also.

* The international sex trafficking trade- very young girls (and boys) kidnapped or sold into the sex trade. Innocence and a life destroyed. I guess we have gotten immume to horror because I still can't figure out why decent people around the world, governments around the globe, the UN, and every parent out there hasn't risen up and demanded an end to this crime.

* Rape as an act of war. Go ahead and google mass rape in the Congo and see what innocent women and children are experiencing right now as you are reading this blog.

Imagine your daughter, sister, mother in these very real circumstances that exist around the world:

* Girls are not allowed to attend school (read Three Cups of Tea or Reading Lolita in Tehran for real life searing examples.)

* Women cannot cannot divorce (but their husbands can drop them in a heartbeat.)

* Women can't drive a car

* Women can't own property

* Women are viewed as property to be bartered.

* Women can't seek preventive medical care because a man may see their body.

* A girl baby is born but her birth and life are not celebrated because she is not a boy. She may be abandoned.

* A girl has no right to say no so she is married against her will at a young age to an older man.

How does the word feminist fit into this blogpost? Somewhere along the way, the word feminist became a bad word. Women and men are afraid to call themselves one. A feminist is simply a person, man or woman, who cares about any of the issues highlighted above. A feminist is not a man-hating, bra burning scary woman, but a person who feels that women and men are equal and should have the same basic opportunity to shape their lives. Feminism is not about taking from men but about partnering with men for equality for all. What is so scary about that?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The urge to purge!

Yes, the urge to purge (no not in an eating disorder, Black Swan kind of way) but in a real term "stuff" kind of way. Purging stuff - both literally in terms of junk, clutter, old clothes as well as outdated ways of thinking, attitudes and habits can make you feel lighter, fresher and renewed.

It is almost time for spring cleaning where I live and our recent early warm weather has pushed my purging drive into overtime. As my neighbors will attest, I get a dumpster once a year or so and get rid of junk - they often add their own junk as well. It seems as though in spite of my best efforts I accumulate extra stuff - water stained junk in the basement, old rugs, toys we don't use, holiday items, furniture, clothes. Of course, we give as much as possible to charity but there still seems to be stuff to get rid of, hence the dumpster. It is time!

I think spring cleaning is a very healthy exercise, both in terms of reducing clutter but also to clear out the mind and psyche. Not to get too "woo-woo" here but there is something real in the ancient Chinese theory of chi and energy flow- sometime you have to make room in your home and your life for the energy, ideas and air to flow. Breathing room...

The physical helps release the emotional, psychological and spiritual as well. Stuff from the past has energy, often negative or sad and memories are attached to it and tossing it can lighten the load. That is why you often hear of folks buying a new bed after a divorce. The act of cleaning, sorting, organizing, donating and tossing can be almost zenlike for me and gets me thinking about what else I need to remove from my life- any remaining baggage, old hurts, resentments or disappointments, habits I would like to change or even relationships that no longer are positive and support my growth. Ironically enough, deciding to let the past go really does work- making a decison, releasing it and then changing your thoughts impacts your mood, emotions and life.

I am working on reinvention, changing some key parts of my life and letting things and stuff go is a necessary part of the process. So it is time to clear, clean out and create. Look out neighbors- the dumpster is coming soon!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Race, socio-economic status and schools..oh my

Of all of the topics I have blogged about - this is probably going to be the post that makes the most people upset with me, heck I may even lose a few friends over this opinion. But I need to express it, one of the my goals is to live an authentic life and be true to my beliefs.

Once again, my neighborhood, county and city are in an uproar about school redistricting. A new high school has been built and needs to be filled, the theory is that it will relieve overcrowding. The school is in a wealthy, primarily white area of my community. The trickle down impact, of course, is some kids currently attending other high schools will change schools and the feeder middle schools and possibly even elementary schools will be impacted. Nobody likes change, especially when it impacts their kids.

One of the outcomes of these changes could be the movement of some of our community's kids who live in apartment housing and are mostly hispanic to other schools. A few years ago, the same process took place for our elementary schools and all hell broke loose as parents in all the area schools fought to prevent this from happening. One of the main reasons for the issue is that we have one elementary school in our area that is 90% hispanic. Any guesses as to why that is? When boundaries were formed- parents once again fought to make sure that those kids did not get sent to their children's schools, so a funky school map was drawn and a majority of these kids were grouped together. Guess what -those kids need to go to middle school and high school also.

One of the current fights/plans is to take some of the single family/majority white neighborhoods out of our high school district and move them over to another school- also and white and wealthier...hmmm. I live in one of those neighborhoods. What I am observing from the fracas, emails and conversations is very interesting. One email stated that we do not want the kids from "transitory housing" to be redistricted to our school or to "lose kids from the nice, single family homes to be sent somewhere else." What does that really mean? In this case it means kids in apartments, poorer families, kids with single moms and those who are hispanic. Another email said the real problem is the blight of "apartment housing" on one of the main roads in our community. Guess what, not everyone can afford a house, particularly in these tough economic times. Heck, a lot of us, including me, are one paycheck from living in an apartment. For many, living in an apartment makes financial sense- they don't want to mortgaged up to their eyeballs, might be single parents starting over, have dealt with job changes, just moved here or don't want to deal with home ownership at this point in their lives. Surely the kids in apartments are no less valuable? Should we move all of the apartment kids together and create a school for them??? Oh wait a minute..Jim Crow laws were abolished a few years ago. And here is a crazy thought - what if those kids whom we do not value for our schools are brilliant, have great potential, include the next violin first chair, football star, valedictorian?

I am located between two elementary schools - one is 95% white, one (the school my kids attend(ed), thank God) is very diverse. Why? During redistricting one year, the parents fought to keep it that way. During the last battle, one parent at the other school even said, "your school already has a lot of hispanic kids and you have the ESOL programs, you should take them." What are they afraid of?? And it is not a matter of geography because both schools are of the same distance to where the majority of the hispanic community live. The maps for our school districts are quite interesting and seem to be drawn without much logic and to keep some kids in and some kids out.

What the heck is wrong with a school that has a mix of kids - all socio-economic backgrounds, races, cultures, religions and academic ability? Why don't all the schools share in teaching the kids who may be in a minority or have fewer resources? I appreciate that it puts a burden on the school - more ESOL teachers, special classes- so why not share that effort?

Why this need to create lily white, wealthy bubbles to isolate our kids from anyone who is different? The implication of course is that these kids are somehow not as good as other kids, as valuable as students, deserve a lesser education and fewer resources. It is racism in disguise, the white flight of 2011. Maybe it is "class-ism" as much as racism, amount of money in your pocket or home value matter most. We would not even be facing the current problem of balancing our schools and the needs of some kids if we had created an equitable and reasonable map for our schools to begin with - but fear and racism prevented that from happening years ago.

But, Laurie, I will hear, you are being idealistic, those kids drive down our test scores and our home values and there is less parental involvement. Psst - your home value is already in the tank and this wouldn't make an impact if the resources and needs were addressed in multiple schools - but some parents will not let that happen. The biggest losers in this entire battle are the kids. All of them - including the ones in those lily white, resourced, wealthy schools. Why? Because life and the world are not white and wealthy. What happens when those kids go to college and/or get in the working world? The bubble will burst- big time. We live in a global economy and a diverse country.

One of the most important purposes of school is to prepare kids for life. It is more important than test scores. Learning to get along with, share a table with and working with kids who are unlike you - richer or poorer, of different religions, races, cultures and ability. The ability to do that will help you succeed in life. One of the purposes of all of those group projects is so that our kids learn how to work as a team and that everyone will have different things to contribute (just like real life work projects.) Sheltering our kids from reality prevents that from happening. School as a microcosm of our world is a very good thing. So why wouldn't the parents be fighting for diversity in the student body not against it? It is actually good for their kids and their school experience.

I, for one, hope that we are not redistricted out of our diverse schools. I love the fact that my Asian daughters have friends and classmates who are white, Asian, hispanic, black, Christian, Jewish and Muslim.

This will be an interesting process...wonder what our kids will learn from watching.

Monday, January 31, 2011

If Money Were Not a Factor

So what would you do with your life is money were no object, if it or rather the lack of it was not a barrier or factor in your decision? Just imagine the possibilities for a few minutes. This is not necessarily the "what would you do if you won the lottery question"- but instead an exercise to help figure out your true life dreams. If money wasn't in the way...would you change careers, go back to school, travel more, pursue a dream...

I found this to be a fascinating process. It would be lovely if the money issues disappeared in the process, but of course they don't. Are you intrigued by the idea of being a kindergarten teacher but the salary doesn't work for you? Maybe there is a career working with or for children that fits you. Perhaps volunteering to teach a class at a community center or church would bring you more happiness.

This exercise helps you figure out what brings you joy and creates passion. And once you identify those passions, I do believe that while money concerns don't evaporate, once you get on track with your true life path, things seeme to line up behind you to help make it happen. There are many stories of people who have changed their lives completely, reinvented themselves and found their path and therefore joy even when the odds looked stacked against them.

So if money was not seen as a barrier for me...

* I would pursue a Master's Degree in Counseling, Education related field, Women's Studies.. or maybe them all.

* I would build a career/life coaching business- allowing me to counsel, train, faciliate, write and teach for a living.

* I would write, write, write and self publish my books and novel if need be.

* I would adopt again from an orphanage or be a foster parent.

* I would travel and show my girls the world.

Of course, step two in this exercise if the tough one. Being honest enough with yourself to clarify if lack of financial resources is really the reason why you are not on your true life path. Which of your dreams could you actually be making happen right now. I have a lot to think about.

What would you do if money were not an object?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ten Friends Every Woman Should Have

Friends! I think that having a circle of friends in your life is important, not just important but a key driver to happiness. I had a fairly tough week and once again two of my friends in particular pulled me out of the quagmire - one with gentle reassurance and an I love you and one with a tougher talk - knock it off, make a change and get it in gear. Both were messages I needed to hear at the time.

Even when in a relationship or marriage, friends are as important as air to breathe for women. It may be the same for men but not being one, I will leave that post to a male writer. Friends fill a variety of roles- playmate, confidant, advisor, companion and sister. They will laugh with you, cry with you, celebrate your joys, hold your hand, drag you through hell and back, stand by your side no matter what and they understand. They understand what it feels like to stand in your shoes and try to balance all the roles: daughter, mother, sister, spouse, lover, provider....etc.

In the spirit of fun and celebration of friendship and kindred spirits, here are the ten friends every woman should have in her life:

1. An old friend.. OK, I don't neccessarily mean old as in age, but someone who has known you for a long time. There is something strangely comforting about having a girlfriend in your life who knew you 20 years and 20 lbs ago, when you had boundless energy, could rebound in a blink of an eye from a night out and had no need for Spanx. She knows your youthful dreams, first love(s) and nickname in college. That shared history can keep you and and your friendship grounded. We can lose these friendships as we grow, move away from one another and develop new interests. But with a true "old" friend, when you do chat or re-connect it feels like it was just yesterday that you were last together.

2. Fellow mom ... I tell all of the younger women in my life who are about to have babies- there is an unexpected bonus coming your way- you will be making wonderful new friends in the parents of your children's classmates and playmates. The common bond of motherhood, especially with kids of similiar ages creates a quick sense of intimacy with these women. I have found some of my closest friends through my kids. Birthday parties, carpool, school activities - take full advantage of meeting these women. The sisterhood of motherhood is very real.

3. I am game girl. You know the one- always up for a party, shopping trip, impromptu night out or weekend. She will be there at the drop of a hat. In her heyday, she might have been the life of the party on a regular basis and she can always be counted on to bring fun, joy and humor to any situation. Planning a party or a shower, need a boost of confidence, a laugh or someone with whom you can share a bottle of wine or pitcher of martinis- she is the girl to call. No party or gathering is complete wihout her spirit and sense of fun.

4. I have your back girl. She can always be counted on to be on your side, no matter what. There are times when you just need that. You don't need someone to analyze the situation, make suggestions, to do lists- blah, blah, blah. You just need someone who will tell you that you are FABULOUS (because really you ARE fabulous no matter what you think), that you do not look fat, agree that your boss is an ass, your husband/boyfriend is acting like a jerk and that EVERYTHING will be OK in the end. She will dry your tears, make you laugh and pour you a glass of wine or a cup of tea while making a voodoo doll of your ex.

5. The straight shooter. She is a true friend who really has your best interests at heart. She will be completely honest - your new hair color doesn't really flatter you, you can complete that half marathon if you try and forget the skinny jeans. This friendship is built on trust and love. You may cry your eyes out with the "I have your back girl", but the next morning you are on the phone with the straight shooter getting advice on headhunters, career plans, divorce attorneys or the best way to handle a problem. She is smart (very often smarter than you- always have at least one friend smarter than you are), organized and loves you, always. She will be compassionate and help you at the same time- she is the one you want dragging you through a tough time.

6. The workout buddy/special interest friend.. the alarm rings at 5 a.m. to exercise...bleh, BUT your workout buddy will be waiting for you. She may hate or may love to workout but she forces herself to do it and is a great influence on you. If exercise isn't your thing, what is- having a buddy who shares your passion for cooking, french class, scrapbooking, photography, dancing makes it twice the fun.

7. The mentor- I have been fortunate in my life to have had some amazing professional, spiritual and personal mentors. Women who have advised, guided and supported me during career and life changes. These women have been older than me, more seasoned in the work place and pushed through barriers ahead of me. They have often been through similiar life challenges and give great advice. I am now trying to pay it forward and mentor some of the younger women in my life. Find a mentor in your field and be a mentor- what a great way to enrich your life.

8. The stylish/shopper friend- She or he always knows where to find the best bargains and has that innate sense of style - think of Clinton and Stacey on What Not to Wear. Need a shopping trip? This friend is ready. Buying a special outfit or gift- she would love to go with you and gives great advice.

9. The platonic male friend - find him at work, the gym, school, anywhere. Many women fill this role with a gay male friend but it can work with a straight guy as long as there is no unspoken attraction or agenda. Men have a great way of clearing through the clutter and giving focused advice. It is lovely to have that look into the male psyche.

10. The spiritual one. Think wisdom, great conversation, sharing ideas. You probably share a similiar spiritual philosophy but perhaps not. Reading a great new spiritual book, attending a seminar, class on meditation, bible study- you have that in common. Lets face it, sharing your opinion on "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle is just more meaningful when the other person "gets it."

Celebrate friendship!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

snow and intuition...

How often do you listen to that little voice in your head? Not a big voice telling you to do illegal things - but the quieter one, the sense of knowing what to do or what decision to make. Is it your conscience, your heart, divine guidance, a whisper from an angel or your own unique brand of well worn wisdom? Whatever you call it, in my experience- that voice is usually right on target.

Occasionally, when life gets busy and crowded, it becomes hard to hear and sometimes even harder to listen to that voice. Sometimes it is loud and clear - like a warning bell and at other times it is much softer. I find that I am more likely to ignore this wisdom when I don't quite like what it has to say, perhaps I need to make a significant change in my life that seems impossible, a relationship is no longer working, or I should do something that I have been avoiding.

Intuition is like the snowstorms so many of us have experienced lately. It starts off as beautiful soft flakes- light, fun to play with and lovely. It can then become deeper, distracting and insistent that you pay attention. Sometimes when ignored, the guidance gets stronger and uncomfortable - like the pellets of an ice storm.

I am trying to do a better job of not only listening to my guidance but actually acting on the wisdom that I matter how uncomfortable it may be. I will take a beautiful snowfall over an ice storm any day.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The web of life

What a week- my sweet Avery's birthday and gotcha day! Eight years ago this week, she was born near Gaoming, China and placed in a cardboard box, with a blanket and a note with her date of birth. She was left on a busy street corner for authorities to find. After being discovered, she was taken to the local police station and then onto a local orphanage. I cannot imagine the pain, sorrow and love that her birthmother experienced in these moments. She made sure that the baby was covered with a blanket and knew the date of her birth. She took the baby girl to a crowded location where she would be found. One piece of the web of life...

Seven years ago this week, that same baby girl was placed in my arms and officially became my daughter. I say officially, because she has always felt like my daughter (both of my girls and I share deep, soul-based bonds) and has been connected to me forever. Another thread....

Avery meets her family including two sisters - one was my stepdaughter, Dani, and one was Lily who was adopted from China four years earlier. Two girls from neighboring provinces in China became sisters thousands of miles away in the United States. Three knots in the thread....

It amazes me how many people have entered my life, come together, connected and wrapped themselves around my heart. And quite often, they have arrived exactly when needed and often showed up unexpectedly. I remember meeting my friend Jan after adopting Lily. I was searching for another parent and writer who might share common beliefs about adoption and the spiritual connections that it makes real. She had a website, books and resources about the topic and I went on to write and publish. We kept in touch over the years and when I went through the end of my marriage, for some reason I felt compelled to reach and confide in her. It turns out that she had gone through the same experience and ended up being a great source of support. Another thread...

The end of a marriage, surviving betrayal - tough things to go through, but guess what- I met some wonderful people as a result of that painful experience. I joined and later helped co-faciliate an online support group for betrayed spouses. Through that group, I met two amazing women whom I now consider dear friends. I finally met Jen- one of these ladies, when I traveled for work recently. She has now connected with my friend Jan with whom she shares professional interests. More threads knotted....

Family, friends, lovers, colleagues, teachers, mentors, neighbors have all come into my life and sometimes left it - all with a specific purpose and on the right timetable. They have laughed and cried with me, challenged me and supported me as I have loved, disagreed and been in their corner as well. Sometime the relationships have lasted and in other cases, they served their purpose at that point in my life and ended. But all had a reason to exist. More threads, some long and some short....

The web of life- so many threads, knots and twists and turns. If you want a prettier picture, think of a lace doily- patterns and beauty that while being created seems mismatched or that it could easily unravel. When complete, though, it is gorgeous and made of intricate woven threads.