Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Invitation

The following are the words of the Native American Elder, Oriah Mountain Dreamer. Sometimes, the words of another better describe your own feelings than your own words ever could. So this elder's words demonstrate how I feel...

The Invitation

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting in your heart's longing.
It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit in pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own,if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tip of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn't interest me if the story you're telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day, and if you can source your life from God's presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, "Yes!"
It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.
It doesn't interest me who you are, how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself, and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A Journey to the Beginning...

No matter the circumstance or situation or the life into which you are thrust, an adopted child always wonders. You wonder about your beginning. How did you come to be? Perhaps your beginning was sweet and innocent. Perhaps it was violent, or painful or poverty-stricken. No matter. An adopted child always wonders.

Even if you end up living a charmed life, a life in which you wanted for nothing, you were showered with love and you had the best life had to offer… an adopted child always wonders. You wonder what is missing. Not that you feel a void of any kind but you wonder what your other life had or didn’t have. You wonder why it is that God chose to pluck you from the previous option and drop you into your current family. And you wonder why all of the people who were there for your beginning allowed God to choose you, to pluck you out and to drop you in the arms of strangers. Even when life is good, an adopted child always wonders.

For each of us the topic of our wondering varies. And in different life stages, the topic of our wondering changes. At times the wondering just involves stuff and in other moments you wonder about the character of the people who gave you up. Would I have MORE or LESS if I grew up in that other family? Would my parents be nicer or stricter or more generous with their time? Most often, for me I wondered whom I look like? Do I look like them? Why am I so fat? Why do my eyes change color when I am sad or worried? As you get older, the wondering turns toward medical issues. Is there a history of x, y or z in my birth family? Do they die young? Do they age well?

At 6 weeks old, my mom and dad held me for the first time. And I left behind all of the information and the history that causes my wondering today. My family is amazing. I can’t imagine growing up in any other circumstances. I am who I am because of my family and my circumstance and my situation. Often, I think that I needed to grow up in this family to become accepting of the differences in the people around me because, quite frankly, I am very different from the rest of my relatives. My life has not been easy and it is certainly not charmed. But, I wouldn’t even trade the hard times. I believe God knew where I needed to grow up to become the woman I am today.

All that said, I still wonder.

Thirteen years ago, my birthmother expressed an interest in meeting me. And I said no. Today, I will learn her name for the first time. And I will be given the opportunity to meet her in the next few weeks. I will take a journey back to my beginning.

And all the wondering will stop.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The End of an Era

As the final strike was called and the flash of thousands of cameras lit up the stadium, the St. Louis Cardinals run at a World Series Championship came to an abrupt halt on Wednesday night, October 19th, 2005. That single instance also symbolized the end of the life of Busch Stadium as well as the closing of a long and eventful chapter of my life.

Bundled in my warmest coat with hat and gloves in tow, I remember grabbing hold of my dad's hand and maneuvering the crowds at Busch Stadium as a little girl. Every now and then we braved the cold weather and the rowdy crowds at a St. Louis Cardinals football game. So it was at a very early age that my relationship with Busch Stadium began.

But it is not my relationship with the building that resides closest to my heart. It is the relationships developed within that building and the evolution of relationships over this period of time that touch me deeply and resonate in my mind as this era ends.

Seven years ago, I began attending St. Louis Cardinal baseball games regularly with my closest friends. Over the first couple of years, on our seating tour of Busch, we sat high and low, in the outfield and the infield. Eventually, we found friends in the right field bleachers. And within a couple of years, two of us became season ticket holders.

We spent the next five years cultivating relationships with other Cardinal fans. They started with a beer at the game or a tailgate party or a few drinks on a Friday night. We traveled together, shared our families and friends with one another, celebrated birthdays and births and the other joys of life. And in turn, we shouldered sorrows for one another, bore the burdens of our baseball-loving friends and shared the pains of life. Traditions formed in our corner of Busch stadium. No standing in the 9th inning, for example, until there are 2 outs and 2 strikes. Standing before then was bound to encourage a batter to walk or knock a base hit up the middle. And only entering the women's restroom through the OUT door. Silly perhaps, but tradition nonetheless... After long road trips or even a winter without ball games, the thought of gathering once again in section 509 was exciting. I couldn't wait to see who was back, to meet the new people and to begin another year.

Over the course of those relationships and the last five years at Busch, life goes on outside as well. But because we are there so often, our worlds tend to collide. In this time, I've started a new job twice, moved once, bought two cars and started a small painting business. I've ended two relationships, lost a child, and gained a brother-in-law and a nephew. I've said goodbye to an aunt who I knew for a relatively short while and an uncle, my Godfather, whom I loved dearly. Two of my best friends married each other and I became a Godmother two more times. That's just a snippet of my journey to this point. And at one moment or another, each of these experiences spilled over into my life as a Cardinal season ticket holder at Busch Stadium.

The collision of worlds brings you closer to the ones you spend so much time with in the seats. The collision of the worlds makes you feel closer to the players on your team, whether it's because they are dealing with the same issues as you or just because you are acutely aware that somewhere, they've got life outside of Busch as well.

I remember when Darryl Kile died. I was touring Graceland in Memphis with three friends when I got the call. Emotions overwhelmed me. The rest of the weekend was spent worrying how his family and his team was handling the loss and wondering what we could do to make it better. Soon after I sat in Busch stadium twice on sunny afternoons bidding farewell to fallen Cardinals, Darryl Kile and Jack Buck. The intensity of the emotion came not just because of the sudden loss or the fact that I was a fan. It came because I had allowed my life into Busch and the world of Busch into my life.

So while the relationships, for the most part, will not end when the last bit of Busch comes crashing to the ground and the memories will not be hauled away... As this season comes to a close and this era comes to an end, so I turn the page on this chapter of my life.

What a rush of emotions! And the fear that follows... What's next? Another year. The possibilities are endless. I hope the next chapter causes this book to bulge at the seams.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The “Other-Reasons” Rule

A few years back, I remember hearing someone say that before you assume that someone is angry with you, you should think of 12 other reasons why that person could be angry. In doing so, you remove the tension from a situation and you are better able to approach that angry person without a big chip on your own shoulder.

I like the “Other-Reasons” rule. And I think it’s applicable in many situations. There have to be at least 12 Other Reasons for a lot of things. And if not 12 reasons, then at least 3.

For example, there must be 3 other reasons why the girl at the next table just snarled in your direction. Perhaps the shot she just did with her 6 drunken friends had a sweet and sour punch for which she was not prepared. Or maybe her thong reached new depths as she wriggled up onto her chair. Or it could be possible that she is just a miserable, unhappy human being. Chances are it has nothing to do with you. So, before you confront her, think of 3 other reasons why she just snarled in your direction.

It is entirely possible that there are at least 3 other reasons why the bagger at the grocery store continues to smash your bread when he bags your groceries. It very well could be that you are an ungrateful, impolite shopper who deserves smashed bread. Or that the little bagger enjoys irritating you. But the reason may also be that the bagger is distracted by his struggle to meet his parents’ approval and your bread is the last thing on his mind. Or maybe the store owner is a little tight in the wallet and isn’t paying that bagger squat. And, perhaps that bagger lacks training. It is altogether possible that the smashed bread has nothing to do with you.

There are probably 101 reasons why the guy you like doesn’t like you back so we won’t get into all of them. I don’t feel fully prepared to dissect the psychosis of the male mind anyway. But it may have NOTHING to do with you. You are after all an intelligent, funny, talented woman. Everybody loves you. So don’t listen to others who tell you he is out of your league. Maybe he is blind… IT’S POSSIBLE. Or maybe he is incapable of recognizing a good thing when he sees it; he’s a glutton for punishment who prefers women who sponge off of him and treat him like crap. And it could be that he’s just an idiot. (I realize that in this example I used the OBVIOUS reasons but I wanted to bring this idea to a more simplistic and obvious level.)

Again, there is a moral to this story. And I think the moral is more than just: We should give others the benefit of the doubt. While the idea of the “Other-Reasons” Rule is simple, the moral is a bit more complicated. It is three-fold. One, GIVE OTHERS THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. Two, THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK OR ACT. And, three, IT’S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT YOU.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Snoring Downstairs

My apartment is a hole. I live there because it was ridiculously cheap when I moved in, it is in a very diverse area of the city (which I love) and the landlord's agreed to let me paint and decorate any way I wanted. But underneath all of my cute stuff, the place needs a lot of work.

My building is not insulated and the walls and floors are thin. The windows rattle horribly when the wind blows and the hardwood floors are peeling. It's a hole. But it is my hole... for now.

Through my thin floors, I have the pleasure of hearing the nightly chorus of my neighbors snoring in the apartment downstairs. Some nights they don't get really revved up until 1 or 2 AM. Other times, it's 3 or 4 AM before their nasal synchronization begins.

In just over three years, I have moved my bed 4 times, in an effort to escape this early morning entertainment and to reclaim my much-needed sleep. No such luck. The deep-throated gagging and coughing accompanied by the snorting, gasping, wheezing and other sounds apparently reaches every corner of my bedroom. There IS NO ESCAPING!

A prisoner in my own home... Tortured nightly by the snoring downstairs...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Facing the Truth

At some point in your life you have been told or you have heard the phrase, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." But there are some situations in which what you have to say is simply not nice. Yet, it needs to be said.

And it is in those situations when another phrase comes to mind... "The truth hurts."

I am not referring to the moments when you cannot resist the temptation to bad-mouth someone that you are less than fond of or the times when your inner fashionista forces you to comment on the inability of others to put together an acceptable outfit. While both of those situations may indeed be truth, those aren't the truths that come with difficulty. They are easy.

The truths that hurt are tough. They don't come easy. They are the truths that, if you grow up in a family like mine, you sweep under the rug and pretend they don't exist. They are the truths that sometimes take years to admit. They are the truths that though they hurt, they open the door to resolution in your life, healing if that's what's needed and freedom too.

Tonight, I don't really have anything nice to say. There are no funny anecdotes that come to mind. I have spent an entire weekend dealing with my truths. An emotional "time of the month" did not provoke this weekend. Just the course of life.

Busy-ness often prevents me from having to face my truths. But this weekend, amidst my busy-ness, the truths forged their way to the forefront of my days. Around every corner, they lurked. Harassing me with no end in sight, demanding my attention.

There are a lot of truths on the pages of this site. My life, for the most part is an open book. But even I have secrets. Anyone who knows me knows that I never let anyone in completely. I do a pretty good job of keeping people in the safety zone. Maybe too good of a job.

I know now that my truths are not just going to go away. Thanks to my amazing ability to live life alone, I have to do this on my own. And hopefully, the truth will set me free.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

"You mustn't mess me about..."

Being a big girl isn't easy. Any big girl can tell you that.

Usually you don't come to the realization of your bigness on your own. Someone else or maybe a group of others helps you along. And for many girls of the FAT persuasion, that reality is soon followed by a diligent effort to build up a fort of trustlessness. Walls designed to keep out the evil fat-girl-haters and that can only be penetrated by a handful of family members or friends who love you EVEN THOUGH.

34 years into my big fat life, comments about my size still hurt my feelings. Even implications that I am large is a pretty big blow. Recently, I got into an argument with a guy because he said, "You could probably kick my ass." I lost it. Why would he say something like that? Perhaps he said it because he could see the muscles in my arms bulging through my shirt or because I appear to be athletic and agile. No, no... He said it because I am a big girl and as you know ALL big girls can kick ass... Right?

In another recent incident, a co-worker of mine commented that I "look better when [I] wear [my] clothes looser." As opposed to when they are just too damn tight? I am sure she had the best of intentions. She just wanted me to know I looked nice that day... Right?

dispelling common beliefs about big girls could be a lifelong campaign. And I don't know that I'll ever reach enough people to wage that war. But right here, in my small corner of the world, I will say this: Having more of one thing doesn't mean you have less of anything else. The extra weight has not taken the place of feelings and sensitivities. And contrary to what you may have heard, the added pounds are not accompanied by thicker skin.

Although for years we big girls have laughed it off, looked the other way, pretended like it doesn't really matter... It is not funny. We look the other way because it's too painful to listen. And yes, it REALLY DOES matter.

I think Bennie in the movie CIRCLE OF FRIENDS said it best when she said, "You mustn't mess me about. I know I may look like a rhinoceros but I've got quite a thin skin really."

Play to Your Potential

As early as I can remember, my parents encouraged my sister and I to love sports. As a little girl, I remember bundling up in warm clothes and heading out to a St. Louis Cardinals football game at Busch stadium. And in the summer, my mom would take me out to the basketball hoop in the alley and play "HORSE" with me. Needless to say sports became an integral part of my life and through my participation in sports all the way through college, I learned a lot about life. Some things that I would like to forget but others that I carry with me to this day.

One of those lessons had to do with playing to your potential. When two teams go head to head in competition, one of them is responsible for setting the tempo of the game. Often times, the better team will play down to the potential of their opponent. And other times, the underdog will play up to the potential of the better team. Playing great teams makes you play better, makes you try harder, increases your motivation almost ten-fold.

Just as teams tend to allow other teams to set the tempo of their game, so we allow others to set the tempo of our lives. I think that our real life tempo is set by the people with whom we surround ourselves.

My mom always used to say "you are who your friends are." And I believe there is a lot of truth in that. After spending enough time with people, your similarities or the things that brought you together become more pronounced in your life. The good that they bring forth in you becomes more prominent and maybe the bad does too. If your friends are kind and generous people, how can you not be? And if your friends are liars and cheats... how can you not be?

I would like to believe that throughout my life, my friends past and present have made me a better person. Each and every one of them has brought out a little bit of good in me. And I do mean EACH AND EVERY one. Perhaps it's the optimist in me. Perhaps it is the intense desire to continually see the best in others. Or maybe it is vanity and my refusal to believe that I have made bad choices when picking my friends. Whatever it is, I will continue to strive to set my own tempo and to surround myself with people who will help me play up to a greater potential.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


In June of 1984, Bruce Springsteen released Born in the U.S.A. The famous album cover offered up a picture of Bruce's incredible backside in a pair of nice-fitting blue jeans with the red and white stripes of the American flag in the background. Born in the U.S.A. was the first cassette tape that I bought. And Bruce Springsteen, his style and his music provoked my first really big crush on a guy.

Of course I had many little girl crushes before. When I was 5, I thought Terry Banholzer was better that an ice cold bomb pop on a hot summer day. And by second grade, I wanted to marry the boy with the pretty eyes and the big curls of brown hair. And eventually, I "loved" every member of the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals at one time or another. What pair of best friends didn't fantasize about growing up to marry Keith Hernandez and Tommy Herr?

But the gymnasium supervisor who worked my volleyball practices triggered the biggest crush I have ever had. He wore his jeans just like Bruce Springsteen and sometimes he wore a red bandana on his head. He was so cute. A simple hello or a grin from him made me blush with nervousness. While I loved my volleyball, the conversations with my friend Diane on the way home from practice revolved soley around Tom. I looked forward to seeing him at practice or at church on Sunday. Crushing on Tom made me happy, at times giddy. It added excitement to my young life.

Crushes are a part of growing up. They ARE fun and exciting and sometimes disappointing. Even after Tom rode off into the sunset in his red VW, there were more crushes.

But like so many other things in life, there's nothing quite like the first.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


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