Elf on the Shelf 2015 – Day 16

Growing up, I got a lot of the classic “younger sister” treatment, which basically means that my older sister Lindy barely tolerated me most of the time and picked on me the rest. We were only 1 year and 16 days apart, but we may as well have lived on totally different planets. And it only got worse when we got together with our cousins Tonya and Shelly.

Lindy and Shelly were practically the same age, Tonya just a few years older. And whenever we gathered for a holiday or family vacation with the cousins, they would always run off like the Three Amigos, while I tagged along behind. They still laugh about the Easter they all woke up early and hunted all the eggs before I even woke up, or the time Tonya and Shelly came to visit us in Bird City and they talked me into putting on an old black cat Halloween costume and then painted my face with some of Mom’s old lipstick and blue eye shadow. And there are dozens of photos from our summers at Grandma and Grandpa’s cabin at Johnson Lake with the three of them huddled together and smiling brightly at the camera, their blonde hair shining in the sun, while I stood off to the side, my brown hair and skin making me look more than just a little out of place.

When I was 22, I reunited with my birthfamily, and overnight, I went from being just the youngest of 2 children to being the oldest of 7 (or 11 if you want to count my step-siblings). So now, I sit in 2nd place in my big blended family of 13 children.

I double-dog-dare any of those birth order theorists to take me on as a case study.

These days my family is…well…unique is probably the best way to describe it, and I have to say, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

My poor hubby though. He married a girl that gave him three sets of in-laws.

Now that we have Henry in our lives, Stevie and I are both waiting to see how the relationship develops between our children. Right now, they’re pretty much fascinated with each other. Our guess is that will start to wear off right around the time Henry is mobile enough to start messing with Cadence’s stuff. Until then, they’re just adorable together.

And when Cadence bounced down the stairs this morning and saw what Cosette had done with Leo, I thought I might have caught a little glimpse of the wheels starting to turn.

Any bets on how long it will be before Cadence tries to gift wrap Henry?

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Regaining Balance

It’s been way to long since I blogged. That’s how I know things are out of balance…when I can’t find any time in my day to sit down and compose a few thoughts just for myself. I haven’t picked up a camera and taken a picture of my own kid, my own family (other than random iPhone photos) in months. I haven’t had enough time or energy to sit down and write much much of anything for a couple of weeks now. Even my memoir project has hit a minor stall.

But the tides are finally turning, and I feel good about the way things are heading.

After saying goodbye to my Poppa D (my birthfather’s father), surviving a 10-day work trip that ended with a nasty eye infection, and deciding to finally leave behind a job that I’d grown tired to trying to “fix”, there are new adventures and opportunities on the horizon.  I’m making great strides working on the memoir. I’ve made some really great friends and gained some really great experience after returning to an office job a little less than a year ago. And I’ve got a brand new job starting in two weeks.

After such a rough ride, and so many forks in the road, it’s nice to finally crest the hill and see the open road stretching out before me.

But at this stage of the game, even when I can see a storm brewing in the distance, I know I can handle it. All I have to do is hold on, and try to enjoy (or at least appreciate) the ride.

Let’s go. I got this.

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A Damn Good Place To Be

I can give you a long list of reasons why I haven’t finished my memoir–we moved (multiple times), bought a house (or two), got a dog, had a kid. We both have full-time jobs. Steven took a class two nights a week. I started a photography business and have a pretty regular influx of freelance writing jobs. On top of that, I like to hang out with family and friends, and actually spend quality time with Steven and Cadence when we can find a few free hours in the chaos.

There’s always something standing in the way, always some excuse.

But what I have realized, more and more, is that there is a part of me that has given into the excuses, a part of me that always willingly pushed aside the project. As much as I long to tell the story, I know it is also going to take me back to some of the darkest, loneliest, and most uncomfortable times in my life. I know it’s all in the past. I know that I’m in a different place. I know that I’ve worked through my issues and successfully battled the demons that I ran from and fought for so long.

But even if my brain knows that I’ve moved passed it all and found balance, there is still that part of me that is terrified of descending back into the abyss, even if I am walking in older, wiser, and fully-armed.

And it’s that part of me that has been quick to put the project on the shelf and tuck the manuscript away in the drawer anytime some relatively valid excuse presents itself.

So why haven’t I finished writing my story?

Yeah, I have no good excuse. I have allowed my fear to get the better of me.

It’s time to stop running.

With the dawn of this new year, I’ve decided that enough is enough. I’m calling my own bluff. The only thing standing in the way of me finishing and publishing my story is me, and I have stood in my own way long enough.

The past can’t hurt me. In fact, I am thankful for it, because every experience, every decision, ever step I took (not matter how painful or difficult) was one step on the path that led me to this place I am right now…and this is a damn good place.

So, I hope you will all come along. It’s been one helluva ride, but it brought me here. And I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.

You can follow my memoir project as it continues to take shape on the In a Sea of Strangers page on Facebook.

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And feel free to drop by my latest post and let me know what you think…

June 1998 – Dear Mom

Another Year Goes By

The clock keeps ticking, and in just 2 hours and 4 minutes, it will be 2014.

Seriously, how did this happen?

2012 was a helluva year for us. We ran ourselves to the point of exhaustion, worked too much, traveled from the northeast to the west to the southwest and back east again. And in the midst of it all, we lost Stevie’s mom. By the time the summer ended, we just wanted the year to be over.

When 2013 began, we were optimistic, simply because it wasn’t 2012 any longer. We knew that it couldn’t possibly get any worse. And we were right. Things looked up for us this year. Cadence started (and LOVES) full-time preschool. I got a new job and have been absolutely swimming in freelance work. Steve started taking classes and is looking forward to diving into more programming. We took an amazing family vacation to Disney and had a blast. We have been saving. And we’re starting to feel comfortable.

After the long hard road we traveled in 2o12, we feel pretty good about where 2013 has taken us. And we’re looking forward to where 2014 will lead.

We’re moving in the right direction, and we’re in it together. If you ask me, it’s a pretty good place to be.

And while I don’t really believe in making “resolutions” per say, I do have one major goal that I intend to accomplish in 2014, and I hope that you’ll all come along for the ride…

Ater reuniting with my birth family in 2002, I knew that the very first book I would write would be the memoir of my adoption and reunion and all the tumultuous years in between. I started writing the story in 2008 and have yet to finish it. This year, I pulled the half-written manuscript out of my desk drawer and started writing again. In the next few weeks, this blog will be undergoing a major renovation, and part of that will include a space for me to share excerpts from the story as I finally bring the project to a close. In the meantime, I hope you’ll join me on the Facebook page I created for my upcoming memoir, In a Sea of Strangers.

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Whatever the new year brings, I know it will be one helluva ride. And I don’t know about all of you, but I’m looking forward to it.

Project Life 365 – Day 21 – Dream

Anyone who knows me knows that the biggest dream of my life is to write and publish a book. I always fancied myself a fiction writer. I have file cabinet drawers full of ideas, articles, stories, notes, journals, random slips of paper with hurriedly scribbled messages to myself. I have notebooks filled cover to cover, and page after page of typed  on the computer, but for the longest time, I was just stuck. There were so many stories, so many characters, so many different settings and plots and themes and what if’s floating around in my brain that I just could decide which story I wanted to tell first.

Imagine my surprise when the first full-length manuscript I drafted was a memoir–a story of my adoption, my reunion, and all the tragically beautiful years in between. At this point, it’s still a very rough draft, but it’s there, in black and white, just waiting to be finished.

And, interestingly enough, it all started with a dream…

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My First Red Thread Session Blogged

Forgive me for shamelessly plugging my business blog again, but I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of this most recent photo session.

Anyone who knows me, knows that my adoption has played a huge role in my life. I have been blessed in unimaginable ways because my birthparents made the difficult choice to let me go, and then welcome me back into their lives 22 long years later. Being an adoptee is as much a part of me as my blue-green eyes and my inability to perform complicated math problems without getting a migraine. It’s just who I am.

I always hoped that I could give back to the adoption community one day, that I could find a way to help other families as they begin their own incredible journeys. I’m still working on writing my story, knowing that the highs and lows and years of confusion and turmoil and pain will likely resonate deeply with other adoptees who are trying to find their own places in the world. One day, I’ll find some time to finish it. 🙂

In the meantime, one of my good photographer friends told me about the Red Thread Sessions organization a few months ago, and I knew immediately that I wanted to get involved.

In a nutshell, Red Thread Sessions is a non-profit organization that helps adoptive families connect with professional photographers who agree to volunteer their time and talent to helping the families capture some of their first memories together. Depending on the situation, the photographers may be asked to photograph the birth of a child, a family returning home with their new child from overseas, or even a family session after the child has settled into his/her new home. The families receive the full session and proofs from their session free of charge.

I submitted my portfolio immediately, and was thrilled when I received approval to become a RTS volunteer. Then, just three weeks ago, I received my first inquiry. I posted the P Family’s gallery today and shared their story and a few of my favorite images from their session on my StoriTyme Photos Blog. The blog post will also be featured on the RTS website, and is currently pending approval.

So, please head over to the StoriTyme Photos Blog by clicking the link or the photo below to see a few photos of the amazing family I got to spend an evening with at my very first Red Thread Session. Thanks for looking!

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