HAPPY LABOR DAY, AMERICA

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Today started out an ordinary day.

I had scheduled a vacation day to start my holiday weekend early.  I got up at 8 am, got showered, and put on a pot of coffee.  I had a busy day planned to get all my errands done before we headed south to Houston this weekend for my best friend’s daughter’s wedding.

I had scheduled the painters to come and redo my bathroom shower.  I scheduled it for this weekend knowing we would be out of town and we would not be able to use the shower for 48 hours.

A young man knocked on our door around 9:30 am.  Our dog, Lana, has anxiety issues and gets nervous when visitors come over, especially if she doesn’t know them.  She was barking and growling.  I opened the door and asked him to wait while we put our dog away.  He looked at me a little confused and responded in Spanish.  I know the Spanish word for dog but couldn’t remember it at the time.  After trying to explain to him in English a few times, it became clear that he and I could not understand each other’s language well.  I finally responded, “Uno Momento”.   He smiled, said, “Ah,” and nodded his head.  At last, we made a connection.   I light-heartedly tell him that I speak poquito Español.  He chuckles and reply’s that he speaks little English.

We get Lana put away and I invite our painter guest inside.  He begins to speak to us in Spanish again.  We’re both using hand gestures mixed with English and Spanish word sentences.  I am partially deaf so using hand signals for communication works for me, although I am not fluent in ASL either.  I turned to my son and ask him to translate in Spanish, who looks at me like a deer in headlights.  In my mind, I was thinking, “Dude, you took TWO years of Spanish in high school.”  Jaren then typed a sentence in his iPhone, then translated it into Spanish.  Modern technology has it benefits.  Jaren shows it to the painter.  The painter quickly understands and said, “Perro”.  I said, “Si, our perro.”  I was trying to tell him that we were putting our dog in the kennel because she was barking and growling and I didn’t want him to be fearful while he was here painting.  He explained to us that we needed to take our dog out of our home for a few hours because the fumes from the paint were dangerous for dogs.  I confirmed I understood and got Lana ready to leave.

I had previously scheduled an appointment for Lana at the Vets today for a follow up from an earlier injury and to get her nails trimmed; although, the appointment was not until later, at 1:30 pm and it was currently 10:00 am.  Thankfully, our Vet is a VCA hospital which has both pet daycare and overnight boarding services.  I figured I could just use their daycare services for a few hours, drop Lana off, run some errands, and then stop back for her appointment.

Lana and I walked into VCA.  I tell them I need to board her for a few hours before her appointment because of the paint fumes in our home.  While they begin the paper work, I see a lady with a small dog sitting and waiting for their appointment.  Her dog was somewhat anxious and playful, puppy like.  He was excited to see Lana and wanted to come over and greet her.  The lady tries to contain her dog and keep him close but somehow he gets loose and comes right over to Lana who backs up and softly growls.  Lana can be funny sometimes on whether she wants to be social or not.  I tap Lana with my foot and tell her, “No!”  Just then, the woman comes over and picks up her dog.

The front staff finishes checking in Lana and then takes her back to the boarding area.  I turned to the lady with the dog and asked her if her dog is friendly.  She said yes.  I walk closer.  Her dog comes over to greet me, placing his front paws on my legs.  I ask her what his name is.  She said his name is Louie.  I was like, “Awe, so cute.”  I tell Louie (and his mom) that I was sorry for how Lana acted.  I tell him that she has anxiety issues.  I tell him how cute he is.  The lady said Louie is one year old and was getting his shots before he leaves for Mexico.  The lady was white so I was curious about the story.  I am not sure how exactly I responded but I think I said, “Mexico?”  Then she told me her daughter just died.  My heart sunk right then and there.  I told her that I was sorry to hear that.  She said her daughter’s best friend agreed to take Louie.  She said her daughter had been sick and was in and out of the hospital for the last year.  I wondered if that is why she got Louie, to keep her daughter company.  I asked her if she had other dogs.  She said she already had several dogs which is why she couldn’t keep Louie.  She also said she was planning on traveling over the next several weeks.  I understood.  I was curious about her daughter, how old was she, why did she die.  I know it was some sort of medical condition.  I asked her what her daughter’s name was.  She said, “Caroline.”  I knew there was nothing I could say that would take her sadness or grief away.  And I really didn’t want to waste words on empty clichés.  So I reached over and gave her a warm hug and embraced her for a moment.  I felt her sadness.  She said, “Oh, that’s so nice of you.”  It was all I could think to do.  I felt my embrace may mean much more than my words.

I get in the car and call my son, Jaren.  I ask him how the fumes are.  He said it was so bad that he had to leave.  He was just riding around in his car.  Neither of us had eaten yet so I suggested we meet up somewhere.  We met at local restaurant that I wanted my son to try.  I had been there only once before and enjoyed it.  They have things like quiche and custom cakes and everything is homemade.  We each got a quiche, one Florentine, one broccoli and cheese.  Jaren got chicken gumbo soup.  I got tomato bisque.  We cut our quiche in half and shared it.  Then we just talked.  It was the best part of my day.

We leave the restaurant.  I head for the VCA hospital for Lana’s appointment.  Jaren heads back home.

I decided to stop by my bank real quick, which was on the way to VCA hospital.  My lease ended in August.  I had gone way over my mileage and I didn’t want to be penalized if/when I returned my lease.  I also had a few dings here and there.  And I was concerned about getting an approval with a low rate with no money down.  Mostly, I still loved my Corolla and I was not ready to get another car.  I had stopped by my bank a few weeks prior to see about getting an auto loan.  Aparna, a Relationship Banker was very friendly and helpful.  She called their auto loan division and then put me on the phone to start the approval process.  Within a few weeks, I was approved for the full balance owed Toyota at a low rate.

Since I had began speaking directly with the Auto Loan division after my initial in-person conversation, Aparna called me and left a message to follow up on my auto loan status and approval.  I wanted to return her call but had not had the chance yet.  I thought this was the perfect opportunity to stop by in person to personally thank her.  I was hoping she was working today.  I walked in and Aparna was working and available which almost never happens.  There is almost always a wait to see any relationship banker at this branch.  She sees me and asks if she can help me.  I walk over to her office and remind her that she called and left me a message and that she helped me with my auto loan.  She said she remembered.  I tell her I got approved!  I shook her hand with genuine gratitude and thanked her so much for her help.  She smiled warmly and proudly.  She said she was glad she could help.

I leave the bank and drive to the VCA hospital.  They bring Lana up front and take us to a room for her appointment.  The Veterinarian comes in the room smiling.  She is new to this office.  I like her already.  We talk about Lana.  She says they already trimmed her nails and that Lana looks healthy and is walking fine.  I was happy to hear that.  She says Lana is a sweet girl.  I am touched by her comment.  Lana is a sweet girl but I don’t often hear others say that because of her anxiety, she can appear mean.

Lana was adopted from a local animal services in the summer of 2014.  She was a stray that was found with her canine mom and four other siblings on the streets of Dallas.  I still wonder how they ended up on the streets.  The puppies were two to three months old when found.  Lana has a story but I will probably never know her story.  I have such love and respect for her canine mom.  How she managed to take care of five (maybe more at one time) puppies, alone, on the streets of a large metropolitan city seems like an insurmountable task.  The streets are not a kind place for humans or animals.  That must have been difficult.  As a single mother myself, I understand.  I’m thankful that she and her puppies were found and that animal services were able to help her by finding homes for her puppies.  When we found Lana, only she and her brother were left and he got adopted one day before Lana.  Even Lana’s mom had been adopted before her last two puppies.  I wonder how all those experiences impacted her.

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The Veterinarian confesses that other workers warned her that Lana can be funny sometimes.  She said Lana was fine with her.  She said she just walked over to Lana’s kennel and took her right out.  I smile with pride and tell the Veterinarian that Lana must have sensed a good vibe from her.

As we finished up the appointment, the Veterinarian tells me there is no charge for the visit.  I have pet insurance with VCA so this was not a surprise.  However, nail trimming is not part of the services covered under the insurance.  I had expected to pay $15.00 for this service so I remind her about the nail trimming.  She tells me that I don’t need to pay for the nail trimming today.  She said, “You don’t have any charges today.”  I was delightfully surprised.  I graciously thanked her.

I tell her that I need to leave Lana in daycare for a little longer because I want to be sure the fumes are gone.  I said I was going to run a few errands and would pick her up within two hours.  I tell her I will pay for the daycare services when I return.  Then she tells me that they aren’t going to charge me for the daycare either.  I am thinking, “What?”  She says they are open 24 hours and I can come back anytime.  By now, I am astonished.  I have paid them to trim Lana’s nails before.  I have paid them for daycare.  I have paid them for boarding.  I have paid them for other medical services.  I was truly humbled by their generosity and I deeply expressed my appreciation.

I leave and drive less than a mile down the road to Midas to get my oil changed in my car.  I have been going to this Midas for fifteen years.  They are good guys and good mechanics.  I don’t have an appointment but I ask if they can fit me in.  Charles, the front desk clerk said yes but it will be about an hour and a half.  I tell him that is fine.  In my mind, I am thinking this is perfect because by then, the fumes should be almost gone so I can pick up Lana and head home.

As I sit down, there is another older lady there waiting.  After about thirty minutes, Charles walks over to her and asks her where she got her last oil change.  He shows her a part and says they stripped this which is why you have a leak.  The woman responded she didn’t know she had a leak and asked how much that part will cost.  Charles says about $5.00.  I could see that this woman wasn’t sure she could trust this shop.  I found out that this was her first time to this Midas shop.  I tell her I have been coming here for fifteen years and they are always fair and do not try to sell you something you don’t need.  There was an older male who came in after me who also chimed in with agreement and said he had been going there for years too.  He said another dealer tried to sell him a costly part for his Cadillac one time.  He said he came to Midas for a second opinion who told him that he didn’t need the part.  We both tell her that the workers are long time employees.  Charles walks back in the lobby.  I ask him how long he has worked there.  He replies, “Fifteen years.”  He says that Ken worked there for twelve years and another guy for like ten years.  I tell her they have always treated me like they would treat their mother or their daughter.  They don’t appear corporate like many other nationwide corporate chains do.  They are respectful, personable, and treat their customers like friends.

Binoy tells me my car is ready.  I think, “Already?”  It was less than an hour.  He asked me how I am doing.  I asked him if he remembers me because I had the free, complimentary three-year Toyota service when I leased my new Corolla and I purchased an additional two-year maintenance service from the dealer so I had not been to the shop in a while for service.  However, I would stop by the shop with a question if I needed some expert advise.  I also referred my son there for his first used car purchase.  Binoy said he remembered me and remembered giving me a ride once.  I said, “Oh, yes!”

I told the woman about the time Binoy offered to drive me home one Saturday so I didn’t have to wait around on my then ten-year-old Corolla.  I was having some extra work done that day so it was going to take a little longer.  He also picked me up once it was ready.  Granted, I only lived a couple miles from the shop but still, this is not a service that is expected or provided by this shop.  This shop goes the extra mile for it’s customers.

Binoy then tells me he gave me a $10.00 discount today on my oil change.  I usually have a coupon because I am that kind of person.  Earlier in the day, I thought about going to another lube shop closer to home, since we moved farther away a few years ago.  I knew I wanted to get a quick oil change before our trip to Houston.  But since I was so close, less then a mile away already, and I was going to have to pay full price anyway, I figured I’d rather pay full price here than at any other shop.  So when Binoy gave me the discount without a coupon, I was incredibly grateful.  I humbly offer my gratitude and shake his hand.

I pay, get my keys, and say good-bye.  Binoy says, “God Bless You.”

On the way home, I saw a line of American Flags in front of our Art Center in honor of Labor Day.

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I couldn’t help but think of all the wonderful services all these folks provided to me today as well as to all the other folks.  The various businesses and the various levels of service, some with degrees and some without,  from various people, young and old; black, brown, and white; Americans, Naturalized Citizens, and Immigrants.

I thought about the folks organizing the wedding and who will be working this event this Labor Day Weekend to help make this a memorable occasion for the daughter of my dear friend and the groom and all their family and friends attending.

And then I thought about Perla, another dear friend who offered to dog sit for us while we go out of town for the wedding.

This is what makes America great!  All of these folks each have a story to tell and stories to share, each working, laboring, serving, and volunteering their time and talents to help people like me and you, trying to make a difference, each of us living our experience the best way we know how.  And I am truly grateful for each one of these people, for their services, their smiles, their warm gestures and caring nature, and for their kind and generous discounts and freely donated services.

Today was still an ordinary day but it had extraordinary moments.

I hope each of you has a wonderful Labor Day Weekend.

Please be safe and God Bless You

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The Implications of Forgiveness

(Please note: the original version appears to have been lost.  The title was still here but the rest of the blog post was blank.  I’m not sure how or why it happened.  My apologies to anyone who visited this site or this blog post.)

I’ve been thinking about the word “forgiveness” and the act thereof.  We hear it, see it and feel someone’s desire to implore forgiveness over others quite frequently it seems.  Friends, family, coworkers, our church or place of worship, teachers, and the media are all filled with conversations about forgiveness.

Personally, I think some of us try to simplify the act of forgiveness.  There are so many layers of forgiveness, so many various acts and consequences.  It seems we get the whole forgiveness premise mixed-up.   It can be quite complicated.

I used to work with someone whose mother died when she was five years old.  Her name is Micah.  Micah said the one thing that bothered her over the years is how people would tell her they ‘were sorry’ after she told them her mother died when she was five.  She said she got tired of hearing it and would often avoid telling others.  Micah said she couldn’t understand why people were sorry.

It does seem strange how we can so easily tell someone that we’re sorry for something that was no fought of our own.  We say we are sorry to show or convey our compassion for someone.  For Micah, I think since she was so young when her mother died, hearing the same response repeatedly over the years probably seemed more like an automatic response rather than a sincere condolence.  For her, someone saying I am sorry was the same as someone apologizing for a wrongful act.

When Jaren was around five years old, we were having dinner at an Outback Steakhouse near Austin, Texas.  We had been traveling all day, from Dallas, and were on our way back home when we stopped there for dinner.  Towards the end of our meal, Jaren began to vomit.  Then he began to projectile vomit.  With a packed house of customers, I quickly gathered Jaren and scurried to the bathroom.  One of the staff members came in the bathroom to ask me if everything was okay.  I told her my son was sick and apologized for the disruption.  She could see that Jaren’s clothes were wet.  She showed great compassion to me and my son.  She said they would clean up our table.

Jaren was overcome with emotion.  Although I had remained calm with deep concern for my son and never scolded him, he began saying, “I’m sorry, Momma.  I’m sorry, Momma.”  He was almost in tears.  I repeatedly told him that it was not his fault.  I told him he could not help it that he was sick.

I was concerned about Jaren not having spare clothes to wear home.  A few minutes later, the staff member returns with an Outback Steakhouse T-shirt for Jaren and an Outback bag for Jaren’s wet clothes.  She apologizes to me because she says they only have a large.  I graciously thank her and Outback for their kindness.  I put the t-shirt on Jaren, which covers him completely.  Then we gingerly walk to our table looking around wearily.  I am prepared for an evil eye or a remark from someone.  I pay the check and gather our belongings.  As we walked out, trying to make as little eye contact as possible, I sense compassion from patrons.

To this day, I still wonder why Jaren felt he needed to apologize.   I think he felt compassion for the others eating and he felt bad about what happened.  At that moment, I felt like it was a pivotal moment in his childhood.  One that could have an impact on his emotional well-being.  I needed to convey to  him so that he understood that he had no control over what happened and that it was in no way his fought.

 

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In Christianity, we have several stories that are used to provide an example of forgiveness.  One parable has a traumatic story.  The other appears to be an average familial story.  Both stories involve jealousy, greed, and ego.

Let’s take a look at the Prodigal Son story.

We have one son who lavishly wastes his father’s inheritance.  When he has nothing left, he returns home.  Ashamed of himself and his actions, he asks his father if he can return to the family as a servant.  To his surprise, his father welcomes him back home, not as a servant but as his son.  He even celebrates his son’s return.  The older son is upset with his father for welcoming back his younger brother and celebrating his return.  The father explains to his older son that he will in fact inherit everything almost as if he needs to insure his older son that the return of the younger brother will not financially impact his inheritance.

In this parable, we have three parts to forgiveness.

First, we must realize that neither the father nor the older brother searched for the younger brother who left home with his inheritance.  Forgiveness is not seeking out and searching for someone so you can forgive them, especially someone who does not want nor seek someone’s forgiveness.

Second, when the younger son returns, he is not cocky or proud.  He does not shout or complain to the family that they should forget about what happened, get over it, or move on.  No, he is actually the exact opposite.  He has been humbled by his experience.  He comes home submissively.  He knows his choices have consequences.  And he has prepared himself for those consequences.

Third, we have a father willing to forgive because he sees his son’s heart has been humbled.  His father believes his son is truly sorry and has learned from his experience.  And… he is his son.  It is easy for a parent to forgive their child.  But the older brother on the other hand doesn’t really care that his younger brother is truly sorry or humbled.  His jealousy prevents him from forgiving his younger brother initially.

In the other story, Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors, jealousy again appears to be a factor between the brothers.  The brothers decide to take drastic matters.  First, they planned to kill Joseph.  Then, they put him in a well but had planned to rescue him later.  Then they decided to sell him.

Joseph goes from being a slave to second in command and a ruler over the land of Egypt.

Twenty some years later, Joseph’s ten older brothers come to buy food in his land.  They don’t recognize Joseph, who is now dressed as a prince and seated on a throne.  Joseph recognizes them.  However, Joseph is not ready to make amends just yet and decides to not disclose who he is to his brothers.

The story then tells us that Joseph wished to be sharp and stern with them to test them.  He wanted to see if they were still selfish and cruel.  The story unfolds much slower than the Prodigal Son story.  Joseph is not easy to forgive.  And who can blame him.  His story is much more traumatic than that of the prodigal son.    Still, Joseph has a desire to forgive his brothers.  So he continues to test them until he realizes that his brothers are truly sorry and no longer cruel and selfish.

Again, as in the Prodigal Son story, Joseph never search for his family who wronged him.  Surely he could have.  He was pretty powerful and had lots of resources.  He could have gone home and told his brothers that he forgave them without them offering an apology to him.  He could have gloated about his position and his wealth.  He could have used his power and demanded they show remorse.  Or he could have punished them.  But he didn’t.  Joseph didn’t allow what his brothers did to him make him hard, resentful, hateful and cruel.  Joseph remained humble and true to his heart and to his God.  He continued moving forward with his life.  Joseph knew his worth as a human being.  Not as a powerful ruler over Egypt but as a messenger of God.  It seemed that God was working through Joseph and had big plans for him.

Another thing to point out is that Joseph didn’t forgive his brothers at the first sight of them.  Before Joseph could forgive his brothers, he needed to be sure they were truly sorry and not the same as before.  Forgiveness did not come forth as easily for Joseph’s brothers as it did for the prodigal son.  Only after Joseph was sure his brothers were not selfish and cruel was he able to forgive them.  His brothers were sincere in their humility.  They were submissive in his presence and sincerely remorseful for their actions.

For me, when I hear Jesus speak about forgiveness, these are the elements I think about.

I believe that if someone is truly repentant of their actions that caused us harm and apologizes, then we have an obligation to forgive them.  Truly forgive.  However, if it becomes a repetitive cycle, as in abuse, that’s a very different story.  When a person is truly sorry and remorseful for their actions, they don’t retreat back to cruel or selfish acts over and over again.

On the other hand, we may or may not ever hear an apology or an admission of guilt or remorse from a person who directly or indirectly harmed us.  However, we cannot allow what happen to freeze or burden us with anger and hatred.  Whether or not we ever get an apology or are given an opportunity to forgive, we cannot allow the actions of someone else who meant us harm to keep us from our good.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. – Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

 

 

GPS – Plan B

I am in awe sometimes at how the universe works its way in and out of our lives.  I use “universe” as an all-inclusive way; Father-Mother God, angels, spirit guides, transcended loved ones.  I think they all move in and around us, guiding us, showing us, and speaking to us in unorthodox ways.  Sometimes some of us may get caught up in the literal and not fully comprehend when someone is being led by some unforeseen guide.  The spiritual words and lessons are more like codes and it is up to us to pay attention to the details.

Let me give you some examples.

I’ve had some pretty amazing synchronicity experiences or coincidences over the years.  And after I met Brian, my children’s father, things really began to kick up a notch.  I always felt as if we were being drawn to each other.  When we met the first time, I felt as if I knew him, as if we had shared worlds and lifetimes together.  When he looked at me it was as if he could read my every thought and feel every emotion inside my body.  I wasn’t always comfortable with that.  Out of that deep connection and passion we felt for each other, came my first born son, Jaren.

The first time I remember something extraordinary at work in the universe was about six months after Jaren was born.  We were still living in downtown Dallas at the time.  There were four malls that were about the same distance from us; one to the east, one to the west, one to the north, and one to the south.  We’d been to all of them.  This day, I drove to the one west of us which was in Irving.

It was close to the holidays so the mall had extra vendor booths set up in the center of the passageway selling their specialty items.  These booths are seasonal.  Some only come for a day or a weekend.  With Jaren on my hip, I strolled through the mall.  Soon, we came upon a booth that had four rectangular tables in a box formation with two ladies in the middle and binder folders with clear sleeves lying out on all the tables.  Their sign showed they had biblical names with poem meanings.  As I walked closer to look, one of the ladies asked me what my son’s name was.  I told her that I was pretty sure they would not have his name, especially since they were pre-printed inside the clear sleeves.  So she asked me again.  I told her, “Jaren.”  She smiled confidently and pointed to a binder book with the “J” names.  Then I told her she probably had the original spelling of his name.  So she asked me how I spelled it.  I spelled it for her.  J.A.R.E.N.  She again reassured me that they did in fact have it.

I was in awe for many reasons.  First, I didn’t know that Jaren’s name was biblical.  I had not seen it in any bible and when we think of biblical we think of names in the bible.  The second thing is the name Jaren was derived from Jaron, a Hebrew name meaning, he will sing, he will cry out.  And thirdly, I had not seen or heard anyone with the name Jaren or Jaron for that matter so it was an uncommon name.  How often does a person with an uncommon name find their name spelled the way they spell it on something that is already pre-printed or pre-made, not a specialty item made uniquely for them?  I can tell you that I have not since ever seen Jaren’s name pre-printed on anything in any store that I have shopped at.

When we name our child, we want it to fit them.  It’s such a powerful thing to give your child a name.  It becomes a part of them and we want it to say something special about who they are.  I thought long and hard about the name I chose for my son.  This confirmation gave me reassurance that I had listened to my spirit guides and chose the name that was meant for my son.

A year later, our office moved from downtown Dallas to Irving, which I talked about in another post.  Jaren’s daycare was also located downtown a few miles from our downtown apartment.  I would drop Jaren off at daycare and then drive to work in Irving.  Well, about a year later, the downtown daycare closed at that location.  However, the teachers were moving to another location located in a large office building for a well-known, world-wide corporation.  This daycare was designed to serve their employees.  Want to guess where they moved?  Yup!  Irving.  Of all the cities this daycare facility could have been relocated to in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex, they moved to Irving.  Sure, I could have found Jaren another daycare in downtown Dallas and had considered it but I thought if I moved him with his current daycare at their new location, he would at least have many of his same teachers.  I thought that would be better than having a new building, new teachers, and new classmates.

I began to see a trend.  Something was drawing us to Irving.  And while we didn’t move right away, it wasn’t long after we did move to Irving.  Now, while that is pretty awesome in itself, there is still more to the story.  I would later learn that Brian’s sister worked for that well-known corporation, in that very building that the daycare moved into.  Just to put that in a little perspective:

DallasFort Worth, by population, is the largest metropolitan area in Texas, the largest in the South, and the fourth-largest in the United States.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallas%E2%80%93Fort_Worth_metroplex

These messages were clear to me and I was able to easily see the path.  All of these choices guided me and my family to our highest good.  I felt optimistic and confident after making these choices.  I didn’t doubt my decision nor felt regret or remorse because the way was clear.  I felt the universe guiding me.  However, I will tell you that has not always been the case.

Example, when I was pregnant with Noah.  My vision was clouded, my ears had a hard time deciphering the truth from all the noise, and my mind was filled with images of doubt.  It’s hard to make a clear choice in this environment.  It’s like sitting on a cliff and people are yelling at you to do this or do that and your mind is filled with chaos.  And any move could be dangerous.  Each person has their reason or motive for wanting you to make one choice over another.

People often simplify adoption and try to sum it up as better or worse, selfless or selfish, brave or weak.  The positives are focused on the relinquishment, implying your child will have a better life and the negatives are fixated on parenting with false unforeseen assumptions that your child’s future will be bleak or worse off.  So, what choice do you think a mother will lean towards?  Something negative or something positive?  Fear can lead a person down a dark path.

The choice that separated me from my second born son was a devastating one, one that I sometimes wondered if I would ever recover from.  I was not at peace, although I acted and thought I was and tried to convince others that I was good with that choice.  I believe it was the denial, the numbness that took over.

When we are no longer able to change the situation – we are challenged to change ourselves. – Viktor Frankl

So here is my take on divine intervention and what is meant to be will be.

Anything that God has intended… is for our highest good.  And I personally believe that if a choice or decision gives you doubt, despair or a negative impact, then it probably was not the path that God had planned for us.  That’s not to say that some choices won’t be challenging or have challenges.  Our daily life has challenges.  Work can be challenging.  The bible is filled with stories of people overcoming challenges.  But something that gives you a bad feeling inside is different than something being challenging.

Jaren and I were talking about this and I said it came to me like this.  God always has a Plan B.  When I mentioned this at a women’s group, one of the ladies said that God has the “Master Plan”.  Well, that’s true.  However, humans do not always follow the master plan.  It’s called free will.  I certainly would not think that God’s master plan is murder, or rape, or child abuse, or slavery.

After watching the movie Lion, it instilled this knowledge deeper within.  Saroo made some choices that separated him from his family.  After deep despair and the point of no return, he had to rely on his choices and fate.  At a very young age, he learned to follow his gut instincts along with his survival instincts.  He was listening to the voice within.  At the same time, God was putting His Plan B into place.

I have a Garmin GPS.  I put in the address and it is pretty good about getting me where I need to go.  Usually I follow it but there have been times when I chose another route.  And what happens when I do that?  It says, “Recalculating.”   The GPS then recalculates the next best direction from my altered direction.  Sometimes when it is really cloudy outside or there is a bad signal, the GPS will go blank and then recalculate.

When I think back to that time with Noah, I don’t believe it was God’s plan one way or the other for me to parent or relinquish my rights.  God gave me free will.  I also don’t believe it was God’s intention for my children’s father to abandon his kids and me during a time we needed him most.  But God gave Brian free will also.  However, I do believe that God was putting into place a family for Noah in the chance that circumstances and choices would prevent Noah from remaining with his original family.  God was preparing for Plan B.  I truly believe that God’s Master Plan is not designed to hurt one to benefit another.  That plays into the whole chosen one mentality.  God is much bigger than that.  Humans hurt.  God loves.  And love does not hurt, despite that old popular 70’s song.

I asked a friend of mine for her thoughts on this.  While her situation is a little different, I thought she could add real perspective.  Kim, her best friend and twin brothers were in a fatal car accident while on a double date during our freshman year in high school, leaving one twin and one friend alive, and one twin and one friend dead.  It was a very traumatic event that shook our small town.  This is what Kim said:

Well you know I’ve thought a lot about that. And of course people told me that I was spared to go on and do great things…which of course didn’t turn out that way. My life is wonderful, but quite ordinary. But I’ve wondered why God spared Ricky and I and how different the world might have been had the outcome been reversed. And you know what? I’ve come up with zilch, nada, nothing. When I think about it from God’s perspective it seems like a Sophie’s Choice. I don’t know why I lived and Linda didn’t. My gut feeling is that she would’ve gotten married and had kids and grandkids just like I have. But who really knows. But I do know that God is omnipotent. Perhaps God saw in that brief moment something in the future that made a difference to the world. Perhaps one of my descendants will work on something that alters the course of humanity. Or maybe one of Ricky’s descendants does something game changing. I have to have that faith, because anything else just seems too random. And given the complexity of life on this little Rock of ours, I just cannot believe in serendipity. I have to believe that God’s purpose for the outcome of that accident wasn’t just chance, even if it remains a mystery to me.

 These are the great mysteries of life.  But one thing that I am certain of, is that God and the universe are truly active in my life and whether I am following the Master Plan or God needs to put Plan B in place to recalculate my trip, I am glad I have God and my guides to navigate my journey and guide me to my highest purpose and good.

Setting Privileges

In ONE week at work, yes in one week, I heard comments that would make my jaw drop and leave me stumped for words.  Some comments were directly against the Ethics Code of Conduct.  Others fall somewhere in between.  The comments came from various people; male, female, Black/African American, Latino, and White.

The first comment I heard was during our department’s holiday dinner at a local restaurant.  As we were waiting on our meals, one of the ladies began to throw shade at the employee who was in charge of organizing our holiday celebration because she wrote “Holiday Party” instead of “Christmas Party” on the email invite.  I was surprised.  Especially, because Hanukkah overlapped with Christmas this year.  Did she assume that everyone at our table was all of christian faith, that we all celebrate Christmas?  Or did it not matter to her?  I wondered if she ever looked at our corporate holiday calendar in Florida where they have off for Rosh Hashanah and other Jewish holidays.  While we don’t have those holidays off in our state, our corporation does recognize and honor the importance of other religious holidays besides christian holidays.  I wondered if she knew that my department has an employee who is Muslim, who does not have any paid holiday leaves for his religious holiday.  In addition, his religious holiday comes and goes without much to-do as I am almost certain that many do not even know what spiritual holiday he celebrates or when.  On the other hand, those of us who celebrate Christmas have at least a month long nationwide celebration and some still feel the need to complain?

The next comment was about adoption.  While in the ladies room at work, I ran into a coworker that I used to sit across from.  I asked her about the kids and her baby that she had given birth to a couple years prior.  She said the kids were all good and that the baby was now three and then jokingly said he was handful and bad.  We both laughed, knowing the challenges of toddlers.  Then she asked me if I “wanted him” because she was about to give him away for adoption.  That comment left me speechless.  I was at a loss for words.  She does not know my story, that I am a birth mother who relinquished her parental rights and gave my son away for adoption.  And while I know she was joking, her comment was no joke to me.  I thought about my son and all adoptees.  I wondered if he was in that room and heard that comment, what message it was saying to him.  That a child who is bad will be given away because their parents don’t want them anymore?  I certainly did not choose to relinquish my son to adoption because I didn’t want him.  And sadly, when I shared this experience with a coworker she confessed that she has made that exact comment about her adolescent son and has heard others say the same.  I agree.  I heard that statement thrown around jokingly in my younger years.  But now it’s different.  I can’t help but think how careless our words can be or how unthoughtful we are to make jokes about children who are surrendered, orphaned, abandoned, and fostered due to unfortunate circumstances.  None of which are because they are bad children.

Next, the topic was about the criminal justice system.  My supervisor was talking about her upcoming jury duty.  This began much chatter on the floor.  Coworkers began laughing and making jokes.  One coworker said they [the person on trial] were guilty and that our supervisor should give them “the chair”; so much for the fair trial theory, for an unbiased jury to gather the information and deliver a fair verdict.  On a personal level, my coworkers do not know about my father, his crime, or his imprisonment.  While my father may have been very far away in a prison cell, he was alive.  I wonder if my life would have been different if he had been executed for his crime.  As a child, would that have impacted me differently?  I don’t think people can understand what that’s like to be the child of a convicted felon and truly comprehend how the general population views your convicted parent.  Although they were not talking about my father directly, they were speaking about his actions.  I have very mixed feelings about this topic.  While it was difficult to not have my father around, I am glad he served his prison sentence.  While I wish he would have never got involved in this crime that caused tremendous emotional impact on our whole family, I am glad he was not sentenced to death.

Lastly, I asked a new co-worker how she liked working for our company.  She shared with me her thoughts and then she began to share with me about her previous job and the reason she left.  She talked about her old boss and then called him a “fag”.  She quickly followed up by saying she didn’t hate gay people but…

I was trying to gather my thoughts and grapple for words in this conversation.  I have family members who are gay.  More importantly, this person does not know me well enough to know whether or not I am gay.  It never ceases to amaze me how people who have been discriminated for their gender, their religion, their race can then turn around and use such discriminatory words or actions towards another group.  How can we ever move forward if we cannot see outside our bubble?

setting-privileges-2

I recently had to call into the IT department.  When I did so, the tech asked me to find “Setting Privileges”.  Then he began to inform me what I needed to do for my computer to recognize which privileges I needed in order to perform my daily task.  I thought about that and how that related to the human population.   Are we born and programmed with certain privileges?  And, do those preset privileges enhance or diminish our social status?

Our country?

Our race or cultural?

Our economic class?

Our religion?

Whether we were born gay or not?

Whether we were born with special needs or a disability or not?

Whether we were born into our family or adopted into our family?

These are just some.  There are still more that can factor into our privileges and human experience.

But, should our privileges give us the right to make fun of others?  Should they give us power, control, or a sense of entitlement?

In computing,privilege is defined as the delegation of authority over a computer system. A privilege allows a user to perform an action. … Users who have been delegated extra levels of control are called privileged.

Privilege (computing) – Wikipedia

Having a Voice

Having a voice (whether spoken, written or signed) is an important aspect in a society.  We as individuals and as members of a specific group or gender have always had a need to express our voice.

I was watching the TCM channel over the weekend.  One movie was going off and another was getting ready to come on.  The movie ending was a movie about the old west, a Cowboys and Indians kind of movie.  The movie coming on, ‘Murder Ahoy’, a black and white film, released in 1964 was based off of novels and characters written by Agatha Christie.

The movie began with Miss Marple, an elderly female fictional character who appears in numerous novels and short stories by Agatha Christie.  Miss Marple, dressed in a white collar shirt, jacket, and tie, is sitting at a table among all men discussing matters when one of the men suddenly drops over dead.  This sparks her amateur detective instincts to investigate.  As she is following a trail, she slowly walks backwardly down a fire escape.  Two men, who meet her at the bottom, startling her a bit, question her about her motives.  She becomes stern with them and tells them they do not know what has just happened.  They reassure her that they are well aware of what has just happened and then attempt to scoff her off.  She asks them what they are implying.  (We as viewers know what they are implying.)  They deny they are implying anything.  Then they tell her that maybe she is “not herself.”  Miss Marple quickly and sharply responds, “I have always been myself.”

This is a classic example of a woman being presented as equally important as her male counterparts.

Agatha Christie, being a female herself, creates strong women with dialogue that expresses our own ideas and self-worth.  Agatha Christie does not shy away from showing how women may be perceived and the stereotypes or the subtle oppression that exists, but she is able to use her platform to demonstrate how women are resilient, intelligent, have an important voice and are an equal contributor in any society.

Shonda Rhimes is a modern day example of this.

However, the old western movie that was going off, who had imitation Natives, got me to thinking about all the times we have allowed someone else to speak or portray an image for another race or group.

There are so many that I am afraid I will inadvertently leave off some so I will focus on these key groups.

Slave, Black African American, and old western movies, depicting Cowboys and Indians (Native American Indians), were more often written and directed by white men.  It was their vision, their voice, their interpretation, and their dialogue that was written for the world to see, whether it was accurate or not.

I don’t doubt that “some” had good intentions of trying to capture that reality of a time in history but if we are writing from one side of history, we are not truly portraying a true sense of reality.  If one has never been a slave, then one cannot truly understand or comprehend the intensity of what it means to live as a slave or being a direct descendant of a slave.  Can you imagine a white director or writer telling a black man or woman, this is how slaves acted?  Especially during early American film history, when the Black American voice was silenced and oppressed.

Alex Haley put names and faces to the American Slaves when he told his true story in Roots, which made a huge impact and won one Golden Globe Award and another 16 wins and 35 nominations.

Same goes for the Wild West movies but with one added element, we didn’t even allow Native Americans Indians to act or portray their own roles in our films.  And if we did, it was minute, with possibly one or two key members among hundreds of imitations.  We either used other ethnic groups with similar characteristics or worse, we used white men and painted them brown.

Our American stories, were written to honor or glorify the white Europeans and early Americans about their fight for this country.  But at what cost?  These stories, whether for politics, for the news, for historical preservation or for entertainment, were written from one side, the white mans.

Sure, we’ve always had sympathy characters to tug at our hearts and make us question our motives and morals but when we turned the last page of the book, or watched the credits roll the screen, Americans went back living life as they always have.

Recently, one of my Facebook friends shared a YouTube documentary video of the history of the African-American Cowboys.  In this video, real American black cowboys shared the history and the stories of their parents and previous generations, stating the origins of the American Cowboy is a culmination of the West African heritage and the Spaniards.  They even shared about the history of the term ‘cowboy’ and how it came from the early American slave days.  As commonly known, black males were referred to as boys, no matter if they were young boys or elderly men, during slavery and even up to the Civil Rights era.  So the term, cow-boy, actually started back during slavery and had a whole different connotation than what it later came to represent in movies and folk-lore, which was a strong, rugged white man, like John Wayne, the Lone Ranger and many other western film icons.  Could that have been early appropriation?

Have you ever watched a movie or a news story, read a book or an article that was written or directed by another race, ethnicity or gender who depicted your race or gender from their perception and felt that it was not a true depiction of you or your family, your history, or your people?  How about when the white race is the minority in the movie?  Or a movie, where instead of hiring people who represent your race or culture, the film crew hired another race, costumed them up with paint and fake hair to depict your race?  And White Chicks does not count.  Has your race ever been eliminated completely from historical facts or were the facts grossly distorted to benefit another race or culture?  Not many of us White Americans have, especially in comparison to other groups?

Can you imagine going to a movie and having to watch people with your skin color or your culture being portrayed as subhuman, primitive heathens, being represented in a subservient manner, always obedient to the white man and when that does not happen, the consequences that resulted.  That’s a systematic oppression.

There are a few other examples of this, too.   Adoption is one.

For years, the books, the blogs and personal interviews relating to adoption were mostly by adoptive parents.  They shared their one-sided view on adoption that society seemed to view as the most worthy, respected voice.

The story or stories that were handed down to the adoptee’s about their original, biological family and why they were available for adoption was communicated by adoption professionals to the adoptive parents who then passed the story to the child, if it was even shared or communicated at all.  We’ve since learned over the years, that many of those stories were not true but a false misrepresentation of the facts to appease a need for a separation and relinquishment to occur.  These false stories were needed in order to create a scorned, bad woman, someone who was lacking moral value, who was poor and negligent and was incapable of loving her own flesh and blood or turned away in cold malice.  Adoption movies also played into the roles and stereotypes.  Ironically, these stories conveniently left the males unmarred, who coexisted in the process of breeding.

Adoptees and biological/relinquishing parents are now speaking up and speaking out in great numbers to set the record straight.

White Americans but mostly White American males have been steering the course of our society for hundreds of years and have been exhibiting their white power and privilege over many centuries.  White Americans started out as a minority in this nation and yet have managed to populate this entire country, almost wiping out the Native American Indian culture.  White Americans have dominated politics, literature, media, and entertainment for years, have exhibited many atrocities on this land, none as great as the atrocities than to that of the Black, African American men and women, and yet somehow still seem to find ways to blame others for the demise of American culture and the American dream.

There is this need in our society to create a good people versus a bad people, a hero and a villain, a sinner and a saint, a better than or worse than, a systemic hierarchy, whether it is true or not.  As in all things, there are always exceptions, there are always some truths.  But when those truths are watered down, diluted or distorted to benefit another person’s ego or personal agenda, this is when we begin to create an oppressed, disturbed and dysfunctional society.  We begin to honor the lies and deny the truths.

Here’s the thing, no matter how many lies are told, how much oppression is exhibited, how many times the legal records, history books, or the legal system tries to distort the facts, sooner or later, the truth will reveal itself.  A lie can never change who we are, from the time we enter this world from the time we bid this world adieu.

The truth is White Americans (both males and females) have also protested and fought for the rights and equal treatment of all humans.  This has been documented and we know this to be true.  There is never an all or nothing in our society.  That’s that great thing about living in a free society and country.  But, as many who have fought for the protection of our equal liberty in our free society, there have been just as many fighting against it.

As humans, having a voice and sharing our voice is as old as life itself.  From early biblical stories to folk lore to early American history, speaking up for things that matter to us, especially when we feel we have been forgotten or neglected or oppressed is a natural human instinct.  We all have the same basic needs and our voice helps us attain that need.

 

Divine Intervention

Do you believe in divine intervention?

I learned about divine intervention many years ago.  Silent Unity talks about divine intervention in great lengths and detail.  It is one of the most important aspects of the Silent Unity teachings.

I can’t tell you how many times in my life I have experienced divine intervention.  And every time, it blows my mind.  Sometimes I giggle with amusement, wondering who really is in charge of our life, like there are angels up there guiding our path, sometimes almost puppet like.

Today was a fine example of just that.

My son left early this morning.  He is volunteering with his youth group for a Silent Unity Prayer breakfast.  Unity of Dallas has hosted this event for the last few years.  We come together with Unity churches around the Southwest region.  Ministers, Licensed Unity Teachers, Members and Guest visit, and a keynote speaker comes down from Silent Unity.  There is prayer, fellowship and to be honest, a spiritual awakening that occurs both within and around.

I didn’t attend the Prayer Breakfast this year because I needed to take my car into the shop and have my side mirror replaced that had gotten broken.  Ken from Midas ordered the part and called me yesterday to tell me I could bring in my car today to have it fixed.  So I got ready this morning and went down to Midas.

One of the gentlemen, Binoy, behind the front desk asked me if I was leaving my car with them.  I told him that I hadn’t planned on it.  Getting my car serviced is usually a great opportunity for me to just relax and catch up on my reading.  Today, I brought Heaven Is For Real.  Binoy said they were shorthanded and I may have a long wait, two or more hours.  I informed him that I was by myself and I had no way of getting a ride back home.  He tells me, “No problem, I will give you a ride.”  Now I have been going to this Midas for at least five years.  I really do love these guys.  They are friendly, honest and respectful.  And they never try to sell me anything additional.  Whenever I need to take a long trip out of town or state, I take my car to them.  I trust them to service my car.  They’ve even given me a coupon credit when I didn’t have the coupon with me.  They are just that kind of shop.  But never before have they ever offered to give me a ride.  Then I explained that I’m a single mom (from out of state) and don’t know of anyone who can bring me back to the shop to pick up my car later.  Binoy said, “I will come pick you up.”

Really?”

We get in the car; have a nice conversation and Binoy drops me off at the apartments.  Just as he is leaving, I realize that I have no key to get into my apartment.  I left my car keys with the guys at the shop.  Since I always wait, it never crossed my mind to remove my apartment key.  I chuckle at myself and my predicament for a moment.  Then I decided to call the leasing office.  I explained my situation and asked them if I could borrow a key to get in my apartment.  They said sure and told me to stop by the office to pick it up.  I said, “I’m walking that way right now.”

As I am walking inside the apartment complex down to the front leasing office, I see a lady in a van slow down and lean forward to look at me, as if the person recognizes me.  The passenger window rolls down and it is Allison and her daughter who I just happen to know from our Unity Church for the past seven years or longer.  She looks about as surprised to randomly see me as I am to see her.  Especially since our church is about twenty-five miles away from where I live.  I asked her what is she doing in our area.  She said her daughter had a birthday party to attend.  Allison got lost inside the apartment complex trying to find the building and apartment that was hosting the birthday party.  We have a large apartment community with 18 buildings and 415 units.  It is very easy to get lost.

I tell her my story (why I just happen to be walking around in the apartment complex) and tell her I can get in and help her find the building.  We drove towards the front and find the building she is looking for; which, by the way just happens to be right next to the leasing office.  How about that?  It was a win-win for both of us.

That’s divine intervention.

The next time you are in a situation where things seem to be going wrong; take a deep breath, wait on divine guidance and allow divine intervention to take place.

 

All things work together for good…  – Romans 8:28Image

The Privileged

I just finished watching 12 Years a Slave and so many thoughts are running through my head.  I’ve seen slave movies before, Roots, Django Unchained and a host of others.  I learned nothing new.  But it did reconfirm my belief that the people back then, and by people I mean “white people” were seriously lacking moral values.  Now I understand that not all white people were of the same wicked mind.  But I do think it is fair to say that the majority of the white people, especially those living in slave states were really fucked up.

Excuse my French.  But we are grown folks rights.  I mean if we can watch a film using the “N-word” and watch human beings being sold, chained, whipped and hung for only the sake of a white man’s desires to be richer, well then, the “F-word” should surely not be as offensive as watching this Academy Award winning movie.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing this movie at all!  It was well written, well directed and very well acted.

Can you even imagine?  I mean really imagine what the black actors must have experienced emotionally to recreate this epic film?  I don’t think many of us can.  To allow yourself to be treated with such disgust and ignorance, even if only for make-believe when you yourself know in your mind that the story being told is not made up, and that it not only happened to ONE black man, but happened to many other black men and women whether they lived as a free man or woman or not.

I can only say how very thankful I am that my ancestors arrived in this North American Continent from their European counties in the early 1900’s.  How proud I am that my ancestors were not among those slave owners or cruel hired hands working for the slave owners.

My son and I have had several conversations about slavery and the world today.  And honestly, I do get somewhat frustrated when I hear the white privilege complain about other races, making their ignorant assumptions of how lazy certain races are and how the whites have to pay higher taxes because not everyone is pulling their weight.  I will tell you that in my thirty plus years of working, most of which has been in a large metropolitan area, I’ve worked with equal amounts of dedicated, reliable and loyal African, Latino and Asian American co-workers as well as Caucasian-European American co-workers.

But that’s not even the issue.

What the white privileged of America seem to forget is that slavery made this country VERY RICH.  I seriously doubt that we even would have had the status of the RICHEST country in the world had it not been for the hundreds of years, HUNDREDS OF YEARS of slavery; free workers who made slave owners, business owners, politicians and many other average white men very rich.  Economically, money was flowing, products were being bought and sold.  But at what cost?

These black men and women not only worked for free wages (which the indentured servants did as well) but they were held captive, beat mercifully and treated like animals and sometimes much worse.  To be torn away from your own children because human traffickers could get more money by separating the family, and then to be told, “you will forget all about them [children]” is an unforgivable act.  That’s what they told birth mothers, too, just before money would exchange for the newborn infant.

I wonder how many of us today, no matter what color our skin is, could last as a slave.  I often wonder had America not have had slaves, would it have flourished or even still exist as it is today.  How dirty is our land, our money, our country?  Does it make you proud to be an American knowing that we are rich and free because of the sacrifices that were forced upon human beings who were trafficked and sold and gave their entire life to a country that saw them as no more or less than an animal.

So you will excuse me if I don’t sympathize with you for having to pay a little more taxes that helps pay for unemployment, food stamps, wic, Welfare and Medicaid, which I have also been the recipient of and that many of you falsely claim is mostly used and abused by other races rather than the all righteous white race.  Considering we all still have our freedom, paying taxes to help a needy person, especially single mothers is a small inconvenience as compared to the hundreds of years the slaves worked for free to build this rich, bountiful and free country that so many of us take for granted.

And don’t even get me started on the Emancipation and the Civil Rights Era.

One Year Anniversary

March marks the one year anniversary for my blog.

It has been a wonderful journey.  With nearly 3000 views, your support has helped me grow and for that I am truly thankful.  Here are some stats…

The two top views on my blog… Views
Home page / Archives 590
One Woman’s choice by Karen Whitaker 99
The top post with the most views…

My Storybook Father

98
UNWANTED 96
The Birth/Adoption Community 85
 TO MY BIRTH MOTHERS 82
The Best Date of My Life 58
Abortion 54
My Choice 50
Unexpected Mother 46
Growing up HOH 42
Look Deeper 38
Single Mom 37
The Gift of Reading 36
My Wedding Day 35
I Dreamed of You… 35
Adversity 31
Mary, The Unexpected Mother 31
Trans-racial, Bi-racial 31
Courage 31
Top Facebook Shares…
My Storybook Father 55 shares
The Best Date of My Life 32 shares
My Choice 30 shares
UNWANTED 27 shares
Adversity 16 shares
The Gift of Reading 10 shares
Single Mom 9 shares
My Wedding Day 9 shares
The Bloggers’ favorites…
The Blame Game 8
The Magic Show 5
Trans-racial, Bi-racial 4
Courage 4
The Birthday/Anniversary Blues, Life After Relinquishment 4
Perception 4

Urban VS Country

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This is my son’s essay he wrote for a high school project.  I really liked it and asked him if I could post it on my blog.  Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts and opinions.

Urban VS Country, By Jaren

I believe it is better to live in the city than in the country because cities have so much more to offer.

In a small town everything is repetitive. You see the same people, go to the same places, do the same things, and eat the same things over and over almost like a never-ending cycle. Don’t get me wrong, I love small towns as much as the next guy and visiting is nice. It exposes you to something different, but I couldn’t live that way for an extended period of time. Small towns might be good for someone who likes familiarity, but the mundane tediousness gets old.

Cites give you the chance to meet a plethora of diverse people and differing cultures. Cities have generally good education systems and job options.  The city has sights, sounds and new beginnings that a small town could never offer you. Cities live and breathe to move forward and innovate, while small towns constrict to a generic lifestyle.

If you make one small bad choice in a small town, everyone will know.  You will be known by this.  But the city could care less. There are so many men and women in the metropolitan that no matter how many relationships you sever, you will always have the opportunities to meet someone new.

Cities boast so much more extravagance than a dusty old small town and the opportunities are endless. Cites have sprawling areas that can contain hints of rural and country counterparts to coincide with the massive buildings, and highly populated parts.

The city has something for everyone!

The Blame Game

I’ve had many conversations with my teenage son about the blame game and taking responsibility.  I think we all, at one time or another, have looked for someone to blame when something hasn’t gone our way.  We start pointing our fingers, “You’re to blame, and you’re to blame.”  It’s understandable, especially when the incident causes a ripple effect that sometimes creates added stress, hardship or disappointing consequences.

Most of us have seen someone driving recklessly on a freeway, rubber necking on someone’s bumper to urge them to move out of their way because they are in such a hurry.  The frantic driver will torture some other driver on the road, trying to bully them into getting out of their way because in their mind, if that one driver would move, they could get where they needed to be so much quicker as if the blame belongs to that one driver in front of them.  The truth is, more often, it has nothing to do with the car in front of them.  The frantic driver didn’t allow sufficient time to get to where they needed to be and the innocent driver just happens to be the subject of this frantic driver’s irritation and rage.

That’s what I call misguided blame.

A friend of mine relinquished her parental rights two times.  It was during the late 70’s to the early 80’s.  I don’t remember her telling me why she chose to carry her child instead of choosing to abort, as abortions would have been legal at that time.  She told no one of her pregnancy.  When she went to give birth for the first time, alone and scared, she was only fourteen years old.  She said the nurses were very cruel to her, which back then was not uncommon for nurses or society to harshly scold and blame women as the problem for unintended pregnancies.  They chastised her for getting pregnant and told her she should be ashamed of herself for sleeping around at such a young age.  But what the nurses didn’t know is that my friend was not sleeping around and was not to blame for getting pregnant.  You see, her own father was having sex with her.  He made her pregnant.

That’s what I call misguided blame.

I was visiting a birth mother’s community group page the other day and read a post from a new mother reaching out with her deepest emotions.  She was struggling as to whether she should go through with relinquishing her parental rights or not.  Many concerned individuals commented (from birth moms, adoptive parents to adoptees) with similar advice, “Do what you feel is right.”  I, too, did not try to convince her to parent her child or to relinquish.  However, one poster became very angry with her.  The poster was harsh in her comments that I felt were irrational.  She gave no consideration to this fresh new mom whose heart was heavy with a choice.  The poster tried to guilt this woman for wanting to keep that which was naturally given to her and was rightfully hers to keep.  Then she made assumptions about the hopeful couple and began blaming this new mother for the anguish the hopeful couple had surely endured while waiting to adopt and the grief that was surely to come.  But maybe, just maybe this poster herself has been waiting to adopt and now she needed to disperse her anger and bitterness towards this innocent young female as if this new mother was to blame for the childless couples who have no baby to hold in their arms and no child to parent.

That’s what I call misguided blame.

Likewise, just as the driver wishes to remove the vehicle from his path, and the pro-life campaigners wish eliminate the abortion clinics; there are also many birth parents who desire to eliminate adoption agencies.  Some birth parents blame the adoption industry for relinquishing their parental rights of their newborn baby.  And while I don’t defend unethical adoption practices, I know that the adoption industry itself is not to blame for mothers and fathers choosing to relinquish their parental rights.  Aside from the baby scoop era, women now-a-days have options.  Based on our unique circumstances and support, we can choose to abort, we can choose to continue our pregnancy for the next nine months and then parent or we can choose to give birth and relinquish our parental rights.

When I chose adoption, I had already experienced an abortion.  I had already experienced being pregnant, giving birth and parenting my first born child as a single parent.  I consciously made the choice to consider adoption for my second born.  The adoption agency or the adoption industry is no more to blame for me choosing to relinquish my parental rights than the abortion clinic is to blame for me choosing to abort my unintended pregnancies.

The truth is, there are too many people and politics involved to disburse blame at one target.  I’m not saying it is wrong to experience the blaming emotion.  But what I am saying is that sometimes, we don’t have all the facts.  Other times, we refuse to acknowledge our own misguided judgments.  And occasionally, we deny our own choices that resulted in the consequence.  We cannot control others who wrongfully throw blame at us but we can control how we choose to blame.  Blaming someone or something else can make us feel better.  I get that.  But when we hold onto the misguided blame and resentment, we become stuck in a place and our mind becomes a prisoner of our past.  If we want to heal and grow, we must be accountable for our part of the choice and the process.