Monday, July 27, 2015

Someone Else's Story

"In a way
It's someone else's story
I don't see myself
As taking part at all"
-Chess 

I first saw the musical Chess when I was in junior high. We went to NYC for the day. My mom, my step-dad, my step-sister and me. I think my step-grandparents may have been there as well. It was hot, maybe August? And it was fantastic.

Musical theater is something I have always loved. It was one of the few things my parents agreed on and they both raised us around theatrical experiences. In school, I participated in all the productions and all of my extra curricular activities were drama based. 

The lyrics from this particular show pop into my head a lot. When Gary and I first started dating, he used that to his advantage. He knew the musical and was able to talk to me about it. The show never had that much success so I saw it as a sign that he knew some of my favorite songs!

Anyway, a few weeks ago, a friend of mine reached out and told me that she and her husband had been going though all the motions for adoption and they were finally picked. Their baby is due this week.

This is not my story. It's someone else's story. And yet it feels so much like mine.

I have been on-hand to answer any questions that she has. The birth mother is actually closer in proximity to me than her so I have been doing all I can to advise her. It was not too long ago that I was the one who needed the assistance and that need never goes away. I have reached out to other adoptive parents and we have formed this "network" of who to call and where to go and what to expect and jokingly said we should form an "adoption welcome wagon" of sorts. It's such a scary time. It's such a hard time. It can be such a rewarding and tremendous time, too.

This friend of mine, this almost-adoptive mom, has a daughter who lives in heaven with Allie. That makes me want to help her even more. That also makes her story feel like my own.

Adoption is one of the best things that happened to our family. I know it will be for my friend, too. One day, she will tell her story and I will be just a footnote in it. And that's ok. Because I am still living my own story, too.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Listen To Your Heart

For the last week or so, I have been "interviewing" fellow weight loss clients to get their stories. I set aside 30 minutes for us to chat and for me to ask them a bunch of questions. Then I spend the time putting the right words to their story.

What started as an extra "job" for me as become a privilege and an honor that I did not expect. These women are sharing their souls with me and trusting me to make them sound good! Except my part is the easy part - they have done all the work.

I am a talker. Always have been. I thought I was a good listener, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I need to listen better.

image from wildlyfreewoman.net
When someone trusts you to write about them, you need to set aside your feelings and opinions and really just listen. I am used to writing about myself or corporate training materials - one of which is very personal and one of which is not remotely personal! So this new gig was a challenge for me.

If losing weight was easy, there would be no overweight people in the world. Everyone would just do it. But it's not easy. It's hard. And it's hard for a variety of different reasons. It's my role now to listen and share. 

My whole life, I have heard things, but have I listened? Would I have ever come across this weight loss plan had I listened to my loved ones express their worry about my weight? If I had listened years ago and got the weight off and kept if off then? Our fertility doctor told me years ago that I had to lose weight in order to get the anesthesia I needed for one of the procedures. I cried for hours after he told me. I saw it as an attack. I was embarrassed. But had I listened to what he said and not just heard what I thought he said, would it have made a difference?

I won't do the "coulda shoulda woulda". That gets me nowhere. But here I am thinking that to start really listening at 41 is just so late. But I guess starting now is better than not starting at all, right?

I have told my story time and again. And you all have listened. Now it's my time to do the same.

I want to be more present. To really listen. To be in the moment. I think it will make me more proud of who I am and I know it will make be a better mom. And a better mom is a better me.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

For Good

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun,
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood.
Who can say if I've been changed for the better
But because I knew you.
I have been changed for good.

I never saw the show Wicked, but last night, we saw Idina Menzel in concert and she sang that song a capella towards the end of the show. I had goosebumps.

I had chills when she sang two songs from Rent as that is one of my all time favorite shows. And when she sang, "Let it Go", my heart filled with joy thinking about Miranda and how much she loves to also belt out that song. When she performed, "Don't Rain on My Parade", I immediately thought of my dad and how much he would have enjoyed hearing her rendition. 

But for a song that I did not know to leave me wanting more? Well, I guess that is the power of music. A way to form a connection, to find meaning, to express what sometimes you do not even know needs to be expressed.

Allie changed me for good. Plain and simple. She taught me to be a better person. A kinder person. A more gentle person. 

Miranda has changed me for good, too. No question. She has taught me how to love unconditionally. She has taught me the power and strength of love and hope.

Gary bought us the tickets for last night's show back in December. We asked my mom back then to babysit and before we hung up the phone from when she said yes, we booked our overnight stay. We had 24 hours, give or take, to just be us again and it was terrific.

We shopped. We ate. We laughed. We walked the boardwalk. We people watched. We talked about our past and made guesses about our future. I got in a little beach time and got to dip my toes in the ocean, too.

We stayed up past 9. We slept in past 6. We did not have a diaper bag or a high chair or any boogie wipes. It was really nice.

At the end of our stay, we were ready to go home.  When we pulled up in our driveway, the most beautiful monarch butterfly was waiting for us. My mom said it had been fluttering around for a good 30 minutes or so. It was waiting for us. She was waiting for us. It was Allie. As far as I am concerned, we came home today to both our girls.

It felt so good. It felt so right. 

Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

More Than Words

There are good words and there are bad words. 

Stillbirth is not a bad word. Yet people are afraid to talk about it.

Adoption is not a bad word. Yet people are afraid to ask too many questions.

Weight is not a bad word. Yet so many people I know that are overweight, feel badly about themselves.

I think, as a society, we have come very far. People (women, in particular) are giving a voice to the topics that plague us. I have two friends who are battling cancer right now and both are sharing their stories with gusto and passion. They will not be ignored until a cure is found and awareness is everywhere. I admire and respect them and would never think to pity them or feel anything other than pride.

One of the reasons I write is to find my voice. I also write to give a voice to the topics near and dear to me. Lately, a lot of my writing has been about my path to a healthier me. 

Earlier this week, I was invited to be the Content Editor for the company that has helped me find the true me. I will interview clients and blog about their stories and give them a voice. Weight loss is hard. Weight loss is personal. Often times, we associate our weight with our self-worth. My goal is to stop that thinking. As soon as possible. Let's spend our energy on feeling good! Let's take the negative energy and thoughts and spin them into positive ones.

The other day when I was out for a run, I was thinking about Allie. I was wondering if she would recognize me if she saw me today. I am not sure what made me think that as in my mind, she is still an infant and not a toddler or a little girl who would be able to recognize anyone. I almost stopped in my tracks when I realized that she only knew me from the inside and on the inside, I am exactly the same. That made me feel warm from the inside out. I kept running.

Adoptions from the Heart allows for photo submissions once a year for their annual calendar. Every year, we submit a picture and every year, Miranda gets chosen. We then buy that calendar for our families and give it out with pride. Adoption changed our life. Adoption changed our daughter's life. In our house, it's a very good word indeed.

I am not afraid to tell people about my weight loss journey. I have been very public about it and that has prompted many emails and texts and instant messages. I have talked to a former sorority sister via Facebook. I chatted with a cousin of my mom's (and mine) whom I have not seen in decades. I counseled a woman I work with on my freelance job. With each inquiry, I am reminded that I have a duty to share my struggles and that my struggles are helping others. That pretty much rocks.

Soon I will start to share the stories of others. I am flattered and honored and I hope I do right by them. I think I will. I am learning that as long as I do right by me, all else just falls into place. Good words, bad words, all all words in-between.

Vacation or Relocation?

I love a good vacation. Always have. I love the planning and the anticipation and the experience of discovering someplace new.  Once ...