Sunday, August 18, 2013

Quote For The Week

Don't gain the world and lose your soul, wisdom is better than silver or gold.
Bob Marley

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Quote For The Week

"Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs."
Farrah Gray

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Quote For The Week

"Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die tomorrow."
James Dean

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Quote For The Week

Another quote from my favorite person Bob Marley. A wise man--

"The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively."
Bob Marley

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Living life like a Gypsy

My life has been lived like a gypsy. The longest I've ever lived in one place, is when I was a child growing up in California. I was born in a small town in Northern California and lived there until I was fourteen years old.
 My parents divorced when I was five years old, I bounced back and force between parents, which were two hours away from one another. My mom had remarried and when her second marriage didn't work out she decided to move out of state. This was the first time I had been outside of California. It was summer when we moved, we finally arrived in Utah after a two day trip in a Uhaul truck with my mom, brother, and our cat "spooks," I felt as if I was in a foreign country. I was naive enough at my young age to assume all of the United States looked like California. The first thing I noticed was the mountains and they were everywhere. I was feeling claustrophobic. As beautiful as the mountains were I felt as if I couldn't breath, I was surrounded by mountains. I struggled not being able to see anything but mountains and it took me a few years to adapt to them. The people here looked like barbie dolls compared to the casual natural, liberal, hobby look, I was use to in California. Everyone was more into fashion, make up, their hair. I even got caught up in the whole make up and hair thing during my High School years; Couldn't get my hair big enough. Thank you, Aqua Net! Utah has a language all its own with a country slang I had never heard before. Using words, such as, "sluff," which, meant to "ditch" school, and "Oh my Heck," which was the Utah's version of "Oh my God." I was teased for talking to proper and pronouncing my "ing." In Utah they ended their words with "in."( For example, "nothing" would be "nothin.") Utah was a much more conservative state, not the liberal views I was use to in California. Moving to Utah was the first of many moves; I was yet to understand the chain reaction it would create.

 As fast as I made friends was how fast we were packing and moving to the next town. Every town and school was a different experience. I hung around the jocks and cheerleaders in one school, and the "parking lot crew"(the stoners) in the next school. I never had the same two experiences. I quickly learned how different people were depending on where they lived. I experienced all kinds of attitudes from people, and learned how being the new girl could be a good thing or bad thing depending on where we lived, and how judgmental and ignorant people could be. I was judged for being new, coming from a single parent home, not having enough money, not being churchy enough or for being to nice. We moved to seven different towns, and a third failed marriage before my mom finally settled in a small town in Southern Utah.  I went to five different Elementary schools, two different middle schools, and four different High Schools.

 After High School I couldn't wait to move out . I was the typical 18 year old who thought I knew everything. I was ready for my own adventures. I left to be a Nanny in New York. I left the day after my High School graduation.  I couldn't have left fast enough.  I shared this experience with a couple of High School friends, who decided to be Nannies also and it was amazing!  I met a lot of wonderful people and had an experience of a lifetime. It was very liberating and for the first time I was questioning everything. I didn't have my mom there telling me what to do, the decisions I made were mine to make! I loved the freedom, I felt so carefree, as if the world was ALL mine! My favorite memories were the times I went into Manhattan, such as, walking in Central Park, jumping on the giant piano in FAO Swartz, walking down Time Square and taking pictures with President Reagan and other card board life size images of celebrities we would see on the sidewalks, Seeing the "BIG" screen at the diagonal of Time Square was memorizing and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving parade was unforgettable. I can't forget a taxi running over my foot in front of Macy's. I wasn't hurt just stunned. Don't get in those taxis way! Going to "SOHO" and buying my first imitation "guess" watch from a guy selling them on the street. I wanted to experience something crazy and that was my crazy. Going on a night cruise on the Hudson river and going under the Brooklyn Bridge was amazing. I attempted to stand in line to take the ferry over to see the lady herself(The Statue of Liberty), but being the impatient teenager I was after four hours of standing in line I gave up. Regretfully, not seeing her or the "Twin Towers" are the things I wish I had visited while I was there. After "9/11" I regretted it even more. I went on a church camping trip with friends and while we were sitting and talking on a floating dock in the middle of the lake we saw a man drown and come back to life with the help of stranger at the lake who preformed CPR. Yes, It is lifesaving! Friends and I would always get together at a place called, "Friendly's"(ice cream parlor). I have never seen ice cream served as big as Friendly's. The servings were so huge we all shared one ice cream and still couldn't finish it. The best ice cream I've ever had.

I went on vacations with the family I nannied for. We drove the East Coast and it was astonishing. I toured historical homes in Rhode Island,  and picnicked in Massachusetts, but the most memorable of them all was seeing all the transvestites in Cape Cod. Talk about an eye opening experience for me! I would try to imagine them without their makeup and how they looked as a guy. Coming from Utah I was in shock that these woman were men and at the same time in awwh, that some of them were prettier than the real girls. Oh, did they know how to work it! They walked with more of a shake than any girl I had ever seen and with such attitude. They dressed in high heels, short mini skirts, and sleazy tank tops. Some were even flapping around feathers around there necks. Lots of caked on make up and big long hair. I couldn't help but stare. I never saw anything like this before, but I remember I loved the reggae music that was playing. There was a different band all along Cape Cod and people dancing everywhere. We stayed the night in a little bed and breakfast and ate at this little seafood restaurant along the ocean. If, I had liked seafood it would of been a great experience. It was suppose to be the best in town and we had a long wait to get a table just for me to have my cheeseburger and fries. My employers were shaking their heads as if I was missing out on something terrific, but to me it was all wonderful. The next morning we took the ferry over to Nantucket and stayed for a weekend. It was breathtaking. I tanned on the beach and listened to the Atlantic ocean waves peacefully roll in at night. The streets were made of cobblestone and everyone got around by moped. We took an excursion to watch the whales and the only thing I ended up watching was the captains son who was guiding the sails on the boat. He couldn't be much older than me at the time and he was gorgeous. I can't even remember if we saw any whales that day or not, but I remember talking to him and sailing on the boat.

Some friends and I even managed to drive up to the famous "West Point Academy" and tour their campus and attend  their weekend dances. The men were so proper in their white uniform and clean cut look. The boys would come talk to me and I got all shy and was scared to talk to them, A dead give away of how naive I still was. I look back now and think, Wow! I was a stupid little girl.

This was the first time that I was able to think for myself and not believe something because it was what I was told to believe my entire life. I started questioning religion and wanted to know which one was true. I did a lot of soul searching while I was a Nanny. My employers were jewish and I learned to have a great respect for the jewish religion, they enjoyed teaching me their faith and I enjoyed learning about it. I studied more intensely into the mormon and catholic religion, I talked to a monk who explained Buddhism to me and was impressed with their teachings. Pretty much any religion I could think of I studied. I came to the conclusion that there were things I liked and didn't like with all of them. There isn't one certain religion I believed 100%, but I did learn they all believe in love, faith, peace, family and a Higher Being. They all believe in us as individuals becoming the best person we can become.  Ultimately everyone is trying to return to the same place we are all just traveling down different roads. We just need to find the path that fits are lifestyle and needs.

My experience being a Nanny was one of the best things I ever did. I saw so much. It was a time in my life to discover me. I have cherished these memories and will never forget them. I hope someday to take my family their and let them experience New York also.

It wasn't until after my time in New York when I ventured into my life of adulthood, that I realized how much the instabilities of my childhood had affected my decision making as an adult.  I started college and dropped out of college several times. I kept moving around because I couldn't figure out where or what I wanted to be. I got bored with jobs and didn't like being stuck in the same routine every day. Working a job longer than a year, it seemed I should be moving and doing something new, but I didn't know what I was looking for.  It took me several years after I was married to realize I was repeating the same choices my mom had made, and I married a person who grew up the same way; neither one of us knew how to be settled. In my adult life I continued moving around. So far,  in my Eighteen years of marriage we have lived in six different places and three different states, this time following my husbands jobs. We have never lived in one place longer than five years during our married life.  I've tried my best to keep my children settled, but life circumstances have kept us moving around and I saw myself becoming resentful again. Hating my adult life because it didn't follow the path I had imagined I would be taking.

 I hit my rock bottom the day my husband told me we needed to move for the seventh time and once again start over. I was getting to old for this.  My kids weren't little anymore. I was tired of moving, and all the packing and having to get rid of belongings. At this very moment I realized I had the power to change my life.  I could tell him no and refuse to go and finally settle down, or I could accept we will always have to move around for his job and go with him. I couldn't take starting over again. The decision now was to stay married or not to stay married; with this empowering new enlightenment I felt a big weight lifted from me. I didn't have to go!!

I anxiously talked to the kids one day while my husband was gone and expressed my concern about moving again and having to start over. Having my kids best interest at heart I thought they would be thrilled to hear we didn't have to go with daddy and we could stay, they were always complaining about us moving anyways, but to my surprise when I told them we didn't have to move anymore and could settle down they didn't want to stay if it meant not being a family and their dad would be somewhere else; at this very moment I learned the value of family. It didn't matter where we lived, or how we lived what mattered was that we lived it together as a family. Then it hit me! I could remain angry and be miserable the rest of my life, or I could change my attitude and see the good in all this. For one, I had a hard working husband that provides for us four healthy children, and we were getting to travel and see more places then most people get to do.

It's been good and bad not being settled. My family has experienced a lot of different cultures and met a lot of different people each one with a story to share and something to give. There has been a lesson to learn every place we have lived for either myself, my husband or my children. I wouldn't trade the memories I've shared with my family for anything. I've met wonderful people and made some lifetime friends. I talk to people who have never left the town they were born in and I think to myself how sad it is they will never know what else is out there. Moving around can be hard and sometimes devastating, but it can also be very rewarding. I hated my mom as a child for moving me around and I've resented my husband for moving us around and choosing a career that doesn't keep us settled, but when I changed my attitude to see the positive in all of it and everything I was learning every time we moved I don't regret any of it. This brings me to one of my favorite quotes:

" Be a traveler, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what's right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding this amazing world we live in." Andrew Zimmern

I finally did finish school, but like my life it took me a while, when I did I walked a way with a Cosmetology license, Medical Assisting Certificate, and two separate Associates Degree's. Everyone teases me with all the education I've gotten I should have my Master's Degree. I don't have a Master's Degree on paper, but I have earned it in life, with every journey I have been on, every road I have traveled, through my husband, my parents, my children, my friends and every person I have encountered,  through laughter and tears, trials and tribulations, I've had a lifetime of learning and I continue to learn everyday.

So, now I prepare with my family to start another journey in our gypsy lives and I look forward to what I will see, experiences I will have, people I will meet, and memories I will make together with my family. I know my life isn't an easy one or for that matter a normal one, but it's always an interesting one.

It's all about how you handle life situations and the challenges that are thrown in front of you. You can become hateful, angry, and bitter, or you can see the positive in every situation and the lesson to learn, this is what determines the integrity, dignity, and character of your soul.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Quote For The Week

"Every day, a new opportunity to decide where your next step will go is given to you. Your future will be determined by the accumulation of these daily decisions. You control your steps and therefore your destiny, so choose wisely."
Kevin Ngo

Monday, July 15, 2013

Quote For The Week

"Take risk: if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wiser."

Monday, July 8, 2013

Quote For The Week

This week was a tough one. Having to say Good-bye to my oldest son and his new bride gave me the inspiration to say Good-bye to a lot of things. I spring cleaned my house and got rid of things I was hanging onto for years, wondering why I found them so important and realized they no longer served their purpose. The materialistic things I thought were so irreplaceable are nothing compared to a child. I was finally able to allow myself to get rid of clutter and memorabilia that I've been hauling all over the country for years. Having to see a child leave his family nest to start his own family was the hardest thing to date I've had to do, and it made me realize the things I placed so important and irreplaceable ARE replaceable, I was finally able to let them go.This week I didn't only say Good-bye to my son as he moves on with his life. I was also able to say Good-bye to a lot of my past and move on also. Needless to say I'm having a huge yard sale!  I find this quote fitting for this week. I hope you find it inspirational too--

"Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them. They move on. They move away. The moments that used to define them- a mother's approval, a father's nod, are covered by moments of their own accomplishments. It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the waters of their lives."
 Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Cutting Those Apron Strings

"Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them. They move on. They move away. The moments that used to define them- a mother's approval, a father's nod, are covered by moments of their own accomplishments. It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the waters of their lives."
 Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

When I started having children my life ended as I knew it and my children became my life. Days of no sleep, nursing sick children, cleaning up puke, performing first aid on endless cuts, scrapes and bruises, yelling and arguing, sadness, laughter and love, many talks and sometimes just listening, being chauffeur to many play dates, sports, sleepovers, and misc. events. The list goes on and on when you become a parent.

With each one of my children I couldn't wait for my baby to crawl, walk, talk, make friends, start school, become a teenager(Beware-Parents do not always look forward to these years), have their first date, get their drivers license, get their first job, graduate from High School, College, moving out of the house, and finally finding the one they want to marry. Always wanting them to grow up, then sorry when they do. You would think when we already know the outcome, it would be easy to let our child go. We should be kicking them out the minute they turn of legal age, patting ourselves on the back and going on a well deserved vacation!

Our lives as parents are so secure when our children our young. We are still in control. Teaching our children, giving advice and paving the path for them to take. Still being able to correct their mistakes and turning every bad situation into a lesson for them to learn. We are there for them, not missing a second of their lives, building a nest of security for them.

The day when your child graduates from High School is one of the proudest days in a child's life. A milestone stating their childhood is complete and their willingness to start their adulthood while they still know everything has started.

I remember watching my son graduate from High School. One of the proud moments of his life and of mine. A sense that I did alright as a parent. College was his next step and he would be leaving soon after his High School graduation, which, made this special day  bitter/sweet. I prepared the whole time being a parent teaching this child to be successful in life and now I was having to put faith in my own teachings and trust I taught him enough, so he will be able to go out in the world and be a successful, functional young adult; Understanding he will have challenges in life and I won't always be there for him, not because I don't want to be there, but because I know he isn't going to share things with me like when he was young.

The day my son left home for college was a sobering one. I'm excited to see what kind of adult he will be and what life has in store for him, but sad my baby is growing up and his childhood is nothing but pictures in photo albums and memories now. Finally, understanding that stage in our lives is over, is an emotional one. I wanted to hold him and never let him go, but at the same time I could see his excitement, his anxiety, his longing for self independence to move on and become his own person, this only reminded me of the day I left home and I knew I had to let him go.

It wasn't long until he was to busy for family gatherings. "Can't take off work, or "have to much homework to do," were his famous words for everything. Our family learned to do things without him; sadly after a while it was normal to not have him around. For the first time I began to understand why my mom and grandparents got so excited for the holidays. The day you will have ALL your family home with you. Life hadn't gotten to busy he didn't want to be home for the holidays and I was going to take full advantage of it. I started to look forward to when college was out and I knew he would be home. I decorated to impress him and made sure all his childhood memories and favorite decorations were sitting out around the house, so we could reminisce about them later. The holidays were no longer about making it fun, but cherishing the time I had all my children home.

I wanted to know everything while he was home. How he was doing in school? Friends? Girlfriends? How his life was going? I wanted him to tell me everything like he use too. He would answer my questions, but I could feel a sense of coolness, he was to old to share these answers with his mother and he acted like it was awkward; maybe I was being a bit nosey. I realize now it's harder for the parent when a child becomes an adult, than it is for the child. It hurts to see the closeness slipping away, I am not the main person in his life anymore. When he was growing up he depended on me for everything, now he depends on his friends.  I saw it slowly happening, just like it did for me and my parents when I became an adult. He was becoming independent. I had always thought in the back of my mind It would never happen to me! I was going to be the "Cool" parent, I was his "BFF." I kept up on all the latest technology to not become old fashion. Foolish enough to think time would stop for me.

His High School sweetheart went to college with him. I gave them their freshman year before they would break up;  to my amazement they found a way to make it last. Pretty soon, he was bringing her home for the holidays, it wasn't just him anymore. Really? I didn't even get my holidays with him anymore. I had to share!  His girlfriend was a very nice girl, but I saw him turning to her more than to me and this was a new stage for us. One I wasn't sure I wanted to get use too. My first reaction was to yell at him and tell him he was to young to have a serious relationship. I wanted to ground him and send him to his room until I realized he was in college, living on his own, in his twenties and he was completely acting his age. As a mother the hardest thing to do is to welcome another girl into your son's life, to come to terms with the realization I won't be the only girl in his life anymore.

By his Senior year of College the "BIG" day came when he told me he wanted to ask his girlfriend to marry him. We talked for hours it seemed. I think secretly I was hoping to talk him out of it for my own selfish reasons, but knowing in my heart it would never happen I had to accept it and let him move on.  I felt very honored when he chose me to go with him to pick her engagement ring. It was a moment I will always cherish. I knew the whole time we were looking at rings this would probably be the last real mother/son time we would have before he started his next journey. We went to all the jewelry stores in town before we found the perfect ring for this special girl he had chosen to make his wife. I couldn't help but keep staring at my little boy, this is when I realized my son had truly become a man.

He proposed to her like a perfect gentleman with honor respecting her enough to ask her father for her hand in marriage first. Her parents were so excited. They gave him their blessing and anxiously waited for two weeks before their daughter called and told them she was getting married. Her parents later told us everytime she would call and not say anything they got nervous that my son had changed his mind. When she finally called to let them know my son had proposed they were ecstatic. The next time we saw them she was wearing her ring. It looked gorgeous on her and my son was proud to show it off to us. I smiled and hugged them both still thinking in the back of my head these kids were to young, but realizing I was only two years older than them when I got married.The only thing I asked of my son before he went to college was to not get married until he had finished college and had something to offer a wife and a family and he did exactly what I had asked so, how could I be upset. He respected me as a parent to listen, so I had to respect him that he knew what he was doing.

Soon we had his college graduation. What an honor to share this experience with him, and, of course his fiance. I was getting use to the fact that she was part of our family now. We had gained another daughter. All my other children loved her. My younger son even had a little crush on her and was devastated when his brother asked her to marry him, because he wanted to marry her when he was all grown up. I remember during his graduation I was looking all around to see him so I could give him a hug and put a lei around him and congratulate him. When I saw him he hugged me, I could see he was happy I was there, but his eyes were wandering as he asked where "SHE" was. He was looking for his fiance, not me. This was devastating! I called her down and graciously handed her my lei to have her put around my son and I took their picture. The way he looked at her I could see the love in these young kids eyes. I look at this picture almost everyday to remind me I will always be his mother, but his adulthood life will be shared with her. When I see the love in their eyes I know everything is the way it's suppose to be.

Exactly a month after his college graduation we were sitting at his wedding. This day was a surreal moment for me. I was there, but it felt like I was dreaming it. My baby was getting married. There was no turning back now. This boy I loved and invested so much of my life into was now going to share his life with someone else. I was being pushed to the sidelines. It felt so unfair, and so out of my control. Doing the right thing can be SO hard sometimes.  I will merely become the holiday parent and occasional phone call. I won't even get the holidays anymore I will have to share the holidays with her family now, I've never spent a christmas without him. This is going to be new territory for me. I won't be the person he counts on, shares his secrets with, asks advice, I can't kiss his "boo, boo's" anymore and tell him everything will be alright. She will now be who he turns too, which, is how it should be, this parenting stuff is getting a lot harder than I thought it would be.  I've decided raising him was easy, the biggest challenge has been letting him go.

After his wedding my son and his new bride came to stay with us while they waited for the day to come they were leaving for Hawaii, this is where they decided to start their lives together as a married couple.  I cherished every day I had with him. I dreaded going to bed knowing when I woke up it was one less day we had left with him. He spent a lot of time with his siblings. I could see them rebuilding their relationships again and they flocked around my son, as if, he was a celebrity. They went to movies, played games and sat in their rooms talking for hours making memories. I cooked all his favorite dinners and foods for him. I enjoyed being able to cook for him once more. I had my whole family at the table again, but this time we had an addition to the family. She fit right in with our crazy, dysfunctional family.

 I kept going over thoughts in my mind did I do everything I wanted to do with him? Then, I remembered we never went to Disneyland! Ever since he was 8 years old I kept telling him we would go to Disneyland and we never did. How could I have let that slip by? How could I have forgotten to take him? Right then, I wanted to cry. I failed as a mother. I forgot to take him to Disneyland. All these years gone by and he never said a word to me about it. I wonder when he gave up on going? What kind of mother was I? My next family vacation will be to Disneyland and I will make sure he can come! The rest of the week I wanted to bring it up and talk to him about it, but I was so ashamed of myself I couldn't say the words, instead I watched silently from a distance and took a lot of family pictures trying to cram everything into one week. My house was full and I loved it!

The day finally came when we had to say Good-bye. I had so much I wanted to say and yet the ride to the shuttle they would take to the airport was silent. I was scared if I said anything I was going to break down and cry. I had to remain strong I was the Mother, I could tell he was having a hard time saying Good-bye, so I couldn't break down. For the first time in my life I had no control over him. I couldn't stop him from leaving. I couldn't ground him or make him stay.  I just wanted to hold him and never let him go, but I had to graciously bow down and let him go. This was his time, the future is new for him, unexplored, so many dreams he is making with his wife and challenges they will face together, they deserved to have their turn. The day every parent dreads had finally come for me. Wanting to tell him not to leave, but knowing I couldn't. I tearfully hugged him and saw his face looking at me wanting reassurance he was doing the right thing. I smiled at him and nodded and told him he will do great. He smiled and I knew things were just as they were suppose to be. I told him I loved him and I watched him leave.

We followed their shuttle on the freeway as far as the exit to our home. I quietly said Good-bye one last time to the boy I remember as I saw the shuttle disappear knowing the next time I saw him he wouldn't be the boy, but a man with his own family and responsibilities, he had entered into adulthood.  The ride home I felt nauseous and torn. There is a void in my heart now where someone is missing. I don't like it, but I accept it, not because I want to only because I know that is how life was intended to be. We all grow up and move on, we all have our turn being children, teenagers, adults, spouse, parent, and grand-parent. I can't change that. This is how the world works. I will admit the thought that I only have being a grandparent left is pretty depressing.

When we got home and I walked in the house nothing in my house looked the same, I found my eyes wandering straight to the family pictures hanging on the wall. I didn't care about the couch I had to have and insisted we buy. I didn't care about the computer I saved months to buy or the vase I spent way to much money on so it would match my couch. I cared about the pictures on my wall.  When I walked into the family room and saw my three other children. I stopped and stared at them. They feel asleep watching T.V. waiting for us to come home. I went over to them after taking a few pictures and embraced each one of them, kissing them on the cheek; understanding the day will come when I will have to cut those apron strings and tell them Good-bye too, but it's not this day.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Quote For the Week

I love Bob Marley and marrying a reggae musician has kept Bob Marley in my life. Some of my most favorite quotes come from him. I have always been impressed with his laid back, chill look on life. He looked at everything in a positive matter, and never let anything bring him down. Although, I may not agree with all his views,  I agree for the most part with his philosophy on life. He deserves to be the legend he is today. You will find I put a lot of his quotes on my blog.

This weeks quote:

"Live the life you love, Love the life you live."
Bob Marley

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Quote For The Week

6/26/13--I love Quotes. I find them inspiring and a nice way to express your feelings without having to say a lot of words. So I've decided to share some of my favorite Quotes on my blogger. I will start posting a weekly Quote, I hope you find them just as inspiring. I will begin with my own personal quote on life:

 "My philosophy on life is to always find the good in everything. No matter how bad things get there is always a lesson to be learned, whether it be through experiences, friends, family, work, illness, love, or an enemy, it's only when you stop wanting to learn that you have failed life, life doesn't fail you."  MJ Tupou

Friday, June 21, 2013

Some Marriage Advice

To all the Married Men and Women out there--

We spend our entire life being groomed to someday find that perfect man/ woman.
As little girls we imagine our dream wedding, I even cut out magazine clippings of the perfect wedding dress, my flowers, my dream cake, my wedding colors and the perfect wedding ring.
We stress over our figures, always dieting to be as attractive as we possibly can be in order to catch our Prince Charming's eye when he comes along. Making sure our make up is flawless, our hair is perfect, and always after that perfect model skin.
We've learned how to get our body language just right, how to flirt just enough to get his attention, but not to much that there isn't any mystery to keep him interested.
Men, have learned to be as masculine as they can, playing sports, working out, walking around without their shirts on to make sure they catch our attention with their inevitable six pack. Showing off for the girls, and yes we watch! Learning how to shower their girlfriends with gifts wondering if she is the one.
We have invested so much of our lives in catching that "Perfect" person, no one told us what to do once we found them. After walking down that isle and parenthood has come into the picture. We assume we are secure/ stable, we have accomplished our goal of marriage and having children, but we were not groomed on how to keep our marriage going strong, so many of us fall into the unwanted trap of playing house and pretending we are a perfect couple, by substituting happiness with materialistic things. We have put a value on love, marriage, and family with statue: the neighborhood we live in, the house we own, the schools our children attend, the cars we drive, how many activities we can do in one week, how many promotions we are given. We become so caught up in the everyday living of society, that we forget the simple thing that brought us together in the first place. Love, laughter and simply living for one another.
It is too easy to become a statistic in society with divorce rising and a two-parent household becoming the minority. So I have put together a list of ways to hold on to your spouse and marriage. This is purely my opinion based on my own personal experiences and you are entitled to agree or not agree.

"Real giving is when we give to our spouses what's important to them, whether we understand it, like it, agree with it, or not." Michele Weiner-Davis

My advice for Woman in keeping your man:

1. Don't stop putting on your makeup and taking care of yourself. Just because he walked down the isle with you doesn't mean you need to stop investing time in keeping him attracted to you. Take pride in yourself and in how you look, when you feel good about yourself, he remains attracted to you.

2. Don't stop cooking him dinner. Cook for him like you did when you wanted to impress him in the beginning of your relationship. I know woman work just as hard as the man, but sometimes something as simple as making him dinner can show him you appreciate his hard work. He may even surprise you with dinner when you come home from work, because he wants to show you he cares too. It's the simple deeds that go along ways in a marriage and pretty soon you find both of you are wanting to make one another happy all the time.

3. Don't become resentful when you have to take care of the kids, work, cook, clean and be wife, mother, doctor, housemaid, and chauffeur. Remember, it's a maternal instinct to want to be "Superwoman" and you can't resent him for not wanting to be "Superman." A man often believes if he can work to pay the bills and provide for his family he has accomplished his goal. It doesn't mean he loves you any less.

4. Be willing to share the TV and watch his sports. Invite people over(your friends and his) for Sporting events to make it fun for you, make up games to go with the sporting event and you soon find you have another thing in common to share with one another instead of nagging over him always watching sports. The things you dislike about him, find a way to make it interesting to you, don't make it about him, you might just discover you are enjoying the things you didn't like. Soon, he may surprise you with watching one of those "girly" movies we know all men hate to watch, but he will do it for you.

5. Don't get mad when he leaves the toilet seat up! You can only yell at him so much about it before you realize he isn't going to stop. You can approach this in one or two ways. Learn to quietly put the toilet seat down when you go to use the bathroom and don't expect him to change, or put saran wrap on the seat without saying a word and the next time he goes I'm sure he will never forget to put the toilet seat down again. Warning on the second option, he may play dirty back so you are warned, but he will remember to put the seat down!

6. Never go to bed mad! If you are having an argument and you do not resolve it right away it's easy to ignore one another and go to bed mad without anything ever being resolved, then you become bitter and resentful when he goes on about his daily routine the following day and thinks everything is over. It's best to resolve arguments before going to bed. It's not good to fall asleep with all that anger. At the beginning of everyday and at the end of everyday take time to yourselves to remember why you are married. Guys don't hold onto things like us woman do. He will wake up and think everything is ok and not realize you are still mad, then you start the argument up all over again. It is better to resolve it in the first place and not allow it to carry out from day to day. Once you have finished the argument, let it go. Don't continue to bring up the same issue from day to day. As woman we seem to hold grudges more than men do. We will remember something they said 5 years ago and still hold it against them, when men barely remember what they did yesterday. Be forgiving!

7. Keep a journal. When you find it hard to remember why you are married you can revisit entries that will remind you why you fell in love, and what it was about this person you chose to spend the rest of your life with. Always write Pro's and Con's. They will change over the years, as people change and mature, but as long as your Pro's outweigh the Con's you are still on the right track.

8. Don't expect things to be perfect! No one is perfect. when your spouse goes through changes accept his changes (as long as they are not harmful!). Your spouse will change over the years as they reach different maturity levels with age and as life events happen it will change a person. The best advice I was given early in my marriage was when someone said to me, " you can leave and find someone else, but he will have problems too (could be a different set of problems). Nobody is perfect. You need to decide what set of problems you are willing to live with, and what set of problems you are not willing to live with. Set boundaries, if your spouse hasn't crossed those boundaries, then be willing to deal with whatever his problems may be and accept him for who he is."

9. Never forget your vows! They are not merely words to say in a ceremony, but words to live by throughout your marriage.

10. Be true to yourself. Never forget who you are! That is who he fell in love with in the first place. Don't become somebody he didn't fall in love with. Be the best mother you can be to your(his) children. Be the best woman you know how to be and true to your heart and you will always be the woman your husband married. He will fall in love with you all over again everyday.

My advice for men to keep your woman:

1. Love her, Honor her. She is the one you wanted to spend the rest of your life with and the person you chose to be the mother of your children.

2. Don't allow your pride to get the best of you when times are hard. Your pride can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Allow yourself to be humbled. There is nothing a woman loves more than a man who can cry. It doesn't mean you are weak, but that you are human. Allow your spouse to be your strength, as you are hers.

3. Don't become so caught up in your career, that you forget why you are working in the first place. There is nothing more lonely than coming home to an empty house. No money in the world is worth losing a wife and family over. Make sure you have time for your loved ones.

4. Don't only be in the marriage physically, but remember to be there emotionally too. Don't allow yourself to become roommates, you need to remember why you wanted to marry her and never let that passion die. Remember to make her feel as important to you as she did the day you married her every day of your married lives. If you do this there isn't anything she won't do to make you happy.

5. Show your spouse respect. Your children our learning what kind of man to be and/or what kind of man to marry by watching how you treat their mother. Don't become chauvinistic and get into the boy/girl role. Take equal part in caring for the children and home. You will find your spouse will want to do more for you.

6. Be willing to spend time with your family and do the silly things you think are a waste of time. Remember you are making memories and someday you will be happy you have them to cherish. No one lives forever cherish every moment you have together as if it's your last day.

7. Be her strength, provide her with stability and spirituality. No woman wants to feel like she has to be your mother too. Remember she married you to be your companion and to be your wife. Allow her to be that. Don't put her in a situation she feels she can't and then get mad at her when she is nagging.

8. When things go wrong include her! Men are famous for wanting to fix things alone. Remember you are married. Life isn't just about you. Marriage is a "WE" you are not married to yourself. Include each other in all decisions of your married life. Marriage, work, religion, children, nothing is one sided it takes two to be successful in marriage.

9. Be honest! Don't think withholding information isn't lying it's just as bad. No marriage can survive secrets or lies. This goes for woman too!

10. Be her best friend. Listen to her without expecting to fix the problem. Sometimes a woman just needs someone to listen and know they are there for her unconditionally. Bring her flowers for no reason. You would be surprised how many points you will gain and how much more we want to make you happy when you do surprising, sporadic things for us just because you wanted too.

Finally for both partners:

Be the kind of person when you are apart you will be missed and the other person can't stop thinking of you, and when you are together they are excited to see you.

I hope my advice has helped you. I would love to hear what has worked for you in your marriage so feel free in sharing.

 I know that everyone at some point in their marriage questions wether they made the right choice. I found this saying below during a time in my life when I was questioning my decision in who I married. I love this authors philosophy. Once I started looking at life in this point of view I became a happier person and my marriage became a happier one.  So I will end with this saying:

"I have no way of knowing whether or not you married the wrong person, but I do know that many people have a lot of wrong ideas about marriage and what it takes to make that marriage happy and successful. I'll be the first to admit that it's possible that you did marry the wrong person. However, if you treat the wrong person like the right person, you could well end up having married the right person after all. On the other hand, if you marry the right person, and treat that person wrong, you certainly will have ended up marrying the wrong person. I also know that it is far more important to be the right kind of person than it is to marry the right person. In short, whether you married the right or wrong person is primarily up to you." Zig Ziglar

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


" Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans" Allen Saunders

It was February 24, 2004 when my children and I got on an airplane with nothing but our suitcases to start a new life in "Paradise," we were moving to the Sandwich Islands, better known as Hawaii. My husband relocated there four months earlier for a job, when he was offered a permanent position we decided to move.

 I had spent the last two months working full time, being a full time mother to four wonderful children, taking care of our 7 month old son who was sick with  RSV(a respiratory virus). He was receiving home health and a nebulizer three times a day, my oldest son broke his arm during Football practice and had to have surgery, and in my spare time I was packing, cleaning the home and trying to sell all our belongings. My husband was able to fly over, but was only able to get two weeks off and did as much as he could to help while he was home, even with his help I felt very overwhelmed.

The last two month was so exhausting, and draining, I was running on pure adrenaline in order to keep myself from falling apart. When we got on our red eye flight after a long journey to the airport and saying goodbye to family and friends, I could finally let go. It felt good to be catered to on the airplane with movies and food, I took a deep sigh of relief. There was nothing more for me to do, other than sit back and enjoy the ride.

It was a very peaceful ride, the baby slept, my daughters were watching movies and my teenage son wasn't speaking to me. He had been giving me the silent treatment ever since his surgery. He was still mad at us for moving and ruining his life. Looking across at him on the plane I couldn't help but chuckle. He looked so mean with his Fluorescence Pink Cast. He had two other casts before his surgery and this time decided to be funny and get pink. The closer we got to arriving the more anxious I became. All I could think about was getting off the plane and handing the children over to my husband and starting my vacation, that I definitely earned!

It was morning when we landed on the Big island of Hawaii. The scenery wasn't at all how I pictured Hawaii to look. I imagined plush greenery and palm trees with vibrant tropical flowers all over. The view leaving the airport was nothing but black lava rock and very flat. I could see the look on my children's faces, they were thinking the same thing I was, where did we just move too! As we were driving to the town we saw writings in the rocks done by white coral with peoples names on it. That was fun to read and look at, but very different from what I had imagined an island to look like. I never understood why the airport was built where it was. It gave such a false persona of the Island. It wasn't until the following day when my husband drove us around the island we began to see the island we imagined it to look like. We visited the waterfalls Hawaii is famous for and the very well known Volcanoes that built the islands. The only active one in Hawaii today is on the Big Island of Hawaii. Then we stopped at the beach and let the kids experience the ocean for the first time. It was a dream come true. My poor son couldn't get in the water because of his cast, but enjoyed walking along the rocks in the water. We went home and my husband made us one of his Polynesian BBQ dinners, that we must have had a thousand times but it seemed like we were tasting it for the first time eating it in Hawaii.

After a couple of weeks getting the kids ready for school with all the required immunizations for the State of Hawaii, they finally started their first day. That is when my vacation started! I went to the beach everyday once the kids got off to school.  I put the baby in a stroller and we walked the town and went in all the stores. I played a tourist until I ran out of excursions to do and places to go. I found all the "Keiki"( children) ponds and my baby loved it! I soon knew my way around the Island and new all the places to go. My husband was making enough money that I didn't have to find work, I was able to stay home and enjoy being a mother.  I was unable to do be a stay-at- home mom with my other children and took full advantage of staying home with my last baby.  When my baby started preschool I found a job, by this time I was ready to work again and have some independence again, plus it was a way for me to socialize with adults. Working was my vacation away from home.

My children instantly became part of the "local" scene.  Being half polynesian helped. Even though they were not Hawaiian they were learning more about the Polynesian culture then they ever could have learned living on the "mainland", I absolutely was thrilled with everything they were learning and I quickly saw how moving here was the best decision we had made. Everyday waking up to our exquisite ocean view was beyond anything I could ever imagined. My daughters took up "Hula" classes and performed at varies Luau's and Resort on the Island, My eldest son became very involved in High School Sports and we traveled all the islands through his sports. Every time he had to play a High School on another island, we used it as an excuse to tour that island and would stay a few extra days. It was an amazing time in our lives. Every weekend was spent at the beach, BBQing or camping. We loved to entertain friends and new family we were meeting in our home. We were starting our own family traditions. I couldn't dream of having a better life anywhere else. The cultural experience my children were having was remarkable. We had made some life long friends and met relatives we had never seen before. After moving several times in the past we had finally found our home and a place where we wanted to settle and live forever. This was our "Ohana"(home and family). We started to look at homes to buy and make this a permanent move.We couldn't have been more happier; then, overnight the life we had built for ourselves had changed.

The economy crashed in 2008 and we were hit hard. Something we had not planned on. All construction and building came to a stop on the island. My husband struggled to find work and when he did he was having a hard time getting payment for his work.  It was impossible to live off of my income alone trying to raise a family of six and we soon were losing everything we had spent the last few years building, within 3 months our oldest son graduated from High School and was leaving for college, we were being evicted from our home due to lack of income, we could no longer pay our bills and were behind on everything. When we realized there was nothing we could do without the income to continue living in Hawaii, regretfully we moved back to the "mainland" believing my husband would be able to find work. We ended up having a garage sale and sold all our belongings in our home and found ourselves once again at an airport with nothing but our suitcases starting over again! I was devastated, angry, hurt and felt like my life was falling apart, I felt like everything was out of my control and I didn't understand how this could have happened to us. I had no idea what the future held for myself or my family.

Within the first month of moving back to the "mainland" we found more devastation when we realized that we were now homeless and neither of us were able to find work. We were living with my mother. No person imagines in their "middle age" years, moving your entire family in with your parents. This should be a time in our lives when we should be buying our first home, happily raising our children and teaching them lessons, putting our children through school and helping them in building their future, dreams, and goals. We never imagined our confidence and security as parents and human beings could all be taken away. I questioned what kind of parent I was to my children when I couldn't even take care of myself. I began to have doubt in myself and felt like such a failure. I started looking back on my life and questioning every choice I ever made, wondering if I had done anything differently would I still be where I am today.

Moving to the "mainland" my children were old enough to recognize that certain people treated them different. For the first time in their lives they were the minority.  I felt terrible. I cried every night in the shower when no one could hear me and prayed for people in this world to not be so closed minded.  I didn't know how to take the pain away from my children knowing they were learning the realities of how ignorant some people in this world could be. In Hawaii, I experienced prejudices among some people. I was treated differently if I was in town by myself, or if I went with my children or husband. Being the parent it was natural to want to take that burden away from my children and I didn't mind being the minority in Hawaii. I learned it was mostly because they didn't know me. Once I had lived there long enough to get to know people I didn't experience it as much or I just didn't care to notice. I completely forgot moving my children out of their comfort zone they would have a different experience and I was hurt that my children had to go through this experience. They never looked at themselves as different before because,  I never taught them to see color only a persons character.

Leave it to children to realize things better than adults! While I was struggling with helping my children go through this lesson in life, my daughter came home one day and ended up becoming my teacher. After school one day she came home smiling from ear to ear and said, "Mom, I figured out what is wrong with people here"? My curiosity was getting the best of me as I tried to imagine what she had discovered, I looked at her and said, "what"? She proudly replied by saying, "no one here has any Aloha"!  I was stunned by what she said. Here I was wallowing in my sorrow on how bad our life had become and she saw the positive in it. She was absolutely right!

 In Hawaii, the culture is all about "Ohana"(family) and "Aloha"(love). With all the hustle and busy lifestyle of the "mainland," people can get so caught up in their accomplishments and lives, that they live for themselves and forget to live for others. This wasn't how I raised my children. In Hawaii, everyone is more laid back, people are not concerned with "keeping up with the Jones" or the stresses of everyday hustle, no one is worried about the clothes they wear, or their make up being perfect. The kids wear T-Shirt's and board-shorts, natural beach style hair do's and tied back is just fine for these kids and adults. The kids call you "Auntie" and "Uncle" out of respect. The teenage kids would hitch hike from beach to beach calling out your name, if you drove past them without giving them a ride. Everyone watches out for one another. The schools taught my kids about humanitarian work and community involvement in taking care of our environment and love for helping one another. At that very moment, I realized even though it cost more money to live in Hawaii, I felt more poorer financially and emotionally with the pressures that are put upon you living in the mainland. I found myself caring about social status, I was humiliated and ashamed I couldn't provide for my family and here comes my teenage daughter to remind me what I forgot. I was proud of my daughter for realizing that wasn't what mattered in life. What mattered was having "Aloha"!

We have chosen to make "Aloha" our family motto. My children have become active members of the community in volunteering for events, such as the "Ironman triathlon," something they did in Hawaii and we were surprised to find out St. George was one of the qualifying towns that held their own "Ironman Triathlon." My youngest son took it upon himself to educate his class about polynesians so they knew about his culture. My daughter became part of the student council in her school and had a culture week in her school. My husband and I were both amazed and proud at how our children decided to deal with diversity. They taught us better than we could have taught them. Everyday, I wake up in "aw" of my children and their determination to remain positive no matter how bad the outcome may seem. To always find the positive in everything and not think negative. To remember there is a reason and purpose for everything that happens in life. We are never given any trial we are not strong enough to handle and as long as we remember to have "Aloha" we can get through anything as a family and an individual.

Our family was hit hard when the economy changed and we were only one family out of many that ended up having their lives changed by the crash of the economy in the last five years, but I believe we have become stronger as a family through this. We have moved out of my mother's home and into our own. I have gone back to college and my husband is doing construction. This experience has only humbled us and made us realize that no matter how hard you work and plan your life while you are busy living the "American" dream, it can all come crumbling down in a heart beat.  When all is said and done all that truly matters is not how much money a person makes or the job they have or what kind of home you live in, the car you drive or your social status in society, the true dream is being together as a Family and being loved, having Aloha and Ohana.!  When disaster strikes no one cares about what you are, but who you are, your integrity, your compassion, your character, your love for one another. As long as my children have learned that, then I know I have succeeded as a parent.

Our goal is to return to Hawaii someday, but, until that day happens, we keep Hawaii in our hearts by never forgetting the most important thing we learned living there and that is to spread "Aloha' wherever you are. This keeps Hawaii, close to our hearts. Life may have taken us temporarily away from our home, but it's only made our journey to return more adventurous.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Who Am I, Really?

The semester is over. Yahoo! For my final in my creative writing class, I had to write a short non-fiction story. I chose to write it on my life. I never realized how "Oprah" my life was until I started writing. Ha,ha. I hope you enjoy. I hope in sharing my experience, it can help someone else who has struggled in their life too.

Who Am I, Really?

" The two most important days in your life are: The day you are born, and the day you find out why." Mark Twain 

I remember always knowing I was adopted. I never grew up thinking I was different, or that my parents were any less my parents than if they had been my biological parents.Every now and then as I was growing up I would encounter an ignorant child who would treat me like I had the plague when they found out I was adopted.  I never looked at being adopted as being different. As a child in elementary school I soon found out how cruel children could be. I thought it was sad some people were so closed minded they honestly believed you could only be family if you shared the same "DNA."
I was never ashamed of being adopted, and yet my entire life I felt like I didn't fit in. Don't get me wrong. I love my adopted family, and couldn't imagine my life without them, but I felt like no one truly understood me. I longed for a connection or bond with my adopted parents I would see with my friends and their parents. My parents and I didn’t share that closeness.
 I wanted to know where I came from, who my ancestors were and who I looked like? People often asked what my ethnicity was and I would say, “I don’t know,” sometimes I would tell them I was Mexican, Italian, or Indian whatever someone thought I was, I would agree.
I was always wondering what my life would have been like if I hadn't been adopted still believing "the grass is greener on the other side."
My childhood wasn’t an easy one. When I was five years old my adopted parents got divorced. I remember vividly the day my father left. I went in my bedroom and took my Disney Cinderella suitcase and packed it with clothes that a five year old would only find necessary to bring. Went into the bathroom brushed my teeth and did my hair; put on my favorite dress to look pretty and show my dad I could take care of myself. I then walked past my mom in the kitchen and opened the door to our garage where I found my dad sitting in his red Jeep Wrangler.
He looked up at me and asked, “Where are you going?”
“I want to live with you and I’m going with you.”
He then said the words that crushed me, “You need to stay here with your mother. I will see you soon Babe,” (He always called me Babe). 
He started his jeep and slowly backed out of the garage and soon he was gone. My mom tried to comfort me, but I shrugged my shoulders at her and ran into my room crying and yelling,
“ I hate my mom! How could she want my daddy gone?”

 Not understanding why adults do the things they do at my tender age of five, I was going to show my mom I was right by not eating anything or talking to her for the rest of that day and I didn’t!

 The majority of my childhood was spent in the middle of my parent’s court battles, and feeling like I had to choose. Every time I would chose my dad the courts kept placing me with my mom, and I became very bitter and angry. There was nothing wrong with my mother, except I felt a distance between us. I never felt like we understood each other. We were so opposite from one another. She was conservative and more concerned with “Keeping up with the Jones,” and what people thought. I was more liberal and didn’t care what anyone thought. I was happy with my T-shirt and Flip-Flops. I never got much support from my mom emotionally growing up, so I built a ”Halo” around my dad and believed he was going to save me.

One of my many memories that stick out in my head growing up is a time when I was ten and my dad came to visit, my mom wouldn’t let him in the house. I wanted to give him a hug and visit with him and my mom wouldn’t let me see him. I ran to the front window and waved at my Dad crying. He stared at me from outside and waved then got in his baby blue ford bronco and left.

 I wasn’t told until years later the reason I couldn’t see my dad that day was because he had been drinking alcohol and my mom didn’t want me seeing him drunk.

As I got older, the times with my dad became more infrequent. I would stand outside on his days to visit and wait all day for him to pull up in the driveway, but he never came.

By the time I reached my early teenage years my mom decided to move us two states away, so she could have a new start. I only saw my dad one time after we moved. He came to visit my brother and I during my sophomore year in High School for a week.
My father died when I was nineteen. We were out of town visiting my maternal grandparents when my mom got the call my dad had been killed in a car accident. He apparently fell asleep at the wheel and drove straight into a bank, he was pronounced dead on arrival.
The three hour drive back home from my grandparents you could have heard a pin drop. It was the longest drive ever. My mom still hadn’t told me what had happened; yet I felt this awful feeling inside. I knew something had happened to my dad I could feel it. I didn’t want to ask my mom what was wrong, if I didn’t ask she couldn’t confirm the feeling I was having so I kept quiet and stared out the car window the entire ride.
We pulled into town and my mom drove straight to the rehab center where my younger brother was currently staying in for drugs. (My dad not being in our lives had already affected him). I knew something was seriously wrong when we were put in a room and the psychologist came in. I had a sick feeling in my stomach.
“Did you tell them?” The psychologist asked my mom.
“No, I wanted to wait to tell them with you,” my mom said.
They were talking as if my brother and I were not in the room.
I wanted to yell, “I already know! It’s Daddy, isn’t it?” But I kept quiet still hoping my instincts were not right.
Finally, the words came out of my mom’s mouth.
“Your dad was killed early this morning in a car accident.”
 As I was digesting what I had heard the psychologist looked at my brother and I and asked, “How does this make you feel?”
Are you kidding me! I was just told my Father died and he is seriously asking me how I feel?
“How do you think I feel, you idiot? My father just died, I’m devastated.” I ran out of the room and down the hall to exit the building. My mom wanted them to keep me in the facility because I was so upset, because I was over eighteen they couldn’t legally keep me there and let me leave.
I ran and ran until I was physically drained I couldn’t run anymore, and then I just fell to the ground sweating and out of breath. I began to weep, I’ve never wept as hard or as loud as I did that day. I was so upset I could barely breath. I cried until I was so emotionally drained I couldn’t cry anymore. I was oblivious to my surroundings. I became so weak my body and mind shut down and I fell asleep. It wasn’t until I was woken up by a police officer asking me if everything was ok, that I realized I was not in a good part of town. After explaining to him my ordeal he drove me home where I received the final blow.
When I walked in the house I checked the answering machine. There was a message from my dad he had left the day he died. He called to tell us good-bye and that he loved us. He ended the message playing his guitar and singing the song by Cosby, Stills and Nash, “Teach your children well.”  My dad had left us the message before his accident, which, meant he knew he was going to die. He planned it!! By this time I was numb. I couldn’t take anymore. I emotionally shut down. I went into my room and didn’t come out or talk to anyone for a couple of weeks.
 I had built this image of my dad to be my “Superhero.” I thought he was invincible. He wasn’t supposed to be weak. How could he do something so selfish? Why didn’t he think of how my brother and I were going to feel? What if I had been there, maybe I could have changed his mind? He must of felt all alone? I felt an enormous amount of loss and sadness. There was a huge void in my life and I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with all my emotions. 
Dealing with my dad’s death and trying to figure out where to go from here I had the desire more than ever to discover Who I was. My mom had raised us with a strong religious background and I was beginning to question all of it. How could God have let this happen? I wanted to run away and get lost in a world I knew nothing about.
During this time in my life, I remained numb and I became angry with my dad for not loving me enough to stay alive.  I began to question life and my beliefs.  If my father didn’t believe what he had taught me then why should I? I started drinking and not caring about anything or anyone. I became depressed and destructive. I had given up on life.  I had forgotten I was still living.
 In this dark period I met someone who I dated for a brief time. The relationship ended when he told me he was using me to make my friend jealous because he liked her. In his twisted mind he thought by dating me it would make her like him. It backfired on him when both of us wanted nothing to do with him. Not long after I found out I was pregnant.  When I told him, he made it very clear he wanted nothing to do with the baby or me.
 In less than two years I went from a naive, sheltered “churchy” girl to an overwhelming reality check of how cold and cruel some people in this world could be.
             As weird as this may sound becoming pregnant save my life. In a time of my life where I felt I had lost everything and didn’t have any reason to live being pregnant gave me a purpose. It wasn’t just about me anymore. I was responsible for another life. When I got pregnant I stopped living the destructive lifestyle I was living and turned my life around.
During my pregnancy I began to understand the bond between a mother and a child. I felt this heavy burden knowing this baby was going to depend on me for the rest of his life to love, teach and protect him. I couldn’t mess this up! From that day forward I devoted my life to my son and vowed that any pain he felt in life would never be because of my own doing.
Somewhere, somehow my dad forgot his commitment to his children as a parent. For the first time I saw my dad through the eyes of an adult and not a child.  I began to cry not because he had died, but because I understood his pain, his loneliness, and the dark world of depression he had been living in because I had been there too. Instead of being angry with him, I felt compassion for him and sympathy that he had never discovered his reason to live. I realized at that moment God didn’t choose for this to happen, this was my father’s choice. I will never forget my dad’s selfish act that left my brother and I fatherless, but I could finally let go of the pain and forgive him.
            I experienced a lot of ignorance amongst people when they found out I was not married. I didn’t receive much emotional support from my mom during my pregnancy. She was more concern about how my pregnancy affected her. My mom is a good person, but social status matters to her. The way you look, dress, and behave is everything. Being pregnant and not married went against our church teachings. My mom was more concerned with what people in our church were going to say, than trying to understand I was struggling too. This made me think of what my biological mother must have experienced when she was pregnant with me. I started to understand what she had felt being unwed and pregnant.  I realized the apple hadn’t fallen very far from the tree.  Living this experience only made me long to know my biological mother even more.
            For my "first" Mother's Day my mom’s gift to me was a ripped piece of paper. I took it from her hand thinking this was an odd gift. I looked at the paper and saw a name written on it. She had given me a piece of paper with a name on it? I looked up at her confused.
“The only thing I know about your biological mother was she had long dark hair and her name. When your dad and I went to pick you up from the hospital we saw her backside as she was walking down the hallway of the hospital with her mother to leave.”
My mom continued with tears in her eyes,
“I wrote her name down to make sure I never forgot it in case someday you wanted to find her. Now that you have become a mother, I feel you are finally mature enough to understand where your birth mother was coming from and you are ready to handle whatever you find out.”
             Giving me the name of my biological mother had to have been the hardest thing she ever did. The anxiety she must have been feeling knowing I could find my biological mom and wondering how this would change our relationship must have been excruciating for her. I looked at my mom differently that day for loving me enough to give me the missing piece to my puzzle.
The journey to find my biological mother took less than a year. Being born in the "1960's" adoptions were closed and records were impossible to gain access too. I took a chance anyways and contacted the State Capital Building in California where I was born and they directed me to their Vital Statistics Department. The secretary explained to me that because my adoption was closed it wouldn't help to petition the judge, I wouldn't be granted the records under any circumstance. The lady then went on to explain to me, that when the biological mother is at the hospital she is given paperwork to fill out with basic information in case the child should come looking for them, if she had filled out that paper I am allowed a copy of it. She took my name and information and told me they would look up my records and see if she had filled out the paper, if she did I would receive it in the mail within four to six weeks.
 Everyday I went to check the mail and when there was no letter from the State of California it made the rest of the day drag on and the wait for the following day seemed like it took forever. I will never forget the day I checked my mail and there in my hand was a letter from the State of California Statistics Office. I was excited and nervous, like a child on their birthday waiting to open their presents.
 As soon as I opened it, there was my entire life I knew nothing about; who I was, where I came from, information all about my biological mother and father, circumstance of why she gave me up, my heart was pounding as I quickly read why I was given up.
My biological father was married, and was the older brother of my birth mother’s best friend and he raped my birth mother. What? I reread this sentence probably a hundred times. What does a person do with that information? I was the product of the inevitable! The one thing an adopted child prayers isn't what happened. There it was written in a single sentence in pencil.
Do I dare erase it? I thought.
 No! I couldn’t, this was her story. I didn’t write it. As much as I wanted to pretend it wasn’t there on the paper, it was.
My brain was storming with mix feelings needing to soak in what I had just read. I had hesitation if I should continue reading but curiosity got the best of me and I continued.
My heart was beating fast, my stomach was in knots, I was so nervous I became nauseated as I was reading; this was a surreal moment for me. I took in every word and paid extra attention to the handwriting, it was her handwriting. A paper written by my “Birth” mother with all the answers I had been searching for. In less than a page she had become a real person, not just a dream.
 I discovered I was a "mutt" having American Indian, French, Jewish and Irish from my mother's side, and Italian from my father's side. I continued to read until I came to the section "RELIGION”, then I read her reply and saw she was the same religion I was. This took me by surprise because my adopted parents didn't convert to our religion until I was one years old. My biological mother never new I was raised in the same religion as her.
That is when I got this brilliant idea! I could petition the church to look up my biological mother’s church records and see if they would send her a letter for me, without having to give me her location, then it would be up to her to contact me.
I wrote a letter explaining my situation and journey to find my biological mother and enclosed a copy of the letter I received from the State of California with all my basic information and decided to leave it in Gods hands. If it were meant to be the church administrators would feel inspired to mail her my letter.  I mailed the letter to the church headquarters.
A few weeks later I received a letter from the church administrators stating they had located her and mailed my letter. I was shocked and pleased that it actually worked. It wasn't but a few days after receiving their letter I received the phone call of a lifetime.
I was sitting in my living room; it was in the early evening when the phone rang and I picked it up,
A lady's voice asked, "Is this MJ?"
She then said the words I thought I would never hear,
 "MJ, this is your mother Ruth."
There was a brief pause of silence before she went on to explain she had gotten my letter and how much it meant to her. She went on to tell me she had been waiting since I turned eighteen for me to find her. She didn't dare come find me because she didn't know if I had been told I was adopted. She explained to me what I already knew concerning her circumstances of becoming pregnant with me, but she caught me off guard when she said,
“I never wanted to give you up, because I was only sixteen legally it was up to my parents and they didn’t want me to have you.”
She went on to explain in the 1960’s being pregnant and not married had a bad stigma. Her parents sent her to an unwed mother’s home in another town where she stayed until I was born. She told me the day I was born the nurses took me so fast she never got to see or hold me. She never gave me a name. After I was born she went back to her home and no one ever knew she had been pregnant.
My biological father was never told about me and to this day doesn’t know I exist. At her request I never searched for him. She did tell me at the time she got pregnant he was nineteen and his wife was also pregnant. They had a baby girl a few months before I was born. He worked as an auto mechanic. A few years later she mailed me a picture of him and his sister. I have held on to that picture in a special box with other pictures I have collected of Ruth and my siblings over the years.
Ruth went on to tell me that my entire childhood growing up in California I was only twenty minutes away from her. When she was older and married, her husband was a Sherriff in the county and had found where I was living. They would sit in their car across from my house and watch me play. Never wanting to approach me or disrupt my life, but she always knew where I was. Eventually, she got divorced and didn’t have access to my whereabouts any longer. When my family moved away she lost what little contact she had with me. We talked for what seemed to be a lifetime, but in reality wasn’t any longer than thirty to forty minutes, before ending the conversation and making plans to meet.
Two weeks later I was knocking on the door to her apartment. It wasn’t a mansion with extravagant cars or a butler and maids like I imagined growing up. When she opened it I couldn't help but stare at her trying not to stare too much and make the moment awkward. I wanted to take in every little detail about her and discover all our similarities. She was a simple person, dressed in a button down plaid blue shirt and blue jeans. She had dark brown hair and sky blue eyes and was taller than me. While scanning the inside of her apartment, she had very simple furniture nothing to brag about. On the couch I saw a girl and a boy sitting with huge smiles on their faces; they looked to be around my age. Ruth introduced them as my half-brother and half-sister. Their father was Indian, and they looked Indian both with long dark brown hair, brown eyes and brown skin.  I knew I was part Indian, but I couldn’t see it. Ruth and I both had dark brown hair, blue eyes, and white skin. I noticed right away that out of all her children I was the only one who bore a resemblance to her.  My half siblings commented right away on how much Ruth and I looked a like. Wow! I finally knew who I looked like.
 I stayed the night in her home, getting to know all of them talking, playing cards, and eating dinner. I found out a lot of my interest and hobbies were the same as Ruth’s, things I would tell her about me she would comment she did too or she also like. It was refreshing to talk with her. Ruth understood me because she thought like I did. My adopted mom and I rarely thought alike.
 Instantly, I was intrigued. It was a moment I had dreamed of my entire life and here I was in her home, wondering if this is how it would have been if she had kept me. Wondering what my name would have been? Would I have the same personality or have been the same person, if Ruth had raised me? I was trying to envision my life with these new people. I would have grown up with a sister; I grew up being the only girl and always wanted to have a sister. I was excited to know I had a sister and yet, the awkwardness made it so I didn't know what to say to her. I couldn’t help but wonder if our relationship would have been a close relationship, or if we would have fought and been rivals. My visit with Ruth and her family was like an outer body experience. For a moment, I was in their lives but I wasn't part of it.
A search that took Twenty-two years was over in a weekend, I felt like I was floating on a cloud. I couldn't have been more blessed to know the most important missing link in my life didn't turn out bad. I was wanted! They did want to meet me! Her children grew up knowing about me. I wasn’t this awful secret nobody talked about. I never forgot this moment. It’s a memory I will cherish deep in my heart for the rest of my life.
 I am fully aware that not all children who search for their biological parents have the same outcome as me. My visit with Ruth was unique because my outcome could have been a disaster, but by some miracle it wasn’t. I will be forever grateful. This is the only time I saw Ruth but we have stayed in touch over the years. I have to thank modern technology for keeping us connected.
 Ruth and my half-sister and I have built a friendship through many conversations on Facebook and emails. My half-brother came and lived with me for a year. We figured out we had attended the same elementary school at the same time but never knew whom each other was.  He and I are the closest in age and we seem to have the most in common.
I don't know if finding Ruth answered all my questions but it did fill an emptiness I had inside.
Over the years I have continued to think back on one thing Ruth said to me when she first met me and asked how my life had been.
I gave her all the details of my childhood and she angrily replied,
            “If I had known your life was going to be like that I would have kept you. I gave you up to have a better life than what I could give you.”
I wondered would my life had been better, if she kept me?
The year I spent with my half-brother he repeatedly said,
“Be glad our mom didn’t raise you?” He told me they raised themselves, He always said Ruth wasn’t ready to be a mother. Each one of them had dealt with their childhood in their own way; two of them were recovering drug and alcohol addicts, and the third one(the youngest) was in prison for attempted murder. I’ve never met him.  I know their childhood wasn't easy either, but even with all my trials my adopted life didn’t seem as bad as theirs.
I learned to appreciate my adopted mom and come to accept that we will always have our differences. I’ve been able to build a friendship with her. She is my mom. She raised me and loved me. After years of my parents trying unsuccessfully to conceive their own children. I was their miracle baby. I wasn't wondering if " the grass was greener on the other side," anymore.
Do I let being adopted define me? Does coming from a broken home define me? Does my father’s suicide define me? Does being a single parent define me? I wouldn’t be human if these life events haven’t defined me, but they never destroyed me.
I learned to appreciate the life I was given. Even though it wasn’t the life I had imagined, it was still my life and my lessons to learn. I choose who I am, not my circumstances of how I was born or the way I was raised; They may influence my choices, but they are still my choices and who I become is ultimately up to no one, but me. How I chose to live my life, my character, my spirituality and the example I set for all those around me will define the destiny of my soul.
I spent my entire life putting the value of my self-worth on “who I was,” I never allowed myself to learn the biggest lesson of all that I am simply ME!  A daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a friend, and that is, all that truly matters.
I traveled a long journey to realize it; the important thing is I realized it.

"I guess WE ARE WHO WE ARE for a lot of reasons, and maybe we'll never know most of them, but even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there." The perks of being a Wallflower, By Stephen Chbosky