Monthly Archives: September 2014

I chose to parent, Preston. Clearly, he was meant to be.

The summer that I was 19, I was living by my own rules, a wild and carefree young woman who was responsible and irresponsible sometimes in the same minute. I held a job as a nanny for a financially well-to-do family with three young children. Emotionally, they were bankrupt. There was yelling, arguing, shaming over bed-wetting, criticism of behaviors related to ADHD and in many cases lack of attention and compassion. I tried to fill in as many of these gaps as I could, my last year as a teenager. I gave hugs and praise and attention when their mother couldn’t while preoccupied with unhappiness, shopping and wine consumption. I would rarely have a week day off and recall one time calling the house to be told that the mom was taking a nap and the three year old was in the backyard pool by herself. Never very good with boundaries, I drove as fast as I could to get there and supervise. Everyone was safe. There was a lot of “overtime”. It wasn’t typical, but I once worked 90 hours in one week.

In the evenings and on weekends, I would spend time with friends, including casually dating a boy I’d adored for several years. For some reason, I thought that he would treasure me more, if I didn’t sleep with him. However, that didn’t stop me from “sleeping” with other young men. Tacky and trashy and totally inappropriate, I know. (To this day, I consider him as “the one that got away.”)My insecurity throughout out my teenager years had prompted me on several occasions, to be physically intimate in the hopes that physical love would be enough, even if I wasn’t actually loved or respected. It made my self-esteem even worse. One of these meaningless, sexual relationships was with a young man who worked for the family that I was a nanny for. He worked for the dad in his excavating business and did odd jobs around the house as a handy-man and pool boy. He was tan and handsome and older than me. I took every opportunity to flirt with him. I was young, pretty and showed enough skin to peak his interest in that backyard, near the pool.

That summer the family decided to take a trip to Lake Shasta in California. There was fun in the sun with boating, glamping in two RV’s for the 7 of us. Boys in one and girls in another. There was more flirting to cure the boredom that the evenings brought. I didn’t need to be watching for the kids and there wasn’t any boat or truck for him to drive. One fateful evening, the Mom and Dad were getting along and ended up in the same RV together. I discovered the door was locked and looked for entertainment elsewhere. We were young and dumb and it didn’t last long, but our fates were likely sealed that first night. There were a few more nights of enjoying each other’s company. Despite our major differences in upbringing, economic background and interests, I found myself attracted to him and thought maybe we would start dating when we got home. The last night of our trip, he found the guts to come clean. He said, “It’s been a fun week but I have a girlfriend back home. ” Pause… “That’s ok, ” I replied, “I have someone I am interested in too.” And that was that.

We saw each other occasionally around the family’s places but didn’t talk or hang out. I went back to “the one who got away” (who was still around) and set about winning him over. I succeeded. It was a sweet romance. I loved listening to him create masterpieces on the piano. The end of summer came and it was time for him to go back to college, I was staying behind to go to the community college. Neither of us knew then how different life was about to become for me.

Summer turned in to fall, the beginning of the college semester came and went. My dad had emergent coronary bypass surgery. I slept a lot in the waiting room at the hospital and fell asleep at a production of Rent. Something weird was going on but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I had a light period in August, I didn’t entertain the idea that I could be pregnant. But then again… I shared my symptoms with a friend of mine and bought a home pregnancy test. I took the test at her house and she looked at the test before I did. I was anxiously waiting for the three minutes to be up when about 30 seconds in she said “It’s positive.” My life ended, and began in that moment. I can’t even begin to share all the emotions I experienced in those minutes after the truth seeped into my soul. I was a pregnant teenager. A statistic. I expected that my parents would disown me. (A totally irrational fear because they aren’t those kind of people.) I was horrified and terrified and struck dumb. I don’t recall the supportive things that my friend said, but I know she helped ease my pain. We told her parents who I’d known for a long time. They encouraged me to tell my own parents. As a secret the situation would get bigger and bigger and harder to tell as time went by. The timing was terrible. My dad had just had open heart surgery and wasn’t supposed to have any stress. I don’t think any of us handled my announcement very gracefully. Both of my mothers said hurtful things that I will never forget, but they had their reasons.

There was an ugly debate about how many options I had as a pregnant 19 year old with a lame job, no career, a few college credits under my belt, who still lived at home. In my mind and heart, there were only ever two choices; parent my son or place him for adoption. I recalled in those early days the photos of aborted fetuses that my friend Elizabeth F had shared with me. It was the exposure to the reality of abortion from my early years of high school that removed the possibility that I would ever make that choice. My parents did not mean any harm or malice but suggesting abortion as an option. Their job was to raise me to be a successful member of society and had no allegiance to the tiny bundle of cells that had invaded our lives. They were very straightforward with their expectations. The one that has never left me was their requirement to get pregnancy counseling. If I was going to live under their roof and live with their support, I needed to see someone professional and impartial about making an informed decision. Week after week, month after month, I went to the Boys and Girls Aid Society and saw Barbara Buckingham Hayes. Together we made pros and cons lists. Pros to raising a child, pros to placing him for adoption. Cons of raising a child, cons of placing him for adoption.

I was able to consider the adoption option from a unique perspective. I had been an adopted child. I’d experienced the primal wound and grieved when I lost my first mom. While my adoptive parents loved me and worked very hard to give me a life with everything I needed and most of the things I wanted, something had always been missing for me. From the time I was in elementary school, I remember feeling like I didn’t fit in with my family. My personality was very different from them, at times I was volatile with dramatic mood swings. At 19, I believed that more nature would have benefitted me tremendously. To be raised by someone that could relate to the depression that I had experienced. Well meaning words but “snap out of it”, is not helpful to someone hurting that bad.

The lists I wrote were lopsided in terms of the number of items in the list. There were many more cons for placing the baby, rather than raising him. However, it wasn’t a numbers game. It was decision that came down to me feeling that there was a change that no other human being in the world could love and relate to the little human growing inside me, better than I could. A roll of the genetic dice and circumstances and he could have been nothing like me! My silly childish wanting, of believing that no one could be the person I could be in his life could have been bullshit, but it wasn’t.

I decided that I would be the person in my son, Preston’s life, that no one had been for me. (Not for lack of trying, just because of genetics and circumstances.) I felt in my bones that I could understand him like no one else would. In my dreams, he never sobbed himself to sleep believing that no one understood him. My commitment was to be his mother, to always be there for him, to love him unconditionally, to remember my hurts and dislikes from my childhood, to focus on where I felt my parents had failed me and do things differently.

Last October, on a Monday afternoon, everything from the instant he was conceived at Lake Shasta until the second he answered my phone call that day, lined up in a perfect line to put me in the position to save my son’s life. To save him from himself. The feeling in my heart that I was the right one, the only one ordained to be his mother, the mother he would need, never was more sure and true until the moment I heard him crying while his heart was breaking. I felt as if God was calling out to me “Rebecca, your time is NOW!” I answered His call.

That next part of the story will have to wait for another blog post. It deserves it’s own spotlight.

(Preston has given me permission to share parts of his story where our stories intersect. It is imperative that as a culture, a community, a nation, a world, that we END the stigma that surrounds mental health illnesses. We believe in being open and sharing our struggles so that others will know that they are not alone. God loves everyone and we are made in His image. If you or a loved one is considering taking their own life, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. 1-800-273-8255.)

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A favorite recipe, Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I have been trying to write a post about food, baking and cooking as a love language and being fat, then thin and then curvy. I can’t seem to get it right. So, instead I have one of my favorite bread recipes to share. I’ve altered it to work for our altitude at 4,300 ft.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:
2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate {3 tablespoons of unsweeted cocoa + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil = 1, 1 once square of unsweetened chocolate}
3 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated zucchini
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup milk chocolate Ghirardelli chips

Preheat oven to 335 degrees F (350 for normal altitude). Lightly grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans. (I prefer ceramic pans.) If using chocolate squares, heat in the microwave unit they are melted. Stir occasionally until chocolate is smooth.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, grated zucchini, vanilla, chocolate; beat well. Stir in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans.

Bake in preheated oven for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


Quiet prayers.

I sat for while and contemplated the blinking cursor. All the words that came to mind were quiet prayers to be offered offline. I am grateful and full of peace this evening. I keep those in my heart who are not. Those I know that are hurting spiritually, emotionally or physically, I offer intentions for. I choose to count my blessings and wish you all a good night.


Making the most of Monday

I’m glad that it’s still Sunday night and not quite Monday morning. I still have the chance to get my mind right about going back to work tomorrow. If I wanted to be glass-half-empty about things, I’d focus on the weight I’ve gained since I’ve last seen my coworkers and how much work might be waiting for tomorrow. While I’ve behaved like that a thousand Monday’s before, tomorrow will be different. Why? I intend for it to be different. I can start the day with a positive glass-half-full attitude. No one control over my attitude but me. In the past, I’ve gotten particularly caught up in listing the challenges and things that have gone wrong. My goal tomorrow, is to stop and take a small break and refocus on being positive if I feel overwhelmed. Even that little word “if” in that last sentence is a new step. My typical M.O. is to say “when” I feel overwhelmed. I have found if I declare things, they manifest. Some might find that hokey or roll their eyes, no problem, you can have your own opinion. However, when I stopped saying “This is making me crazy!”, fewer things made me “crazy.” I don’t want to give labels power over me that they don’t deserve. I am determined to keep telling myself how great I am and how capable until I no longer need the reminder but I believe it. Sadly, I don’t right now. My self esteem is a little low and it’s up to be to boost myself out. Counting on external “atta girls” and compliments, is a losing proposition. I’ll be happier to do the best I can, recognizing that being good enough, is just that.

I am looking forward to a better balance. Of leaving home and home and work at work. I’ve talked about that before and it’s time to renew that commitment to better living through balance. That won’t look the same to everyone. It was also require an adjustment period to those who are used to interacting with me a certain way. Before in my life, I’ve had to ask loved ones to “Please, give me a chance to do and BE different.” Unpredictability can be intimidating and unsettling to people. Not everyone I know will have read my blog and realize that I am kicking the Reinvention of Rebecca into high gear. Some may have. So long as I offer those around me the compassion and patience that I would like to receive, WITHOUT paying any attention to what I am receiving, I will stay on the right track. To share the love of Jesus with those around me can be so simple. I LOVE to make things complicated, people have said about me. I don’t love it, I’ve done it, sure, but I don’t love it. I don’t want that anymore. I intend to simplify tasks without second guessing or judgement.

I may struggle and have periods of failure and I can manage those times without despair and self-loathing. I don’t necessarily know exactly what that might look like, and that’s ok.

This weekend camping with the family was fast-paced and busy. In the stillness that I found on the beach at Waldo Lake, I did spend time reflecting on what I want to keep and want I want to leave behind. What I want to keep is being transparent and sharing what is on my heart. This blog gives me a chance to do that. If no one reads it, no worries. The words and thoughts and feelings are here to remind me where I’ve been and even where I’m going. We discovered this weekend that our compass is upside down. A funny thing for a LetterBoxer who prides herself on being prepared for everything. I didn’t cringe, I laughed it off. No negative self talk or self depreciating comments came from me. What I can give to the world, staring with myself, is more encouragement and cheer-leading.

Cairn design and photo by Preston B.

Balance, on the shores of Waldo Lake

Dear Lord, Thank you for giving me each new day, ESPECIALLY Mondays, to wake up and praise your name and be grateful for the blessings you have bestowed upon me. You are my ROCK! Amen.


My name is Rebeccca. I have anxiety.

For much of my life I have struggled with anxiety. It has been noticeably absent this week. While I am experiencing happiness on the heels of my first mom’s visit, I attribute its’ absence to being away from my office. I feel like a different person with much more patience, kindness, love and compassion for my loved ones. Unfortunately, I choose to work long hours and have struggled with boundaries between work and home for quite some time. My family is understanding of my dedication and is more supportive than any three humans should be. My goal is develop better time management for myself. I’d like to quickly reorganize and reprioritize with greater efficiency. The root of my problems are my insecurities. While I am successful, my paranoia about being perfect and doing everything for everyone, interferes with my ability to stay calm.

I will admit that my anxiety is significant enough that I take medications and participate in counseling to manage it. I am NOT ashamed and do not buy in to the stigma that surrounds mental health challenges like anxiety and depression. You will find an ally in me, if you choose to share your own stories with anxiety and insecurities. 

I want it to be as simple as telling myself over and over again that I am good enough. This week, I decided that what is missing in that phrase is “I am good enough BECAUSE I am made in His image.” Why I keep this struggle to myself and don’t ask for God’s help and guidance in this, baffles me! I’ve asked him to help heal my cold and bring peace in our lives. I think that my fear of making a change and being someone healthy, scares me somewhat. The other changes I’ve made in my life have worked for me and have benefitted those around me. I need to put this down and STOP picking it back up. 

I’ve never been very good at making goals. My strong desire to avoid failure at all costs, makes it difficult for me to risk it by setting goals I may or may not be able to attain. However, lately I keep coming across inspiration messages and writings of others that it pointing me in the direction of making goals. I don’t need a natural disaster to get my attention to make a change, as I have previously in my life. What better time to jump start a new way of doing things after I’ve been away from work for 8 days. I realize that I will likely start out behind. I will likely have coworkers who are upset with me for being gone and putting more of a burden on them. I know that a new workflow was started while I was away that I am responsible for. My small, attainable goals include, praying about being calm and letting anxiety go and showing up on Monday with a good attitude. I will let other goals come to the surface as I get to work and surveil the day and will take challenges as they come instead of inventing them ahead of time in my mind.

I am going to live the life that God intended. I can do ALL things with Him who strengthens me. 

I’m reinventing Rebecca… 

 

Photo taken by Caroline Kippenbrock Dixon

Rebecca at the Fall River Falls


The sunrise after my dream came true…

Yesterday morning, as I drove home from the airport after dropping my first mom, Caroline, off at the airport, I felt overjoyed as the sun rose. Only an hour before, we had both been under the same sky and admired the same stars, here in Central Oregon where I live. I wasn’t overjoyed for her to leave, quite the contrary, but I could be content with her leave taking, since she made my dream come true with her visit. For many, many years, I’ve wanted her to come to Central Oregon and see where we live and the town we spend most of our time in. Having been several times to visit where she lives, I know first-hand, the depth and breath that can be added to a long distance relationship by being able to picture what things look like. Now my mom can picture what we see as we go about our day. Being able to visualize where the stop at the grocery store is, what the schools look like, how far it is to church, what it means when I say, “My phone might drop, I’m driving around Lava Butte,”I hope, will open up the reality of our lives for her.

Bonding time!

Preston and Logan make a Nanny Caroline sandwich in the backseat of the truck.

This trip of hers has been a long time coming.  I’ve prayed over and over that she could come. That she could bond with the boys and get to know them better without them having to share her with lots of other family members on a trip there. To be among them in their midst riding in the car, watching a movie, playing cards, hiking or sharing a picnic lunch surrounded by greedy little Golden Mantle Ground Squirrels. Instead of loving the idea of them, she knows them better now and can build on this in-person relationship boost, with FaceTime and email and phone calls. 

 

I didn’t do a good job of saying “Thank you” to her or my dad, for the financial expense it meant for her to come. For the disruption to their routine or for the emotional or physical strain it may have put on my mom to travel. I am more grateful that any words I can ever write or say. Hopefully, the connection that she now shares with her grandsons made it all worth it.  The incredible blessing for the boys, and their Nanny Caroline, is that they now have a bond and relationship that exists beyond me being a go-between. 

I have such a sense of peace that I received the moment I saw her at the airport on the other side of the revolving glass door, waving, wear a turquoise shirt and carrying her purse. It is another life milestone for me. One I do not take for granted. The afterglow of her visit is MORE than I ever dreamed for. I had no idea it could have this much meaning and be so magical. 

Seventeen years after our first meeting, every time we reunite in person and throw our arms around each other, it’s better than the time before. 


Looking forward to what comes next…

Family, reunited and reinvented.

“Rebecca, Caroline, Preston and Logan enjoying the sun next to the Deschutes River in Bend.”

This is such a surreal experience. It’s the end of summer, Labor Day, September 1st 2014, and behind me on the hammack are my older son, Preston and my first mom, Caroline. Logan, my younger son is across the driveway from me, playing on the tire swing hanging from one the of the tall Ponderosa pine trees in our front yard. It is the first time that she has been to stay in my home and only her second visit to Oregon, in the 17 years since we have met. When she came that first time, for our first reunion, she stayed in a hotel and I, at 18 years old, was still living at home with my parents. Today, the sun is shining and it’s 78 degrees. Comfortable in the shade. A stark constrast to what she experiences in Southern Lousiana, where she lives. Despite the fact that it’s been 4 years since she has seen my husband, AJ and my children and 3 years since we’ve been together, the visit has been comfortable and has felt very natural. We’ve picked right up where we left off. In the years since our initial reunion, the best way to preserve and improve our long distance relationship, is to make every moment count and set aside the thoughts of what has been missed and what we don’t have. The things we’ve missed have been many. Birthdays, a wedding, births, baptisms, illnesses, death, heartbreak and happiness all make the list. However, together we have experienced a wedding, illness, heartbreak, happiness, spiritual growth, emotional growth, back-to-school shopping, meals, a football game, the Oregon coast, cooking out, church services, singing praise music, preparing meals together, body surfing in the Gulf, playing tourist in New Orleans, karaoke, bubbles on the driveway, bathtime, Twister, card games, laundry, photography, hiking to waterfalls, browsing for books, Open House at school, laughter, tears, despair, hope and most of all, love. Although I am sad that my mom will be leaving tomorrow, leaving my two boys with bruised hearts, I pray that they, like me, will learn the lesson and value of living for every moment, embracing the memories and looking forward to what comes next. 🙂

Precious moments

Preston pushing Nanny Caroline on the tire swing