Author Archives: reinventingrebecca

Finding my father, again.

Early Saturday morning, Preston and I were looking at FaceBook together. It has been awhile since I’ve snooped on my biological father’s FB profile and cover photos. So I looked him up and showed Preston his face. I care about him and I’m curious about what he looks like, what he’s up too, and so on. When I was 18, I was able to be reunited with him via phone. I didn’t handle it well. I was a snob and judgmental. Basically, a self-absorbed, stuck up, selfish teenager with LOTS of drama. Most of that drama was of my own making. For one reason or another, I did not make an effort to have a relationship with him and we fell out of touch. Over the years, I’ve put greater emphasis on other family members and relationships. I never forgot about him, his wife, my siblings. I have photos of them in a box and my favorite is of my father standing on a beach. Plagued with insecurity, I could never bring myself to reach out and try to reconnect with them. My fear of rejection overruled my curiosity and interest in requesting a second chance. I’ve known very little about my father and this has always been a void in my life. Yesterday, when I was snooping on his FB, I saw post that was about Christ at Christmas. My heart burst wide open. MY FATHER IS A CHRISTIAN!!!! Why is this such a big deal? It shows that we already have the most important thing in common. To meet it felt like a door was being held open for me. I prayed about it and took a chance and sent him a brief message, apologizing for my immaturity and lack of appreciation of him. I also included my photo and one of the boys. Then the waiting began. I paid the dollar is takes to send a FB message to someone’s main folder to have a better chance that he would see it. 🙂 I was prepared to wait weeks, months or longer for a reply. I think it was 4 hours and then, there is was. A friend request. I was overcome with emotion. We happened to be getting on the road and head into town to go to a party so my curiosity had to wait! TORTURE!!! In fact, as the party was winding down, I sat quietly and read every single post I could find.

So now, at 36 years old, my father’s face is familiar to me. I know he likes to wear sunglasses, what color his truck is, we both drive a Ford, his favorite color and what size shoe he wears. My life and heart feel so full. I don’t know what comes next but I am happy to provide him access to my life and his grandsons. I have LOTS of photos, albums and FB posts to wade through. However, I am an open book.

I am so grateful for this opportunity. Let me be an inspiration to you to look at your own lives and relationships and mend mendable fences. Take a chance on yourself and the other person to do things differently and have new experiences. Sending love and prayers to all of you…Rebecca

Happy Mother’s Day to both of my moms.

Some of you may be thinking that each of my moms, first mom, Caroline, and (adoptive) mom, Sharon, should each get their blog post. I considered that, and yet they are a complimentary pair, and with my high needs, I have needed both of them to mother me. Over the years, I’ve learned much from both of them. I am grateful that they are both faith-filled women that love God and have prayed me through my life. Due to age, culture, experience, they also have many differences. One of the greatest gifts they have given to me, is their love and acceptance of each other. My mom, Sharon, was responsible for my earliest impressions of Caroline. Without a trace of negative judgement, Sharon told me about my first mom being a young, unmarried teenager who loved me so much that she gave me life, and gave me up, so that I could have a start in life with two married parents, who loved each other, and had jobs, and love for me with less struggle than a single, teen mom could have provided in 1978 with limited family support. Sharon NEVER spoke one ill word about Caroline. For those of you unfamiliar with the insecurity of some adoptive parents, this is a very big deal. Even when I was a young child, Sharon was paving the way for Caroline to come back into my life someday and find love and acceptance. This is truly a magnificent gift that Sharon gave Caroline. Perhaps it is because Sharon herself is an adoptee, or because she has a Masters in Social Work and worked in adoptions for many of her years. Or maybe because she has the biggest, loving heart of anyone I have ever known. While Sharon was realistic about the possibility that it might be hard to reunite with Caroline, she always encouraged me. Whatever insecurities that Sharon may have had (maybe there were none) about sharing me with a stranger, Caroline, she never spoke of them. Other people, my brother included, got worked up on her behalf, but she always reassured me and said it was ok. My emotional struggles, many self amplified, created an atmosphere in which our home resembled Mr Toad’s Wild Ride. Drama queen would have been an accurate description. Both of my parents tried to encourage me to participate in counseling/therapy and pursue pharmaceutical assistance for my heartaches. My parents never turned their back on me. Not when I took their station wagon and drove to San Jose, CA from Portland, OR. Not when I yelled, screamed, slammed doors and was hateful. There was no end to their compassion, forgiveness and commitment to being my parents, despite the fact that some people might have felt that I was someone else’s crazy as I wasn’t flesh of their flesh.

When I was 18 and was able to write to the Commonwealth of Virginia to request to be reunited, it was Sharon who reminded me the time had come. She was excited with me as Caroline was located and we began the process of connecting. Sharon helped me pick the photos to send to Caroline. It was a roller coaster of emotions. If my mom, Sharon, was jealous or hurting, she never showed me and was my biggest supporter and encourager. There wasn’t a manual on how to behave in such a huge life event. We all winged it. I do know that when Caroline flew to Portland to meet me in person, Sharon was there in the airport with a sign that said, Welcome Caroline. (I know this has left an impact on Caroline.) Through some rocky times, my mom, Sharon, counseled Caroline on how to have a successful relationship with my volatile self without paying too high of a personal price. She told Caroline something along the lines of “just because she (me) is creating a hurricane, it doesn’t mean you have to get in with her!” While my mom, Sharon, could have rejoiced that Caroline was back to be the whirlwind’s mother, she actually mothered Caroline some as well. Instead of leaving us to our own to try to navigate our tumultuous reunion on our own, Sharon was the translator, supporter, cheerleader and mother of reason. As I was growing up, I did not appreciate, nor was appropriately grateful for all the crap my mom and dad went through with me. It was Caroline’s comments about my behavior and her example of gratitude for them, that softened my heart for them. So you see, I have each of them to thank for showing just how much I gained from the other.

Early on in my reunion, I was drawn to Caroline in a way no words can describe. In looking to find our similarities despite the culture clash, I rejected many things that I’d learned from Sharon, or ways I favored her. I was in an epic battle with myself and the world around me, in a quest for identity. Trust me when I say, having an identity crisis is not a cliche’ to take lightly or make fun of. In cleaving to Caroline, I rejected Sharon for some things that I labeled uncool or too practical. (I’ve since seen the error of my childish ways. I am proud of the ways I am like Sharon, my best friend, whom I idolize.) It was fascinating to find healing in our similarities, body shape, handwriting, preferred hobbies, emotional behaviors and a myriad of other things. It is easy to recall the discoveries and emotions of our reunion 18 years ago. As the years have gone by, Caroline has reminded time and time again to respect my parents. Welcome advice that has changed my life and relationships with my parents. The geographical distance between us, for me, is the biggest challenge I face in our relationship. She reminds me to bloom where I am planted. We’ve both come to realize that what we have to offer others is so similar, that being in far away ponds, our ripples can reach more people, without overlapping. I could not be more grateful for the people in her life, her husband, Brian, my brother, Wayne, my sisters, Krista & Melissa, my aunts Lee and Elizabeth, her soul sister, Bernie, Tammy Kling, all the WER riders and friends, Jeremy, Natalie, Pam and the others I’ve failed to name, that she has introduced to my life. It is richer and filled with more love, because she welcomed me back and has loved and embraced me and expects others to do the same.

There are fewer Mr Toad’s Wild Ride moments, now that I am a 36-year-old, married, mother of two with a 15 year career as a Certified Medical Assistant. Rather than asking anyone to get in my hurricane with me or need either mother to bail me out of crisis, I manage daily life, even the dramatic things, pretty well on my own with my husband and therapist. I enjoy sharing my challenges and triumphs with my moms. I do turn to them for counsel and support but most of all their prayers.

This has been the best Mother’s Day I can remember. I am happy and enjoying a healthy relationship with both of my moms. Their love for me is a blessing that I acknowledge every day. My children feel their love that has been passed along through me.

Dear Lord, Without both of these moms, I would still have needs. However, these two incredible women, together have taught me to embrace your love and live a life of gratitude, counting my blessings and letting you carry me when times are hard. Thank you for giving them to me. Amen.

I’ve been blessed by a 70th birthday memory book.

I first met my mom, Sharon, on December 13th, 1978. I’d spent the first 4 weeks of my life in foster care being cared for by strangers. There in the social workers office, I was held for the first time by my parents who would be my forever family. (Bawling already. This is going to be a tough post.)

Meeting my parents

Meeting my parents

I know that my parents went home that night and flew into a whirlwind of getting ready to bring me home. From that day until this one, my mom has gone to great lengths to prove that I am hers and I belong. (My insecurities needed the proving.) I have a million stories about the incredible things that my mom has done for me. I could never say enough “Thank yous.” She will be 70 this month. When I got to thinking about this birthday, I wanted to make sure that I made her feel special. So, in January, I sent requests to 90+ friends and acquaintances asking them to help me make a scrapbook style memory book for her. (I didn’t keep it a secret because I don’t keep things from my mom and my dad and I didn’t want to go behind her back.) I asked them to send cards, notes, photos, memories or other anecdotes about my mom. I used her FB friends list, a church directory and other means to reach out to people. The response has been incredible. The stories that my mom’s friends have shared about her make me swell with pride and often well up with tears. I know that my mom has been a blessing in my life. I could write a long list of why she comes second in line only behind my husband, on my list of best friends. What has overwhelmed me is impact that she has made on so many people. More than once she has been given credit for helping her friends draw closer to God.

I never expected to be so emotionally involved in this project. I’m humbled that I am in the position to contact and compile these moments that weave together to form my mom’s legacy. To be honest, I’m sorry that this is coming to a close. Never have I enjoyed getting emails or cards or notes in the mail as much as I have these past few months. Even though the “deadline” I had set has passed, submissions keep coming in. I may not get all the pages together and photos glued in until the last minute. I’ve always been a procrastinator and have done my best work under pressure!

Without the kindness and participation of my mom’s friends, I couldn’t have put this book together. Thank you, if you are one of the people that contributed. I know that she will love reading what you’ve shared, with Kleenex. Goodness knows I’ve used a bunch just putting the pieces together.

May the Lord bless you as He has blessed me. Love and hugs, Rebecca

My husband is a human straight-jacket.

The last week has been tough for me. Partly due to not enough “me” time. I’ve been under the weather, have had low energy and missed several training work outs. This means I’ve not gotten the benefit of a great many endorphins that I had gotten used to over the past month. In fact, for the month of March, I covered 157 miles with my own two feet. It was such a high. The end of this week felt like a fall. A failure. Really, I’m a human in a body with weaknesses. Emotionally, it was a huge blow and I didn’t take it while. My own physical failures came on the heels of having a sick kid at home. For days on end. I thrive with my schedule, predictability, me-time and clean-eating. Did I mention that my therapist was out of town this week? I’ve used Heart-Math, meditation, pet therapy, and several other distress tolerance strategies. We made it to church successfully but not into the building without anti-anxiety meds for me. Unfortunately, my pulse and blood pressure got too low and made it difficult for me to stand during church. Super embarrassing and it meant that I sang the Hallelujah Chorus from my spot in the audience and not with the choir. At the end of the service, AJ half-carried me to the car. This afternoon, after an especially trying discussion with an emotionally challenging child, I went to my room and laid down on the floor next to the bed, hiding under a blanket. I was quiet but overwhelmed and holding to my emotional outburst with a tiny, fragile string. AJ came in to our room to keep my company and to honor my request to spend some time without the children. Finally, the last strong straw splintered and I began to sob. Between sobs, I asked AJ to come and lay on the floor with me. He did. He laid right down next to me on our floor that has a thin carpet on the cement floor. I begged him to hold me. He did. He wrapped his arms around me and held me. I told him I felt out of control and could he squeeze me tighter. He did. He squeezed me as tight as he could and I could still breathe. Just like a straight jacket, he held me and kept me safe while all the crazy passed with my crying and all that remained was feeling spent and safe and loved. Now, awhile later, I’m calm and quiet and I’m watching a movie quietly with my cat and my security object. I’ve hugged and kissed my children and told them I love them so we end the night on a positive note.

I recognize that this post isn’t what you are used to reading from me. This is real. This is my life. This is what living with anxiety and depression can look like. I am so grateful that I have had this amazing man in my life for 12 years and I have learned that he loves me unconditionally and I can ask him for anything. Even if I need him to be a straight-jacket while I lie on the floor.

I offer my prayers of thanksgiving for all of you who have taken the time to read this and open your hearts and minds to me. Love and hugs.

Adoption overload…

I am accepting that adoption trauma, mine and others, will never stop bothering me. I think when you survive something, it is a cause that it always close to your heart. It has served a purpose to make me compassionate for others that have been damaged by life. Sometimes by their own choices and sometimes not. Being an adoptee is what activated the activist inside of me. I will stand up for those who need me. I’m proud of that.

The business of reinvention is a busy one.

It’s been nearly a month since I have taken the time to blog. Now, on a quiet, sunny, Sunday morning, I find myself on my front porch with my laptop on my lap. Around the time of my last post, my Up 24 fitness band arrived in the mail. A few friends and coworkers had them and the concept of concrete date and accountability appealed to me. For most of my life, I have avoided exercise for one reason or another. Great excuses, explanations for avoidance, legitimate medical issues have kept me from it. 2 years ago I did Turbo Fire by Beach Body in the spring. It was great but life got busy due to a merger at work and I stopped making time for fitness. I looked great and felt great while I was doing Turbo Fire. I don’t recall that my anxiety and depression were improved at all but it was a crazy, crazy time. This time, however, with my daily minimum step goal of 10,000 steps daily, I notice a difference in my anxiety symptoms. The Up app tracks sleep and has a feature that you can track your food. You tell it what you ate, it add the calories and tracks the nutrition info. It’s nothing short of my new best friend. Rather than guessing at calories, skipping meals to restrict my calories/fasting, it’s helping me make better food choices. IU can see how many calories I am allowed based on how much exercise I’ve gotten. If I want to eat Tortellini Gorgonzola, I can walk at lunch or hop on the elliptical machine when I get home. This is the first time in my entire life that my attempts at better eating, fitness and weight loss are dangerous. When I see my therapist, she weighs me, as always, and reviews the highlights in my app. Yes, I am super motivated and last weekend covered 12 1/2 miles without ever leaving my house. Some nights, I’m jogging at the side of my bed to get to my goal. My husband and children have been so supportive. I’ve left behind statements about being fat or jiggly, which are uncomfortable for everyone, and I’ve talked about accomplishments. Things that never seemed possible before, seem within my grasp. Longer hikes, maybe even a 5k RUN? It’s so exciting! I’ve already seen results but more importantly, have felt them. My endurance is so much better. When I first started exercising again, I could only go 15 minutes on the elliptical. Lately, 1 1/2 hours is my tiring point. I’ll admit, I’ve become somewhat obsessed with checking my step counter over and over. I no longer sit in a desk at work but rather choose to stand. I can be found pacing back and forth while I am on hold with an insurance company. There is a large portion of my focus and attention on my step counter. This doesn’t leave time for WORRY! I am making new habits and my brain is better for it. I can’t help but say I wish I’d done this sooner. It won’t change anything though. The past is where it belongs and the future is now. Everything happens on God’s timing. Speaking of time, it’s time to get moving. I leave you with a new example of better eating. A recipe I created just this morning.

RU's Fruit 'n More Muffins

RU's Fruit 'n More Muffins

Ru’s Fruit ‘n More Muffins
1 cup milk
1 cup cook rolled oats (I used Old Fashioned and just soaked them longer.)
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 & 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white sugar
2 smashed ripened bananas
1/3 cup honey roasted sunflower nuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees (I’d do 410 due to altitude, the outside got brown before the inside was 100% baked.) Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
2. In a small bowl, add milk to oats and let it soak for 15 minutes. (Mine were Old Fashioned and soaked for 25 minutes.
3. In a second bowl, beat egg into the oil. Add completely smashed bananas to the oatmeal mixture and then and then stir into the egg/oil mixture. In a third bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients until just combined.
4. Fold sunflower nuts, raisins and cranberries into batter. Do not overstir. Spoon batter (I used my cookie dough scoop) into muffin cups until they are 2/3 full. (I made both mini muffins and Jumbo muffins.)
5. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. The outside of the muffin should be golden brown.
I choose to dump my muffins out immediately onto a rack to cool. Then I store them in a tightly covered container. The recipe above makes about 12 regular sized muffins. They are very filling and great for taking out on the trail. Putting either almond butter or peanut butter on them would be awesome. ENJOY!

Photographs of the photographer

Last year at this time, Preston had been home from residential treatment for less than a month. He was a broken, shell of a human. His inner pain and turmoil made it difficult for him to engage and enjoy activities. It’s rare that I think about those times anymore, however last evening as he stood on the edge of a canyon, taking photos for his photography class, I was overwhelmed by the contrast.

Preston perched on the edge of the canyon above the Deschutes River.

Preston perched on the edge of the canyon above the Deschutes River.

While Preston’s depression was not my fault, the pressure that I put on him, certainly contributed to it. I was obsessed with grades and success and making sure that this start in life with a single mom, didn’t negatively impact him. I did things wrong. I admit it. I also admit that I learned from those mistakes and have done things differently. No longer do I focus on specific letter grades or grade point averages. I know that God intends to give him a future, I’m not obsessed about scholastic achievement, college or the like. I want him to have a well-rounded life experience with exposure to many activities so he can decide what he likes and who he wants to be. This term, Preston is taking photography. In my quest to stay involved and provide support and opportunities to him, I offered to drive him to Crooked River Ranch yesterday after school. He agreed and off we went. It’s a 45 minute drive, or so, from school. We chatted about all kinds of things on the way. It was a gorgeous day. 64 degrees in February with the sun shining brightly! Amazing. We parked at the trailhead at the Scout Camp Trail and took heed of the rattlesnake warning. They are likely hibernating but we were cautious just the same. The short hike out to the top of the plateau that overlooks the wild Deschutes River was nice. We did slog through some mud and pick our way carefully over rocks. What an adventure! Preston wasn’t disappointed. He appreciated the view and took photos down into the canyon as we made our way out the end. The moment that you can hear the sound of the rushing river coming up from below is one of my favorite parts about that hike. Of course he made me nervous as he got SO CLOSE to the edge but I tried not to nag. I still worry. I worry disproportionately to what is going on a good portion of the time. (My cells remember that day when he wasn’t where he was supposed to be and it takes awhile to let that memory fade.) Preston was respectful and didn’t do any daredevil moves to get the perfect shot. He had me stand “just so” and used me in some of his shots. When I wasn’t being used an unlikely model, I photographed the photographer.

Crouching to capture the sunset.

Crouching to capture the sunset.

It was exhilarating to be there on the edge of the canyon, with the breeze and the sunshine. With no other humans around, it felt like we were alone in the world. It was such an enjoyable time together. It took longer for the sun to go down that we expected so we had plenty of time for plenty of shots. When the sun did go down, Preston was able to get exactly the photo he wanted. I struggle to describe my emotions…Pride? Awe? Gratitude? Knowing that I felt so blessed in that moment, I believe I was overcome with gratitude. Gratitude that God spared Preston’s live and led him to be healed. Gratitude that Preston fought a hard fight and clawed his way back from the dark, into the world, filled with light again. Having the day off and making moments with memories like this is such a blessing.

As we walked out along the darkening trail, we discussed our time and photos we had taken. I nearly had to pinch myself for the perfectness of it all. I took this last photo as we came off the plateau and headed for the car.

Sunset 2/12/15 from the top of the Scout Camp Trail, CRR Oregon

Sunset 2/12/15 from the top of the Scout Camp Trail, CRR Oregon

Today, after starting the day with quiet reflection, I’m excited to take yesterday’s momentum and positivity and let it infuse today. This evening, I’ll be driving Prestont to Detroit Lake to spend the weekend with his Dad. I don’t feel resentful or bitter. Yesterday’s adventure was my time and no one can steal that joy. So blessed by the second chances and beauty in life.

Love and hugs, Rebecca