I’m the daughter of adoption. I’m a proud and resilient adoptee.
I can say this now, but I couldn’t always. My story was once very different. I used to be an adoptee who was scared stiff of rejection, uncomfortable in my skin, and unsure of my worth.
You see, I’m also the daughter of alcoholism.
Throughout my childhood, my adoptive father was addicted to alcohol. Parental alcoholism takes a toll on a child.
My daughter, Evi, and I watched Little Women this past weekend. It’s been on our must-see list for a while. On Saturday, we set aside an evening for mommy/daughter movie night. We snuggled on the couch, pulled two comfy throws over our laps, and started the film.
I didn’t know if my girl, who’s ten, could follow the storyline but I was willing to take a chance. I wanted to introduce her to this classic story of the March sisters. From the very first scene, Evi was completely engaged in the lives of Jo, Amy, Meg, and Beth.
Early last week, I found a recording that I’d forgotten about. It’s a conversation I had with my mother when I was a freshman in college. I wanted to hear what my mom shared on that cassette tape, so I ordered a cassette player on Amazon.
It felt like Christmas when the package arrived! I opened the box and smiled at the bubblegum pink color I’d chosen. I carefully placed the tape inside the player and hit the play button.
Mom passed away in 2016, so it was emotional to hear her speak. She talked about wanting to live long enough to see that I could make it on my own. Then, she said, “I think I’ve lived that long because I feel that you could take care of yourself. I think I’ve brought you up to that point. For you, I want everything to be good and for you to never be unhappy, but that’s unrealistic, isn’t it?”
How and when do I tell my child that they’re adopted? This is a question I receive from parents who often feel panic inside as they grapple with the and how of sharing a truth that must be shared. Mothers and fathers may fear their child’s response to this truth. Will they still love me? Will they be angry? Will they still call me Mom/Dad?
Parents lose sleep over worrying about if this conversation needs to occur. There’s uncertainty in the outcome and an ever-present longing to stop the passing of time. If I could just freeze this moment and avoid the inevitable!
I learn so much from the meaningful conversations I have with my guests on The Greater Than Podcast. I know—perhaps now more than ever—that we need each other. COVID-19 has slowed the world down. The coronavirus pandemic is real. It has, understandably, made a lot of people feel uncertain and afraid.
The response to the virus has also brought people together. Families, who haven’t connected in weeks and months, are sitting around a table and breaking bread. They’re playing board games and becoming familiar with each other, again.
Strangers are emerging on their balconies and creating symphonies of music with neighbors they’ve never met. Balcony-to-balcony they’re finding new ways to connect because humans crave connection. We need it!
“If I don’t give this work my all, I’m stealing from those who need my message the most.” It was a seismic shift in my mindset! Moving from being apprehensive to share my story to being 100% determined to share my story, and doing everything possible to make that happen.
It feels like, in the world today, we are prone to devalue our stories—our big, beautiful, important stories. In other words, I think we too easily lean toward silencing our voices. We tell ourselves that we don’t have anything important to say. What could someone like me possibly have to offer?
“There are a million reasons why people feel broken.” This comment, shared in an email, caused me to sit back in my chair and reflect for several minutes.
“Are there really a million reasons why people can find themselves shattered and on the floor?” I asked. “That seems overwhelming….”
My friend replied, “There are people who grew up in stable, but unloving homes. People abandoned in marriage. People who never found love. People rejected for all sorts of reasons that have left them feeling worthless.”
“Michelle, you’re back.” I heard the gentle words of my post-op nurse, Michele, waking me up after my 4-hour procedure, in Cleveland, Ohio. I recall that, in our early morning pre-surgery preparations, she and I had teased each other about the best spelling of our given names. Is a one-L or two-L spelling the best? We laughed and agreed to disagree.
I remember walking into the operating room and being assisted by another amazing nurse, Karla, as she directed me onto the table, positioning my arms in an extended position—outward from my body. The anesthesiologist began placing an IV in my left arm and instructed me to think of a beautiful and peaceful place where I would want to spend the next several hours, while under anesthesia. I told her, immediately, that my peaceful destination would be Butterfly Beach, in Montecito, California. Four hours later, in what seemed like four minutes, I was being nursed back to consciousness and away from my favorite beach, by nurse Michele.
I host a podcast called Greater Than. I started this project to explore how people rise above tremendous challenges and find a greater way of being—discovering a purpose and a calling beyond their wildest dreams.
I’ve learned so much from listening to the stories of others who have gone through the toughest of times and, on the other side of pain, have uncovered the true meaning of life: serving.
When we look around us, as we approach the closing out of 2019, it seems that society has lost its way in the area of service. Greatness is viewed as having more than the next person: more accolades, more money, more strength, more power, more status. Greatness has never been about these things.
If you have breath, you have purpose. I love this quote! I don’t know who originally coined it, but I’m glad that they did because it’s true. If you are breathing, you are living, and that means you have a calling. A unique and individual purpose to carry out in this life.
We’re in the last month of 2019 and I want to remind you that you’re here for a reason. Finding that reason is what the journey of living is all about. Our ability to stay hungry on the hunt for our purpose is the challenge. So many things in life can dull our palates.