Repost of "Meeting the Kids"

Two people I respect with my whole heart just adopted two children from Ethiopia.  The adoption grew their family of five to a family of seven.  I’ve been Facebook stalking them in their process of securing these kids into their family.  It hasn’t been easy, but they have been consistent in their fight to give these children a good home.

Brandon, the dad, just posted a video of their first meeting of these two little people.  I just watched this video and am touched by it.  I’m touched by the first hugs.  I’m touched by the timidity in their new daughter.  I’m touched by the lack of timidity in their new son.  I’m most touched by Jennifer’s face in the car before they actually meet Remy and Ben.  Her face speaks her love for them.  Watch the video for yourself on Brandon’s blog.

Brandon and Jennifer, I know I’ve said this before, but your love is huge.  I know you give so much because you know you’ve received so much.  You have touched many lives, and now you’ve forever altered two more.  I’m proud to know you, and I’m amazed by you.  Remy and Ben could not have landed in better hands.  They are precious…and so deeply fortunate to be Hatmakers.  My love to you all.

Time Well Spent.

I spent time today with a young woman who started her own business and has been dealing with the kinds of issues that come up sometimes when people prove to be other than what you expected.  As a lawyer and as a person, I’ve seen it again and again.  Relationships – both professional and personal – end, sometimes most unexpectedly.  And sometimes the unexpectedness hurts more than the actual severance itself.

This woman has been fighting battles for a while now, but she’s on the downhill side.  She’s putting her attention on the things that matter to her, and she isn’t looking back, except to gain knowledge for the next round.

When we first started talking, I was a little anxious about the time because I needed to get into the office to get some stuff done.  But as we spoke, I realized more and more that I needed to pay close attention.  I realized that I was in one of those conversations that would stay with me for a long time.

As I listened to her, I saw so much of what I want in myself.  I saw a determination to move forward.  I saw a confidence that past successes would be repeated and exceeded.  I saw a peacefulness of spirit that comes with having treated others well, even when that courtesy may not have been returned.  I didn’t live her experience, but I can learn from her example.

I’m thankful for that example.  I’m thankful that, despite our schedules and all that we both have going on right now, we made the time to sit and talk.  For me, at least, it was time incredibly well spent.

Feeling Giddy.

I’m juggling a few things right now.  I’m getting up early in the mornings to get back into my workout rhythm.  I’m working as a lawyer by day.  I’m launching a new business by night.  Somewhere in there, I get a little sleep when the felines let me.  I’m busier than I normally want to be.  In fact, I’d been making a point of trying to slow down and lessen my time commitments because I think we tend to be too busy in our lives.  Right now though, busy is a fact of my life.  Though I look forward to stepping back from this busy mode, there is nowhere else I’d like to be in this moment.

Tonight, I registered my domain name and started working on a website for my new business.  Doing that left me downright giddy.  I’m not far enough along yet to know when I’ll be able to launch the site and totally go public, but I’m hopeful that will happen within the next month.  It’s funny because the work is launched already.  But there is so much other “work” to be done to be officially functional.  I’m learning tons about small business administration, and I’m gaining a whole new appreciation for people who start their own businesses.  I cannot wait to tell you all about it and to talk about some of what I’ve learned.

For now though, I must tend to these little ones:

They make me take momentary pauses in all the activity.  Aren’t they funny?

My Favorite Things.

My friend Kate inspires me.  I’ve known her since middle school.  She lived in Kansas City.  I lived in Corpus Christi.  We met at geek camp in Kirksville, Missouri, in the summer of 1988.  Back then, I wanted to look like her and write like her.  Now I want to look like her, write like her, and have a family like she has.  Some things don’t change.

Lately, she’s been writing about her favorite things.  She’s been writing lists of things that make her deeply joyful, and she’s inspired me to do the same.  So here I go:

Bread and Butter, watching Before Sunrise and Before Sunset back to back, having friends drop by my house unexpectedly, a run with a friend, watching Erin race, having a drink with Corky on his rooftop deck, watching The Notebook, the scene in Rudy when he learns that he made the team, Rudy in its entirety, Bikram yoga during the winter, reading a book so good that it totally disrupts my life, napping with Bread and Butter, watching Armineh on stage, Capital City Toastmasters, writing, sunflowers, getting handwritten notes in the mail, the Summer Writing Retreat put on by the Writers’ League of Texas, Alpine, waking up in a hotel, long weekends with old friends, the hum of the dryer, swimming at Deep Eddy and going to Magnolia Cafe afterwards, finishing a bike ride, seeing Pete’s name in my inbox, the fact that my dad texts, puns, Marline when she makes herself laugh, pedicures, massages, Bruce Robison, the restroom signs at Home Slice Pizza, writing in my journal, events led by Jeanne Guy or Christina Baldwin, fresh sheets on my bed, coffee on those mornings when I can sit on my couch with a magazine, my Ironman finisher gear, the Ironman pendant Mom gave me at the Coeur d’Alene finish line, Pine State Biscuits, Phillips Church, my memories of laughing with Karyn and Kishie in Moulton, late night walks in the rain, writing out my goals around New Year’s Eve…

What are some of your favorite things?

Happy Monday!

It’s 4:00 a.m. on Monday morning, and I can’t sleep.  I got home a couple of hours ago and have managed to make lists, organize the files on my new computer, and catch up on General Hospital and Friday Night Lights.  But there appears to be no sleep in my future – not one wink.  I would blame my children, but they are actually being uncharacteristically angelic at the moment.  So why the wide open eyes in the wee hours of the morning?  That’s easy.   I’m excited.  I’ve got a page and a half long “to do” list, and I’m excited about each and every item on that list.  How cool is that?

Updates Already?

I’ve been at home this morning awaiting the delivery of a new computer.  My old computer is a 33 GB PC that I bought in 2004 and have used up.  The computer is literally full.   Last year, it got full and ran so badly that it sometimes took three or four minutes to open a simple Word document.  When that happened, I started researching new computers and talking to the computer guy at my old firm, and he saved me.  He doctored the computer a bit and deleted off of it the pre-installed program files I didn’t need and never used, and cleared up so much space that it worked beautifully, almost like a new machine, for a while.

But here again, it has started to lag.

For the last four or five months, I’ve been looking for additional excess files to delete.  I’ve tried to cull through and delete duplicate photos, old versions of my resumes, and any random files I didn’t recognize or was certain I would not need, including massive law school outlines that I’m sure I did not create and probably never even used.  I’ve scoured the depths of my little machine, and I’ve run out of things I can delete.

I considered buying a little storage drive and moving my many pictures off the PC onto the drive to create space and extend the life of my little old machine.  But I decided against it.

Last week, as I thought ahead to the work I’ve got lined up and the business I am starting, I decided to pull the trigger on a new computer.  I decided that my new life warrants the new beginning of a new computer.  In fact, I splurged on me and bought a Mac.  It feels like Christmas come early.

A beautifully packaged box came less than an hour ago.  I opened it and extracted a gorgeous piece of equipment from the shipping materials.  I plugged it in and turned in on and we’re off!

For me, a new computer is like a new house.  It’s fun to take the stuff from an old house and rearrange it in a new one.  Some of the stuff you keep.  Some of it you don’t.  You discover the quirks of a new space and find a way to make it your own.  Every move feels new and fresh and promising.  Likewise, this computer feels new and fresh and promising.

One funny thing happened though in the first moments of working on my Mac.  I turned on the computer and opened the Pages function.  Immediately, it told me that updates were available.  Seriously?  The machine just came out of the box, and it’s already ripe for updates?  That seems wrong somehow.  But rather than be annoyed, I’ve decided to appreciate the readiness for updates.  Constant updates mean constant improvement.  I like improvement.  I’m at a place where I’m ready for improvement.

I’m ready for a fresh start.  I’m ready to learn new things and have new experiences.  I’m ready to move into a new space and discard bits of the past, especially those unnecessary memories that bog me down.   Rather than live in the space of what’s always been and patch and treat it to keep it alive, I’m ready to step forward into the space of what can and will be.

I already can tell that my Mac and I are going to have lots of fun together.

Updates already?  Bring them on.


It’s a small word.  Pets.  I ramble on about mine all the time because they are precious and funny and add tremendous amounts of joy to my life.  This time, though, the story is not about Bread and Butter.  It’s about a dog whose name I don’t know.

I watched a triathlon this weekend.  As is often the case in races, family members ran through the finishers’ chute with the competitors.  Little kids.  Older kids.  People raced to the finish line hand in hand with the folks who love them.  I saw a number of people finish with kids so little that they could barely run on their own.  In one instance, the kids were older and so rambunctious that one tripped, causing his brother to trip also, which resulted in a three-man pile up of kid, kid and father smack dab on top of the finish line.  (That’s an example of why families sometimes aren’t – and perhaps should not be – permitted in the finishers’ chute.)  Thankfully, all three stood up laughing.  In each instance, the finish line volunteers placed the finisher’s medal around the neck of the companion child.

The sweetest finish I saw was that of a man and his dog.  The dog ran with his owner through the finishers’ chute across the finish line.  He stayed by his owner’s side and wagged his happy tail and looked up at his owner admiringly.  The dog even wore the owner’s finisher’s medal.  It was the sweetest thing to see this man laughing and running with his dog.

Seeing this man and his dog made me think of the pet I grieve and the pets I know my friends grieve.  Some of us age with our animals.  In 2008, I lost my Skylar, a cat who had been my family for eighteen years. My friend Jennifer recently lost a gorgeous black lab she’d had, I believe, since we were in law school eons ago.  My friend Erin is grieving a dog she had for nine years.  She reminds me that she had her puppy longer than she’s “had” her husband.
These animals of ours are precious.  They love us.  They just love us, and we love them. They live in our homes and sleep in our beds and often spend day and night by our side.  In some cases, they even run our races.  And then they’re gone, and it’s hard, but it’s worth it.  Loving them – having them and living with them – is completely worth every bit of the pain we experience in losing them.

Pets.  The word may be small, but the love is huge and remains huge even after they are gone.

One Week Later.

This time last week, I was looking for inspiration.  I found it after a search that took a great deal of energy and will on my part.  Tonight, inspiration surrounds me, and meeting it feels effortless. 
My dad reminded me today of something he says quite often: when God closes one door out of His wisdom, He opens another out of His mercy.  My guess is that Dad borrowed that saying from someone, but my certainty after these last few days is that he is right. 
My dad is one smart fella.  Thanks, Dad.

A Lesson From the Babemba.

Just this week, I started taking a course through the Therapeutic Writing Institute.  I signed up about a month ago and made note of the start date in my little paper planner that so many of my friends mock given the age of electronic everything.  The start date was Monday, June 26.  This has been a hard week, but I think the universe was setting me up for support in a crucial time.

Last night, I finally got around to reading the first assignment for this course — the first two chapters of Christina Baldwin’s Storycatcher: Making Sense of Our Lives Through the Power and Practice of Story.  I became a Christina Baldwin fan earlier this year when I attended an evening gathering/workshop at which she discussed the power of story and writing.  She got me journalling again.  I then went to a weekend workshop in Round Top that she led through Storycircle Network and fell deeper in love with her manner and sensibility.  I took this photo with her at the workshop.  So when I saw that she was teaching a class this summer that I could take, I signed up.

Already, with the first assignment, I’m in love with her book and feel much gratitude for her writing.  In Chapter 1, she tells a story so beautiful that I’m going to quote her at length:

“I have read the story of a tribe in southern Africa called the Babemba in which a person doing something wrong, something that destroys this delicate social net, brings all work in the village to a halt. The people gather around the ‘offender,’ and one by one they begin to recite everything he has done right in his life: every good deed, thoughtful behavior, act of social responsibility.  These things have to be true about the person, and spoken honestly, but the time honored consequence of misbehavior is to appreciate the person back into the better part of himself.  The person is given the chance to remember who he is and why he is important to the life of the village.
I want to live under such a practice of compassion.  When I forget my place, when I lash out with some private wounding in a public way, I want to be remembered back into alignment with myself and my purpose.  I want to live with the opportunity for reconciliation.  When someone around me is thoughtless or cruel, I want to be given the chance to respond with a ritual that creates the possibility of reconnection.”

Amen, Christina.  I do want to be remembered back into alignment with myself and my purpose, and I do want a chance to respond to thoughtlessness and cruelty with a ritual that creates the possibility of reconnection.  Rifts hurt.  When they happen, I crave the opportunity to heal and be healed and to return to a place where we remember who we are and why we are important to one another.  I don’t know how to do that right now, but I want to spend the next week or two or three with this story in my head, and I hope it will guide my actions.

I thank the Babemba – and Christina – for this story.

A Thought for the Day..and a Thank You.

A dear friend offered me some support and encouragement this morning through a statement she says comes from a Conan O’Brien commencement speech on YouTube.  I need to watch the whole thing, but the bit she offered me is this: “There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized.” 

Thank you, friend.  That was exactly what I needed to hear.