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MY 2018 WORD OF THE YEAR

Every year and every day offers a new opportunity to start over, to learn, to grow, and to be kind – to ourselves and to others. After reading the title of Shonda Rhimes’ book, 2017 became my Year of Yes! [I hope to actually read the full book in 2018 because if the title alone launched one of the most amazing years of my life so far, the possibilities seem powerful]! Spending a year living outside my comfort zone, and at the same time, very much inside my head and heart, helped me contemplate and focus my goals, get in touch with my history and plot new paths for my future. [Cue the confetti and the marching band!] What word would be worthy to follow the Year of YES?!

Truth be told, at the end of the year, I felt like the inside of a spaghetti squash in that every time one scraped the internal surface, a whole new pile of stringy things spilled out all over the place giving a whole lot of goodness, but at the same time, making an even bigger mess. You can dress it up and fool the world into believing it’s as good as pasta, but truth be told, it’s still spaghetti squash. [I think I just nominated a mascot to accompany the Word of the Year!]

My 2018 Word of the Year:

Since I already felt a bit raw after everything that happened in my life and in the country during the last year [Who can relate?! Woo!], I yearned to bring things back to a level that I could control by forming deeper connections with people while also helping others strengthen their connections! To truly connect, one must be willing to be vulnerable.

Honestly, it just felt like the right year to bust everything open for inspection. I’ve always ended my job interviews by bragging about my ability to compartmentalize to ensure employers that my crazy busy home life won’t spill over into the workplace. This skill also helped me cope with yucky situations [aka: loss of control when knocked off track] like my divorce, times where I know I didn’t stand up for my goals, or the literal shit show – the flood of 2015, and put them away in a shoe box in my closet to return some normalcy to my life. By constantly rushing to stay ahead of the discomfort to prove “I’m fine!” I was not present in my life, nor was I living an authentic life. [#FineIsFake]

Now, More than Ever:
a) I’ve stepped into some new circles of amazing people:
Connecting with my tribe of Insiders, my family of Korean adoptees and working to deepen connections with my large circle of family by friendship, I’ve noticed that part of me loves to drop a joke, create a diversion and flee when people get what I deem “too close.” I’m calling my bluff.
b) I’m fixing to celebrate my 50th (in 2020) with an epic mid-life Personal Journey: …As opposed to a mid-life crisis [unless Elon Musk wants to throw a convertible red Tesla at me – even if it has 70 million miles on it]. Since a journey of that size takes time and I’ve already started the ball rolling – why NOT now?
c) I don’t want my quirks to spill over to the next 50 years, or to my kids: I want to contain the crazy to my first 50 years so that my kids can find their own colorful ways to go a little nuts. Plus it’s a great lesson to them that I can identify things in myself that I want to improve then find a way to do it.
d) I’m tired of putting myself last: My health depends on it. So easy for us to say, so hard for us to do, to say we’ll stop putting ourselves last. If you do this, just STOP! No, I have no idea what you and I will do with our scant free time, but let’s start by grabbing a green juice [I meant caramel latte with whip] and we’ll figure something out.
e) I’ve never been one to fight to keep up with the Jones’: That’s served me well, especially as a single parent, because it’s just not going to happen – and I’m fine with it. We want for nothing. …OK, maybe I tried to keep up for a hot second while in college. My son can tell you verbatim [rolling his eyes] about the time I bought myself an expensive watch. After wearing it for a day, becoming totally paranoid and squirmy in my own skin [rather than totally over-the-moon higher than “Fine”], I returned it.

So what does this mean?
Does this mean that as of NOW I’ll be wearing my spaghetti squash heart on my sleeve?… Corner you at the grocery store demanding to know your 5-year plan?… Buck any trends and purposefully go in an opposite direction?… No! I still would love to check out catchy new exercise trends [dance craze], hang out at relaxing travel destinations, or try the newest age-fighting lotions. I’ll admit though, without the help of my #OMagInsider role, I’m usually a late adapter. So, maybe don’t look for the latest trends here, but I’ll tell you what I’m loving right now! You’ll get my in-depth reviews boasting about the obvious fun and the secondary benefits!

The Sparks of Inspiration:
My kids – I don’t think my kids feel I’m any crazier than their friends think their parents are crazy [sorry if that is news to you]. But, before I send the kids into the world, I want to teach them the value of human connections and being connected with your inner self.
Other’s truths – So many of the amazing people that I connected with this year trusted me with their truths and gave me the strength to follow suit.
Brené Brown – Having just dived into Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday podcasts [since Summer 2017 – told you, late adapter…], Brené was the first one I listened to – hoping for a cliff notes of her books since I look forward to hearing her speak in May! Call it a bandwagon or call it a message from the universe. She’s got my ear now, so I will listen.

What about you?

  • Do you have a word or mantra for this year? #OneWord
  • What are your favorite podcasts for personal growth?
  • How do you take Super Soul Sunday? Watch it? Podcasts? Read the Book?
  • Do you have a better answer than “Fine” when someone asks you how you are?
  • Is this me subliminally whining about needing to wean myself off flour carbs?!
  • Do you have a favorite Spaghetti Squash recipes so SS & I can be on good terms?
  • Should I commit to this word and hammer my into a necklace?
    I’m thinking myintent.org

    myintent.jpg

    Click thru for $5 off your necklace or bracelet! It’s meant to be!

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FALLING INTO STEP WITH KOREAN ADOPTEES

AKA | SF hosted a warm reception to greet everyone to the weekend!

My flight instinct kicked in the moment I entered the room filled with Korean faces. It’s nothing against them, and all about me, because I came from Korea too. However, I didn’t grow up in Korea, nor with Korean culture. My rational mind reminded me that, most likely, neither did they. We represent a handful of 200,000 Korean adoptees (KAD) adopted away from our birth country since the 1950s. From my perspective, adoption positively impacted my life and I’m grateful for the path I’m on. As a writer, or maybe as an adoptee, I felt I couldn’t fully reconcile my current story without a full grasp of my backstory. So after 47 years, I stepped into the room to start my journey to unravel my first 8 months.

Visit IKAA.org for info on the next event!

Obviously, I didn’t just wander into San Francisco, happening to arrive at the annual IKAA* conference reception (this year hosted by the AKA|SF**). I’ll explain my “Why now?” later because the question peppered me regularly leading up to and throughout the weekend. I yearned to spend a weekend getting introduced to my Korean Adoptee clan. I hoped that a full weekend would encourage me to get past the surface amusement of familiar appearances to find deeper connections. I steeled myself to feel the emotion of adoptees’ various experiences, especially those brave enough to share less positive adoption stories.

During my first lap of the reception room, I fought to lower my guard. I thought the high concentration of people with shared history would comfort me as if we shared a silent language. Yet, it unsettled me knowing these KADs could feel my deepest self without having to show my most personal card, “I’m adopted.” That was usually the last card I’d play at a social gathering and I’d toss it playfully into conversation, watch it flutter, then fall out of the conversation.

My newest, fastest FUNtastic friends!

Somewhere during my second lap, the impact and protection of being surrounded by so many others sharing my history crumbled my guard. My heart swelled validating my disparities felt growing up, aligning me with my path and rewarding my timeline. I scanned the 200+ faces for the friendliest, which fortunately I found sitting down making it harder for her to turn to walk away. She took me in, made introductions and in no time it felt like she and I, and everyone else I met, were meant to cross paths.

The next day offered a full schedule of informative programs detailing different paths for KADs to take with their personal adoption story. Heartfelt testimonials from adoptees farther along their DNA searches or journeys home to Korea provided valuable information and perspective. Post-adoption support programs initiated conversations about the experiences unique to transnational adoptees, offering me a new level of comfort and some validation knowing we shared these internal conversations with fellow KADs. Many adoptees translated their internal conversations into beautiful, moving expressions of art.

The many sessions were so informative, it was tough to choose which ones to attend!

Between sessions, my mind wandered:

I wasn’t the oldest person here:
The significant number of 40-something year old first-time attendees pleasantly surprised me. The increasingly noticeable pull of the second half of my life now took an uphill turn as I started this new journey to peel back more personal layers.

KAD faces:
Before this weekend, I prided myself in my ability to recognize who “my people” were but there were so many variations of beautiful faces introduced to me that my heart split wide open wanting to study and greet them all, and collect them as long-lost keepsakes. I hope the intensity with which I admired our similarities and differences didn’t freak any other KADs out!

People’s stories:
Some adoptees have memories from Korea, others (like me) don’t. For some adoptees, the unsettling part of their journey did not end when placed with their adoptive homes. Both their strength to share their stories and their resilience to survive them were honored. Some adoptees shared stories of hope after clearing through their tangled backstory and shared reactions of the people now, unexpectedly or not, traveling this new trail with them.

The truth is out there:
What little history we know about ourselves from our adoption papers could be incomplete or fabricated. As I learn more about the Korean society and the poverty experienced after the war, adoption as a profitable business, and the status of single moms to this day in South Korea, it’s no surprise to learn that many mothers did not want to put their babies up for adoption but felt no other options – or someone forced their hand. This is not just optimistic me hoping for a fairy tale ending, (that is the long-lost Korean princess story echoing in my head). Now, as a mother myself, IF that were the case, I’d want to give that woman some closure. It all worked out well.

The beautiful variety of HAPA stories really spoke to my heart!

I fit in:
Being half-Korean brings with it it’s own special set of circumstances. Physically and culturally, we’ve straddled the line – not being Asian enough for our home country, and, in my case, not white enough for my adoptive country. Through DNA matches, I might encounter family with no prior knowledge of a Korean relative. The Conference offered specific discussions for us Hapa adoptees. We half-Koreans left feeling whole.

Cloudy forecast:
While conference resources help KADs find clear answers to their questions, the knowledge still unravels mixed emotions on both sides. We come from a country still sorting their comfort level with their justification about our adoption story. While originally aiming to solve a post-war problem, for some, the feeling of exporting so many babies was seasoned with a sprinkling of shame. Now a slight curiosity exists regarding welcoming those of us raised in America back to Korea to see how this unique perspective and global upbringing might impact our birth country. The KADs recently started returning to our homeland, curious to learn their history, eager to embrace their roots, yet always with the knowledge that on some level, this country rejected them.

In the end, I left with clearer perspective and with tools to guide me down a newly revealed path. I felt energized sitting with 236 Adoptees from 26 states, representing 6 countries. Fellow KAD, film-maker Deanne Borshay Liem explained the experience perfectly that together we “Celebrated our future by honoring our past.” It is not taboo to go into our past to retrieve what may be forgotten.

This gathering welcomed KADs from the first group of adoptees in the 1950s to now! So grateful to be part of this group!

My next steps involve doing research on my past through various channels to retrace my brief time in Seoul. Largely present in my peripheral view, a visit to Seoul beckons to me. The government and various other agencies, now realizing the importance of introducing adoptees to their homeland, offer trips partially or fully funded through grants. My attention aims towards the Hapa Mosaic Tour that introduces KADs to Korea with itineraries specific to the half-Korean experience.

This eye-opening and heart-filled weekend went too fast. I still need to carve out time to process my next steps. The Mosaic Tour application (due Jan. 15) suggests a to-do list of things in the meanwhile to obtain the maximum information before taking such a large physical journey into my past. I also want to continue to simmer over everything that I experienced over one weekend and get together through other KAD gatherings. I am grateful for the people I met, the experience, information and camaraderie. I feel as though I’ve fallen into step with my sisters and brothers. I must sit still and figure out the shift that occurred. …but it is good.

Though we met in San Francisco, I look forward to keeping up with my fellow Angeleno KADs!

*International Korean Adoptee Association
**Association of Korean Adoptees | San Francisco

Korean Adoptees May get a FREE DNA test through 325Kamra.org

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All photos (except photo booth) courtesy of my new friend and fellow Korean Adoptee, Allen Majors.  Thank you!!

#AKASF20 #IKAA #yearofsayingyes #kad #hapa #ShiftHappens #bepresent #bestill #KoreanAdoptee #SeoulSearching #omaginsiders #yearofquestions #myhistoryisamystery #makesmewander

What about you?!

  • Are you adopted?
  • Are you actively researching your past?
  • Have you been successful with your search?
  • Where did you start?
  • Any helpful resources?

MY DISTRUST IN POLITICS HELPED ME TRUST MYSELF

pol rel

Supposedly the most authentic writing happens right when you wake up in the morning before your filter wakes up and does its job – even when answering a survey from O, The Oprah Magazine. The survey asked “How I was feeling about America?” the answers poured out. All the built up emotions stemming from my distrust of politics saturated by the pain and anguish I’d absorbed from everybody over the last few months bubbled to the surface. My words flowed out without the fear of judgement, alienation, or confrontation from this unidirectional survey. Feeling some relief, I hit send on the finished survey.  I trusted the e-universe to take it from there.

Understand, I abhor politics. I rarely get involved or speak up on most political issues, especially in such heated discussions as a result of our last election. Everyday, the press covers something new and cringeworthy. My first glimmer of hope came when I saw Oprah’s 60 Minutes segment, “Divided.” Her segment invited 7 Democrats and 7 Republicans to the table to “encourage regular Americans to keep talking politics — and, more importantly, to listen to those who may disagree.” I trust Oprah and her namesake magazine to moderate a fair, effective conversation.

Out of the blue, for the second time* this year, O, The Oprah Magazine wrote back! The executive editor wanted to share something I’d written in the survey in their extremely popular women’s magazine!  So flattered and petrified at the same time, I felt my heart leap out of my throat the same time my neck tensed up. I know how much I lack in the political arena with issues, history, laws, everything, so the idea of being a poster child for my statement panicked me. I certainly didn’t want to bring any political attention to myself, nor invite any debates to my muddy beliefs. However, this is my year to say Yes! So WWOD – What Would Oprah Do? I trusted the executive editor and her vision for this piece.

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Quoted in Oprah’s magazine? WTF!     W*O*W*! That’s Frightening!

We laughed that perhaps this marked the start of my career as a political commentator and I guffawed knowing I don’t have the backbone for it. I’ll admit it, I’m thin-skinned as is evident by my reaction to the last year’s politics and my response to the painful divisions brought on by the election. I, too, just want people to get along. But I agree with Oprah, this election has blown the curtains back on many issues and we need to keep the conversations going. I trust people will return to a level where we can listen to those who disagree and sometimes, respectfully, agree to disagree.

However, I felt like being quoted for my personal true and emotional response to a volatile political aftermath happened for a reason. I needed to go through this experience to grow in some way. I understand now that to give credibility to my craft, I must release my people-pleasing insecurities. I won’t always please everybody but so long as I’m being truthful to my topic, then I will own it. So this internal tension I felt dreading possible confrontations online or in person, propelled me over a speed bump. I can’t write about growth and evolution on my blog if I continued to play it safe. I still will not discuss or debate politics but will give more attention to politics, starting on a local level. I will continue my efforts to positively engage my community and strengthen community ties through continual kindness and empowerment programs. I trust in the change happening to me as a result of this experience.

I trust that with Oprah and O, The Oprah Magazine leading the charge, every passionate supporter or opponent will ultimately be represented, heard and have meaningful conversations with others on long-overdue or hot new areas of discussion. We will find ways to turn our energy to make changes and do good.

*To learn about the first time O, The Oprah Magazine wrote me back, click here!

What about you?

  • What is the scariest thing you ever agreed to do that turned into a learning lesson?
  • Do you answer magazine surveys?
  • What are you doing to bring positive change to your hometown?
  • What change would you like to see in the world after this past year – Please keep it civil.
 #OMagInsiders #OprahMagazine #Oprah #Growth #Opportunity #LessonLearned #Change

TOP 10 REASONS TO CRUISE WITH OMAG AND HAL

You may not even realize when your life follows a certain rhythm or vibration, nor do you always recognize if it’s the right path. You just follow because life keeps moving. I knew I had been feeling squirmy, but couldn’t define why, or whether it was a chronic Gemini squirminess or something brought on by a significant event. While I’ve set out into the PJ Wilderness, I’d gotten a bit stuck with setting aside time for myself and where to go next.

The universe works in amazing ways and O, The Oprah Magazine (OMag) responded with an inspirational offering. Not only was O Mag setting up an amazing collaboration with Holland America Line (HAL) cruises, but Oprah would be on the inaugural excursion. I booked my cruise to force “me time” with the goal to unstick myself and map out my internal topography (with the help of her team of experts)! Before I set sail, I already received the gift of 9 other #OMagInsiders coming along for a shared adventure!


Each day offered O-mazing programs featuring O Mag key staff and Soul Session experts on top of amazing already-scheduled HAL cruise programming. Some guests showed up with specific things that they wanted to focus on, some wished to change their perspective or sharpen their focus. I feel that everyone got what they hoped for!


On the last evening, creative director Adam Glassman and publisher Jayne Jamison did their top 10 favorite moments. As with all of their events on board, while they did a great job with the front-end show, we were being showered with secondary benefits!


So here is my Top 10 list for why this should be your next cruise (it’s ok if you take a break from reading to book your Adventure of Your Life Shared Adventure!):


Receiving the Messages – We all love sharing inspirational posts and photos, but receiving messages from peers like author Glennon Doyle, who walked through fires to receive and formulate such messages carries more significance. They’ve done the work to help hand you new skills or perspective for whatever challenges you.


Rewiring Personal Programming – Receiving life-altering messages using multiple senses helped them sink in. We weren’t just watching an Oprah show or listening to podcasts, we were participating in the activity! A profound connection between movement and spirituality was felt through morning yoga and when we got pumped up with Angela Davis! So grab those SuperSoul Conversations podcasts while heading out on a walk to help you keep moving in the right direction!


Resetting One’s Clock – On board, life’s usual deadlines don’t apply, but if you’d told me I’d be up at 7am for morning meditation and yoga with Sara Ivanhoe before I left, I’d have said, I’ll just meditate from the comfort of my bed. But I did it (except for 1 morning) and it started my day on a brighter path with stronger backbone having done that for myself first.

Captain Werner Timmers hosted us in the Bridge!

Starting from Scratch – When you set foot on the cruise, you can be who you’d like, authentically! No matter where we traveled from, how many cruises we’d been on before, what we do for work, we are all humans with hearts and souls! The ship’s captain, O Mag staff of all levels, the best-selling book authors, celebrities and cruisers all mingled together, chatted with and listened to each other. Everyone was intent on really getting to know and celebrate each other more than I’ve ever felt cruising on previous trips where we’d pass like ships in the night, on a ship – well, you know…


Crossing Boundaries – I’m not just talking about those requiring a passport, I’m talking about your internal boundaries! I dove head-first from a top my greatest fears into a thimbleful of confidence to strut in white jeans and heels across the Grand Stage in front of hundreds of cruisers in the Love That! fashion show! (Worth it!). Pinch me! We even wound up on O Mag’s social media!


Diving Deep – Though it’s easy for me to brainstorm and suggest how to help others or talk enthusiastically about other things I love, I don’t have the same skills when selling myself. India Arie helped start the SongVersation and now I can’t stop talking. Today, I’m appearing today on my first radio show TravelBagsWithAnnita.com!


Receiving Daily Gifts – While the O Mag turn-down gifts were amazing, the true gifts were confidence, calm, collaboration, and camaraderie! All of which had higher levels upon leaving the boat than when I boarded thanks to trying things I might not have tried without this cruise!


Increasing your Circle of Friends – One of the best parts of this trip was cruising and rooming with people I’d only met online through this fabulous group I get to be a part of, this year, the #OMagInsiders. Additionally, thanks to searching #OMagonHAL we can see everyone’s vacation photos and celebrate the time shared. Our friendship network now spans the globe.


Celebrating Variety – While we all have similar mindsets to live our best lives or help others live theirs, we all present and carry out that vision in diverse individual ways! Plus it was wonderful to be in an environment to celebrate the various stories of people daring to follow their hearts, which may be interpreted much differently by people too wrapped up in the daily grind on shore!

Eating Dessert First (or two dinners) – On a cruise, your self-regulating rules relax, or should, because (all together now!): Life Is too short! Enjoy dessert, have steak and lobster, dance into the wee hours, sing at the top of your lungs in the dueling piano bar, and go for all-night pizza! It’s the best-tasting meal because it’s seasoned with life!


Bonus: Paying it Forward – Once the cruise ends, how does one retain the warm glow from your life-changing trip? By setting time aside for yourself to implement your new skills and put your spin on what you’ve learned before sharing with others! Paint and sprinkle Kindness Rocks throughout your community, send snail mail, volunteer with your favorite charity, spread random acts of kindness, be an active offline friend! Your fulfillment will exceed the level of gratitude of those receiving your efforts.

The Shared Adventure continues through 2018! Check out where they’ll be and I hope to meet you there! Now I’m squirmy for my next adventure!

 

#OMagInsiders #HollandAmericaLine #HAL #OMagazine #Oprah #TheKindnessRocksProject #TravelBagsWithAnnita #AdamGlassman #LoveChicos #Chicos #LiveYourBestLife #YearOfAdventure #ShareTheAdventure #AdventureOfYourLife #Cruise #Alaska #Eurodam #CaptainTimmers

I BET I CAN STILL SP(+)(+)K YOU

You know that annual exam we women look forward to every year?

It’s our routine hour spent lying on our back trying to make small talk with someone who knows us more intimately than our significant others desire to. Ice-cold tools send a chill of anticipation up our pelvis as we’re waiting to hear those three words “You’re all done!”

If really looking for an escape from our 9-to-5 routine perhaps after the pelvic exam we double book appointments so that our top half doesn’t feel neglected. It’s always a smashing good time to visit the imaging center for a mammogram. We leave feeling like overworked supermodels after forcing our bodies through a blend of interpretive dance and yogilates for the perfect shot.


Thanking the staff for too much fun for one day, we wave goodbye, skip to our cars and return to our everyday lives. A few days later we hopefully get calls from our doctors saying that everything looks normal. I so look forward to that dance so this time I felt comfort in seeing their message on my phone, putting a happy ending to my annual exams.

When finally treated to a slower afternoon, I dedicated one ear to clear out phone messages.  As the forgotten message from my breast imaging lab began, the transcribed words caught my eye! They read, “We recommend you come back for further test…” Now fully engaged, I scrambled trying to get the message to play faster as if that would answer all of my immediate questions.

My heartbeat surged and the “What ifs” peppered my head like hot sparks. To tune them out, I focused on fixing this – though I still didn’t know what “this” was. I clawed to gain the upper hand by calling the lab, masquerading calm, to book an immediate appointment. My next call, to my doctor, actually preceded the paperwork from the lab so I chalked that as a small victory for me – staying one step ahead of the nasty order. Still, I had to wait 10 days until my next visit, so I needed to exist with the anticipation for that long before getting one step closer to a resolution or a plan. I am horrible with secrets but wanted to process my questions and concerns, not be overwhelmed by everyone else’s yet.

My brain immediately and incessantly drew conclusions between things that I’ve encountered in my life, giving me a few theories to check out. I researched the impact of cell phone towers and possible links to cancer since our work building supports a communication kingdom on the rooftop raining all sorts of waves that we don’t truly know enough about. After an information overload, I held off with the rest of my investigative research online until I could ask the nurses or doctors in person with their real-life experience. The Internet provided material to support any theory I wanted to pursue, but not always the truth, nor information specifically to help me.

I briefly dipped my toe in the irony of having just been picked for the most awetastic Oprahtunity of my life layered with my excitement to cruise with Oprah in a few months then felt frustrated that this could balance out that joy. I refused to live in those thoughts for long because, especially this year, I believe in manifesting our futures. If those negative ironies aren’t allowed to wander the universe, hopefully they couldn’t pick up speed. I remained defiant that whatever these future photos showed, they would not put a damper on those plans.

Realizing that my kids’ homework would still flood us and the morning rush wouldn’t lighten up, for the next 10 days, I buried the secret and lived life as usual. OK, yes, I’ll admit to the exception of not sticking my phone in my bra when I needed an extra free hand. Oh, and being still and talking to God a few more times than usual. Despite trying to keep my chin up, I did not sleep well. My mind wasn’t stewing on anything in particular, I just couldn’t sleep. It didn’t help my writer’s block either.  I’m not great with receiving surprises and this unknown had a strong possibility of delivering an unwanted surprise.

On the morning of my appointment, I chose to remain optimistic and focused on staying present. I remember the waffle texture of my starched white robe and how peaceful the waiting room felt with its natural stone walls. Enya’s voice filled the air while other women and I flipped through a library of beauty and fashion magazines. A snapshot of this moment might look like a lovely girls’ spa day.

When called into the first room for a few more smashing images, I suddenly appreciated all of the large machines it takes to stare at my chest. The images on the rocket control monitor looked like a foreign galaxy. I asked the technician what foreign bodies or alien bodies we hoped to locate and she indicated that it’s an asymmetry (I thought everybody’s boobs were asymmetrical). But it just means that one side grew something new.

The Carina Nebula, originally shown in The Telegraph UK

I recovered briefly in the calm waiting room, before a new technician invited to my next stop: Ultrasound. After having two children, I prided myself on my mad ultrasound deciphering skills (even if not my own). Nothing in the shading of these ultrasounds made sense to me. I made a mental note to never play cards with either technician because their poker faces held solid. Not unfriendly at all, but void of any discovery, definition or significance.

While bored on the table, hindsight started my highlights reel. I recalled that my left breast sometimes felt different, but not in a lumpy way. When I did my breast self-exams I couldn’t put my finger on anything specific, it just felt different. Occasionally, I felt a brief pain, too small to set off an alarm, but I chalked it up to mid-life sagging or ill-fitting bras and hoped for an Oprah bra intervention. Perhaps I felt a slight connectivity within the tissue where I hadn’t before. But now, after smashing and poking and prodding for a closer look, I centered in on the area in question!

It gets serious fast when you see things in writing!

The technician asked me to get off the table and hang out for a minute while, I assumed, she made sure the slides captured clear enough images to send to my doctor. When she walked back into the room, the full color of the emotion on her face filled the room as she announced: Benign! I avoided making eye contact with a paper reading “malignant” or “benign” that emphasized in what felt like 75pt bold font just how much weight this answer carries. Then I got dizzy trying to remember which word I wanted to receive, or not. Benign!

Turns out it’s just a little cyst. Bodies make them sometimes, my body seems better at this than most. Because of my delight and previous pixie dust use, I immediately pictured the cyst as a friendly Disney character (It’s weird where our mind goes in times of stress). I thanked her profusely, wished her a wonderful weekend, returned to the dressing room to change back into my normal clothes, and cried. Relieved.


Take Aways:

  • Get annual exams – I’d fallen off my regular schedule after a work event competed for time last fall. After the urgent reminder of a friend who hoped to get even one friend to make her appointment – I called.
  • Do monthly breast exams – Just do it!
  • Don’t be afraid of doctors – Don’t be scared to go to the doctor because you’re afraid of what they’ll find. They are trained to know how to fix you so you can focus on being or getting well. Often, the issue is smaller and treatment is less scary than your enthusiastic imagination or Web MD says.
  • Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion – Even if they have similar diagnosis, their treatment style could be different. Find a doctor you feel comfortable with.
  • Consider finding your family history – Doesn’t mean you will get something or guarantee that you won’t. But when faced with a health challenge, I feel the more knowledge we have, the less irrational fear occurs. If nothing else, it helps knowing there is someone else who understands what you are facing.
    • Relax – Remember that hopefully your story will be less crazy than people who came before you thanks to progress made in medicine during the last decade.
    • Be Confident – Consider too that these days, technology advances with DNA may allow us to someday change the negative DNA we’ve been gifted with.

What about you?

  • Please share tips or resources that helped you get through a health challenge or scare.
  • Please share your ideas for gifts that patients and their families really enjoy.
  • Do you use your bra like a pocket too? Keys, credit cards, loose change…
  • Did you do your annual exam this year? Go! Call! Now!
  • Do you have any fun rituals like treating yourself to a spa day afterwards?
  • Bonus points if you remember what movie my title came from!

(C) Disney

#Breast #PelvicExam #BreastSelfExam #Mammogram #Ultrasound #Health #Healthscare #Symptoms #Cure #Care #OBGYN #AnnualExam #BeHealthy #WomensHealth #Diagnosis #Treatment #Assistance #OMagInsiders #Cocktail #WaltDisneyPictures

IT’S NO OPRIL FOOLS – YOU & O ON A CRUISE!

JOKE’S UP – Now that we’ve made it almost all of the way through our second month as O Mag Insiders | The Inner Circle of O Magazine, I’m starting to settle in and believing that this was no Opril Fool’s joke, I’m really part of this dynamic group of individuals! Being that this is the Year of Adventure, I wanted to Share the Adventure!

O Magazine sent us an exciting and thoughtful welcome packet! Counting my blessings!

MY PURPOSE IN THE GROUP – How the heck did I get in here?! Everyone else on the team ooze upperclassmen confidence eons ahead of my own. They’ve followed their passions, mulched challenges, paved their paths, inspired others, and pay it forward! Their lessons resonate with the masses with such potential for positive change. I, on the other hand, feel like the perfect case study for Oprah and all her team!

MY IDEAL COHORTS – Like seriously, don’t you wish there’d been a Master Class in college on how to live your best life?! I’d have done summer school to learn how to budget with Suze, set boundaries with Martha, and clear away the clutter of our pasts with Peter. I’d have interned for Glennon’s momastery.com blog, for Elizabeth and Brené as writer’s assistants and begged Oprah to take me for Bring-Your-Insider-to-Work-Day so I could witness her switching from hat to hat with intelligence, creativity and grace.

SEMESTER AT SEA – If you haven’t heard, O, The Oprah Magazine and Holland America Line have teamed up this summer with Oprah and her magical unicorns for an amazing opportunity to cruise for a week, travel and reach the deepest parts of your heart while expanding your mind! For those of us folks who used to wind down at the end of the day sitting on the couch across from Oprah having a quality conversation with a girlfriend (What’s a few television waves and a few thousand miles?!), this will repair your heart that carried the weight of the missed connections of seeing her show in person.

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GETTING GROUNDED – Meanwhile, back on land, my membership to this dynamic group requires me to stay present and become mindful. Already, with the many contributions posted by my fellow O Mag Insiders, I’ve pondered while wandering – my strengths, my procrastinations. I’m peeling back the layers of me and asking to learn my history while making a difference.

WISH YOU WERE HERE – So far, my journey feels so much more introspective than the widely impactful passion projects of my peers. My inspiration comes from the hope of connecting with others. Whether through one shared experience or that whatever I’ve learned may simplify their journey. I’m living through crazy, eventually humorous, times as a single mom of tween and teen, an international adoptee, an unrealized novelist rushing recklessly towards middle age. This kind of crazy settles into fun with someone else on your side!

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TRAVEL BUDDIES – I also plan to continue down the path of self-discovery with my life-reflecting journey through the PJ Wilderness and show that, not only, is it never too late to change directions, to go back and find out where you fell off the path of your authentic self but that you are worth the time that it’ll take to get you there!

PACK WELL – I know that part of me hasn’t felt most like my authentic self since 1985. Those years shopping at colorful Contemporary Casuals, wearing bold patterns, large earrings and accessories. I would buy for deals, but for unique styles, cuts, etc. if I were lucky enough to find myself sailing with Oprah, I’d book a personal consultation with Adam!

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UNPACKING THE BAGGAGE – It’s less about my outward appearance and more about taking back pieces of myself from boyfriends that didn’t love me attracting too much attention and for whom I foolishly muted myself. It’s about finding practical multi-use pieces for single working moms. I know Adam will find clothes that are quality, fast to coordinate and reasonable. Lastly about finding cute but decent quality shoes for older women because I’ve learned that a mis-aligned foot causes all sorts of knee problems and my kids insist that the super Comfy Relaxed Outdoor Colorful plastic shoes with spongy insoles aren’t cool (though my kids may believe Drew Barrymore).

BON VOYAGE – Whether it’s the cruise or some other far off destination, where do you sail away to to get closer to your center?

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

  • You going on the cruise?
  • Which of Oprah’s columnists are you most eager to see
  • Did you ever see Oprah’s show tape while still in Chicago?
  • What was your favorite clothing item from ‘85?
  • Do you read O Magazine?
  • What’s the last thing you did just for you?
  • Did you wear uniforms or street clothes in school?

All Cruise photos and art are (C)Holland America Line and (C) Oprah

#OMagInsiders #HollandAmericaLine #Cruise #Alaska #LiveYourBestLife #YearOfAdventure #OMagonHAL

WHAT NOW?!

Recently I got some Big News and at first curiosity bubbled over as I wondered “What now?!” Part of me itched to hurry and tell somebody because the news was too big not to share! Part of me craved to be still, sit and simmer on the information to allow me to maintain control of the situation and to figure out what purpose it serves me. I’ll admit, I followed my curiosity down the online rabbit hole snooping some but also to help shape my idea of “What this all means!”

My original motive for taking a DNA test was to figure out what my other ½ was since I didn’t have that information when I was adopted. When that can of worms opened, family spilled out – as I knew they would.  Right away the database paired me with a few 2nd – 4th cousins.  While that sounds really close, (2nd is almost as good as 1st, right?) realistically 2nd means that, if we’re lucky, we share great-grandparents. So you can guess how distant 4th cousins feel. Exhilarated, I snooped some close matches online searching for any obvious commonalities on their online profiles.  I’ll admit, too, I sat staring at the little envelope button (below the red arrow) and continued to simmer on the whys and what ifs. How would this be received by the recipient?

familytreedna-matches-www-makesmewander-com-what-now

The reason I’d never really considered looking for biological parents growing up was because I simply believed it was an impossibility. In my mind I’d painted a tale of a military guy on a weekend furlough looking for fun in the country he was stationed in that wound up having a side consequence he never knew of. Whether this is part of the script they tell us to help us “cut ties” with our home country or something I made up to protect myself from potential disappointment, I’m not sure. Since my exposure to other adoptees was super limited and nobody else offered a different picture – I just sat within this reality.

Since then, I’ve read a few books and joined a few online Korean Adoptee groups that paint a very different possibility and changed my perspective enough to be open to communication with a relative if they reached out to me or if were a direct match. I would love to let Korean relatives know that their selfless decision to let me go turned out well. I don’t aim to blow anyone’s vision of what their family unit looks like with a surprise relative from a far land.

ancestry-test-www-makesmewander-com-what-now

While contemplating this new branch of my family tree and how to prune it, I took another DNA test. While attending a blogging conference this past summer, Ancestry.com was there and when they heard I had a 2nd – 4th cousin match on my first round of matches, they said “Here, take this test, our database is one of the largest, maybe we’ll get even closer!”

ancestry-matches-www-makesmewander-com-what-now

They brought forth a different cousin – but a 2nd or 3rd!  After the usual online snooping, I wasn’t any further to finding any information on this new person. Also, the closest people from the first database didn’t overlap this new sprinkling of relatives.

To go all in, I also downloaded the raw data and threw it into a Korean adoptee specific database (but truly have no idea how to navigate it).

What now?  

  • I know that I want to go to Seoul, South Korea.  I know it’s super far and if I’m going to go, I’d want it to be a meaningful trip, not just a tourist trip.
  • It could be cool to trace some lineage to answer “behavior or biological” questions.  
  • As an INFJ, I’m not seeking to have a pile of “relatives” to flood my inbox since I can barely keep up with my own family!

One of the folks in an adoptee group I joined explained it perfectly that we adoptees have blind spots that exist and that we wind up richer by allowing ourselves the curiosity and tenderness towards our own past to let it grow and flourish, thereby overtaking the shadows that have followed us, knowingly or not.

heart-shadow-www-makesmewander-com-what-now

Perfect picture from Pixabay

What about you?
Have you taken a DNA test?

Were you adopted or just researching ancestry?
Any surprises?
What’d you do next?

 

 

 

DON’T TAKE MOMZILLA ON VACATION

The power of 3 showed it’s magic this month when in one week, I suddenly received my first 3 invitations to wander off to destinations in our closest neighboring state: Northern California (OK Fine! Same state but so vastly different)! My tween daughter pleaded to join me. My teen son surprised me by stating that he would love to visit these destinations too. We compromised with them tagging along for 2 adventures, and I’m attending one alone, creating a one-woman writing retreat. Even though we’ve worked out a peaceful solution – someone threatens to rear her ugly head and ruin my vacation vibe – Momzilla!


The minute I commit to taking a vacation, preparation floods my consciousness:

  • Transportation
  • Packing
  • Lodging
  • Itinerary
  • Budget
  • Contacting friends in that area to meet up
  • Cleaning the house (so if something happens, your neighbors and family won’t know about your paper piles)

My mind feels even crazier than (hopefully) yours since I think in a spirograph pattern. Plus, I didn’t even take into account what I have to do with work before I can walk away from my desk with a clear conscience:

  • Emptying the In-Box
  • Reading/answering all unopened emails
  • Training a replacement (if applicable)
  • Cleaning your desk (so if something happens your co-workers won’t know about your… wait, they already know).

Now I don’t have the perfect process, but here’s one skill I’ve learned from my brief time as a manager – Delegate! With 3 trips coming up, I need the kids to take on more responsibility for themselves. You’ll see on my social media if it went well or not.

Great prices, comfy with free wifi!

TRANSPORTATION:
We’re trying something new! For this first road trip, we’re riding a Megabus to San Francisco! I’ve always had a goal to take the kids up the coast to explore northern California. As a passenger, I get to take in the gorgeous view on the way home! On the way up, I’m saving a hotel night by taking a red eye bus! We leave Los Angeles in the evening after work, sleep on the bus and wake up refreshed in San Francisco ready to hit the payment. Whenever I’m in San Francisco I always am inspired to walk everywhere anyway, plus uber can help with longer treks or late-night rides back to the hotel.

PACKING:
After the first summer packing a week’s worth of clothes for my son’s sleep-over camp, only to have him return in the same outfit he left in (albeit with clean undergarments), I retired from picking for my kids. Somehow the teen, who regularly produces 2x the laundry that his sister and I do, manages to get by on very little when travelling. Vacation miracle! My daughter still needs to finetune her packing but fortunately so far, every destination we’ve been to isn’t too far from a Target or cheesy touristy T-shirt shop.

CLEANING THE HOUSE & EMPTYING THE IN-BOX:
People, just do your best, zip up the suitcase, walk out and shut the door behind you. A very wise man once told me


Meaning, don’t kill yourself to finish everything (or to perfectly stage your home before your trip). 10 things will hit your inbox as soon as you read the last email, 10 more papers will land in your mail slot, and we all know how crazy it is to leave on a trip so yeah, there could be a small tornado that occurred in your home during that preparation time. Just get your home to the point that it will welcome you when you get home then hightail it out of there!

Now I only touched on 3 things here, because when planning agenda and lodging, I am like a Hungry Hungry Hippo not wanting to miss any tips, savings, coupons and reviews that roll into view.

Now, our trip is more simple than say a cross-country or international trip. I’d love to hear what you do to streamline your travel preparations and outrun your internal Momzilla. Please share your biggest travel prep gem in the comments!

Where are traveling next?
When are you leaving?
Traveling alone or with others?
Share your tips to staying sane!

 

#Travel #RoadTrip #Bus #Journey #Megabus #LosAngeles #SanFrancisco #FamilyVacation #WeekendGetaway #Momzilla #Organization #Sponsored #Blogger #MakesMeWander

NOW WHAT? REMEMBER WHAT YOU’RE GRATEFUL FOR…

I’m late with my post for Tuesday 11/8/16 for #NaBloPoMo. I’ll admit that I couldn’t tear myself away from the TV even after the election results were known.  This morning, now that the political  campaign circus has come to a conclusion and we’re all waiting to see where this goes, it’s time to focus inward and find center again.  Remember who you are and the good that you possess and what you can offer the world.  Also, be grateful for the gifts that you have.  It’s the little things that matter most and will help restore joy.

I love the exercise of focusing on gratitude in November – not just on Thanksgiving but everyday!  Since I missed the first few days, I will go back and reflect, then move forward from there through November. Feel free to share one thing you are grateful for in the comments or feel free to copy the list for yourself!

Day 1: What smell are you grateful for today?

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Yesterday Today and Tomorrow flowers. One of the greatest gifts from an apartment I used to live in was that somebody in the neighborhood grew these plants. At the end of any day, when the witching hour (after dinner, homework, procrastination, laundry, cleaning time) was upon us, a quick smell of their fragrance wafting by instantly sidetracked me to pause and wander with wonder.

Day 2: What technology are you grateful for?
I’m grateful for the technology that helps people quickly detect large medical problems whether it’s full-body scans for early detection or DNA decoding to educate people how best to care for themselves based on what they learn could be present in their genetic background. When you know better, hopefully you do better.

Day 3: What color are you grateful for?
RED! Usually the rest of my wardrobe tends towards black or white but I feel more energetic and powerful when wearing this color. As simple as a red flower in my hair to a bold red bag helps me shine internally! I also love editing with a red pen.

Day 4: What food are you most grateful for?

 

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Pioneer Woman’s – Roasted Garlic MMM, you won’t regret it!

Garlic makes me grateful because it provides such a wonderful layer of flavor to almost every meal as well as providing health benefits. It’s become a comfort food for my family and no matter how simple or fancy our meals are, we pour on garlic! It’s a bucket list item to get to the Gilroy Garlic festival one year.

Day 5: What sound are you grateful for today?

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My kids voices. I am grateful that they still get excited to share things about their day with me. I’m less excited about the voices they use to bicker – but to restore overall balance, there are the remarkable moments where they team up and share inside jokes that Mom would never get.

Day 6: What in nature are you grateful for?

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Coast lines. I always pause to reflect that standing with my feet in the sand with the waves crashing on my toes means I’m on the western most point of that chunk of the US.  I also turn my sights towards the horizon wondering if this will be the one time I can actually see all the way to Hawaii.

Day 7: What memory are you grateful for?
How in the world do I pick just one when on a daily basis I’m adding so many more to the memory bank?  I am grateful for my grandparents’ houses because, depending on which one I was visiting, there was a surplus of unconditional love, closets or shelves with treasures just for the grandkids, music pouring from the walls, and outside hideouts that we lit with lightning bugs.  I am grateful that as the oldest child, I remember them and not just the stories of them.

Day 8: What book are you most grateful for?

bigmagic
Right now, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. Where the rest of my mind tells me to make practical choices, this book gives me permission and renewed drive to be creative! It’s one I return to frequently.

Here is the full list of Gratitude prompts inspiring me that I found on textmyjournal.com.. Even if you don’t commit to the whole month – what is something you’re grateful for RIGHT NOW?

gratitude journal prompts

 

#Healing #Gratitude #Journal #November

TAKING A BULLET (JOURNAL) FOR YOU

I’ve always wavered between paper time management tools and electronic ones, probably because I deal with a daily showdown of my left and right brain. I love setting up new organizational systems but the first time the post-it notes start to take over, I know my system has failed.  

Until now, I used a combination of Outlook calendar, iCalendar on my phone, and a shared document spreadsheet to keep my family and life in order.

Rather than explain my madness, I’ll simply say that an “Analog System for the Digital Age” flew by my head one day, clipping my memory and leaving a lasting mark. It appears to be mindful, simple and succinct like my paper systems, yet stores and recalls info like a computer. Ryder Carroll invented this system called the BULLET JOURNAL (BuJo for short).

WHAT I LOVE:

  • This system seems streamline, visually clean, very adaptable and customizable, and works well with my creatively chaotic mind.

  • The scheduling system reminds me of a refined Franklin Covey system (which I used 15 years ago) so it already made sense to me. Like the Franklin Covey system, it’ll be the best thing that happened to me or the absolute biggest time suck.
  • I love that I can create layouts for any project or goal I have from reading books to exercise!

  • I love that I can be as streamline or embellished as I want – I decided to start simpler to form the habit of using it.
  • I love using colored pens – they make me happy! Pens that don’t get bloppy keep my hands clean and pages smudge-free! I have pens stashed in my purse, in my car and at my work desk.

      • Knowing how much I love books – carrying a bound journal with me feels elegant. 

      WHAT SCARES ME:

      • I’m a researcher and decided to do an internet search for Bullet Journal and almost lost my mind.  This system has blown up and evolved into:
      • So many creative systems (Pinterest)
      • Support groups (Facebook)
      • How-to videos (Youtube)
      • Fandoms (Instagram)
        for a second I was regretting finding this fabulous system.  
      • Seriously what started as an efficient dot, square, and journal system was taken hostage by all the scrapbookers and now the pages have doodles, washi tape, fancy folds, and calligraphy!  The way my mind works, if I can’t do it that beautifully – do I want to do it at all?
      • My OCD (self-diagnosed) and Type-A tendencies.  Though I did set up my journal and survived a few mistakes without hyperventilating.  

        MY JOURNAL:

        I researched what journal to get as well. Many people preferred the Leuchtturm1917 Journal with dots on the pages to help guide your pen. Due to the fact that I “had to” start my journal right away, I walked to the university bookstore where I work and walked out with a Moleskine graph journal with a pocket in back for forms I collect. No pen loop? No problem. 

        I started with a simple layout based exactly on Ryder’s system featuring:

        The Index

        The Weekly Layout (see Ryder’s video to learn how to set up your journal)

        Again, I started simple with the following key to guide me, but used colors to keep my categories separate.

        The 2nd month I decided to try a new Weekly Layout that allowed me to separate Household, Blogging/Social Media and Appointments/Miscellaneous.  This allows me to better visualize the plates I have in the air.


        NOTE: My Secret Code: Cursive! My kids can’t read it easily – which is another blog post all together!

        Will this be the perfect system for me? Only time will tell – but being in November, I’m starting to feel the pressure to commit to a system for 2017. Stay tuned…

        What about you? Have you tried bullet journaling? Do you have any layouts that have changed your life? Do you have a different system you love?

        #PILOT #ACROBALL #bulletjournalformoms #bulletjournal #bujo #organizers #calendar #organization #Moleskine #journal #Leuchtturm #RyderCarroll

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