He Said What?!?

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He Said What?!?

We were out mountain biking with some friends and J decided he needed to say something to my girlfriend, E.

J:  Can I give you a compliment?  
E:  Sure.
J:  You might want to know that you’re a chatterbox and talk alot.  
E:  Um.  Thanks.  Not sure that was a compliment.

On the way home, I wanted to clarify exactly what J had meant.

Me:  J, what do you think compliment means?
J:  It means you tell somebody something about themselves that they might not know and they need to know.  
Me:  Ah.  A compliment is actually saying something kind about someone.  
J:  Oops.
Me:  What were you trying to tell E? 
J:  That she talks too much.  I thought she might want to know.  I’m just not used to girls and how much they talk and I thought she should know.  I wasn’t trying to be mean but I wasn’t trying to compliment her either.  I guess I was informing.
Me:  Next time, shoot for the compliment.  

Lucky for me, E is super cool and I love that she’s a “chatterbox”.  


S:  Mom, I kind of like the word dick.  
Me:  Oh yeah, why is that?
S:  It just sounds cool.
Me:  I kind of like that word too.  
S:  If we like it, why can’t we just use it?  It sounds better than penis.  
Me:  People consider it to be vulgar.  It’s simply kinder in our society to limit our use of that word.  
S:  I guess that makes sense.  I just wish penis was vulgar and dick was kind.  


We were taking a family walk to the grocery store and I was really irritated and grouchy and kind of walking fast and angrily in front of the family.  And then G runs up to me and takes my hand…

G:  Mom, are you sad because you’re the only vagina? 

I cracked a smile at that unexpected question.

G:  I mean, if you look at our family there are 5 penises.  Well 6 if you count Decker’s (our dog).  6 penises and 1 vagina.  I’d be sad if I was the only vagina.  Actually you’re the only boobs too.  Wow, that’s sad.  
Me:  I don’t think I’m sad because I’m the only vagina and boobs.  But maybe I am because I was being grouchy at all the chaos and noise you boys (daddy included) make.  Thanks for noticing my sadness, G.  I love you.

Less than 12 hours later, I started my period.  That sent me in to a fit of laughter.  The accuracy of being the sad vagina in the family.


P:  Mom, no offense but your tummy is kind of fat.  
Me:  Oh, P, that hurt my feelings a little bit.  

P reaches over and gives me a big hug and his I’m sorry eyes.

P:  Well, maybe not fat.  It just looks like you’re growing another baby.


This is the boys’ favorite joke right now.  Enjoy.

After I say my line you say Ketchup and Rubber Buns.

Me:  What did you eat for breakfast?
You:  Ketchup and Rubber Buns.
Me:  What did you eat for lunch?
You:  Ketchup and Rubber Buns.
Me:  What did you eat for dinner?
You:  Ketchup and Rubber Buns.
Me:  What do you do when an old lady passes you on the street?
You:  Ketchup and Rubber Buns.  

Love Knows No Bounds

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Love Knows No Bounds

There are these moments in life when you feel love for another that extends deeper than the love you shared before.  I have been having these moments with my oldest son lately.  Each time an unnameable, unmeasurable kind of love.  One that causes my heart to swell with a fullness, my lips to turn upward in a content smile, and one that provides a knowing that I am right where I belong.  I belong as his mama.  And he belongs as my son.

People often have reasons why adoption might not work for them.  They tell me their reasons as though they are absolute truths when really they are unknowns, fears, stories.  I’ve heard,

Adoption is not an option because there’s no way I could love a child as deeply as I love my biological children.

Blood is thicker than water and that applies to the children you raise as well.  I’ll automatically gravitate toward the kids I birth(ed).  

I need a mini-me.  

I have a need to pass on my genetics.  

Adoption doesn’t feel natural.  

What if I can’t love a child that does not bear resemblance to me or my husband?  What if I can’t love someone I did not make?  That I did not grow?  

I hear that adopted children are just a mess of problems.  You never know what you’re really getting when you adopt.

Let me shout it from my pedestal, my soapbox, my rooftop…I LOVE MY ADOPTED BOYS AS MUCH AS I LOVE MY BIO BOYS!!!!!  In fact, in some ways it’s easier to love them.  Their character flaws are not a mirror of my own.  Their physical features and medical issues not something I criticize in myself or passed on genetically to them.  It’s in some ways easier to see them as the individuals they are.  Separate from me.

My heart has been full with love for my oldest lately.  I’ve had remembrances of his arrival into our decade long coupledom. For a few months, he was simply a dream.  An idea.  A possibility of love extended.  And then he became a stack of papers, phone calls, interviews, background checks until eventually he became a face and a name proudly displayed on the front of our fridge.  A few thousand miles later he became the little boy with the laugh that melted me in to a pile of mushy, gushy pure, unadulterated love.  A laugh that confirmed I was meant to be his mother from the moment of his conception.  That he had called me from the womb of his sacrificial birthmom and drew me across the world to find him.  Patiently sitting out the days in that Kazakh orphanage until I heard his call and answered.  Like the story of the red thread, our thread was connected and will forever remain connected.

That little boy continues to draw me in.  Each time I learn a little more about him, his struggles, his insecurities, his passions, his longings, his miseries and his triumphs, I find that I fall deeper in love.  My heart expands even more, filling my chest with such spaciousness.  It’s in these moments that I see him.  And upon seeing him, I know my love for him is pure, genuine, unwavering, and as deep as any mother’s love is for her blood born bio children.

  • I see him when after years of struggling he gets a dyslexia and SPD diagnosis and we celebrate together.  We don’t grieve. We celebrate because this diagnosis confirms what he’s believed (but questioned) all along.  He is not dumb.  He is just challenged.
  • I see him when we send positive energy to his birthmom on his birthday because “she probably thinks about me every year on this day, Mom.”  I bet she thinks about him far more often than his birthday but that’s when he really thinks about her.
  • I see him when he cares for his chicken.  He is a chicken whisperer.
  • I see him when he’s passionately being creative behind the lens of my camera.
  • I see him when he doesn’t care about winning races.  I see his heart when a boy crashes his bike and J stops 10 yards from the finish line to help the boy up and fixes the boy’s chain.
  • I see him when I am reminded by a book chapter Adam wrote about J helping us make a decision to adopt G.  He told us, “Every kid needs a home.  We should be that home for G.”  Those moments when he simply sees clearer than I do.
  • I see him when he gets in nature and can identify every bird of prey and tell you details about the shifting of their wings to make flight and hunting more efficient.
  • I see him when he measures his feet and hands against my own and swells with pride when he realizes that we are officially equal in foot and hand size.  And then he takes over my running shoes.
  • I see him when he hides in a pair of pants every day for fear of being teased about a wart on his leg.
  • I see him when he cries because he feels so different.  When he notices his skin color and brown eyes amidst a sea of blue eyed caucasians.
  • I see him when he leans against me just to find grounding in that chaotic SPD mind of his.
  • I see him when he chooses meditation and reflection as a way to find his center.  When he gives his daddy advice that is on par with the wisdom of any guru or enlightened being.
  • I see him when he holds a burial and funeral for a bird that “died alone” in a winter’s snow.
  • I see him when we cheer for Team Astana in the Tour de France because Astana feels a bit like home.
  • I see him when we are camping and he is the first to run up and help our neighbor with an issue she is having and then he shakes her hand and introduces himself.
  • I see him when he laughs hysterically at a comic book he is silently reading. It’s that same laugh I heard in a Kazakh orphanage that taught my heart a mother’s love.
  • I see him when we watch a National Geographic documentary together about using eagles to hunt and he grows taller as he connects with the Kazakh/Mongolian men in the film.  As a family we are instantly connected to his culture and we all see him a little clearer with that connection.
  • I see him after we have watched that documentary and all of us are laughing at the fact that birds of prey and archery
    (two of his passions) might actually be in his blood.
  • I see him when I tuck him in at night and still see remnants of those super chubby baby cheeks that begged to be squeezed and kissed.
  • I see him when I apply for a job as an adoption outreach coordinator and I realize that adoption is my passion.  He has put the inspiration in me.  He’s responsible for that passion.
  • I see him when I find myself advocating for every single child to have a home.  When I encourage people to explore adoption as a very viable option for expanding their families (and hearts).
  • I see him every time I choose to see.  He’s always there, as loving and open as that very first moment.

He did not inherit my genetic code.  He in no way looks like me.  He did arrive with his own set of “problems”.  And, you know what, those truths are exactly what make our relationship beautiful.  What makes him beautiful.    Blood type, skin color, nationality, genetic predisposition, DNA, origin, womb, egg, sperm, none of these are measures for the basic human right of giving and receiving love.  When I see J, I only see love.  My love.  His love.  A love that knows no bounds.

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Limitless

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*This writing is one that is written without thought.  The way it works is that I do an entrance meditation and then just let the words flow, not trying to direct them, to correct them, to coerce them, or manipulate them in any way.  If they make no sense that’s perfectly fine.  If they make all the sense in the world, that’s perfectly fine too.  I really enjoyed where this practice took me with this piece.  I encourage you to try it sometime.  See where your quiet mind and full heart take you.

There are times when I feel endlessly bound.  Handcuffed and chained, a swallowed key.  I feel bound by limitations placed upon me by others, by me, by society, by financial insufficiencies, by insecurities, by my own mind, by physical incapabilities, by expectations, borders, class systems, government regulations, gender biases…an infinite list of limitations that imprison me.

There’s an easy way to put this feeling of imprisonment in to persepctive.  My path to truth and enlightenment is always nature.  Nature never fails to reset my finite thinking.  To set my feet on a path where the possibilities are limitless and always have been limitless.  Bound before by my inability (or unwillingness) to see the infinite.  Believe the infinite.

Today, I believe.  I look out over a vast ocean.  So vast, I cannot even vaguely comprehend the depths it reaches, the miles it stretches, the gallons of water swallowed in it, the quantity and size of the species living within it, the miles of it untouched and unexplored, the power and reality that this ocean is one of many.  Its vastness multiplied by five.  What I can grasp is the smallness of me.  Little ‘ole insignificant me.  Rather than binding me further, this truth sets me free.

It frees me as I look more intimately upon the sand on which I lie.  Delivered here by time and wind and tides.  We speak of sand as a singular unit but is that because a single sand grain is so insignificant that it no longer has value?  One tiny speck. One granule of something that once was.  Broken down by nature in to individual specks of insignificance.  Thrust together they become one long expansive beach of beauty.  Alone, it is small and insignificant.  Together, majestic.

The ocean tide powered by the moon still visible and hung in full view just above the horizon.  This moon so familiar to me.  A presence in my daily existence.  Always present, yet only vaguely known.  All alone, no community, relatively unexplored. Powerful yet unable to create or emit its own light.  It merely reflects the light of a star.  And there it hangs, suspended in the infinite enormity of stars and plants and space.  Small and insignificant.

Oh, the stars!  Light years away and bright enough to reach my eyes.  Awe inspiring.  Yet, on nights when only one is visible, the others suffocated by the artificial lights of my city or outshone by the reflected sun, that lone star becomes small and insignificant.  Nothing more than a pin prick in the fabric of the night sky.  Hardly noticed.

Nature is my teacher just as it’s the sand’s teacher.  There to break me down, guide me, and hold me.

Teacher, why am I so plagued with suffering?  Why are my problems so unique?  How will I fix them and end my suffering?

Teacher (Nature) tells me,

Step on to that beach.  Notice the immeasurable bits of sand.  Notice that together they are beyond understanding, beyond measurement, beyond a finite limitation.  If they were to rise up they would be a powerful force capable of overtaking any obstacle.  Instead they comfort, cradle, mold, play, house, and simply accept the winds of change.  They will move.  They will be stepped on.  They will be thrown around and kicked about.  Some will be washed away never to be seen again.  They will be underappreciated, cursed, and, at times, even shat upon.  All of this will go unnoticed because in the realm of all that is universal they are small and insignificant too.  Close your eyes.  Listen to the ocean.  It speaks.  What do you hear?

I close my eyes and listen.

I hear waves.  They’re angry and motivated.  Systematic in their approach to reach the shore. They’re reaching.  Grasping.  Unsuccessful, they retreat back.   Regroup.  Attack.  Retreat.

Teacher Responds,

They too are small and insignificant.  You hear only a small voice of the vast ocean.  If you were to venture out further, you’d hear silence.  Peaceful silence.  Even your own voice too small to break that silence.  The waves feel much like you, bound to obey forces bigger than them.  There are rules and they must follow.  They have slipped away from peace and discovered suffering. What you hear is the rumblings of dissent.  Their resistance of what is.  Their suffering.  They are you.  Small and insignificant but making deposits.  Not recognizing their collective value and therefore coming in kicking and screaming.

Now look up.  Do you see the moon?  The stars?  What do you notice?

I look up studying the sky.

They seem so far away.  I’m amazed I can see them at all.  I wonder if they see me.  And if they do, what do they see?  How would my energy reach them?  Do I have an energy that can pierce through the gaps that both divide us and bridge us?  I look up and feel the greatness of all that is out there.  The universe reminds me that each being is relatively small and insignificant in the perspective of all that exists.  It’s true that even the moon, the waves the sand, the stars, other human beings, all feel insignificant from time to time.  I am no different.  My problems feel lighter.  They are as insignificant as I am.

Teacher says,

Your problems are not insignificant but neither are they unique.  In this universe, the one in which you stand upon sand, the sands carried by waters and winds to other lands, those lands inhabited by others, all of you existing under the same night sky, winked at by the same moon, casting light from the same sun, surrounded by the same stars, made up from the same particles, your problems are in no way unique.  Your aloneness, imagined.  Your insignificance a gift in which you are free to make mistakes.  A gift to live fully without fear.  Your significance in community.  As part of a whole, your insignificance becomes as powerful as each community.  As powerful as the community of heavenly bodies.  As powerful as the oceans.  As significant as the sands.  Use your insignificance as a collaboration for peace and silence.  May your depths become immeasurable.  Your vastness, awe inspiring.  Your motivation, pure.  Your community infinitely good and powerful.  And, one day, when your insignificant, finite life ends, may you and I join forces.  May I be your new community and my you teach the new, seeking insignificants their limitless possibilities.

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Starting Overs

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I read about this wonderful project in Oregon,promoted by Oregon Humanities,called “Dear Stranger.”  Participating had a pull on me and I immediately knew I wanted in.  The very thought of exchanging a letter with a stranger fluttered my heart.  I was excited to find my own truth in this project and I am equally excited to hear my stranger’s story or remembrance, his/her  interpretation of what ‘start’ means.

Below is the letter I wrote to my stranger:

We were told to write about starts.  First starts, second starts, good starts, bad starts.  Naturally I began to think about my starts.  It caused me to pause and examine the “starts” I remember.  What was significant about them?  What emotions were present?  How did I grow and what was gained?  Lost?  I’m not yet 40 and, yet, my short life has seen its fair share of starts.  An abundance of starting overs.  Some by choice.  Some be the choices of others.  Some in which I felt empowered.  A trailblazer.  An adventure seeker.  Others in which I felt powerless, helpless, and bound by fear.

As I write this, I’m recognizing that I was never powerless.  I was never without choice.  I have always had choices in how I responded to forces beyond my control.  Forces sometimes so mighty, so loud that the only choice was to start over.  But I got to choose how that starting over would look.  What path it would take and whether I would choose to hate it, resist it, allow the power to jade me.

I have certainly resisted at times.   I have suffered deeply for not accepting what is.  I have suffered for trying to protect and cocoon all I owned and what I believe I owned.  In these starting overs I have seen that ownership, control, safety…these are illusions.  We never truly own, control, or create safety.  We simply believe we do.  I don’t say this out of bitterness but quite the opposite.  I say this because I have seen freedom in the letting go of all I wanted to possess physically and emotionally.  I’m free to acknowledge life circumstances for what they are.  Mostly outside of my control. Oh!  The freedom in that knowledge.

I have found that ‘starting overs’ are gifts.  If we welcome them, move with them, invite the lessons that lie within.  Stop wrestling with them. Surrender.

Truly each and every day is a starting over.  Each day we can choose how to flow with new beginnings.  Right now, if I fully invite my starting overs into my life, I believe I’ll continue to grow in empathy, love, and kindness.  And, so, I do just that.  I invite starting over in my career.  In my husband’s career.  I accept the challenges with my children and choose to love them deeper tomorrow.  I accept the financial struggle and uncertainty that comes with two years of unemployment.  I acknowledge my feelings and emotions and I appreciate the opportunity to know them more intimately.  I cherish the starting over with my husband.

Daily starting overs.  Each day new opportunities.  New growth.  I guess I’m truly grateful for this life, for the ability to choose, for the endless days of beginning again.  This breath always new, therefore each breath is, in essence, starting over.

*Deep Sigh*

20 Indications You’ve Left Portland for Tucson

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* I spent a few weeks in my hometown of Tucson this summer and it was the first time I felt real culture shock traveling back. I compiled a list of things I noticed while in Tucson that made me homesick for Portland. Don’t get me wrong, Tucson has its own value…saguaros, monsoons, mountains, family, a sky full of stars, wildlife, etc.  And, obviously, this does not mean ALL Tucsonans (or Portlanders) fit in to these categories.  

1)  When you cross the street in a designated crosswalk that does not guarantee that anybody will stop for you. In fact                  you’ll stand in the middle of that busy street patiently waiting for a single driver to even acknowledge your existence                with a slight press of the brake pedal. They never will. You’ll just have to wait for an opening and run.

2)  It’s trash day and Tucsonans have trash cans at least double the size of Portlanders and their trash gets picked up       weekly. Add to that, many people have two trash cans, quadrupling the size of trash that gets removed from your house every other week. You’ll wonder what in the world are they filling those gigantic cans with.

Portland trash is the middle canister (picked up every other week)

Portland trash is the middle canister (picked up every other week)

3)  If your 8 year old boy decides to wear his hot pink shirt to Target you will have two separate Target employees comment on the color of his shirt and the correlation to his purchase (a hello kitty watch and cd player for a bday party). You’ll have to refrain from giving both employees a loud piece of your mind and assure your son that pink is a perfectly awesome color for boys.

4)  There is no friendly conversation between you and any service person (minus one engaging waitress I had). You forget quickly how friendly Portland is compared to other cities. The moment I got back in to town I shopped at New Seasons and came home glowing, “Oh, so many people to talk to in New Seasons. Everyone is so nice!” And they were playing Nahko and Medicine for the People. Grocery shopping doesn’t get any more engaging than it does in Portland.cc-solutions-

5)  You have to pump your own gas in Tucson and you will quickly realize how awesome it is to have pump attendants especially when it’s 100+ degrees out and you have kids in the car.

6)  Everyone comments on your purple hair. In Portland, I’m kind of a plain Jane with my purple hair and tattoos. In Tucson I’m a slight shade of different.IMG_2318

7)  Compost? What’s That? When we lived in Tucson I started a worm compost bin in our kitchen (It Rocked!) and most people thought it was weird if not downright gross. Composting is not something most people in Tucson think about.

8)  Your server looks at you like you’ve lost your mind when you ask if the restaurant is locally owned and god forbid you ask where they get their meat.portlandiapicseasonone9)  Gone are the funky, useful commuter bikes. Instead are designer, carbon racing bikes. A few grand on two wheels.  I’m dying for a commuter with a basket and mud guards…my carbon with clips doesn’t have quite the flare or usefulness here in Portland.

10)  Walk there? Public Transportation? Are you insane? Plan on driving EVERYWHERE.ridersboardingmax11)  You begin to miss your group meditation practice so you attend a weekly meditation/yoga class and each week the class only has you and one other person. I guess meditation practices in Tucson are still a private affair.  

12)  Brunch is an after church Sunday event only.

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13)  Plastic bags are doubled up and handed out in abundance.

14)  There is an obvious distinction between rich/poor. There are wealthy areas and there are poor areas. And the division between the two is very obvious.images15)  Need wheat berries for a recipe? Good luck with that. A wheat berry is not only unheard of but it’s really challenging to find. In fact, I never found a single one!

16)  Mini coopers are swallowed up by Ford F-ton 50s. I don’t even know the name of these super beasts but they far outnumber any electric or mini vehicles. The name of the game is, the bigger the better. In addition to in-your-face monster trucks, truck after truck is adorned with NRA bumper stickers. Just in case you weren’t aware, the environmental super polluters will also shoot you because they have the right to do so.BumperStickers

17)  After being in Portland for a time, you forget how many people drive fast and loud and that the government monitors most of it with red light cameras and speed cameras. People honk their horns for the slightest infraction, give you the finger for getting in their way, and cut you off just to be an asshole. I’ll take my 30mph streets in Portland any day.

18)  You may not know what you need to purchase or who you need to vote for but somebody certainly does. You can get your answer every so many feet with election propaganda and consumer billboards.

speedway blvd 1970

speedway blvd 1970

19)  Front yard chickens, gardens, and greenery are traded in for desert brown and poisonous animals. Not to mention that Tucsonans will water a grass lawn in spite of not having a drinking water supply of their own.

20)  Need a pharmacy? Just drive to the next corner and the next and the next and the next….download (1)