Messages from the Universe?

Mostly, I don't like running. I do it to stay in shape, to stay sane. A lot of times, the things I encounter when I'm out running annoy me (careless drivers who almost hit me, unaware people who almost trip me with their ginormous strollers, etc). But sometimes, sometimes I kind of love it. Of course the endorphin high is awesome, and when the weather here in SF is gorgeous and sunny and just the right temperature it's very pleasant to be outside, and the feeling of accomplishing a goal, no matter how small, is nice.  But that's not it. What I love somedays - and believe me, I know this sounds so totally hippy-dippy, wheatgrass-drinkin', drum-circlin', well, California - are the messages I get from the Universe (or whatever you want to call it) while I'm out there running. Like this:

Really think about that one for a minute. What does it mean - for you - to Occupy Your Heart? What does it mean for me? What would it mean for all of us? And not just in relation to the Occupy movement, but to life itself - adoption, parenting, work, creating art, relating to others - everything. All. the. time. If nothing else, I think it's a really good place to start. So thanks, Universe (or people on San Jose Ave that posted this in your window). 


Bouncy balls

So, we are officially in circulation. Waiting. (I don't think we are very good at waiting.) On the one hand it feels really exciting, to finally be "on the books" and knowing we could become parents at any time. On the other hand, knowing we could become parents at any time is crazy scary! And then there's the whole not-really-knowing-anything thing (which is more a not-being-in-control-of-anything thing). Balancing the fact that we could get a call anytime with the fact that it could be years and years and years is not an easy task. We're basically all over the place. Like one of those bouncy balls you get from a quarter machine at the grocery store. It's bright, it's colorful, it's fun and bouncy. It's also super unpredictable and goes wherever the heck it wants to. Lots of fun, until it bounces out into the parking lot and under a car, or into some bushes or something.

So, somedays, we're all about embracing the excitement, thinking about the future, planning for a kid. Until, suddenly, we're not. (Okay, I'll confess, mostly that's me. The one who gets overwhelmed by the whole planning thing in general.) Here's an example:

Me: Hey, do you want to go to the furniture store and look at rockers or gliders for the nursery?
Shelley: Sure. Let's go.
A little while later, after walking around a very large furniture store and finally making our way to the floor with the kids' stuff...
Shelley: What about this one. I like it.
Me: Nah. I don't like that one.
Shelley: Really? What's wrong with it?
Me: I don't know. Can we go? I can't do this right now.
Shelley: What? This was your idea.
Me: I know. Can we just go?

In my defense, I'm not the only one acting a little cray-cray about all this, either. Shelley has somehow convinced herself that the Universe will not see fit to add to our family until our house is clean! I'm not making this up - she said some version of this to me just the other day.

Mostly, we are trying to focus on the exciting, fun stuff about becoming parents. We have bought some things for the nursery, and I've made some arty stuff for it too. I don't actually know what it was about the rocker/glider that day, but on pretty much all things I am the procrastinator in the relationship, so maybe I was just playing my role. I don't know. I do know that our difference in personality in regards to planning is one reason Shelley and I work so well together. She "speeds me up" and I "slow her down" and we *mostly* achieve a nice balance on things. (We're also lucky to have some helpful "Guides" in our life that remind us to focus on that balance, among other things.)

But for now, until we get the hang of this waiting thing, it seems we're just going to be a little goofy - stress-eating leftover Halloween candy, furiously cleaning the house to appease the Universe, slowly edging towards (and then away from and then towards again) getting a nursery ready. Basically, I think we're probably going to just keep bouncing all over the place for a while!


Open heartedness

It seems like I've been getting a lot of messages about open-heartedness recently. My dad is facing open-heart surgery, a literal opening of the heart to repair it. So this has me thinking a lot about the figurative implications of opening the heart. It's really only in western traditions that we believe these two are separate. Many traditions believe that the "figurative" healing leads to actual, physical healing. Beyond that, though, it feels really important to open my heart during this adoption process. Obviously I want to open my heart to a child, but also to potential birthparents who are struggling with an extremely difficult decision. I need my heart to be open to whatever possibilities lie ahead, be they painful or jubilant. We are too often taught, I think, to keep our hearts closed, for fear they will get bruised or broken. But it seems that just as in a procedure for physical repair, our hearts have to be opened to heal; to let the good stuff in and the bad stuff out.  I'm not saying it's easy - it's not. But if we allow ourselves to be open, to let our hearts break and get put back together again, over and over, then each time we can make more and more space in between the cracks for openness. For love. And isn't that what it's all about?


Diving in

It took me a long time to learn to dive off the diving board. I didn't have a problem diving into the water from the side of the pool, but something about that extra 3 feet really freaked me out. I'm pretty sure I may have climbed back down and given up at least the first time I tried. I distinctly remember a series of jumps from the board where I lost my nerve at the last minute. I can still remember the feeling, though, of standing out on the edge of the diving board, looking down at the water, and being momentarily paralyzed.

I don't know what it was about the diving board that freaked me out. Perhaps it was the fact that the water was so deep. I wasn't (still not) the world's strongest swimmer, so maybe I feared something would go wrong and I'd drown. Maybe it was a fear of "doing it wrong" while others were watching. Or just that I really wanted to get it right the first time.

We are about to "go in the pool" for the adoption - meaning, all our paperwork will be checked off and we will be "waiting" for someone to choose us to parent their child. I feel like I'm on the edge of that diving board again now, looking down at the water, paralyzed.

Except this time, I'm acutely aware of all the things that are freaking me out: the water is deep, maybe I'll drown, I want to get it right.

As a kid, I couldn't stand on that diving board forever - there was a line behind me, waiting their turn, after all. So, finally, I took a deep breath and dove in. It wasn't pretty. I made a loud smack. It hurt. But, then, I came up for air. Swam over to the ladder. And got out to do it again.



So, Shelley and I just got back from our "Last Hurrah - Sort of a Honeymoon - Adventure" to Ecuador and the Galapagos. It was amazing. Truly trip of a lifetime -wild kingdom - animals up close- Darwinian stuff. And of course now that we're back, we're tasked with one of my very least favorite things to do - unpacking our luggage.

So, of course, because I hate unpacking (not a big fan of packing either, I always say I want to just hop on a plane without anything and then buy what I need once I'm there, but that'll never actually happen) I'm procrastinating. Thinking about baggage rather than dealing with my own. Well, at least not the physical suitcases in front of me.

The emotional baggage is another story entirely. Since we've begun this adoption process, we've really done a lot of examination of our baggage. I know a lot of people can be resentful of the "intrusive" questions that are asked of pre-adoptive parents - the hoops we have to jump through that other folks don't. But as uncomfortable as it can be at times to have to take a really close look at our lives and think about how we want to be as parents, I'm really thankful for the process.

Am I saying it has prepared us to be phenomenal parents? Of course not!!! But in my mind there's absolutely no way that actually taking a long hard look at our own stuff can't help in the long run. And not necessarily just to be better parents, but to be overall better people in the world. That's the goal, anyway. As far as I'm concerned, though, it's a work in progress.


Cut & Paste

For someone who would much rather spend her time actually cutting and pasting - spreading a big sheet of paper out on a table and physically manipulating things to fit into the space, trying them here, trying them there, cutting them apart with scissors and then pasting them back together with glue - all the time I've had to spend on Photoshop working on our Dear Birthparent Letter has, let's face it, not been the highlight of the adoption process for me. I get it: technically, what I'm doing on Photoshop is the same thing. Technically. But sliding a mouse around and striking keys to manipulate the pieces is just not as satisfying to my brain somehow.

And that's not even getting into the real difficulty of it all. Distilling our lives, our relationship, our love for one another, the love that we have to share, into four pages. That's, of course, the real kicker. How do we pick the 12-15 photos that perfectly embody everything we want to convey? (And who documents their life that faithfully, anyway? I mean, I'm a photographer and we don't seem to have enough photos of us engaging in our favorite activities, hanging out casually with our friends, visiting with our families.) How do we find the words that tell everything we want to about ourselves?

The real answer, I guess, is that we don't. I mean, really, how can we? It's impossible. So, we do the best we can. We give a good enough summary that a potential BP wants to learn more. Like the blurb on the back of a book jacket, the teaser for a news story, a movie trailer. And then, I guess, we hope it's enough.


Two words

If you start to follow this blog, you will quickly realize I'm a bit of a word nerd. I can get caught up in the meanings and implications and connotations of words, but I'm slowly learning that this is not always a wise tactic. Sometimes there is not an underlying meaning, sometimes people are just grappling to communicate with the vocabulary available to them. And that's okay.

That said, I do want to explore the definitions of two words that are significant to this blog and significant to the journey upon which my partner and I are embarking - the path to parenthood through domestic open adoption. I'm writing this entry before we are actually completely done with all of our paperwork and "in circulation" - though we are really, really close. (The mix of stress, anxiety, and excitement we are feeling is another entry for another day). I probably won't actually publish this post until we are approved and up and running, so to speak, at which point I'll introduce myself a little better. But for now, permit me to geek out...
o*pen [oh-puh n]
1. accessible, as to apeals, ideas, or offers
2. unreserved, candid, or frank
1. to set in action, begin, start, or commence
2. to uncover, lay bare, or expose to view
There are many other definitions for the word open, but to me, these are the ones that best convey what open adoption is about, what it is we are trying to do with this blog, and how we try to live our lives in general.

The next word is one of my favorites. It is what we named this blog and what we really feel our life together is. And if I understand at all the intensity that is to come both in the act of building our family and then in raising a kid, I think it is just about the only word that could do the whole thing justice.
ad*ven*ture [ad-ven-cher]
1. a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome
2. an exciting or unusual experience
1. to risk; to take the chance of; dare

Hazardous action of uncertain outcome? That's pretty much the definition of life, isn't it? So here we go...