Birthday misses

We celebrated Mom's 68th birthday this past Wednesday.  Got tickets to the show, RAIN: Tribute to the Beatles and afterwards dinner at The Palm.  The show was amazing as it took us back in time -- the feel of psychedelic drugs, peace and love along the background of Beatles music hits.  Last year, we watched Jersey Boys.  Seems to be our new tradition -- a show and dinner. 

As we settled into dinner, I noticed Mom's eyes tearing up.  I didn't say anything as I hate when others notice that I'm overwhelmed and just need the moment to pass.  I suspect maybe Mom (we) missed Dad . . . Mom's third birthday celebration without Dad since he threw her a surprise party in 2007.

The Christmas holidays were uneventful which I suppose isn't so terrible.  Visits from M. (CA) and K. and family (GA) were most welcome, and we had the usual familial fare on A.'s side.  No surprises.  Even more apparent this wishing/missing season is our anticipation of picking up our pre-schooler from the Philippines so that s/he will be included in our family festivities, and we can create new traditions.  

Our biggest wish?  Hoping we get our child match early in the new year! 

Rounding the corner to 2011
I am so proud of A., who has been super disciplined at reaching his optimal health.  So much so that he's been able to do away with one of his meds (with the doctor's approval, of course).  And maybe one day, he won't have to be on any meds.  A. continues his focus on losing weight healthfully in addition to his mindful eating and exercise regimen.  A positive habit he will definitely be able to pass along to our child.  With A. in a healthier groove, he inspires me to keep working on a more thoughtful life pattern. 

Sun bathing in winter
snow dunes sun bathe
outside my livingroom window
Sun knocks through the saffron shades
as i listen in cozy reflection
and see myself in the Light



year's end
holidays' celebrations
fill the calendar
memories and longing
fall like a blizzard blast
from my eyes
from my heart

-- i intend to have a blessed day


Winter's dreams

I had my annual physical this past week, and I was in tears.  My PCP adopted a 10-year-old girl from China a year ago and shared photos with me.  Sweet photos.  She'd grown so much since when she first arrived compared to her most recent school photo.  Last I'd seen Dr. F., she was waiting for the green light to pick up her daughter.  Five years since she and her husband had started the adoption process, Dr. F. shared with me how since I. has been with them, she's told them she thought she would never be adopted and was so excited to learn that she was going to make it out of the orphanage.  I. would ask her caregivers, What if I'm never adopted?  I.'s thriving in her new NYC home and was eager to leave behind China and all that was Chinese. She has had some surgery on her cleft palate and will have dental surgeries for the next eight years before her mouth is just right.  (Good thing her folks are doctors!)  As I looked at her photos, I couldn't help but be so happy for Dr. F. and her family.  Every child is a blessing. 

Winter's dreams
2010 comes to an end
our journey to you began long before
one year and four months ago 
paperwork completed
dossier submitted
winter here
tropical Christmastime there
birthdays and holidays sled past us
as dreams of you summer us 
in blanketed patience 
after nocturnal snowfall


The practice of deep roots

Done!  I'm done wrapping holiday presents . . . even put on some Christmas music as I stuffed tissue paper into gift bags, labeled gifts and sipped on my hot lemon water.  While I know that 80 percent of our presents will go unappreciated and land in messy piles to be placed in hefty garbage bags for the drive home from family festivities, the other 20 percent will be much appreciated.  And while most kids today are probably overindulged and we do the overindulging, it does tickle our hearts when the kids, who ARE appreciative, give us warm embraces because their presence in our lives means so much, and we wanted to give them holiday treats.

While I haven't gone all out in holiday decor in our home, I did put up our two Christmas parols (Filipino lanterns) -- and that's all the Christmas that's going up this year.  More important than gift giving and ornaments is a renewed pratice in feeling rooted within myself as well as among family and friends.  That strong centeredness requires much discipline for folks like myself who can be easily embittered by the daily commute into the city along with witnessing social ills at work against a backgrop of privileged experiences in the urban outskirts.  And that centeredness is often challenged during the holidays when families spend extended periods of time together.  Here's to the practice of deep rootedness!

Grounded thanksgiving
still and strong
rooted like a 100-year-old tree
whose stems extend thousands of miles
below winter's arctic ground
in deepest love and gratitude
practice again and again
with mindful grace

P.S. Just witnessed innocent sweetness.  ESS has volunteers visiting from University of Mississippi, and they are painting a Lion King mural in one of ourfoster care meeting rooms.  One of our foster care children, A., was curious to see the room.  So our volunteers invited him to join them.  With permission from his mom, a shy 7-year-old A. hesitated and shook his head "no" and then happily picked up a brush!  Moments like this are excellent for staying rooted.  Christmas time isn't so bad, I suppose. 


Back to breath

I hate Christmas.  Hate the having-to-buy presents.  Hate all of the materialism associated with Christmastime.  Oh, the madness of the holiday season.  No doubt most of us are stressed out by deadlines, gift lists and not-so-delightful crowds.  Others are perhaps planning how they're going to stay healthy & keep the weight off -- amidst the work parties, friendly soirees and family feasts.  At least, A. & I are. My biggest peeve is that there are never enough vegetables at family festivities, making it extremely difficult for folks who are heart health conscious.  Even more frustrating is the fact that in general, Filipino food is not the healthiest what with the meats stewed in artery-clogging grease and desserts baked in delicious, but high cholestrol and fat-sticky coconut milk.

But we can be disciplined and control what and how we eat.  For ourselves (and the child who will join our family).  Often A. & I wonder if our child will be able to learn the discipline of healthy eating.  A. says, Good thing is, s/he won't be inheriting my genes.   

Holiday stress and anxieties about the future aside.  Just as important as healthy eating is retreating back to breath.  By that, I mean truly feeling centered.  Centered enough to appreciate time with friends and family.  Centered enough to express our gratitude for all that is right in our lives.  Retreating back to breath can be an hour of yoga, a 20-minute meditation or 5 minutes to . . . take a deep breath. 

Each evening before dinner, A. & I make sure to thank Spirit for love, patience and each other.  And that makes our everyday a little less insane. 

Back to breath.  Back to blessings.   


Dancing with memories

I just finished reading the memoir, Sleep in Me by poet/author Jon Pineda. A boy’s coming of age story during his family’s misfortune of his older sister’s car accident leaving her wheelchair-bound, it is a thoughtful and grieving recollection. Pineda communicates with such poetic language his sadness and tensions within himself as he witnesses his sister’s teenage life changed traumatically. Walking through his memories made me cry as I was reminded of my own family’s experience and our (dis)ability in dealing with my older brother, Micho’s, autism. After almost a decade of therapy in my young adulthood, I’d worked through my anxieties of the responsibility of caring for my brother as well as my parents’ wishes for his care once they passed away. With a legal special needs trust established and other details documented, I resolved to just let it all go -- my ongoing concerns about how our extended family ‘cares for’ Micho in the Philippines as well as the complicated financial obligations paid to family members who have cared for my brother since his arrival from the States when he was four years old.

Thank you, Jon Pineda, for sharing your Filipino American heartache's dance.

a legally binding contract

(a) special needs

papa’s side of the family
as micho has for 37 years
but I am no longer able to

micho sat in a room
flapping his fingers intertwined
with a paper and pen

(i sit

(a) special needs
unmet by papa’s side of the family
for 30 years

prepares my brother
and me
when mama and papa
have gone

how does my brother
the sister
he has never known?


As we wait to make more memories

I had a most heartful email exchange with cousin, V., whose kids' combined 2nd birthday and naming ceremony we'll be attending in a little over a week at La Fontana, an Italian restaurant in Nyack, NY.  I'd mentioned that we enjoyed a lovely picturesque dinner along the Hudson River last we were there (January) as that was where A. & I celebrated a significant milestone in our adoption process -- completion of our psychological evaluations for our adoption dossier.  It was the last major task before our file was sent abroad for review by the Philippine government's Inter-Country Adoption Board.  V. (as I hear her Brazilian/Portuguese accent) then asked  how our adoption process was coming along, and this was our correspondence:

V:  I have to tell you, S. . . . I can't imagine what you guys are going through . . . with all of this process and everything that is demanded from you guys.  And still . . . you seem to be going through with such strength, grace and positivity. . . 

S:  Okay . . . you're making me cry, sister.  Actually, I can be a total pool of tears if i think too much about our waiting process.  It's not easy.  While I'm excited for family and friends who have or are about-to-have little ones in their lives, I silently ache for the moment when we get word that we are about to be parents too.

V:  Don't cry . . . it is really because I guess I am emotional about it because I just had a little one. And I know what it means. and I wish the feeling, the experience to everyone who wishes to start a family. I just feel that you are so strong because I would be a mess, I think :) You are not negative, you are not pessimist and the thing that touches me the most is exactly your excitement and grace when you celebrate and talk about your family and friends who have or about to have little ones in their lives. Even if you silently ache, like you said . . . Keep up this light . . . pretty soon you will be running around your bebe.

Thank you, V., for your genuine enthusiasm as we await our child match.  I am humbled by your generous and encouraging words as we continue to appreciate our family as it is at the moment and all the blessings we receive.