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Telling our story

16 Sep

It is a paradox of the writer’s life that some of her most profound experiences leave her speechless. But she must write, because that is how she makes sense of the world, so she crafts the story in bits and pieces. She drafts it in the drowsy moments before she falls asleep at night, scribbles sentences on coffee shop napkins, saves recorded thoughts on her cellphone. She puts the pieces together until she has enough for a story that makes sense, one that gives the reader just enough information to understand while also conveying the enormity of the situation. And then she puts it to paper, or to the Internet in this case, and hopes it will be well received.

I want to tell you part of the story of my experience as a birth mother. When I share that I am a birth mother, the revelation is often met with a perplexed silence. “Do you know what that is?” I ask. Almost no one does. They understand “mother,” but the qualifier throws them off. Isn’t every mother a birth mother? they wonder, and then they realize that, in fact, there are many ways to be a mother.

Twenty-seven years ago I gave birth to a beautiful boy with a perfect little round mouth, sparkling blue eyes, and soft blond hair. I am his birth mother, the mother who carried him but not the mother who rocked him to sleep at night or bandaged his wounds or picked him up from soccer practice or gave him advice about life. I made an adoption plan for him. I released him. I chose a family to become his family, to raise him and care for him. And three weeks ago, I found him.

This is the Cliff’s Notes version of the most recent developments in our story: On my birth son’s birthday, I wrote a post on Facebook indicating that I was ready to begin searching for him. I received a piece of information from a friend that helped me begin to make the connection. I reached out to the agency through which he was placed, and a social worker called him, letting him know that his birth mother wished to have contact. He friended me on Facebook and sent me a thoughtful and kind message. We have continued periodic communication through text messages since then.

When my birth son was born in 1990, it never occurred to me that I would one day be able to find him on a website, to see that he looks like me, and to piece together the story of his life. I never imagined that we would send messages to each other on our phones. And I have not really ever allowed myself to consider anything beyond what is currently happening — not a phone call or a meeting — because… Because I don’t know. Because ours is a new relationship that will continue to evolve. Because neither of us have any experience with this.

I can tell you this part of our story, but I cannot begin to convey what it’s like to see my face in another person’s. I don’t know how to explain the love I feel for someone who is, for the most part, a stranger. I also can’t tell you how difficult it is to remember the grief I felt when I held my child for the last time. And I don’t know exactly how to describe the joy that comes with knowing I made a good decision, that he is happy and successful, that I am not hated, and that I gave my birth son (to use his words) the best life a kid could have.

I want to know more about him, to sit across from him and to hear him tell his story in his own words. I want him to know me as well. But I don’t know if that’s what he wants, and I don’t know how to ask. I don’t have the words. I don’t know where to begin or how to continue.

There will be more to tell, I believe. But I am learning that some of the best stories must be told one sentence at a time, as the story unfolds and the words come to the writer.


Choosing a different path

13 Jul


A dear friend once told me that every time he asked how I had been since the last time we spoke, I would always begin by telling him if I were dating anyone. He said I defined myself by my relationship status, and it seemed to be the most important thing for me to discuss when I was asked about myself.

Since that day, I have worked very hard not to begin a description of myself, or the answer to your question about what’s new with me, by telling you if I am currently single or otherwise. The fact remains, however, that the search for a partner has been a central focus for most of my life. I have often said that finding a partner was the greatest desire of my heart, and everyone who knows me knows this about me.

But for a while now, I have been standing at a crossroads looking back down the path I’ve worn bare and considering that perhaps the other path–the one less traveled–is the right one for me.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

From The Road Less Traveled by Robert Frost

What if it’s possible that some of us are not meant to be with a partner? Or what if we are meant to love many people and not just one special soulmate? I’ve been considering these questions and thinking that maybe, just maybe, traditional partnership is not my thing.

I like being single and I’m good at it, and I have a rewarding and beautiful life! But from time to time I miss having someone to hold my hand or snuggle me during a movie or sit with me on the patio and ask about my day while we sip fruity drinks. Would it be possible for me to remain “single,” whatever that means, but find a way to fulfill those needs for companionship or intimacy with friends who love and care about me?

Maybe you’re thinking, “What’s the big deal Wendi?” To me, it’s a monumental change in the way I see myself, the way I operate in the world, and in the focus of my intentions. Sure, perhaps I’m overthinking it. It’s a big deal to me, and I’ve devoted a lot of thought to it, and I’m still not 100% sure which path to take.

Feeling a bit off

20 Apr

Here’s a confession of ignorance, or perhaps just some good old fashioned foolish optimism: When I was mid-way through Whole30, I really thought it would solve all of my problems. Well, all of my food-related and health problems.

It’s not that I had a lot of “problems” to begin with. I had been mostly grain- and dairy-free for a while before I started. Once a week I would treat myself to a sugary coffee drink as a reward after my long training run, and occasionally I would use the same sugary coffee drinks to cope with a bad day or celebrate a great day. I really didn’t need a reason, which is why I needed to get away from that addiction. 

As far as my health, I was in decent shape. I was about 15 pounds overweight, but I was active (low-intensity running and cycling 5-6 days a week). I didn’t have high blood pressure, wasn’t pre-diabetic, and don’t believe I was dealing with many of the issues associated with inflammation — as far as I know. I did get the mid-afternoon slump a lot, and that was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to kick the sugar habit.

Most of all, I wanted to feel good about the food choices I was making and feel physically well, and Whole30 has certainly helped me accomplish that. For the last few days, however, I have been feeling overall yucky. I have an upset stomach, a low-grade headache, and very low energy. Generally I think gut issues are a sign that something is off in your system, but nothing has changed in my diet, environment, training/activity, or life. I just feel gross.


this is not my tummy

I also feel disappointed because I thought my days of feeling like crap would be over once I started eating whole, real, unprocessed, delicious food all the time! I mean, I didn’t think I would never get sick, but I thought that putting good foods into my body would mean I would feel well. All the time. Is that dumb? 

I don’t know what is wrong, but I am sure it will pass. Right now though, even my Brussels sprouts and blueberries with eggs on top aren’t helping, and usually that dish completely makes my day.

Have you ever thought you found a magic cure and then discovered, much to your dismay, that there are no magic cures?

Loving and losing

16 Apr

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about my weight loss. A lot of friends and family did exactly what I asked — they told me “Yay!” — and helped me celebrate my accomplishment.

But one friend made a comment that caused me to ponder the reasons people lose or gain weight, and the reasons people decide to make those changes to their bodies. We can lose or gain for many reasons, positive and negative, and several factors might motivate us to make changes.

Later in the day, as I was writing and rewriting this post in my head, a friend said on Facebook that his wife had started a diet. A friend of theirs commented, “Tell your wife she is perfect just the way she is.”

And that set me off!

I want to propose the idea that it is possible to truly, deeply love yourself and your life, to be very happy and content, and still want to lose (or gain) weight. That decision need not come from self-loathing, a desire to conform to any real or perceived standards, or any other unhealthy attitudes toward one’s own body or food.

At times in my life, I have certainly hated my body and wished it would magically become smaller without me having to make any lifestyle changes, even though I knew that wish was ridiculous. It’s the dream of every person who has an addiction — to do whatever you want and not face any negative consequences.

Since I became an athlete and a personal trainer, I have had to confront and refine my ideas about body image, weight, health, and wellness. I know that weight loss is not always a reason for congratulations. I also have become very passionate about the fact that we feel comfortable saying, “You look great! Have you lost weight?” to friends and family, but when we notice someone has gained weight (and don’t lie, you notice) you don’t ask or wonder if that person is physically, spiritually, or emotionally well. We think loss is “good” and gain is “bad,” but both are usually more complex.

This time, I am working toward weight loss as part of a focus on overall wellness, but I also have a very specific and perhaps lofty goal: I want to take about 20-30 minutes off my marathon finish time. In case math isn’t your thing, that means I would need to run at least one minute per mile faster than I did at my best. A goal like mine requires attention to nutrition, sleep, stress, weight/mass, attitude, meditation (which I don’t do!), strength training, AND running. I’m 45 years old and I’ve only been running for only six years, so I have a lot of work to do!

hearthandsFor me, this weight loss is an act of self-care. I’m eating whole, real, delicious food that helps support my goals and activities. I feel strong and beautiful and capable. And I’m in love with my life, which is exactly why I believe I’m seeing improvements in my body and my training.

I believe you can love yourself and still want to change. Do you? I’d like to know.

Noticing changes 

14 Apr

You know those Facebook friends or the people you follow on Instagram who are all fit and constantly posting pictures of their exposed abs and tight buttocks? I usually unfollow those people because (let’s be honest) I’m jealous.

Because of the way I feel about those people, I have pretty strict rules about posting comments about my own weight loss or pictures of my (emerging) abs or (not-so-bad) buttocks. I mean, nobody wants to see that anyway. Well, if they do, they’ll ask.

Despite the fact that it generally bothers me, I think I understand why people who have nice bodies, or people who are going through body changes like weight loss or muscle development, post pictures — they want others to tell them “Yay!” In my family, we say “Tell me yay!” when we do something good. My nephew made it up.

Here’s the point (finally!) of my post: I’ve lost 10 pounds in the last two months, and no one has noticed.

To be fair, I haven’t really told anyone that I have been working on losing weight. I started Weight Watchers online in February, and in March I did my first Whole30 with a friend. Changing my eating pattern, continuing to run and bike, and adding strength training has changed my body in ways that are very noticeable to me. I’ve been working really hard, and I feel great (super sexy) and I have a lot more energy than I have in a long time.

So either it’s not noticeable to others, or nobody wants to comment. I have also been growing out my hair and it’s pretty crazy compared to my old pixie cut. Maybe that is why no one has noticed. 

I’m conflicted about posting this because, like I said, I am somewhat contemptuous of unfollow people who show off their bodies. But honestly, I really just want someone to tell me “Yay!

That’s not so bad, is it? Please don’t unfollow me. 

Believing I’m enough 

8 Apr

For most of my life, I’ve felt like I was too much — too fat, too loud, too crazy, too emotional — too much of the bad things and never enough of the good. In the last few months, that has changed. 

I’ve been focusing since October on wellness, which for me means making changes or improvements in several areas of my life. I began a running/training program designed to reduce stresses, increase the body’s use of fat as a fuel source, and strengthen the heart. It is much lower in intensity than the typical training program, and for the first several months I saw little improvement. But lately I’m making steady (and kind of huge!) improvements and it’s incredibly rewarding. 

I also made a goal to change my nutritional habits so that most, if not all, of my choices were supporting my training and helping me live my best life. In March I started the Whole30 and it really has changed my life. Every day I eat a lot of whole, real, delicious food! I’ve lost weight, I sleep better, and I have more energy than I ever have. 

I’ve made other changes to my thought processes, relationships, and in my approach to dealing with conflict and frustration. I don’t have everything figured out, and I don’t hope to. But I’m moving forward and it’s empowering.

Just this morning, I thought “I feel like I am enough, not too much or to little. Just right.” My wish is for you to feel like you’re just right, too. 

Flying off the handle

24 Jan

In the last few days, I have eaten copious amounts of butter. I use food, you see, as a coping mechanism. I’m not saying it’s right or good, but it’s better than some of the alternatives (i.e. hitting people, breaking things, yelling, drinking, using drugs).

It is necessary for me to cope because a lot of shit is going down — in the world and in my personal life. And I think it’s true to say that it is rare for me to get angry, or at the very least to show my anger. I usually stuff it. I’m not saying it’s right or good. I just figure most of the time when I feel upset about something, it is best for me to wait a day or two to gain some perspective rather than expressing my feelings in the heat of the moment.

But sometimes…

I’ve been seriously pissed off several times in the last few days, and I have communicated my frustration to people who I believe 1. care and 2. can actually do something about the situation.

I try very hard to be civil and to clearly express myself in these situations. I use curse words only if they help to emphasize the severity of the infraction. I offer reasonable suggestions to remedy the problem. And then I thank the listener(s) for his/her/their time. Sometimes it helps, and other times it just gets me labeled as a whiny bitch.

A lot of shit is going down, you guys. People (friends and family members) are saying nasty things to each other without listening or offering solutions. I don’t think we are more divided now than we were six months or a year ago. I think some of us now think it’s acceptable to call names and insult people who don’t agree with us, and I’m sad to say our leader is a prime example of that notion.

So, get pissed, but use your words wisely. Whether they are a matter of public record or not, they are important and cannot be erased once you’ve uttered them.

And eat a ton of butter if that helps.