Fun & Friends in 2015

Santa Cruz birthday outingTwo of my new year’s resolutions for 2015 were to have more FUN and to connect more with friends throughout the year. So my idea was to plan one special fun, friend focused get-away each month—my “fun with friends weekends”. Usually, my new years resolutions involve things like eating better, going to the gym and losing weight and not too surprisingly, by February (if even that long) I’ve dropped them. This year’s “fun, friend focused” resolution worked out so much better! Sometimes, I made special plans to get away for the weekend. Other times, I tagged the trip onto a work trip. I was traveling a lot for work this year and a happy upside was being able to connect work and fun every now and then. Looking back, it was a fun year and I am glad to have had  a chance to spend time with so many wonderful friends. My friends are my family and you’ve all been a rock for me, through some difficult times in my life. I’m so glad and grateful to have you all in my life.

  • January: girls weekend in Mendocino with Michelle. Skunk train, redwoods and beautiful views.
  • February: Santa Fe weekend with Noelle.  Bandelier cliff dwellings, art and great food.
  • March: Berlin and Trabi-safari with Beth, George and Grace
  • April: London visit and theater with Sarah.
  • May: a big month! Santa Cruz boardwalk and roller coaster with friends for my birthday. Rhode Island for my 25th college reunion.
  • June: vacation with my cousins and their kids at Blue Waters. A week of sun, sand and waterslides!
  • July: Florence with my friend Sophia and her mom. Amazing italian food, gelato and shopping.
  • August: Tassajara weekend with Phil for his birthday. Hiking, hot springs and zen.
  • September: “just for me” weekend in Zurich before a work trip. Walks on the lake, chocolate and more chocolate!
  • October: dinner with Noelle in Chicago while at the Society for Neuroscience meeting. Escaping from the neuroscience madness to see Noelle and her parents.
  • November: Washington DC weekend with Noelle, Aidan and Keira.
  • December: celebrating work anniversaries and end of the year with a decadent and delicious dinner at Espalier with my work friends.

So many happy memories! I didn’t plan it as a “waiting games” strategy, but my year of “fun with friends” ended up giving me something to look forward to and help pass the time in this waiting limbo. I had such fun that I might repeat the new year’s resolution this year!

Waiting is the hardest part

WaitingBeing  in waiting limbo is just hard. The first parts of the adoption process involve this huge amount of activity and time. There are a crazy numbers of forms, classes, meetings with counselors, organizing of photos, writing of profiles, writing the Adoption Letter, preparing for the home study, books to read, putting together of websites and online profiles. And this is just after you’ve decided on an adoption strategy. Its a big decision and takes a lot of time to settle on the right adoption path–Foster adoption vs agency. Domestic vs international. Lawyer or no lawyer. For me, these practical decisions came to after years of personal soul searching and thinking and research, so it was a surprise to me how much time and effort the application process took. After all this activity, its kind of shocking to the system to suddenly be done with all the preparations, to have your profile be “live” as they say and to be faced by the silence of waiting. It’s like walking out of a bustling party into a silent room. At first there’s a breath of relief, to be alone and quiet, but then soon the thoughts turn to “where is everybody?” “Why am I not getting any emails or phone calls.” Even tougher is that its a weird kind of waiting. It’s not an anticipatory waiting where you can count down the days on the calendar and there aren’t any signs of anything happening, no pregnancy belly to show that something is happening. Its not clear when the call will come, or even whether it will ever come. It could be today, or tomorrow or next week or next year or the year after. It’s a particularly hard limbo to be in. Of course, everyone warns you about this when you embark on the adoption process. Yet, somehow, despite all the warnings and discussions about the waiting process during the adoption classes, I didn’t anticipate that waiting would be so hard for me. I’m actually a pretty patient person, and my life is very full. It’s not that I had an absence of activities to keep me busy. And truth be told, I was glad to be getting beyond all the forms and applications and find some time to get back to other parts of my life, like seeing friends, taking a vacation, getting back to hobbies that had been relegated to the sidelines during the adoption application process. But even still, for a person with a busy life, the waiting is hard, really hard.

“You take it on faith, you take it to the heart. The waiting is the hardest part”  –Tom Petty

There are moments of intense doubt and regret, about whether this will work out for me, whether I waited too long, whether anyone would choose me. Weirdly enough even in the waiting space and despite the endless preparations, thoughts of “am I ready” creep in. Early on in the waiting process, I was worried about ever being away from the phone or my email, because I didn’t want to miss a call from the agency. Any unknown number that popped up on the phone causes a skip in my heartbeat—“maybe this is the call.” I put off planning vacations for fear of being away or having to cancel. Looking forward and making plans or commitments for the future, for anything beyond a few weeks, feels harder than it should. Friends kindly ask about how the adoption process is going and whether there’s any news and all you can say is “just waiting.” Even with friends there to cheer you on, its a really lonely kind of waiting. And then, as with so many things, you get used to it, and the waiting limbo somehow becomes the new normal. This settling in phase, too, has an ominous edge. “I’m kind of getting used to this.” I worry that slipping into “getting used to it” might slip further into “maybe this won’t ever happen” and then “maybe I’ll be OK if this never happens.” I’m most scared of that. Your mind is meant to adapt to life as it flows and to be resilient and move on from disappointment when it happens but when does resilience mean giving up? These are the thoughts that spiral through your head while you’re in waiting limbo. My agency has been good about preparing us for this. There are support groups to connect with and lists of things to do (and not to do) while waiting. The strategy that I’ve settled into is some combination of busyness and mindfulness. Having lots to do keeps my mind focused on activities other than waiting helps. Starting this blog and updating my adoption site feels like I’m doing all I can do help the stars align. My work keeps me busy of course. I’ve been working on some house renovations and “nesting” fix-ups. This coming year, I’ve decided to plan a bigger “bucket list” vacation. I’ll buy trip insurance and if I have to cancel, I will. A  number of years ago I started meditating and took up a mindfulness practice. It’s no understatement to say that this has in so many ways changed the way I approach life. I’ve found the principles of mindfulness really helpful for not only tolerating but even embracing this waiting period. Mindfulness is about being with each moment for what it is, about learning to accept things for what they are , not for what they once were or what they might become. It’s about letting go of one’s own control of the future. For a lifelong type A,-very independent and productivity oriented person, learning to be able to say “however this works out is OK” and mean it has been a big, big deal.  I emphasis the “learning to” because I am still learning and practicing this mindset. They don’t call it “mindfulness practice” for nothing. I am learning to sit with the feelings of impatience, anxiety and worry of not knowing, and let go of the desire to be in control.  I’m even learning to enjoy the spaciousness of the now and the liberation of not needing to control or even know how things will turn out. Accepting the unknown is a big part of mindfulness and its certainly been helpful for me in living the adoption process. I’m trying to be more open to letting life unfold as it will, knowing that I do have the strength within me to deal with whatever curve balls do come my way. I do have faith that there is a child out there for me, and I know that however things happen, whenever things happen, it will all be OK.



Christmas Countdown

Stork ornament 2015I love Christmas. It’s a magical holiday, especially with kids. Over the last few years Christmas has been  bittersweet. I have so many happy childhood memories around Christmas and I love the traditions, but I also miss my parents so much this time of year. It’s  been hard too to be in this “baby-maybe” waiting space, during the holidays, when there is so much attention on family and kids. The last few years, Christmas was fairly low key but this year, I decided not to hold back and instead just let the Christmas spirit move me and boy did it! I’ve had so much fun the last few weeks. The best part was sharing the holidays with so many wonderful friends and reminding myself that family is a bigger than your biological family.

Highlights of my December included: making Advent calendars for Keira and Aidan. Scouting out gifts for the toys for tots drive at my office. Buying my tree from the guys at Delancey Street foundation—they are so nice and really feels good that the cost of the tree is going to a good cause. Decorating my “bird tree” and adding new ornaments from my travels this year, which brings back memory of fun trips this year. A weekend cookie bake-a-thon and decorating an army of gingerbread men. Walks in the neighborhood with Bodhi to check out the lights and decorations and putting up lights and decorations on my own house—we’re not quite at the level of some of my neighbors, but maybe next year! Paper-whites all over the house and the house smelling of Christmas. Hosting a Christmas party at my house and the chance to celebrate with friends. Visiting the Tilden Park merry-go-round all lit up for Christmas;   holiday beer brewing with Judy and Phil. Christmas shopping downtown and checking out the big tree and skating rink at Union Square. An end of the year celebratory blowout dinner in Boston with my work buddies. Festive dinners with various friends and a chance to remember fun times from the past year. And best of all, anticipating a first Christmas with my new nephew Otto, who just turned six months old!  I feel truly blessed with my life and all the people in it.

Although I feel like I’ve already gotten everything I had on my Christmas wish list, there is still one thing on my Dear Santa list—a baby to love. Santa, if you’re listening, maybe you can get together with Mr. Stork and make a Christmas delivery. I’m ready and waiting!

Happy holidays, everyone!  Thanks for being a part of my life and making this year a great year!





Two sweet peas

Eleanor and Sophia Dec 2015I was lucky during a recent work trip to Boston to be able to visit with my lovely friends Julia and Marc and their adorable daughters, Eleanor and Sophia. My how they’ve grown and how their personalities have developed since I last saw them in August! Eleanor is a bundle of energy and mischief and already loves her gadgets. Sophia is a Buddha baby, so zen and mellow. Two peas in a pod but each her own personality. And its been amazing to see Julia and Marc become such wonderful parents.  I always knew they’d be great parents. Some have asked me whether it’s tough to see friends and others become parents and have babies and families while I am still in waiting limbo for a baby of my own. I wondered how this would be too but to be honest, it hasn’t been hard. Don’t get me wrong—yes, the waiting is hard, very hard, but this hasn’t stopped me from reveling in the excitement of friends’ new babies. I am so happy for Julia and Marc (and for other friends too) as they’ve grown their families. I don’t feel like their happiness limits mine. I’ve loved watching friends dive into parenthood and getting to know their kids. I know my baby is out there, somewhere, and I feel blessed that he or she will have so many playmates to grow up with, not to mention the hand-me-down baby gear I’m hoping for. Plus its great to be an Auntie and spoil these cuties rotten as only an Auntie can!